Review: Valhalla

WARNING: You are about to read my review of my favourite ride in the entire world. To this day I have never been on a ride I have enjoyed more than Valhalla – some have come close, but in 16 years of operation this one has never been beaten. With that said, this review is going to be biased. If you want an impartial review of the Golden Ticket Award winner for Best Water Ride in the world (for the second year running) then I suggest you look elsewhere. Otherwise, read on.

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Back in the 1980s, the site that is now occupied by Valhalla was home to a funhouse, which tragically burned down in 1991. The site stood empty for many years until the idea for Valhalla was conceived based on a similar ride at Tusenfryd theme park in Norway. Valhalla opened on 14th June 2000 at a cost of £15 million, making it one of the most expensive water rides ever constructed; it is also one of the longest dark rides in the world. The ride underwent a major refurbishment in 2011-2012 to replace the old facade and update many of the special effects, and today is looking and riding just about as well as it has ever done.

What makes Valhalla such a spectacular experience is the sheer immersiveness of it all. From the moment you step into the station, the awesome and atmospheric theme music helps to build tension. The spray from the facade’s waterfall creates a rain effect and is the first of many watery effects used throughout the ride. Once inside the building, you’re treated to so many different scenes and effects that it would be impossible to list them all, but some of the most iconic include the Odin face on the first lift, waterfall tunnel, ice room, three drops, ring of fire, water vortex, medieval torture devices and a fiery finale that comes very close to the boat and the riders. Each one of these scenes is laden with special effects, and when paired with the theme song once again really draws you into the ride and the experience as a whole.

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Valhalla is a great ride, but there are little niggly criticisms – all of which I personally think are understandable given the bigger picture. The ride has reliability issues and it’s not uncommon for a couple of the effects not to work during a ride. When you consider, though, the sheer amount of things going on, and the fact that the ride uses a third of the entire park’s power supply, the fact that things don’t always work as planned, or that they occasionally switch off some of the more minor effects to save energy, actually makes a lot of sense. It is also usually the last ride at Pleasure Beach to open, normally opening about 11:30-12:00, but again this makes sense given the cost and energy required to operate it over those hours.

The other thing that people are constantly complaining about with Valhalla is just how wet the ride is. Make no mistake about it: you are going to get soaked to the skin riding this thing, whether you sit in the front row, back row, middle rows, left side or right side. It really doesn’t matter, you’re lucky if you walk away with just sodden trousers and shoes full of water. The reason people complain about this is because Blackpool seafront isn’t the warmest place in the world anyway, and coupled with the high winds on other park attractions like the Flying Machines, Big One or Revolution, you’ll probably end up rather chilly as a result. But there are ways and means to alleviate this – there are rain capes for sale in the queue line, and there are lockers just around the corner so you can leave something dry to get changed into (as well as any personal belongings you don’t want getting soaked) in those. Frankly, the ride is just too good to miss out on simply becuase you don’t like getting wet.

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I digress. As I mentioned, this is my favourite ride in the world in any category. I’m very pleased that it managed to retain its Best Water Ride crown at the Golden Ticket Awards this year, and I hope it continues to do so for years to come. If you’re a fan of water or dark rides at all, or you just want to be treated to an immersively themed experience that will have you awestruck from start to finish, then you absolutely must make it your mission to ride Valhalla at least once in your lifetime. Though if you’re anything like me, once won’t be enough. I’ll leave that up to you to confirm for yourselves.

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

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