Monty Lunde: One of the Valhalla magic makers

Valhalla water vortex effect

Valhalla is one of the world’s most unique an spectacular dark rides, not least because of its dramatic utilisation of special effects.

Simulated fire and a huge water tunnel were just two of the cinematic effects created by the company Technifex.

Monty Lunde is the firm’s chief executive, and formed the company with partner Rock Hall after leaving Disney in 1984.

He kindly agreed to speak to us about his, and his company’s involvement in Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s most expensive ride to date.

Geoffrey Thompson’s vision

“I was very deeply involved, both personally and professionally,” Monty says of the late Pleasure Beach managing director Geoffrey Thompson.

Monty came to know Geoffrey through the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).

“Through interaction at various IAAPA functions, events and meetings, Geoffrey and I became friends,” he said.

Technifex’s trademarked FauxFire effect was used for the first time in Valhalla

“He eventually came out to Technifex with his son Nick to tell me about his vision for the Valhalla attraction at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and to brainstorm some ideas.”

Monty describes how Geoffrey wanted to created a world-class dark ride that would be the most sophisticated and heavily-themed attraction at Pleasure Beach.

“Geoffrey met with us to discuss the attraction and talk about different special effects and indeed, their hope was to make the attraction world class.

“Since most of the attraction was Geoffrey’s vision and much of the design details were in his head, rather than on paper, regular input from Geoffrey or Nick was required in order to keep up with any changes or modifications to the overall plan.

“Technifex supplied a number of water based effects for the ride; including the water tunnel, fog tunnel, several water cannons, a parting water fall and the very first iteration of our FauxFire (steam based) simulated fire effect.

There were a number of different parties providing the various effects on the ride, and Monty spoke of the challenges that brings.

“Several other companies supplied additional effects and I think there were even a few items that were provided by Blackpool directly.

“If we were to do it all again, as with most projects, a little more pre-planning and coordination with all involved parties could have made construction run a bit smoother.

Erratically-functioning effects

The fire corridor is one of the most erratically-functioning scenes in the present-day Valhalla, which operates with a varying number of the effects non-operating on any given day.

Today, it is rare for all of the effects to be in operation as they were during the ride’s opening year in 2000.

It is not clear whether there is a maintenance problem, or effects are deliberately rotated to save costs, but Monty did say that the park have since mentioned restoring the FauxFire effect.

“Sadly, I have not been back to Blackpool for many years now, so I really have no idea how the ride is functioning.

“At the last IAAPA show in Orlando, Nick Thompson did mention that he wanted to discuss retuning the simulated fire effects.”

We would like to thank Monty for taking the time to speak to us.