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  1. 9 points
    Marhelorpe

    Wicker Man - The Truth

    When it comes to reviewing something, I try to be as honest, straight-talking and truthful as I can to the reader because above anything else, integrity to me is the most appreciated value I admire in someone when I am seeking for advice with their opinions. That way, if I decide to pluck down my own money, time and effort on something, I can be assured there is nothing being kept hidden when trying the product myself and therefore, trust can be built. I believe this first paragraph needs to be put at the very start of this review because after trying Wicker Man for the first time, I want to be as honest as I possibly can in what you are about to read. There are presently a lot of exaggerated claims, promises and expectations being thrown around about this coaster at the moment by various people and I refuse to fall into this category, so everything below is exactly what it is with no filter in place, for good and bad. Now onto the ride itself. I’ve been moderately quiet during the construction of Wicker Man these last several months despite the constant updates, advertising, drone footage and leaked name ages before, primarily because time and time again, I have stupidly built false promises and expectations with a lot of Merlin’s recent investments these last several years. Promises which inside I knew they couldn’t deliver but still believed in nonetheless and as a result, I have been scarred by it all and have a real grudge against the majority of Merlin attractions that have been built across the parks from 2014 onwards. To be blunt, I approached Wicker Man with a pessimistic view from the day it was announced until the day I finally rode it. Wooden coasters for me are something special; special in a way that cannot be described easily. Because despite not having fancy elements, being the fastest or tallest or the most amazing coasters out there, they tend to be underestimated a lot of the time and can really surprise you with how great they are. I’ll never forget that first ride on Megafobia at Oakwood, Wales back in 2010 where it left be stunned. Also quite recently sitting on the back row of Balder at Liseberg, Sweden in 2017 and being shocked and amazed by the extreme forces you go through, especially down the first drop after the lift hill. It certainly is an amazing feeling! So whilst I was pessimistic given Merlin’s track record for the last 4 years, coupled with their management of special effects, I was secretly all this time really excited to try Wicker Man and didn’t want to jump to any conclusions too quickly and then regret what I said all the time before trying it (e.g. - Derren Brown’s Ghost Train). I simply didn’t fall for any of it this time and approached the coaster with an open mind for a change. But my word, I’m really glad I did that now, as this coaster has been quite a surprise! To begin this thorough and in-depth review, I’d like to begin with the setting and scenery of the attraction which will be the first thing every person sees upon experiencing this ride: APPEARANCE AND SETTING: When I was at the park’s fireworks display last year and finally saw the majority of the track constructed, I can’t lie, but it did look quite impressively large and dominant through those window fences. However, when seeing it fully constructed and running, the thing looks wonderful! Everything about this ride looks brilliant. The track is moulded against the landscape very well, the rumbling sound of the trains really dominates the area similar to Nemesis, the audio sounds superb and there was a huge amount of buzz and excitement flowing through the entire area on it’s opening ceremony day. Another nice touch was seeing a wooden coaster fresh, because I’m so used to seeing wooden coasters where the wood has faded into a dull, grey colour that it was nice seeing it all looking and even smelling fresh and yellow for once! As silly as this sounds, it made a nice change for once. The entrance plaza and queue line is nicely routed, landscaped and constructed too. Seeing loads of fire beacons filling the plaza with real fire used, coupled with the nicely themed entrance and bizarre-looking vegetation to match the rest of the ride’s theme made the whole area feel more permanent, complete and designed well, unlike the ugly-as-heck-yellow-box-of-an-entrance The Smiler uses. A small touch I liked in the queue were the little bits of theming present used for lighting and signs as you progress nearer and nearer to the station. Unlike the typical laminated, dull-as-anything printed signs we see so often across other rides across Merlin, these were all shaped and sculpted to match the theme, which was a nice detail I appreciate the team for doing. Also, having a queue line for the most part which is linear and doesn’t have endless cattle pens like Smiler and Rita was another touch I appreciated, plus, the queue oddly seemed wider too compared to most other rides. For the landscaping, this is a mixed bag. Whilst some areas surrounding the coaster have clearly been worked on with new plants and turf mats installed, others have not and look as though they are still in the middle of being constructed with dirt and soil everywhere. Also, something I wished the team did before opening this ride was to clean the concrete supports holding the track in place because they were filthy all over and looked quite off-putting, especially in contrast to the freshly installed wood for the track. If the park can clean these concrete supports using a jet washer as well as laying down turf or giving the remaining sections of the area some green grass, I believe it will neaten the overall profile and presentation of the ride, since it was a bit mixed in several places and could have looked better. Just a smaller detail compared to everything else, but an important one regardless. THE WICKER MAN EFFIGY Always knew from the moment the name was announced back in January 2018 this figure of the Wicker Man himself would be the centre of all attention and man, I can see why after finally seeing it in-person as it looks really lovely! The scale of this effigy is huge and very nicely themed and detailed, so much so that I would put it up there with something we would expect to see at Phantasialand. OK, I know that might be an over-exageration here, but that’s what I gathered after witnessing it for the first time. The wood looks genuine even though it isn’t, especially around the shoulders, the shape and design of the two-faced head looks impressive and the attention-to-detail used even for the small holes the train passes through three times was looked after which was a nice surprise. Plus the amount of mist (yes, water mist, not smoke) used really filled the inside of the figure and the holes through him, which was especially great when passing through on the train! Also, I loved how there were audio effects used every time a train passes through which sync with the real fire effects. Probably the best thing about this effigy is when you are passing through the second time after making the banked u-turn, because the position of the track which passes straight through his chest is perfect! The brief view you get when passing straight through the centre of his chest is ideal, especially coupled with the mist and fire effects used on the shoulders. It captures your attention and is a really effective head-chopper effect, especially with the small bump present in the track just before passing through. Very effective and convincing effect used! However, I have to admit, whilst it looks pretty when you see it in real-life, it will not be as impressive up-close as opposed to a distance of at least 20m I theorise. The reason for this is because those fire effects used inside the figure are actually just TV screens playing a loop of some generic flame behind a black background used when filming, plus, the resolution of these displays are not that great because up-close, you can see the pixels used and cameras can pick up some artificial flickering from them, similar to when filming Thorpe Park’s entrance screen on any smartphone or camera. Another detail that aggravated me was the size and position of the fire used on the shoulders, because when standing on the ground, you barely even see the fire used when they are lit normally, but it’s only when they are enlarged in size whenever a train passes through you can see them properly for only a few brief seconds. Not a major issues, but be aware the flame effects might not be as impressive in real life compared to what they look through promotional videos and pictures. But besides from that, the effigy is a really nicely and detailed piece of theming which I welcome being there for the coaster and can really enhance the experience, even though it has some flaws when seeing it up-close. AUDIO When it comes to hearing audio on an attraction, to me, this is absolutely crucial to get right as it’s a very effective piece of theming to any ride regardless of how small or big it might be, plus, it gives it an atmosphere and defines it’s character. Rides like Chiapas, Taron, Helix and The Smiler I simply wouldn’t love as much if it weren’t for their audio in all honesty, so the audio on Wicker Man had to be loud, dominant and catchy for me to appreciate as a whole much more and thankfully, this is the case! This is probably the biggest secret weapon of the coaster, because I noticed across all areas of the ride from the plaza/entrance, start of the queue line, end of the queue line, baggage/pre-show room, station and track sections there were various different pieces of audio playing from the lovely guys at IMAscore. Upon seeing the effigy around the entrance and plaza, the first track you hear sounds very happy and charming similar to Klugheim village at Phantasialand, which gives the impression to riders the whole ride itself has a welcoming theme to it all, but as you progress through the queue, you begin to notice the tune, pitch and instruments used changes and the closer you get to the station the darker it begins to sound as you get ever-closer to the baggage room. After walking through the entire queue, I am certain it’s done in a similar way to Big Top’s audio where there are at least 3 variations of the same 30 minute track, only each one has a darker and more unsettling theme to it. It’s once you are inside the building itself the more vocal sections of the audio are used similar to the snippets found online. Drums are used, the tune changes and a more honestly scary-sounding track plays inside the buildings amongst the darkened rooms. In the station especially where whilst the audio is lower in volume compared to outside, that coupled with the burning wood effect creates a really unsettling theme inside as though something bad is about to happen. A really excellent thing the park have taken advantage of is in the badge waiting room for the pre-show and station, the doors and train dispatch have themed audio playing alongside the use of lighting, which creates a really exciting atmosphere for riders and builds up a lot of anticipation! When the train dispatches, a loud roar of drums starts and the lighting in the station begins to change and flicker, similarly to how the dispatch looks on Nemesis Inferno and Black Mamba, only this time, much more effectively I would say! Same for when a train arrives back into the station too which has is timed to when the train stops on the brake run and people disembark. Just in case that wasn’t enough, even the darkened waiting tunnels once the ride finishes have themed audio matched with smoke and light effects inside, which means even the wait caused by the stacking of the trains is looked after which I thought was great! Also, the lift hill has timed audio with the train too, making the excitement and anticipation even greater for the rider! But in summary, Alton Towers and IMAscore have done a fabulous job with the audio management for this ride and should be commended for their efforts. Excellent job! PRE-SHOW I’ll keep this brief without giving away any spoilers for the viewer, but this was quite a nice addition made. The inside is shaped like a dome tent with pieces of theming all over the walls and flooring with a big projector screen right above you in front. All this scene does is give a little insight as to what the Wicker Man is, how it works and preparing you for what awaits ahead such as “The time has come for the wicker man to rise!”. The audio was nice and loud, the picture was sharp and the video was 60fps which was lovely to see. However, I have to be honest here, this scene felt unneeded and superfluous and didn’t really add much to the experience at all, mostly because of how short it was to watch. Heck, it’s only just over a minute long. To me, this seemed more like another batching room to help reduce the number of people in the station, nothing much more. A nice touch, but a needless one. STATION If you were to ask me “What is your favourite station for any coaster?”, I would have to give it to Wicker Man here. The station is great! Unlike a lot I’ve been through, this one did not feel crammed or overcrowded inside as the platforms on each side of the track were nicely spaced out with plenty of room to move around whilst waiting/disembarking the carriage for a start. The next part being the lighting used inside as it wasn’t too bright or dull, but instead, nicely orange/red filtered, themed and lit perfectly inside to match the rest of the ride. Also, I always look for details on the ceiling and walls for a station so that the entire room is consistently themed, unlike Thirteen with black cloth everywhere and Galactica with industrial machinery everywhere. In Wicker Man’s case, both of these areas have been attended to and look really nice with the wooden beams, themed drapes and flickering lighting on the walls for a fire effect. Glad finally to see a station where all areas have been looked after for once, yay! But to summarise, the station for Wicker Man is really well done and everything about it is perfect from the lighting, to the audio, to the theming and the consistency. Excellent work here! RIDE EXPERIENCE Now onto the best part finally and goodness me, this was surprising! My first ride was incredibly lucky because I was allocated the very back two seats of the train on my first go and couldn’t be happier as it’s always the best. xD The trains themselves look great, neat and fully detailed all over and they are quite comfy to sit in too. Haven never ridden a GCI woodie before, I was expecting something really uncomfortable such as Tomahawk, Stampida and even Balder to some degree, but the seating was wide, spacious and relaxing. I could easily move my feet and legs around a bit when on the train and didn’t in anyway feel cramped or pinned down in the restraint, meaning it was a really comfortable ride from start to finish. Quite pleasantly surprised by the comfort of those seats. Once dispatched and the train immediately turns right under the building, you go through a massive jet of smoke (smoke, not mist this time) filled with lots of red lighting and sound effects of wood burning. It must be said, the amount of smoke which fills this room as you turn to exit the lift hill was huge and obscured your vision for the briefest of moments. Quite liked this actually and hope it stays! Once ascending the lift hill, the audio as mentioned earlier plays through the speakers and whilst you get a lovely view to the right of what awaits, I did find the lift hill incredibly slow which killed the great pace the ride had at the start exiting the station at a surprising speed. That coupled with the absolutely stupid bend on that lift hill made it worse. I’m probably the only person who has a problem with that bend on the lift hill as whilst it was needed due to the design of the layout, to me, that should have been designed better as it frankly looks dumb, especially when you climb it. But once you reach the top where the tunnel lies, everything begins finally. What I didn’t expect on the back row was that left turn before the drop was declined slightly and as a result, was whipped round that corner incredibly fast which took me by great surprise! And even though the first drop is quite small, the airtime you get at the back going down it is quite big and was a great start to the ride! Next was the bunny hop into the second tunnel and the S-bend which follows after and this was by far the best section. Because not only are you whipped again over the second hill, but because the S-bend goes downhill the whole way, you pick up some seriously high speeds down this section and the banking of the track can whip you around a fair bit on the back row! Not uncomfortably so, but enough to make the sudden changes in orientation a lot of fun with even more airtime moments! Without doubt the best section of the layout here. Once passing through the effigy and performing the u-turn back through again, the speed does slow down a moderate amount here noticeably, but not enough to kill the pace thankfully. The bend is nicely shaped and isn’t too extreme for the riders until you reach the small hump as you race through the effigy again everything becomes faster once more. The small drop as you exit the 2nd pass-through of the figure has a bit of a noticeable jolt similar to Smiler’s 12th inversion, though nothing unpleasant, it just gives another small dose of airtime to the rider! From here onwards when the ride continues to make turns, smaller drops and twists, the train does slow down, but it still keeps a strong pace from start to end with more airtime hills and strong forces exerted on riders. Probably the weakest section of the layout is the flat and slow 180 degree turn you make just before dropping back down and passing through the figure again. To me, if this was banked or had a small dip in the middle similar to the way both of Smiler’s turns work for both lift hills, this could have made it a little more interesting. Soon later, you reach the final brake run and the main section of the ride is over. Something I need to mention is regardless of where you sit on the train, be prepared to get a little wet from the mist effects used in the effigy, especially when you pass through the holes. Apart from the mist, water is dripping from the jets used and will drip on you as a result, especially when you go through the 3rd hole. Nothing too major, but enough to notice! You enter the darkened tunnels again with themed audio and more smoke effects before getting back to the station and disembarking to leave for the exit. The ride is now over. If I’m to summarise the experience in one word, it would be “WOW!” Sure, it’s not a Megafobia or Balder killer, but compared to how it looks and what it’s actually like riding, this coaster has some serious surprises to it, the least being the several moments of airtime you get sitting at the back over various parts of the course! This coupled with the comfort of the trains made this a really fun and exciting coaster to try, even though the layout isn’t amazing. The pace is constant after the lift hill, it feels faster than what the statistics say, the interactions with the scenery and effigy are great and it’s just intense enough to allow those as little as 1.2m onto the ride without it being too much for them. Plus, even though the coaster has a few jerky moments that throw you around a bit, it wasn’t rough at all anywhere and didn’t try breaking the rider’s back like Stampida does. SHOP Again, the theming continues here too and the shop looks really nice too! Loads of detailed theming everywhere similar to DBGT’s one with theming across all the flooring, walls and ceiling and some of the merchandise was pretty nice. There was a hand-made figure of the Wicker Man available in the shop too, but for £3,000? Nuuuuuuuu thanks. OTHER POINTS Here are some other points worth mentioning when you try it: • There is a baggage hold for this ride staffed by workers, but I thought Alton were eliminating all of them……? Very confused… • If all three queues are full, the ratio will be 1:1:1 for main, fastback and disabled, so the waits can get incredibly and frustratingly slow at times. • Be aware the lift hill is incredibly noisy when you stand underneath it. • The shop is routed, so it may be difficult or cumbersome to reach one side of the shop to the other. • When this ride breaks down, be prepared to wait a fairly long time. Over an hour was spent sending the trains round when it broke down with full and empty trains going round constantly. I believe the ride was experiencing weight issues, hence why 3/4 rows were running round empty all afternoon. • The on-ride photo camera is at the bottom of the first tunnel drop straight after the lift hill. • Be aware there is a major design flaw with placing the camera here. Honestly shocked nobody has picked this up yet, but the smoke in the 2nd tunnel if blown in front of the camera can make your on-ride photo look very strange with a weird ghost effect. Below is this issue me and Martin ran into, so you have a 50:50 chance of this appearing. Didn’t appreciate this after waiting 2+ hours and making it our only ride on it that day: CONCLUSION If you have read all of what I’ve put above, you probably most likely realise by now despite going in with low expectations, pessimism and serious doubts given Merlin’s recent track record, this ride has honestly surprised me on a level I haven’t witnessed before. It’s surprised my because during all the construction stages, apparent rumours the first drop was re-profiled by John Wardey, negative stabs from enthusiasts and the constant, vacuous marketing WORLD FIRST claims I was seeing for this thing, Wicker Man has delivered on being what I can only describe as a superb family coaster. It really is! Whilst I still have some doubts and questions of the theme behind this ride for a family coaster, especially if one has seen the films or does research behind the whole sacrificial belief behind it, the park have done a superb job with theming the ride as a whole and must be given credit for it. The smallest of details have been looked at, especially in the station, the audio matches it perfectly and everything feels complete and not half-finished like Smiler still does today. But my biggest concern is regarding the special effects used. Whilst for now they might all be working great with no flaws whatsoever, I seriously and honestly cannot see this lasting too long. It won’t be long before the sprayed mist on the effigy starts to degrade similar to The Marmaliser’s The Giggler leg, or 1+ of the screens displaying a flame inside breaking, or even one of the fires on the shoulders breaking. I might be sounding paranoid here, but for a coaster that for the most part lives on the promise of the effects working on this figure, that is incredibly risky of Merlin/Alton. Hopefully I’m proven wrong over time, but I still think eventually they will begin to break one bit at a time. But besides that, if the park can get the coaster to run perfectly with no hiccups regarding the operations and technical faults it has, maintain all the effects to a working standard every day beyond 2018, they could be onto a real winner here. Already I say this is their best family coaster without a doubt at the park, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is the best coaster in the country like some YouTubers and vloggers have said. It’s still loads of fun regardless and is a solid addition, but all I’ll say is don’t expect anything amazing here. Instead, expect to be surprised by it and really enjoy it for what it offers because it executes at being a fun, enjoyable woodie really well! Just to add a little more to this review, besides from the masses of pictures above, below is a short video showing many off-ride views, including a naughty sneak of the pre-show. Don't worry, that section is only 5 seconds long! So in summary, Wicker Man to me is a solid addition to Alton Towers, deserves credit for all the teams who put it together and should go down really well with it’s target audience. Heck, if it gets a 3 hour queue just from one day, I can only begin to imagine how big they’re going to get this summer! Wicker Man - 8 / 10
  2. 9 points
    Oh god it was ****
  3. 8 points
    Mark9

    The Walking Dead - The Ride: SPOILERS

    I bet people can't wait to ride this indoor rollercoaster at midnight, it's going to make a big difference.
  4. 7 points
    TraX

    Alton Towers General Discussion

    Well, it’s better than nothing.
  5. 7 points
    That's the best use of faint praise I've ever seen.
  6. 7 points
    This is the battery I wish to charge on this garbage ride.
  7. 6 points
    Coaster

    Alton Towers General Discussion

    Actually, that could be their new slogan; "Alton Towers - it's better than nothing"
  8. 6 points
    With a decent GCI and a fab looking Mack opening this year..
  9. 6 points
    This bodes well... usually when a Merlin attraction gets a year round horror maze it’s a sign of a very long and successful future..
  10. 5 points
    Flipper

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    Disagree. Yes Alton are running on a shoestring budget but they're still trying to recover so it's expected. But that aside; they're trying. Yes there's lots of downsides, but look at Nemesis. It's looking great and they've invested into its future. Something keeps occurring around Sub Terra so we can only hope there's a future plan for it. There's murmurs of work being done to Cloud Cuckoo Land to bring the area back and re implement CATCF as an attraction (albeit without the Charlie IP). Yes things aren't great but with a park like Towers it doesn't phase me the staggered openings as most guests are heading straight for Wicker Man anyway, and its no different in my view as Blackpool's staggered openings. I'm just thankful that we've now got a more-or-less full ride line up again (bar CATCF and 4D as we know ST is dead) and that cuts were made in Splash and Tree Top Quest over the theme park experience. Thorpe is doing good in my opinion. They've made the entrance look acceptable from something very run down and grubby; they've tried with TWD - and I'm still happy its not VR on a ride, plus I haven't ridden it yet - and their operational calendar is amongst the strongest it's been for years with late night openings in Summer, and frequent 6pm+ closes. Great hotel rates to drive footfall which reflect the product offering in price and the return of the Annual Pass deal which is welcoming for the general public. And I'd argue good for Chessington too. Yes there's flaws, but again, they've not had a bad start to the season. People are very quick to highlight the negatives but aside from Tomb, the park isn't looking too bad. I for one am excited for Land of the Tigers, and I think this year they've really tidied up the park somewhat, to a degree I've already visited twice and usually I go once a year. I 100% respect, understand and see your viewpoint. But I feel there's too much negativity for the parks which are all trying really damn hard to recover, rebuild, and carry on after having budgets slashed left right and centre, when on reflection, we've seen Towers add one of their best coasters in the last decade, whilst refurbishing attractions back to a fresh state; Chessington bring a needed area refurbishment with new experiences to help themselves grow; LEGOLAND riding on the back of Ninjago: The Ride with the Haunted House breaking ground finally; and THORPE utilizing assests they have to hand in the form of Walking Dead and looking at their marketing and operations to grow themselves as a park.
  11. 5 points
    MattyMoo

    Alton Towers Quick Questions

    I messaged Alton Towers about this and they said that marked up merchandise was better than nothing
  12. 5 points
    Mark9

    'Wicked' Man.

    The Worst GCI in modern history. Wicker Man will be **** we all know it. Doesn't look very interesting, not very fast at all. Just three ways Wicker Man has been described over the closed season on this forum. There's a wealth of material, of people lining up to give the first modern woodie in the UK in 22 years a good kicking. The point where coaster enthusiasts have already ruled themselves judge, jury and executioner on a ride way before anyone had even had the chance to ride. Here we are a good two weeks later from the preview event and I think there's proverbial egg on peoples faces. I remained quietly optimistic, keeping expectations in check. What I expected was a well paced, fun, mildly thrilling family wooden ride and that's exactly what I got. I knew this wasn't going to be Wodan, it wouldn't be the airtime machine that Megafobia or Tonnerre De Zeus are. But what I did get was the best rollercoaster Merlin have ever built.. Now before you decry my last sentence as hyperbolic nonsense, understand something. I love a thrilling rollercoaster but what I really love is an inventive, interactive, original layout. I love getting on a ride, hearing the people around me screaming, loving every moment, hitting the break run and then shouts of amazement, the joy that emanates from the riders. Hit the break run on Nemesis, Inferno, Swarm, Oblivion and you hear nothing, just complete silence. It's just another steel rollercoaster going through the motions. But for the first time in a long while I heard something from a UK ride. People love the Wicker Man. They can't believe that such an old looking ride (bare with me) can deliver thrills, excitement on such a scale. Europeans and Americans are used to the thrill of a wooden rollercoaster but the UK has forgotten that wooden rollercoasters are more then a match to their steel counterparts. For me, this is the first time that Merlin have hit the nail on the head and got it right. So why is it so good? To start off with, I like how little of it you can see from around the resort. There was a lot of discussion around Alton's limitations and how they get around them and Wicker Man is another example of that. The way the ride seems to work on several different levels to gather pace and momentum is right out of the Nemesis/Smiler handbook, the way the ride descends to the bottom of the Flume lake, or the oddity of the lift hill, the way the ride dips through the Wicker Man structure three times, each time getting more and more intense or the way the compact layout eeks out the ride length perfectly. The queue line which features very few switchbacks and naturally uses the terrain to get you close to the structure or the balcony which overlooks the majority of the ride giving great photo opportunities. The mercifully brief pre-show which I thought was perfect for the ride, telling us the story without getting bogged down in details. At its core, this is a very simple story on a pretty basic woodie but the ride is more then the sum of its parts. The soundtrack which I really like slowly builds up in drama the further into the queue you go. This feels like the kind of ride that you couldn't get anywhere else, tapping into legend in the same way that Hex does. This is right out of the Towers rule book and is all the more stronger for it. At the moment the rides biggest issues are operational. The park hasn't really got to grips with how to run it yet with very slow dispatches and numerous breakdowns. It only ran for two hours on my visit (didn't help that Nemesis was down all day, curse you Towers) and when Wicker Man was running trains didn't seem to go out very quickly. I don't think the way rows are labelled is very clear in the station either, the darkness and moodiness of the station means people can't see the numbers hanging above their heads and numerous times people were just wondering back and forth lost. If you've ever ridden a GCI woodie you know what to expect here from the Millennium flyer trains. They are comfortable enough to ride in whilst durable enough to take it when you go slamming from side to side on the rides cornering. I won't cover the ride in too much detail as frankly it differs massively from front to back but what I will say is that when this thing beds in, those back row seats are going to be absolutely fantastic. Our first ride was row 5 and then onto row 8 and the difference was staggering. I have two main worries. The first is the effects. Lets face it, Merlin are hit and miss with this and as you can see from the Smiler most of it no longer works. No sprayers, no screens, no car wash. The effects on Wicker Man tell a story far more then the Smiler and the danger of the Wicker Man structure having no fire or smoke must be pretty high; I'd be surprised if they still work by June. That's ignoring all the smoke effects before the lift hill, on the first drop tunnel, in the break run. If Towers want this ride to continue to have the positive reaction it currently has, it is essential they stay on top of this. That being said, I think the strong layout helps but on an effects driven ride, that can only do so much. My second concern is the rides longevity. Wooden coasters aren't steel coasters, they need consistent maintenance to keep them from getting too rough, too shaky, too unbearable. I question whether Merlin can give this ride the love it needs five years, ten years down the line. Based on their track record with Colossos for example, they let that go SBNO for two years. I don't want to see that happen with Wicker Man, in my view it's the closest to perfection Merlin can ever get. So its safe to say, I'm a big fan of the Wicker Man and I call it a triumph for the UK industry. When people were lining up to rip it to shreds, I stayed positive and optimistic and whilst I don't want to say I told you so, I told you so. My biggest hope that comes out of this wooden ride though is that parks like Paultons, Drayton, Flamingoland, hell even Thorpe and Chessington look at what can be done with a ride like this and build their own. The wooden ride genre is big in America, China, all across Europe and yet here, they are seen as dangerous and unsafe. Telling people I work with that I was going to Towers to ride a wooden rollercoaster, they thought it was a disaster waiting to happen. I can only hope that the Wicker Mans success leads to more and more and who knows what that could lead to. Thans for reading and as for a score, Wicker Man is a solid 8/10. I can't wait to get back up there. Next time I'll be Enthusiastic Icon.
  13. 5 points
    Ringo

    The Walking Dead - The Ride: SPOILERS

    But Thorpe park have told us this is the scariest ride in the world, a 15 out of 10 on scare scale too. People will be expecting what they advertised
  14. 4 points
    Martin Doyle

    Cedar Point

    I will be absolutely shocked if I come off this in August and it has not EASILY become my top coaster!! It just looks like it has it all!! Height - Check Intense Drop - Check Speed - Check Airtime - BIG check length - Check Near misses - Check Pacing - Check (that video makes it look near flawless in its pacing) it really does look like it will be the perfect roller coaster. However the proof in the pudding will be in the eating so I will await actually riding it in August before placing it amongst my best coasters. However if it is as good as it looks then we have one of the best (if not THE best) coasters in the world on our hands
  15. 4 points
    Mega-Lite

    2018 General Discussion

    Totally agree with what's being said, Thorpe were having a total nightmare! Nemesis Inferno had the WORST rides team I've seen in years (insert witty comment about PortAventura just to annoy you), prancing around, at one point all the platformers were in position with dispatch buttons pressed, while the op chatted on the phone for over a minute, finished her conversation, then finally thought "oh maybe I should actually do my job now", shocking stuff. Can you blame the ride for constantly killing itself, I know I wanted to... Does anyone know what causes Inferno to repeatedly anchor itself and stop dead in the first set of brakes (I was lucky enough to get to sit there for 15 minutes!), my guess would be some sort of over speed alert being thrown up, but you guys being the Thorpe die hards might know. Stealth went down while I was in the queue, then when I returned much later it was down again, didn't bother me though because it's only Stealth. Ghost Train went down while I was in the queue and when I returned later, we waited over 20 minutes to be batched in, I've no idea how this thing operates, so you can decide whether that was yet more issues or rather it running on a lower capacity (if it can?). Walking Dead was down all night, like I said in the official topic of that, how have they broken what is essentially a super reliable jumped up Vekoma Junior? Detonator took over 10 minutes on 1 cycle to start, can we still blame the staff being new or was this just awful staff? Swarm which before the event started had a train going up the lift every 10 seconds, was put on 1 train by the end of the event, why? Rumba Rapids closed half an hour earlier than advertised, which annoyed me a bit, because as has been mentioned elsewhere, it appears to have been intensified. Quantum, which was advertised as open, was in scaffolding, which was incredibly disappointing because it's fantastic. Regardless I had an OK time, it was a free event after all. The worst thing all night easily goes to the surge of the VIP pass holder, the scourge of the Earth...
  16. 4 points
    ProudToServe

    X

    As I said in WD thread, X with the budget of what WD had, it could have been a great original IP with some pretty epic lighting and sound thought the attraction. It's a shame the park has to be so invested in WD. Before WD, it was a pretty busy ride and had a queue all the time. With 500k, so many awesome things would have been done in the ride area too. Shame.
  17. 4 points
    Mega-Lite

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    I've got no problem admitting I was wrong and I'm very happy to report that I was most certainly wrong and too quick to cast judgement on Wicker Man. Never again will I doubt GCI, their track record is still perfect. Now while I still agree that Alton Towers could and should have done more with the UK's first modern wooden roller coaster, what we have ended up with is great. The Story: Wicker Man's story about the creepy cult of weirdos, worshipping the Wicker Man for years in the forest and bringing him sacrifices in return for one day him returning their favour and gifting them with freedom and safety, is simple, effective and quite unnerving, I like it. Theming & Effects: Those involved have done a great job with the theming. The Wicker Man himself, in person looks damn impressive. The sheer amount of fire, mist and smoke effects used (please keep these running for the life of the ride) is so overwhelming and surprising and really adds to the experience. Not only that but the buildings (preshow and station) inside and out are incredibly well done. As a package, as present, Wicker Man is probably the best themed roller coaster in the UK. Queueline: After a couple of switchbacks to begin with, the queue ends up becoming a nice swooping semi circle which provides great views of the coaster layout and really helps build excitement. This style of queue over the crap that is Smiler's queue anyday, much appreciated. Preshow: I really enjoyed this, it's creepy, gets you hyped for what's about to transpire and in all honesty is alot of fun to watch. The Coaster: This little GCI is great. Great laterals, a few pops of good airtime, 1 insane ejector moment, that perfect amount of out of control that all woodies need and a real sense of speed. Also to my surprise, it's alot longer than I was expecting, so you get a decent length ride out of it. If you're into ranking things, after 2 laps, I'd probably put Wicker Man above Wodan and Troy, just below Draak, which I feel is a stronger layout and the racing aspect adds so much fun to the experience. I really feel Wicker Man is going to do great things for Alton Towers and I really hope they can quickly improve the up time and maintain both the coaster and effects to the quality they were on opening.
  18. 4 points
    Right, I’ve finally ridden it twice now to get a good idea and feel for the ride. Given how against the idea I am for turning X into this, this might be a surprising statement to some I’m about to make but...... I liked it. I genuinely liked it. For the most part, an awful lot of it remains the same as before such as the corridoors, trains and station area, but the big differences lie inside the pyramid itself. There are plenty of interactions with guests on the brake runs and various turns and corners from beginning to end, mostly just static walkers lit up along with some theming and TV screens present on one brake run, which does incidentally have the random stops put back in place, but for a decent reason this time. The pre-show room was quite nice and had some relevance to the whole experience this time unlike Wicker Man’s one and it makes good use of the audio and lighting effects present inside. However, the supposed window behind you with a TV screen was poorly done, mostly due to the massive air gap between the filter and the screen, so that ruined the effect slightly. But besides that, this is a nicely done room. The walks from the entrance to/from the station are the same layout as before, just with added details and a shed load of themed audio and lighting effects. Thankfully, none of it is on an endless loop and changes every few minutes, so there is some variety offered here. As for the station, the old lifts from the last decade have been demolished and the back of a van with wooden boxes containing supplies has been added here instead. Much better than before and doesn’t feel as cramped in this area to previous. But inside the station? It’s almost identical to before, just with a lot less lighting and added theming and audio on the platforms this time. The ride experience itself is more or less exactly the same, just with some added scenery on two of the brake runs and lift hill, not much else. There was a big TV screen used between the 2nd and 3rd brake runs which shows someone shooting walkers in the head as you travel past at fast speeds and the last turn before the final breaks has a nice smoke effect you pass through lit up in orange before reaching the end of the ride. So overall, whilst in truth this overlay of X is not amazing or groundbreaking, the park have done for the most part a pretty decent job with what they had and similar to Wicker Man, the best parts are the theatrical side of the experience, mostly down to the various audio and lighting effects used. Some of the theming was quite good too with lots of references to X:\ No Way Out. But the whole thing wasn’t consistent in this retheme at all and this is present especially with the queue line and coridoors. Whilst the inside looks nicely detailed, the outdoor queue looks horribly cheap with no resurfaced paths, no attempt to remove broken Bose speakers, the watch tower looks nastily cheap up-close, the baggage room has no detail or attempt to be themed at all and the indoor corridoors still have a lot of it’s roof wide open with light leakage everywhere which I was hoping would be refitted finally. My big issue is I still cannot get over the fact the park have turned what was rightfully a popular family coaster between 2013 - 2017 into this. This update just feels needless and for the most part, rushed. Whilst the ride was fun no doubt with the interactions and additional theming added, to see those between 1m - 1.4m no longer ride this coaster after 4 years annoys me greatly as it’s unfair on them in my view. This retheme didn’t need to happen. Ignoring my concerns about this shutting away families, the ride itself is not bad for what it offers and was still enjoyable, though it was nowhere near the absolutely, ludicrously laughable claim of being “15/10 on the scare scale”, not even close. Heck, I find the fastrack queue for I’m a Celeb scarier than this ride. All I’ll say is give it a chance and see what you think. As a massive skeptic of this update, it was better than what I was expecting. Then again, I had zero expectations for this beforehand anyway, so that’s not saying a lot.
  19. 4 points
    BaronC.

    X

    For those who are avoiding my review of the new thing, I had some musings about X, which I'll share here too... I can't help but wonder what Thorpe could have done with X if they had the budget TWD 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. I know it's not as easy to market, and Thorpe's research shows there isn't the demand for a family coaster with a disco rave theme. But with the money spent, they really could have created something truly original and fun, and turned X into the pyramid-shaped gem of Thorpe Park.
  20. 4 points
    I would not say that the park are responding to market conditions. They are randomly changing direction presumably because of the change in director. The park seems to have no long term vision and doesn't consider that there investments are going to be there for 20+ years. This ride is another where the same mistake has happened again. Thorpe is going to look incredibly dated in 10 years time without serious investment. Not only should they consider replacing Colossus by then but also, Saw, IAC, walking dead, Angry Birds, DBGTROTD, samurai, vortex, slammer, and loggers leap. I highly doubt Merlin will be spending the kind of money ontop of new investments to make up for the rapidly aging park they have built themselves.
  21. 4 points
    @BaronC. Did you charge your phone after the ride? Seemed like a lot of "VIPs" in the queue last night - I understand DBGTROTD broke down last night too, for a change
  22. 4 points
    pluk

    Platinium VIP Package

    You also get me following you around with a look of disappointment and disdain. Enjoy your day!
  23. 4 points
    Matt Creek

    Crowd funding for TPM member

    Deeply saddened upon hearing of Roodie’s passing. Thoughts go out to his family and closest of friends. I only met him a few times during meets, but he was lovely down to earth guy, who was extremely friendly. He wasn’t one for running round hitting checklists or the first there, but one to simply just take in and enjoy the parks with the company amongst him. Roodie’s premature departure certainly puts things into perspective to try and appreciate life more, regardless of how good or bad things in our lives seem to be. Whether that be a trip/holiday being delayed or cancelled, not landing your dream job or moments where seems to going to plan. The last time time I knowingly saw him was leaving for the car park at Chessington after an exciting meal and visit to the park. Little did I know at the time that would be the last time I saw him. He may have only been active in the community for just over a year, but certainly left a lasting impression. As long as we can continue to enjoy these wonderful meets and socials. Amongst remembering the good times of those Roodie attended, his spirit can definitely live on. Roodie May be gone, but he is definitely not forgotten. Thanks for reading and I apologise if this is too much for anyone.
  24. 4 points
    My “ride” today on DBGT was absolutely awful. Lots of standing around, some of the headsets were broken meaning two of my friends couldn’t use them (why they couldn’t have just taken them from the riders per train count is beyond me) as well as mine breaking mid way through the first section. The fact that headsets seem to break so easily just gives me no faith in VR for theme parks. Also, the new section completely destroyed the flow of the experience, it just left everyone else confused and was a bad move. Frankly I thought this was a complete embarrassment for the park, this is their 3rd season with it and they still haven’t sorted it out. Granted it’s a very complex ride system, but it’s a theme park attraction so they should know how to handle it. People are queuing hours for it so it just doesn’t really seem justified to make them wait ages for a pile of s***.
  25. 4 points
    Benin

    Tomb Blaster

    OH MY DAYS THATS SOME TOP BANTZ!
  26. 3 points
    ProudToServe

    Park Music

    They were all repaired before the opening of 2017 season. Their current state, who knows now. The 2016-2017 SS team had plans to continue the repairs to the park wide audio during 2018. Let's hope the new team will have the drive to keep on top of it.
  27. 3 points
    Just got back from my brush with The Walking Dead, thoughts... Firstly and I cannot stress this point enough, I don't think they should have done this to X. Rave X was a genius idea and the perfect family friendly roller coaster that Thorpe needed so badly in it's line up. The removal of X in my opinion at least was incredibly short sighted and ill advised. Therefore, no matter how good or bad Walking Dead is, in my eyes, the decision to replace X with it, was a mistake. So how was The Walking Dead then? Was alright. Exterior Queue This was almost exactly the same as it's always been, but now with loud Fright Nights style music and a cheap looking watch tower, no complaints, no praise. Preshow This was hilarious. Chris Hemsworth delivering comedy gold while a jombie chews some glass on a flat screen TV behind you. Footage of jomies invading Thorpe Park that made me literally laugh out loud. Then more hilarity from Hemsworth and off you go. It was cheesy, it was a dumb, I quite enjoyed it. Preride Corridors Literally the same X corridors but this time with 80 percent less rave. It reminded me of a heavily discounted Platform 13 at Walibi Holland. Sirens, a sense of urgency, people running and screaming but nothing at all happening. It could be worse but it certainly wasn't as good as it could be. Needs more jombies. Coaster At the air gates, the staff member was smashing their height stick on the floor to scare people, someone needs to tell him that they are 1) expensive and 2) if damaged it won't accurately tell you heights any more, but hey, you scared a bloke, so well done I guess! Not going to lie, I quite enjoyed the actual coaster portion. All 4 block sections are laughable, in a good way! First one, plastic jombies light up, I hope that's a reference to when XNWO had those weird plastic robots on that section, either way, it amused me. Second one, nothing at all, followed by Chris Hemsworth shouting. Third one, 3 flat screen TVs of jombies licking glass, while Chris Hemsworth makes the train judder about, suddenly triggering me to need the toilet. Fourth one, something about a generator, then a jombie lights up, the end. Hilarious. It's the inbetween, fast sections that are slightly impressive. The jombies lighting up and lunging at you as you speed past reminded me a lot of the fantastic Raptor Attack and Revenge of the Mummy. Also the theming on some of these fast sections looked to be of quite a good standard. Postride The train rolls into the station and the offload host goes bats**t insane, flailing like a madman, almost tripping over and screaming at you to get out. Then you're in a canteen or something and a loud noise goes off, neither of which made sense to me but some people screamed, so I guess it's fine? After this you walk through the old X exit corridors, except for the addition of 1 section now having rubber things you need to push through and strings that tickles your head as you do so, one of said strings slapped me in the eye, so if mildly unpleasant was the goal, they succeeded. Then you just walk out via the old exit. I can't help but feel this ending is lacking something. Were jombies meant to be attacking me at every turn but said effects/actors were missing? If the answer is no then the ending is rather disappointing, I was half expecting to be put in my place for the rest of the attraction making me laugh, but said big ending scare never came. Talking of scares... I'm a HUGE wuss when it comes to scare attractions and normally won't do them at all unless a cred is attached. So I have to ask, if this scaredy cat came off with nothing but comedy to report, where the hell did this 15/10 crap come from? To summarise, The Walking Dead is fine. I enjoyed it for what it was. If you go in with low expectations and the mindset of having a laugh, then like me you'll probably walk away mildly amused by the whole experience.
  28. 3 points
    It's a very well polished turd
  29. 3 points
    Mega-Lite

    General Discussion

    We can't just blame Merlin/CWOAR on this one guys, alot of the problem comes from the GP's perception of the RAP system. I've known people in the past who know full well they are able and happy to queue in the standard queue lines, but because they have X wrong with them, they think, might as well bring a letter from my doctor and get myself that RAP, so essentially turning it into free fast track. I've also heard RAP described as fast track by the GP so many times it's almost funny, this is how wide spread the system is misunderstood. When I worked at Chessington, I can attest to what has been said, quite often on Fury, you'd see the RAP queue stretching down the exit ramp, an easy 20 minute queue. For those using it as fast track, that's a bonus, the main queue is 90 minutes, for those who NEED to use the queue, 20 minutes is unacceptable and I felt very uncomfortable with it on a few occasions. Tell me off if I'm wrong Herman, but I seem to remember there was a maximum amount of RAP users you could have on board Fury at any one time, meaning your comment about every other car might be slightly off? That or policies have changed? So in summary, I absolutely applaud Merlin/CWOAR if they are indeed increasing the circumstances for offering the RAP service, I just hope they are prepared for a backlash and stick to their guns when it comes. It's about time this system was sorted out, it's been abused for far too long.
  30. 3 points
    Stuntman707

    2018 General Discussion

    Have to say, operations today were very poor. I’m pretty sure nearly every main attraction was down at some point during the day. The queue times were a complete mess, no accuracy. Waited 15 mins for an advertised 45 on Colossus. All of the photo scanners for the main rides were not working so couldn’t get any on-ride photos. Not sure what was going on with Inferno’s brakes, never seen a B&M so unreliable as this one today.
  31. 3 points
    Coaster

    X

    The eXpo:/2018 event was good, enjoyed the talk from Memories of Thorpe Park and the old ride train, signage and information were nice to see! It's nice when a park puts in the effort to say farewell to a popular past attraction - not that I'm looking at any other parks in particular.
  32. 3 points
    Mattgwise

    General Discussion

    Awesome video of CWoA in 1997. Some good footage of rides and areas, with Vampire, Bubbleworks, Dragon River and Terror Tomb looking good in particular.
  33. 3 points
    RobF

    Rumba Rapids

    I heard it was about to be refurbed and receive sponsorship to a TV show unsuitable for familys with a run down theme.
  34. 3 points
    Mark9

    The Walking Dead - The Ride: SPOILERS

    Err, thats because it is. 15/10 doesn't do it justice.
  35. 3 points
    WWTPRadio

    2018 General Discussion

    Correct. Slight waste of effort and money but hey, what can you do
  36. 3 points
    MattyMoo

    The Walking Dead - The Ride: SPOILERS

    This 100%. If the PR machine goes into super HYPE mode, and the reality is something very different and the public are disappointed, then that's no-one's fault other than Merlin's.
  37. 3 points
    Going to ride this next week, honestly I'm expecting X with a bunch of Zombie paint. Thorpe honestly I think could be considered even more soul-less than Chessie now.. Lost Kingdom at Paultons.. No tacky IP, a theme that doesn't make you want to swallow a bunch anti-depressants.. Oh, and it won't be closed and abandoned in the next 5 years.
  38. 3 points
    Ringo

    The Walking Dead - The Ride: SPOILERS

    As already posted further up, Thorpe have built the expectations as being right up there. Customers will be expecting what the park have put out there, we shouldn’t have to filter out what’s fake news for PR and what’s reality. The PR artwork implies the trains were completely different This is the worlds scariest ride This is 15 out 10 on the scare scale
  39. 3 points
    Han30

    Crowd funding for TPM member

    Matt that is a beautifully written post - Roodie never realised how well liked he was - he had low self confidence which I think he disguised with humour - when he was in hospital I showed him the lovely things that you kind people had said and I know he was touched by the donations that people made. It is hard now knowing he won’t get a chance to make some memories with his 2 boys and it’s heart breaking that they have lost their father. But the donations made will go directly to his boys. He was a lovely guy and would do anything for anyone and was completely selfless - he handled his diagnosis with both dignity and bravery and I feel privileged to have got to know him well. 39 is such a young age to pass away. I wish I was able to write such a lovely post as Matt has but emotions take over and make it difficult but I want to thank you all who met him - he really enjoyed the meets and getting to know people and just having a nice time with people who have similar interests. He felt accepted very early on within the community which is what it’s all about. Xx
  40. 3 points
    The future of theme park theming consists of labelling what buildings are supposed to be (e.g. "Safe Zone") rather than actually theming them
  41. 2 points
    Mattgwise

    Cedar Point

    This ride seriously looks insane. Cannot wait to ride it (and the rest) in late August!
  42. 2 points
    Martin Doyle

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    No need to panic!! The fire will be fixed and then we will get either of the following. 1. Seasonal operating of the fire effects (Easter and then May half term followed by the summer holidays and then scarefest and fireworks) 2. Fire going off on every third train!! 3. Fire effects after 11pm!! No need to worry whatsoever!!
  43. 2 points
    Terry Terry

    Fear on a Ride

    When conquering fear on a ride you will start to realise that the stuff you’re afraid of is the reason you ride the ride. As scary as it may be, that’s only a small part of it, the other part will be your body taking in the amazement of the experience. Over time that fear will become excitement and you will look forward to a ride which could be terrifying. You won’t need to think “well a ride I’ve ridden is more terrifying than this ride so I think I’ll be fine” and instead you’ll be thinking “now that’s a step up from anything I’ve ever done, sign me up!”. You will also get to a point where you embrace intensity, so rather than opting for the inside seat and least intense row, you end up going for a more adventurous row (back or front) and shotgunning the outside seat. That’s basically the main goal which even took me plenty of fear conquering. A way to maybe conquer your fear is to really think about the end result and how much more exciting your life as an enthusiast will be. At that point you can then go further, to theme parks in exotic places (gives a good excuse to travel the world) to rides in unusual locations.
  44. 2 points
    BaronC.

    The Swarm

    Fire effects have worked on some days this season. The explosion noise has always been there, and would normally go off the same time as the fire (not really sure why to be honest!). Water effects haven't been on all season; I've heard they received / are receiving extra work and haven't been signed off yet.
  45. 2 points
    Coaster

    2018 General Discussion

    What on earth was going on at Thorpe today?! Breakdowns on Nemesis Inferno, Colossus, Stealth, The Swarm, Depth Charge, Derren Brown's Ghost Train. Samurai closed all afternoon/evening and Walking Dead: The Ride failed to open! Got an E-stop in the final brake run of Inferno, noticed it had done that earlier in the day as well. Fog looked great in the queueline and tunnel though, haven't seen it working that well in years. Overall a very average visit, ride availability was terrible.
  46. 2 points
    Stuntman707

    Alton Towers General Discussion

    I think I’m going to say this official quote every time someone mentions poor operations: Alton Towers 2018 - “It’s better than nothing”
  47. 2 points
    Mega-Lite

    Duel!

    I got the chance to ride "refurbed" Duel a couple days ago and I'm not that impressed at the moment, I just hope it's not finished yet. Please remember I'm a die hard fan of Duel, so I'm going to be more critical than most. I'm not digging the new music in Gloomy Wood, the old theme was fantastic at creating atmosphere, the new one sounds like generic Halloween music. That new jombie coming through the crypt outside looks so cheaply done it made me laugh. Those who replaced the haunting previous indoor queueline music with more generic sounding rubbish need to be sacrificed to the Wicker Man. Those cheap terrible looking LCD portraits look so bad. The onride music has nothing on the old track and harms the experience in my eyes, not to mention it gets really boring after a minute or 2. Also why has the "are you afraid of spiders?" audio vanished? While some parts of the ride do look a bit better (the screaming faces being the only one I remember), other bits look terrible. There's green spunk on the lunatics face, the bats on a stick are now clearly just bats on a stick, way too UV crap at play and some scenes are now so bright you can the ceiling and the behind the scenes stuff. For now, not impressed, I just hope when I next return things have improved.
  48. 2 points
    pluk

    The Walking Dead: The Ride - New for 2018

    Well, good job I was sitting down when I read that! Shock.
  49. 2 points
    StevenVig

    Food Outlets

    The budget for this season has gotta come from somewhere 🤷🏻‍♂️
  50. 2 points
    Marc

    2018 General Discussion

    https://www.thorpeparkmania.co.uk/news/23-03-2018/2018+Open+Day+Roundup a full round-up of all the changes for the 2018 season here!
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