ã 2001 Sean Gillen. All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

This work was completed in part-fulfilment of an MA Tourism and Leisure. Lancaster University, UK 2000—1, and is reproduced here strictly for scholarly purposes.

Appendix One.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach: Interview transcripts and introspective exercise.

These interviews were carried over a period of two days at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  On Initial approaching prospective interviewees, I introduced myself as a researcher from Lancaster University, asking if they would be happy to talk with me for a few minutes.  No specific information on the nature of the research was offered, beyond that I was investigating the kind of ‘experience that these places offer’.  Interviews were usually carried out immediately following exposure to a ride, informally and a natural setting such as on nearby seats, stood in a group, or in one case, around a table in a burger bar over lunch. Every attempt was made to include respondents from a diverse range of social background, although it is acknowledged that this kind of tourist attraction might not attract a representative proportion of older people, and may be more popular with ‘working class’ visitors than other kinds of sights.

Interview One: 13th July 2001.

Group of four people in their mid twenties, three male and one female.  The female was from China, the others from Malaysia, and all had just graduated from Aberdeen University.  This transcript is as full as possible, although some speech has been omitted due to excessive background noise, and some difficulty with accents, that rendered some of the interview unusable.

SG: Why did you come to Blackpool Pleasure Beach?

F: My friend had been here and said it was very interesting, she said the biggest rolling coaster in Europe was here.

SG: So the fact it was the ‘biggest’ attracted you?

F: Yes…

M1: Yes, it would satisfy our needs! [laughs]

SG: Did you just go on the Big One?

F: Some small ones first

M1: We had to try some small ones first! [laughs!]

SG: What did you think of the Big One?

F: It was very scary, but not too much. It was just too high!

SG: Did you have to queue much?

M1: Yes, a very long Queue?

SG: So what were you thinking when you were waiting?

M1: I feel nothing, and a little bit tired. I was driving a lot today!

SG: What about the rest of you?

M2: I didn’t go on, I felt scared, I just watched!

SG: What made you feel scared?

M2: It was really high, I was watching it go up.

F: it was quite scareful watching it [points above her head]. It goes up very slowly. I was quite scare, he was trying to calm me down.

SG: What did you say?

M1: Because I know her, very much, I just tell her something like fun or things we like to see, something to, like, cool her down.

F: Usually if I came by myself I wouldn’t do it but having someone beside you it is better

SG: OK.  So you are at the front of the queue, can you talk me through the experience? Tell me about how you feel, and the big moments!

M1: I think she had more big moments than me!

F: we were coming her definitely to do it, I mean for the rolling coaster, so I knew I had to do it even though it was scareful. But the most scareful moment was when you open your eyes!

SG: So you had your eyes closed?

F: Yes, because it goes up and up, takes you higher and you don’t know what will happen next, but its not that bad…

M1: I agree, not that bad, I like it because the higher I go then I can see more further.

SG: Was it as bad as you thought it was going to be?

M1: No, no…

F: I thought it would be more scareful, but it was okay.  I Had my eyes closed at the top and you go down quite fast.  We went down and then I open my eyes and it wasn’t too scareful, then it was okay.

M1: The first bit was very fast, you go straight down, I laughed. I was okay. Then it was just fine, just normal.

SG: How did you feel after?

F: …Excited.  But I definitely don’t want to do it again!  [laughs].  I felt better.  The worst bit was at the beginning.

SG: Going up?

F: No, getting in the car, when u can’t go back, you know you cant go back!  After, I felt more relaxed.

SG: So what other rides have you been on?

M1: We went on the first one, in the building.

SG: Valhalla?

F: Yes, its not scareful, but everyone was screaming! [all laugh]

SG: Why were you screaming?

F: I didn’t feel scared but everyone was screaming, people were screaming, it was funny!

SG: Did you scream? [to M1]

M1:  I did Scream, not because I was scared but because everyone was screaming.

SG: Did you read the information about the ride before you went on; about the vikings and the legends?

M1: No, we just came and went in.


[some of the interview is omitted her due to difficulties mentioned above]


SG: Did you feel safe on the rides?

M1: Yes…

F: Yes, some I did

SG: Some?

F: I didn’t feel so safe on the other one, the Big Dipper because it did not have any seat belt.

SG: So the seat belt made you feel safe on the others?

F: Yes, but also I saw the others.  So many other people had been on them before. I felt safe, yes.


[No more of this interview was transcribable].

Interview two: 13th July 2001

Two women, early twenties, immediately following the ‘Ice Blast’. (Ride that launches the riders vertically into the air to approximately 80 metres, keeps them there for a few seconds before dropping them rapidly back to the ground)

SG: I haven’t been on that ride, can you talk me through it…

F1: Its weird, the first bit doesn’t feel like you’re moving does it, then you just open your eyes and you are, I dunno, so many foot up in the air.

F1: You didn’t feel like you were moving?

F1: not really, until you start going down again, you don’t realise because you haven’t got your eyes open, you don’t realise ‘til it changes and you’re going down again, its weird.

F2 Its like someone’s pushed you up and you don’t feel it ‘til you’re at the top then you’re alright.

SG: What did you think about the queuing?

F2: It was alright yeh, only about five minutes

SG: Did you have a chance to watch it whilst you were queuing?

F2: Yeh, it looked really scary

SG: It didn’t put you off going on?

F1: I don’t know really, I don’t really like heights, I thought when it gets to the end [of the queue] I won’t be able to turn back anyway.

SG: Would you go on it again?

F2: Yes

F1: Definitely!

SG: But you looked so scared!

F1: Laughs.  But its brilliant, it is!

SG: How many rides have you been on today?

F1: Loads, but we haven’t been on the Big One yet.

F2: We’re not going on the Big One!

SG: Why not…what’s wrong with the Big One?

F2: I can’t stand the big drop when it throws you down like that [mimics the action of the ride with hand].

SG [to F1]: Are you going to go on the Big One?

F1: I don’t think so! (laughs). I’m not going on my own, I might get her on the revolution later !

F2: We might go back on Valhalla in a minute.

SG: Have you been here before?

F1: I have

F2: No, its my first time.

SG: What does it do for you?

F1: It’s strange, it gets you relaxed so much over each time…

SG: you find THAT relaxing?!

F2: Yes..[nodding, and smiling]

F1: Yes, once you’re up there [to the top of the ride] and you open your eyes its really calm isn’t it? It’s really weird. You have this big…smile and think ‘oh my god!’

SG: So you found that relaxing after you got up there?

F2: After you got up…

F1: …After you got up, there’s just like a few seconds, it’s really quiet, you can see for miles out…it’s really relaxing.

SG: But before the ride…

F1: That was very very scary, you should have seen the state of me! [laughs]

SG: One final question.  Thinking about the whole place here, why do you come here?

F1: it just scares you…

F2: …it’s the thrill…

F1: people say they don’t want to be scared, but they do. If they didn’t want to be scared they wouldn’t go on, like, big roller coasters and stuff like that.

Interview Three:  Sunday 15th July 2001.

Two people, one male, one female in mid-thirties, immediately following the ‘Ice Blast’ ride.

SG: Can you tell me why you went on this?

F: It looked good!

M: Its up in the air isn’t it. It’s the thrill of going up that quick.

SG: A big thrill?

M: yes, and when you get to the top you just stop.

SG: Can you talk me through it from beginning to end?

M: its like, nothing, going up…

F:  Its when you get to the top, in the sun, that gets your heart pounding.

SG: When you were queuing up did you feel like that?

F: Yes, especially when you come out and you see them going straight to the top.

SG: Did that make a difference for you?

F: It did for me [laughs].  Made me think twice! I think if he wasn’t here I would be turning right around and coming straight back out again. I wouldn’t go on on my own.

SG: So they strap you in the seat and…

M: Yes, then this voice comes on in the background telling you to hold tight, put your head back. It gives you no warning when it goes up, it just lets go. You feel the acceleration.

SG: What’s it like at the top?

F: I had my eyes shut! [laughs].

M: But then you feel weightless at the top.

SG: what did you feel like? [to female]

F: Once you’re going up and you’re kind of floating at the top it was lovely, yes.

SG: What about the dropping?

M: The drop’s nothing. 

F: But then when you bounce back again it really weird

M: You can feel the heart rate.  If I could measure it before before and after…!

SG: The Big One has a meter for the blood pressure!

SG: So would you go on it again?

M: what that? Oh ah, Yes.

SG: What about the whole park then, why do you come here, what’s the appeal of it?

M: We just come for a day out, drove up from Worcester.  Looked out the door, looked like it was going to be nice…

F: It’s the atmosphere, coz you immediately think of the fair as fun don’t you.

SG: Whats the appeal of these rides then, it’s a bit frightening isn’t it?

M: That’s what it is isnt it, its frightening..

SG: so you like to be frightened?

M: It’s a thrill isnt it, yes. It’s the adrenaline, it just gives you a rush…

SG: What is it about being frightened you like?

F: I dunno, its just something you need every now and then instead of sitting behind a desk all day…

M: I don’t think you need it, I dunno…I suppose because it here you go on it don’t you. That’s the main reason why you do it, because if it wasn’t here...

SG: [to female] So you feel like you need it more?

F: No I don’t need it more, just get complacent sat behin the wheel of a car all day.  Sometimes you need, I dunno, a bit of a lift!

Interview four: Sunday 15th July 2001.

Group of Four women, one and two in early twenties, third in late teens, fourth in mid fourties.  Just emerged from the ‘Valhalla’ ride, still wet.

SG: So you’ve just come from Valhalla, have you been on before?

All: no, its our first time.

SG: tell me about it…

F3: its really good..

F4:…its really good, freezing, cold…

F3: …pitch black wasn’t it…

SG: did you like it?

All: Yes.

F2: The best bit was the surprise wasn’t it, somehting that you’re not expecting.

SG: You like the surprise?

F3: Yes, everywhere you go its different.

F1: …and it drops…

SG: How did that feel?

F1: wet! [laughs]

SG: Did you have to queue up long?

F3: no we went straight on…

SG: so you didn’t have time to think about it?

F2: The only thing I saw was the little pond in the seat before I got in! [all laughs]

SG: would you have had second thoughts if you knew what it was going to be like, or had longer to wait?

F2: No

F3: No, we just had to try it

SG: Talk me through it from the moment you got in the boat, what you can remember and how you felt.

F1: all wet! [laughs]

F4: It goes backwards and you think you are going to go backwards for the rest of the ride but then it goes forwards.

SG: So what’s inside?

F4: Just all different extremes…

F1: elements…

F4: things come out…

F1: And there’s that chandelier with skulls

SG: skulls? Does all that death stuff bother you?

F1: Well no because that’s what Valhalla’s all about, its about where vikings go when they die.

SG: did that make a difference to you when you went in there, thinking what it was all about?

F1: No I was just thinking in a big strop and when I am going to get wet! [all laugh].

SG: so what about the whole park. Have you been hear before?

F1, 2, and 3: Yes

F4: :Years ago

SG: So what’s the appeal of it, what does it do for you?

F2: Its got everything hasn’t it.

F4: The others have been going on the rides, this is the first one I’ve been on.  There’s other things for you to do, y’know.

SG: You don’t go on all the rides then? [to F4]

F4: no, Because I don’t like all the great big rides, they terrify me.

SG: what scares you about them?

F2: The fact they break down…[all laugh]

F4: and the height…if anything goes wrong..

F2: …you were going to go on the big one weren’t you, when it broke down.

SG: so what is it about it…

F4: the speed and the height of it. I f anything went wrong at that height.  If something went wrong in there [Valhalla] you’re quite safe, you’re not going to get really hurt like on the really big drops.

SG: So you are afraid you might get hurt?

F4: Yes! Isn’t everyone!

  [Interview terminated but restarted when F4 revealed she had been into the Pasaje del Terror]

SG: Tell me about that!

F4: I enjoyed it and I’m glad I went in but I could never ever knew how frightened someone could be.  If you’ve never been on it, its really really frightening. I wont go on again. Ever.

SG: So what does it do? Do you walk through it?

F4: You walk through, its just like a passageway, and all the way through there’s these real people…

F3: …real people..

F4…but they’re dressed in blood and cloaks. And they’re coming at ya! And they’re tying to grab ya and you’ve just got to try to get away, its really freezing as well..

F2: ..even though you know its not real, in me mind I’m saying to myself ‘come on don’t be stupid, they cant do anything to you’ but at the same time someone touches ya and you go ‘OH GOD!’. You’re really worried!

SG: Why do you put yourself through it then?!

F4: If ‘d known it was going to be like that I would have gone home [all laugh].

SG: would you do it again?

F2 and f4: No!

F4: No, it really frightened me.

SG: So why is that more frightening than the Big One?

F4: erm , well I’ve never been on that one but I saw it and knew I didn’t want to go on it, but on this other one, all you see is a big video screen outside showing people’s reactions as they come out

F2: You know when you come out, you come out into a pub, from behind like a false book case, and you know how frightened you must look, what a state you’re in, then you realise you’re in a pub!


Interview five: Sunday 15th July 2001. Two women, late teens. Recently come of the ‘Big One’.


SG: What did you think about it, to be honest?  Talk me through it.

F1: oh, I don’t know.

F2: We’re going up, and we’re like ‘shit!, shit! shit! fucking hold on tight!’

SG: Did you think that!

F2: I thought we were going to come off, because I had  nightmare about falling off into the sea…

SG: That was before you even went on it?!

F1: Yeh, she’s never been on it…

F2: …falling into the sea and dying…

F1: …but, I thought it was going to be worse, the big dips, were going to be a lot worse.

SG: what made you think it was going to be worse?

F1: Just what everyone talks about it, and then when you went on it I thought, ‘no its not that bad’.  I put me arms up and I didn’t think I’d put my arms up but I did.

SG: So did you have to queue up long?

F2: no we went straight on, it was quite quick.

F1: I didn’t even know I was going to go on then all of a sudden I’m just standing there and thinking’ oh, alright, may as well’

F2: …and we went on it, it was good.

SG: so how did it feel?

F1: Really good, I wanted to go on it, like another five times.

SG: So when it takes you up to the top…

F2: I didn’t like it going up,

F1: …it was scary cos you’re thinking about what’s coming next…

F2: because you don’t know

SG: So when you et out at the end, how are you feeling then?

F1: Great…

F2: ..Dead ‘ard!…

F1:… yeh cos’ you think you’re hard, its really good [both laugh].

SG: So what’s the appeal. What does it do for you?

F1: We wanted to get pissed, so we come here for the weekend, and thought we would go on the Big One. Its dead dear!


Interview six:  15th July 2001. Group of four, two male and two female, English, late twenties to early thirties.  Approached following a ride on the Big One.


SG: So why did you do it?

F2: I’ve been on it before when I was younger and I haven’t been on it for a while, but the older you get the more nervous you get!

SG: so you were quite nervous?

F1: Yes!

F2: …they put us on the outside and you feel like you are falling out, there’s like nothing!

M2: you’ve got to go on, when you come to Blackpool you’ve got to go on this…

F2: [looking at photograph from ride]: I look like an animal!

F1: …you look better than I do, Oh my god!.

SG: That [photo] says a lot though!

SG: so talk me through it, did you have to queue up long?

F1: No not really…

M1: Two minutes…

M2: The fellas [ride attendants] were winding them up, telling them they were checking for cracks under the seat!…

F2: …yeh, when I asked what it was they said they said they were looking for cracks in case we fell out!

M1: Got on it, didn’t say a damn word apart from ‘f’ ‘f’ ‘f’ ‘f’ all the way up that first bit, and then ‘f’ ‘f’ ‘f’ ‘f’…

SG: Who was doing that?

M1: Me!

F1: he’s just too butch to admit he was scared coz it was so high!

M1: Because you’re at the back, you get the full speed when it goes over…

SG: It wasn’t very nice going up then?

F2: Yes, I liked it…

F1: I liked it! We were just afraid we were going to fall out, because we were outside [on the right hand side of the train].

SG: what was it like going ‘over’?

M1: it felt really fast because we were at the back, you get pulled over the top…

F1: I didn’t need a wee before we went on and I don’t now, but then…! [all laugh]

SG: would you go on it again?

M2: I would

F2: Yeh!

M1: Next time, not now!

SG: You two [females] had to think a bit more about that didn’t you!

F1, F2: [laughing] Yeh!

SG: Have you been on any other rides?

F2: no not yet, today.

M1: We’ve been on them before though…

F2: that Valhalla ride frightened me a bit. That’s quite scary that.

SG: what’s scary about it?

F2: Its pitch black inside, it gets your heartbeat going. Its really clever. Its brilliant how they’ve done it inside, it feels like you’re really in danger…

F1: It is quite frightening, you don’t know what to expect next. its like a roller coaster inside. If you suffer from nerves…

M1: whats your research about?

SG: its to do with this kind of experience, how it affects the body and mind, and all that kind of stuff.

F2: I think with that [the Big One] it’s the G-force

SG: did you like it?

F2: yes, but it wasn’t the G-force, it’s the thought you might fall out

SG: it’s the safety?

F1: yes, you had those things over you to feel secure

SG: So did you feel secure?

F1: yes, mine was secure, it hurts you.  You need it coz it does throw you about.  I mean you couldn’t go on it if you had something wrong health wise, [f2: with your posture], yeh, with your back or something.

SG: You’re form Southport, why come here? What’s the appeal?

F2: Its nice wether, and it’s a bit of a laugh, isn’t it.

M2: Southport’s got two of these rides, this place has got loads, you know what I mean?

F1: Its the scary rides, we want scary rides, just want to go on scary rides.

SG: So you want the scary rides?

M2: You come to Blackpool, you go on the playstation, [ride named after Sponsor], you go on the ‘Big One’, you’ve got to go on.

SG: you like the scariness, you say?

F1: Yes…

SG: You like being scared?!

F1: No! [laughs].  I like the adrenaline. To be honest I’d say I was a bit nervous, I like the fear of it…

M2: …it’s the adrenaline rush when you’ve done it, you come off it and you’re like ‘yeh, I did it’, you know.

M1: …it gives you a natural high doesn’t it…

M2: yeh, it does

F1: you should look into that, because it releases this chemical into your body, what is it?…that is what it is.

SG: Endorphines?

F1: yeh, that’s what it is.


Introspective exercise: The Pepsi Max Big One. 15th July 2001.


I had spent two days watching, listening and discussing these rides with tourists.  I admit I had a concern that these accounts might affect my interpretation of the experience to follow.  This was dispelled as soon as I began to make my way back to the Big One as the conscious recognition of a raised heart rate preceded thoughts that I didn’t really need to do this, that I had enough to go on by now. Already, my subconscious was attempting to remove the need to take part in the exercise.  The fact that I had been on twice before should have calmed me, yet it was this very fact that augmented the trepidation I was feeling; I already knew how frightening it was.


Unfortunately, there was no queue to give me time to reconsider.  Within two minutes I was sat in the train, giving no conscious thought to the characteristics of my feelings.  What was going through my mind were flashbacks of previous trips, I knew what would be the worst bits, and knowing that made me even more nervous about what was to follow.  As the train climbed the slope, it was difficult to decide what to do at the top, I knew that closing my eyes would make it a bit easier, but I forced myself to look ahead.  In fact that was all I could do.  My body would not let me look down or to the side; my mind didn’t want me to. 


The first drop, and the ensuing turns and twists repeatedly made me fear for my life.  There was no way this train could stay on the track ahead at this speed.  Either it was too fast, or too slow to gain sufficient centrifugal force.  How could this two hundred-foot structure actually stand, with a base no more than ten feet across?  The weaving beneath other ride’s track and into tunnels didn’t help; the fact that this train was approaching a solid object was a major concern. I even imagined where the train would land if it came off, plotting dotted paths of descent in my mind, estimating the chances of survival.  Yet I also felt ridiculous.  I had watched the ride many times, I had been on twice, I had talked to may other ‘survivors’ and worst of all, the two teenage girls behind me were happily chatting and giggling whilst I could barely breath.  However, I knew that people had died here and at other parks, people who probably felt quite safe.


This last point highlights to myself the basis of part of my fear.  I don’t like heights, and in doing this I realise I am putting absolute trust in designers, engineers and maintenance staff.  Our life is literally in their hands when we take part.  It is unnecessary risk I thought.  Ultimately it was a fear of death brought on by the fact that accidents on these things can and do happen.  But it was not an exciting fear, one that relaxed or relieved me; I admit to being too mortified to enjoy it at the time.  My enjoyment is only retrospective, of having done something so apparently reckless and being able to tell people I had.  I would do it again, even though I now know that I wouldn’t actually enjoy the experience.  If it doesn’t kill me, it at least makes me feel more alive.


But why did I feel ridiculous when acknowledging the different demeanor of the young girls behind me?  It is here that I confront what I am supposed to be, as a ‘man’.  Traditionally, society demands that I am strong, resilient and perhaps have a British ‘stiff upper lip’.   I am not supposed to express such irrational fears.  Yet this is the point; to me my fears were entirely rational, based on a lack of knowledge of structural engineering and physics, which caused me to imagine its imminent failure.  It might be reasonable to assume however, that such thoughts might not cross the minds of the girls behind.  Alternatively, they might have been on the ride so many times that their fears dissipate in the face of experience.  But my fears were real, and another cause was made obvious on the drive home.  Here again I was sat in an object designed and built by others, using processes I have little understanding of [although I am aware of how steering, brakes and suspension and tensile strangth of steel add to my apparent safety.  So what was the difference?  Here, in my car I am in control of the speed and direction [but not other’s], unlike on the ride where from beginning to end, control was removed from me.  But I am well aware that I am not a ‘control freak’, often enjoying the idea of following rather than leading.  So my fear of loss of control can be understood as a fear of loss of control of my own destiny.  The feeling of being ‘ridiculous’ in comparison to the girls on the ride is therefore itself ridiculous, because it is what I bring to the ride experience that has in many ways determined my reaction to its stimulus.