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Park Review

8

 
Thorpe Park
Colossus
The Depth Charge
Detonator
Flying Fish
Logger's Leap
Mr Monkey's Banana Boat Ride
Nemesis Inferno
Quantum
Rumba Rapids
Rush
Samurai
Saw: The Ride
Slammer
Stealth
Storm Surge
The Swarm
Tidal Wave
Vortex
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Zodiac

On my last visit to Thorpe Park we did something that we hadn't done for a long time. We spent the whole day there without running out of things to do, this was even when skipping a few of the minor rides. It wasn't as if this was due to long queues either, apart from the recently opened Saw, we didn't wait more than 20 minutes for anything, some were even walk on. It probably helped that we deliberately stuck to a small group, leaving behind some of the less adventurous people, but this still represents a big change from previous visits. Before we've always found ourselves running out of things to do, early in the day, which is not what you expect from a park charging over 40 on the gate. Admittedly thanks to Buy a Gift and all the vouchers Merlin distribute we never pay full price, but it's still a pricey park.

 

One of the reasons for this change is the addition of Saw: The Ride. Although it's not quite at the level of Stealth and Nemesis Inferno, the addition of this means the park now has 3 major rides I'd be happy to do repeat rides of, on a quiet day, and if you include Colossus, 4 I'd be willing to join a long queue for on a busy day.

The biggest draw after the signature coasters is the collection of thrill rides on offer. This is one of the best collections of thrill rides I've seen outside of a European funfair. You've got scary and intense rides like Detonator, Slammer and Samaria, plus rides like Rush and Quantum offering thrills to the family thrill seeker. The  park could do with a few more rides between these two opposites, currently there's just Vortex (and to a lesser extent Zodiac) which often gets bad queues.

If anything the park relies too much on thrill rides. The lower capacity means you often get big queues for these rides, yet the don't absorb enough people to keep the queues down on the big coasters.

After the coasters and thrill rides it's mostly what Tussauds/ Merlin inherited from Thorpe Parks previous owners. This is a bit of a problem, although most of the rides are of an OK standard, and were more than adequate for a good family park in the late 1990s, they fall short of the standards set by the parks most recent investments. This isn't too bad when doing them, as they usually have short queues, but they're not popular enough to draw crowds away from the bigger rides. I've been to the park when Stealth and Nemesis Inferno have had 90 minutes queues, and Loggers Leap and the Rapids have been walk on.

I think this is Thorpe Parks biggest problem at the moment, it has some great rides, but it doesn't have enough popular attractions to spread the crowds out, so the queues for the major attractions get bad, and there isn't that much to do if you want to skip the big queues. One possible solution would be to invest in a large number of thrill rides. I would say at least 6, including at least 2 aiming at the same market as Vortex, possibly by getting some cheap second hand rides from the European fair market as a temporary measure. The other option would be to get some more popular family rides, by giving some of the water rides a make over, and adding some more family coasters and some dark rides.

Looking back I've been a little more negative than I meant to be. I think I should end by being more positive. Last time I went I had a great time, and we're even thinking about a repeat visit later in the year. If your party is suitably  thrill ride orientated to do all the major rides, and you can pick a reasonably quiet day (and avoid the busiest ones like the plague) there is a great day out on offer. Tussauds/ Merlin have set out to turn this park in to a world class attraction, and it now has a world class collection of signature coasters. The rest of the park still has some catching up to do, but it's making good progress.