Thorpe Park

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Thorpe Park
Thorpe-park-logo.png
Slogan An Island Like No Other
Location Chertsey / 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; 39 years ago (1979-05-24)
Operating season Mid March - Early November
Visitors per annum 1.8 million (2017)
Area 200 ha (2.0 km2; 490 acres)
Rides
Total 29
Roller coasters 7
Water rides 5
Website ThorpePark.com
Status Theme Park
Open
Hotel
Open

Thorpe Park is a theme park 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, The Walking Dead: The Ride 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! 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]

Rides and attractions[edit]

Rollercoasters[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Territory Manufacturer Additional Information
The Swarm The swarm drop, thorpe park, england.jpg Wing Coaster 2012 Swarm Island Bolliger & Mabillard The UK's first winged coaster and opened in 2012. Features an inverted 'wing-over drop'. in 2013 the rear two rows of the trains faced backwards and guests were invited to 'Brave it backwards'. As of 2016, all seats face forward again. Height Limit 1.4m.
SAW -The Ride Sawopen.jpg Eurofighter 2009 Old Town Gerstlauer A custom Eurofighter themed around the SAW horror movie franchise. Height Limit 1.4m.
Stealth Stealth Thorpe Park.jpg Intamin Launch 2006 Amity Intamin An Intamin launch coaster themed around 1950s drag racing, stands at 205 ft tall and goes from 0 - 80 mph in 1.8 secs. Has the fastest acceleration of any coaster in Europe and is the second tallest coaster in the UK (the highest launched coaster in the UK). Height Limit 1.4m.
Nemesis Inferno Nemisis inferno.jpg Inverted 2003 The Jungle Bolliger & Mabillard B&M inverted coaster themed around the eruption of a volcano, the spiritual successor ride to Nemesis at sister park Alton Towers. Height Limit 1.4m.
Colossus Colossus (Thorpe Park).jpg Steel Sit down 2002 Lost City Intamin Opened as the 'world's first ten looping rollercoaster' (record now beaten by The Smiler), and was the park's first major addition. Height Limit 1.4m.
Walking Dead: The Ride Steel Sit down 2018 The Dock Yard Vekoma Located at the centre of the island in a blue and terracotta colour pyramid structure. Before being themed to The Walking Dead it was X and X:\No Way Out. Height Limit 1.4m.
Flying Fish Thorpe Park flying fish 1.jpg Steel powered coaster 1990 Amity Mack Rides Powered coaster themed around a surfing fish, originally opened in 1983 as space station zero, rethemed and refurbished for 1990 as flying fish. Height Limit 0.9m.

Flat rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Territory Manufacturer Additional Information
Timber Tug Boat Rockin' Tug (ride) 2017 Old Town Zamperla A Zamperla Rockin' Tug that was relocated from Weymouth Sea Life and opened in 2017. Height Limit 0.9m.
Lumber Jump Frog Hopper (ride) 2017 Old Town Zamperla A Frog Hopper ride that was relocated from Weymouth Sea Life and opened in 2017. Height Limit 0.9m.
King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems Dodgems Ride 2014 Angry Birds Land Bertazzon Dodgems ride added in 2014 for Angry Birds Land. Height limit 1.1m.
Rush 'Rush' at rest - geograph.org.uk - 1294739.jpg S&S Screamin' Swing 2005 Lost City S&S Worldwide A Giant swing ride Max speed 40 Mph. Height Limit 1.3m.
Samurai Samurai Thorpe Park.jpg Top Scan 2004 Old Town Mondial Top scan ride that used to be located at Chessington World of Adventures Resort. Height limit 1.4m.
Quantum Thorpe Park Quantum ride.jpg Magic Carpet 2003 Lost City Fabbri Group Large magic carpet ride, more intense than it looks. Height Limit 1.2m.
Zodiac Zodiac thorpe park.jpg Enterprise (ride) 2001 Lost City HUSS HUSS enterprise that opened in 2001. Height Limit 0.9m.
Vortex Vortex in action - geograph.org.uk - 1294900.jpg Afterburner 2001 Lost City KMG KMG afterburner ride that opened in June 2001. Height limit 1.4m.
Detonator: Bombs Away Fasten Your Safety Belts^ - geograph.org.uk - 1165821.jpg Drop Tower 2001 Angry Birds Land Fabbri Group 35m tall drop tower. Originally known as simply 'Detonator', was later re-themed to Detonator: Bombs Away for the opening of Angry Birds Land in May 2014. Max speed 45 Mph. Height Limit 1.3m.
Rocky Express The Rock Express - geograph.org.uk - 1294763.jpg Sea Storm 1989 Old Town Mack Rides Family friendly spinning train ride. Height limit 0.9m.
Mr Monkey's Banana Ride Pirate Ship 1994 The Jungle Metallbau Emmeln A small banana themed swinging pirate ship ride. Height limit 0.9m.

Water rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Territory Manufacturer Additional Information
Loggers Leap Off to get wet - geograph.org.uk - 1293811.jpg Log Flume 1989 Old Town Mack Rides Currently the tallest log flume in the UK. The ride is currently closed due to redevelopment and has not been open since the 2015 season.
Rumba Rapids River rafting ride 1987 The Jungle Intamin It opened in 1987 under the name of Thunder River, and is one of the oldest rides in operation at Thorpe Park.
Storm Surge Thorpe Park - Storm Surge.jpg Spinning Rapids Ride 2011 Amity WhiteWater West The ride contains a 19.5 metre lift hill, and gradually 'spins' to the bottom of the slide.
Tidal Wave Tidal Wave Thorpe Park.jpg Shoot-the-Chutes 2000 Amity Hopkins Rides When the ride was constructed in 2000 it was the tallest water ride in Europe. Height limit 1.2m.
Depth Charge Thorpe park skyline.jpg Water slide 1991 Amity NV Aquatic Opened as the first four lane dingy waterslide in the UK.

Other attractions[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Territory Manufacturer Additional Information
Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon Derren Brown's Ghost Train .jpg Dark Ride 2016 The Dock Yard Various, including Intamin, Simworx and Figment Productions Multi-sensory technologically advanced dark ride with heavy input by Derren Brown. Re-imagined for the 2017 season.
Angry Birds 4D Experience 4D Cinema 2014 Angry Birds Land Simworx 4D Cinema showing the Angry Birds 4D movie. Replaced Pirates 4-D and Time Voyagers.
Amity Beach Thorpe Park fly motion.jpg Beach Area with Pool and Waterslides 1979 Amity Ready Mixed Concrete Originally called 'Fantasy Reef".
I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Maze Themed Maze 2015 The Jungle ITV Studios & Merlin Entertainments Studios Maze based on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Partnership between Merlin Entertainments and ITV Studios.

Territories[edit]

Thorpe Park is split into eight main territories. Since the re-introduction of themed areas the park have referred to them as territories to fit in with the ‘island theme’ of the park.

  • Port and Basecamp which includes the park entrance building and the main dome shape building you first enter after you cross the bridge into the park.
  • Amity, 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.
  • The Jungle, an area in the park themed around a tropical caribbean jungle, with a volcano as its centrepiece. Four main rides reside within this area (Nemesis Inferno, Mr Monkey's Banana Ride, Rumba Rapids and the I'm a Celebrity... Maze).
  • Angry Birds Land opened on 24 May 2014, and is themed around the Angry Birds video game franchise. The area was previously part of both 'Calypso Quay' (now the Jungle), and 'Amity Cove' (now Amity). Attractions in this area include: Angry Birds 4D, Detonator: Bombs Away and King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems.
  • Old Town, Opened in 1989. The area is themed around the Canadian Rockies. The main attraction of the area, is Saw - The Ride a Gerstlauer Eurofighter with three inversions. The area has a small circular train ride named the Rocky Express, and two family flat rides called Timber Tug Boat and Lumber Jump.
  • Lost City, opened in 2001 is themed as the ruins of a recently unearthed Atlantean civilisation, and contains the Colossus roller coaster and a handful of flat rides called Rush, Quantum, Samurai and 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 attraction.
  • The Dock Yard is a new area for 2018.It is themed around an abandoned dock yard at the centre of the island. It contains Derren Brown's Ghost Train a highly immersive dark ride attraction and The Walking Dead: The Ride, an indoor rollercoaster previously known as X.

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, 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 kids area site. the 'Amity' ride line-up also features Storm in a Teacup a spinning tea-cups ride. 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 and Wet Wet Wet which are two small water slides, and the Amity Beach area which has a small sandy splash pool area and is the first area you arrive at once you first enter the park.

The Jungle[edit]

The Jungle is a Caribbean jungle themed area. 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 which is a small swinging ship ride, near to the I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here Maze attraction. The area also includes Rumba Rapids a water river rapids ride.

Angry Birds Land[edit]

Angry Birds Land opened in 2014 and is based on the Angry Birds video games. Attractions include: Angry Birds 4D, King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems, and Detonator: Bombs Away (previously known as Detonator).

The Dock Yard[edit]

The Dock Yard is the name of the new area for 2018 and is themed to a derelict dock yard, it currently houses Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon and The Walking Dead: The Ride. This area has brought together two rides that previously did not fit the current themed areas of the park that they were in.

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. More attractions have since joined the rides line up with Rush and 'Slammer' which was a S&S Screamin' Swing which opened in 2005.

Old Town[edit]

The Old Town area of the park first opened as 'Canada Creek' in 1989 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 also Samurai opened after being moved from the also Merlin owned Chessington World of Adventures in 2004. The area formerly occupied by the Loggers Leap log flume is currently under redevelopment, the ride having been closed since 2015.

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 also 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, Walking Dead and others.

Fright Nights[edit]

Fright Nights,[7] formerly "Fright Nites" is Thorpe Park's terrifying annual halloween event and also its largest Halloween event in the UK. It's an 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] During Fright Nights, the park stays open until 10pm, with a range of scare mazes available for guests, who normally enter in groups of 8-10. "Face it Alone" has sometimes been available as an upcharge, where a guest enters unaccompanied and must sign a disclaimer before entering.[9]

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 2014, when the Thorpe Shark Hotel opened, Thorpe Park decided to do an overnight scare attraction that involved live actors terrorising you while you are in your bed.[citation needed] Before the experience began you were led to the back of the hotel where an actor would read you some scary stories.[citation needed]

In 2017 Fright Nights was reinvented with a Walking Dead theme. The addition of two Walking Dead attractions coincided with the season 8 premier of the show. SAW Alive, The Big Top and Platform 15 remained in operation from previous years, 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.[10]

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 was 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 had partnered with Thorpe Park to create a world's first immersive, psychological experience.[11] Thorpe Park released a teaser website 'www.mindswanted.co.uk' which showed project updates and new teasers for the new attraction. On 18 January 2016, it was officially announced the name for the attraction was "Derren Brown's Ghost Train", and that it would open on 6 May 2016. This was later delayed and it 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 program's Bushtucker Trials, 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.[12]

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 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.[13] Rumours suggested that the theme of this re-themed X was AMC's 'The Walking Dead'. These rumours were confirmed to be true with the new ride: "The Walking Dead: The Ride" replacing X at the park, from the beginning of the 2018 season.[14]

Incidents[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Main gallery: Thorpe Park Resort at WikiCommons

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]