So, I figured I may as well give a bit more insight about my views on The Walking Dead - The Ride.
I know plenty of people have pretty much written it off already, and it's almost trendy to hate the idea, but I do think it's worth going into this with an open mind. The overall experience is good, well themed, and does justice to what the ride and building was designed to achieve.
The entrance portal is nice. It is standard run down Thorpe style, but it is still good. The queue is, again, standard Thorpe in that it's "how much queue can we fit in one space", with just little nuggets of theming - in the way of themed signage and Easter Eggs to the show - to go with it. There's no extensions or anything, so on quiet days, you will have to walk through the whole thing, which is a pain.. Audio in the area is nice and creepy, and the watchtower looks alright to be fair.
Bag room is now outside the building, and is clearly unfinished at the moment. Hopefully it can be themed up, especially to the standard of the inside of the ride. After that, groups of 20 (so 2 trains worth) get batched into pre-show. The pre-show is extremely basic - a minute long video featuring a character talking to you, encouraging you to make your way through the building because we're under attack. It's well done, and I don't think it will get tedious during re-riding, but I feel like they could have done more here. Some big special effect, to give you the personal reason to get moving, rather than some guy on a screen telling you...
The walkway to the station is exceptionally well themed. You go through different areas of 'the safe zone', and as you go through them, audio is triggered saying how those zones are under attack, encouraging you to keep moving. The tone is perfect here, and really sets up the experience well.
The ride itself is themed to a 'transit system' in the safe zone, and is being used to transport you to safety. It's clever, and gives you a reason to be on the ride. From there, it is just X, with special effects, and I don't think that can be stressed enough. I really hope that people have ended up being ignorant the OTT "it's the scariest thing ever" marketing approach, or are able to just look past it, else it sets the ride up to fail. In saying that, the special effects that are there are good, and really do enhance the ride experience. There aren't any animatronics, just zombie mannequins (which aren't the greatest, but to a casual rider will more than do the job). There's also screens, smoke, audio and lighting effects, all of which are used very well. The one stop during the ride is a real highlight actually, fitting in with the story perfectly, and just being a lot of fun!
The ride ends with us still being under attack; everywhere in the safe zone is overrun with zombies. The post-ride experience happens, in the form of a loud noise, and is...just a bit naff? There's terrible noise bleed from there to the waiting bit before the station, so if you've been unfortunate with timings, it does spoil it somewhat. There is more to it, but I believe that tweaks were still being made, so I don't know what to say / expect from that for now. There is a lot of potential there, but it needs a bit more direction.
So yeah, to round it all up...
+Fantastically themed experience
+A fun ride experience, with good special effects
+An experience that stays true to what the original X:\No Way Out aimed to do
+A cohesive story which is easy to understand
-Pre-show could do with a bit more oompf
-Post-show needs a bit of clarity / more direction
But before I go - One final thought.
I like this, I won't deny that. I also liked X. I haven't decided whether I like this more than X or not, but that's neither here nor there for now. Personally, I think X is the better thing for Thorpe now; it had potential to be a fun ride which was accessible to all.
I can't help but wonder what Thorpe could have done with X if they had the budget this had. Or even half the budget. They really could have created an attraction where you rode "on a wave of light (and sound)", went through tunnels of light, etc. I imagine that having the trains 'chase' lit up track, with lasers and smoke effects around, along with an extended original soundtrack would have been more than possible, along with some fun lighting effects in the entrance and exit walkways. I reckon I'd have loved that, as would a large majority of people.