Sunday, 29 April 2012

RCCGB Blackpool Bash 2012

Date: Friday 13 April to Sunday 15 April 2012
Venue: Pleasure Beach Resort, Blackpool
Who Went: Me and a large number of other RCCGB members, including Andy, Christine and Charlotte Hine, Alan Chilvers, Adam King, Andrea Sheppard, Andy T, Barry (Rolf Harris lookalike), the other Barry (who was about to go to Australia), Beth Haydock, Big Stevie B, Brian Smith, Carol Hedges, The Coaster Kids (Charlotte, Izzy, Alicia and Charlotte), Dave Maryan, Dave Perry, David Bebbington, David Hodgson, Death, Emerald Evans, Gareth Arkell, Gareth Preece, Gary Williams, Kelly Cameron, Kelsey, Libby Williams (and family), Looping Lee, Lucy Cosnett, Mary and Andy Knight, Mark Blundell, Matt Walker, Michelle, Paul Heaney, Planenut, Ryan Hackett, Smiler, Stuart Pope, Wendy Evans.

DISCLAIMER: The above is NOT intended to be an exhaustive list of everyone who attended. It's a small sample of attendees; mainly those who performed billed or Gong Show acts Saturday night, and/or who I spoke to / rode with over the weekend. I sincerely apologise to anyone I've not listed. Not all attendees (whether or not listed above) attended the event in its entirety.

The Club's annual UK mega-trip to start the new coaster season (although this year there had already been an earlier one-day coaster trip in March). Once again the Blackpool Bash was a great success, with two professional entertainers Friday night, a day of riding Saturday daytime (including the morning and late afternoon ERSs), a fancy dress party with songs, games, the Gong Show and a disco Saturday evening, and another ERS Sunday morning. A great turnout too with loads of us there from all over the UK (my list above is just a handful of them). I was determined as ever to attend the Blackpool Bash, and take part in the Gong Show Saturday evening.

To make the rest of report this easier to read, I've split it into sections. Click the applicable link below to jump to the section you want to read:
Thursday 12 April
Day One - Friday 13 April
Day Two - Saturday 14 April (daytime)
Day Two - Saturday 14 April (evening)
Day Three - Sunday 15 April

Enjoy my report at your leisure.

Thursday 12 April

Getting To Blackpool
Just like last year, I travelled to Blackpool by train the afternoon of Thursday 12 April, leaving Bath Spa at 1pm. It was a pleasant journey, requiring four trains: the 13:00 Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads, followed by the 13:30 to Birmingham New Street, 15:20 to Preston and finally the delayed 16:56 to Blackpool North. I finally reached Blackpool North around 5:40pm and stayed three nights at the hotel (close to Pleasure Beach Resort) that I stayed at 2008 to 2011 inclusive.

Thursday Evening
Around 7:30pm I went to The Auctioneer (Wetherspoons) for an evening meal. Since it was Curry Club night, I chose a Curry Club meal: Beef Madras. A drink from the Curry Club drink selection was included, and I had a bottle of Becks. For an additional fee, you could add a dessert from the Curry Club dessert selection; I picked Eli's original baked vanilla cheesecake. Whilst there I unexpectedly met Barry (Rolf Harris lookalike) and spoke to him for a bit after my meal. After leaving The Auctioneer just before 9pm, I returned to my hotel and relaxed in my room the rest of the evening.

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Day One - Friday 13 April

Travelling Thursday afternoon gained me a day in Blackpool. For me Friday began with a delicious breakfast: cereal, a full English breakfast and toast. I spent the day at Sandcastle Water Park, and was in the pool / slides area from approximately 11:30am until closing time of 6pm. A separate report about my day there is available here. After leaving Sandcastle Water Park I returned to my hotel briefly to prepare for the evening.

Early Evening
Around 7:20pm I went to Pablo's Fish and Chips for a Pablo's Special, i.e. fish, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter, plus fizzy drink. Fish and chips is a must-have in Blackpool. For dessert I enjoyed a Sundae Special. Having left Pablo's just before 8pm, I went into Lucky Star Amusements and ascended their escalator, so effectively that was my first "ride" in Blackpool.

Friday Fun
The Blackpool Bash officially began when the Paradise Room doors opened. Just after 8pm I entered the Paradise Room via the spiral stairs. As I entered the Paradise Room I saw Gareth Arkell and Gareth Preece by the doors. Inside the Paradise Room, food was available to buy, but I didn't buy any as I'd just eaten. I bought myself half a Heineken. I sat at a table at the corner of the stage. Mary and Andy Knight were on that same table, as was Looping Lee.

Andy's Welcome
The fun really began when Andy Hine appeared and said his annual catchphrase. "Everybody say Blackpool", followed by Blackpool three more times. Shortly afterwards, he told everyone that the magician and the other performer were unable to be present due to unforeseen circumstances, and that he had therefore replaced them last minute with two alternatives: Sean Macrae (Irish singer) and Tony Jo.

As always, Andy performed some magic. A large cardboard box covered in pretty paper was already on stage. Andy invited a volunteer on to the stage to participate in the act, so I went on stage and got into the box. Alan Chilvers put the lid on and taped it closed, and Andy stuck a label on. The box was then wheeled behind the curtains. Me gone, or at least so you thought! Everyone clapped and cheered at this point.

Just for the record, once the box was behind the curtains Alan Chilvers removed the lid so I could get out, and he quietly asked me to return to the audience via the back route and corridor at the side of the stage.

Act 1: Sean Macrae
The first "official" act of the evening. Sean Macrae had kindly flown over from Ireland at short notice to present his act. He performed a series of audience participation songs, including "Delilah" (Tom Jones) and "Irish Rover". The audience was asked to sing along and do various actions (e.g. bend to one side then the other, wave arms, get up, sit down) along with the songs.

When his act ended at 9:15pm, Nev announced the start of the interval. During the interval I bought myself an orange juice and lemonade.

Act 2: Tony Jo
At 9:25pm it was time for the second act: Tony Jo, another last-minute stand-in. He began with his performance of "Amarillo", albeit a rather poor attempt at it. Shortly afterwards, he asked me where I was from. I told him I'm from Bath, and subsequently joked about the former Avon County Council and current Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Later he asked the audience to vote for their favourite singer. The majority voted for Neil Diamond. Next he asked the audience to vote for their favourite Neil Diamond song. I said "Cracklin' Rose", but the majority said "Sweet Caroline". Tony called me on stage to sing "Sweet Caroline" with him. After my performance with him I returned to my seat. Near the end Tony asked the audience to vote for their favourite Elvis Presley song. I shouted "Blue Suede Shoes", but the majority said "Suspicious Minds", so he sang "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley.

Drinking Up Time
When Tony's act ended at 10:30pm, Nev announced that Friday Fun was now over. There was still time to finish our drinks, but we had to be out by 11pm. I had my photo taken with Tony Jo, and also spoke Ryan Hackett for a while before heading back to my hotel for the night.

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Day Two - Saturday 14 April (daytime)

First Thing
I asked for an early breakfast at 8:20am in order that I could be at the Paradise Room at 9:00am or soon after. I chose beans on toast as a lighter alternative to a full English (which I felt would be too risky before riding Pepsi Max Big One, Steeplechase and the rest).

Initial Meet-Up
The fun began around 9:00am in the Paradise Room. Like last year, I entered via the staircase at the north end of the building. To save having to return to my hotel early evening, I brought everything I needed for the evening (camcorder and tripod, outfits, football etc.) and placed them in a dressing room back stage. Once inside I met Lucy Cosnett and spoke to her for a few minutes. Eventually I queued to be issued with my ride wristband, Park Pass and drink voucher. However there was no lunch voucher this time.

Morning ERS
At 10am we entered the Park for the ERS on Pepsi Max Big One and Steeplechase. The sun was shining.

Pepsi Max Big One
This Arrow Dynamics Hyper Coaster is one of five coasters of this model currently operating worldwide. Pepsi Max Big One has been operating at PBR Blackpool since 28 May 1994. Back then it was the tallest, fastest, steepest coaster in Europe. Unfortunately the station announcement still claiming that is now somewhat out of date. Although its maximum height of 213' (64.9 m) means it's still the UK's tallest coaster, it's now only the second tallest coaster operating in Europe (soon to become third when Shambhala opens). According to the Roller Coaster Database, PMBO's top speed of 74 mph means it's now only the second fastest coaster in the UK, and fifth fastest currently operating coaster (soon to become seventh) in Europe. It's certainly not the steepest any more, now there's Stealth, Rage and Mumbo Jumbo. Anyway I began with this steel coaster and had two goes.
First go: I sat alone in the third row.
Second go: I was in the back row with Mark Blundell. Ryan Hackett and Matt Walker in the second-from-back row.

Both goes were great fun, particularly the first drop and subsequent undulations. I remained quiet (no screaming) throughout the journey both times. At 10:45 I headed across to Steeplechase for the remainder of the ERS.

This Arrow Dynamics Special Coaster Systems steel coaster has been operating at PBR Blackpool since 1977. There are three separate tracks, completely independent of each other, which is why Steeplechase is sometimes regarded as three separate coasters. Coaster-Count classes it as three coasters, whereas Ride Count classes the three tracks as one coaster. Each track has individual horses as ride cars, and each horse can seat two riders. All three lanes were running, so I was determined to re-ride all three tracks. However it is possible to have just one or two tracks running. Although tame compared to PMBO, I love its racing element, hoping to be first home.

During the remainder of the ERS, I had time for two goes.
First go: I rode horse number 3 on the red track. Along the way I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and called out "Giddy up, people have bet their money on you". Annoyingly the white horse in the yellow lane won.

Second go: I rode horse number 2 on the green track. Again I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and called out "Giddy up" on the way around, but still lost.

The ERS ended at 11:00. By now the sky had clouded over and a few spots of light rain had fallen.

Summary of my rides this ERS: Pepsi Max Big One 2, Steeplechase 2 (red 1, green 1). Who beat me on that?

Morning Freetime

So far I'd only ridden two of the three tracks. Determined to ride them all, I had one more go: horse number 11 on the yellow track. Once again I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and called out "Giddy up" on the way around, but lost again. In fact this time the horses in the other lanes were ahead of me right from the start and mine never caught up.

I wanted to ride River Caves next, but that wasn't open yet. So I headed for Grand Prix, but that too was not due to open until later. Determined to ride something, I ventured into Nickelodeon Land to try out some of the new and not-so-new rides there.

Fairy World Taxi Spin
One of the new rides introduced as part of Nickelodeon Land in 2011. This features taxis on the ends of spokes. If you are sitting in the front seat you can press a button to make the taxi go up. The taxi is lowered when the button is released. I got into car number 8. Initially I got into the back seat, but before the ride began the attendant told me to move to the front seat so I could press the button to make the car rise. Naturally this was quite a tame ride, but it was worth one go to count it on Ride Count. This was my only go on Fairy World Taxi Spin all day.

Blue Flyer
My first ride on a wooden coaster for today. This wooden coaster (built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc.) originally operated as Zipper Dipper from 1934 to 2010. At the start of 2011 it was repainted blue and re-themed as Blue Flyer, part of the new Nickelodeon Land section. Although the resort's smallest wooden coaster, it was great fun. I enjoyed two goes on this little woodie: one in the second-from-back row followed by one in the third-from-back row. To me the ride experience seemed no different from its Zipper Dipper days. There were pops of AIRtime on the dips.

Diego's Rainforest Rescue
A new ride introduced as part of Nickelodeon Land in 2011, a set of balloons around a tower. I got into basket 8. The balloons began travelling around the tower. Shortly afterwards the set of balloons rose to the tower top where they continued travelling around the tower high up. Eventually the balloon cluster descended to ground level and the ride completely stopped. A fun new addition to Pleasure Beach Resort, and my first time of riding this kind of ride anywhere (let alone this particular one here), but this was my only go on Diego's Rainforest Rescue all day. Personally I think the Zamperla Balloon Race which I rode at Flambards Cornwall several times 2002 to 2009 inclusive is a more exciting ride.

The Backyardigans Pirate Treasure
Another new ride introduced as part of Nickelodeon Land in 2011. It consists of boats on spokes, which travel around a clockwise circle. Along the way there are undulations, presumably to simulate waves at sea. I sat in boat 13. Another mild ride, but worth one go to log it on Ride Count. This was my only go on here all day.

Dora's World Voyage
A new boat ride, introduced as part of Nickelodeon Land in 2011. I got into a boat which sailed around the canal start to finish through different zones: France, Russia, Tanzania and China. A song was played on the boat, repeatedly mentioning "Hello" in the applicable language, e.g. Bonjour in France. Obviously the words changed at the zone transitions. This was my only ride on here all day.

I considered going on Nickelodeon Streak next, but due to the queue decided to postpone that for later. At this point I left Nickelodeon Land to ride something somewhere else.

Flying Machines
My final ride before lunch, I sat in the back row of plane GT1. This was my only go on here all day; I never returned to this later.

Lunch At Paradise Room
At 12:30 we returned to the Paradise Room for a cooked lunch: chicken, chips and side salad (although it was 12:52 when I got there via the spiral stairs). One drink from the bar per person was included, and I had Pepsi. Club merchandise was available, but I didn't buy anything this year. However I did buy a second-hand RCCGB 15th Anniversary T-shirt from Barry who was about to emigrate to Australia.

Afternoon Freetime
I left the Paradise Room via the spiral stairs and re-entered Pleasure Beach at 2:08pm. Rain had fallen, and it was just about stopping. There were further outbreaks of rain during the afternoon, in addition to the cold wind. Despite that, between lunch and the afternoon ERS, I rode the following once each.

Wild Mouse
According to the Roller Coaster Database, this wooden mouse coaster was built in-house by Frank Wright, and has been operating since 1958. After about 10 to 15 minutes of queuing, I got into car number 5 (Trixie). The car climbed the lift hill, and worked its way downwards through several sharp hairpin bends along the way. This made for quite a rough ride. I noticed AIRtime on the dips near end. This was my only go on Wild Mouse all day.

River Caves
As I neared the front of the queue, I saw Smiler and Big Stevie B right at the back. When it was my turn to ride, I got into a boat and rode alone. My boat sailed through a series of chambers, each with a different scene. One chamber featured stalagmites and stalactites. Towards the end, my boat went uphill, along the outdoor section (which you can see from the path) and down a drop, to create a splash. When I disembarked I saw Big Stevie B again, now at the front of the queue. This was my only go on here all day.

Grand Prix
A car ride, whereby the cars run on what resembles a giant Scalextric track. I sat in car number 7, which is silver, and was taken down the spiral (like in a multi-storey car park), towards Pepsi Max Big One and back, then up the spiral back to the station. Depending on your take of things, you could perhaps class it as a coaster, considering it has ride cars which run on a track, that spirals down and up hill. What do you think? Coaster or not coaster? Although quite a tame ride really, it was worth one go to say I'd been on it this trip.

Now for a gentle rest ride, a journey around the Pleasure Beach, including outside the boundary around the Casino Tower, and above Nickelodeon Land towards the end. A fair few other members were on the Monorail as well. This was my only go on here all day.

This Mack Rides Bobsled coaster has been operating at PBR Blackpool since 22 June 1988. According to the RCDB, it is one of six coasters of this model (five of which are currently operating) worldwide. Avalanche has a track length of 1490' (454.2 m) and no inversions. I had one go on this in the back row. Whereas other riders were screaming, I was quiet and totally relaxed for the entire journey. As far as I'm concerned, it's not scary at all; more a gentle rest ride. This was my only go on here all day.

Grand National ERS
It was now time for our ERS on the Resort's classic twin track Möbius racing wooden coaster Grand National. This was built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc. and has been operating since 1935. According to the RCDB, its maximum height of 62' (18.9 m) makes it the tallest of the five wooden coasters at PBR Blackpool, but only the third tallest currently operating wooden coaster in the UK. Due to the way the coaster is designed, on one go you depart from one platform and return to the station on the opposite platform. The platform you depart from at the start of your go dictates which lift hill (left or right facing upwards) your train ascends. Doing a complete circuit of the track back to where you get on would require two consecutive goes without getting off in between. Consequently you could class this coaster as two coasters. Coaster-Count classes it as two coasters; whereas Ride Count classes the whole thing as one coaster.

It's amazing that we rode Grand National at all! When I turned up at 4:06pm a long delay occurred before we could begin riding it. It took until around 4:25pm for anyone to get their first go. Some members went on other nearby rides in the interim, but I just stood by Grand National and waited. Nonetheless, we still had our full allotted hour, through to 5:30pm. Despite taking until around 4:50pm to get my first go, I eventually managed four goes. It was worth the wait though, I particularly love Grand National for the racing element; half the fun of it is hoping my train will beat the opposing one.

First go (left lift hill): I sat in the back row of the red train which climbed the left lift hill. Opponent blue train on the right lift hill. Along the way I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and shouted "Giddy up, we want our train to win", but the blue train raced way ahead right from the start, and the red train (my train) never caught up. Hence the blue train won and the red train (my train) lost!

Second go (right lift hill): I was on the blue train which climbed the right lift hill. Opponent red train on left lift hill. The blue train (my train) was slightly ahead on the lift hill, and quickly got way ahead after the summit. After that, the red train never caught up on the blue train (my train). Even so, I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and shouted "Giddy up, don't let the red train catch us". Result: blue train (my train) won, red train lost. Hurray!

Third go (left lift hill): I sat in the third row of the maroon train which climbed the left lift hill. Opponent green train on the right lift hill. Once again I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and shouted "Giddy up, we want our train to win", but the green train won, worse luck!

Fourth go (right lift hill): Andy T and I sat together on the fourth row of the maroon train which climbed the right lift hill. Opponent green train on the left lift hill. Yet again I sang "Giddy up giddy up brave prince" and shouted "Giddy up, we want our train to win". Initially the maroon train led, then the green train overtook and led. Later the maroon train overtook and led briefly, until the green train overtook again. The result was a neck and neck finish.

Altogether another fun ERS, albeit later than expected. It was really satisfying to have this famous coaster to ourselves on the day of the famous Grand National race at Aintree, indeed roughly the time of the actual race (which was scheduled to start at 4:15pm).

Early Evening Freetime
After the ERS ended at 5:30pm, members returned to their hotels to relax and prepare for the evening, or rode until closing time (8pm). I continued riding until 7:13pm. Unless stated I rode the following once each.

Nickelodeon Streak
This classic woodie was built by Charles Paige and was originally called Roller Coaster from 1933 to 2010. Early 2011 it was repainted orange and re-themed Nickelodeon Streak, part of the new Nickelodeon Land section. Although I had ridden it as Roller Coaster during previous Blackpool Bashes, this was my first time of riding it as Nickelodeon Streak. I didn't notice any difference in the ride experience compared to its Roller Coaster days, but anyway PBR Blackpool have certainly made a good job of preserving this classic woodie by giving it a modern feel. This was my only go on this coaster all day. With a maximum height of 61' (18.6 m) Nickelodeon Streak is surprisingly taller than Big Dipper (60' or 18.3 m).

The Krusty Krab Order Up
Formerly Fruit Shoot The Ride in the Beaver Creek section until 2010, this Moser Rides drop tower was re-themed and renamed The Krusty Krab Order Up for inclusion in Nickelodeon Land in 2011. It has two seat units (one each side of the tower). This was quite a tame ride; the unit went up and down a few times and that was it. There was nothing scary about this. I would guess they had this on a mild setting; I'm pretty sure the last time I rode Jumping Bean at Paultons (also a Moser Rides drop tower) in September 2010 I had more up-down cycles and a more exciting ride experience. I only rode this once.

Rugrats Lost River
Formerly known as Beaver Creek Log Flume, this log flume was re-themed and renamed Rugrats Lost River for inclusion in Nickelodeon Land in 2011. Before getting on the ride I already had my cagoule on, but not my leggings; I didn't bother putting my leggings on or hood up. The ride experience was just the same as under its previous incarnation really. I got into a log, which went along the canal, around the u-bend, up the lift hill (stopping briefly part way up), and after reaching the summit went down the shute to land with a mighty splash. At this point my jeans got a bit wet, and some water went down my rear neck. Serve me right for not putting my hood up or leggings on! I only had one go on this.

Avatar Airbender
This Zamperla Disko is one of the new rides introduced as part of Nickelodeon Land in 2011. Riders sit at the edge of a giant disk facing outwards. The disk spins whilst travelling a u-shaped track back and forth. In my opinion, the ride experience was no different to any other Zamperla Disko I've ridden elsewhere. A fun ride, but once was enough; just like any other Disko there's no way I could take two goes straight off.

Pepsi Max Big One
Back to where I began the day, this Arrow Dynamics Hyper Coaster. Pepsi Max Big One was now rather quiet. Two trains were still operating, but only one train had all its seats available for use; the other train had its seats towards the back bagged off. I thoroughly enjoyed three goes on Pepsi Max Big One, all on the train that had all its seats available for use. On all three goes, I sat towards the back of that train.

My final ride of the day. This Vekoma SLC (689m Standard) inverted steel coaster originally operated as Traumatizer at Pleasureland Southport from 1999 to 5 Sep 2006. Since 2 May 2007 it has been operating as Infusion at Pleasure Beach Resort Blackpool. Its 689 metre (2260' 6") track length explains its model name. The train climbed the lift hill to a maximum height of 109' 3" (33.3 m), descended the first drop and went around a vertical loop followed by many more thrilling features. It all added up to an exciting ride to end the day.

I considered having a go on the Ice Blast before leaving, but when I saw a queue I didn't bother, as I really needed to go to the Paradise Room to prepare for the evening at this point. Thus I didn't ride Ice Blast all day for the second year running, which was a pity. I really must ride it next year.

Summary of my day in order of activity
Morning ERS: Pepsi Max Big One 2, Steeplechase 2 (red track1, green track 1)

Steeplechase yellow track 1
Fairy World Taxi Spin 1
Blue Flyer 2
Diego's Rainforest Rescue 1
The Backyardigans Pirate Treasure 1
Dora's World Voyage 1
Flying Machines 1


Wild Mouse 1
River Caves 1
Grand Prix 1
Monorail 1
Avalanche 1

Afternoon ERS: Grand National 4 (left lift hill, right lift hill, left lift hill, right lift hill)

Nickelodeon Streak 1
The Krusty Krab Order Up 1
Rugrats Lost River 1
Avatar Airbender 1
Pepsi Max Big One 3
Infusion 1

Cumulative Summary of My Rides (ERSs and Free Time Combined)

Avatar Airbender
Blue Flyer
Diego's Rainforest Rescue
Dora's World Voyage
Fairy World Taxi Spin
Flying Machines
Grand National: left lift hill
Grand National: right lift hill
Grand Prix
Nickelodeon Streak
Pepsi Max Big One
River Caves
Rugrats Lost River
Steeplechase green
Steeplechase red
Steeplechase yellow
The Backyardigans Pirate Treasure
The Krusty Krab Order Up
Wild Mouse

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Day Two - Saturday 14 April (evening)

Coaster Crazy Show
Having left Pleasure Beach at 7:13pm, I tried entering the Paradise Room via the spiral stairs, but the doors to the Paradise Room were locked. I went back down the spiral stairs and tried the entrance at the north end. Thankfully that was open so I was able to ascend the stairs at that end and thus enter the Paradise Room that way. Once inside rehearsals were taking place. Having changed for the evening in my dressing room, I rehearsed my gong act Brave Prince start to finish, and set up my camcorder and tripod. Also I chose my seat for the evening; the table opposite the stage front where Libby Williams' family were seated. My seat facing the table was with my back to the stage, so when the show began I turned my chair to face the stage.

Around 8pm the doors opened to members not taking part. This year's theme was Sports Day, and many dressed in some form of sports gear. Until the start of the Gong Show I wore my red England away short sleeved shirt (that I bought late 2010 and hadn't worn yet), red shorts (that I normally wear for circuit training at Bath Sports Centre), a pair of white socks and my white soled gym shoes (that I normally wear for circuit training at Bath Sports Centre). So you see, I already had suitable clothes for the night. The only extra I bought for the evening was a 99p blue football from Morrisons Bath. Some went for something fairly elaborate, e.g. Andrea Sheppard created a crazy golf course outfit. Some were a bit obscure, e.g. one young lady dressed in a Wonder Woman costume; I'm not sure what that's got to do with sport. Likewise it was hardly surprising that some of the billed songs had lyrics which tied in with the Sports Day theme. Food was on sale at the start, so I bought myself a hot dog and fries. Also I had half a Heineken to drink during the first half of the show.

Show Opener: Alan Chilvers and Adam King - "Running All Over The World"
At 8:27pm the show began with a brief excerpt of the theme Chariots of Fire, followed by a parodised version of Status Quo's "Running All Over The World" from Alan Chilvers and Adam King.

After that, Andy Hine rode a small tricycle on to the stage, accompanied by the Formula 1 theme. Having dismounted he introduced the show. Shortly after he and Alan Chilvers joked about football. This led seamlessly into the following act.

Act 1: Alan Chilvers, Gary Williams and Adam King - "Three Lions"
The first official act, Alan Chilvers, Gary Williams and Adam King singing "Three Lions", which originally became a number one hit at the time of UEFA Euro 96 England. Alan asked the audience to sing along. One of the three donned a white England home T-shirt from 1996; evidently some still have shirts that old kicking about.

Game 1: Load of Balls!
Two teams: Lee and Michelle v Kelsey and David.

Lee and David were asked to wear hats and stand towards the back of the stage. Michelle and Kelsey had to stand opposite them near the front of the stage and throw foam balls to stick on their partners' hats, and thereby score points as per the marked zone on the applicable hat where the ball landed.

Kelsey threw three balls to David: total score 100.
Michelle threw three balls to Lee: total score 150.

The hats were now passed over to Michelle and Kelsey, who were asked to wear them and stand towards the back of the stage. Lee and David had to stand near the front of the stage and throw foam balls to stick on their partners' hats in an effort to score points. Unfortunately both fared badly and scored nul points each.

Lee threw three balls to Michelle: total score 0.
David threw three balls to Kelsey: total score 0.

Final score: Lee and Michelle 150; Kelsey and David 100.
Winning team: Lee and Michelle 150

Lee and Michelle were awarded a darts game as a prize.

Act 2: Kelly Cameron - "Physical"
Kelly has sung billed songs the last four years, so it was no surprise she was back this year, this time to sing the sport themed song "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John). Towards the end someone did press-ups on stage, whilst someone else brought chairs out for the next game.

Game 2: Kids' Gopher
At 8:50pm it was time for the second of tonight's games, this one solely for children aged 14 and under. Ten children entered at the start. When called, they ran into the audience to fetch an item specified by Nev, e.g. hotel key, camera, ball of some sort. The time it took all the children to find the required item varied considerably. Each time they returned there was one less chair, forcing the child unable to find a seat out, just like musical chairs. Well done Josh for winning, and Zac for coming second.

Here is the complete list of items the children were asked to get:
Coaster T-shirt
Money-off coupon
Hotel key
Bingo membership card
Photo of a loved one
Ball of some sort (I gave a boy my football)
Final two: Find a female with lipstick on and get her to kiss you on the cheek

The Gopher Game ended at 9:11pm.

Act 3: Libby Williams - "Lambeth Walk"
Following her 2008 Gong Show win, Libby has sung billed acts 2009 to 2011, so it was hardly surprising she sang a billed song again; "Lambeth Walk" this time. Although not a sport-themed song, this song did have a loose connection with the sport theme. The song is about Lambeth, which is in London, and of course London is the host city of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics; hence the connection.

The Gong Show
It was now time for the famous Gong Show. Normally the majority of acts get booed off very quickly, but this year all bar Brian and David's acts were exceptionally good! Consequently the Gong Show took longer than I think Nev expected.

Gong Act 1: Emerald Evans & Stuart Pope - Pole Dancing
Last year Emerald brought us an Italian aria. This time she was back with Stuart Pope to do something completely different: pole dancing. Initially Emerald did her pole dancing. Mid-way through Stuart appeared and danced around the stage. After that Emerald and Stuart mainly danced around the stage, although there were one or two further brief moments of Emerald on the pole. Emerald and Stuart reached the end without the horn, accompanied by cheering and applause.

Gong Act 2: The Coaster Kids (Charlotte, Izzy, Alicia and Charlotte) - Coaster song
The only child act amongst the adult acts in the line-up. When Nev announced this, he said the girls had written new lyrics to accompany a recognisable tune. Despite watching my video of this a number of times since the event, I don't recognise the tune. They sang their song whilst performing a dance routine with arm movements, and asked the audience to join in and copy them. When they reached the end without the horn, they attracted cheering and applause.

Gong Act 3: Matthew - "Come On, Come On" HORN WENT
A last-minute addition to the Gong Show; he wasn't on the Back Stage Pass sent to me in advance, and wasn't even on the Gong Show Running Order list displayed back stage Saturday first thing. Nev said it was Matthew's first time of singing; he did quite well and almost made it to the end, until eventually the horn went. He was the first one to be sent off by the horn.

Gong Act 4: Brian Smith & David Bebbington - "Since You've Been Gone" (Rainbow) HORN WENT
David and Brian previously performed separate Gong acts in the 2010 Gong Show (although on that occasion, David was one uncredited accompanying performer in Brian's act, as well as his own). This time Brian and David officially entered as a duo with a rock song "Since You've Been Gone" by Rainbow. They were booed just fifteen seconds into their act, and following further boos the air horn finally went after one minute.

Gong Act 5: David Hodgson - Juggling
Another first-timer, Nev described this as a speciality act. David juggled batons and balls; his tricks had the audience clapping and/or cheering. At one point someone shouted "Chainsaws"; presumably they wanted him to juggle running chainsaws. Anyway David made it to the end without the horn, and attracted much cheering at the end.

Gong Act 6: Beth Haydock - "Mercy" (Duffy)
Another late addition to the Gong Show; she wasn't on the Back Stage Pass sent to me in advance, but was on the Gong Show Running Order list displayed back stage Saturday first thing. Also she was another first-timer, according to Nev it was her first time of singing on stage. She sang "Mercy" by Duffy very well and made it to the end without the horn. At the end she attracted much cheering and applause. Nev said "The acts are getting too good this year aren't they?".

Gong Act 7: Nemesis Nick - Brave Prince (Boogie Beebies) HORN WENT
Now it was my turn to perform in the Gong Show. Having sung a Eurovision song as my Gong Show act 2009 to 2011 inclusive, I chose something completely different this year: the dance "Brave Prince" from the BBC CBeebies programme Boogie Beebies. Being as that is aimed at 4 year olds, I deliberately donned my "I am 4" 40th birthday T-shirt to complete the pun (but kept the same red shorts from earlier on). There was mixed reception through the dance; laughing, cheering and applause during the first chorus, some booing during the second verse, shouting "More" at the end of the second chorus. Following some booing, the horn finally went mid way through the third verse. There was a mixture of mix of cheering, applause and booing when horn went. What a pity I didn't quite reach the end. When Nev explained where this song was from at the end, many members laughed.

Gong Act 8: Dave Maryan - "Mack The Knife" (Frank Sinatra)
The final Gong act. According to Nev, this was Dave's first time ever of publicly singing on stage or with a microphone. Despite that, he gave an outstanding performance of "Mack The Knife", he could sing. This was too good for the Gong Show; it should have been a billed act. After he reached the end without the horn going, there was much cheering and applause.

Vote for Best Act
Top two Nemesis Nick v Dave Maryan
Winner Dave Maryan

Vote for Worst Act
Bottom two Brian & David v Nemesis Nick
Ultimate worst Brian & David

Well it was another freak result for me, second best and second worst! It's odd how that kind of result can occur in the Gong Show. It seemed as though Brian & David were proud to be voted ultimate worst act. Congratulations to Dave Maryan for winning with "Mack The Knife"; it was great to see an adult win a line-up that included a child act (The Coaster Kids). For comparison, the Gong Show line-ups for 2008, 2009 and 2011 each included at least one child act, and each time a child act won.

When the Gong Show ended at 9:50pm, Nev gave the course of action for anyone wanting to take part in the 2013 Gong Show, and told prospective entrants to be as bad as they can; he even mentioned a couple of bad past Gong Show acts. At this point I went to my dressing room to change my outfit for the rest of the evening. I took off my birthday T-shirt and red shorts and put on my blue and white striped long sleeved football shirt (that I bought January 2011 and have ordinarily worn a few times since) and blue shorts (that I normally wear for circuit training at Bath Sports Centre). I kept the socks and white soled gym shoes from earlier on.

Act 4: Alan, Adam, Wendy, Paul Heaney, Carol Hedges and Gareth Arkell - Synchronised Swimming
Back to the billed acts, one with a bit of culture. Alan, Adam, Wendy, Paul Heaney, Carol Hedges and Gareth Arkell had a go at simulated synchronised swimming on stage. Their routine included walking around whilst doing arm movements, standing whilst bending over, and even leg movements during handstands (which attracted laughs from the audience). The whole routine took place behind a banner, accompanied by the operatic song "Time To Say Goodbye" (Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli). Due to the time delay it took me returning to the audience after the Gong Show, and getting myself half a Fosters upon my return, I missed most of this act. Watching my video of this in retrospect the team did very well; the way in which they choreographed the routine was quite clever.

Game 3: Limbo competition
The final game of the evening, a limbo competition. Nev asked five girls and five guys over 14 on to the stage. The contestants had to walk under a bar. When all ten had passed under, the bar was lowered and they had to try again. As the game progressed the bar was gradually lowered further and further. Anyone who knocked the bar off was out. Eventually people were being eliminated for not bending properly. I watched most of this, but near the end I went back stage for the final act. Unfortunately I don't have the complete game on video so don't know who won.

Finale: Wendy - "500 Miles"
The final act of the night: Wendy sang "500 Miles". Members who had performed billed or Gong Show acts earlier were eligible to wait back stage and join in with a conga line behind Wendy. Many earlier performers including me joined in with the on-stage walk. At the end Nev said "Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of the 2012 Coaster Crazy Show". Sadly I don't have this act on video, as by now my camcorder battery had run out.

After Show Party
After Nev's closing speech, at 10:19pm the stage went down to form the dance floor for the disco which followed. An hour of non-stop hits, including "Relax", "Can-can", "YMCA", "The Locomotion", "Happy Days" and "Stand Up". Any chance of a complete list of what was in the medley? This time the dance floor rapidly became crowded. Even so, some sat down throughout the hour. Not me, I thoroughly enjoyed a whole hour of dancing. At one point I danced the chorus moves from Brave Prince, the aim this time for other people to copy me, but no-one did. From time to time I took my football on to the dance floor, and passed it around other members. An energetic end to a coaster crazy day

The final four songs, played in full, were:
Lasha Tumbai (Ryan and co appeared on stage just in front of the curtains doing the actions)
Always Look On The Bright Side of Life
New York

Finally the Warner Brothers cartoon "That's all folks" marked the end of the disco at 11:19pm. One tradition that Nev nearly forgot was the group photo. Luckily I reminded him before people disappeared, so he asked everyone who had dressed up to assemble in front of the curtains for a group photo.

After that members were asked to pack up and leave as quickly as possible. I collected my belongings from my dressing room, along with my other items at the table where I sat much of the show. At 11:46pm I finally left the Paradise Room via the spiral stairs, and was back at my hotel four minutes later.

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Day Three - Sunday 15 April

First thing
After an action packed Saturday I awoke at 7:30am, packed and felt thirsty for more. I had breakfast at the official time of 9:00am. Once again, I could have had a full English breakfast, but chose beans on toast as a lighter alternative.

Morning ERS
Having left my hotel just after 10:00am I ran to the Pleasure Beach as I couldn't remember whether we had to be there at 10:00 or 10:15. Anyway, I got to the Casino Tower less than three minutes later. Everyone was waiting inside the tower on the ground floor this time, not outside as in previous years. Nev told us we were about to have an ERS on three coasters: Big Dipper (as stated in the programme), plus two surprise coasters: Nickelodeon Streak and Infusion.

Members were offered the chance to see behind the scenes of the Valhalla redevelopment under supervision of an official. However only a limited few would be able to do the tour, and it would be at the expense of ERS riding time. Those interested had to see the official. Being as it would eat into riding time, I decided not to bother, preferring to cram in as many rides as possible instead.

At 10:10am everyone was given the signal to go in. My plan was to ride Big Dipper first, followed by the surprise coasters. Like many members, I headed straight for Big Dipper. Once there, the queue was really long and didn't seem to be moving. Having initially wondered what was happening, I quickly left the queue and followed several other members across to Nickelodeon Streak instead.

Nickelodeon Streak
Originally called Roller Coaster from 1933 to 2010, this was the RCCGB's first ever ERS on this classic woodie under its new identity Nickelodeon Streak. For now I had just one go; I sat next to Planenut in the back row.

I left Nickelodeon Streak after just one go in order to allow ample time for multiple goes on Big Dipper and Infusion. Sadly Big Dipper was still closed, so for now I went to Infusion.

The other surprise coaster for this ERS was Infusion. Interestingly this coaster seems to get included in the Sunday ERS most years, presumably because it used to be Traumatizer at Pleasureland Southport. Presumably having this as part of the Sunday morning ERS is Nev's subtle way of incorporating a bit of Sunday at Pleasureland Southport of yesteryear at Blackpool. I enjoyed four goes on this inverted steelie as follows:
First go: back row
Second go: second row
Third go: third row
Fourth go: fifth row

The ride was walk-on for each go, though I left the ride and ran around to the start between each go. After my fourth go the attendant said I could stay on the train to have another go, but I chose to leave at the end of my fourth go in the hope of riding Big Dipper. Sadly Big Dipper was still not running, I was now told they had a problem with it. Feeling disappointed, I went across to Nickelodeon Streak to hopefully have another go on that before the ERS ended. Along the way I saw some members heading towards Big Dipper and Infusion, so I told them Big Dipper was still not working.

Nickelodeon Streak
During the remainder of the ERS, I had time for two more goes on Nickelodeon Streak.
First go: second row (I sat alone).
Second go: second-from-back row (I sat with Death).

Summary of my rides this ERS in order of riding
Nickelodeon Streak 1
Infusion 4
Nickelodeon Streak 2

Cumulative Summary of My Rides

Nickelodeon Streak

Who beat me on that?

At the end of the ERS I met the attendant in charge of Big Dipper. He said it still wasn't working, which is why (unknown to me) they put Wild Mouse on as a substitute coaster during the ERS. It didn't matter that I missed Wild Mouse during our ERS as I'd already had one go on it Saturday afternoon. I was however disappointed at not having Big Dipper this ERS, as I'd deliberately not ridden it all day Saturday, because I was expecting to ride it during the Sunday morning ERS. The attendant was hoping to get Big Dipper running later, though no guarantee could currently be given. At this point I wished I'd had one go on Big Dipper Saturday, (just like the other four woodies); if nothing else I could have had the honour of riding all five woodies on the Saturday of the Blackpool Bash for the first time.

Rest of Sunday
The 2012 Blackpool Bash was to all intents and purposes over when the ERS finished at 11:30. No further events (e.g. lunch, later ERS) were scheduled for Sunday. Members with Sunday wristbands stayed and continued riding. Those like me without Sunday wristbands left and went straight home (perhaps stopping at another park en route) or visited other Blackpool attractions. I resisted the temptation to hang on and see if Big Dipper would run later as it would mean a) buying £5 worth of tickets for just one ride, and b) goodness knows how long I'd be waiting; better I leave now and do something else. Thus I never rode Big Dipper all weekend, which was a pity. I stayed in the Pleasure Beach talking to Nev, Alan Chilvers and a few other members for a bit until I left Pleasure Beach for the last time at 12:18. After that, I collected my luggage from my hotel.

South Pier
Around 1pm I went on South Pier and had a jumbo hot dog there. Whilst sitting down eating it I saw Nev and Death walk on to the pier. Having finished my hot dog, I saw Christine Hine and Alan Chilvers, and had my photo taken with them. When I left the pier, I bought myself a strawberry swirl whippy ice cream. You've got to have an ice cream on a trip to Blackpool.

Blackpool Tower Eye
I caught the 13:37 tram (one of the new trams) from South Pier to Tower stop. Around 2pm I entered the Tower and asked how long a visit to the top would take, bearing in mind I wanted to be back at Blackpool North by around 3:30pm to be there well before my booked train home. The receptionist told me the film lasts about five minutes, and one can spend as long as one wants at the top, so I should be able to get back down by 3pm. So I decided to pay a visit to the Tower Eye. On the way in I met a few other RCCGB members including Dave Perry and Barry (Rolf Harris lookalike). I climbed the stairs to level 5. On the way up I looked through the door, through which I could see the Tower Ballroom balconies, and down into the ballroom itself. Some sort of function was taking place in the ballroom at the time.

Just after the Tower Eye admissions point, I stood by a green screen for a photo. I deliberately removed my outer layers of clothing to show my RCCGB T-shirt, and left my luggage out of shot. The photo was available for me to buy at the exit, but I didn't buy it as it would have cost me £8, which I felt would have been a lot of money to spend on one photo.

3D Film
The next stop was the small cinema for the five minute 3D film. Spectators were issued with 3D glasses and asked to stand, holding on to a rail to feel the best effect. The film had some amazing features, e.g. zooming in on Blackpool and the Tower from outer space, the tower taking off like a pyrotechnic rocket (a computer graphic animation I suppose) and going down the first drop of Pepsi Max Big One. All in all, an excellent short film. It's wonderful how they've made that film, presumably using a combination of video and computer graphics, but the Pepsi Max Big One first drop descent was no match for the real thing. When the film ended spectators handed back their 3D spectacles upon leaving the cinema.

Top of the Tower
After that I queued to be taken in the lift to the enclosed observation deck of the Tower Eye. Having reached the top, I was brave enough to walk the entire length of the glass walk on the promenade / beach side. I even got someone to photograph me sitting on the glass. From this level the views were breath-taking in all directions and I took several photos and video clips. After a while I climbed the spiral stairs to another level, and looked out in all directions. On that level I saw another staircase which visitors could climb up, so I went up to the top of that staircase. I was now on the highest level open to the public, someone took my photo. I saw Barry up there. There was one more spiral staircase leading upwards from this level, but its gate was locked. Does anyone know where that leads? Finally I went down the descent staircase, followed by the spiral staircase to the enclosed observation deck level. Once there, time was going on, so I waited for the lift down to level 6 of the building, and descended the stairs to level 1.

Journey Home
Having left the Tower around 3:05pm I walked straight back to Blackpool North. I got there at 3:22pm, which gave me ample time to get through the ticket barrier and buy a coffee well before catching the 15:44 train to Manchester Piccadilly. Once there I had to hurriedly find my way to platform 7 for the connecting 17:07 train to Bristol Temple Meads. Having reached Bristol Temple Meads at 20:18 I had time for a coffee before catching the 20:50 train to Bath Spa. I finally reached Bath around 9:10pm, and after that went to McDonalds Southgate Bath for a Quarter Pounder and fries, followed by a sundae. I finally reached home around 10pm.

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Meeting members I'd met on previous Club trips again (including Andy, Christine and Charlotte Hine, Alan Chilvers, Andy T, Barry, Death, Lucy Cosnett, Mark Blundell, Matt Walker, Mary and Andy Knight, Planenut, Ryan Hackett, Wendy Evans).
ERSs on Pepsi Max Big One, Steeplechase, Grand National, Nickelodeon Streak and Infusion.
High ride count Saturday (during ERSs and normal time).
Two nights of entertainment, plus dancing in the disco Saturday evening.
Audience participation songs "Delilah", "Irish Rover", etc. Friday evening.
Taking part in Nev's cardboard box trick and singing "Sweet Caroline" with Tony Jo Friday evening.
Dancing Brave Prince from Boogie Beebies in the Gong Show Saturday evening (and the freak result which followed).
The Blackpool Tower Eye: 3D film and visiting the top of the Tower.

Disappointing weather; a bit cold (especially Saturday), plus overcast sky (with occasional showers) most of Saturday.
Delay to the start of the Grand National ERS Saturday afternoon (still the ERS was worth the wait).
Big Dipper out of action for our Sunday morning ERS, hence I never rode it all weekend.

Summing Up
Another mega excellent weekend away, my fifth Blackpool Bash to-date. It was great riding the Pepsi Max Big One, Grand National, Infusion and other rides again, and catching up with other members. Thanks a million to Andy Hine for all the effort involved in organising a trip of this nature. At the Blackpool Bash, the ERSs and other riding are only part of the fun. The other major chunk of the fun includes the Friday evening entertainment, Saturday lunch and Saturday evening Coaster Crazy Show and disco. Better still I entered the Gong Show for the fourth year running, and produced another freak result (second best and second worst). No wonder Nev says in the Blackpool Bash invite "If you can only make one Club trip this year, make it this one".

I'm not sure when my next Club trip will be. I hope Nev can announce the date and venue for the Summer Bash in the next two or three weeks. Let's face it, June and July aren't that far away really. I would really like to make every effort to attend Mega-Glow-Mania for the first time ever this year, as I've still never attended that since first joining the RCCGB in March 2005. Unfortunately I can't promise to attend that event yet. It's unlikely I'll attend either day of Loopathon though; if I have to choose between attending Mega-Glow-Mania and all or part of Loopathon, I'd prefer to do Mega-Glow-Mania for the reason I've explained.

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