Review: Red Arrows Skyforce

Continuing their theme of teaming up with popular names and brands, Blackpool Pleasure Beach opened their newest flat ride Red Arrows Skyforce in 2015. Occupying the site of the former Zierer Star Shape Bling, which was removed in 2011, the new ride is not quite as tall  as Bling but is every bit as chaotic. The difference here is that this time, it’s the riders who are in control of their experience and not gravity.

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How it works is like so: basically you sit in a plane with handles on each of the wings. As you rock your body you tilt the wings in opposing directions to get your plane to rock. Once you build up enough momentum you can flip completely upside-down, and if you hold the wings in place at this point you’ll be flipping revolution after revolution. All this time the 80-foot main arm is rotating, sending you through the sky before swooping back down to ground level – not at the fastest speed in the world, but enough to provide you with a little extra momentum and something different to look at as you orbit around.

First off, I really like the interactivity and the concept of Red Arrows Skyforce. The fact that you can choose how intense you want your experience to be is definitely a bonus: you can keep spinning and try and break the inversion record, or you can use this as a gentle ride if you want and not mess around with the wings at all. It’s a pretty unique ride too, being the only one of its type in the UK at the moment and one of the newest concepts from manufacturer Gerstlauer, who are mostly known for their roller coasters including the infamous Smiler at Alton Towers. It makes for an exciting ride and lasts long enough for you to feel dizzy and nauseated, yet satisfied by the end of it.

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Now, for the not-so-great points. The big one has to be the ride’s capacity. For such a large structure, the fact that each plane only holds one person thereby giving the ride a maximum capacity of just 12 is pretty pitiful and can lead to excruciatingly long lines on busier days. This is particularly disappointing if you’ve waited 45 minutes for the ride only to be unable to get the thing going. I hear a lot of people upon exiting the ride talking about how difficult it is to actually get the plane to flip completely – I personally don’t find it too difficult, but it does require co-ordination and patience, which isn’t always easy to come by as a theme park guest. A soundtrack to the ride itself would also be nice, particularly as having visited Europe recently I’m used to immersive flat rides with themeing and music…but then maybe I’ve just been spoiled recently in that respect. It does sound awfully quiet, though.

The other issue that I, personally, have with this ride is that it’s just not as good as Bling. I know I shouldn’t really compare two completely different rides by completely different maufacturers that were removed and built 3 years apart so they’re not technically replacements… But I loved Bling the ride so much – I thought it was exciting and different enough, and I was sad to see it go. Skyforce is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only ever worth doing in the off-season when the queue line will be short. I really wouldn’t wait anything more than about 15 or 20 minutes for this one, but that’s just me. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

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

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