Amanda Thompson: Services to tourism?

Following the announcement of Pleasure Beach Resort director Amanda Thompson being named in the new year’s honours, we take a look at her legacy within the industry.

The 49-year-old daughter of the late previous owner Geoffrey took over following her father’s death in 2004.

She is renowned for her assertiveness and short temper, but it isn’t abundantly clear if she has mellowed much since a 1997 television documentary highlighted much of her scorn.

It was during that programme that we saw Thompson organising the huge project that is Pleasure Beach’s ‘Hot Ice’ skating show – a role which she still continues today.

The show runs during the peak summer season and reportedly generates millions of pounds of revenue – some of which was incorporated into the Nickelodeon Land addition last year.

Pleasureland Southport closure

Two years after taking the Blackpool Pleasure Beach company helm, she closed the sister attraction Pleasureland Southport, citing a lack of returns after investment.

The vintage wooden rollercoaster Cyclone was subsequently demolished despite the best efforts of climbing protesters and a petition from rollercoaster enthusiasts.

The park’s Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster was relocated to Pleasure Beach and marketed as a major new addition, the world’s first suspended rollercoaster built entirely over water called Infusion.

Its multi-million pound budget, dramatic colouring and aquatic theming ensured that the ride received considerable media attention, and it remains popular among the public today.

Image drive

Thompson’s reign has seen many elements of contemporary artistic touches to the amusement park.

£750,000 fountains form the Spectacular Dancing Water Show every half hour in a new area of the park called Bean Street FY4.

Abstract water features also adorn the entrance to the park, while general marketing material has been modernised in appearance.

Her family has always been considerably Conservative in terms of political alignment and the right-wing Daily Express has even made comparisons with Margaret Thatcher over her approach to the business.

Skeptics will always point out political alignment as being a likely factor in her inclusion in the new year’s honours.

It is clear that she has decided to put all of her efforts into Pleasure Beach itself, sacrificing Pleasureland for the greater good of the company.

Virtually her entire reign has taken place during the worst economic slowdown for decades, and while the number of new rides and investment has been limited, it is worth considering how much the park could have diminished in appearance and popularity without her efforts.