Pleasure Beach, Blackpool
The Pleasure Beach in Blackpool is over one hundred years old and has gradually grown to a vast size. SituatedΒ at one end of the town's seafront, the family-owned amusement park now contains dozens of rollercoasters of all sizes and ages as well as hosting ice shows, modern circus spectaculars and cabaret.
Going to the Pleasure Beach had become more like visiting a resort, given that most guests would need two days to take in all the entertainment.
From an identity and brand perspective, there was almost nothing holding the park together. They had a historical symbol originally drawn in the thirties that hadn’t really stood the test of time and little or no common design language to ‘glue’ together all the disparate activity.
At one point we seriously wondered what kind of design ideas could help them. But as we wandered around on the first of many ‘research’ trips we kept finding older pieces of signage, admired the Art Deco-style buildings and began to search for a solution that channeled all the retro references, but in a modern way.
When we looked at research and quizzed visitors about their trips, almost all of them had exclamatory answers (as in ‘I loved it!’ or ‘Fantastic!’) and that led us to develop a new logo that let them be naturally exclamatory.
Our many visits had also opened our eyes and ears to the sheer excitement - the screams and squeals of delight - that surround you on a visit. So we started to develop a special typeface that allowed designers to produce ‘kinetic' typography (as shown above). By designing a typeface with three widths, it became relatively easy to write these phrases, always ending with an exclamation, of course.
The variable width of the typography also allowed us to write messages in a way that echoed the park's Art Deco heritage (with thin characters next to wide ones, as above).
Of course, any good theme park needs good merchandise. For one visit, we showed these visuals - by the next presentation they were already in production.
Solving the core identity problem was one thing, but just as important was translating this style for their shows. For these we did a lot of work to demonstrate how the typography could modulate and adapt to work in a more elegant and refined way, whilst still linking to the overall design theme.
Here's an example of one of the photographic approaches - re-looking at Busby Berkeley's 1930's showgirls for the 21st century.
Other areas we were keen to get involved with were the information signs dotted throughout the park. Because roller-coasters have very specific warnings that have to be made (such as ‘not suitable for those suffering with heart problems'), we commissioned a special set to communicateΒ their unique requirements.
And for the ride signage, we combined two separate pieces of information, the ride’s name and the all-important ‘height guide’. In a nutshell, if you were taller than the big bit of type, you could get on. By combining names, ride height information, opening times and warning symbols onto two boards, we were often able to remove dozens of pieces of cluttered and confusing signage.
Even the humble small-space ads in the evening papers were translated into the new style – an approach which has helped the park retain its place as the most visited amusement park in the UK.