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  2. Oh my, you managed to catch Swarm in the group photo too!! I’m sorry to have missed this meet, glad you guys had fun 😊
  3. Awful storytelling then if you have to look online or read some words on a poster. I'm convinced some people at Merlin must be deluded when you see how many of their attractions have self indulgent "backstories" that actually manifest in nothing, other than some screens, a preshow video and some signs. The best hook that ride had was not the Sub Core energy story (whatever it was) but the whole Derren Brown mental illusion Victoriana thing, which amounts to nothing after the preshow. I disagree that the queue has any atmosphere, it's horrendous! Loud tinny music blasted into your ear for ages while you walk around a switchback squeezed around the back of the building.
  4. Today
  5. Taken from MAP Facebook group. Never experienced this last year so have no idea what it is, but it's back!
  6. Ah yes the life of an enthusiast, complains when a ride gets delayed and complains when the ride is not 100% finished.
  7. It'll open when its open... Phantasialand have been done in before with dodgy delays and doubt they'll ever risk it again...
  8. As great as it is looking, they really need to speed up the process it is taking to build this. It has been a construction site for four years now and there is definitely some work they still need to do before the hopeful 2020 opening.
  9. 100% agreed. Can't believe that Thorpe is pretty much at its lowest ebb right now and yet Inferno looked and rode fantastic last night. It really comes alive in the dark.😍
  10. sounds like I'll get some travel injections before my next trip on Sunday
  11. Been a while since an update. I guess because not much has reallllly happened. The final major wall of the area is being built. This is basically adjacent to the main road and is near the end of both launch tracks Hotel construction is going well: (Source for above 2 photos - Phantafriends member PHL-Marcus) And a couple of renderings from Phanta-famous man Tobi... It's getting there. Slowly. Very slowly. But it's getting there (I've been saying this for the past 3 years now, but oh well.....)
  12. And the full length animation: As awesome as this looks, this does effectively make the park's current single launch Vekoma coaster completely redundant. I do wonder what their long term plan is for that..
  13. Yesterday
  14. TPJames

    Top 10's

    New top 10 coasters after a few trips to new parks including hansa park today Cant decide between taron and taiga. Taron has the theming, the launch, the overall experience whereas taiga’s second half of the layout is just absolutely incredible. Too close of a decision to call so ranked joint 1st. Also three RMCs in my top 10, that’s crazy. I’ve been converted 😱 Taron/Taiga - Zadra Wildfire Shambhala Untamed Der Schwur des Kärnan Lech Lost gravity Helix
  15. Chessington seem to specialise in low capacity attractions now. If I were being cynical I’d say it’s done on purpose to boost Fastrack sales. I remember once going on the Scorpion on a quiet day and getting on before the people in the RAPs / Fastrack queue!
  16. No offence to Legoland! Just in my opinion even that isn’t looking at it’s best at present. Just my opinion, sorry!
  17. Visited here last week, primarily for their Halloween event (which I've covered here), but a couple of words of Area 51 and Excalibur. Both of these are fantastic rethemes of their rides. They don't try and reinvent the wheel or go crazy; they've just spruced up what was there and added extras to make it a whole experience. Excalibur has awesome extra effects which are unusual for a rapids ride, and really makes it feel like a complete experience. I have one niggle - when the ride re-enters the building, there's still no attempt at hiding the building, which really stands out compared to the rest of the ride. A bit disappointing. Area 51 has just fixed up and modernised the old Bermuda Triangle sets and given it a new lease of life. For those who have ridden it in the past, don't worry: it's still as wacky as ever. And those who haven't, if you ever get the chance to ride it, you'll end up understanding why it's reached a cult status of praise. Annoyingly, the park has put in a pre show in the queue. It's themed very well, but effectively acts as a list of restrictions for the ride. Fortunately they don't bother with it when the ride is very quiet, but the need for it at all is questionable. So yeah, the park have done a fantastic job with these rethemes. Their new Paw Patrol area is decent for what it is too. Along with Star Trek in 2017 (which, admittedly, I'm not that big a fan of, but appreciate people enjoy), the park have had some absolute winners of investments lately. Hopefully they can keep it up!
  18. Last week, I visited Movie Park for their Halloween event: the 21st anniversary of their Horror Fest. The park has 8 mazes, 4 scare zones and a variety of other things to bolster the number of attractions up to 19, with the park claiming the event to be the biggest Halloween event in Europe. We visited the park on Thursday, hoping it would be quiet: the park is open 10am-10pm for Horror Fest, with most Halloween attractions opening at 6pm and closing at 9.30pm. So it was a LOT to do. So, without further ado, let's get to it (with light SPOILERS)... The Walking Dead: Breakout The park's year-round upcharge horror maze, and it turns out this year is its last year. I did it on my previous visit in 2017, and didn't rate it much. As it was still upcharge, I skipped it, but I hear it hasn't changed, so I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it any more. From here, it's worth pointing out how the park's mazes work. The standard setting is that they let groups of 20 in every 60-90 seconds, are free flow and don't allow touching. There's a couple of exceptions which I'll point out when I get to them. All of their mazes have age restrictions, which varied from maze to maze, and these are enforced strictly: they DO do ID checks! Hostel Themed around the Hostel series (more specifically, the first film), and rated 18+, this is the park's goriest maze. It starts off with a tour round Amsterdam - you even walk through the Red Light District, which once upon a time had screens showing some, ahem, rather explicit sex scenes on them, but alas no more. And the maze continues quite happily for the next few scenes, with a party atmosphere and everything seeming happy; the actors do nothing to scare you. But, like the film, it takes a very sudden, very dark twist. Scares come thick and fast, with very gruesome scenes all around you, and plenty of actors in every direction. The finale sees the group locked in a large white room stained with blood, with speakers blaring out chainsaw noises, and the room flashing between pitch black and red lights. It was a solid maze ending, though it felt like it needed an actor with a chainsaw in there to really amplify it. A shame, but still a very strong maze! Wrong Turn This is the park's upcharge Halloween attraction, at 5 Euros a ticket, and you go through in groups of 6, and is also based off the Wrong Turn series of films. And it also won Best European Scare Attraction at this year's ScareCON award ceremony. This also uses Haunted Lantern (like Skin Snatchers at Alton Towers), but literally gives the group a lantern rather than a helmet. The maze is based in trough of the park's old Ice Age dark water ride, and likely makes use of a lot of the old scenery from the ride. Following 2 pre shows (which I didn't really understand because they were all in German with no way of offering English translations), the maze begins. Being in the trough, the actors regularly positioned themselves above you to get really good jump scares. There were some awesome effects around too, and some clever pieces of misdirection to add to the scares. The end was quite chaotic, with loads of actors and a huge sparkler / firework style effect as well which caught me off guard. My main issue with Wrong Turn is that, because it has such a huge space to work with, is that it sometimes felt a little too open and that you were a little too removed from the sets at times. This meant the maze felt like it was missing that final ingredient to make it truly exceptional. But it was still fantastic for the most part and I really enjoyed it. Insidious 2 The park's final IP-based scare attraction. Amazingly, this is located underneath the seating area for the park's stunt show, which was a great use of space! Unsurprisingly, the idea of the maze was to be creepy and build up suspense to try and get scares that way. It also made use of lots of big open sets to build tension as well. For me, it was a bit hit and miss. There were some unsettling and creepy moments, but these didn't last long, and often the actors took away from the atmosphere. This is a maze which would benefit from less (visible) actors, but instead has quite a lot, making it difficult to truly capitalise on the atmosphere. A shame, but a good effort. Circus of Freaks An outdoor clown maze - a set up with a lot of potential. However, this missed the mark. The maze felt a lot like the outdoor sections of Do or Die (things draped over fences), although better themed in fairness. There was some good bits and nice bits of humour (and a nicely executed animal area with gorilla costumes and the like), but ultimately this was one of the weaker clown mazes I've done in my time. And when compared with the quality of the park's other mazes, it really does miss the mark. The Slaughterhouse This is a maze crying out to be a Chop Shop style maze but, surprisingly, it wasn't! This was some weird beauty development laboratory that had gone rogue and cut people up instead..or something. It was nicely themed and had some good set pieces, and a couple of nice jump scares. The ending was a real highlight of the maze. It took place in two rooms with incredible dense smoke (you literally couldn't see more than 30cm in front of you), with actors then appearing out of nowhere. It was confusing and clever and just really worked! Campout Another outdoor maze, but taking place in the woods. Very Blair Witch esque in story, but a lot more open and with more 'actual' theming. It wasn't exactly memorable either. A couple of neat special effects but nothing exciting or special. It's worth pointing out this is rated 12+ (and is the only maze with such a low rating, as all others are 16+ or 18+), so I guess it isn't designed to be scary, but it's a shame there wasn't more to this. Project Ningyo - NEW FOR 2019 The park's big new thing for the year is Project Ningyo, and replaces a previous maze: Deathpital. They made a big deal out of this: this was the only maze where Fastrack was available (at 10 Euro a pop!) and was the only maze where actors were allowed to touch you. This was also the maze with - by far! - the longest queue, at 50 minutes. We realised this was because of a terrible batching system: the maze takes place in a build the other side of a service road; groups of people are batched to the service road every 5 minutes, but these groups were usually cleared in like 2 minutes, leaving long periods of time where no one was entering the maze! Anyways, onto the maze itself. It starts off with your group of 20 being given a guided tour of a medical facility which (from what I understood) was dedicated to creating a serum to make people happy. You're guided into a room all together and locked in. An actor in a hazmat suit appears from the other side and gets you out, and you then walk through the carnage of what's behind the scenes at the facility. There's some nice theming, and some good smells (in particular, there was an animal testing scene which really smelt of rabbit poo!), but there just wasn't enough substance. Despite there being a lot of actors, it still didn't feel like enough, and the scares were just non-existent. The touching was effectively 'medical staff' frantically trying to guide you along and out of the way of danger, which I always find dull. In general, the maze was rather lacklustre, my least favourite of the night. A shame really, but hopefully it'll continue to grow. Scare Zones The park had four scare zones, which actually covered the majority of the park (the kids area, Nickland, is a "monster free" zone). Sadly, only one of them felt defined, so it made it difficult to understand what exactly was going on. Acid Rain: Some sort of nuclear apocalypse area, with sirens going off and a variety of weird stuff. Horrorwood Boulevard: A collection of famous Halloween characters Dead West: Wild West themed, but dead Fear Pier: No mazes round here so never actually got a chance to go there. Apparently all the actors in the scare zone are just given an individual budget and a loose story to stick to, and they then get to create their own costume. Really gives them ownership, but definitely adds to the disjointed feel. All the actors in the zones did 'roam' very well though, and many had shovels to bash against ground for jump scares, which was different to say the least! Other Stuff -The park apparently transform their drop tower into something scarier at night time. All we saw was a flashing light. Yay? -There's a hypnosis show which we didn't see. -There's kids stuff in the day (kids maze, face painting, etc) which looked nice. -New for this year was an IT 4D experience - basically highlights of the IT Chapter 1 converted into 3D with your standard 4D effects. Solid 20 minute show which was fun. There's also a closing show, which was originally meant to be fireworks, lasers and fire, along with a video playing on the screen in the entrance plaza. Due to noise complaints, the firework aspect of the show had been cancelled when I was there. The show itself was pretty neat (the lasers were cool!), but it's fair to say that fireworks would have added to it. I hope that they can find a way round it! So all in all, Halloween Horror Fest is a very solid, very full Halloween event. It's not something I'd go out of my way to do again, but it's got a lot of positives going for it, and the headline mazes really are something. There's clearly a lot of thought put into all the mazes and what level they should be at too. Hopefully some of my experiences were just bad runs rather than the norm, and I'm intrigued to see how the event develops over the next few years!
  19. Things like the theming, the major illusion of the train and preshow are actually pretty good. When you're in the queue, despite being able to see the surroundings quite clearly it feels as if you're in a bubble and the rest of the park doesn't exist so it has really good atmosphere right from the moment when you walk in. IMO what lets it down is that there's nothing really scary about it , it doesn't flow and for me this is because there isn't any coherent story that's explained for the ride you've just spent over an hour queuing for and it seems very rushed (at least when I went in it this year). Looking at the half-torn posters on the building etc. and reading on here you can piece together what the story is about. Overall it seems like a better version of the London Dungeons but it seems the £35million was spent on the wrong areas of the ride experience (what good is setting up the presumably extremely expensive illusion of a train suspended by chains if it isn't even referenced by any of the cast?). I still quite like it and it isn't as bad as people make it out to be but it's definitely not hit the mark regarding the scare factor it promises. When I went in for the first time all my groups' VR headsets etc. were working and the ride didn't shut down once whilst queuing which are another 2 major problems people also have with the ride so I can't comment on that. Overall: 4/10
  20. *Blows dust away* 2013 fright nights (and as a year in general) was an incredible year, the park needs to bring fright nights back to how it was around this time. Every maze was good rather than 1 great maze and the rest mediocre.
  21. I mean guys... At the end of the day, does it really matter? Its not a big deal, its a cut. A, singular, CUT. Not really worth the debate.
  22. To my understanding, the H&S sign offs of a maze include: -LTC signing off before the maze opens to the public (and, I believe, before actors are allowed to even rehearse in the space). Like with rides, that has to happen every year. -Tech team do daily sign offs: they'll check that all the effects work, the area is safe (ie, no nails poking out, no loose flooring, etc) and so forth -Sign off from the Entertainments team, ensuring there's enough staff, all areas that should be locked are locked, all fire exits are clear, see if there's any potential hazards which may have been missed, etc. As has been said, if a problem arises, it should be flagged immediately to someone working at the maze or nearby. That way it can be checked by actors / staff and appropriate action can be taken (Benin's right in that it's basically only tech/maintenance teams who can use a hammer). Actors should also look out for these things, but they don't always notice them immediately given everything else they have to do as well. It's the same with a roller coaster imo: if you were to catch yourself on a belt buckle which somehow has a sharp bit, for example, it would be something you should mention. Staff should also look out for that but it's not something they would necessarily spot immediately given how many other things they have to do too. Don't quote me on this, but until you get quite high up, I don't think there's no specific qualifications you need. Obviously, standard experience and courses you can take to learn how to write risk assessments, understand H&S investigations, etc, which are advantageous to have prior to being in those roles, but there's not formal qualifications required. Going higher up you need them (stuff from IOSH), though most people will undertake those qualifications whilst in a H&S in the first place as a way of stepping up. I guess this is the major discussion point. Mazes naturally receive a lot of wear and tear at an accelerated rate. In the space of a group of 15 people, you can go from a nail being firmly in place to sticking out ever so slightly. And that can progress slowly as each group goes through. Of course the park has a duty of care and is responsible for whatever happens, but at what point should a line be drawn and we can rationally say 'The park aren't in wrong'? Or - to circle back to where this discussion stems from - how can we rationally say it's "horrendous that these things aren't checked"? Not that there's a clear cut answer to either of those questions, just musing..
  23. Tell you what, as much as I sniff at the use of IP’s in theme parks, if this is executed well, I’ll welcome it. It would be perfect for families and will revitalise a dead corner of the park, which hopefully will mean the reopening of the theatre again if the plans show it. Only thing that bothers me is if Alton weren’t so insistent on building The Alton “Black-walled” Dungeons for this year, that ride building and system would have been perfect for something like this, especially given the success and feedback of Gruffaloworks at Chessington.
  24. I like this! Sure it is a IP, though this IP is relevant and hopefully will stand the test of time. I really am glad CCL is getting re-themed, its been in dire need for a while now. Overall decent addition, if only Thorpe got something permanent or actually relevant like this..
  25. When did I say that? Day to day checks will be done by the frontline staff, H&S guys will sign off the maze after a few checks before day one but beyond that won't do much else unless problems are raised or major changes are required... Mean as long as their risk assessment is being followed then their job is done... I'm not sure if maintenance have to do checks on mazes like they do with rides before handing over, sure someone can say... The term health and safety executive is used for the government body... Maybe your use of that term is where there's some confusion? Not sure what qualifications you need to be a theme park health & safety role... I mean I've sat in some training rooms and can make a risk assessment and my job isn't H&S directly... At the end of the day, even a simple injury can lead to something much worse, even something as daft as a loose nail... And it's the park's responsibility to ensure it doesn't happen again... To say stupid things like "going round in cushions next year if a nail is a problem" is pure nonsense and shows little understanding of what companies have to do to work within health and safety remits... All reported injuries have to be investigated after all, if they're not reported then that's the guest's decision, but the park has a duty of care on top of that...
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