ICON rollercoaster

Year:2018

Duration:5 years

Cost:£16.25m

Country: Blackpool

What did this project achieve?

A complex engineering feat to create a thrilling but safe new ride on a busy site.

ICON is the UK’s first double launch rollercoaster. It accelerates at 0-80km/h in 2.25 seconds before reaching heights of 88ft at speeds of up to 85km/h.

The ride interacts closely with other rides and attractions 15 times during its high-speed journey across the Blackpool Pleasure Beach park – making it the world’s most interactive.

The double launch means that not only does the ride launch at high speed, but midway through the experience a second boost of acceleration propels passengers into the highest point of the ride.

Difference the project has made

Thrill-seeking rollercoaster riders will experience the same levels of G-force as felt by the driver of a Formula 1 car. The opening of the new ride is significantly increasing the tourism to the city of Blackpool and contributing to its economic health.

How the work was done

Because the site at Blackpool Pleasure Beach was already packed with rides, ICON was designed to pass above, below and between existing rides like The Big One, Big Dipper, Infusion, and Steeplechase.

These ‘interactions’ became a key feature not only of the ride experience, but also of the design and construction. It also meant that modifications to other rides, including The Steeplechase, Big Dipper and Avalanche, had to be done.

Central to the experience of the ride are the two electromagnetic launches which deliver rapid acceleration from 0-53mph over a 50m length of track. Blackpool Pleasure Beach wanted these to pass side-by-side in an underground, smoke-obscured passage, which meant creating a cutting around 40m long, 10m wide and 6m deep.

The complex supporting structure design was developed using a 3D BIM model, to bring together the separate track, ground structures and ride safety envelope (the clearance area around the ride vehicle), and the structure of the nearby rides with which ICON interacts.

Multiple piling techniques were used for the foundation of the 1,143m-long track because of difficult access and a legacy of ground obstacles and conditions. Also, the dynamic forces involved in the ride mean that there are higher loads on parts of the rollercoaster much bigger than on a conventional structure, so the design of all the pilecaps had to be individually calculated.

Fascinating facts

ICON uses over 1.14km of steel track.

The track was built by a 50-strong team.

The rollercoaster took over 150,000 hours to design and build.

People who made it happen

  • Westlakes Engineering: civil engineers and principal designers for all groundworks and third-party reviewers for safety aspects
  • Mack Rides: rollercoaster steel structures

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