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About Martin.C

  • Rank
    Does my eye look OK to you?
  • Birthday 05/24/95

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  • Interests
    The study of electronics, technology, roller coasters, squash, golf, reading and military aircraft displays.

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  • Favourite ride
  • Favourite Theme Park
    Alton Towers

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  1. Can't refuse a weekend at Alton, so I'm a definite yes for this. The accommodation at Newcastle Under Lyme would be fine by me since it's near Stoke-on-Trent rail station and I'll be using it to get to and from Portsmouth. Getting from the hotel to the park is another matter though.
  2. Hope I'm not too late for the booking but I can confirm that I can make both the visit and meal if that's still possible?
  3. Old and dead topic I know, but something I can't help but notice with Zodiac this season so far is that the wheel doesn't make it to the vertical position anymore. Instead, it reaches a maximum angle of roughly 60-70 degrees. For a few years now the ride has struggled to slowly raise to the top which has resulted in longer rides for guests, but now, it just reaches the 60-70 degree point and then lowers immediately again afterwards. It doesn't pause for a few seconds in the vertical position anymore. As a result, the reduction in ride time this year compared to last year is definitely noticeable. Maybe it it has been tweaked deliberately to reduce further strain on the ride considering it is now over a decade old, but just thought it's worth pointing out. Never before have I seen this on Zodiac until now. Anyone else noticed this?
  4. Are all the open coasters except for Colossus on their maximum capacity just out of curiosity? With queues exceeding an hour already, they're gonna need it! Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. Just as long as the park delivers the information about later openings as clearly and as accurately as they can to every guest that enters, whether it's through social media, on-park displays or on their website, that's all that matters. Delivering accurate and clear messages is key. Sorry for ranting on a bit about this 1/2 train issue which I know has been an issue for a few years now, it just frustrates me greatly when I see a park that has the potential to offer guests a superb day out hinder themselves like this which ultimately leads to lower guest satisfaction, more complaints and weaker incentives to visit again. If the park can run better and more efficiently for guests, they should always strive for the best and not let anything get in the way of that goal. Right now, I just don't see that sadly. Also, I too have seen Galactica run that way in the morning a couple of times too, which I also find inexcusable and pointless. So not every Merlin park is run perfectly, you just see these issues more prominently with Thorpe for some reason.
  6. Not every guest will see those boards upon entering the park and the one at the entrance doesn't show any of this information as soon as the gates open. I don't remember Saw or Colossus being on those screens but I do remember their entrance boards saying they open at 11am the other day. That's the inconsistency and unreliable information I am talking about. I'm not saying that all guests should know the full details as to why a ride is run at a limited capacity, I never stated that. What I said was if a ride is being run at a reduced capacity creating unnecessarily long queues, why does this only happen on what is considered as quiet days and the occasional weekend (like Saturday 25th March)? Why not do the sensible thing and run everything at full capacity if you can, you know, like all the other theme parks do if the queue isn't walk on? Too many times I've seen queues of around 60 minutes for Inferno or Colossus on weekdays in the middle of March/May/September because of this bizarre decision the park has been making for a few years now. That's what I'm criticising here. All I can say to Inferno running just one train in the morning and then adding the second one on later when the queue reaches an hour is this is not the first time I've seen this. This is probably the 4th time in the last two years I've seen it happen in-person, which is why I am criticising and pointing out this activity - it is not a recent thing, it's been typical operations on this ride for some time now. This is not how to run an £8M ride that still pulls thousands of people a day on it. I'm sorry, but I just don't think it's acceptable for a park this scale to do that for guests paying up to £58.50 for admission alone.
  7. If that's the case and it is only just those 3 rides that are scheduled to open later, where can the average guest know about this before trekking half the park to find it closed at the ride entrance? Whilst opening Storm Surge later is not something to fuss about, it would be helpful if guests knew this as they entered the park after the gates open between 10-11am so they know what's open and closed for the first hour. I didn't even know this until now, so how the heck the normal guest would I have no idea. The only reason I am questioning which rides are scheduled to open at 11am is because a few days ago, Saw and Colossus's entrance boards stated the ride opens at 11am, not 10am. In addition, the park advertised it was opening the gates at 10am. It's inconsistent and unpredictable right now. As I said in my previous post, I accept and acknowledge that in some instances there are exceptions to opening rides at half capacity or later in the day due to work still taking place on them. But the problem I'm saying is that on quiet days, the park operate virtually all of their coasters except for Saw and X on just 1 train all day, creating unnecessary long and slow queues for guests potentially paying up to £58.50 for admission. So how am I supposed to know now when I see a ride running at half capacity if it is deliberate or not? An example of this is when the last meet was at Thorpe on the 25th March a couple of weeks ago, I distinctly remember seeing and hearing an announcement through Inferno's 60 minute queue announcing that the ride temporarily ceased operation whilst they were adding the 2nd train onto the track... on a Saturday.... at midday...... Well done lads. What logic is there in this approach and why is this the normal way of operating rides at the park now? It's absolutely inexcusable that a park this large and popular can get away with such shoddy operations like this.
  8. Regardless of whether certain rides open later in the day at 11am as opposed to 10am, shouldn't the park at the very least give their visitors some advance notice on their website or on social media what will and won't be available upon opening when the gates open? Granted, the display at the entrance does list which rides are available when waiting, but from all the visits I have done so far this year and last year, this is only shown before the gates open. What about visitors that enter the park between 10-11am? How are they supposed to know what's available or not when they enter and cross the bridge? The problem is that this has become the norm for a few years now. Never before the year 2015 did you ever have to think or consider which area is open or closed if you arrive before 10am. Years ago, everything (or nearly everything) was open at the hour, as advertised and at full capacity, ready for the day ahead. Now however, we have gradually seen more and more rides over time open at 11am instead of 10am. First it was just Slammer, then it was Samurai, then it was Colossus and now it's even Saw a couple of times I have visited (the entrance board said it opened at 11am). And to make matters worse, if you visit on a day the park consider to be a 'non-peak day', which is usually a weekday, you are subjected to reduced capacity on almost all coasters and the occasional flat ride, such as one swing on Rush at opening weekend or one train on Stealth and Colossus. Now I understand that every morning, each and every ride requires checks, testing and confirmation from the ride teams before the entrances open. But given the fact we are now seeing the park deliberately open a fair chunk of their lineup later than everything else, this is absolutely inexcusable unless it's a moderately less-busy ride. Alton Towers and Chessington minus their water rides have pretty much all of their attractions at the ready for a 10am opening unless their is a fault, most of the time at full capacity with all of the trains running in the circuit, so why the heck can't Thorpe follow their lead anymore? Do they have a shortage of engineers or something similar? As for the enormous queues we have seen these past couple of days, it's good to know that the park's management thankfully refused to sell Fastrack for their coasters and tried to deal with it the best they could. But considering the place has had arguably decades of previous experience and practice to deal with situations like this, who's clever idea was it to under staff the park during the flippin' middle of the Easter holidays without having a backup plan?
  9. Rode it again today and I too saw it working finally. Rating for the ride has now gone from 7/10 to 8/10 for me after that! Thankfully it was, as predicted, a broken effect that clearly wasn't working until today. Wonder what took them so long to get it running again?
  10. The headsets are still as glitchy as they were last season, only difference is this time there are more working at once with much better audio. As for the VR for the 1st half, as far as I can gather, it's all the same with the following possible scenarios for the characters that appear. This was present last year in addition to this year: (1) Old man sitting - old woman infected. (2) Old man sitting - young kid infected. (3) Middle-aged man sitting - old woman infected - my one on Monday. (4) Middle-aged man sitting - young kid infected. (5) Old woman sitting - old woman infected. (6) Old woman sitting - young kid infected.
  11. Why not just fix the effect if it is still present and not have to rely on more staff to make the scene relevant? The actors used the other night I'm certain were there just for media night/opening day and that was it, similar to that photo being posted around by Thorpe's media team of the warehouse having smoke in the same room with the suspended carriage. Anyone who has ridden it knows that doesn't happen. If you have to rely on more staff to get a ride working properly than you did last year, that's a bad decision which results in higher running costs (*hint hint Sub Terra*).
  12. What actors? There weren't any in the tunnel today which is why I have an issue with it's current state.
  13. Right, after finally getting the chance to travel to the park again today, I have ridden it after reluctantly forcing myself to queue 1 hour for it. Here is a list of the good and bad parts I observed from beginning to end without spoiling parts of the new experience. Good parts: - Queue speakers were nice and loud and didn't cut out at random intervals this time. - The batching process of arranging two groups of people before entering was more efficient. - The pre-show room worked fine and was the same as last year, which is good. - The walk between the pre-show and the warehouse was very dark and some background audio could be heard instead of the banging and protest shouting present in that section before, presumably against the fracking storyline. - Inside the carriage, almost all headsets were operating and available to use this time (yay). - The straps used are much easier and comfortable to adjust and fit on your head this time. - The headphones used for the audio on the headsets really surprised me. They were much clearer, sharper and louder than last year and weren't in those horrible pouches this time, which made it difficult to place over my ears properly and uncomfortable to wear. - The headphones also blocked out a lot of noise in the carriage this time which helped mute the talking and screaming from other guests. - First half of the VR is same as last year. Fine with this. - Nice audio additions made to the mid-way section such as an alarm and emergency evacuation message playing over it. This wasn't here last year. - Upon boarding the 2nd train, the lights flickering coupled with the train announcements saying you need to put on your goggles made it feel more genuine and made the boarding much more interesting. - I love how they even got the same alarm noise used on the real tube trains when the doors close! - The 2nd half is much, much better this time with a far more interesting and acted scene with people this time inside the real carriage (hence the use of a 360 degree camera in the BTS videos). - When taking your headset off, I like how Derren Brown appears in the screens in the carriage's ceiling explaining to you what happened and to make you think it's all over. Nice little touch. - The new ending situated where the baggage drop area used to be was most surprising as I wasn't expecting it one little bit and the use of smoke, lighting, audio, floor movement and props used really startled me. - One last appearance from Derren in the same scene after the scene finished was a good reminder to keep everything inside a secret. Bad parts: - Still cannot get the ride open in time at exactly 10 or 11am. - The queue's batching system whilst makes it more efficient, the staff used it where one bay was for Fastrack only (hotel guests I presume?) and the other for the normal queue, making it a 1:1 ratio between the two. Easily fixable by limiting the number of Fastrack guests at a time, but I didn't appreciate this after waiting 1 hour. - The photo booth previously used for capturing your face in a jar is no longer used. Wasted opportunity for something else to add to the queue to make the wait more interesting. - In the pre-show room, a quarter of the stand at the back of the room has now been taken up by a "Workshop" cupboard, making it a bit of a squeeze to get all 56 of us into that room to see the stage properly. - Before boarding the train, there is still congestion between the groups ahead and your one. - The carriage I went in had 3 broken headsets already after just 4 days of usage... - The first VR content still glitches where the video lost position of my head and readjusted itself several times in the space of 5 minutes. - VR Content was a few seconds out of sync with the carriage moving during the first half. - The mid-way section was the most disappointing bit. Firstly, it appears the park have given up on the moving tube train effect as it's no longer there anymore and therefore nothing comes towards you like it used to. Secondly, this makes the scene almost pointless and boring without it. - No actors present in that tunnel unlike some videos I've seen online from the media event on the 30th March - misleading and false expectation. - When all the lights went out at the half-way point, a single blue one shining on the pipe didn't go out, which ruined the darkness effect. - The 2nd VR content glitches again too, though not as severely this time. - The jump scare at the very end of the 2nd VR half where the creature pops out as you when Derren talks isn't loud enough to be effective at making you jump. - Finally, the end scene to me was over a little too quickly and I wished it lasted a few seconds longer! I've gotta admit whilst queueing for it, I was expecting some very minor updates made and that was it. I was expecting it to be the same old system as last year with lots of broken headsets, broken VR content, unreliable operations, more green smoke and the same CGI rendered creatures from last year. Thankfully, this was not the case. The experience offered now to me has addressed for the most part the biggest problems I had with the ride - consistency and reliability. The fact the headsets were almost working flawlessly with better audio, straps and VR content has pleased me greatly and has made me wondered why the heck wasn't the ride like this to begin with? And the new ending enhanced the experience further and actually gave guests a meaningful finale this time and a greater connection with Derren himself. However, I am still really annoyed that the half-way section is no better than it was during Fright Nights last year where the train didn't move and the scene became pointless as a result. Just from observation, it looks as though the effect has been removed entirely now and I cannot work out why it has. It worked very well with a lot of guests and was far better than nothing happening like it did today. Hopefully this is only temporary, but when you consider the park have had over 4 months to get it ready, you have to wonder if this change was intentional or not. The biggest concern I still have with this ride is the fact even just 4 days in we are seeing broken HTC Vive headsets already displaying glitchy content. If they are not fixed as soon as possible, over time like last year, more and more and more will go down, which will affect the queues hugely over time, as well as leave bad impressions of a £40M investment that frankly should not be having these issues still after running through 2 seasons currently. But overall, this update made for the most part has genuinely surprised me more than I was expecting. It's not a massive improvement like everyone on Thursday/Friday were making it out to be, which was probably the hype and anticipation talking which I fell for last year during the rehearsal period. Regardless, it is better than what it was before by a significant amount to be noticed. If the park can run this with all the headsets working, the half-way section back to what it was last year and open it on time at either 10am or 11am every morning it's available, I will be very happy with it. For now, it's less of a white elephant project than it was last year! DBGT (2016) - 4/10 DBGT: ROTD (2017) - 7/10
  14. I have just one question to the lucky few who have ridden it this evening: Did all the hardware function correctly this time? (EDIT: After seeing some video footage from tonight, it has become apparent that it hasn't...... excellent......)