Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Before I start, let me introduce England to those who don’t know it that well. First of all, everyone drives on the left side on the road, everyone is only half as friendly as the Americans and I always refer to this country as ‘sunny England’ because it usually keeps on raining, though unlike America, we don’t have thunderstorms. Why did I say all this? Because I’ve pretty much summed up a small piece of this trip report, so you’ve probably got an idea of what the rest of this report is going to be like. But don’t judge this without reading it, because you’ll actually find that this is a British park at its best!
Way back at the end of March, I had took it upon myself to plan a Thorpe Park trip with my college mates, but we had ran into so many problems, I wasn’t able to complete it. For a start, we had changed the date nine times, we all couldn’t agree on a ‘plan of attack’ and eventually, half of the group came up to me and said: they were too stressed to go. Typical! So in the end I called it off and resumed my simple/complicated life.
In April, a couple of my college friends had come back from Thorpe Park (Why didn’t they invite me?!?!) in the half – term and they had the time of their lives. They had small crowds, small queues and sunny weather (Britain had been hit by a heat wave). So what proved was that the date I had chosen was perfect and if I had a bit more time, we could have all gone.
At the start of May, I had learnt that the college was planning a (not quite) end of term trip to Thorpe Park. So I signed up and counted down the days. On the 30th, I woke up, grabbed everything I needed and carefully crushed it my bag, left my hometown of Northwood Hills, took the ‘London Underground’ (a train) to Watford station, walked to college and looked at the details on a sheet. We were to leave college at 9:30, and leave at 5:00 (5:00?! The park closes at 8:00!) and unfortunately we were traveling via a coach (think bus but longer) which meant that we would be responsible for traffic jams, because we’re slow. Not only that, only one person was from my group and I didn’t have a clue who anyone else is. So, the people organizing had got off to a sketchy start, but I can’t complain, at least I’m going to Thorpe Park, I’ll still have a good time…right?...
30th MAY (SOMEWERE IN HALF – TERM), 10:21am, THORPE PARK
Our slow coach arrived at our destination in one piece and we went into the coach/bus parking and our posse of 67 approx of students, with a few staff members of course, jumped out the coach and proceeded to the entrance with the authentic entrance music blasting in our ears. We waited ten minutes for our tickets and luckily we were allowed to go in our separate groups, and there was only one ride closed, Neptune’s Beach (small playground). So me and my mate (His name’s Sam and he’s never been to Thorpe Park before, unlike me who’s been about 7 times!) grabbed our tickets (after annoyingly being told that we had to be back at the coach/bus parking at 4:30) and we when across the bridge to the dome and finally, after a few set-backs, our Thorpe Park trip had begun!
Myself and my Sam went outside the dome and to my horror, the park was packed full of people, it had started to rain and we were pressed for time to get some attractions done. So, with all this in mind, we headed straight for Stealth at full speed to the other corner of the park, only to find out that the displayed time of 20mins was completely wrong (the queue line had breached past 60min) so we decided to get a front row ticket for Stealth. So we ran back to the dome (because unfortunately, that’s where they sell the tickets) and we each bought a ticket and we went outside, only to realize that we had both bought the wrong ticket.
So let’s examine the situation. We only have 6 hours at the park, it is packed with people, the rain was getting worse and we had both bought the wrong ticket……could be worse.
However, we were both determined not to let some small (*cough*) set – backs spoil our day. The ticket we bought was called an ‘extreme ticket’ which had allowed us to use the ‘Fastpass’ queue line on 4 attractions in this order at selected times: Nemesis Inferno, X/: No Way Out, Tidal Wave and Colossus. Being the first available ride in the time slot, we headed to Nemesis Inferno (at the far left of the park, which means more running) and only had to wait 5 minutes, thanks to our fastpass. We both sat at the back row, pulled down the comfortable harness, and soon enough the music echoed, the lights changed and our black train rolled out the station. For those who don’t know, Nemesis Inferno is the less successful but still thrilling predecessor of the original Nemesis at Alton Towers. It is a B&M inverted coaster, themed around a volcano (though I complained about the half finished themeing at the start of the ride, until Sam told me to shut up). It reaches a height of 95ft and hits speeds of around 47mph (doesn’t that make it smaller but faster than Colossus?) and it has 4 inversions. I get annoyed when a ride looks unfinished, but the ride itself was a blast and Sam loved it.
We had 30mins to waste before No Way Out so we headed to Loggers Leap…which had broke down so we went to Samurai…which had also broke down and was closed for the rest of the day. Noticing the short queue (and the rain getting worse), we headed for Slammer. Slammer is a ‘Sky Swat’ attraction. It’s difficult to describe so I won’t spend too long here. We both sat down pulled our tough harnesses down and sat in the pouring rain for 5mins until the ride started. You’ll know when it starts, the mega dramatic music (which I recognized from a Romeo and Juliet film) blasted up and our platform rose up. It then started spinning, which obviously resulted in loud screams. Another great ride added to our collection, and soon we were off to our next ride in the rain, which had gotten worse.
Time for the over hyped failure known as X/: No Way Out. It used to be fun and fairly average, but now the changes have resulted in a tedious ride. For starters, after handing our bags, the fastpass only skipped the outside queue, and inside there was still a 30min wait. The ride itself was worse than before. It used to be pitch - black but now they had slightly lit the place up and I could see everything, even the track and the trains. So much for making it recreate a ‘lost’ experience. I was nearly lost for words, while Sam said: “It wasn’t worth the wait”, and it was “a c*** ride”. I find that comment most agreeable! We retrieved our bags and exited the pyramid back outside in the rain, which had gotten worse.
We decided to go to Stealth, which had broken down so we ran off to Adrian’s favorite rapids ride: Ribena Rumba Rapids, or as Adrian and myself call it: R******d Rumba C***ids (it’s that bad).Families will love it, no doubt but a 2 teenagers? Not really. This has poor themeing, poor pace, poor seats (I hurt myself on the bar) and…well, you get the idea. It was only a 5min queue, and it was a long ride along with a catchy theme tune, but that’s all that’s good about it. We also had a chat to a staff member about the only thing we could think of: rain (which had gotten worse).
Next up was Thorpe Parks big gun: STEALTH! The one ride myself and Sam were looking forward too the most. Thorpe Park designed this as a simple, yet effective icon ride. Designed by Intamin (which explains the unreliability of his launched coasters around the world…) this monster hits a height of 205ft, with a max speed of 80mph in just under 2 seconds with a G – force of 4.5gs (OMG!). It had only just opened so we only had to wait 20mins. But we bravely (more like a direct result of stupidity) decided to go in the front row. I’ll admit the fact that I was s***ing myself in the ride queue when the train pulled up, and so was Sam. And the shoulder restraint didn’t help for comfort either because of the odd design I’ve never seen on a coaster. But, their wasn’t time to complain about the restraint or the rain, which was typically getting worse, because the train moved a few inches, stopped and the lights blinked red in front of us. The lights below the reds turned green and then we were off. The camera flashed in our faces quickly and the heavy rain was hitting our faces very hard and I struggled to keep my eyes open, until we got to the top of the hill to which I remember shouting something like: “OHHHH S***********…
It was only until we softly hit the breaks that I remembered what the other two people from my class said about Stealth. After coming back from Thorpe Park, all they talked about was Stealth, saying how great it was etc. I thought that they were over hyping it but after an experience like that, I’ll probably never doubt them again.
After that memorable experience, we decided to get our (rather humiliating) ride photo. Upon buying it, we decided to get a 5 photo deal. Simply, we pay £20 for 5 different ride photos, so we thought: ‘Why not? What else are we going to do’? So we had only 3 hours to complete our cheap task of getting 4 on ride photos, so off we went to Tidal Wave, our next fastpass attraction, in the pouring rain, which was getting worse. Tidal Wave is a simple splash boat ride: Go up hill, turn left, big drop, big splash, turn left and go in station. Basically another simple yet effective ride. The result, both of us had gone from drenched to soaked! So much for the waterproof…
Since we were already wet, and we had only 2/5 photos, we headed over to Loggers Leap which we were relieved to see was up and running. Thanks to the horrendous rainfall, there was only a 5min queue. Loggers Leap is your typical classic flume ride, but this has a drop in a tunnel and a double dip at the end, yay fun! We collected our ride photo and then got a bite at Burger King. We each bought a burger and we headed off to our final ride on the fastpass list: Colossus. Did I mention that the rain was getting worse?
We reached the record breaking coaster (which ironically had a record breaking line of the day with a 65min queue line) with only two hours left but the fastpass bought us some time. We both got the front seat again (after getting ‘clotheslined’ by the restraints) and we got our 4th ride photo. Nice to know we were getting our moneys worth. Anyway, Colossus is another unreliable Intamin coaster which reaches a height of 99ft and hits 45mph (though it feels faster when your getting hit by rain). The ride itself was awesome with great scenery, a decent layout and one of the most brilliant theme park sound tracks I’ve ever heard. We both loved that ride and at the end Sam kept asking me why people didn’t like it. I responded by saying what other people had said about it on this site. And then inevitably the topic changed to the fact that we were cold, wet and we both really needed to go to the toilet (or bathroom as you Americans call it). With one photo left to go, we both ran back to Nemesis Inferno in the accursed rain, which (yep, you guessed it…) had gotten worse.
We queued back in for Nemesis which had a 35min wait time. But unfortunately this increased because (I hear this in Florida a lot) ‘due to inclement weather Nemesis has been suspended from operation, we apologize for the inconvenience and we will keep the ride closed until further notice’. Damn! 10mins later though, we had managed to get in the front row; however the comfort from all B&M coasters had gone. The train was wetter than we were. The ride experience was dampened (excuse the pun) by the rain and Sam was unfortunate to have gallons of water thrown on top of him from the top of the train. B****y funny though! At least it was until I got wet (wetter!).
At this point we had only an hour left, we had succeeded in getting five front row pictures, we were getting tired after all the running, we were soaked to the bone and the rain was getting worse. With this in mind we walked (for once) to Vortex and waited 30mins. This ride is defiantly not for those with faint stomachs. Think Maelstrom at Drayton Manor but this time you’re facing inwards. Like Quantum, Rush and Zodiac, you can see that while it looks like its been squashed in, it still holds the feeling of the ‘lost city’ area. We both enjoyed the ride and with 30mins to go we decided to go on one last ride. So we headed to Stealth so we could do single rider. Unfortunately, they were only running one train and only one of us could get on in time and Sam got that place first, in the front row and the rain had finally stopped (Quite a combo of bad luck for me!). After Sam had come off we walked quickly back to the coach. We waited half an hour for the rest of the group to come back to the coach and then eventually we rolled out the exit, with the sun setting in the distance between a few clouds…a great British sight to behold. I didn’t see a lot else, as I had dozed off completely in my seat.
With the day passed, I and my friend had a good result from our day out. We had 5 photos, front row on nearly all attractions, 10 attractions ridden, both of us were soaking wet and I had managed to get only 4 injuries (Grazed my elbow on Loggers Leap, crushed my leg against the rail on the Rapids, hit repeatedly in the face on Stealth and I got hit in the face by some ignorant with an umbrella). This proves that you can have tons of rain, occasional breakdowns, have a slow coach, have a limited time in the park, get only half the attractions done, have only one burger for lunch, have only one toilet stop, get massive crowds, do a lot of running, pay £20 extra and come out completely washed up and still have a smile on your face!
Me and Sam proved that on the 30th, at one of England’s best parks. Yes I know that Robert Niles recently started the TPI awards and I am well aware that this park isn’t going to win anything, but this is still one of my favorite parks, because it is a British. This isn’t me being biased (since Islands Of Adventure isn’t involved), this is me taking pride of what I’ve got. American people like American things, British people like British things. That sums up my opinion of Thorpe Park. I would give 9/10!
Having said that, Islands Of Adventure is my favorite park of all time, it beats Thorpe Park hands down! Anyway thanks for reading and please be sure to leave a response.
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