After spending the last 2 and a bit years watching the construction (starting with the demolition of the Tom Sawyer bridge, then then groundworks, footers and the ride buildings and finally the track arriving and going up), Icon opened for VIP rides on 19th May, and opened fully on 25th. It’s the UK’s first double launch coaster, and the total investment is said to be £16.25m. We’re well overdue a new coaster in Blackpool, the last one being the Big One in 1994 (followed by Infusion in 2007 however this was an existing coaster relocated from another park).
First thoughts walking down the queue line was how nice it will look once all the planting has had chance to grow, leading down past the launch and into the station. Instantly you’re hit by the loud sound track (it’s a really good theme track too) and by how big the station is inside – look up at the wood clad ceiling, one wall with backlit wooden slats and the other with huge mirrors reflecting the wooden slats making it feel even bigger.
The ride has the neat Mack baggage system, where the baggage compartments get covered/uncovered automatically when a train is despatched to keep your belongings safe.
Onto the ride, the trains are great – such a sense of freedom as there’s a lapbar rather than over the shoulder restraint, and no sides to the trains. You then move forward ready to launch into the mist, before flying up in the air and just fitting underneath the Big One’s lift hill. If you’re lucky with the timing you can wave at the Big One train as it’s on its way up.
The launch isn’t like Stealth or even Rita which are the well known Intamin hydraulic launch, it’s a much smoother build up to the top speed rather than catapulting to top speed almost instantly.
Overall this is now my favourite ride in the UK. It’s got all the bits I most like from my other favourite rides, all in one – airtime off the top hat and immelmann, plus the majority of the second half of the ride. Twisty-turny out of control feeling from most of the second half too, with the tight sudden turns, and strong g forces again from the turns. Combine that with a great sound track and the brilliant atmosphere of the station and you’ve got a winner.