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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. IMA do sell a lot of their music directly from their website on CD's. Parks like Liseberg cover their 3 newest attractions (including more of Helix), Hansa Park for Kärnan and a lot of Heide Park. That's why I don't understand why Merlin and it's British parks are currently not participating in this. There's already a full version of Galactica online but it is just recorded in mono and is not the studio copy. Hopefully Thorpe and Merlin will soon realise that there is clearly a demand for this and with the growing collection all of their parks are now getting, I'd be shocked if it didn't happen soon. Good entrance music this is. [emoji4]
  2. One would hope that this is actually happening, but it would be strange if it was just Thorpe Park planning on doing this and not Chessington or Alton Towers.
  3. Whilst it's great to see all this new audio the park and Merlin as a whole have recently been installing over the last few years with their new attractions, it's just such a shame that the company is unwilling to provide the full versions for people. [emoji20] Heck, if Phantasialand, Liseberg, Disney, PortAventura, Heide Park, Hansa Park and Toverland to name a few are willing to to sell their audio, why not Merlin who have the biggest collection of any park? What I'd do to listen to Galactica properly...
  4. Having only managed to try it just once today thanks to some monstrous queues in the whole park, I have some mixed opinions on the whole attraction, but overall really enjoyed it. There are some parts which I really enjoyed and liked which worked very effectively, but at the same time, it felt like parts of the attraction were left unfinished and empty. First impressions of the outdoor queue were average with a new coloured buildings and new music (which did turn out to be the music posted the other day from the 2009 animated film) and thankfully no more of that ghastly exterior music used before. Whilst there were no issues with this or with the moved entrance, once again like every single new attractions that is built now, there MUST be a green screen photo opportunity to upsell you on which has now been placed just before you go inside. Hardly surprised, but didn't appreciate this after waiting in line for 70 minutes and with Fastrack in full operation congesting the main queue. Ignoring that, the station area was quite nice and simple with what looks to be 2D drawings of the characters against the walls. Now I understand some have criticised this and have said it's cheaply done, to which I wholeheartedly agree with. But I got the impression that the build-up to the ride was supposed to be referring to the book instead of the animated film and once inside, it all comes to life with 3D characters. So I'm not that fussed about the station - It's simple, has better roofing and feels fresh again, plus it is a lot darker than when it was Bubbleworks which is a big noticeable difference for the whole attraction. Now onto the ride, this is where things begin to get mixed. Unlike Bubbleworks where everything was on a loop with no synchronised scenes to reflect the positioning of your boat, almost the entire ride up until the drop was timed so that when you enter each room, a voice read out passages from the book where some of them were shined onto the wall such as "A little brown mouse walked through the woods" as soon as you enter the first darkened room. This helped make the experience feel more complete and enjoyable and the mix of storytelling with the scenes was very well done. One of the biggest and most noticeable differences with it is how much darker and dimly lit all of the scenes are this time. Bubbleworks during its final years was almost entirely lit up which made everything easily visible. But this time, only the scenery and characters are lit with filtered lighting which draws your attention to them and not the surrounding enclosed walls. The lighting was very effective and is far better than what we had before. However, there were some scenes where there were blank walls with absolutely no theming or details whatsoever and this really aggravated me. At least with Bubbleworks you got a printed pattern or painting to look at, but this time, they are plain, white and ordinary. For instance when leaving the station down the ramp, that small room where the professor previously sat at his desk is now completely blank with white walls everywhere and no theming was added to the flooring either. All that happened was a projector shined on the wall with an animation of the mouse walking, with the words from the author read out. Not the best first impression of the ride, but after that, it gets a lot better. One thing that did surprise me greatly was the sheer size of the characters through various scenes. The 2nd room where Mouse encounters Fox for instance was simply enormous and was very close to you when you passed by! Same for Owl and definitely the Gruffalo. There were some thematic elements which involved the use of projectors and TV screens of the characters through these small windows, primarily from the animated film. Whilst I didn't necessarily have an issue with this, my worry is will they be maintained on a frequent basis to stop them from breaking or going wrong? If the park can do this then that's great, but if it ends up like Smiler's queue line where the projectors over time became dimmer, unaligned and frankly broken, the effect will become useless. The fact some scenes are almost entirely dependant on this has me concerned slightly. Something else that I couldn't help but notice is with the entire attraction being much darker inside than previously, it became quite hard to distinguish the walls and the whole thing felt smaller inside. So much so that I'd go as far to say slightly claustrophobic due to the close proximity of the characters with the boats. It didn't bother me at all, but thought it's something interesting to note. As for the drop and finale, this is now where your on-ride photo is now taken. Just before you reach the bottom, the Gruffalo appears above you with moving orange eyes and a flash, blinding you, takes your photo. Inside the finale, there are still SOME of the overhead fountains present, but only the ones where you are either entering or leaving the room, not in the centre where there is now a massive tree overshadowing you as you pass under with Owl looking down at you. The centre piece where the bathtub used to be confused me. From what I gathered, it looked like Fox's tail trying to run scared because of the Gruffalo, but maybe I'm wrong. In full, the finale still has plenty of lighting effects used in different colours with some of the fountains working and it is a much better room than what was there before. The best way I can explain is try not to think of this room as a finale anymore; just as the penultimate scene to the ride instead following what the book says. Lastly, the corner where after you just leave the fountain room is where the story finishes and Mouse is sitting on a log with his acorn, and you pass through a mist of air with a projection on it of what I believe is an animation of 'Gruffalo Crumble', as well as a vertical screen of the Gruffalo running away from the mouse, just like in the book and film before coming back into the station again. Nothing too dramatic, but a nice way to end the ride. So whilst there were some really good elements such as the lighting, atmosphere, story telling and effects, the big issue I have is with the longevity and lack of substance in some areas I've seen. The fact they have ripped out some areas and simply replaced it with white walls which are used only to project sentences from the book, along with some drawings really annoys me greatly because they could have used a lot of that space to add theming elements such as trees and bushes to fit in with the theme a bit better. You know, like the promo art suggests? That coupled with characters that hardly move at all in this attraction and are static, non-animatronics irritated me slightly too. But besides from that, this overall I would say is a far needed and I believe welcomed addition to the park. It's not perfect in anyway and there are some potential flaws with the design I can see with broken effects and lacklustre scenes, but all in all, I enjoyed this far more than what Bubbleworks was in it's final last years from 2010 onwards and I conclude this is a worthwhile investment made. Despite it appealing to the younger audience, it clearly still has a place for families and older members. All I can advise is get on it as soon as you can whilst everything is currently working to experience it properly! Bubbleworks (1990-2005): 8/10 Imperial Leather Bubbleworks (2006-2016): 4/10 Gruffalo River Ride Adventure : 7/10 (On-ride photo for those interested. I apologise. I can never seem to get a normal on-ride photo with my family for some reason... )
  5. Whilst it's possible this might be used for the ride, this is actually a track from the score composed for the short film released years ago back in 2009. The track is called "The Mouse" by René Aubry. Not the final version but still likely to be used somewhere in the attraction.
  6. Well all do, but considering that this new marketing is likely from the same team who claimed just over a year ago that this investment will "completely re-write the rules for what theme parks can do" which is "not suitable for guests with any phycological or neurological disorders", I wouldn't hold out too much! In all seriousness though, it's good to finally have a date stamped on it's reopening and I too am looking forward to seeing what's changed and is hopefully improved, just as long as it all works properly this time. If not? Pffft......
  7. What I mean is that when it was all rendered through animation, it positioned you inside the carriage using the lighthouses situated on the roof. If you shifted your body left or right whilst looking directly ahead for instance, it positioned you accordingly. However, this positional tracking signal sometimes got corrupted which likely explains the random glitches experienced where one second you are looking straight ahead and then the next you are looking up at the ceiling without moving your head. The overheating issue isn't something I'm expecting them to fix regardless of the content used through the headsets, but using a stationary 360 camera that likely won't require the use of those lighthouses should in theory stop those random glitches from happening again and therefore improve the reliability.
  8. Having a look at both of those videos revealed yesterday in close detail, it could be possible that this year's experience will be entirely different altogether with little to no trace of the scenes used previously. The fact they are using a 360 degree Nokia OZO camera inside the carriage this time implies that what we might see through the headsets will in fact be an acted scene with people sitting opposite you who are also wearing the headsets, alongside props and models used for the creatures. This is making me think could it be that last year's experience offered was only temporary or set in place for just it's opening year? A theory is during the ride's construction when the park were releasing teaser videos of DBGT in early 2016 around January/February, the train carriages were likely still under construction and Figment Productions were in the middle of creating the VR footage through CGI containing the scenes, characters and creatures we know today. But since they were unable to film inside one of the real carriages at the time due to them still being constructed, they had to develop a 3D rendered version of the carriage instead to make up for this problem. That BBC documentary last year with some behind the scenes footage showed they created a mock version of the carriage with green screens over the sets which all had to be animated. In return, the ride involved everything being generated by computer imagery as opposed to real life footage. Now that the carriages are obviously built, completed and used, the creative teams now have the opportunity to film scenes inside the carriage itself rather than create a digital and frankly unrealistic version of it through computer software, which to me, makes a whole lot more sense and fits in with the claim "And passengers will be left wondering where perception ends and reality begins." This coupled with some added CGI for effect inside the carriage will stack up against this claim perfectly. When this ride reopens soon, my prediction is once you put the headsets on, you will see filmed footage inside the carriage itself with people all around you wearing the headsets or 'contamination goggles' to make you think they are in the carriage with you. Once it begins to move, the windows behind them (hence the green screen in the first video) will show scenes and creatures created through computer software to give you the impression you are moving either outside or through an underground tunnel. When things go wrong and a creature breaks into the carriage or something similar, there will be a mix of 3D animated characters and real-life props used this time. The 2nd video hints that costumes or props of the creatures have been created, similar to the one used in that scare prank video Thorpe released during their marketing for this ride back in April 2016. Think of it as VR mixed with AR, like the Microsoft Hololens. I really, really hope this is all true because if the creative teams are now using real footage as opposed to animated footage for the carriage and characters this year, not only should this hopefully improve the reliability of the headsets but also make everything you see appear much more realistic this time with real props used instead of animated ones.
  9. Interesting stuff released today through email updates from Thorpe themselves about the developer's diary: From the looks of things, it looks like the new footage will involve more people inside the carriage with you this time as opposed to one person sitting opposite you. The use of a 360 degree camera hints at this. Admittedly, this is looking to be a better experience than last year if it works properly. Still no date though!
  10. I would have hoped with just 9 days to go something inside would be finished to display, surely?! If the park want to keep it all a secret and not reveal anything, that's completely understandable. I just find it odd that if they are doing that, what is there to hide considering many know the ride very well from previously? A teaser of some sort would be good if it looks great inside.
  11. Really surprised that ever since construction started last year there has not been a single image, video or even teaser about what the interior of this is going to like, especially with just 9 days to go before opening. Despite there being mixed opinions on this redevelopment of Bubbleworks, I really believe this will be much better than a lot of us are expecting. It's clear Bubbleworks was on it's last legs during it's final years and it desperately needed something new and whilst the Gruffalo franchise is a favorite among many families and parents, it shouldn't necessarily be outdated within a few years time of being in the park. So on this one occasion, I welcome the use of an IP, but just like all new things, I'm holding out of praising or criticizing it until I've seen it myself and will be ignoring any marketing this time, regardless of how effective or convincing it might be. The only concern I have is whether it will implement scenes which only involve a flat screen and a projector with static non-animatronic figures, reminiscent of Charlie. Hopefully that's not the case and if anyone might be able to confirm this if they know then that would be great thanks.
  12. It's quite interesting so far to see the team showcasing us the progress on the armoury, entrance and vault but none for the octagon, which arguably needs the most attention with fixed effects and lighting. Wonder why? Regardless, this is all great stuff we're seeing so far and that image showing the difference between the cleaned and yet-to-be cleaned tiles makes you wonder why it was left untouched for the last 16+ years and nothing until now was done about it.
  13. I've contacted PortAventura directly to enquire a bit more about the accommodation amenities they offer at their hotels which those of us staying on-site might find useful in preparation for the trip. Below is what I have found out: Since most if not all of us will be arriving at around midday, you can leave your bags at the hotel and spend the remainder of the day in the park, even before you check-in at 3pm onwards. Same for checking-out by 11am. You still have access to the park for the whole day until closure. For the discounted Express Passes for hotel guests, these are the prices and offers going: €25 (Express Max) - 1 admission for all available attractions for 1 day. €30 (Express Max Gold) - 1 admission for all available attractions for 1 day + an additional single ride in front row for Shambhala, Furius Baco & Dragon Khan. €61 (Express Premium) - unlimited access for ALL DAYS you stay at the resort. €66 (Express Premium Gold) - unlimited access for ALL DAYS you stay at the resort + 1 front row ride on Shambhala, Furius Baco and Dragon Khan. The premium passes also gives you priority seats to the shows and theaters for Temple Magic, Jing-Chou, Gran Teatro Imperial & Gran Teatro Maya. These tickets can be picked up alongside your park pass at reception. Despite what some travel agencies might say when you book through them, access to the outdoor swimming pool is included in the price at no extra charge. Water park tickets are NOT included at the hotel, but you do get a discount. I didn't get a price unfortunately. As you can see, €61+ might sound a lot, but considering it's valid every day you stay, includes front row access and the best seats for all the live shows, I don't think it's that bad, especially in comparison to what UK parks tend to offer! EDIT (15/03): For those of us that have booked this through Expedia as a package, some bundles say it includes a '1 Ferrari Land ticket'. After contacting both the hotel and Expedia directly who were offering the deal, it took several days to get a definite answer. You do in fact get one ticket per person for the room you reserve so for our group's sake, myself, Kerfuffle and Martin Doyle will all get individual tickets for one day in Ferrari Land after arrival at the hotel, thus saving us €30 each. One thing worth mentioning however is you can only get the tickets at least 1 day after you check-in at the hotel, so we can only visit on either the 10th/11th September, not the 9th or 12th. Also, the park is operating a time schedule so we might be given the choice to either enter from 10am-6pm or 6pm-1am as evidenced on their website when you book tickets with them. Not sure how this works at the moment but my guess is they don't expect you to spend a full day day in the park as opposed to the main park which is obviously much larger and has a greater selection. Hope this helps!
  14. Aren't the headsets outdated already? They are all the HTC Vive Pre models, aren't they? The only real advancement I can see them make is to improve not only the graphics and tracking but the connection between the headset and the lighthouses too, which will help the random glitches become less frequent. Besides, wasn't that a reason why the glass windows in the carriage were covered with a plastic sheet, because they were interfering too severely with the connection?
  15. OK, I am 100% up for this and certainly looking forward to it! For other members that are planning on making the trip but have not booked any flights, hotels or tickets yet like I have, would anyone be happy for me to share another room for 4 at the El Paso hotel for the flights and tickets specified by Ryan above? An individual room at the same hotel would cost nearly 4 times the amount and a twin/triple room nearly twice the amount, so sharing one between four would be much more ideal and affordable for all of us. If interested, please either send me a PM or invite me to a group so we can all arrange this together as I honestly don't know where to begin with all this or which members to ask.