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Why Saw is actually a really good coaster.



Back in 2009, we were graced with arrival of a new coaster at Thorpe, yet again breaking the overall investment the park had spent on one attraction - £13.5 million, beating Stealth's £12 million (which, as we know, has now been beating again by The Swarm's overall investment).

Before Saw - The Ride opened, fans were buzzing from excitement, and were hoping that the ride would perhaps be the park's best themed attraction, or at least the best since Tidal Wave opened in 2000. After all, Euro-Fighters are relatively cheap ride systems, and £13.5 million is a lot of money to spend. To top it off, the ride featured a dark section, and although many would've known about the surprises inside from the ride's plans and construction, everyone was hoping for something 'special'.

Now, many people don't like Saw, for one reason or another. I am not one of those people; from my first ride, I loved it. It's by no means perfect, and it's not going to win any awards for the best roller coaster in the world - heck, it wouldn't win best coaster in the country. However, that doesn't mean it's not good; in fact, it's really good. But why do I think that?

Firstly, the layout. The UK is often criticised for having short coasters, and whilst Saw isn't exactly long, it has a decent length and ride time. Not only that, but it is well paced - it's not a ride where everything happens at one point in the ride, then the rest of the ride is a bit of a filler. There's something interesting and exciting during the whole of the course.

The indoor section is very good; for many, it's their favourite part of the ride. The hidden drop catches everyone off guard - even when I knew it was coming on my first ride, it still surprised me; the steepness of it! It's an element which really does pack a punch. After a quick MCBR, the barrel roll is highly enjoyable. Going through it rather slowly is a key to it's success; not only does it give you a chance to see the theming (talked about later..), but you really do 'feel' the inversion; you are lifted out of your seat, and put against the restraints, only to be plonked back on your seat. My trouble with many inversions is that they aren't always memorable, or that you don't realise you've been inverted. This is really one of those inversions which I do like.

As for the outdoor section, it is completely different. Euro Fighters (and Gerstlauer in general) are known for quick, brash and intense ride experiences; this is exactly what you get. The trademark vertical lift is something I like, and can discomfort those who have never experienced one before. My least favourite part of the ride is actually the drop; the beyond vertical gimmick doesn't do it for me; every ride I feel as though I'm experiencing a 90 degree drop, followed by a 10 degree drop, followed by a curved drop in a matter of a second or two. It just doesn't feel worth it, especially for the roughness and head banging that occurs from it. The Immelmann loop and following turn are good elements which demonstrate the effective use of the 2x4 cars which work so well. The air time hill is my favourite one I've been on thus far; you really do feel the forces and the air time on it; much more than any of the other (few) coasters I've been on. Following the next MCBR comes my favourite part of the ride. The drop of the MCBR is amazing; gets me every time! Even though you can see it coming, it catches me off guard; which is why I enjoy it much more than the indoor drop. The dive loop is completely insane as well.

Then you've also got the theming and effects. The station building is meant to be a derelict warehouse, and that's exactly what it looks like. Sure, it's the typical 'We're going to build a derelict, ruining theme so we don't have to maintain it', but it does work in this case. The outdoor queue section is okay, though the traps themselves are pretty uninspiring if I'm honest. The overgrown plants, however, are a touch which works well with the theme. The indoor queue wreaks of missed opportunities in my opinion; there's chance for much more than a couple of messages from Jigsaw. The station building is nicely styled I would say; but the major trouble with it is there's too much natural light. From where the cars come in after the ride to the slits between the panelling; too much natural daylight comes through. It ruins the effect and theme, which I think is a shame.

The effects during the ride are good as well, when working. An effect which is probably not intentional, and possibly the same on many Euro Fighters is the 'safety lights' going out when the cars leave the station. If you're in the second row, for front row of the second car, you see the 3 green lights, which show that the restraints have locked, go off. If I'm honest, it worried me a bit - I was not expecting it to happen and thought there was a fault for a split second... The Billy puppet is good and scares people who recognise him, and the swinging axes and needle pit are brilliant. The shooting arrows feel like a bit of a wasted opportunity in my opinion; they're boring, and distract people who could be listening to Billy's pre-talk. I do love Jigsaw's dead body squirting warm water; first time riders are always shocked by that! One thing which I think lets the ride down is the audio, or lack of. Thorpe normally get audio for rides right, but I think they did fail a bit on both this and Saw Alive.

So, why is Saw disliked by so many?

  • The 'roughness'. The most common complaint of Saw I hear from both enthusiasts and the public is that the ride is 'rough'. Now, I personally have no trouble with it; I don't even think it's rough - Colossus is MUCH rougher.. I would call Saw intense, but is that an issue? Some coasters are smooth and elegant, some are intense; it just depends. I would say that the bottom of the main drop certainly does cause head-banging, but from someone who has had neck issues in the past, in all the rides I've had, I can safely say that only once have I had an issue with it. People have different thresholds for intense-rough, and have different likes in what they want their coaster to have, but I would never be able to call the ride 'rough'.
  • The hype. At the time, everyone was expecting an epicly themed roller coaster and a truly immersive experience. We unfortunately did not get this, but instead got a 'ride of two halves', with a themed indoor section, and a pretty much unthemed outdoor section, which both offer different coaster experiences. People don't seem to like that for one reason or another, and therefore don't actually concentrate on what they've got..
  • The IP. There are many different views on IPs, from not liking them outright, to thinking they do wonders. The trouble is, the Saw IP is dying, perhaps already dead, and there's not that much Saw stuff directly linked in - they couldn't even get Tobin Bell to voice Jigsaw for goodness sake! I think many people who were also disappointed because they thought having an IP will inject loads of extra theming and such into the ride, when in fact it was a rushed idea which basically allowed the use of a name.

So, I'm actually cutting this a little short if I'm honest. Maybe a part 2 or some sort on continuation will arise in the near future. Basically, long entry short, Saw is actually a really good coaster, despite the fan-hatred. It's only this season that I've realised just how much I like it, and it sits as my second favourite coaster, only behind Swarm. That's right, I prefer Saw to Nemesis Inferno, and just why that is is probably for another entry.

Saw - The Ride: 7.5/10


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Then you ride other Eurofighters and realise how bad Saw really is in direct comparison...

Seriously, go to Hansa Park, and you ride Fluch, which opened the same year as Saw, for a no doubt cheaper budget, and then say that Saw is well themed and a good ride... Hell even Rage and Speed have far superior rides, even if they lack any sort of theming... Then there's Mystery Mine...

For me, the roughness is the main culprit, between it and Colossus, I might as well just invest in shares for Neurofen, yet out of all the other Eurofighters I've been on, only Saw has attempted to batter me senseless... Maybe because death is part of the theme?

I dunno, my opinion has always been slanted as I rode Mystery Mine not long after Saw, allowing for an easy direct comparison between two rides which aimed to be heavily themed experiences, and Mystery Mine just trounced it, even with a rather average middle section between the two lift hills, the finale more than made up for anything... Similarly with Fluch, the drop and launch combo makes Saw's indoor drop look like Flying Fish, and the overall theme and layout (primarily indoors and utter mayhem) just makes me wonder what Saw could have been if half the budget hadn't been splurged on the IP...

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Maybe it is just that I haven't ridden any other Euro Fighters, or any other Gerstlauers, or many coasters, but there's something about Saw which works well.

The theming and theme is a rather typical Merlin one. Looking at the major coasters Merlin have invested in their European parks since 2009 (Saw, Th13teen, Krake, Raptor and Swarm just to be clear), they all have dark, destructive, ruined and derelict themes, to some extent. Saw being the first was, compared to the rest, a rather lazy attempt at this sort of theme, which is a shame. However, with what they're working with, the exterior of Saw is spot on more or less. The inside is average to okay, and the outside is non-existent practically.

However, one thing I notice is how you draw many comparisons to other Euro Fighters Benin. Whilst Saw may look as if it is lacking in certain areas, and perhaps even inferior to others, it doesn't make it a bad coaster, does it? I think the issue with Saw is that many people were expecting something which wasn't ever going to happen, or have drawn comparisons to other rides which - in turn - have clouded views on Saw. As you say, you rode Mystery Mine shortly after Saw, which affected your opinion. Perhaps I'd feel the same as you in the same situation, but it's the unfortunate situation where comparisons can affect our opinion too much, like with the Nemesis and Nemesis Inferno argument.

As for how the ride, well, rides, I understand people find it rough, but I still just don't see it. Maybe it's to do with having not ridden many coasters, but there we go. No denying it's intense, but rough - no way.

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Most definitely is rough... Quite possibly a height thing (see also, tall people find Colossus rough, hard to navigate, etc), as soon as the outdoor drop begins for me, is where the ride proceeds to beat me (and many others) up in a rather unpleasant way...

To me, regardless of the comparison to superior Eurofighter (indeed, I find it easily the weakest ride), it's just generally not a very good ride... Again this is linked to the roughness for me, but that's the way it goes, it's at a similar level to Rita for that really... The airtime hill in comparison to Speed's (which I had ridden long before Saw, so the vertical lift wasn't a novelty for me) is also really poor, and again similar to other Eurofighters with such hills...

I think a major turning point in people's opinions on Saw is the amount of other rides of the type that have been ridden... Like with every ride type... But Saw is always going to cause these problems with people, but for me, it's just not good in the first place, and the bits it does well (I.e. the inside portion) are just eclipsed by Mystery Mine and Fluch that it will forever pale in comparison, like Stealth does once you ride Top Thrill Dragster... Just never comes close... Ever...

That's a blog topic for someone, how visiting parks abroad can affect your opinion of rides (for example, how European B&M Inverts laugh at their USA brethren for being AWFUL)...

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I think my problem with Saw is down to the idea that it's trying to be an immersive experience and fails. It's nothing to do with the inside piece of the ride, to give Saw full credit, the use of darkness and the small drop is one of Thorpe Parks best roller coaster experiences. It never gets tiresome and always takes me by surprise.

It's as soon as the ride goes outside that nothing works for me. The first drop is blase, the inversion boring, the turn around bordering on tiresome, the air time hill has a rattle to it that its brothers don't share, the turn around into the mcbr is randomly jolty. The final inversion is very forceful but it doesn't save the ride for me in the slightest.

I think we compare to other euro fighters because the concept has legs, far more then many other types of coasters. You can have them utterly themeless like Speed and Rage or they can be epically themed stories like Fluch or Mystery Mine. The fact that Saw is not amazingly themed or badly themed put its between the others and means comparisons come quickly.

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Roughness. The only part of the ride with an actual problem is the bottom of the main drop, that jolt with some of the cars is far to strong and not acceptable. On rare occasions it actually hurts and clearly shouldn't happen. The rest of it might not be perfect and the restraints don't help at all but it is not rough to the extent it seriously detracts from the enjoyment of the ride.

The layout is another matter, the outside is quite uninteresting which is a shame as I love the inside section. Rage is so much shorter and unthemed but so much more fun. I think Saw is too open and sweeping, the eurofighter suits a compact layout. It's far from an unenjoyable experience though.

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just makes me wonder what Saw could have been if half the budget hadn't been splurged on the IP...

This is said alot, I dont see why people assume alot of money was spent on the IP because from what ive heard, thats simply just not the case, very little was spent infact and lionsgate just reap the rewards of their name in the press for a couple more years.

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I think my problem with Saw is down to the idea that it's trying to be an immersive experience and fails.

This is one thing which I disagree with slightly. I don't think it's trying to be an immersive experience; it's more trying to set a tone and a feel. The abandoned warehouse thing is in line with the Saw theme, being a recurring theme in the franchise, and in turn sets the feeling of 'something is going on inside'. From the get go, I almost feel as though Saw was always intended to be this ride of two halves - an indoor section which carries on from the tone set by the exterior, and the outdoor section which is meant to be an escape from that.

What my biggest trouble is with the attraction as a whole (and something I didn't mention in my original point) is the lack of coherent story line. The on-ride pre-show given to the second cars by Jigsaw ends with "Here's what happens when you lose". We then proceed through the warehouse, and experience what happens if we lose the game. Then we exit and here "GAME OVER", only for the ride to end with a congratulations message on our winning. It makes little sense, and as such, ruins the tone created in a way, and makes people expecting an immersive experience feel very let down.

Had the pre-show ended with 'Let the games begin...' or something similar, once we exit the warehouse, it would feel as though we have won (and, if you want to think about it a bit more in line with the films, we exit through the bathroom scene, where the character Dr Gordon escaped in SAW I..). Then the "GAME OVER" would perhaps serve as a 'typical Saw' twist, with the real test being the monster of the ride that awaits. It would continue the tone, create a somewhat more immersive and coherent experience, and perhaps lead people to be happier about the theming-lacking outdoors.

The layout is another matter, the outside is quite uninteresting which is a shame as I love the inside section. Rage is so much shorter and unthemed but so much more fun. I think Saw is too open and sweeping, the eurofighter suits a compact layout. It's far from an unenjoyable experience though.

Whilst I disagree with you on the outside section being uninteresting in layout, I do agree that it is rather open. Looking at some Gerstlauers that have been said to have interesting looking layouts, such as Takabisha and SW7 (using ones that no one on here has ridden most likely, but it saves complications of using ones I haven't ridden but others have), they have compact, tight layouts. Had Saw had this sort of layout, maybe it would be rated slightly higher. However, having a sweeping layout means that the ride can keep up its fast pace in the outdoor section without being totally neck-shattering (regardless of whether people think it's rough or not, I don't think many would label it neck-shatteringly rough and uncomfortable...or at least I hope!). A tighter layout may have left the ride needing to be slower to handle all the tighter turns and such; I think the second half should be all about the fast, intense pace.

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