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ICON rollercoaster

Blackpool, United Kingdom




5 years




United Kingdom
Project achievements

Area improved

ICON has improved and strengthened Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s thrill ride line-up

Solved the problem

Visitors are always looking for new experiences and thrills, which ICON delivers

Used engineering skill

Ground engineering and design

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.

The first time an ICON carriage completed the track

One of the 16-seater steel carriages was installed onto the now-completed track, for the first test run of the £16.25million ride, which reached speeds of up to 85 kilometres per hour (approx 53mph). 16 water ballasts were placed in the carriages to simulate the weight of the average rider.

Did you know …

  1. ICON uses over 1.14km of steel track.

  2. The track was built by a 50-strong team.

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

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.

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

More about this project