Opening as the UK’s first double-launch rollercoaster in 2018, ICON has been escorting riders through inversions, high-speed accelerations and interactions with other rides for four seasons. However, a new sensation is available for the 2022 season. ENSO – which according to the park is named after a sacred symbol in Zen Buddhism meaning a circle – offers special free-spinning seats on the back row of one of ICON’s three trains, which are available as an additional cost attraction.
This experience utilises Mack Rides’ HybridTrain seats. Previously tested on Blue Fire at Europa Park, these cars replace a two-row car with a single row of spinning seats. These seats are similar to those already found on Mack Mega Coasters – however, are slightly more reclined to allow for sufficient clearance. The Mack HybridTrain can also be found on Steel Taipan at Dreamworld in Australia, making ENSO the only installation of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere.
To ride ENSO, guests can choose between a standard booking for £15, or a VIP booking for £25 (guests that already have VIP Speedypass for the day can get a VIP booking for £15). This is done using a card payment on Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s mobile website (mobile payments are not currently accepted). A standard booking allows riders to wait the current queue time virtually, with a countdown timer alerting them to when they can access the ride. This is similar to the existing Speedypass system that the park offers for other rides. The VIP ticket sees this waiting time reduced by 90% – allowing for speedy access to the spinning sensation.
Once the waiting time has elapsed, riders can access ENSO via the dedicated entrance which is located adjacent to the Speedypass & EasyPass entrance. These can be found near Big Dipper’s exit, underneath the Coasters restaurant. This newly created queue line repurposes the old Speedypass queue, which has been moved to accommodate the additional queue. Once at the station, riders can scan a QR code or ask a member of staff to unlock the reservation – which allows access to the ride.
Upon dispatch from the station, the ENSO ride experience feels similar to that of ICON, however this changes during the ride’s first launch. As the ride accelerates, the car starts to turn away from the standard riding position. This angle then changes and rotates as the ride traverses the layout, offering some unusual views and interesting sensations throughout. The spinning car is allowed to free-spin during the ride, however, according to the manufacturer, there is a degree of control using magnets. This is similar to that found on the Mack Xtreme Spinning rollercoasters such as Ride to Happiness at Plopsaland De Panne. Throughout the ride, different spins and rotations are experienced, with the varying positions of the seats meaning that sections of the ride may be ridden backwards or sideways. Due to the free-spin nature of the ride, ENSO offers a unique ride each time. The weighting of the car can allow riders to customise their experience by balancing riders’ weights. For example, by riding alone, more rotations can be achieved than if two riders were sat together. The weight and riding position of the rider can also change the number of spins.
Throughout the experience, riders can expect plenty of ‘foot-chopper’ effects, as ENSO twists and spins around the park, interacting with other rides such as Steeplechase and Big Dipper. To ensure rider safety, clearance modifications had to be made to ICON, including changing the mirrored tunnel facades seen from the launch track.
Overall, ENSO offers a unique way of experiencing views and sensations not usually available on ICON. Whilst we found that during our experience we didn’t spin as much as a traditional spinning coaster, the unusual twist offered an interesting and unusual way of riding this modern coaster. Although not designed as a spinning coaster, ICON’s close proximity to other rides offered a great number of interactions and ‘foot chopper’ effects, which stood out as a highlight of the ride. We felt that the overall price was slightly high for the ride that we experienced, and thought perhaps a price of £10 would be more suitable. The £25 VIP booking was not needed as we visited on a quiet day, so we are unsure if this price to reduce the wait time would be justified on a busy day.
Are you planning to experience ICON with a twist aboard ENSO? Let us know via the Attraction Source social media channels.