The Top 25 Rides I Wish
I Could Have Ridden

 
The idea for this feature came about from a combination of my work on the leaflet section, and having recently acquired a number of back issues of the European Coaster Club magazine, First Drop. Seeing a large amount of history got me thinking what rides from the past I would have liked to had ridden.
To start with I had a list I had narrowed down to 14, but as I remembered and learned about more the list grew. The original list of 14 which I've written about has had 3 rides added, meaning I've written about 17. I've also expanded the list to 25 rides.
To make the list it has to be a ride I never rode, and is no longer located within the UK. This makes this a personal list as it's based on what rides I personally have and have not ridden, for instants I've ridden, plus it depends on which rides I know about. There are probably other rides that should be on the list, but I don't know about. This though is my list as it currently stands.
25 Batflyer
Lightwater Valley
24 Texas Tornado
Frontierland
23 Sky Wheel
Dreamland Margate
22 Funhouse
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
21 Stratosphere Rocket
Kursaal Amusement Park
20 Noah's Ark
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
19 Runaway Coaster
Rotunda Amusement Park
18 Whirlwind
Clacton Pier
17 The Alpine Bob Sleigh
Alton Towers
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Looking at Alton Towers today it's easy to forget the pre Nemesis days of it being a large country park set around the Towers. I'm so glad my parents took me back in 1990, as there are quite a few rides from that era that would have made this list if I hadn't ridden them.
Going even further back though Alton Towers had a bobsleigh ride near the Black Hole building. Although not a major ride in terms of thrills or uniqueness I still would like to have tried it before it's low capacity meant it no longer fitted in the park.
16 The Haunted Inn
Pleasureland, Southport

Continuing the subject of trips that made this list shorter, I only made one trip to Pleasureland to ride the Cyclone and quite a few other rides before the ownership was changed, and the Cyclone was callously destroyed. Thankfully a lot of the historic rides were acquired by the Save Dreamland Campaign, so hopefully will operate again. One ride that couldn't be saved, that wasn't open when I visited was Southport's crooked house, known as the Haunted Inn. With the one at Adventure Island being a guilt pleasure of mine, I would have liked to have tried the Southport one.
15 Magic Mountain
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
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It's now on to Blackpool, for the most recently closed ride on the list. It was closed due to the Nickelodeon Land development, before which, it was the most well hidden of Blackpool's hidden gems. It saw you riding around in a miniature train, past various colorful scenes, like a miniature version of the River Caves.
Looking at the number of rides closed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach the last few years I'm surprised there are not more rides on this list. I look at their website for a trip I'm planning this year, and even disregarding rides to make room for new attractions the closure rate since my last visit has been over one ride a year. Even taking in to consideration issues with capacity and fears over compensation culture this still seems like an awfully shortsighted approach. There's no way you would have had empty spots like this in  Blackpool's heyday.
So why did I never ride Magic Mountain? With it being in the former Beaver Creek area I always assumed it was just a kiddie ride, and didn't give it much consideration. By the time I found out it was a nice family ride, that might be worth a try, it was to late.
14 The Switchback
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
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Moving on we're still in Blackpool, but going back a lot further in time. With all the classic rides Blackpool has had over the years it's inevitable that a few of them would make the list, picking the ones that stood out though is the interesting task. This one stands out as not only does it look like a fun ride, it also features an interesting gimmick that I think should make a comeback.
It's a wooden coaster that was literally located on the beach, in fact it's demise was partly due to tidal damage. What happened was the train would set out from the station in a strait line, across a series of hills. You would then reach a transfer area where you would then run backwards along a second strait that ran parallel to the first.
Fun ride, fun gimmick, fun location, what's not to like? I think a ride like this in wood or steel would be a good gimmick ride today, fitting well in to a small family park looking for a ride to make them stand out.
13 Big Dipper
Battersea Fun Fair
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Today London doesn't have any parks operating within the City limits. There used to be an amusement park found in Battersea Park. This isn't one I know that much about (although I'll be getting the upcoming book) but what I've seen of it from photos and old videos has aroused my interest.
The ride that most caught my attention is the Scenic Railway roller coaster, called the Big Dipper. Having ridden all the classic scenic rides in Europe I would have like the choice to have tried more of these historic rides. The combination of this and the rides significant location puts this ride on the list.
12 Checkpoint Charlie
Granada Studio Tours
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Yes, you read that right. For those who don't know their Cold War history, Checkpoint Charlie was the checkpoint found along the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. It was the site of a lot of attempts to escape, and a major symbol of the oppressive regime. To think they say Saw: The Ride is a tasteless idea.
The ride was located at Granada Studio Tours in Manchester. For those to young to remember it was a park set around the Granada TV studios in Manchester, that in many ways was ahead of it's time. Instead of a traditional ride line up the attractions were based around shows and walk through areas, including a chance to walk down Coronation Street. Very much like a budget version of the Disney and Universal Studio theme parks today.
A lot of these shows are based around already existing sets. Lots of them worked well, the comedy show set in a replica of the Houses of Parliament was a good laugh, but the idea for a set from a cold war drama could have been better thought out.
It consisted of all the riders getting on a tram, and driving to the checkpoint where a load of actors boarded demanding the riders papers, and stopping to interrogate them in other ways.
I can think of several ideas for more tasteless rides, most of which I can't write here. This might be the sign of a warped sense of humor, but I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to try this. Shame it had already gone by the time we visited the park.
11 Cyclone
Kursaal Amusement Park
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Coaster Scenery

At times it seemed like writing this feature would be an endless task. As I remembered and found out about more the number of potential rides kept growing.
One ride that I did have to insert in to the list, was this one. Today if you think of Southend you probably think of Adventure Island. There was a time though when that was a large garden. They did though have a glorious amusement park in the form of Kursaal. Today only some of the historic buildings remain, but it was once a major park.
As soon as I saw some of the photos I knew I couldn't leave out the Cyclone off the list. It's an amazing looking ride, that looks like it could give some of Blackpool's surviving classics a run for their money if it was around today.

10 Sheer Terror
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

Heading further up the coast and jumping ahead in time we end up at Sheer Terror in Great Yarmouth. Sheer Terror was a walk through horror attraction with live actors that was set up for a few years in the late 1990's. This was before these types of attractions really took off, and became as prominent and popular as they are today. It would be interesting to see if this would have lasted longer if it opened today.
I don't know how it would compare to some of the attractions you get today, but seeing how popular these rides have become now I would like to have tried this.
9 Whirlwind Racer
Dreamland Margate
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Now it's from one historic amusement park to another. With so much history associated with Dreamland Margate it's sure to generate some ideas for a list like this. It is one of those examples where you could just pick the park and a year. There was one idea that did catch my imagination, partly because it's based around some innovative technology, that has now become the norm, but mainly because I think it looks cool.
The ride was a very early example of a powered coaster. It was also unique in being a racing coaster, with two tracks running along side each other. Given it's compact space it strikes me as another historic ride that could make a comeback. If I had a time machine I would love to be able to go back and visit Margate back then.
8 Steel Stella
Clacton Pier
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For the next ride we head to another park with a glorious history, not that far from Margate; Clacton Pier. Today it stands as a nice collection of fairground favorites. It looks nice enough that I would like to pay a visit if some of the transport issues could be sorted.
Back in it's hay day though the pier was considered as a much more significant park. It had it's own dolphin show, the remains of which are still on the aquarium and even a major roller coaster. At one point it had a compact corkscrew style coaster called the Whirlwind, that's at number 18, but if you go back further in time you get my choice for number 8, the Steel Stella.
It was one of the earliest examples of a rare hybrid coaster, featuring steel scaffolding like supports holding up a wooden track. It was set on the edge of a pier in what was a very compact footprint for a wooden coaster. I wonder if this type of set up could be used to introduce a wooden tracked ride to a park with space issues today. A combination of an interesting ride, and the history that goes with it puts this ride on the list.
7 Pepsi Max Drop Ride
London Trocadero

After a number of classic rides it's back to something a bit more modern. I'm bending the rules slightly here, as this ride still operates in the UK at Funland, Hayling Island, but I feel the experience of riding it their is a lot different than it would have been like to ride it in it's original location.
It's a freefall drop tower, that used to be in the Trocadero center at Piccadilly Circus, London. It started on the bottom floor, and went up the gaps between the escalators and balconies of the upper floors. Once at the top you experienced around 100 foot of freefall back down past everything.
I'm told it was one of the scariest rides ever. I did visit a few times, but no one else I was with wanted to ride, so I opted to put it off for another day, now it's been moved that's a decision I regret.
6 The Aerial Glide
Shipley Glen Leisure Grounds
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The Noughties wasn't the greatest time to be a lover of historic amusement parks and rides. You had a number of pier fires, plus several parks getting in to difficulties, leading to the closure of a number of classic rides.
One ride lost due to a housing development was was found in the old site of Shipley Glen in Yorkshire. Dating from the turn of the last century it saw you sitting in chairswing like chairs that rode under an overhead track. This led to some manic moments as you swung out on the corners.
This was one of the first ever inverted coasters, pre dating rides like Nemesis, or even The Vampire by decades. Also the wooden supports where replaced by steel in the 20's making one of the World's oldest steel coasters. This made this ride a major piece of history that I'm both sad to see gone, and to have never tried.
5 Gladiators Skytrack
Granada Studio Tours
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Granada Studios as I've already mentioned was mostly based around shows and enclosed rides, it did though make one attempt in to breaking in to the roller coaster market. Sadly though it was a failure, that although not the main reason for the parks closure the year after it opened, didn't help things.
In some ways it didn't deserve to fail. It was a very innovative ride in being the worlds first flying coaster, pre dating the first Vekoma one by 3 years, and the first B+M one (Air) by 5 years. It had what looked like an exciting layout going around several buildings, and coming close to a number of pathways.
We did visit the park in 1997, meaning we did get to see it, but technical problems meant it didn't open until late in the year. With the park closing before the end of 1998, the time it was open was very short. Even when it was open the one person 
capacity cars led to some horrendously slow moving queues.
Despite the rides problems I still admire the attempts at innovation, and I would have loved to have tried it during it's short lifespan.
4 The Dolphin Show
Flamingo Land
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While doing some research I stumbled across some very interesting sites with history of dolphin shows in the UK. One interesting thing I discovered that despite what I read in the Brighton Sealife Center, keeping Dolphins isn't illegal in the UK. It's just very heavily regulated with rules on minimal space and animal treatment. I always thought an outright ban was an over reaction, so it was a surprise to find out I'd been misinformed and the law was pretty much what I thought it should be. I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised given the hypocrisy of the information at Brighton Sealife Center. They put up quite a bit of anti dolphin show propaganda, that ignores the fact they're part of the Merlin group. A group that owns Gardaland, Italy. A park that operates one of the Dolphin shows they're apparently against.
Most of the past Dolphin shows I am pleased are gone. Although they weren't they worst examples of animal cruelty before new zoo regulations were passed in the 1980's many were kept in unsuitably small pools. Although the trainers did keep them exercised and entertained these were far from ideal conditions.
Two of the latest surviving shows were some of the best, that could have continued if they had the money to make there facilities larger were at Windsor Safari Park and at Flamingo Land.
I was luck enough to see the Windsor one when I was young, but I never got to see the one at Flamingo Land. With them being one of the best shows, and one of the last surviving ones I would have like to have seen it before it went.
3 Magnum Force
Flamingo Land
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Of all the rides on the list this is the one I regret not doing the most. It was located in Flamingo Land from 2000 until 2005. This means if my travel organization skills had been up to the standard they are now in the the time it was at the park I would have been able to try it.
It was brought from the German Fair market, but thanks to it's twisted layout featuring 3 vertical loops it was one of the UK's major roller coasters. It was sold on when Velocity and Kumali came to Flamingo Land in order to reduce the parks fairground feel. Now I'm a big fan of both the 2 new rides, but a big part of me wishes this ride had stuck around for a few years longer.
2 The Virginia Reel
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
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For number 2 we head back to Blackpool for a record 4th time. Not that surprisingly the ride in question is one of their classic wooden coasters, the Virginia Reel. Today if you think of a spinning coaster you almost automatically think of a steel coaster, be it one of many numerous spinning mice, or one of the wilder custom models. It's easy to forget there used to be some great wooden spinners.
The ride saw you following a layout with similarities to the modern spinning mouse down the side of a themed mountain. This all took place in large tubs, that span wildly as they went around the tight corners.
Today the closest we have to a surviving example is the Tyrolean Tubtwist at Joyland, Great Yarmouth. This is a smaller version of the reel, that has powered cars, with a motor that spins them, rather than free spinning gravity powered ones. Sadly riding this is probably the closest I'll get to riding a Virginia Reel.
1 Bobs
Belle Vue
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If you asked a modern enthusiast what the best UK roller coaster ever is, the chances are you'd hear something like Nemesis or Megaphobia. Certainly post 1994 those answers are easily the top answers, if you go back in time though another answer emerges.
For this you need to go to Manchester, and far pack in time. Past even Granada Studios Tours to a park known as Belle Vue. During the Golden age of amusement parks this was a major pleasure garden with zoo and funfair. This included a number of great woodies. One was a water chute ride that later moved to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but the one that stood out and achieved legendary status was one known simply as Bobs.
Pre 1994 it was the favorite coaster of almost everyone who had been lucky enough to have ridden it. Even today considering Bobs closed in 1971, and  Nemesis opened 23 years later in 1994, it's almost impossible to come to a definitive decision on what's better, even if you are luck enough to have ridden both.
Just seeing the photos and old film does remind me of my all time favorite coaster Balder, one of very few coasters I rank ahead of Nemesis. I can't rule out the possibility that this is the best UK coaster ever. Sadly without the aid of a time machine there's no way we can ever find out.