Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Nemesis Nick at Sandcastle Water Park Blackpool April 2015

Date: Friday 10 April 2015
Venue: Sandcastle Water Park (Blackpool)
Who Went: Just me

N.B. Any use of "today" in this report means Friday 10 April 2015.

Rationale For Trip
As some of you may have gathered, I enjoy water parks, including Splashdown at Tower Park, Poole. Having travelled to Blackpool the afternoon of Thursday 9 April for the RCCGB Blackpool Bash 2015, Friday daytime was an ideal opportunity for me to visit Blackpool's Sandcastle Water Park.

Welcome to Sandcastle Water Park
Just like Blackpool Pleasure Beach the rest of the weekend, it was only a short walk from the hotel where I stayed to Sandcastle Water Park. When I reached the foyer around 10:30 Bling the monkey was greeting visitors as they entered. At the reception I paid the extra £6.25 for a Hyperzone wristband, which covers the Master Blaster, Sidewinder, Montazooma and Aztec Falls.

In the Pool Area
Once past the foyer, bar and changing rooms, the water park itself is vast. Since this was my sixth visit to-date, I remembered the layout quite well. When I entered the pool area approximately 10:45, I began with Aztec Falls.

Aztec Falls
One of the two Hyperzone slides which opened in February 2012; this requires use of a tyre. On this occasion I was able to collect a tyre without having to queue. Having collected a tyre, I had to go up some steps, into a tunnel which had some special effect at the entrance, through the tunnel and up several flights of stairs to the top of a tower which was built when the Montazooma and Aztec Falls slides were installed. As I neared the top, there were two queues: one for Montazooma and one for Aztec Falls. When it was my turn, I had to sit on my tyre and let myself go. To start with I went down a dark closed tube slide. Halfway down I entered a giant bowl, and was whirled at speed once around the outer edge, followed by once around the inner edge into another dark tube slide which took me the rest of the way to the slide exit. Another exciting ride, definitely worth the wait at the top. When I reached the bottom I decided to have a second go, which was just as much fun as the first.

The other Hyperzone slide which opened in February 2012. This slide requires a special mat with handles and a curved front. The waiting time for a mat was very short, so I decided to do this now. Having taken a mat, I had to go through the same tunnel and up the same stairs as I did for Aztec Falls, until I joined the back of the Montazooma queue, which at this stage was fairly short. When I reached the launch point I had to place the special mat, curved end facing forwards, on the slide top and lie on the mat head first on my belly, holding the handles at the curved end. Once launched I set off really quickly, and continued quite fast all the way to the end. Altogether fast and fun slide. I only had one go on this for now.

Master Blaster
Master Blaster is another Hyperzone slide, also requiring use of a tyre. This was already quite popular as I had to wait a few minutes for a tyre at the landing point. Having got one, I set off the way I had previous visits, only to be told I must now take a different staircase to the upper level. Once on the upper level the queue for the launch point tailed back to the bridge over the wave pool, but I didn't mind waiting. Master Blaster is 250 metres in length and seems to go on for ever; there are several uphill sections. Part way along, you go through a tube slide, which exits the building, spirals around and re-enters the building. That's the blue spiral tube you can see sticking out of the left front corner of the building. Towards the end there's a final climb and a very steep final drop into the landing tray. Altogether a thrilling ride, one of the best in the water park, and worth the wait.

When I landed I decided to have a second go. Once again I had to queue for a tyre at the bottom and for the launch point upstairs, but the ride experience was nonetheless well worth the wait. At the end of my second go I left the Master Blaster to go on something else.

The launch point for Master Blaster has a label on its side with the following information:
Aqua Leisure International
Master Blaster Ride
Commissioned April 2006

One important question: the Master Blaster is described as a rollercoaster water slide, in fact it claims to be the world's longest indoor rollercoaster water slide, but does that mean it's a rollercoaster or not?

One of the four Hyperzone slides, this requires use of a tyre. Bathers collect a tyre at the bottom and go upstairs to the launch point at the top. Once there one has to sit on the tyre and grip both handles tightly before being pushed over the edge by the lifeguard. There's a very steep drop (a long way down) into a ravine. Following the first drop, you go quite a long way up the other side, then down and back up the side you first came down, and so forth until you run out of momentum and grind to a halt at the bottom of the ravine, before exiting.

This too was quite busy now; I had to wait a few minutes at the bottom for a tyre, and longer for the launch point at the top. When it was my turn I placed my tyre on the launch platform, but felt nervous about getting into it. When the lifeguard convinced me the tyre was securely in position on the platform, I got into the tyre and gripped the handles tightly whilst waiting to be pushed over the edge. Once launched I felt so frightened on the first drop I shouted "Oh my God". After the first drop I was more confident about the rest of the ride, but once was enough for now.

Now that I had been on all four Hyperzone slides at least once each, I tried some of the non-Hyperzone slides, starting with Thunder Falls.

Thunder Falls Water Slides
Two water slides, one is blue and one is yellow. These are mostly open top, however there's a short covered bit on the yellow slide midway. Both are fairly slow and quite long, thus they give long, gentle, relaxing rides. Unfortunately the waiting time for these was quite long (almost to the bottom of the spiral stairs), therefore I limited myself to one go on the blue slide followed by one go on the yellow slide.

Treetops Water Chutes
A set of three wavy slides side by side, thus three sliders can race each other. Looking downhill from the top, the left hand slide is blue, the centre one is yellow and the right hand one is red. These were made by Aqua Leisure International, commissioned 2004. The waiting time for these was minimal if at all. I enjoyed these three wavy slides twice each in the following order: blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red.

Duelling Dragons
Two fast closed tube slides, which are classed as White Knuckle Slides, but they're not part of the Hyperzone. The queuing time for these slides varied quite a bit; ranging from one or two in front of me at the top to almost the bottom of the stairs on some of my goes. Nonetheless I enjoyed the left and right slides (as viewed facing the entrances from the top) in sequence eight times over. Both slides were extremely fast, and the duration of each slide was quite short.

Now that it was late afternoon I decided to have a few more goes on the Hyperzone slide Montazooma. I ended up having five goes. The waiting time for mats was generally short (just two in front of me on my fifth go), but the queue on the stairs was still fairly lengthy each time. Never mind, each of my goes was great fun, and well worth the wait.

Thunder Falls Water Slides
Now for a few more goes on the Thunder Falls Water Slides. The queue for these was still quite long (about half way down the stairs), but not as long as earlier. I ended up having two goes on each slide in the following order: blue, yellow, blue, yellow.

After my earlier fear of this, it was now time for me to brave having at least one more go on this. Although the wait for a tyre at the bottom was very short this time, there was still a substantial queue at the top. When it was my turn, I felt nervous about getting into the tyre and being released. Anyway I got into the tyre, gripped the handles tightly and the lifeguard released me after reassuring me I would be alright. Once released I felt really scared and shouted "Oh my God!" on the first drop. During the successive up and down movements I feared falling off the tyre and therefore maintained my tight grip on the handles until the tyre stopped of its own accord.

Once I landed I decided to try again, hoping to be more confident this time. The queue at the top was similar in length to my previous go. When it was my turn, I took time getting into my tyre and nearly chickened out! Anyway once seated I gripped the tyre handles and went ahead with the launch, but once again felt frightened on the first drop. After the subsequent series of up and down movements had ended I didn't feel like any more goes on Sidewinder for the rest of the day.

Ushi-Gushi River Creek
A flowing river running anticlockwise. I enjoyed four laps of this river run; I tried swimming breaststroke although the river run was a bit busy to swim properly.

Wave Pool
Suddenly the wave machine started in the wave pool, so I went into the wave pool to enjoy the waves. As soon as the waves subsided I left the pool to have a few more goes on the Master Blaster during the remaining opening time.

Master Blaster
It was now the final hour of opening and I wanted to have as many goes as I could on this rollercoaster water slide. There was now no queue at all for tyres at the bottom (thus I was able to keep my tyre between goes), but there was a queue on the steps leading from the upper floor to the slide launch point. I ended up having four goes on this, all of which were great fun. After my fourth go I gave up my tyre as I wanted to try and get at least one more go on Aztec Falls before closing time.

Aztec Falls
When I got to Aztec Falls there was no queue for tyres at the bottom and the queue at the top of the stairs was now quite short. When it was my turn I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the entry tube slide, giant bowl and exit tube slide. At the bottom there was still time for another go, so I was able to keep my tyre and once again the wait at the top was quite short. My second go ended up being my final go of the day on this.

Thunder Falls Water Slides
There was still time for me to cram in a few more goes on Thunder Falls Water Slides. By now I was able to walk straight to the top of the spiral stairs, and find one or two others waiting at the top. I enjoyed sliding the blue and yellow slides once each. After that I went upstairs again, but on my way up this time an announcement was made telling visitors the pool and slides were now closed. When I reached the top I was able to have the final go on my chosen slide as expected. The lifeguard told me that I was the last person to go down Thunder Falls today, and I ended up going down the yellow slide. When I reached the bottom I returned to the changing rooms.

One other feature which I missed is the Caribbean Storm Treehouse. This is a play area with a number of features including water jets you can aim at other bathers, and a giant coconut which gradually fills and tips to spill its contents over you. Although I walked near / through this area from time to time, I didn't actually stand under the coconut or aim the jets this time.

Whilst exiting the changing rooms and passing through the reception area I deliberately kept my hoody off so as to show my T-shirt which I had printed for my 43rd birthday last September. A few other customers and a member of staff were mystified when they saw the front, until I showed the back. I finally left the building at 18:17. A few minutes later I returned to my hotel to prepare for the evening.

Summary of my day in order of activity

Aztec Falls 2
Montazooma 1
Master Blaster 2
Sidewinder 1
Thunder Falls Water Slides blue, yellow
Treetops Water Chutes blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red
Duelling Dragons left, right in sequence 8 times over
Montazooma 5
Thunder Falls Water Slides blue, yellow, blue, yellow
Sidewinder 2
Ushi-Gushi River Creek 4 laps
Wave pool wave session
Master Blaster 4
Aztec Falls 2
Thunder Falls Water Slides blue, yellow, yellow

Cumulative Summary of Slides

Aztec Falls
Duelling Dragons left
Duelling Dragons right
Master Blaster
Thunder Falls Water Slides blue
Thunder Falls Water Slides yellow
Treetops Water Chutes blue
Treetops Water Chutes red
Treetops Water Chutes yellow

Total 50 slides, plus 4 laps of Ushi-Gushi River Creek and one wave session in the wave pool.


Re-riding the thrilling Hyperzone slides Master Blaster, Montazooma and Aztec Falls, plus other slides.
High slide count.

Feeling frightened during each of my three goes on Sidewinder.

Summing Up
Wow, a mega fun visit to the UK's largest indoor water park at Blackpool in Granadaland. By staying in all day, I certainly got my money's worth. Once again I managed to stay in until 18:00 without eating or drinking anything. My big breakfast around 8:30 set me up for the whole day. It's a pity I felt nervous each time I rode Sidewinder, and ended up having just three goes on it all day. That used to be one of my favourite slides before my accident on it during my April 2014 visit. Is there any hope of me regaining my confidence on Sidewinder? Thankfully I still enjoyed enough goes on Master Blaster, Montazooma and Aztec Falls to make it worth paying the extra £6.25 for a Hyperzone wristband. If you've not yet been there, and you enjoy water parks, I strongly suggest you pay it a visit. In order to get your money's worth, I recommend staying in all day. Going in after the ERS on Sunday of the Blackpool Bash (i.e. around midday) may not give you sufficient time to do Sandcastle Water Park justice. Surprisingly I don't recall seeing anyone else from the RCCGB in there. Being as this was the Blackpool Bash weekend, I'd have thought a few other members who had arrived Thursday evening or Friday early morning for the Blackpool Bash would have taken the opportunity to spend Friday daytime at Sandcastle Water Park, especially riding the Master Blaster rollercoaster water slide.

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