I am a huge fan of the Big Dipper, and Blackpool in general. Having last ridden it in May 2011, I decided that it surpassed the Grand National as my favorite woodie at the Pleasure Beach. It is a unique ride that conjures up images of what Blackpool must have been like in its grandest hour.
• Bev Clapper, Springfield, Pennsylvania
I think the neatest thing about Big Dipper is the lift. The fact that it splits in two and uses the same chain going in two directions is totally quirky. And then taking what is close to a wild mouse turn around the cool cupola in four bench trains is astonishing. They actually slide more than roll around that turn. It is really a distinctive characteristic to this historic, fun ride.
• Tim Baldwin, Grand Prairie, Texas
I remember Big Dipper as a very pleasant, but not really wild woodie with a few surprises. There was that impossibly tight turn around the blue flamelike thing, and some nice little pops of air time. A classic. I need to ride it again -- soon!
• Lisa Scheinin, Redondo Beach. California
Fond memories of my rides on the BPB Big Dipper! What an incredible art deco station with the super tight turn around the "blue flame tree topper thingy" before the first plunge. Not a forceful ride, but a whirlwind tour around and through the other rides on that end of the park. There is a surprising deeper dip on the return leg.
• Marlon Scott, Orlando, Florida
I've always found it to be quite an idiosyncratic ride. Sometimes it delivers a pacey and airtime-laden experience, but on other occasions it just lumbers around the track like a sullen teenager who didn't want to get out of bed! You just never quite know what you'll get on any given day.
Regardless it will always have a special place in my heart. As a teenager it was the very first coaster I ever rode, and 30-plus years and more than 1900 coasters later, Big Dipper and its famous cupola remain legitimate Blackpool icons. Long may it continue to roll.
• Martin Valt, Sandbach, England
Big Dipper tends to get lost in the vast mix of attractions at Pleasure Beach Blackpool today, but has enough unique entities to make it stand out as one of the park’s best coasters. Guests board gorgeous trains featuring 4 bench cars (the only remaining non-scenic railway coaster to do so besides the Coney Island Cyclone) in a loading station that more resembles a museum than amusement attraction. The initial tunnel and small lift that lead riders to the ride’s main lift are just the beginning. Once at the main lift’s apex, the trains navigate a 180 degree turn that appears impossibly tight for the 4 bench cars to handle. The entire lift structure with its lattice steel and signature cupola add yet another dimension of charm to the ride experience. Once things get down to business, Big Dipper is a straight forward out and back-style ride with several large camelback hills dropping to ground level (a John Miller signature element). Riders thread the needle through Big One, Steeplechase, and guest midways during their journey. While the ride doesn’t present forces that were present on other Miller rides like Screachin’ Eagle or the Geauga Lake Big Dipper, the ride experience is both pleasant and thrilling at the same time and it is easy to picture multiple generations of visitors enjoying the same ride experience over the past seven decades.
• Mark Rosenzweig, Baltimore, Maryland
The Blackpool Big Dipper is a true classic in every sense of the word. The best feature is the turnaround off the lift hill. The ride also features a small chain life after the leaving the stating to assist the trains to the lift hill. It is also one of a handful of wood coasters still using four-seat cars.
• Torry Jenkins, Denver, Pennsylvania
Blackpool Big Dipper -- a historical gem, cool station, funky tight turn-a-round circling an art deco flame right off the lift, and some air along the way... a true roller coaster ride!
• Alan Shick, Columbus, Ohio
Big Dipper holds special memories for me. I was on the first ACE UK trip in 1985. There were 50 of us. The Pleasure Beach PR department gave us all big light green foam cowboy hats to wear while riding Big Dipper so the media could come out and take pictures of these crazy Americans riding their coasters! (Back then and probably still today, many Brits think all Americans own ranches, drive big cars and wear Stetson hats – probably due to too many Dallas reruns still playing over there.)
Big Dipper is imposing and impressive at the same time as you walk down many steps to the loading area of the cavernous station. This reminded me of a subway station, as you descend into the bowels of the ride. Big Dipper was generally fun, some air time, nothing really over-the-top, but then when it was built, (1923 Miller/Paige) that was as much as you got. Going around the cupola that could double for a logo for some company, the jumbo four bench cars have a tough time negotiating the fairly tight circle. All in all a fun, aesthetically pleasing ride.