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Matt N

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About Matt N

  • Birthday 07/31/2003

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  • Favourite ride
    Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
  • Favourite Theme Park
    Europa Park

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    Forest of Dean (UK)

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  1. I think that’s an interesting ad. They have got some nice ride shots in there, they got the records in there, and I like the way that they included the big silhouette at the end. I certainly like this more than the whole story-driven approach they were hinting towards a few days ago. Overall, I quite like it. We’re only 15 days away now… the hype is really building!
  2. Hi guys. Slammer has not operated at Thorpe Park since 2017, but as of late, some developments have occurred that lead me to believe that we may be seeing development on the Slammer site. The first thing to note is that Thorpe Park have said for a while that they intend to remove Slammer by the end of the year. Now this is not a smoking gun on its own, and I accept that, but my thought is; why would they remove it if they didn't intend to replace it at some point? It's been there for 7 years; what harm would a few more do if they aren't intending to put something there? That is not the only piece of evidence I cite by any means, however. Or even a particularly compelling piece of evidence compared to some others. Another piece of evidence I cite is a recent trademark application by Merlin's trademarking company. In recent days, Merlin's trademarking company have filed a trademark for the name "Skybound", with all of the usual uses listed: https://www.facebook.com/AttractionSource/posts/830235939140659?ref=embed_post This would indicate to me that Merlin are planning to install an attraction somewhere within their estate that is to be named Skybound, but I can't think of any currently known Merlin plans that would fit this overly well. I don't see this name being very befitting of Project Ocean at Alton Towers, and I think this is too soon to be for Project Horizon at Alton Towers. However, it is worth noting that the Slammer site is within the area that Thorpe Park is now coining as "Fearless Valley", the new area surrounding Hyperia. And I don't know about any of you, but given that Hyperia's theme/style centres around flight, Skybound sounds to me like it would be quite a fitting name for an accompanying flat ride addition to Fearless Valley... Finally, Thorpe Park have now begun clearing the old queue of Slammer with machinery, as per Thorpe Park Mania on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thorpeparkmania/posts/958603549598834?ref=embed_post If they're clearing the queue, I reckon they must be intending to do something with it... Could all of this potentially be pointing towards some sort of new development on the old Slammer site? I think it's very possible... although I'm not saying that this is confirmed by any means or even much of a rumour. This is purely me linking a few things together and offering my thoughts on what they could potentially mean. I could well be adding 2 and 2 and getting 5 here, but I think that these pieces of evidence could well suggest some sort of new development on the former Slammer site. What does anyone else think?
  3. This might be controversial, but I have to say that I really don’t see the point of heavily promoting the “story” for Hyperia. If there was ever a ride where an in-depth backstory was pretty much redundant, I think this is it. The ride has next to no theming, and unlike many Merlin rides, it pretty much doesn’t appear to focus on theming or storytelling at all. If I were Thorpe, I’d be ditching any major focus on the theme or story in marketing and just going all in on the coaster itself. Just hammer home that silhouette of the layout and its giant elements and hammer home the records, with only the very vague “find your fearless” imagery present as an indication of the theme/style. To be fair, I think they’ve done that pretty well up to this point, but the marketing seems to have taken a bit of a weird turn in the last couple of days. Granted, I’m no marketing expert by any means, but the approach of the last couple of days is certainly not how I’d approach marketing Hyperia. The coaster itself is the key strength of this project, so why not play to your strengths? I fear that this sudden focus on the theme and “story” of Hyperia will only invite criticism regarding the very minimalistic nature of the actual ride theming. I’ve never objected to Hyperia being minimally themed. I think it’s par for the course for a coaster of this size; rides of this size speak for themselves, they’re very hard to theme heavily, and even parks known for heavy theming (e.g. Europa Park, PortAventura) have themed their hyper coasters very minimally. However, I think that if Thorpe want Hyperia to be a minimally themed ride that focuses solely on the coaster itself, I think they need to stick to that in the marketing. I think this “backstory” marketing sets people up for a heavily themed ride that doesn’t exist, and I fear that it will draw attention to the ride’s minimal theming and away from the massive coaster itself, the main strength of the project.
  4. Hi guys. With Thorpe Park Mania being a Thorpe Park fansite, many of the site's discussions centre heavily around attractions operated by Merlin Entertainments. One of Merlin's key products designed to appeal to people who visit Merlin attractions more frequently is the Merlin Annual Pass, which gains you entry to all of Merlin's UK attractions for a whole year, amongst other privileges. I'd wager that some on here visit Merlin attractions pretty often, but at the same time, some hold great disdain towards Merlin and want to give the company as little of their money as possible. With this in mind, I'd be interested to know; do you currently have a Merlin Annual Pass, and if not, have you ever had one? If you don't have one, what puts you off buying one? Personally, I do not currently have a Merlin Annual Pass, but have had one in the past. We very often used to have them as kids, and we used to have them in alternating, non-Florida years going into my teens. The last season when I had a Merlin pass, however, was 2021. I had a Premium Merlin Annual Pass that I purchased in February or March 2020, and it got extended by a stupid number of months to something like December 2021 due to the COVID lockdowns. My parents and I really hammered the Merlin parks in 2020 and 2021; I reckon I got 10 park visits out of that pass! However, I have not had a Merlin pass since that 2021 season. These days, I don't have a Merlin pass simply because I'm not sure I'd get value for money out of one. Living in Gloucestershire, I don't really live close enough to any of the 4 theme parks to visit them super frequently, and to get value for money out of even the cheapest tier of Merlin pass nowadays, I'd need to do at least 5 Merlin park visits per year. I'm not sure that I'd necessarily do more than 5 in a typical year these days; in a typical year, I probably do a minimum of a 2-day visit to Alton Towers and 1 or 2 days at Thorpe Park. If either park has a new notable draw, I might also do a day at Chessington or Legoland. On occasion, I might do two 2-day visits or a couple of extra day trips to Alton rather than just the one weekend, but those occasions are getting rarer. I'm probably going to be spending a 3rd day at Alton at some point in 2024, but that's only because we got given a free return visit due to visiting on 23rd March, so it's not a "paid" visit to Alton. Had we not had that free return visit, we probably wouldn't be going back to Alton this year. When we were kids, we used to get value for money out of the Merlin passes because we used to do things like go to London and do some of the midway attractions at least once a year, as well as going to Warwick Castle, our nearest Merlin attraction at a 1.5 hour drive away, once or twice a year, alongside the annual weekend at Alton Towers. But we don't really go to the midways so much anymore; the last time I visited a Merlin midway attraction in London was no later than 2015, and I haven't been to Warwick Castle since 2017. But I'd be keen to know; do you currently have a Merlin pass, and have you ever had one? If you don't currently have one, what puts you off buying one?
  5. Out of interest, what have operations and ride availability been like at Thorpe Park this year? It seems like both Alton Towers and Chessington have been struggling, with sporadic ride availability, reduced capacity on many attractions and a number of rides still closed, but I haven’t heard too many similar horror stories from Thorpe Park this season. To my knowledge, Samurai is the only ride still closed, and that’s only due to the paint job over-running slightly, meaning that it should be open soon. I’ve also heard relatively good things about Thorpe’s operations this year. Are things OK at Thorpe on the operations and availability front so far this year?
  6. Hopefully this is the start of slightly stronger ops on Oblivion! In previous years, it's often had slightly weaker operations, with throughputs slipping to 800-900pph on occasions, so I was pleased to see this improved throughput reading! That's an interesting finding with Wicker Man. Clearly it was going a bit slower during your visit, as both of my readings had it closer to 800pph, or dispatches roughly 10s or so faster.
  7. Matt N


    For anyone interested, I managed to see Nemesis Reborn for the first time last weekend (23rd & 24th March). I promised a longer written review of the project in my trip report from the weekend, so here it is! Let me start with the theming and overall Forbidden Valley area. The change in vibe from Nemesis to Nemesis Reborn has certainly been divisive throughout the construction process, but I have to say that overall, I'm a big fan of the final product. The area looks absolutely fantastic, and in my view, the new changes have added a real energy to Forbidden Valley that it arguably lacked before. I heard a review describing the new-look Forbidden Valley as "dynamic", and I have to say that that is an excellent descriptor, in my view! Pretty much every new theming element in the area has some degree of audio, movement, or both, and it does give off a sense that things are happening around you and really elevates the atmosphere beyond that of the previous area. In terms of some particular positives for me, these include: I have to say that the eye is an absolutely stunning piece of theming; it's just huge, and while I did not personally see the teeth move, I think it still really delivers on visual impact alone! The screen is very convincing, and overall, I do think that it serves as a very cool focal point of the new area! I was originally unsure on the loss of the original queue layout, which involved you going under the ride, but I have to say that the new queue was a pleasant surprise! It's littered with bits of theming, and they've woven some very nice bits of storytelling into it, in my opinion. As I said about the wider area above, most of these new theming pieces have some degree of audio or movement. I particularly like the helicopter near the stall turn, which has some nice audio, smoke and movement, and the Phalanx lab, which has some nice bits of storytelling audio associated with it. Overall, I do think that the back portions of the queue are overall far more interesting than they were before, and while the lack of queueing under the ride is a loss compared to the previous iteration, I think the new theming and storytelling makes up for it! On that subject, I do really like the new views of the ride the queue provides. It is very cool to be able to look over the whole ride area, and you do still get a couple of the close encounters that the old queue was good for. The stall turn comes pretty close at one point, and you are also close to the first drop! The new station is awesome, and a huge improvement on what came before! I always said that I liked the idea of turning the station into the inside of the monster, and I have to say that I think they've executed this brilliantly! The new dispatch sequence is brilliant, the new audio in there is brilliant, the lighting is brilliant, the theming is brilliant... it's just brilliant all round, really! I have to say that I think the Nemesis monster itself looks better than it did before. I think the darker grey/black paint job really suits it, the new tentacles look brilliant, the tail at the back looks better, and overall, I think they've done a really good job of refurbishing it! It's faithful to what was already there while also being enhanced and looking wonderfully shiny and new! Perhaps controversially, I think that the new soundtrack is awesome, and much improved on what was there before! I'm not too much of a music nerd, so I can't go into too many specific nerdy details, but I personally think that the new soundtrack sounds a lot more exciting, dramatic, and just overall more catchy and pleasing to my ear! It sounds like the soundtrack to a really awesome Hollywood monster movie, and I personally much prefer it to the old one, as good as the old one was. I really like some of the new triggered effects. For instance, I think that even something as simple as the smoke spraying the train going through the zero-g roll is really cool and really adds something to the overall theming! I've heard people say that the overall area gives off quite a "Swarm" vibe, and I do agree with this somewhat. However, I've always loved Swarm Island at Thorpe Park as an area, so that's certainly no bad thing, in my view! There are probably more, but those are just some of the ones I could think of! However, I don't think the new theming is perfect. Some minor areas for improvement from me are: As much as I do really like the new black aesthetic of the area and fences (it's definitely grown on me a lot since the initial reveal!), I think that if I'm being really pedantic, they could have gone for some slightly more interesting ride area fencing. For instance, maybe even just having some red lights on top and slightly more beefed up fencing, to give off the impression of it being in an enclosure similar to something like the raptor paddock on VelociCoaster, would have been really cool! Again, I'm being really pedantic here, but I do think that the helicopter near the stall turn is perhaps slightly too small. The one at the entrance to the area looks absolutely brilliant and is really impactful, but I think this one is perhaps a bit too small to have that sort of impact. If we're thinking wishfully, I would have loved to have seen the budget stretch to a retheme of Galactica to make it fit with the rest of the area, as that ride does stick out like a sore thumb when the rest of the area is so wonderfully themed and cohesive. However, I fully appreciate that that's wishful thinking, and I'm happy that they put more into the rest of the area as opposed to spreading themselves too thinly and trying to include Galactica if the budget didn't allow for it. Let's now discuss the ride itself. Now, you might think that there isn't loads to discuss because, well, it's the same Nemesis it's always been. And to an extent, that is true. However, I still feel like I want to talk about it a little, as the retrack has given me some thoughts. Overall, it's great to have Nemesis back in the lineup. It's an excellent, excellent coaster, and getting back on it over the weekend definitely reinforced how much it adds to Alton Towers' lineup. I have long held the view that I don't rate Nemesis as highly as many enthusiasts, and while I stand by that view to an extent and would say that the retrack hasn't drastically changed my opinion of it, I think that I have a newfound appreciation for it in some ways and that I would perhaps rank it a few spots higher than I did before visiting Alton last weekend. I had 2 rides; a row 7 inner seat and a row 4 outer seat. To me, the ride felt a little bit faster in spots (particularly the two turnarounds), definitely smoother (it certainly didn't have any of the headbanging that the original was prone to in its latter years!), and definitely just as thrilling and exciting as it ever was! This isn't anything new, but I have to say that riding Nemesis again gave me a new appreciation for some of the more unique aspects of its layout design. That opening salvo, where the speed just builds and builds out of nowhere, is particularly awesome and so exciting, and I have to say that I think that the way the ride keeps its pace right to the end, closing with that snappy final corkscrew, is just brilliant! And overall, I think there's something intangibly... pleasing about the way it rides. Is Nemesis my favourite coaster at Alton Towers? Definitely not. I definitely enjoy Wicker Man discernibly more than the rest of the coasters in the park, and I think that Oblivion may also usurp Nemesis for me too. However, Nemesis is a very solid 3rd place within Alton Towers for me, and while not a top 10 coaster, I'd definitely say it's a top 20, possibly a top 15 if I'm feeling generous (I haven't quite decided on its exact placement post-retrack yet; it was at #18 out of 111 before, but I could definitely see a touch of upwards movement if I took another look...). One thing I've often heard discussed is a notable rattle on the retracked version. I don't know if I just rode on the "good" train both times I did it, but if people hadn't mentioned it, I honestly wouldn't have thought anything of this rattle despite having a relatively low roughness tolerance. The ride felt perfectly smooth to me; I hardly felt a thing on the row 7 inner seat ride, and while the rattle was slightly more noticeable on the row 4 outer seat ride, it was certainly nothing that even vaguely impacted enjoyment for me. I'd liken it more to the relatively benign "Mack rattle" on Icon than the rather distracting bounce on something like Mandrill Mayhem. So overall, then, my view of Nemesis Reborn is profoundly positive. I think the project deserves all of the plaudits it is getting, and while I can quibble all I like about not rating it quite as highly as many, it's simply great to have Nemesis back at Alton Towers. She really is back with a vengeance! Here are some photos I took of the ride and area:
  8. For anyone who's interested, I managed to time various ride throughputs on my visits to Alton Towers yesterday and today. The throughput readings I managed to attain are as follows: Galactica (Theoretical: 1,500pph on 3 trains/2 stations): 871pph (3 trains/2 stations, 24th March 2024, average of 10) Nemesis Reborn (Theoretical: 1,400pph on 2 trains): 1,301pph (2 trains, 23rd March 2024, average of 8 ) Oblivion (Theoretical: 1,900pph on 7 shuttles/2 stations): 1,146pph (5 shuttles/2 stations, 24th March 2024, average of 7) Rita (Theoretical: 1,150pph on 2 trains): 394pph (1 train, 23rd March 2024, average of 5), 357pph (1 train, 24th March 2024, average of 8 ) Runaway Mine Train (Theoretical: 1,061pph on 1 train): 473pph (1 train, 23rd March 2024, average of 4) Note: The back car was missing, so the 473pph figure, which assumed a full train of 46, would have been more like 432pph in reality due to the train actually only carrying 42 riders as opposed to the usual 46. The average dispatch interval was 5m 49s, for reference. Wicker Man (Theoretical: 952pph on 3 trains): 829pph (2 trains, 23rd March 2024, average of 8), 770pph (2 trains, 24th March 2024, average of 8 ) I also have a few other side observations and insights to offer: Operations on Nemesis Reborn were noticeably slower today than they were yesterday. Yesterday's operations, listed above, saw dispatch intervals of 90s or less and little to no stacking, with a train often being dispatched as the one in front of it was still completing the course. Today, however, dispatch intervals of no faster than 2 minutes were being attained and stacking was routine. I'm not sure what the difference was, but today's operations were notably slower. I was unable to get a proper timing, but a brief attempt I made at timing saw a dispatch interval of over 2 minutes being attained, and I'd say that this was quite par for the course for the time I was in the queue. Pretty much every train I saw stacked outside the station for a notable period. For some perspective, I waited 60 minutes from the gun for my ride yesterday, while I queued 50 minutes from a little before the Phalanx shipping container lab for my ride today. The Smiler looked as though it might have been running 4 trains today, but I wasn't sure. I say this because the ride was often attaining perfect duelling, which I wouldn't imagine is possible on only 3 trains! I noticed that the intervals on Galactica appeared to be pretty inconsistent when I was doing the timing above. The intervals appeared to range between 80s and over 3 minutes!
  9. 24th March 2024: Alton Towers Day 2 We had our second day in the park today! After a weaker first day, we went to Alton Towers today hoping to get on slightly more, including some of the stuff we didn’t do yesterday. As we’d stayed in a local hotel the night before, we left there at around 9:30am and got to Alton Towers before 10am, meaning that we arrived in the park itself at around 10:10am: Upon arrival in the park, we noticed that a certain ride we’d bailed on yesterday was on a far shorter queue, so me and my grandad headed to… Rita Rita was on a 25 minute advertised queue time, so my grandad and I decided to give it a go. The ride was still on 1 train, but the queue was vastly shorter than it was yesterday, and it ultimately took around 35-40 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated on the back row, and it was great fun! I always love the launches on these hydraulic launch coasters, and the ride had a brilliant sense of speed and some absolutely brilliant pops of ejector airtime! There was a slight rattle, but nothing that overly detracted from enjoyment, and overall, my ride on Rita was great! My grandad enjoyed it too; he simply turned to me at the end, laughed, and said “insane machine!”: After Rita, we met back up with my parents and went to ride another ride we hadn’t done yesterday, which was on a relatively short queue… Oblivion Oblivion was on an advertised 40 minute queue time, so me, my dad and my grandad decided to give it a go. The queue moved quickly due to brilliant operations resulting in a throughput of over 1,100pph, and we ultimately only waited 20-25 minutes. It’s always a bonus when the queue time is overstated! But how was the ride? Well, I’ve always loved Oblivion, and today’s ride was particularly awesome! I had a rather loose restraint, so I absolutely flew out of my seat going down the drop before getting that unbelievable hit of speed in the tunnel! I did, however, get whacked in the face by a rogue splash of water exiting the tunnel, which was slightly painful… overall, though, Oblivion was absolutely fantastic, and certainly reinforced its place as one of my favourite Alton Towers rides: After Oblivion, we met back up with my mum and headed out of X-Sector to… Nemesis Reborn Nemesis Reborn was on an advertised 50 minute queue, so all four of us decided to reride it. We started queueing significantly further into the queue than we did yesterday, but despite this, we queued for the advertised 50 minutes, only 10 minutes less than yesterday. The queue moved notably slower than yesterday due to weaker operations; stacking was routine, and dispatch intervals were frequently over 2 minutes. But enough about the queue; how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 4, and the ride was absolutely excellent, and every bit as good as yesterday! The pacing was fast, the intensity was good without being excessive, the ride was smooth, and I must say that the recent rerides have given me a newfound appreciation for some of the more unique aspects of its layout design! Overall, then, Nemesis Reborn was absolutely excellent, and I’m thoroughly glad that such a great ride has been given a new lease of life: After riding Nemesis Reborn, we decided to head to the other coaster in Forbidden Valley… Galactica Galactica was on an advertised 30 minute queue, so we decided to take a ride. I initially thought that this queue looked longer than 30 minutes, but it actually turned out to be pretty accurate, with us waiting around 35 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 3, and I’m afraid to say I wasn’t the biggest fan. Granted, the ride is smooth, and it has some interesting manoeuvres, but I just find the riding position rather uncomfortable. I’ve gone off flying coasters in general in recent years. Overall, while Galactica has some interesting elements, it’s not really my thing. It’s definitely the weakest of Alton Towers’ Big 7 for me: After Galactica, we headed out of Forbidden Valley to take a reride on… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on an advertised 65 minute queue time, so as we wanted to have a reride on it, we decided to join the queue. The queue was much shorter than it was yesterday, but the advertised queue time was still somewhat understated, as it took us 80-85 minutes to get on the ride overall. That’s a vast improvement on 2.5 hours, though, so I can’t really complain! But how was the ride? Well, I was a little nervous to see how the day ride seemed after the brilliance of last night’s night ride, but I have to say that it still held its own phenomenally! I was seated in row 11, and the ride was absolutely phenomenal! There was airtime for days, the pacing was relentless, there were loads of wonderful twists and turns, the ride was smooth, and overall, the ride was just absolutely sublime! Overall then, Wicker Man was absolutely phenomenal, and the two rides over the last two days have easily been two of my best ever rides on it; it’s most definitely reinforced its status as my favourite Alton Towers ride: After our ride on Wicker Man, it was around 3:30pm, so we decided to head home after that in order to get back home at a sensible time. So that brought the day, and our March 2024 Alton Towers trip, to an end. While I’d be lying if I said that it was my best Alton Towers trip ever when you consider yesterday, there were still numerous highly enjoyable moments, and today was definitely an improvement on yesterday! I really enjoyed getting on Nemesis Reborn, and I have to say that I absolutely love what they've done with the retrack project and area! I also had two absolutely sublime rides on Wicker Man this trip, with the night ride in particular being one that will always stick with me, and overall, it was just nice to get back to Alton Towers after a long closed season and get back on some of the rides! It is undeniably a park that holds a very special place in my heart, and it always will be. No weaker day will ever change that. Thanks for reading; I hope you've enjoyed these reports! I'm not sure exactly when my next theme park trip will be, but if not before, my next trip report will probably be from Oakwood Theme Park at some point in May!
  10. 23rd March 2024: Alton Towers Day 1 Hi guys. Today was an exciting day; the start of my personal UK theme park season with a trip to Alton Towers! We were keen to come to the park this weekend for the Alton After Dark event and a first ride on Nemesis Reborn, and after thoroughly enjoying his first visit to the park last year, my grandad joined me and my parents for a return to the park. He was incredibly excited for his first ever ride on Nemesis after it was closed on his first visit! Under the pretence of us wanting to stay in the park until 8pm, we left our home in Gloucestershire slightly later than usual, at around 9:15am. Due to congestion on the M5 and an accident on the M6, the journey took a little over 3 hours, with us arriving at Alton Towers at around 12:20pm. Unbeknownst to us, this ended up being rather symbolic of the day ahead… this should become more apparent as the report progresses! Upon arrival, we took the monorail into the park and pretty much walked straight on, so with a brief stoppage on the ride, we got through Alton’s gates at around 12:45pm: After getting into the park, we decided to make a beeline for one of the key draws of our visit… Nemesis Reborn Nemesis Reborn was on an advertised 110 minute queue time. It was one of the key draws of our visit, and realistically, we knew the queue would probably be long, so we decided to just get in it. This ultimately proved to be a good decision, as the queue only took around 60 minutes, which was in part due to absolutely phenomenal operations. Dispatches were incredibly speedy, and a throughput of around 1,300pph was being attained on 2 trains, which is as high as I’ve ever seen on Nemesis! But how was the ride? Did Nemesis Reborn live up to the hype after a 2 year retrack? Well, I have to say that it was great to get back on Nemesis; not riding it for 2 years did make me realise what an excellent coaster it is! I rode in row 7, and it was one of the best rides I’ve had on it, with awesome speed, just the right amount of intensity and a pretty much glass smooth ride experience! My grandad, who was taking his first ride, absolutely loved it, saying that “you can’t not love that” and that “it was somehow even more insane than Smiler”! He even told me to specifically mention that “the outside loop was so insane, it made snot spread all over my nose”! I also have to say that I really like what they’ve done with the area; it’s looking absolutely brilliant, and my parents were also very impressed! I’ll do a more detailed review of Nemesis Reborn at some stage, but all in all, our verdict was very positive: After Nemesis Reborn, the rest of the rides were either closed or on very long queues, so we decided to head for the shortest coaster queue… Runaway Mine Train Runaway Mine Train was on an advertised 60 minute queue time. As the other coasters were all either closed or on queues of over 100 minutes, we figured that it was the least worst option and decided to give it a go. This queue was ultimately slightly longer than advertised, taking around 65-70 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 17, and it was good fun! Runaway Mine Train is a definite guilty pleasure of mine; that tunnel helix is surprisingly intense for a family roller coaster, and the ride definitely feels faster than 22mph! My grandad also really enjoyed it, saying that it was faster than he’d remembered, with the tunnel helix gaining particular plaudits from him! So overall, Runaway Mine Train was a good, fun ride that we all enjoyed: After our ride on the Runaway Mine Train, we headed to the snack stand near Wicker Man so that my parents and grandad could get some coffees. However, we were told that the stand had “run out of hot drinks” (my mum’s face upon hearing this was a picture…), so we headed to a different stand to get coffees before heading over to Rita. At that point, Rita’s 100 minute advertised queue time was the shortest of that of any of the open coasters we hadn’t ridden, so we initially decided to get into the queue. However, the ride was running 1 train and attaining a throughput of slightly under 400pph. This meant that the main queue pretty much wasn’t moving, with it moving more quickly from people leaving it than from the actual ride throughput. Therefore, we decided to bail after 15 minutes of minimal movement, as more rides were opening with shorter advertised queues: After bailing on Rita, we decided to head for a ride that had just reopened on a shorter advertised queue time… Wicker Man Wicker Man had just reopened on an advertised 70 minute queue time, so as all four of us really like Wicker Man, we decided to get in the queue. We had our suspicions that the queue may be a little longer than 70 minutes based on where it stretched to, but we hadn’t bargained for the actual length. It moved quite a bit slower than usual, likely in large part due to a combination of reduced capacity (only 2 trains out of 3 were running) and far more Fastrack and RAP than usual, and with a brief 5-10 minute weather delay, the queue ultimately took 145 minutes. No, that is not a typo… it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get to the airgates, and by the time we got off the ride and were stood in the shop, it was a full 2.5 hours later than when we had joined the queue (we joined at 4:30pm, and we were off the ride and in the shop at 7pm). That is quite possibly the longest queue I’ve ever waited in for a UK coaster, and up there with the likes of Gringotts at Universal in opening year as one of the longest I’ve ever waited in. To be fair, the weather delay added a small amount of time on, but even without that, the queue would still have taken well over 2 hours. But enough about the queue; how was the ride? Well, the longer-than-expected queue actually worked in our favour somewhat for the ride experience itself. By the time we got on the ride, it was pretty much dark, so we had an unexpected night ride with all the themed lighting on! I’d been hoping for a night ride on Wicker Man before our trip, but I had not expected to get one when I joined the queue at 4:30pm, so that was a definite bonus! Perhaps controversially, Wicker Man has long been my favourite Alton Towers ride, and people have always said about how brilliant it is at night. And my god, it did not disappoint! I was seated in row 5, and it was absolutely sublime! The pacing was phenomenal, with the ride absolutely flying through the course, there were loads of excellent airtime moments, and overall, it was just a phenomenal amount of fun! I should also add that it was absolutely belting it down with rain during our ride, which added an… interesting dimension to the experience! Overall, that night ride on Wicker Man was absolutely phenomenal; all four of us were shocked and in complete hysterics at the end, and that ride, for me at least, is an experience I will never forget! I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it was the best ride I’ve ever had on Wicker Man and quite possibly the best ride I’ve ever had on a UK coaster; it almost made the 2.5 hour queue feel worthwhile! And it was in row 5; I can only imagine how insane it would have been on the back: After our absolutely sublime night ride on Wicker Man, it was 7pm. As we’d changed our minds about staying until 8pm earlier in the day and booked a restaurant reservation at our hotel, we decided to leave the park to head back there at that point: So, that wrapped up our first day at Alton Towers out of this 2-day trip! I’m not going to beat around the bush here; it was a pretty weak day overall. I’m sorry to be negative, but I’ve had a lot of theme park visits over the years, including countless trips to Alton Towers alone, and it’s definitely the weakest day I’ve ever spent at Alton Towers. In fact, it’s probably down there with Thorpe Park July 2018 as one of the weakest days I’ve ever spent in a theme park full stop. A combination of long queues, sporadic ride availability, and cold and windy weather did definitely test our enthusiasm at times. However, this wasn’t Alton Towers’ fault. The problems were largely caused by excessive wind speeds and poor weather; they can’t change the weather, and to be fair, it was pretty windy and cold today. And they were kind enough to give us all a free return visit for our troubles, so we are thinking of returning for an additional day trip later in the year. Also, the day was not without its positives at all. For one, I really enjoyed getting on Nemesis Reborn; I’m a big fan of what they’ve done with the theming and area, the ride itself was running excellently, and it seemed like my parents and grandad were also fans! Secondly, that night ride on Wicker Man was simply sublime; as much as the queue was very long, I’m so glad we got to do that! It was possibly the best ride I’ve ever had on Wicker Man, or any UK coaster for that matter, and it left us all in awe and in complete hysterics! Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this report! I apologise for a slightly more negative report today, and I admit that I may have been overly harsh at points, but I do feel that I need to be honest with you all, and that means not pretending that things were brilliant when they weren’t. Keep your eyes peeled for another trip report tomorrow, as we’ve got a second day in the park tomorrow!
  11. I actually question whether Thorpe will ever pursue a permanent hotel at this point, or whether they even need to. A “proper” hotel doesn’t seem like it would fit the target market the park is trying to attract, and in general, Merlin have seemed less enthusiastic about making Thorpe Park into a “resort”. Unlike Alton, Chessington and to a lesser extent Legoland, there isn’t an awful lot else to do at Thorpe aside from the theme park itself. I do think that that would limit the success of a permanent hotel at Thorpe, as it would mean that the hotel couldn’t really open outside of Thorpe Park’s regular season. I honestly think that for the time being, Thorpe are fine with the hotel arrangement they have. I reckon that with their current target market and positioning, as well as the offerings of the other two local Merlin parks, they’ll do fine out of mostly pursuing day trippers and not really dipping their toes into the “resort” market.
  12. If anyone is interested, Theme Park Worldwide have filmed a video walking around Thorpe Park with Russ, the park’s operational manager, and documenting some of the changes that have taken place as part of the Sparkle Project over the off-season: Some interesting details from the video include: The return of Tidal Wave’s fire effect is planned, but Russ could not give a concrete timeline. The return of The Swarm’s fire and water effects is also planned. At least one of those will be ready for the start of the season, but I can’t remember which, off the top of my head. Samurai will not be opening at the start of the season, as it is being refurbished and its repaint is still ongoing. The reason for Colossus not being fully repainted this off-season is that a full repaint would have resulted in the ride not opening until later in the season, which Thorpe Park did not feel would be ideal. Colossus’ entrance paint job is going to be altered further. Thorpe Park has taken on board the feedback about it being too yellow. Saw’s chainsaw blades over the drop will be spinning again for the first time in a number of years in 2024. I have to say, the park is looking brilliant! Everything looks very fresh, Big Easy Boulevard looks really nice, Hyperia is looking awesome, and overall, I am thoroughly excited for this season at Thorpe Park!
  13. Hi guys. In recent weeks, the construction of Hyperia at Thorpe Park has been turning a fair few heads. In particular, the first drop for the ride seems to have garnered a lot of attention, with its sharp vertical profiling and twisting gaining plaudits. That drop certainly looks unique, and I've heard some say that they think it could be one of their favourite first drops in the world! This got me thinking about some of my favourite coaster drops in the UK, so today I ask; what is your current favourite coaster drop in the UK? Personally, I'd have to go for either the first drop of Oblivion at Alton Towers or the first drop of Megafobia at Oakwood. I love the drop on Oblivion because I just love the phenomenal sustained airtime it gives, as well as the sense of speed you get rushing through the tunnel! Oblivion's first drop has you flying out of your seat for what feels like ages, and I absolutely love that! And when you get to the bottom, I do love the raw sense of speed that the tunnel gives; I know that Oblivion isn't the fastest coaster I've ridden, but the sensation of speed in that tunnel would definitely have me believing that it was in contention for the title if I didn't know any better! Finally, the other thing I love about it is that it is huge. We don't have that many big coasters in this country, and we have even fewer big, straight first drops. As such, I do love that Oblivion has a properly sizeable first drop that's able to provide a real sustained sensation! As for Megafobia; that ride's first drop in the back row needs to be ridden to be believed, in my view! On the back, you get absolutely hurled out of the seat by the most ridiculous moment of ejector airtime! I've ridden over 100 coasters now, and few other coasters I've done have an ejector-filled first drop quite like Megafobia's. Certainly, no other British coaster has an ejector-filled first drop quite like Megafobia's, in my view. It isn't overly tall, though, and last time I did it, it was tarnished by quite a rough landing at the bottom (although the retrack has hopefully fixed this problem... I'll see for myself in May!). It also only properly hits in the back, from my experience, so it does lose a couple of points for consistency. Nonetheless, that back row ejector airtime is quite something! I have a tough time deciding between the two. If I had to pick, I'd probably choose Oblivion because I do love the sustained airtime, speed and raw size of it, and it is also consistent. Although as said, that back row ejector on Megafobia is quite something, in my view! But I'd be keen to know; what is your current favourite coaster drop in the UK? And as an aside; do you think that Hyperia's first drop could possibly clinch the title for you whenever that ride opens?
  14. If anyone's interested, I decided to have a bit of fun this evening and cobble together a rough Planet Coaster recreation of Hyperia to gauge a rough idea of the sort of forces and speeds we might be hitting through some of those elements. I'm aware that the profiling and such aren't perfect, and as such, I'd take some of the exact g-forces with a pinch of salt (for instance, I don't think we'll be pulling 5.6G at the bottom of the dive loop...), but I built the large elements to roughly the same sort of height as they will be in real life (lift hill 236ft, Immelmann 157ft, large outerbank 164ft, dive loop 137ft, small outerbank 65ft, final airtime hill 48ft), so I think it should give a rough ballpark idea of speed in particular. I hope you like it! Here's a POV and some cinematic shots of my creation: And if you don't want to watch the video, here is the heatmap of vertical g-forces throughout the ride: As well as the heatmap of speed throughout the ride: And the stats of the ride: And just for fun, here are some shots of the layout in the day and at night: In terms of speed and forces; I think it paints a very promising picture! If my recreation is at all accurate, it suggests that we could be absolutely flying through the Immelmann, with the ride maintaining a speed of nearly 50mph even at the Immelmann's highest point! The other two large elements maintain speeds of 35-40mph at their highest points. In terms of trimming in the splashdown; I erred towards the more fierce end of the trimming spectrum and went for a deceleration rate of 4m/s2, which reduced the speed by 10-15mph. And even then, the outerbank and final airtime hill still appear very potent, with negative g-forces of nearly -1G still being registered in both elements! So overall, then, I reckon Hyperia could pack some brilliant g-forces throughout and hold its speed really well! I hope you like my recreation! I have to say, this has also reminded me just how much fun getting stuck into a good Planet Coaster build is... I really need to get back into Planet Coaster, as I haven't really had too much time for it as of late and it shows. I haven't updated any of my ongoing park projects for the forum in nearly 2 years! If you'd like to play with my recreation yourself, here's the Steam Workshop link where you can download it from: https://steamcommunity.com/workshop/filedetails/?id=3113374891
  15. I know it’s a different park, but Alton Towers have always created a slightly modified version of their logo to fit whatever the new ride of the year is whenever they’ve built something major. Over the years, we’ve had the orange version of the logo for Wicker Man, the yellow and black swirly version for The Smiler, the green version for Thirteen, and the purple version for The Curse at Alton Manor, and that’s just off the top of my head… With this in mind, I wouldn’t mind betting that Thorpe might have an edited version of the logo specifically for Hyperia’s opening year.
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