There aren’t many 120-year-old theme parks that can say they still to this day operate an attraction that’s almost as old as the park itself. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one exception. Originally conceived and constructed in 1904 as Sir Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machines, the ride itself now looks pretty different compared to how it looked when it first opened. The general design and concept of the attraction remain pretty much unchanged, however, and it really is amazing that any ride has managed to last quite that long.
So what is the Flying Machines like as a ride? It’s a fairly simple concept: you ride in suspended rocket vehicles that rotate and are pushed outwards by centrifugal force, giving a sensation of flight. The ride experience itself lasts a fairly long time, and I often joke that it’s the coldest ride in the world due to BPB’s seafront location and the winds that often get up as a result, which are distinctly magnified on an attraction such as this.
I think the reason for the longevity of this attraction is not just the history and uniqueness of it, but also because it’s actually quite a pleasant experience. It’s fairly fast but also quite relaxing despite the cold wind. It also has a very high capacity of 80 people per cycle, which is good because it means they can afford for the ride sequence to be a little longer because it won’t affect their throughput too much. And yes, it is still relatively popular, so although they frequently get close to that 80 people capacity, you normally don’t have to wait too long for the ride itself. It’s also one of the few rides at BPB that makes you exit through its gift shop, where you can see the original motor of the ride still going strong, which is pretty cool.
There are only a couple of little niggles I have with this ride, the main one being the chill factor which isn’t really something anyone can do anything about. The other problem is that it takes quite a while to get everyone off the thing due to the tiny exit stairway and the ridiculous one person at a time turnstile gate that makes it very narrow and creates a wholly unnecessary bottleneck of people trying to leave. I understand they don’t want 80 people charging down a staircase all at once, but it is quite frustrating and honestly doesn’t feel any safer for having the gate there. At least they load and unload simultaneously though, so there aren’t tons of people in the batching area waiting to sit in a rocket.
All in all, I really like the Flying Machines. I think the history and the pleasantness of it makes for an enjoyable ride, and one I try and do at least once on every visit to the Pleasure Beach. It’s very pretty to look at when it’s lit up at night, too, so in spite of it being a chilly experience I would still recommend undertaking it. And hey, you probably wrapped up warm for Blackpool anyway, so chances are you’ll be fine!
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.