Thorpe Park 6/2- Slammer Strands Riders Upside Down!

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Yeah, thats the headline of the day- Slammer was certainly misbehaving. On second though, the other S&S ride wasn't exactly doing to well either. But I'll get to that shortly.

I woke up bright and early, hoping that the weather report predicting showers all day would be wrong. I had confidence that was going to be the case- I turned out to be right (though I bundled up anyway)! Not a drop of rain the entire day.

The public bus dropped us off around the corner from the park. And the place is so well hidden that I wasn't quite sure where I was heading for a few steps. Kind of like Alton Towers, the place is completely hidden until you get very close to it. Also like Alton Towers, there really aren't any particuarly tall rides here (though it seems that will change next season).

So anyway, made it to the park around 9 AM for the 9:30 opening. Perfect. Rather than scan the ticket on the way in, they just come around through the line waiting to get in and scan the ticket before the park opens. That was the only ticket check they did. Seems like it would be easy for someone to join their friends up front in line and get a free admission. Oh well, its efficient for the guests.

When the park opened, I went to Colossus first. I noticed that X:\ No Way Out and Rush (the new Screamin' Swing) would not open until noon. Lame. Oh well, got to Colossus and hopped into the backseat on the first ride of the day!

I liked the ride. It seems like the only record breaker I have been on that has some good substance to it. The layout is unique, with its bizarre finale of 4 consecutive barrel rolls, a turn and one wild ground-hugging barrel roll. The last one is particularly sweet. It certainly brings a new dimension to the "headchopper effect" with the whole car just a couple feet off the ground!

Colossus does have a case of speed rattle. If you've been on Scream! or recall the loop on California Screamin', you'll know what I mean. A couple of mild headbangs as well. But this doesn't ruin the coaster by any stretch of the imagination. Its still a ton of fun. A great ride and a record-breaker that has a bit of creativity behind it.

I took another lap on Colossus before taking the walk to Nemesis: Inferno. Might as well get the big ones done early in the event that it did start to rain or worse.

Very impressive theming and a great ride to match! I wasn't entirely sure if B&M could still pull of the intensity, but as of a couple years ago with this one- the answer is yes! No, it doesn't match up to its older sibling at Alton Towers. IMO, I don't think that anything can, so its silly to hold it to such a standard.

The trip through the volcano is best described as surreal. Tons and tons of fog are being pumped through the interior, with colored lights to add effect. The s-curve that it does in there seriously feels like some sort of dream with the heavy fog whipping by you! Its really cool! I thought that the interlocking corkscrews were interesting feature. But all around, its the theming and landscaping that really makes a good ride into a very good one. I love the water underneath the ride and all of the tropical foliage. Who would have suspected such a tropical atmosphere in the English countryside?

After that, it was flat ride time, since Thorpe has a very impressive collection. I guess I just miss La Revolucion at home, so I figured that a ride on Vortex (a KMG model) would be worthwhile. Yes it was! The ride runs a longer cycle than the one at KBF (and has a much nicer theme and paint job)!

I also hit Quantum, a flying carpet-style ride that looked like it came right out of Roller Coaster Tycoon. It was a lot different than I expected. I thought it would be more like a Falling Star, but not so much. The forces are completely different and slid me forwards and backwards with some intensity, but not a lot of airtime. Quite odd.

Seriously, most of my day at the park was spent re-riding Colossus and Nemesis: Inferno. Thanks to the single rider lines, that wasn't terribly hard to do. The park was crowded. Colossus and Nemesis had hour-long lines most of the day. The single rider lines were popular, but still made these rides a 15-30 minute wait at most. I'll take what I can get. Props to Thorpe Park for using these though!

So how about that Slammer. Let me start out by saying that its an awesome ride! It actually had me a bit nervous (even before I knew what it would do a bit later on). I was genuinely impressed with the ride. Diving towards the ground is quite the thrill. All around a lot of fun.

But a bit later, I was walking by Colossus only to see Slammer stopped. Ok fine, it takes a second to start up, stopping both platforms in the air at an even keel. But this was no even keel! Both ends of the swatter were inverted. And not just a little bit- all the way! There's a photo of this on my site, linked at the end of the trip report.

I don't mean to be sensational about it, but this seems like a pretty big deal. It took about 15 minutes (from what I could tell) to manually put the platforms right-side-up. 15 minutes upside down is not good! But I have to give major praise to Thorpe and its employees for handling the situation well. They constantly reassured the obviously frightened riders, letting them know that mantainence was working beneath the ride to get it back to normal. Afterwards, they held them aside and seemed to take good care of the guests.

Now, I put the blame squarely on S&S. Sorry, but why would you design a ride that can A. get stuck upside-down and B. take a while to get back to the proper position. Its like the ride on the Stratosphere that keeps the riders over the edge if it sees and error, rather than returning them to the tower. Makes little sense to me, though I don't claim to be an engineer.

While I'm in the midst of S&S bashing, let me comment on their other creation in the park, Rush, the screamin' swing. Yeah, it opened at noon and operated for about 2 hours today (with only one of two swings no less). WTF?

They had signs around saying that the ride would be testing and could close at any time or run without riders. Fine, except that the oficially opened a few days ago with a countdown on the website, a media event and half-page newspaper advertisements. Maybe I missed something, but I don't see how you can have it both ways. Eh, its a minor concern as I've been on KBF's and think its "just ok." When Rush did open today, it had an hour-long wait (proably because of the one swing operation). Even so, thats rather obscene for a ride running what I saw to be the exact same program as Knott's has.

So aside from the S&S-related dissapointments, I want to comment on some other things that were great at Thorpe Park. Namely, some of the crews. The crew on Samurai were literally running to check the ride. Also great work by the Nemesis and Colossus crews in managing the single rider lines, fastlane lines and the ride itself! Thats quite a balancing act, but they did a nice job.

And now how about a few other ride reviews?

Samurai a Mondial ride, (I don't know what type) was pretty good. It was certainly intense. I think I liked (the operational) Slammer a bit more though.

Detonator, the drop ride (not sure who this was made by, though it wasn't S&S) was ok. Good airtime, but the whole thing just felt sort of unremarkable to me.

And Thorpe Park's X:\ No Way Out? That is one messed up ride! One one hand, the theming is cheesy in a way that only CP's Disaster Transport can match. But once you get on the ride? This "X" is simply bizarre. Drop, turn, stop.. random air blowing in your face. Drop, turn, stop...(car shakes). And it does that kind of stuff several times. I seriously don't know just what to say about it. Thorpe needs a good family coaster, but I can't really recommend this one to anyone!

Anyway, I really enjoyed that park and look forward to seeing it grow in the future. It seems to be very popular, so hopefully they will bring in some new rides and really solidify they day's experience.

Honestly, I don't know what to think about their 2006 coaster. An Xcelerator-sized Kingda Ka clone? Sounds underwhelming. But since the UK is currently tophat-less, and has no rides that fast, I can also see it being a big hit. Seems a gimmick, but it just might work well in that environment.

All in all, it was a nice day at the park. 6 rides on Nemesis and 6 on Colossus made it a day with lots of rides, despite the crowds. Between those two rides and one on Slammer, thats 80 inversions today. Yikes, that is crazy!

Thanks for reading!
The photos from the day are here:

Samurai is a Mondial Top Scan. That is the best flat ride out there, hands down. The Fabbri Mega Drop is a good ride with some major airtime.

John Moore

Thorpe certainly gets a lot of inversions for your buck... And with only 2 coasters.

Those s&s creations have been causing headaches, Rush is the well behaved one. Lets hope they can get them sorted quickly before the summer period, or i can envisage some more bad publicity like Alton got last year.

Thorpe is a great little park, just needs a big coaster which is coming next year and a good couple of familly rides/coasters.

The fact that it is the only proper park in southern england with 10 million people within 3 hours, should enable it to grow massively.

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