It’s not all that often that snow falls in Blackpool.
And likewise, it’s not that often that the final piece of a brand new £16.25million rollercoaster is slotted into place.
Under deep grey skies, a light falling of snow and bitten by an icy cold wind, Pleasure Beach engineers looked on with breath held as the last piece of grey steel was hoisted and fixed into place yesterday morning.
“It’s absolutely thrilling getting the final piece into place,” said Pleasure Beach managing director Amanda Thompson.
“We have been planning for over five years now.
“It’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful. The structure is magnificent.”
Construction of Icon began in December 2016, with hundreds of tonnes of ‘world-class steel’ having been painstakingly transported from Germany ready for the track construction which started in last November.
The resort’s most expensive jigsaw puzzle - the Pleasure Beach’s biggest investment to date, Icon nestles in the heart of the park, flanked on either side by Avalanche and the Big Dipper.
‘State-of-the-art engineering processes’ promise a ‘smoother, faster and more exhilarating ride than ever experienced before’.
In a feat of incredible engineering, the ride has already been hailed as the ‘world’s most interactive rollercoaster’, where it loops through and around the park’s other rides 15 times.
Icon’s grey track swoops through the main climb of the Big One, gives a ‘high five’ moment with the Big Dipper and rushes round Steeplechase, all adding to the thrills and spills which are promised, as well as including a gravity defying loop-the-loop.
“Standing here looking across, there’s the Big One in the distance, then Infusion, the Big Dipper and then Icon, all the different styles of architecture lined up, working together; it’s a beautiful picture,” Amanda added.
“Icon has been built in such a different way to the other coasters we have.
Amanda and her brother, deputy managing director Nick Thompson have visited and ridden ‘thousands’ of rides around the world since taking the decision to build a new coaster at the park.
German rollercoaster designers Mack Factory were selected after presenting an initial design to the Thompsons - and their own ‘family business’ set up is one of the reasons behind the partnership.
“It’s 13 years that I’ve worked with Mack,” Amanda said. “After coming back from America, I worked for them on their ice shows.
“But it was a decision our engineers made in the end - they wanted to build a ride with a company they enjoy working with.”
Watching the final piece slot into the giant jigsaw, Amanda said it was a ‘nerve-wracking’ moment that had been five years in the making.
Amanda and Nick marked the key moment in Icon’s history by signing the piece of steel before it was lifted into place, hailing it as ‘the most amazing and exciting rollercoaster ever’ - as well as it being a beautiful piece of modern architecture.
The launch date is yet to be confirmed, but is planned for the spring.
Between now and then, every bolt in the structure will be further tightened and tauntened before the trains will make their debut test run.
Also to be completed are additional groundworks to add to the thrills, and the landscaping and dressing to add to the beauty of the ride.