The BBFC Are Branching Out Into Theme Park Rides, But It Looks Like Publicity Stunting To Me

12a pleasurewood hillsHere in Britain, our movies, video games, DVD and Blu-ray releases have to submitted to the British Board of Film Classification for certification. If a film doesn't receive one of their ratings, it will be very hard to release it commercially, and it certainly won't be widely available.

This morning, the BBFC issued a 12A certificate for a theme park ride. It's only the second time they've done this.

Now, this isn't part of their mandate and there's no obligation for ride promoters and creators or park owners to submit their "experiences" to BBFC scrutiny but last year, Alton Towers employed the BBFC to do just this, and now Pleasurewood Hills have followed suit.

Pleasurewood Hills? No? Me either.

If you go to the BBFC's page about the attraction, there's a logo – see above – and then the following copy.

Ahead of the launch of its latest attraction, Pleasurewood Hills in Lowestoft has sought advice from film age rating body the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), to help assess its new terrifying underground mine attraction, Hobs Pit, which opens to the general public on Sunday 2 June.

Well… isn't that just an advert? "Terrifying" they say? And ending on the opening date? This reads like pure PR.

The BBFC, of course, should strive to be an objective organisation. They're making judgments on our behalf, constantly. It simply wouldn't do if they were peddling subjectivity as fact, would it?

Here's the full BBFC release, sharing their "assessment" of the attraction. You tell me how much this reads like advertorial.

The new Hobs Pit ride, which cost over half a million pounds, has been developed by Pleasurewood Hills in conjunction with world renowned special effects expert Rob Ostir and voice actor Corey Burton. The pair, who usually work with theme parks in the USA such as Disney World and Universal Studios have been involved with movie blockbusters like 2012, Mars Attacks! and the Chronicles of Narnia, as well as numerous feature animations over the past two decades.

The BBFC agreed to assess Hobs Pit, so Pleasurewood Hills could protect its younger visitors from the thrilling and scary effects of the new 'seated' and 'walk-through' attraction, which takes visitors on a journey through an old mine shaft.

Murray Perkins, Senior Examiner at the BBFC commented: "The BBFC regularly consults the public on a large scale about how acceptable they find moments of threat and horror on screen in films rated U to 18. Applying this knowledge to physical experiences is helpful for theme parks like Pleasurewood Hills who want to ensure their attraction is aimed at the most appropriate audience.

After experiencing the attraction first-hand, we would recommend that Pleasurewood Hills age rate the new Hobs Pit attraction a 12A. The BBFC's Guidelines at 12A allow moderate physical and psychological threat, provided that disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained, as well as occasional gory moments, if justified by the context. Hobs Pit contains some creepy moments and gory encounters and some people may find this a scary experience. Overall the attraction shares a similarity to scary scenes which may be experienced in ghost films and fantasy adventure films at 12A."

Alexis Camelin from Pleasurewood Hills commented, "I believe this makes our park only the second attraction in the UK to apply and receive an age rating". He added, "It was paramount to the Pleasurewood Hills brand, that there was a robust guide in place to manage expectations of our customers and all that ride Hobs Pit".

Hobs Pit is designed to become one of the scariest indoor theme park attractions in the UK. It's predicted that theme park enthusiasts will travel from across the UK to experience Hobs Pit, with over 2000 people already subscribing to the Hobs Pit mailing list via the rides own website

The new ride is part of the £3.5 million investment that Looping Group owners pledged to invest when they bought the park two years ago. Hobs Pit is one of four new rides to launch in the park's 30th anniversary year.

The Alton Towers job resulted in something similar, but not so transparently PR-driven. Well, not quite.

The BBFC do charge for their assessments. As they don't usually deal with theme park rides, there's nothing on their tariff to indicate how much they will have received in order to run this report. It doesn't look like it would be a huge amount, however, not if it was at all proportionate to their over rates.

So, there you go, theme park owners. Here's a cheap way to get yourself lots and lots of coverage.