Among the UK theme park community, 1994 has been referred to as the ‘Great British Year of the Roller Coaster’. Nemesis at Alton Towers and Shockwave at Drayton Manor both opened, as well as the small matter of what was at the time the world’s tallest, fastest, longest and steepest roller coaster, and still remains the tallest roller coaster in the UK and one of the longest in the world.
Its name? The Big One. It needs no other title than that.
Blackpool’s iconic Big One stands at 213 feet tall, has a top speed of 74mph, a first drop of 65 degrees and is over a mile long at 5,497 feet in length. It opened in May 1994 and has been one of the most well-known and talked-about roller coasters in the UK ever since. Constructed by Arrow Dynamics, it features several airtime hills, drops and sweeping turns, and although it doesn’t invert it really doesn’t need to, as every sensation is created by those drops and the sheer sense of speed.
One of the things that makes the Big One exciting is that first drop. As I mentioned in my trip report of BPB, the park itself is tiny, so in order to fit a coaster that size into it they had to make certain alterations in order to keep it within the boundaries. Big One’s first drop makes a dramatic right-hand twist as it descends, meaning that if you’re sitting on the right side of the train you literally feel as though you could fall out 200 feet above the ground, which is an exciting and somewhat terrifying twist. The rest of the coaster is fairly simple, with large hills and drops and plenty of banking, with the sheer speed of the ride making it an exhilarating experience.
Something I was pleasantly surprised by on our most recent visit to Blackpool is that they’re always changing and updating things to keep ride experiences fresh, safe and comfortable. For the longest time the Big One’s seats have been dreadfully uncomfortable, with a horrible lump on the base of the seat that makes them borderline painful to sit on. This is no longer the case, with freshly replaced seats that are a whole lot more comfortable, which is good, because the coaster itself is pretty rough as you would expect from a 22-year-old hypercoaster built by a now-defunct company. The restraints are also well-chosen, with a seatbelt to keep you secure and a fairly dinky lap bar, and coupled with the bucket-like seats this leaves the top half of you fairly exposed, which all helps to add to the sensation of riding and really makes this a fun and scary experience.
There’s not really a whole lot else I can say about the Big One. As the name suggests, it does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s tall, fast and long, there’s really not much else to it. But when simplicity can create such a thrilling experience, why would you need to change it? There may be taller, faster and longer coasters operating in the world now, but the Big One at Blackpool will always be an icon to theme park enthusiasts worldwide, and if you pride yourself as such then you really need to say you’ve ridden this one. It truly is an awesome ride experience.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.