The Oscar-winning creator of the Wallace and Gromit series has said the Pleasure Beach’s spectacular new ride is “the icing on the cake” of his remarkable career.
After first joining Aardman Animations in 1985, Nick Park has directed some of the best loved animated adventures seen on British television.
And inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit have become the latest addition to the Pleasure Beach’s growing list of family attractions after a £5.25m investment to build the Thrill-O-Matic ride.
Riders are taken through a number of famous scenes from Wallace and Gromit’s five adventures, and 54-year-old Nick, who grew up nearby in Preston, says the attraction is ideal for Blackpool.
He said: “It’s a really appropriate match to come here and almost a homecoming to have the characters in Blackpool having grown up down the road.
“It’s an honour.
“It’s a family friendly ride, not a white knuckle, but does have a nice scary aspect in there which is quite gentle.
“We tried to make the ride as innovative as the films with lots of detail. This is the icing on the cake really.
“We will keep making films but I never expected this and it seems funny for me to have grown up down the road with The Tower always in the distance because I never imagined Wallace and Gromit would be part of Blackpool tourism.
“If this helps to attract tourists then all the better because Wallace and Gromit seems to work well and I’m amazed at how much enthusiasm is still there.”
The ride was officially opened by Nick in front of a crowd of VIPs – including Christopher Biggins.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture at Blackpool Council, said: “It’s a fantastic day and brilliant that we are improving attractions in Blackpool.
“It’s another reason for people to come and visit us and we are encouraging people to come here because there’s so much to do in a day that we want people to stay.”
Natalie Wyatt, managing director of Marketing Blackpool, praised Pleasure Beach bosses for having the “vision” to bring the ride to the resort.
She said: “It’s another good attraction and more investment in the Pleasure Beach which is already an incredible park which is steeped in its own traditions.
“All credit should go to the Pleasure Beach and their partners because they’ve had the vision to bring it here and all parts of Blackpool are thriving.
“I’ve got great faith in the partnerships developed over the years and I already think Blackpool is up there.
“When you look at other seaside resorts Blackpool is number one and it’s about magnifying that message.”
Merlin Crossingham, creative director of the Thrill-O-Matic ride from Aardman Animations, said: “I’m very pleased with how it looks.
“It’s a unique experience to see Wallace and Gromit and then go on a themed ride to see them up close and personal.
“The Pleasure Beach is a fantastic park and we will hopefully be coming back for years to come and enjoy it.”
Gazette verdict: ‘Well it’s a cracking ride lad’
The nation fell in love with Wallace and Gromit in 1989 when their first adventure hit TV screens.
A Grand Day Out saw the cheese-loving Wallace and his pet Gromit take off in their homemade spaceship in search of their favourite snack on the moon.
Since the voyage into space, the pair have been held hostage by a vicious penguin, defeated a robot dog and saved their village from the threat of a giant rabbit – their adventures are as imaginative as they come.
The films have won Oscars, been broadcast all over the world and are now immortalised in Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach.
Riders roll around some of the most iconic scenes from the duo’s past 24 years and come face to face with Wallace’s famous inventions.
This is a great family ride and a must see for fans of the show as the miniature sets seen on-screen are now life size and vibrant.
People are greeted with a new scene after every turn of the corner.
At one point you are flying alongside Gromit in his porridge shooting fighter plane, then the next turn you’re transported into a bank robbery with Wallace’s “wrong trousers”.
The four minutes and 45 seconds of the ride are a great tribute to the pair of national heroes.