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Thorpe Park TR!, Saturday 24th October
Luke
post Oct 26 2009, 7:34 PM
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Park: Thorpe Park
Date: Saturday 24th October
Weather: Mostly fine with a little drizzle
Company: 3 friends: Ben, Matt and Chris

Iíd spoken to a lot of people about Thorpe Park in recent weeks, and was starting to regret forking out £30 each on tickets earlier in the year. No one had a good thing to say about it, with an apparent plummet in quality of the mazes, a full-to-capacity park, some dreadful maintenance and huge queue times. I seriously considered cancelling our visit, and booking rickets for Tulleyís Shocktoberfest event instead, especially after I heard about the actors they were attracting. I eventually resisted, as Chris had never been to Thorpe Park before, and none of us had ridden Saw.

Iíve been in each of the previous 7 seasons from 2002, including 2 visits during Fright Nights in 2006 and 2007, and, I have to say, Iím very glad that I didnít change my mind and cancel the tickets - it was the best visit Iíve ever had to Thorpe Park!

We arrived shortly before 12pm on the Saturday lunchtime, and headed straight to Vortex, one of my favourite rides from previous visits. It had a 15 minute queue which was very reasonable, but the ride program was a little short and disappointing. I would have preferred to have had a better ride program, even if it would have meant waiting 30 minutes. I am a firm believer that theme parks should always run their flat rides on the best program, even if it does mean waiting longer for them - perhaps double the time in this case. Alton Towers are the same as Thorpe Park too - theyíre afraid of running Ripsaw and Submission on better (and slightly longer) programs, just because the queue/park attendance is over a certain point. Let me put it this way - would you prefer to ride Ripsaw twice on a rather short and fairly average program, or once with the best possible program. I understand their argument, and I donít know how everyone else feels about it, but Iíd prefer to wait longer and get the best possible ride experience. Vortex 5/10

After a slightly disappointing start to the day, we decided to head to Colossus. The queue time was advertised as 60 minutes, which was spot-on. We opted for the front row which added an extra 20 minutes to the waiting time - my point stands from the previous paragraph - Iím prepared to wait that little bit longer for a better ride experience. I always queue for the front row on Nemesis and Rita now because it adds so much to the ride experience, and again, some might disagree with me but I think it did on Colossus too. Itís a good ride, and although those inline twists never did anything for me previously, they felt brilliant this time. Some great air-time and the first loop is excellent at the front. Overall 7.5/10

The next ride was Detonator with a 10 minute queue. Not a particular favourite of mine, purely because itís so short, but my mates were feeling quite nervous about this one so I enjoyed the build-up and tension. The ride staff were also lovely. Generally, Thorpe has a bad reputation for staff, and I think I would have to agree - the majority of the staff arenít very enthusiastic and look like they donít give a crap, but the Detonator staff were friendly, as well as being good looking too! Overall, Iíd rate Detonator 6/10

Lunch time next at KFC. I ordered the Zinger Tower Meal for about £5.85, and felt pretty ripped off after my mates got a meal for about £6.00, which included everything I had plus baked beans/coleslaw and a piece of chicken! We didnít have to wait at all (which was good considering it was just after 2), but I think they need to review their pricing structure.

By the time weíd finished our lunch, it was approaching 3pm, so we decided to head towards Asylum and wait until the 4pm opening. When I last visited during Fright Nights in 2007, I remember having to wait 2 hours for Asylum, so I felt this was a good idea. We were the fifth group in at around 16:10 and my friend Chris was leading the group. Asylum continues to be a good and fairly intense maze, but thatís all it is. Itís pretty much the same thing year after year, and Iíd think theyíd benefit from changing the theme of the maze, like when they changed it from The Freezer to Asylum. Some of the actors looked disinterested, but as ever the chainsaw scene guaranteed a good ending, with the actor pushing it against Mattís arse for a hilarious finish.

Next we decided to do Se7en, and we waited for around 45 minutes. We all agreed that this was the poorest of the mazes, although our group caught up with the 2 groups in front meaning that the actors had to entertain a group of 20 people. Personally, I preferred the 2006/2007 versions, and thatís saying something!

Next up was Curse, which we waited 60 minutes for. We were placed at the back of an 8-person group, but decided to split off a quarter of the way through to enhance the experience. Naughty I know, but weíd seen groups of 4 go through before. Chris, Ben and Matt all rated Curse as the best maze of the day, and I think its rating was boosted considerably by one particular actor who had a fondness of grabbing peopleís feet and not letting go!

After Curse, we headed to Hellgate. The queue was only 30 minutes, so we actually did Hellgate twice. On previous visits to Fright Nights, weíd all agreed that Hellgate was the best maze at Thorpe Park, and I think Iíd have to stick with that choice. Chris, Ben & Matt all rated it as second best behind Curse. A couple of the actors were brilliant, especially the guy who stalks a particular member of the group - it happened to be the third person in-line on both of our visits, which unfortunately was me on the first go, and Matt on the second. Itís a good maze, but as with Asylum nothing amazing. I just feel it lacks the professionalism that Field of 1000 Screams and Terror of the Towers boast, and I personally think that they all need a refreshing with new themes for next year. The concepts seem to be the same year after year, and whilst they were once great ideas, gradually they become tired and monotonous.

However, thatís coming from someone whoís been to Fright Nights a few times before. Interestingly, Chris - whoíd never been to Thorpe Park rated both Curse and Hellgate above this yearís Terror of the Towers, so it just goes to show the differences in opinion between different people.

In order, this is how Iíd rate the four mazes:

Hellgate: 7.5/10
Asylum: 7/10
Curse: 6/10
Se7en: 3.5/10

Now the time was around 7 o clock, and we still had quite a lot to do. Thankfully, a lot of people started to go home, so the queue times were gradually falling.

We headed to Nemesis Inferno, probably my favourite roller coaster at Thorpe Park. The main queue was 30 minutes, but we opted for the front row once again, meaning 45 minutes overall. Despite its critics, I think itís a very good ride with some brilliant inversions, and the speed is consistently high too. I like the use of lighting and of course the steam & spray in the tunnel. A nice use of Black Woods by MS too which brought back memories of TOTT 2002. Overall, itís not as good as Nemesis IMO (that is an almost-impossible ask), but still a very good ride. 8/10

The next ride was Slammer. My least favourite flat ride at Thorpe Park, but you canít complain when itís only a 5 minute queue. The ride surely has a longer program, and if it does it should be used, especially when the queueís this small! Overall 5/10

The next ride was Rush. Iíd never managed to ride Rush on previous visits to Thorpe Park; on one visit it was closed because of that incident, and every other time itís always had a large queue. We waited for 20 minutes, and it was definitely worth it. A brilliant flat ride, and although it doesnít look as good as Slammer, itís much faster and the forces are better. Once again, my only complaint would be the length of the ride program. Overall 7.5/10

Next up was Samurai, along with Nemesis Inferno my favourite ride at Thorpe Park. I love spinning rides such as Dynamo, Bling and Enterprise, and Samurai is no exception. Surprisingly, it was on a fairly decent setting, probably the best program Iíve had on Samurai, and I think Iíd have to rate it above Bling (BPB nearly always use a good program). Overall 9/10 and mine, Benís and Chrisí favourite ride of the day!

Our last ride of the day was Saw. We joined the queue at 21:50 and waited roughly an hour. There were no actors in the queue, although I guess they finish at 22:00. My enjoyment of the ride was hampered when the restraint pushed down from the forces of the beyond-vertical drop - quite painful and rather fitting considering the theme of this ride! If Iíd been blessed in that particular region, I can only imagine it wouldíve been torture! I liked the indoor part of the ride, and I personally think itís the second-best themed ride in the country, behind Hex. Overall 7.5/10

We left Thorpe Park at 22:50 and got back home for around 02:00, with an extra hours sleep thankfully! Despite Stealth being closed for the whole day, it was definitely my best visit to Thorpe. Most of the rides are good quality attractions, which would be worthy of a place in most theme parks. The queues were very reasonable for all of the rides - we didnít have to wait over an hour for anything (deducting front-row queue for Colossus), which I was surprised about considering it was a Saturday. Itís clear to see that Thorpe need to do a lot of work in terms of staffing and HR; I know itís a repetitive job and poor wages, and itís really down to Thorpe to motivate their staff better - Alton have improved in this area over the past few years so hopefully Thorpe will too.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Thorpe Park, and Iíll definitely be visiting again next October. The company on this trip was fantastic, and this obviously plays a big part in how much you enjoy the day. In my opinion, Alton Towers is still undoubtedly the best theme park in the country, in terms of rides, atmosphere (which is more friendly and family-orientated at Alton), maintenance and for me personally, the Halloween event - Thorpe Park need to work on their Fright Nights offerings and spice them up for next year to keep things original and fresh, but Thorpe is still a very good day out, and I personally felt that I got my £30ís worth!

Thanks for reading! smile.gif
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eyeamthu1
post Oct 28 2009, 6:48 PM
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I went on Monday. There's something about Thorpe which just isn't as "nice" as Alton Towers. It feels a bit concrete-y or something.

Fright Nights I thought were by far inferior to Alton's Scarefest Event. Alton is decorated nicely throughout, with pumpkins adorning a lot of the park areas. Thorpe hasn't really been decorated for Halloween - I'd go as far as to say you wouldn't even notice there was a special event on. The place only really comes alive when it gets dark.

The Mazes are all just ok. I did everyone except The Asylum (which I've done before in its Freezer incarnation) - it had a 90min queue. The other mazes were all fun, without being great. They were too short really, and not immersive enough. I don't like how The Curse and 7 are just in tents... they need to try and theme the entrance a bit better so as not to give the guest the impression that all they're entering is a tent. That said, The Curse was pretty good fun, as was Hellgate. 7 was pretty awful - nothing really happens. Granted that Thorpe provides four 'free' mazes, but something like Terror of the Towers is incredible compared with the Thorpe Mazes - in terms of duration, effects, immersion, number of actors, theming etc. Even when considering the upcharge mazes like Field Of 1000 Screams and Boiler House, I'd say that it's worth the extra money just to get a better experience. The only real other Fright Nights attraction there is Saw: Live, which was pretty nothing-y - a couple of actors in the queue and near the exit... didn't add much, but I guess were appreciated.

Night rides were a lot of fun though - I thought that the rides in general were running quite well. Nemesis Inferno particularly was great - nice to see the mist working again. Even Colossus was good - yeh, a little shakey - but it absolutely flew around the circuit.

In general as well, the ride operation was decent - at least for Thorpe Park. I've been before when it is an absolute nightmare, with rides running at low capacity and breaking down. On Monday, Stealth was down til about 2pm and then opened and ran with two trains without any problems. I was sceptical that they may have just decided to not run it in the morning, and blame it on technical problems, but meh, maybe it was genuinely not working. The only other gripe was that until 11am, Colossus was running one train. The queue was already long-ish, so I don't know why they didn't just start with 2 trains... is cost-cutting for one hour THAT big a deal!? They then shut the ride down for 15min to add the second train, meaning the queue built up to over an hour. I mean, it's a Half-Term Fright Nights day... SURELY they should have just started the day with 2 trains rather than cause everyone a great inconvenience by ceasing operation after an hour to add a second train? But yeh, other than those two complaints, ride availability and throughput was actually faultless.

Finally - Saw. I'm still not convinced by it. Everyone saying it's well-themed... I don't particularly see it. The station is nice, the pre-lift is good... but that's it really IMO. I don't think it's particularly incredible. Similarly, the ride itself is just a bit *meh*. The best bit is the pre-lift segment... great surprise drop in the dark. But other than that, it's all just kind of average... Speed at Oakwood is a much better ride. Also, I hadn't ever noticed this 'jolting' before, but I have to say, it was pretty obvious today - I was shaking all over the place, perhaps even more so than on something like Colossus.

So yeh... overall, a decent visit to Thorpe. But I think Alton's Scarefest event is much better than Thorpe's Fright Nights...


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andy talocanham
post Oct 29 2009, 4:15 PM
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I have to admit, Thorpe at night has such a bad atmosphere, the rides are great in the dark but after that i just dont feel particularly safe. Alton it feels safe, secure, and just a happy atmosphere. Thorpe does not have that at all. Oh, the theming of Halloween is shocking at thorpe, although, if they had Pumkins, i am sure hell would literally break loose.


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AstroDan
post Nov 2 2009, 7:05 PM
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Whilst I prefer Scarefest in general, Alton's Halloween theming in the park is hardly of a reasonable quality. They theme Towers St, Old MacDonald's Farm but after that it's just the odd thing here and there. Whole areas were left untouched!



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