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