The Big One (aka. The Pepsi Max Big One) - 1994 Arrow Dynamics Hyper Coaster located at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK.
You know the one! You’re driving up the motorway towards Blackpool excited for your day out and the many hours of coaster riding that lie ahead when suddenly THERE IT IS!! Like an iron giant rising out of the ground it starts to emerge in front of you! There in front of you stands 235 ft of painted steel and what can only be described by those who have ridden it as pure unadulterated fun to say the very least!
The Pepsi Max Big One (now officially branded as the Big One but still officially sponsored by Pepsi themselves) is by far one of the most iconic additions to the Blackpool Skyline in the last 25 years and has stood proud as a landmark since it’s construction first began back in 1993!
When Geoffrey Thompson decided he wanted to add a ground breaking new addition to the park back in the early 90’s it was clear at the time that he didn’t want to do this in any half measures! After visiting the states to ride some of the most thrilling coasters which were on offer at the time it was decided that after riding Magnum XL 200 the perfect fit for the park would be an Arrow Dynamics Hyper Coaster, however he didn’t just want any model. He wanted the tallest and fastest coaster in the world!
Fast forward to 1994 (aka. what is now officially known within the enthusiast community as the year of the roller coaster) and The Pepsi Max Big One was born! This absolute behemoth of a coaster towered above anything else within the Pleasure Beach at the time and stood proud as an iconic statement to all who visited Blackpool at the time that the Pleasure Beach was officially back in business and that they were there to stay!
"Tallest and fastest coaster in the world!"
Now, 1994 also as we all well know saw the opening of Nemesis at Alton Towers and Shockwave at Drayton Manor, therefore that particular year presented what was possible the most competition driven season in recent times and the three parks went head to head for the title of best coaster addition of the 1994 season and the firm fan favourite overall (we’d still take Nemesis any day of the week by the way!).
The Ride Experience
So the main question for anyone who hasn’t experienced this for themselves yet remains this – What can you expect from your experience of the UK’s tallest coaster?
Well in reality this magnificent feat of engineering not only provides what are arguably some of the best views Blackpool as a whole, however it also offers probably what has to be considered one of the most thrilling and action packed ride experiences at the park overall!
Not only will you be plummeting 205 ft straight down, however you will also be reaching speeds in excess of 74 mph while reaching a whopping 3.5 Gs as you race through one of the most fun layouts devised within the park (prior to the installation of Icon of course).
The ride duration itself lasts a total of 3:00 from start to finish and is spread over a total track length of 5,497 ft overall.
You will also experience some great moments of banked G force, some brilliant head chopper moments as you duck ad dive through the supports of the Big Dipper, The ride’s lift hill and a tunnel running underneath Revolution which still has us crapping our pants to this very day and will overall leave your experience of the ride with a firm smile on your face and the need to go back around for yet another go.
There are those however who claim that this ride has become exceedingly rough over the years, and to a certain degree this is true, however in recent years (the 2019 closed season in particular) Blackpool Pleasure Beach has worked to improve the ride experience overall even going as far as to replace sections of track and weld supports to ensure that your ride on The Big One is as comfortable as humanly possible.
The Big One is after all the park’s most well recognised addition and it’s clear that this is one ride we won’t be expecting to leave the resort any time in the near future!
"The park's most well recognised additon"
So the main question we suppose you will all be wondering is this – What are our thoughts on this iconic coaster?
In reality we absolutely love it and have so many fond memories of riding this over the years since it first opened back in 94. We have been on the Big One so many times since it first opened and it still never fails to put a smile on our face each and every time we ride it.
This is due to us always asking ourselves the exact same question as we slowly creep up the 200 ft plus lift hill ever creeping close to the cusp of the 205 ft near vertical drop – ‘Is this a good idea?’
In reality probably not however let’s face it, we’re coaster enthusiasts and thrill seekers and it’s ingrained in our very nature to live our lives on the edge as much as we physically can do! Well, it’s safe to say that you don’t get very much more ‘on the edge’ than you do when riding this absolutely beauty.
We also relish the exhilarating adrenaline rush you get when you plummet towards the ground before swooping back up into the rides camel backs and we just can’t get enough when it comes to the sweeping turn around near the park’s entrance and the visually epic views you get when traversing it.
The Big One really as much as a part of the park as it is our history as an enthusiast, therefore if the day ever came when this ride was to leave the park for good it would be like loosing a very part of ourselves and our life experience in the process.
"Part of the Park!"
It’s therefore definitely fair to say that this classic piece of park history will continue to have a firm place at the Pleasure Beach in the years to come, and not just because it’s a firm fan favourite with all who visit.
2019 also saw the introduction of a brand newly dedicated soundtrack as composed by the legendary music producer ‘The Notable Stranger’ (who is mist well known for creating the music behind the likes of Icon and the park’s Hot Ice shows as well over the years).
This great new piece of music not only fits the feel of the ride, however it also contains an educational element as well detailing ride facts throughout the piece and educating those within the queue line throughout their experience of the ride.
It’s also very fair to say that The Big One will also hold a very special place in the park’s current CEO’s heart and this is due to the fact that ultimately this ride represents a crowning moment in her father’s career. The Only other ride that really comes close to this is Valhalla and we believe this is the reason for the major overhaul the ride is currently facing to restore it to it’s former glory.
Ultimately The Big One in a nutshell is coaster history at it’s very finest and we can very likely rest assured that this is one ride that is almost certainly in the park for the long haul!
"coaster history at it's finest"
We would like to once again offer special thanks to Luke Houldsworth of Coaster Gen for passing these superb ride shots to us and allowing us to use these for the purpose of our review! We really appreciate your help in bringing this piece to life.