Derren Brown's Ghost Train
This article possibly contains original research. (April 2021)
|Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise Of The Demon|
|Area||The Dock Yard|
|Cost||£13 million (reported)|
|Soft opening date||1 July 2016|
|Opening date||8 July 2016|
|Replaced||The Hideaway Arena |
Chief Ranger's Carousel
|Attraction type||Dark ride|
|Designer||Merlin Magic Making|
|Site area||2,306 m2 (24,820 sq ft)|
|Capacity||750 riders per hour|
|Vehicle type||North Eastern Railway coach (exterior)|
London Underground 1995 Stock carriage (interior)
|Riders per vehicle||58|
|Riders per row||29|
|Participants per group||Max 58|
|Height restriction||140 cm (4 ft 7 in)|
Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon, previously called Derren Brown's Ghost Train, is a dark ride at Thorpe Park in Surrey, England. The attraction incorporates virtual reality, motion simulation and illusions in collaboration with British mentalist Derren Brown. It is set in a derelict Victorian railway depot with a loose theme of fracking. It first opened in July 2016.
Thorpe Park had not featured a large horror-themed dark ride since the closure of Phantom Fantasia (later known as "Wicked Witches Haunt") in 2000. Derren Brown's Ghost Train was first teased on 8 July 2015 after three years in the planning stage, during which it was referred to as 'WC16'.
Merlin Magic Making, the creative division of Merlin Entertainments, designed the attraction in conjunction with Derren Brown and his team. The ride is a simulated dark ride created by Simworks, while the virtual reality content and delivery was produced by Figment Productions. Severn Lamb and Intamin engineered the transit system that takes riders from one scene to another within the building.
Shortly before its scheduled opening on 6 May 2016, Thorpe Park announced that the ride would not be completed in time to open as scheduled. A further delay was announced on 24 May stating the ride would not open at the end of the month as planned. On 18 June, the ride began previews for hotel guests and select groups. During this period, guests were made to sign a non-disclosure form before riding to prevent any details being shared online or on social media. This was followed on 30 June when the ride opened for technical rehearsals.
Derren Brown's Ghost Train officially opened on 8 July 2016, with an official press and celebrity night taking place on 21 July. The ride continues to experience problems with its operation.
The project altogether was reported in the Financial Times as having a cost of £13 million. Due to its complex operation, Derren Brown's Ghost Train features the longest list of guest restrictions ever necessitated for a ride operated by Merlin Entertainments, a fact that was repeatedly utilised in the ride's advertising. Guests under the age of 13 are not recommended to ride because of what Thorpe Park claims as the "extreme psychological nature" of the experience.
On 5 October 2016 Thorpe Park put up posters advertising the addition of a "terrifying new destination" to the ride for 2017. These were later followed by the park filing for planning permission to extend the attraction's building. On 17 January 2017 Thorpe Park confirmed that these applications were for a new ride experience named Rise of the Demon.
During the 2020 season, Derren Brown's Ghost Train has remained closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to the inability to social distance guests during the ride and the use of VR headsets. As of May 17th 2021, Derren Browns Ghost Train has reopened.
Guests join the queue for the ride outside the building, decorated as a derelict railway station featuring mock protest posters about fracking. A group photo was previously taken in the queue line but this feature was removed for the 2019 season.
Guests enter a dimly lit pre-show room until the light source is switched off and they are left in the dark room. An audio recording of Derren Brown begins to play stating that " statistically 11% of the guests are scared of the dark, 34% are scared of small spaces" then jokingly presents the figure that "3% will wet themselves due to the sight of a stupid clown".
He then begins to explain that "the fascinating thing in the situation the guests are in is not fear itself but the pleasure that one gains from it". He compares this to a ghost train, "you don't ride it to be petrified, you ride it to become immersed in the fantasy like world of it all".
Continuing, he explains that the prospect of this is presented to us at a very young age. The surrounding audio kicks in as Derren quietly whispers "shh" followed by the sound of a door slamming behind you and a baby laughing.
Guests then proceed to the main platform where an old North Eastern Railway train carriage is seen as if suspended above the floor by chains. Boarding the train, guests enter a modern London Underground carriage interior hosted by uniformed staff. Guests are seated and put on HTC Vive headsets, whilst an advertisement for a fracking company called "Sub Core" is played in the background.
The train feels as though it has started to move and the ride begins. Riders watch the events through virtual reality, involving a passenger on the train discussing the consequences of a fracking disaster and an infected passenger appearing to attack the rider. Following the scene of a train crash, guests are instructed to leave their seats and evacuate the train.
Riders disembark and walk out into a derelict present day tube station, while the exterior of the carriage is now seen to be a modern London Underground train. The following show scene originally involved live actors, an animated train crash and fog projection, before guests are ushered back onto the carriage. However, this scene was replaced with a strobe maze after 2 seasons.
Riders put the headsets back on and the carriage appears to move again. This second VR sequence involves the train and its passengers appearing to be attacked by a demon. Guests appear to fall out of the train into a fiery Hell and into the mouth of the demon.
Finally, Derren Brown's voice is heard announcing that the experience is now over, and the riders are ushered down to what appears to be the ride's shop. There, a staff member asks the guests to wait a few minutes, reporting that a mess caused by a previous rider must be cleaned up. After leaving, the demon reappears in the "shop" as a jumpscare. The attraction lasts approximately 13 minutes.
In anticipation of the new attraction, Thorpe Park began a "Get in for a Bob" promotion, where 1871 people would be able to purchase a ticket into the resort for the modern day equivalent of a shilling in Victorian times, which equals 5 pence. The promotion required the public to find a code (DBGT1871), scattered in various related articles across the web, to then enter it (along with some personal details) into the dedicated website on 25 March 2016. The website was published earlier than the scheduled time which resulted in many guests being unable to get tickets. This caused mass outrage on the resort's major social media platforms, with some members of the public demanding their personal details removed from the resort's systems. The resort soon offered a compromise, in which those who registered their name before the website closed would be entered into a raffle, where a further 4,000 12 pence tickets would be allocated at random.
The attraction was originally set to open on 6 May 2016, as announced on their social networks. However one week before the attraction was set to open, the resort announced the attraction would not be ready due to "some illusions not working as anticipated". At this stage TV adverts were stating the ride would open in the end of May. However, only days before 31 May, the resort announced the attraction would still not be ready in time and the attractions opening date was changed to "coming soon". The attraction finally opened on 8 July 2016, but has suffered ongoing repeated technical problems and was rarely if ever operating for the full day.
- HTC Vive, the VR headsets the ride uses.
- Attraction Fix
- Merlin looks to Derren Brown for touch of magic - Financial Times. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- "Thorpe Park started selling their 12p tickets early and people are furious". 25 March 2016.
- "Missed out on the Thorpe Park 12p ticket sale? You might get a second chance". 12 April 2016.
- "Derren Brown's Ghost Train ride at Thorpe Park delayed". 3 May 2016.