Review: Grand National

So, going back to that spectrum of wooden roller coasters I mentioned in my Big Dipper review, the Grand Narional is definitely the most intense of the three classic wooden coasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It’s rough and exciting, and is renowned for featuring a racing element where two parallel tracks compete against each other to see which is the winner. What I always find difficult about these coasters is whether to class them as one ride or two, given that they’re essentially two coasters that share a single queue line and race against one another.

Fortunately, the Grand National takes this predicament right out of the window by genuinely being one constant track all the way through. It runs on what’s called a Möbius Loop, which means that if you start on the left-hand side you finish on the right-hand side and vice versa. This kind of track system is extremely rare and makes this coaster yet another iconic piece of theme park history that’s still operating today at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

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So, the coaster experience itself. The Grand National has a slightly lower individual train capacity than the other two woodies, but when you load two trains simultaneously this kind of makes up for that. This is definitely the roughest and most violent of the three woodies, and features some very intense moments of airtime. One particularly harsh bit is the tiny secondary drop at the bottom of the first drop, which quite literally launches you out of your seat just before heading up the first of many hills. You can tell that this ride is intense too by its restraints; while the Big Dipper and Nickelodeon Streak each feature a single retro-style lap bar, the Grand National has the more modern and secure seatbelt / individual lap bar combo common to wooden roller coasters in production today.

Despite being a rough ride, the Grand National is also extremely exciting. The racing element definitely adds to the experience, and despite the tracks being parallel to one another for pretty much all of the ride, it’s still not guaranteed which side is going to win as slight delays in despatching the trains, as well as the weight and momentum of each one, mean that even the side with more outside turns can pull out a victory. There’s also plenty of bunny hops for fans of classic woodies, as well as loads of air time to keep you on your toes…literally.

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If you like roller coasters that are smooth and relaxing, steer clear of this one. But if you can take the roughness and want something that is going to excite and thrill you while being a piece of roller coaster history and displaying nifty little tricks you’re most likely not going to see elsewhere, then I can thoroughly recommend a ride on the Grand National. Place your bets now!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.

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