It’s pushing 1pm and all the whistles and bangs of the opening celebration for the new Wallace and Gromit ‘Thrill-o-Matic’ ride at the Pleasure Beach have settled to a number of scattered piles of green and gold paper.
The band, who were previously playing tunes fitting to the inventor and his dog, now silent and packing away their instruments. Sitting on a bench behind Anti-Pesto’s quick response vehicle I managed to get five minutes with the creator of these much loved characters, Nick Park.
Quite an unassuming man, his enthusiasm for the project was visible in his face, even though he had spent the last hour repeating himself to all the media representatives who attended the launch. I asked him which of his achievements gave him most pleasure, seeing A Grand Day Out completed, one of his four Oscars, or Wallace and Gromit getting their own ride. He replied:
This is the icing on the cake really. I still can’t believe it’s here.
The filmmaker had a genuine child like glint in his eye,
I started off wanting to make films, not win awards. Even though they are very nice, seeing the ride is funny. I’ve spent so long seeing Wallace as a ten inch model, now seeing him this big, it’s a lot of fun.
He explained how over the last four years he has been very hands on with the whole design of the ride.
It was very important to me that it was right. Working with all these wonderful people, here at the Pleasure Beach, with Merlin. It’s been really exciting.
Also, having now been on the ride, I can understand why Nick Park is so pleased. The ‘Thrill-o-Matic’ occupies the old Gold Mine ride and the outside theming looks amazing. They have managed to capture to essence and whimsical nature of the films. After queuing, I was offered a seat in a giant slipper car. This was the start of a journey into the films of Wallace and Gromit. The attention to detail is as accurate as anything I have ever seen. You trundle around the track being transported from one classic scene to another. Each is created with such precision that it’s obviously been touched by the same hand that spent hours moving plasticine to film only seconds of footage. The only thing missing was Nick’s thumbprint, though as he pointed out, “They are made of plastic.”
The timing on the ride is exquisite. As various scenes came into sight I laughed, both at the joy of seeing them and their comic timing. Some are full rooms that you move round to see the details, others are mini scenes being lit in sequence to explain the story. By the end of the ride I was thoroughly entertained. Nick went on to tell me:
I’m a local boy, I grew up near Preston, so being at the Pleasure Beach is like bringing Wallace and Gromit home, home to Lancashire.
I put it to him that this was a national treasure at a national landmark. “Yes,” he smiled, “I like that”. With that we said our goodbyes and he was ushered off through the Wallace and Gromit merchandise shop.
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