The Swarm (roller coaster)
The entrance and first drop of The Swarm at Thorpe Park
|Opening date||15 March 2012|
|Type||Steel – Wing Coaster|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Lift/launch system||Chain lift hill|
|Height||39 m (128 ft)|
|Length||775 m (2,543 ft)|
|Speed||59 mph (95 km/h)|
|Capacity||1,300 riders per hour|
|Height restriction||140 cm (4 ft 7 in)|
|Trains||2 trains with 7 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 28 riders per train.|
|Max Height Restriction||196cm|
|The Swarm at RCDB
Pictures of The Swarm at RCDB
The Swarm (officially stylized as "THE SWARM") is a steel Wing Coaster at Thorpe Park, a theme park in the United Kingdom. The Swarm was the world's second Wing Coaster designed by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard and the United Kingdom's first Wing Coaster. Construction commenced in May 2011, and the coaster opened on 15 March 2012. Starting in 2013, the last two rows of each train face backwards, while the first five rows face forward.
The 775-metre-long (2,543 ft) ride stands 39 metres (128 ft) tall and features five inversions. On the one-minute twenty-five second ride, riders experience speeds of up to 59 miles per hour (95 km/h) and 4.5 times the force of gravity. A marketing campaign for the ride began 11 months before The Swarm was opened to the public. The ride has generally been well received, ranking highly amongst other roller coasters of its type.
Planning and announcement
In 2010, planning for The Swarm began behind closed doors. The ride was codenamed LC12 in the early process of its planning and construction. On 31 January 2011, Thorpe Park submitted a planning application for their 2012 ride to the Runnymede Borough Council. The documents detailed the theme park's intent to build a roller coaster, codenamed LC12, which would have an apocalyptic theme. On 30 March 2011, the application was approved by majority vote.
On 1 August 2011, Thorpe Park officially announced The Swarm. The existing LC12.net website was redirected to a new website for The Swarm (theswarm.co.uk). The website gave further information about the new ride's theme, that of an apocalyptic battle.
Construction and opening
At the time of the ride's announcement, construction was already underway. The track for The Swarm was complete by 18 November 2011. Clearance testing started almost immediately; the first operational test run was completed on 17 January 2012.
On 15 March 2012, The Swarm officially opened to the public. In January 2013, Thorpe Park announced that the last two rows on The Swarm would be rotated to face backwards for 2013, a first for a Wing Coaster. The park's tag line for this experience is 'THE SWARM- Brave It Backwards'. The park additionally announced that they were adding a damaged, mangled billboard, which the train travels through.
The Swarm is located on a reclaimed island adjacent to the Stealth roller coaster, with parts of the ride being built over water. A bridge links the core of Thorpe Park to an island which hosts the roller coaster station, merchandise outlet, a games zone and toilet buildings.
The Swarm features two 28-seat Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster trains. Each train is made up of seven rows of four seats each; the first five rows face forwards, and the end two rows face backwards. One pair of seats in each row is located on either side of the ride's track and slightly lower than the track, as with all Wing Coasters. The trains are themed to resemble alien-like creatures (the ride's eponymous "Swarm"), with a number of red LED lights placed across the train.
The area is designed to appear as if it has been partially destroyed by explosions associated with a major disaster. The ride recreates the experience of flying through a crash scene and features a crashed aeroplane, upturned ambulance, half-submerged fire engine and a helicopter.
The roller coaster begins in the station, which is built to look like a partially destroyed church, and climbs up a 38.6-metre (127 ft) chain lift hill. Upon reaching the top of the lift hill, the track tilts 180 degrees anticlockwise, so that riders are upside down, before plunging down the world's first "inverted drop". The train then proceeds to dive under the wing of a smouldering wrecked plane and incline into a zero-g roll 30.6 metres (100 ft) above the ground before passing through a billboard and entering an inclined loop. It then enters a turnaround with a wrecked helicopter with slow-spinning rotor blades in the centre. This is followed by a corkscrew through the inclined loop. Upon leaving the corkscrew, the train curves past a crashed fire engine with water and fire effects and proceeds through a keyhole: a partly destroyed church tower. The ride then flies over the station and enters into a last inline twist before the final brakes of the ride stop the train and guide it back into the station. The ride features an on-ride video camera, which shows you your ride experience which you can purchase when you exit the ride. Note: The front and back row will not record you as there is no camera to film.
In late April 2011, Thorpe Park began an advertising campaign for LC12 consisting of "The end is coming" posters in the park and a teaser website, LC12.net. The LC12.net website featured a brief description hinting at the possible theme of the ride alongside a countdown until 1 August 2011. As the date of the ride's announcement approached, Thorpe Park released a video via Facebook stating that "WAR is coming".
On 25 January 2012, it was reported that an incident occurred when testing The Swarm. Limbs of test dummies were broken off when the ride passed an object that was located too close to the track. The Daily Mail suggested that the incident might have been a publicity stunt.
In March 2012, Thorpe Park announced it had contracted the band You Me at Six to create the world's first roller coaster single for the launch of The Swarm. The song, "The Swarm", was released on iTunes on 18 March 2012, a few days after the opening of the roller coaster. The song entered the UK Singles Charts at number 23.
The Swarm has generally been well received. Nick Sim of Theme Park Tourist praised the ride and its theme, saying that it packs "a number of incredible elements into its compact circuit". Sim stated the ride had "fallen just short of our sky-high expectations" mainly because of "its short ride time". He rated the ride 4 out of 5. Joanna Churchill of the Daily Mirror gave a review of the backwards ride, stating that it is "a whole new adrenaline-pumped experience that is simply not for the faint-hearted". Churchill stated that her "blood pressure and heart rate went through the roof", but "there was barely time to process what was happening before we were back on terra firma".
In Mitch Hawker's worldwide Best Roller Coaster Poll, The Swarm debuted at position 68 out of the 365 roller coasters in the poll. When compared with other Wing Coasters debuting in the 2012 poll, The Swarm performed fairly well; X-Flight at Six Flags Great America ranked 58, Wild Eagle at Dollywood ranked 87, and Raptor at Gardaland ranked 113. It did not place in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards in 2012 or 2013.
Despite the positive reviews however, The Swarm failed to increase attendance. In fact, park gate figures fell by 200,000 following the addition of the coaster. The park as well as many others have blamed the parks branding from 2009 to 2012 as the issue.
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