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About JoshC.

  • Birthday 04/06/1994

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  1. Mardi Gras started today, and of course TPM were there! We have a write up here: https://thorpeparkmania.co.uk/news/19-05-2022/Mardi+Gras+Arrives+at+Thorpe+Park I also want to share my own thoughts, and not just a fansite write up review... In short, this is a fun event, and it's clear that a lot has gone into this. It's clear that there's been a solid vision from management that they wanted to deliver. It's clear that the actors involved in the entertainment have put in a lot of effort. It's clear that the park wanted to offer a solid F&B range. It's clear everyone involved has put time and effort into it. It's clear that money has been spent on it too. All of this sounds like a given for a theme park event, yes. But ask yourself, how many times has it felt in the past that these things haven't been clear for a Thorpe event or thing? Now you realise why it's so good to stress these things. I'll start off with my main positive: the food. I'm a bit of a foodie. The one thing which disappointed me the most with the Oktoberfest events at Thorpe is the food and drink options being, frankly, poor. You could get the cheapest bratwursts going, in a dry bun for an extortionate price. You could get some lebkuchen, again for a heck of a lot, and a choice of one or two authentic German beers. But it all felt very meh with effort. Mardi Gras feels different. They've got a lot of choices there which feel a bit more authentic, and they're at a reasonable theme park cost (ie not cheap for what it is necessarily, but in line with the rest of the park pretty much). Next, the entertainment. I'll start off with the negative: the actors seem to have instructions when interacting with people to be a bit over the top, cringey and cater to younger audiences, or people who are more outgoing. That's fine if that's what they're going for, but not for me. It made me cringe and crease, and is something I would run a mile from usually. But then again, people enjoyed it; not everything has to cater to me. Now the good stuff. The parade they have is fun; a little basic, but it draws attention to the event. I worry how it will cope on busy days since it goes through some of the busiest pathways on park, but what can you do. The main show, the Crowning of the Krewes, is great fun - the right side of cheesey, whilst also not being cringey. It's exactly the sort of thing the park has missed for so long (and much better than what the park were doing with the Thrillmakers imo). There's also some external entertainment (ie not Thorpe actors), in the guise of drum and jazz bands. They're nice and break things up too. I really hope it's a success for the park, because it ticks a lot of the boxes. There's still things they can improve and grow on, and I do wonder how it will cope on busier (or wetter) days. But as things stands, it does feel like Thorpe are onto a winner!
  2. Was this removed at some point then? My memory of Spookslot is hazy, but I definitely don't remember that! 😅
  3. Efteling have shared their first teaser for the Spookslot replacement: It will be called Danse Macabre, which is also the name of the song from Spookslot (and used in the video above), and is set to open in 2024; the same year as the new hotel. That video is the darkest thing I've ever seen out of Efteling, so will be interesting how far they go with the theme and style, whilst remaining family friendly.
  4. I'll replace the link with all the details when I'm not on my phone, but the park's app has updated showing everything we can expect from the Mardi Gras event, which starts Thursday: Full highlights include: -A parade from Depth Charge to the area -A variety of musical acts -Mardi Grad celebration shows -Special food items at the park's restaurants -Two Mardi Gras exclusive food outlets
  5. Blows dust off topic... Walibi Holland are set to get a RMC single rail coaster in 2024: https://www.looopings.nl/weblog/19781/Walibi-Holland-bevestigt-nieuwe-achtbaan-wordt-single-rail-coaster--opening-in-2024.html
  6. Using some form of ERT... Stealth - 20 times Colossus (TP) - 11 times Taron - 11 times Not using ERT, my records are... Swarm - 10 times Taiga - 9 times Colossos (HP) - 8 times Vuoristorata (Linnanmäki) - 7 times I've ridden quite a lot of coasters 5 times in a day, but usually I don't visit parks on quiet enough days to get in loads of rides on a day and get all the creds.
  7. Here's a full set of photos from Chessington Buzz: https://www.facebook.com/203612636346124/posts/pfbid0iZ6uEVxwAqgGoombkgnMKACpbqjs1WamAKpz1HLuwSbs5tymyhh8H3uJkoZjuGJPl/ The base of the ride is exactly the same as it was at Thorpe, for the record.
  8. The Wet Wet Wet site has been transformed into a lifeguard like area for the Beach. I don't envision it being used for a ride any time soon.
  9. Possibly, although the nomination was specifically for "The Crows of Mawkin Meadow", which was the name of the Scare Zone, whereas the roamers were just "The Crows". But equally, yeah, could be lumped together. The awards are decided by a panel of judges, who effectively help run and organised ScareTOUR and ScareCON. They're all obviously huge scare attraction enthusiasts, and they do a huge number of attractions. They're also the ones that choose the nominees. I don't think they've ever detailed exactly how they rank and judge the awards (at the end of the day, they don't need to - they're the ones organising it all!). But I believe they say they take into account the wider audience reaction too as much as possible, but primarily go off their own experiences. I think there's two things to take into account here: 1. A large number (perhaps even all) of the judging panel get to visit these events on press nights / with free tickets. The attractions will do their absolute utmost to show themselves in the best possible light. That's not just for Thorpe, that's for absolutely everyone. So when it comes to the larger events, I do think it's hard to judge, just by the very nature of how these events are. 2. Bluntly put, Thorpe hosted the event this year. Ultimately they'll be making a profit from it one way or another, but it's a heck of a lot of effort to organise it their end. I think that whoever and wherever has hosted ScareCON over the past several years has always ended up with an award or two. That second point isn't to take anything away from the award, or to discredit ScareCON and the awards (and even if it was, it's their award ceremony, so they can do what they like). But I do wonder if there should be a bit of salt pinched in these cases. One thing which stands out to me from going to ScareCON for a few years now is that this is an industry-wide problem. Staffing is a huge issue, and the number of actors in mazes always goes down as the events go on. This is where smaller events actually have an advantage, because they run for a significantly shorter period, so lose less staff, so get greater consistency. But places like Thorpe, Towers, Tulleys, Fear at Avon Valley all get hit very hard and struggle. Obviously that can still be mitigated and managed, and some places do that better than others. But it does lead to the wild inconsistencies that we see, which is highlighted further by the fact that scare attractions are so difficult to make consistent in the first place. Year-on-year consistency is the big thing for Thorpe. People speak about the quality of the event in 2011 and 2013 for example. And although the event had problems then, 2016 and 2017 were also good incarnations, and there was a clear upward trend in quality. But that then dropped off in 2018. 2019 introduced the much-loved Creek Freak, but in 2021 it was really struggling. Thorpe have shown they can create good mazes when they want (Big Top, Creek Freak and Trailers all being the best most recent examples), but they've struggled to keep them there / at the high quality. If the park can bring back Creek Freak to its 2019 form, keep Trailers at the level it was at early last year and introduce another big hit maze, plus have on park entertainment, then they'll have a cracking FN this year.
  10. It will not be returning. It will not open anywhere else. It will either all go to the scrapheap, or they might save a bit of it and store it behind the scenes in case they ever want to display it in any form.
  11. Thorpe won three of those awards at this evening's event... Best Theme Park Event Best Set & Design (for Trailers) Best Scare Zone & Roamers (for The Crows of Mawkin Meadow)
  12. I've noticed that the Nemesis Inferno area has been playing the original music recently. A weird decision in many ways, but at the same time, I forgot how much I like it after hearing it again.
  13. JoshC.

    Wicker Man

    So I experienced Wicker Man's pre show for the first time since 2019. And gosh, I really do not like it. Okay, the actual premise is okay. Let's tell a short story about how this mysterious random group are sacrificing guests to a mysterious being and you'll be fed to the flames. And the presentation is nice (the reveal of the Wicker Man head gets a few oohs and ahhs). I think it's a bit unnecessary and could have been done in other ways, but that's not really the point I want to make. Operationally, the pre show is dire. 1. Let's crowd as many people into a small dark space as possible. Get them to squeeze into all the nooks and crannys. 2. Let's stop guests right below the screen so those at the front can't see anything. 3. Let's also stick a fence near the front that people can't see because it's too dark so they walk into it. 4. Let's have a small queue after the pre show that can fit less people than the pre show room. 5. Let's have an automatic door that tries to shut on people queueing after the pre show. 6. Let's play the pre show even when the door hasn't shut and people are still queueing to get batched. It's all just a bloody nightmare. Maybe I'm just being a bit nitpicky, but I really just do not like it.
  14. Had a visit to Towers Tuesday and Wednesday. Some scattered thoughts: -Like Mark says, the Retrosquad's inclusion are effectively serving as replacements for Hex and Enterprise right now, defeating their original purpose. -The Tuesday was a bit busier than I expected, I guess from people who avoided the Bank Holiday Monday. Wednesday was very quiet. -Operationally, coasters were running well. I question the need on a day like Wednesday to run 3 trains on Thirteen, for example, when the team was effectively sending one empty all day. Surely that just ultimately leads to unnecessary wear and tear and more work for the engineering team in the long run? -I will expand on this in the Wicker Man topic, but I truly hate the Wicker Man pre show. -The park were running their 'Festival of Thrills' event still. They have live music / acts around the park, themed in some sense to the corresponding areas. It was fine, but even on the livelier Tuesday, didn't seem to garner much attention. Have to wonder if the money spent on this entertainment could be spent elsewhere more effectively. -All coasters had staff batching you into rows. This is obviously good when things are busy, but on the Wednesday especially, it felt unnecessary. When there's literally no queue, having a member of staff tell you what row to go in, and then batch others into the same row just feels a bit OTT. Maybe this is also a bit of me having gotten used to 'Covid rules' of not being sat next to strangers, but heyho. I also stayed onsite at the Splash Landings Hotel. First time staying there, was nice. However, the resort offerings are pretty...minimal. The park closed at 4pm on Tuesday. So does the water park. The mini golf shut at 5pm. So what's there to do at this resort? Eat dinner, or listen to a singer or two in the hotel bars. Just feels like they could do things so much better. Surely the indoor water park can stay open later, and attract more visitors? Surely they should be something to do at a big resort theme park after 5pm that isn't akin to something you could see at a local bar / fancier pub? All in, I had a nice couple of days with a decent ride count. But it still feels like there's a lot of steps that Towers need to do to get back to the top of their game
  15. https://www.merlinentertainments.biz/newsroom/news-releases/2022/merlin-entertainments-nick-varney-chief-executive-officer-to-retire/ CEO of Merlin, Nick Varney, and CDO Mark Fisher, have announced that they intend to retire over the next 12 months. Nick has been CEO of Merlin since it was formed in 1999, and Mark Fisher might not be a name everyone is familiar with, but he's played a significant role in Merlin as well. Both leaving the company at a similar time could lead to some pretty big changes.
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