For those of you who haven’t grown up with Wallace and Gromit in your lives (you’re missing out, btw), let me give you a brief background. Wallace (the guy) and Gromit (the dog) are characters created by Nick Park and Aardman Animation who had a series of short films in the early 1990s. The films’ success saw full-length animated features being released, as well as other short films, TV series, videogames, musical tours and many other things featuring the duo. The story of each film follows cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his long-suffering silent companion Gromit as they get into all kinds of predicaments, with plenty of British humour and puns thrown in for good measure.
Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic opened at Pleasure Beach in 2013 as a re-theme of the old Gold Mine dark ride. Despite containing the words ‘thrill’ and ‘riveting’ in its title and promotion, the ride is definitely a family dark ride and remains electrically powered throughout, though there are some faster sections including a simulated drop towards the start of the ride. The slipper-themed vehicles travel through scenes from all of the major Wallace and Gromit features, including A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave, A Matter of Loaf and Death, The Wrong Trousers and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The signature Aardman whimsy is present throughout, and it’s sure to be a hit with fans of the duo and their animations.
I guess the main issue with this, though, is exactly what I just said. If you aren’t familiar with Wallace and Gromit and their misadventures, then the ride would just feel like a journey through a mish-mash of various scenes involving two constant characters and a variety of guest stars, but which seemed to have little to no continuity. Which, in essence, they don’t. I guess the thing about this ride is that it is very geared towards Wallace and Gromit fans, and in that respect there really is no reason for anyone to ride it unless you’re a fan of the duo. Although in saying that, it does boast some incredibly comfortable slipper-themed vehicles that are rather nice to sit down in after a long day of walking around a theme park.
The Thrill-O-Matic doesn’t really live up to its name, but knowing Wallace and Gromit like I do, this is probably intentional. There is one rather terrifying moment right at the end of the ride when you think it’s all over, which would probably scare the heck out of kids who’ve enjoyed the rest of the ride, but other than that this is good family-friendly fun and a special treat for Wallace and Gromit fans. There’s even a gift shop at the exit where you can purchase a wide variety of themed souvenirs, including cheese-flavoured rock, bringing the best of Blackpool and Wallace & Gromit together in one wacky souvenir. Which, I suppose, is something that could be said about the experience as a whole, really.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.