Spooky Thorpe Park Hell Dream

The changes of the past five years

What has Merlin made of the Island like no other in the last five years? The last two rows of the Swarm roller coaster are going forward again, the Disco roller coaster X has been redesigned into The Walking Dead – The Ride, parts of Amity Cove have fallen victim to the birds of Angry Birds, the Logger’s Leap log flume is rotting away, as is the Slammer Sky Swat – which is now officially awaiting its demolition – and Saw: Alive is at least operated from time to time (the same goes for the relatively new Maze I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!). In addition, there are a lot of closing days during the season and also the distinctive soundtrack of the island was exchanged.

There are many reasons for many things, but there are some things I don’t understand completely. Officially, Merlin have now taken a much more family-oriented course, which means they’ve moved away from the thrill-ride fetishists and the associated grubby image (# Hard Gaan) – strangely enough, they’ve been selling tickets to students ever since, thus attracting the preferred former clientele in much larger crowds. Can be done, but by now I’m too old for this shit. Just like I can’t approve of employees at the entrance of an attraction encouraging you to buy Fast Passes, even though the corresponding queue is almost non-existent.

Derren Brown’s Ghost Train

But there are also rays of hope. Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is such a one. The reinvention of the classic ghost train is, in terms of storytelling, a huge hit. It’s just a shame that all visitors of the park are aware of this, so long waiting times are often a common issue. But that shouldn’t stop you from queuing here, after all the mixture of ride, Maze and VR experience is unique and about as scary as a Japanese horror movie in a 360° cinema.

The reinvention of the Ghost Train

After you have stood your legs in the queue, Derren Brown personally welcomes you in a short pre-show. It is thematically about the reinvention of the ghost train and why we love to get spooked. This all sounds promising and so we leave the showroom expectantly and climb a short staircase. Here we are held back for a short time, but it doesn’t take long until we enter the hall with the ghost train. Hanging from the ceiling, an old Victorian carriage appears, but its interior resembles that of the London Underground. Now, the VR-glasses have to be put on and when both trains are ready, the trip in the ghost train can start.

The tube ride

Actually, there are three trains, but only two of them have passengers at this stage. Thus we leave the station and ride a little bit with the tube. A man with a dog gets on and tells us a story that the scientists of the BGR in Hannover may not be able to agree with. Fracking is evil and something went bloody wrong. It doesn’t take long and a contaminated person tries to gain access to our compartment. It gets creepy and thanks to the VR-glasses we can’t help but always look directly in the direction of the action. In the meantime it is getting dark and a staff member has to stroke the passengers’ knees once through the rows. There is an accident and we have to leave the train as soon as possible.

By means of merlinary drills we are sent through a short and very nicely designed maze. This is less creepy, but somehow we have to get to the second platform of this dead-end station, where another subway is already waiting for us. But this time we are not the only passengers and each of the others has VR glasses on. The train starts to move, but this time the true story is revealed to the visitors; it’s not the fracking per se that contaminated the people, no demons did. Individually, they now get rid of passenger after passenger, before we turn to our fate in a magnificently staged transfer track scene and fall into the abyss. 3,2,1, we are back again.

Conclusion Derren Brown’s Ghost Train

So that was the reinvention of the classic ghost train and boy, that was good. The VR staging works, after all the graphics are high-resolution and don’t need real-time rendering. You just feel like you’re in a movie and not in a computer game of the early 90s. As already mentioned in the beginning, the ride on Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is not really scary and more of a suspense horror. However, this is what makes it good, which is why the ride, like any other proper ghost train, is very entertaining.

The Walking Dead – The Ride

Right next to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is the entrance to the roller coaster The Walking Dead – The Ride, formerly known as X and X:\ No Way Out. Designed around the series The Walking Dead, the ride now shows a clear thematic reference. Zombies are simply better to convey than a computer virus or a discotheque. Basically, the same naked queue inside the building awaits you, but instead of fabulous light effects and a great music you only find desolate brown walls. The ride itself is partly nicely arranged and for fans of the series it’s definitely a great deal. At least I couldn’t do anything with it. On the equally long way back you only find naked brown walls once more, which is why you’re just glad to be back in the open air again.

Well, that was hardly worth it. You can implement well-known licenses, but then you have to exploit their potential. In fact, I wish nothing else than the lively computer virus-infested reverse roller coaster back. At least it was consistently weird and yet absolutely fun. The conversion to X was quite cool and quite optimal for the younger audience, but now as Walking Dead – The Ride it’s not even worth a ride in between. That’s a pity and for me a symbol for the developments of the last years.

Pictures Thorpe Park

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Conclusion Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park, you used to be cooler. But actually, that’s true for the entire Merlin Group. Something’s gone terribly wrong with you. Why do you want to get rid of the Tussauds image so badly lately? The island used to be coherent, now there’s only an IMAscore mash left, which isn’t good for some attractions. In addition, on both days of my visit many attractions were not running at all or only with problems. Well, breakdowns have always been the order of the day at Thorpe Park, but at least one can try to keep this kind of thing within the limits. Actually, the only thing missing now is the failure of a bigger roller coaster for a period of 2 years (Colossos at Heide Park) and the typical image of the Merlin Group would be perfect here, too.

 

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X Sunny hours in Thorpe Park

Preface

As the month of May is not one of the busiest months for English amusement parks, Merlin Entertainments has launched a very nice promotion for Annual Pass holders, where they can take their friends to the group’s four amusement parks in England for £15. Compared to the 50% discount that already exists, this offer is much more worthwhile and so my English friend and fellow student Connor went back to Staines after some time.

A relatively empty park

The park was relatively empty for a Sunday of a Bank Holiday Weekend in the sunniest weather, but occasionally there were longer queues, for example at the beginning of the day 120 minutes were spent at Colossus, while at Saw the Ride one could walk up to the station. Also at Stealth and The Swarm there was a longer queue, but not necessarily with the reverse option of that.

While the right side of the Swarm can generally be quietly considered the better one, it is the left side that scores much more when riding backwards. While the forward ride through a single Near-Miss could convince since this year, you don’t notice anything of it when going backwards, but you are surprised by almost every element, which was mainly unexpected on the last roll. It’s a funny feeling, which keeps me laughing all ride long.

X

The second novelty this year is the redesigned roller coaster X:\ No Way Out, which now operates under the simple name X. After entering the redesigned queue, the now quite nice and atmospheric queue goes towards the station, where you enter the new trains, but leave the station in a forward motion. In the hall you can expect good lighting effects and a great soundtrack. The forward and backward passages on the lifts don’t exist anymore and so you race down the track until the last two block sections. There you can wait a little bit longer, which isn’t that annoying with the light effects, moreover this break offers a good view of the track.

Merlin Entertainments and Thorpe Park did nothing wrong with the redesign of X, because last year’s X:\ No Way Out was really not an interesting ride anymore. The music, the ride and the lighting effects are quite nice, even though you missed the fact that the trains are running in reverse.

 

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Nemesis Inferno in the rain

Preface

If you can’t think of anything better on a Sunday than to drive to Thorpe Park and skilfully ignore any weather forecast and let yourself be dazzled by the sunshine on Saturday, it can happen that the English weather shows its supposedly typical side and thus makes for a very wet visit. What do you do for a ride on Nemesis Inferno…

The Island like no other

When you enter Thorpe Park, you still have that unique feeling of being immersed in a completely different world – something that amusement parks usually don’t manage to do. However, since this year, the view from the bridge is a bit clouded, because while the left side shows an idyllic panorama, the view on the right side is no longer dominated by Tidal Wave and Stealth, but disturbed by the rather unfavorable angle on The Swarm.

Storm Surge

Although it had been raining all the time, the novelty from last year was particularly popular. The queue of the Storm Surge round boat slide was well filled until the afternoon, which is certainly not only due to the low capacity of the installation. The ride in the smaller version of the Spinning Rapids Ride by WhiteWaterWest is gentle and, due to the tight curve radii and the resulting frequency of the brake mats, hardly gives you a noticeable spin – as you can experience for example in the Rio Dorado of Hansa Park. As with other installations of this type, the ride only gets you wet with a lot of luck, if only there weren’t the water jets and water cannons at the end of the ride. While the former helped the guests to cool down in the Cypress Gardens amusement park in Florida, this is of course not enough in the comparatively cold Surrey. Therefore some water cannons were provided for the park guests, which have a rather high range. If one should not be shot straight frontally with these, the degree of wetness is quite pleasant. The circumstance that the never visited toddler area of Thorpe Park was torn down was welcome.

Tidal Wave

Probably the most popular attraction of the day is located only a few meters away from Storm Surge’s entrance, a prankster who thinks of the indoor roller coaster X:\ No Way Out. Of course it’s the great Shoot the Chutes ride Tidal Wave by O.D. Hopkins, which now even soaks its already superficially soaked passengers’ underwear. The results showed after the ride in the full body dryers confirm this thesis clearly.

X:\ No Way Out

The Vekoma Enigma roller coaster X:\ No Way Out had a breakdown in the early morning, but since the guests of Thorpe Park were left waiting in the rain in front of the ride, instead of waiting in the anyway way too long covered queue, more and more people joined the line, which is a rather rare sight on a roller coaster like X:\ No Way Out. The world’s longest and probably only backwards running dark roller coaster is an often underestimated roller coaster, which may be due to the family-friendly ride of the ride. Unfortunately, since the installation of a light effect above one of the block areas it is much too bright to use the darkness of the hall as an advantage. Now, the ride still goes haphazardly through the hall, but instead you can see the track next to you and which one you have already completed. The computer virus theme is still very odd, but it’s what makes this roller coaster so special; however, it would be immensely helpful to introduce a soundtrack within the whole layout.

Nemesis Inferno

Not far from the brilliantly staged fishing village of Amity Cove, things are a little more tropical, or rather more fiery. Inside a volcano is the station to Nemesis Inferno, the younger brother of the roller coaster Nemesis from the sister park Alton Towers. Luckily, both coasters are completely different and share the same type of ride, apart from the preference for more special layouts. After the first drop on Nemesis Inferno, you complete a swinging S-curve combination through a tunnel, usually in combination with a fog effect, before hooking into the lift. This is followed by the steep curve drop with looping and zero-g roll following, which are very intensively ridden. A curve follows before you see yourself upside down again in a corkscrew. Untypical for this type of track, another curve is followed by the second part of the Interlocking Corkscrew, which pulls you along nicely at the back of the train. Further curves and a helix follow until you are standing happily in the brakes of Nemesis Inferno.

It is the one big difference that makes Nemesis Inferno better than the first Inverted Coaster on European soil. Here you don’t get the feeling that the track could have been even longer, here you don’t do two slower turns that both end in an inversion and here you don’t advertise to be the most intense coaster in the world, which wasn’t the case at the opening. Nemesis is a good ride with a huge fan community, a unique layout that makes good use of the limitations of the environment, only the experience in all its attributed intensity is not as satisfying as it is on Nemesis Inferno.

Detonator

Thematically to the Inverted Coaster Nemesis Inferno belongs in close proximity the Fabbri Mega Drop Detonator, which does not have the traditional arrangement of the seats, but has designed them in a circular pattern. The ride in a Fabbri tower is outstanding, because a spring is tensioned when the car is lifted, whereupon noticeably higher negative G-forces are generated when releasing the Detonator. Strangely enough the deceleration was unexpectedly smooth.

Slammer and Samurai

Another interesting ride in the area around the Inverted Coaster Nemesis Inferno is the S&S Power Sky Swat Slammer. As luck would have it, the ride is currently closed and will probably not open again until Halloween. Since this was also announced on the website, the loss of a ride is not as shocking as it was in May 2010; if you have already enjoyed a Sky Swat ride once, you would like to repeat it. A few metres further on, one could see the Mondial Top Scan Samurai partly dismantled lying around in the way, practically set in a way that it was also not possible to make a trip in the railway of Thorpe Park. According to speculations, the ride is supposed to be renovated and repainted.

Saw – The Ride

Saw – The Ride has turned to the good again after its disastrous second year, at least as far as the speed of the ride and the condition of the stirrups are concerned. The cars, completely intact, are once again racing down the track, so that the inequalities during the ride are hardly noticeable. The biggest crime at the roller coaster still remains, the fast-pass queue still exists and generally makes the waiting time in the stand-by line feel a lot slower. It’s more convenient if a queue is moving and doesn’t stand still for minutes just because the other side is currently being let into the building. In this respect and for the sake of the ambience, which was destroyed by the division in front of and on the stairs, one wishes the old system back.

Colossus

The 10 inversions roller coaster Colossus, which besides its name also shares the soundtrack with Colossos from Heide-Park, is a prime example for the design of a roller coaster, because the way the paths run here, especially the queue, is simply breathtakingly beautiful; as long as you can see over the blue painted tunnels.  The ride in the ride built by Intamin is also very borderline in the first three inversions, everything that follows from the two wonderful corkscrews, over the four consecutive heartlinerolls to the final, but directionally reversed roll, is just lovely or, as with the last roll, just outstanding. What Intamin has created with this inversion is simply perfect.

Flying Fish

On the way to the novelty of the year you will pass a powered coaster by the manufacturer Mack Rides called Flying Fish. Previously located in a cul-de-sac, visitors willing to ride now frequently pass by, but this does not mean that the queue gets packed – the train only runs more often. Due to the wide wagons, Flying Fish offers an unusual and strange riding experience on a powered coaster of this kind. Although one also has the feeling in the normal trains to hit the supports as soon as one raises the arms, it seems to be more distinctive in this train.

The Swarm

Strangely enough, the close calls at the Bollinger and Mabillard roller coaster next door don’t create this feeling and in general it is hard to say if and where it triggers feelings at all. The left side of the train experiences a very weak ride at The Swarm, while the passengers on the right side experience a very solid roller coaster ride. Above all, it is a much more impressive experience to ride over the top than underneath to experience the first inversion and simultaneous first drop. The following inversions are all more intense on the right side and even the Inclined Loop is much more fun due to the inner radius.

Hardly any other roller coaster made the classification as difficult as The Swarm. While the left side is even weaker, the right side with the ride experience is very nice, but nothing more. It complements the portfolio of Thorpe Park and makes sure that a few more people come to this part of the park, also the park doesn’t seem so small anymore due to the expansion.

Rumba Rapids

Due to the rather bad weather, most of the rides were left behind, also the Intamin Accelerator roller coaster Stealth was closed. But since the ride programs at all flat rides are hardly worth mentioning, which by the way also applies to the oversized compressed air swing Rush from S&S Power, this is not necessarily a tragedy. Apart from Storm Surge and the Rumba Rapids, a rafting ride with a level of wetness where you get off drier than you got on at the end of the ride, no water ride was visited. Regarding the Rumba Rapids, it should be mentioned that the installation not only has potential, but also convinces with the existing soundtrack. Although this facility is as wet as most other European rafting rides, it is nicely laid out.

Conclusion Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park is quite a nice amusement park. The park’s clientele is generally young, so there are some families to be found around here, but without small children – they are better off within 15 miles of the amusement parks Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland Windsor anyway. Its reputation as a thrill capital naturally attracts a group of visitors that don’t like to be seen in a park, but in general all visitors were able to behave themselves. The oh-so “grubby” park map with its hidden details is not as disgusting as many people think – it rather reminds of some of the details you can find in the Miniatur Wunderland. Of course, one can argue about the style and maybe a serious appearance would be better, but that’s just the way it is in Great Britain.

 

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