BBC Apprentice does Theme Parks

November 9, 2019, 9:16 AM

I know in the US The Apprentice is pretty much a dead IP, but the BBC version of the show is still running, and this week did a theme park episode

Just as background: Unlike its US counterpart, it never turned into a celebrity fest (Celeb versions are limited to single-episode events for the BBC's charity telethons), and instead still has somewhat "normal" people. Also being on the BBC it never devolved into a product-placement fest; that said it does use real companies and real executives in the challenge processes, it's just really toned down.

Not sure if you can find it on BBC America, or other reputable outlets... But although its a bit long in the tooth its probably worth a view.

Anyway, the week's challenge had the two teams visit Thorpe Park and challenged to design a new roller coaster, along with a marketing poster and strategy. The ride would be "built" for a 4D theatre, and ultimately judged by 3 Merlin Executives (who experienced the ride in the 4D theatre along with some other regulars).

One team developed a concept called "The Final Loop". This was built on a sci-fi concept: at some point in the future Earth's gravity is breaking down, and the guests need to orbit the earth superman-style in order to restore gravity. The Ride was proposed to have a record 15 inversions and also hold a world speed record, catapult launch, but conventional steel coaster track and cars.

POV on Youtube here:

Unfortunately I can't find a copy of the poster on google images, but the poster didn't make reference to either record.

The other team produced a concept that they called "Insomnia", based on the concept of falling backward in a dream and it turns into a nightmare. This was proposed to be a backwards running inverted coaster with lift hill, and a holding brake for the signature backwards drop.

POV on Youtube here:

Again, I can't find a picture of the poster on Google Images, but it used a sci-fi looking green eye as its logo, and the strapline "fall into your nightmare".

For anyone who wants to watch the episode to see which concept wins, consider this your spoiler break.


Both Rides were demonstrated in Thorpe Park's 4D Theatre.

Feedback given before the boardroom on The Final Loop was that the ride seemed to be somewhat intimidating and nauseating, but also exciting, and the poster was criticised for featuring neither USP - why have 2 world records if you're not going to reference them?

Likewise for Insomnia, the poster was criticized for the poster not really matching the theme of the ride, and the ride not being terrifying enough, and perhaps a little underwelming.

That said, the 3 Merlin executives who were judging were unanimous that the uniqueness of the backwards-fall concept made it stand above the other concept, and it ultimately won the day.

Personally, I figured that Insomnia was going to win from the moment it was pitched. The Unique element and theme concept I thought was on-brand for Merlin, even if I thought the ride was very much a 1 trick pony and rather underwhelming after that element... If you're playing the bigger/faster/more inversion game, it just takes one more foot/1 mph faster/1 more barrel roll to lose your reason to exist.

My thoughts of Final Loop was that although the story is okay, its a vomit comet. Many of the turns aren't banked enough, and combining max speed and all of those inversions is going to drive up visits to the first aid office to a crazy level.

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