Thorpe Park

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Thorpe Park Resort
Thorpe-park-logo.png
Slogan An Island Like No Other
Location Surrey
Coordinates 51°24′17″N 0°30′47″W / 51.40472°N 0.51306°W / 51.40472; -0.51306Coordinates: 51°24′17″N 0°30′47″W / 51.40472°N 0.51306°W / 51.40472; -0.51306
Owner Merlin Entertainments
Operated by Merlin Entertainments
General Manager Dominic Jones (Divisional Director)
Opened 24 May 1979; 38 years ago (1979-05-24)
Operating season Mid March - Early November
Visitors per annum 1.8 million (2016)
Area 200 ha (2.0 km2; 490 acres)
Rides
Total 28
Roller coasters 7
Water rides 4
Website ThorpePark.com
Status Theme Park
Open
Hotel
Open

Thorpe Park Resort is a theme park resort located between the towns of Chertsey and Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey. It is operated and owned by Merlin Entertainments. After demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit. Thorpe Park Resort was built in the 1970s on the gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a water-based theme for the park. This essentially allows guests to view the park as an island, which is where the park's current "island like no other" slogan originates from. It was officially opened to the public by the late Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979. It has since grown into one of the major theme parks in the UK and now also features a hotel.

Major attractions include a large water ride Tidal Wave, a number of rollercoasters including Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, Saw – The Ride, The Swarm, and dark ride Derren Brown's Ghost Train. Other smaller attractions include a water area called Amity Beach, a walkthrough attraction based on I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, an indoor rollercoaster known as X and an Angry Birds themed land.

History[edit]

Thorpe Park Lake in July 1979, the year the park opened to the public

The demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s saw the site transform into a gravel pit, originally owned by Ready Mixed Concrete Limited. In the late 1970s they decided to flood part of the site and create an educational theme park. The park opened as a small attraction, building slowly up to RMCs first large installation of "X:\No Way Out" in 1996. In 1998, The Tussauds Group bought the park (they also owned the nearby Chessington World of Adventures). From the outset the park started opening key attractions such as Tidal Wave in 2000, Colossus in 2002, Nemesis Inferno in 2003 and Stealth in 2006.[citation needed]

In May 2007, Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group from then-owner Dubai International Capital for US$1.9 billion; the company was merged by Blackstone into Merlin Entertainments and Merlin took over operation of Thorpe Park.[1][2] Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainments.[3]

On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold Thorpe Park, to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement.[4] Although it is owned by Prestbury, the site is operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.[5]

The target audience for the Resort is Teenagers and Young Adults, adding rides such as Saw - The Ride and The Swarm for example. In 2014, Merlin decided to also target a more broad-family based market with new attractions such as Angry Birds Land, I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! and the park's onsite hotel.[6]

Areas[edit]

Thorpe Park is split into seven main themed areas:

  • Amity, previously 'Amity Cove' and also 'Amity Beach', is themed as a 1950s fishing village that has been left devastated by a tidal wave. The attractions in this area are: Tidal Wave, Stealth, Flying Fish, Storm in a Teacup, Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, Amity Beach and Storm Surge.
  • Old Town, previously 'Canada Creek' and 'SAW Island', opened in 1989 and 2009 respectively. It is themed around the Canadian Rockies. The main attraction of the area, is Saw - The Ride a Gerstlauer Eurofighter with three inversions. It is the only coaster in the world themed around a horror film. This area also had the UK's tallest log flume, called Loggers Leap and the small train ride named the Rocky Express. Old Town is also home to two defunct rides, Canada Creek Railway and Slammer.
  • The Jungle, previously 'Calypso Quay', is an area in the park themed around a tropical caribbean jungle, with a volcano as its centrepiece. Four rides reside within this area: Nemesis Inferno, Mr Monkey's Banana Ride, Rumba Rapids and the I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Maze.
  • Lost City opened in 2001 and is themed around an ancient Atlantean civilization. Main attractions include: Colossus, Quantum, Rush, X, Samurai, Vortex, Zodiac.
  • Swarm Island was the new area for 2012, the land was reclaimed from the water that surrounds the island. It paints a picture of an apocalyptic end to the world with the roller coaster The Swarm as the main centrepiece.
  • Angry Birds Land opened on 24 May 2014, and is themed around the Angry Birds video game franchise. The area was previously part of 'Calypso Quay' (now the Jungle), and 'Amity Cove' (now Amity). Attractions include: Angry Birds 4D, Detonator: Bombs Away and King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems.
  • Thorpe Junction opened on 24 March 2016 and is themed to a disused train depot. The building houses Derren Brown's Ghost Train and The Ghost Train Shop.

Port and Basecamp[edit]

This area is the first area you arrive at on your visit to the 'Island like no other'. This area includes the main Dome building as you first enter over the main bridge into the park. The dome houses the Fins Bar and Grill restaurant, an arcade area, some toilets, lockers, photo kiosks, a large souvenir gift shop, a Coca-Cola freestyle shop, guest services, first aid, a few staff offices, a corporate events room, and a behind-the-scenes thrills workshop building for schools.

Amity[edit]

Amity, previously 'Amity Cove', is an area themed as an American 1950s fishing village that has recently been hit by a tidal wave. With the attraction Tidal Wave as one the key attractions. The Area, when opened in 2000 contained only Tidal Wave, a KFC and a games stand. It was extended in 2006 with the arrival of the Stealth rollercoaster located behind Tidal Wave. In 2007 the Flying Fish family roller coaster was moved into Amity, previously it was on the site of Stealth but was re-located. In 2011 Storm Surge a raft slide re-located from Cypress Gardens in Florida, USA (before the park became Legoland Florida) was opened on the old Octopus Garden site. the areas ride line-up also features Storm in a Teacup a spinning tea-cups ride and is located near to Stealth. Following the addition of Angry Birds Land in 2014, the area is now split in two, with guests having to walk through Angry Birds Land in order to reach the 'Amity Speedway' themed area, which is home to Stealth, Storm in a Teacup and a small gardens area called The Sunken Garden. Near the Flying Fish there is Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, and the Amity Beach area is the first area you arrive at one you first enter the park.

The Jungle[edit]

The Jungle is a Caribbean jungle themed area formerly known as 'Calypso Quay'. the area features four rides. The key attraction is Nemesis Inferno, a Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coaster which opened in 2003, the coaster is themed around an active volcano. Mr Monkey's Banana Ride is also in the area, near to the I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here Maze attraction. The Rumba Rapids water rapids ride is the oldest attraction in the park. Part of this area was originally known as 'Ranger County', but after the removal of the Carousel and a show arena in late 2014 to make way for Derren Brown's Ghost Train, the 'Ranger County' area ceased to exist.

Thorpe Junction[edit]

Thorpe Junction is the name of the building that houses Derren Brown's Ghost Train and The Ghost Train Shop. This is classed as a sub-area of The Jungle and can be found at the centre of the park.

Angry Birds Land[edit]

Angry Birds Land opened in 2014 and is based on the Angry Birds video games. The area was previously part of the 'Calypso Quay' and 'Amity Cove' areas. Attractions include: Angry Birds 4D, King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems, and Detonator: Bombs Away (previously known as Detonator). As of 2016, Angry Birds Land is also classed as a sub-area of The Jungle area.

Lost City[edit]

The Lost City theme is that of ruins of a recently unearthed Atlantean civilisation with the Colossus roller coaster as the main attraction opening in 2002. The area first opened in 2001 with the Vortex and Zodiac rides as the only attractions. In 2003 Quantum, a magic carpet ride opened. Two more attractions have since joined the rides line up with Samurai opening after being moved from the also Merlin owned Chessington World of Adventures in 2004 and Rush an S&S Screamin' Swing opened in 2005. In 2013 the X roller coaster was renamed from 'X: No Way Out' to simply 'X' and switched from running backwards to facing forwards and later the coaster was classed as part of the Lost City area.

Old Town[edit]

the Old Town area of the park first opened in 1989 as 'Canada Creek' and is themed around the Canadian Rockies. The area has a Burger King and the Wild Wings Noodle Bar. The main ride in the area is Saw - The Ride a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter with a 100-degree drop and 3 inversions. It is based on the Saw franchise and was the first coaster in the world to be themed to a horror movie franchise. The coaster's station and main show building is themed as a abandoned sawmill where some of Jigsaw's games are currently taking place. The area also houses the Rocky Express attraction, a small Mack Seastorm ride, Timber Tug Boat and Lumber Jump, a Zamperla rockin' tug and a jumpin' star ride, both of these were relocated to the resort from the Weymouth SeaLife Adventure Park and Marine Sanctuary. The area also houses the now defunct Slammer, an S&S Sky Swat. The Loggers Leap log flume is currently closed until further notice while essential remedial work and decisions around the ride's future are made. It has been closed since 2015. The area also used to feature a steam railroad attraction called 'the Canada Creek Railway' which first opened with the Canada Creek section of the park in 1989 and served as a link to Thorpe Farm. The route there was a straight line along what is now a service route for the park and, in its later years, passed round the back of Nemesis Inferno. On the way back, the ride would loop around Canada Creek, mainly circling around Loggers Leap to return to the main station. When Thorpe Farm closed in 2006, the track was re-routed to just be a loop around Canada Creek, and guests would take part in a bear hunt, and look out for bear statues dotted around the circuit. The ride was closed in 2008 due to construction of Saw - The Ride, and re-routed to accommodate the ride, so that it could open again in 2009. The ride then closed at the end of the 2011 season due to declining popularity, though the majority of the track is still in place, and the trains are still in storage on park and one train is still used and themed for 'Platform 15' a scare attraction for the parks Halloween 'Fright Nights' event in October.

Swarm Island[edit]

Swarm Island only contains one attraction, The Swarm, a rollercoaster which opened in 2012 themed around multiple crash sites depicting scenes of apocalyptic devastation. The theme is that there has been an alien invasion in the theme park and the alien creatures simply known as 'The Swarm' are interacting with the guests by swooping down and lifting them into to air and destroying the landscape of the area.

Records the park holds[edit]

  • Loggers Leap is the tallest log flume in the UK, although it lost that record for several years to The American Adventure's Nightmare Niagara, then regained the record when that ride closed.
  • Nemesis Inferno has the longest pre lift section of any inverted B&M coaster in the world, and is the first inverted coaster to feature interlocking corkscrews
  • The Swarm, is the only winged coaster located in the United Kingdom. Also, between 2013 and 2016 it was the only backward winged coaster in the world (back 2 rows).
  • SAW – The Ride is the only rollercoaster themed around a horror movie. It is the steepest drop in the park, at 100 degrees, and sixth steepest drop overall in the world after Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach in the USA, Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land in the UK, Timber Drop at Fraispertuis City in France, Green Lantern Coaster (with an angle of 120.5°) at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia and Takabisha (with an angle of 121°) at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan. The drops on the proceeding S&S Worldwide manufactured roller coasters and Takabisha are controlled by braking fins, whereas the drop on Saw is not, hence it holds the title of steepest free-fall drop. It's also Gerstlauer's 2nd steepest rollercoaster, preceding Takabisha, the current world record holder for the steepest drop.

Events[edit]

As of 2014, Thorpe Park Resort operates three yearly events. Ministry of Sound club nights in the Port Atlantis Dome occur one Saturday night a month from April to September. These club nights feature well known music DJs playing a variety of themed nights. Summer Nights is when the park reopens after a normal day on Friday and Saturday Nights in July and August from 7pm-10pm for some late-night rides consisting of The Swarm, SAW - The Ride, Stealth, Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, X and others.

Fright Nights[edit]

Fright Nights,[7] formerly "Fright Nites" is Thorpe Park's halloween event and also its largest. It's an annual event that has been running at Thorpe Park since 2002, celebrating Halloween with the park staying open until late at night, as well as operating a range of temporary halloween attractions. Roaming actors in costume or with make up can also be found around the park.[8]

In 2013, Fright Nights was relaunched with a horror movie theme, courtesy of a three-year contract with Lionsgate. All of the pre-existing Fright Nights attractions were removed with the exception of The Asylum to make way for new horror-film themed attractions.

In 2017 Fright Nights was reinvented with a Walking Dead theme. The addition of two walking dead attractions were added to coincide with the season 8 premier of the show. Then mazes which survived the overhaul was; Saw:Alive, The Big top and Platform 15 with Containment returning as an upcharge attraction.


Season(s)
active
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
3
Freakshow 3D
6
Carnival of the Bizarre
9
The Asylum
6
Hellgate
6
Se7en
5
The Curse
8
SAW Alive
1
Dead End
2
Experiment 10
1
The Passing
3
My Bloody Valentine
4
Cabin in the Woods
4
Blair Witch
1
Studio 13
3
Containment
3
The Big Top
2
Platform 15
1
The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare
1
The Walking Dead: Sanctum


     – Previous Fright Night attraction.      – Current Fright Night attraction.

Thorpe Shark Hotel[edit]

The Thorpe Shark hotel is a hotel with the rooms being housed inside metal shipping containers. The entrance feature is themed around a metal shark that seems to be rising out of the lake, the shark structure is made from scrap metal featuring old signs from various rides and attractions from the theme park. The hotel is linked to the Dome and the park entrance via a walkway. The hotel opened in 2014 and is a rethemed 'The Crash Pad', which was a temporary hotel that operated throughout 2013.[9]

Developments[edit]

In 2010, the park outlined a 5-year development plan. The development plan highlighted a potential developmental area for a new roller coaster, with a target opening year of 2015, but has since been delayed until 2020.

In October 2014, the park submitted plans for an indoor attraction, codenamed 'Project Whitechapel', or 'WC16', due to open in March 2016. Featuring a pre-show area and a post-ride shop, the ride is being constructed on the site of the old arena as well as Chief Ranger's Carousel. On 26 October it was confirmed that illusionist Derren Brown has partnered with Thorpe Park to create a world's first immersive, psychological experience.[10] recently Thorpe Park released a teaser website 'www.mindswanted.co.uk' which shows project updates and new teasers for the new attraction. On 18 January 2016, it was officially announced the name for the attraction will be "Derren Brown's Ghost Train", and will open on 6 May 2016. This was later delayed and eventually opened on 8 July 2016.

On 27 March 2015, Thorpe Park Resort opened the world's first "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!" maze, set in the building which was home to Studio 13 during Fright Nights 2014. The attraction is home to three of the popular television programs Bushtucker Trails, including The Chambers Of Horror and Celebrity Cyclone. The attraction was announced on 11 February 2015 on social media websites, following a series of hints posted by Thorpe Park on their Twitter and Facebook pages. The maze has been fitted with the latest technology and special effects, including multisensory 'leg ticklers' and a vibrating bridge walk way.[11]

Thorpe Park has had plans for several years to build a hotel, health spa and conference centre. The complex was originally planned to open in 2016; however, due to the Thorpe Shark hotel opening in 2014, the complex will not open for several years, if at all, as the Thorpe Shark Hotel is planned to stay at the park for ten years. The land had been considered as a potential site for a roller coaster prior to construction of the hotel.

For the 2018 season, the park has hinted at a 'world's first' attraction. On 1 December 2017, plans were submitted to Runnymede Borough Council about a possible re-theme of X. This would involve the replacement of the entrance with a watchtower, a tall fence and theming.[12] Rumours have suggested that the theme of this re-themed X will be of the AMC's 'The Walking Dead', with this reasoning being due to the ride's theming. As well as that, the park have been saying to visitors of their website, "Meet you at the safe zone in 2018."[13]

Incidents[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Main gallery: Thorpe Park Resort at WikiCommons

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2812377/Merlin-conjures-up-leaseback-deal.html
  2. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/05/AR2007030501369.html
  3. ^ "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Alton Towers sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  5. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2812377/Merlin-conjures-up-leaseback-deal.html
  6. ^ https://coasterpedia.net/wiki/Thorpe_Park
  7. ^ "FRIGHT NIGHTS at THORPE PARK Resort". www.thorpepark.com. 
  8. ^ "Haunted Attractions UK - Thorpe Park Fright Nights... an EVILution!". Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  9. ^ Sim, Nick. "Thorpe Park names new hotel for 2014 as Thorpe Shark Hotel". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  10. ^ "2016 Attraction Plans Released". Thorpe Park Mania. 30 October 2014. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Thorpe Park: I'm a Celeb". ThemeParks-UK. 2015-12-13. 
  12. ^ "Online Standard Details". planning.runnymede.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  13. ^ "Coming Soon for 2018". www.thorpepark.com. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 

External links[edit]