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  1. 14 points
  2. 14 points
    This whole thing is the biggest joke since Storm Surge and DBGT Year 1
  3. 12 points
    Something Stupid: Thorpe Half Marathon 2018 How far would you go, as an enthusiast, to build your collection of Theme Park tat? ... Take out a Wonga loan to cover the cost? Break up with your long term partner so you can free up some space? How about run a half marathon to earn it...? Well, last Sunday saw me do Something Stupid as I found myself running the 21 kilometres of the 2018 Thorpe Half Marathon, all in an attempt to nab the jazzy coaster-themed medal bestowed upon those who manage to get over the finish line. And here for you, dear reader, is how I got on... Thorpe Half Marathon 2018 The Thorpe Half is now in its second year, having enjoyed a successful - if wet - debut in 2017. Unfortunately as it's held in February, the park is closed, so the only real connection to Thorpe Park is that it starts and ends in the car park; there's no sprinting past Stealth and dashing around Depth Charge. What it does have to offer however is a pleasant run through the Surrey countryside, along a relatively flat-profile road-closed course - perfect for those chasing a personal best. I was, it must be said, not chasing a personal best. I was just in it for the medal. So, first things first. Sunday 25th February 2018 was cold. Bloody cold. The event organisers recommended that participants arrived at the car park by 07:45am, to allow good time before the race started at 09:00am. At 07:45am on Sunday 25th February in the Thorpe Park car park, the mercury was touching -1 degrees C. But this hadn't deterred anyone! Indeed, the car park was busier than the average in-season Saturday when I arrived, and the place was buzzing with excited, committed runners. Many of whom seemed happy to be out in nothing more than vests, lycra, and shorts. In -1 degrees. At this point I must admit that I took a large gulp and wondered what on earth I was doing here - and this wouldn't be the last time this particular thought crossed my mind. It's also worth saying that I wasn't prepared for doing this. At all. The fault is squarely mine, but I had done such minimal training beforehand that it doesn't even really merit the name "training". Since I booked a place at the event back in November, I had managed a grand total of two 3 mile runs on the roads around my house. Two. And on one of those I very nearly threw up at the end of it. I am not a runner. I don't especially enjoy it, so, at best this was going to be a struggle. But there was only one way to get that medal...! At this point I decided I'd take my mind off the impending challenge by having a nose around the site. First up was a mosey on over to the park entrance - which looked very bare without an actual sign there! Does this happen every season, or might we be about to get a new sign design? And whilst they're at it, the paintwork could do with a good looking over too... Alas I was allowed to go no further, because this sign had both red writing and underlining - doubly authoritative. Thanks to my trusty zoom lens though, I could peek in a little closer... ...but there wasn't really much to see. The Annual Pass building seemed to be getting a good dose of TLC though. Looked like it was having a new roof fitted, given the scaffolding. Given the red underlined signs everywhere, it was pretty clear that the toilets by the entrance were out of bounds and out of action. So bring on the portaloos! Unfortunately, you can never have enough portaloos, and in this case, there weren't enough portaloos. Queueing is par for the course at any Theme Park, but queueing in sub zero temperatures is even less fun. A quick look over the back of the bogs revealed very little of interest - although Zodiac standing stationary in a half-upright position looked quite strange! There was no visible work being done to X / WDTR. However, it is photos such as this one that make me think how lucky we are to have a park as pretty as Thorpe in our country. Thorpe Park is rarely praised for looking good. But with bright blue skies and deep blue lakes top-and-tailing it, it can't be denied that this is a sweet view. Reminded me strangely of a (very) mini Cedar Point... OK - back to the action. The event organisers had done a great job with the central runners' village area, which contained a Cookie Bar, Coffee Stall, Massage Beds, Medal Engraving, a bunch of running-related retailers... ...and a stage! Pictured here are the Epsom Rock Choir, who were singing with gusto despite the bitter cold. Did I mention that it was cold? 08:45am. Nearly game time. I got changed into my kit, which naturally featured a vintage Thorpe t shirt, and made my way over to the start area. There were nearly 2,000 runners taking part in today's race, including many that had been bussed in by their local running group for the event. The "why am I here?" thought flickered across my mind once more. And we were off! The route took us past the annual pass building, down towards the car park entrance, and off to the left. Geek Photo #1 - the Protecting The Magic sign. Do you know the Six Spells for Safety? The route continued to track along the Staines Road, through the backstage areas of the park. Lots of industrial-looking buildings and infrastructure. And then, behold! Geek Photo #2 - I spy nostalgia! These look to me as if they've been saved from Chief Ranger's Carousel (RIP), which is great. But what will the park do with them?! Hopefully not leave them to rot... OK, back to the race. The course had kicked us out of the Thorpe Park grounds at around 1 mile, on to Norlands Lane, then Coldharbour Lane, past Thorpe Farm (RIP), and up to the Thorpe Bypass. At this point, my lack of fitness was really kicking in. The Sunday morning jolly at the Theme Park had suddenly turned very real, and I was wheezing after just 2 miles. What didn't help was this section of the course, which involved running half a mile up one half of the road, only to turn around and run straight back down the other half. Sigh. On the plus side, some great views of the M25. Oof. But to be fair, much of the route was through very pleasant countryside, and if I'd been more fit it might have even been enjoyable. As it was, it was a real mental effort to keep my head down, and keep moving. Just keep going. One step in front of the other. The coldness issue dropped away after 4 miles, because my body was generating so much heat. I was overtaken plenty of times, and I had to just walk up anything resembling an incline. Spotify was a massive help. The breakthrough for me came at about mile 10, where I realised that I'd made it around 75% of the course and that finishing was achievable! At mile 12, I could start to see the tops of some of the rides peek over the skyline - wow. Never have I been more motivated by seeing the crest of Tidal Wave's lift hill! My legs were properly turning to jelly, and the last pushes were really stop / start. But with a view like this, and the end in sight, I forced myself to go for a sprint finish for the last few hundred yards. I threw myself over the finish line and doubled over, my chest burning and my legs on fire. I'd done it! 2 hours, 1 minute, and 17 seconds of running later, and I'd completed the Thorpe Half. And what was all this endeavour for? Another addition to my collection of Theme Park tat! But what an addition it is. Genuine blood, sweat and tears went into getting it, so I suspect it will remain amongst the more treasured of all the tat in my possession. It's a good looking, weighty medal and I'm proud to have earned it! So, will I be running the Thorpe Half again next year to add another medal to my collection? Absolutely not! Immediately after the race my legs seized up to such an extent that I almost couldn't drive home. In the days following the event, my muscles were so sore that walking - anywhere - was a very real problem. And I later found I'd sprained my left foot along the course, and one of the toenails on my right foot had filled with blood and fallen off. Yuck. And did I mention the nipple chafing? These injuries are, of course, preventable. As I said at the top of the piece, my running the Thorpe Half was Stupid. I certainly don't recommend following my lead and just running a Half Marathon in freezing temperatures with no prior training whatsoever in order to obtain a coaster-themed medal. However, for those in better shape (or with a greater commitment to training) than I... it was a very well organised event. Why not give next year's a go? ~ Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome below.
  4. 10 points

    2018 General Discussion

    I'm only going on the 24th to ride Loggers, Slammer, X & Rocky Express tbh so will be heading straight to guest services if any of these rides are not available.
  5. 10 points
    Converts one of their few family rides (and a great ride in it's own right) into an age gated scare-a-thon. What a mess...
  6. 10 points

    Alton Towers General Discussion

    I asked Thorpe on social media if they plan to open Nemesis Inferno at midday for synergy across the brand
  7. 9 points

    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
  8. 9 points
    Oh god it was ****
  9. 9 points
    It takes some effort to make storm surge look good but this has done it with flying colours. At no other point in thorpes lifetime has the park looked completely directionless.
  10. 9 points
    I wonder if anyone at the park has any idea what the park should look like in 10 years time.
  11. 9 points

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    Video had to be removed as it revealed the washing machine element, FYI.
  12. 9 points

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    It contains about 2 seconds of POV. Doesn't seem like much, but it's about a quarter of the total ride time.
  13. 8 points
    Wicker Man. I think it’s fair to say that I had very mixed feelings during the construction and build-up process for this ride. Whilst I was happy to see a new wooden coaster finally grace the UK line-up, I had reservations about how good it would be; there weren’t any huge drops in the layout, so would it pick up enough speed to be thrilling? On approaching the ride, the excitement builds from the moment you see the hugely impressive Wicker Man structure and entrance signage come into view with the music droning in the background. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing – it’s such a compelling sight, nothing looks out of place and everything just ‘works’. Moving into the queue-line, the design is fantastic with so many vantage points for the ride – small items of theming are expertly placed creating brilliant photo opportunities. Throughout queuing there are many good places to watch the coaster from, and it’s so pleasing to see that everyone seems to be enjoying it. I really like how the smoke effect is pulled around the corner by the train after exiting the second tunnel, in particular. Being surrounded by the roar of a wooden coaster combined with the soundtrack, theming and screams of joy is really something quite special. Onto the preshow, I enjoyed this and found it delivers a lot in a short space of time. The transition is clever and the show lasts just long enough to stay interesting whilst not becoming a burden after a few rides. I found the theatrics and changes in atmosphere particularly impressive, however it was a shame on one of the rides I had that the automatic doors at the back of the room kept opening. Exiting into the station, the lighting and dispatch/unload audio keeps the theme consistent and is very impressive. With the thematic elements done to a very high standard, how well would the coaster itself hold up? After five rides on two separate occasions, I absolutely love it. Dispatching out of the station, the pre-lift section is very Nemesis Inferno-esque (with the mist-filled tunnel) and sets the scene for the ride very well. Ascending the lift hill, the views of the ride are excellent and the audio helps to build anticipation throughout. The first corner and drop help to build up the speed, and the tunnel adds a level of disorientation, as you exit already facing the ground. The section that follows is truly sublime; after going over the second hill in the tunnel, you emerge blinded from the light to be thrown (yes, THROWN) first to the right, then to the left and into a ground-hugging turn. This is my absolute favourite section of the ride; the forces are much better than I expected and the transition from right-to-left is just so much fun. Diving through the Wicker Man structure and up into the turnaround, this offers a nice view of the queue-line and theming structure before hitting the two small bumps (which are much better than they look!) and then plunging to the right through the structure into yet another fantastic and unexpected sideways-banked drop. I found that the flat corner goes a long way to making the ride feel longer, as it gives you time to process the elements you’ve been through before heading into the next section. The straight drop which follows provides a nice feeling of weightlessness, however on the back row at the end of a rainy day there was some incredible airtime there! Following this is a sharp right-hand-turn through the structure, before turning left under the lift-hill and into the brake run leaving the clank of the lift chain ringing in your ears. After some time to think it through, I can say in full confidence that Wicker Man is genuinely one of the best roller coasters I have ever ridden. Firstly, it’s the first time Alton have delivered a fully complete theme under Merlin, with no obvious corners cut and nothing looks out of place. I could nit-pick, but it's the best we've had in the UK for years - so I won't. The coaster itself is great fun and is a superb example of a wooden coaster. Combined, it’s a masterpiece. My only concerns going forward are the reliability issues the ride is currently having, and maintenance of effects. The fire, smoke and audio add a lot to the overall experience, and with the fire already broken, I only hope that Alton can manage to maintain them to a high standard. Thanks for reading, a few more photos below. Wicker Man = AMAZING.
  14. 8 points


    So proud of Colossus for becoming a Great British icon.
  15. 8 points

    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.
  16. 8 points
    So there’s a 1.4m height restriction once again on a coaster which succeeded these last several years for welcoming those just 1m onto, along with a minimum age restriction that’s higher than Saw: The Ride? I have one word for this and I frankly don’t care how nicely themed it might be when it opens: FAIL
  17. 8 points

    Wicker Man - New for 2018

    The nitpicking in this thread is unbelievable. Imagine of forums like this were rife in the early SWs... "Europe's first inverted coaster" "but but but what about Vampire, not exactly true!!!!" "The world's first vertical drop coaster" "but but but it's only 88.8 degrees!!!" "The world's first next generation flying coaster" "but but but what does next generation MEAN, there's been lots of other flying coasters!!!" It's the first new woodie in 20+ years. It's something to brag about just a tiny bit, after fans and some of the public have wanted for ages. Better than some forced tagline, or a "so much fire is used we've had to forewarm the local hospital's burns unit just in case..." line. Also, literally everywhere makes their products look better for promotional images, not just theme parks. You going to moan that the Big Mac doesn't look exactly like it does on the board at McDonald's? You going to moan that the buttons on that new shirt you bought aren't as shiny as it was on the retailer's website? In saying that, I'm curious as to how the effects will look in the daylight. They've said they're using effects to give the illusion of fire - I've only ever seen that done in lower level lighting at a particular angle. So it'll be interesting to see how they're going to be setting fire to the Wickerman at all angles in all lighting levels.
  18. 7 points


    The biggest problem with this refurbishment is they seem to have spend the money in all the wrong places. Of all the ride’s flaws, why’d they bother fixing up the zombie tomb at the entrance? It’s looked cheap since the beginning of time, reparing part of it wasn’t going to fix that. Demolishing it really would’ve been better, as it makes the ride seem super tacky, hence most guests don’t bother riding. The space it’s in would serve much better as a proper entrance sign. Likewise, the money for those TV’s in the queue was a huge waste, they’re too bright, and distracting from the proper portraits. While on their own they’re a nice touch, they certainly should not have been a priority. The lighting in most places is still tragic, especially the timing. The great hall demon is only lit up towards the end of its movement, yet we see the whole thing reset. The same can be said for plenty of the effects. I think the only one that disappeared on time was electric bill? On the topic of the ride’s exterior- while it’s pleasing to see they’re now diverting guests though the woodland queue, rather than just shoving them though by the side of the house, the entrance really could benefit from having a proper sign to make it stand out, it sort of just seems like a gap in the hedge at the minute. Oh, and please change the name. No guest reads “Duel” and thinks ‘ghost train’. If it had a name that actually told you what the ride was, maybe it’d be more popular
  19. 7 points

    Alton Towers General Discussion

    Well, it’s better than nothing.
  20. 7 points
    That's the best use of faint praise I've ever seen.
  21. 7 points
    This is the battery I wish to charge on this garbage ride.
  22. 7 points
    Maybe I’m seeing this all wrong, but what exactly do you mean posting negative, or as I like to call it, “honest” thoughts about something doesn’t get you anywhere? Whilst I understand to a certain degree if someone is in the park’s/company’s good graces they are limited in what they really want to say without making the product look bad, it’s these kind of reviews and thoughts I do not trust one single bit. I’m not picking on anyone here individually, but as a whole, if the reviewer cannot be honest with themselves or the people they share these thoughts with, how can I trust a word I hear from them in the future when their integrity is being put on the line? To me, if you are honest with your readers/viewers and spell out all the good and bad things about an attraction with no filter or restrictions in place, that to me is a proper review that deserves to be respected, especially if you are in a position of influence like Jordan and other bloggers/YouTubers are. A very recent example of where I have an issue with reading/seeing reviews from all these bloggers and YouTubers is from Wicker Man’s media event last Friday. After seeing multiple videos from the lucky few who were there that day, I was getting annoyed by so many making claims I frankly find hard to believe, one being “this is the best ride in the country”. Hey, maybe that is their true opinion, but this goes back to the point I’m making - how am I supposed to know what they are saying is true or not if they are towing the company’s line, hence the invite they got to the event? The same is very likely going to happen here again with WD: The Ride on it’s media night, which is why I’m not buying into any of this marketing guff until I try it myself and will therefore be ignoring all the reviews from everyone that day. To me, I am far more interested in reading and watching opinions from those who: 1) Didn’t get an invite to a fancy press event. 2) Spent their own money and time on the product. 3) Give their opinions in an unfiltered perspective. TLDR - I value honesty and integrity in my reviews above dishonesty and popularity, regardless of how controversial or unpopular it might be at times. That to me is the true mark of a proper and fair review.
  23. 7 points
    My my my, you guys, you made me swim back with your comments! Okay. So. Things to consider, some has been touched upon. New director of Thorpe in the last year or two, so that brings a new opinion, view and strategy of the direction they want the park to go into. Comparing this to DBGT is a bit stupid to be frank. Okay it’s opening year wasn’t great, and then, the creative team seemed to change slightly (I'm not speaking any names in my posts) and suddenly the experience was significantly improved. It’s the same team behind this, and to be honest from a theming and concept side, following on from DBGTROTD and Living Nightmare I think this could be a pretty well thought out and produced project, despite the IP/horror/height restriction change. Someone touched upon Old Town kids rides and Slammer. Firstly, the Old Town rides were in Weymouth Sealife. Why put them into storage if they can be put into an area. Without them that corner of Thorpe would be Rocky on its own. And Slammer, well it’s still standing. It might not be set to run again, but we don’t know what’s happening there; let’s be honest. Someone touched on budgets. Yep. Bang on. Merlin’s had a tough year in the UK and yes, as many know anyway, LEGOLAND parks and midways are where the money is. Hence why they’ve not bought or opened any theme parks without a brand. Even the rumours of SeaWorld/Busch have an element of brand identity within their sale. The company has spent a lot of time growing Heide Park and Gardaland to push them in their local rankings; and has invested as needed into the UK parks as they’ve gone along (Thirteen, Smiler, Wicker Man, Swarm, DBGT...) unfortunately there’s gonna be a cross of budgets. Thorpe is doing satisfactory for the company so much like CWOA and LEGOLAND the money is invested at present at Towers to try and regain footfall. And finally, bearing in mind people know full well where I stand on TWD (even the mazes) TWD did unfortunately do amazingly well last Fright Nights. And whilst people look at this year as ‘X Retheme’ to the general public it’s the year of TWDTR, SAW: Alive, Late Nights etc. It may be a small investment but my god, they’ve been clever. To a paying customer there is basically the Fright Nights appeal (to a degree) for most of the year with the 10pm closes and scare mazes. I think don’t knock it until you try it. And even then just be patient. There’s a lot more behind the scenes than ANYBODY could truly understand I’m sure that swings these decisions; and have trust in each individual that they want the best for the park the same we do. And for the love of god just try and be polite. Positive criticisms and all that; as these teams work damn behind the scenes I bet to bring things like this to reality; it’s not REALLY fair for people to rip it to shreds before they’ve even physically seen the entrance, let alone ridden it. Flipper, out. PS Flying Fish is a family ride. Could suit a non-rider parent, a disabled adult, a young child. You can’t tarnish it as a ‘baby ride’ when actually it can cater to many more than you may initially think.
  24. 7 points
    I have to say that I do think X really was the glue that gave something for the family/younger teenagers to do- so its loss will overall in the long-term hurt the park. I think as a thrill ride X will seriously disappoint, the ride is a small Vekoma family coaster with a fairly tame layout due its constant break runs.. X as a family attraction honestly I think was the best years of its life as it actually had some fun in it.. Okay it wasn't amazing but it filled a huge hole in the lineup and it seemed popular with the public. If they wanted to appeal to the thrill market they could of least maybe installed a new flat where Slammer was? Or maybe give Colossus some new trains? Something that won't be 100% irrelevant in 5 years would of been nice.. When Angry Birds is the best investment to happen in your park in the past 5 years you know you have fu**** things up..
  25. 7 points
    I wonder if they're going to announce a X re-theme? Just a wild theory of mine...