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Project Exodus - New for 2024 (Hopefully)


Mysterio Ka
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Well if the rumours I heard actually came to fruition, we would’ve seen a Transformers “themed” Swarm, Slammer replaced by Ramesis Revenge and Walking Dead’s entrance on the other side. Yeah right!

 

we shall have to see what happens. Thorpe is largely overdue substantial investment and this could be somewhat welcoming to say the least should it happen.

 

It would be quite the shame if Rocky Express did go, especially being one of the few remaining classics. However at 32, maybe it’s had a good run.

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Does anyone know off the top of their head what the timeframes usually are for planning applications for this sort of big project?

 

Is there an “average” certain time of year that the planning applications tend to go in for new coasters (assuming that’s what this will be), and how far in advance they tend to appear?

 

I’m assuming this project will open 2024, so I’d guess for construction to start early 2023 they would want to seek permission sometime early/mid next year??

(I know nothing about planning, purely guesswork based on when Chessington’s 2023 project plans appeared!)


I suppose it’s cutting it too fine for a 2023 opening date now, as they’d want to start building very soon and no plans have been spotted yet!

Besides, I assume they wouldn’t want to clash with Chessington’s coaster year?

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In terms of time scales for the big things:

 

Ghost Train: October 2014

Swarm: February 2011

Saw: November 2007

Stealth: November 2004

Nemesis Inferno: April 2001

Colossus: June 2000

 

So the last 3 coasters (and last 4 major investments) have had plans submitted at most 18 months before the planned opening date. Inferno and Colossus are stranger ones for a variety of reasons (will explain at the end for anyone interested).

 

The thing with Stealth, Saw and Swarm though is they were all approved after being mentioned in the park's MTDP at the time. In other words, there was already a level of "pre-approval" to those rides existed, which makes the application process a bit smoother and easier.

Ghost Train technically wasn't mentioned in any MTDP, but they conditions of its construction did not break the MTDP. So even though the park had to submit a full planning application, it wasn't exactly taxing.

 

With any potential new coaster, there's no current MTDP and no level of pre-approval. So that creates an unknown for the application - moreso with locals (since the park will still be having some discussions with the council authorities prior to submitting plans). This could mean the approval process takes a bit longer, or is a bit more complex. Though, I won't lie, I wouldn't know all the ins and outs there.

 

So in theory, 2023 could still be on the cards. But at the same time, I'd be surprised if Thorpe and Chessington opened big things at the same time. And 2024 seems to be a rumour floating around more.

Equally, depending on the size of the project (and the scale of any deconstruction and groundworks that need to take place), it could take a while. 

In any case, if a 2024 coaster does happen, I'd expect to see an application appear sometime around next summer or later.

 

 

Side note about Inferno and Colossus.

-One original plan for Colossus was to be a Premier Launch Coaster, which would have opened in 2001. The park submitted plans for that in December 1999, which were approved. However, they changed their minds, and eventually ended up with Colossus, and the plans were submitted in June 2000, by which point a 2001 opening wouldn't have been feasible in any way.

 

-Of course, there was the Thorpe Park Fire in 2000, which affected old rides in Inferno's location. One early plan was to get in a Vekoma SLC on the cheap, and quickly build it, so it could open in summer 2001. Another option was for a Rock n Roller Coaster clone. A plan was submitted in September 2000 for this summer 2001 coaster, but quickly withdrawn.

I assume the park opted to go for quality over a quick fix in this case, and low and behold, Inferno was born. Good choice in my eyes too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Considering Merlin apparently deemed The Swarm and Ghost Train a financial failure, I wonder if the next big project will be handled any differently?

 

The projects Thorpe have done for a while now (really since Stealth) have very much been good attractions 'tacked on' to the existing, ever-crumbling park.

  • Saw the Ride for example was added on some new land at the side of the existing park - great ride, and great reception, but it's out on a limb.
  • The Swarm, again fab ride, but was added to another island and had little impact on the rest of the park.
  • Derren saw just a single building added to the centre of the park, offering nothing new to the overall park experience at all unless you decide to ride it (and even then returning guests won't bother)

None of these did much to make Thorpe a better place in general, they just added another (all be it mostly very good) attraction to the list.

 

I am hoping they think a little differently this time, and build something that incorporates itself in to the rest of the park a little bit.

I'm thinking in the same way that Manta at SeaWorld for example is more than just a ride, it's an entire area complete with aquariums, shops and scenery, forming quite a big part of the theme park itself instead of simply being another attraction.

 

I'm hoping whatever they build won't just be a single ride in a given area, but will extend in to its surroundings, and in doing so, redevelop the areas that it inter-twines with.

 

I'm hoping that (assuming this new attraction is in Old Town) some of the ride might go towards the centre of the park, and come with new landscaping and scenery - for example, look at the sheer amount of un/poorly-used space available here.

 

image.thumb.png.a635c35fb9194dedd19796e7920e570b.png

 

Back to my SeaWorld example - I think it would be a great opportunity to see something on the scale of Manta, which involves the tired and disused areas of Old Town and Slammer being demolished and re-developed in to something fresh and new, maybe even have several attractions on the same site - something like a Manta-style SeaLife aquarium, along with a themed restaurant and nice surrounding scenery in this instance would be good I think.

 

I'm not necessarily saying "I want Manta" - what I'm hoping for is for this new project to be something more than "the cool new ride". I want it to actually change a big portion of Thorpe Park, and become part of the park in general, not to simply add something cool to the side of it.

 

In my opinion, Thorpe needs 'general park refresh' as much as it needs a new attraction, and I think a big project that achieves both could be a good thing and turn the place around a bit.

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^You could even tack on Samurai into your highlighted area, given it is pretty much on its last legs. 

 

But I totally agree. The investment of Swarm Island did, in fairness, have vague idea of adding more to the park. We got the introduction of a new toilet block (necessary infrastructure for expanding the park), plus a short-lived food stall (in the much loved Roast n Relish). So it did something, but it didn't quite do enough. And, really, calling it an area is a bit of a stretch.

 

The park could do with completely changing the entire Old Town area. A new coaster, yes, naturally. But a replacement for Samurai (even if like-for-like), doing something more with Slammer's location, a shop associated to the ride possibly and new eateries (even if a new restaurant replacing the BBQ and a new one replacing whatever is in Old Town at the moment). The toilet block there is in need of a proper redo too (rather than just sticking some vinyl on the walls). 

And obviously, keep some space for Fright Nights too.

 

Do something coherent with a huge space. It would be a perfect step for introducing a big new attraction and improving the overall feel of a good chunk of the park.

 

There is real potential there. And, thinking optimistically: Chessington is getting a B&M coaster in a new IP land which is extending the park's area. That won't be cheap. Merlin are ready to put their money where their mouth is, so let's hope they do that, and that properly, with Thorpe too.

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2 hours ago, ZeroG said:

Don’t get your hopes up for any theming for the 2024 Mack . Samurai looks like it’s staying for a while!

 

plans will be out soon 🤫


Thanks for the info, but with regard to the bolded, what makes you think this will be a Mack, out of interest?

 

I’m not saying you’re wrong by any stretch, as I certainly think it’s plausible, but it does seem like an interesting contrast to the other strong rumours I’ve heard.

 

Many online, including some who I know are well connected within Merlin, seem to think that this will be a B&M Hyper Coaster, and I do think it’s a plausible conclusion; based on Chessington’s 2023 coaster and the family B&Ms planned for numerous Chinese Legolands, I think it can be inferred that Merlin is at very least in strong cahoots with B&M at the moment, and they may well have had some form of discount on numerous rides. As such, I could see Merlin wanting to utilise this for as many rides as they possibly can within the chain, which would make a B&M Hyper quite a good possibility for Thorpe, in my opinion. Merlin also has quite a strong history with B&M; of all the Merlin-built coasters listed “Extreme” on RCDB, all bar 2 of them were built by B&M, and the other 2 (Saw & Smiler) were built by Gerstlauer, who I don’t see Merlin going back to after the Smiler incident. For clarity, Thirteen, Wicker Man and Mammut are listed as “Thrill” on RCDB, but even if we look at all of the coasters Merlin has built in RTPs since the initial purchase of Gardaland in 2006, 5/13 of them were constructed by B&M, and that percentage grows substantially if you include the upcoming coaster at Chessington and exclude kiddie & family coasters. For one manufacturer, that’s a big percentage, and I do personally think it shows that Merlin has a rock solid relationship with B&M.

 

Mack, on the other hand, haven’t done an awful lot for Merlin besides some clones for Legoland parks, and I did hear a rumour that Mack are not too fond of Merlin as a client based on past treatment, and would not be keen to enter into a bespoke, large-scale project with the company, although do take that with a pinch of salt.

 

Besides, I think one would be a fantastic fit for Thorpe, and would satisfy many criteria that the management themselves previously cited as being required for any major investment. At an enthusiast event a few years ago, the park management themselves said that after the failures of DBGT, they wanted the next major investment to be marketable, reliable and to have high capacity. I don’t know if you’d agree, but I personally think a B&M Hyper would fulfil all of these criteria (“tallest coaster in the UK” would certainly be a good USP for marketing, and B&Ms are typically both reliable and high capacity), and I also think that it would provide a really rerideable coaster that’s just pure fun, which I personally feel is something that Thorpe presently lacks.

 

So in essence; my personal money is on a B&M Hyper Coaster here, and I also think that it will break the UK height record.

 

Regardless of what replaces Logger’s Leap, though, whether it’s a B&M or a Mack as you suggest, I certainly think it’ll be an exciting ride!

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A Mack would certainly come out of left field, but that’s an interesting thought. It would definitely be something different at a Merlin park.

 

I think I agree with Matt, my money would be on a B&M hyper if I was placing a bet.

Even after all the RMC hype over the years, I still think it’ll more likely be a B&M, for reliability alone. It’s a safer bet for Merlin.

 

Mack do a very impressive looking hypercoaster though 🤔

 

It’s exciting to know that “something big is happening” but actually having no idea what it might be.  It could literally be anything at this stage.

 

One thought - what do people think about whatever this is potentially not being a big thrill coaster?
Does anyone think they might go down a more family-friendly route following the miracle turnaround that Wicker Man brought to Towers after the crash? It pretty much brought them back from the brink!

 

Really looking forward to whatever happens though. 
I’ll always have a soft spot for Thorpe, and I’m so looking forward to hopefully seeing their fortunes change for the better with this.

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34 minutes ago, Inferno said:

One thought - what do people think about whatever this is potentially not being a big coaster. 
Does anyone think they might go down a more family-friendly route following the miracle turnaround that Wicker Man brought to Towers after the crash? It pretty much brought them back from the brink!

I definitely think that would be a good fit at some stage, and I do reckon that might happen at some point, but I’m unsure if it would be the right fit for Thorpe at this stage, personally. Despite Swarm and DBGT’s failures, they know that thrills have worked in the past (and I should add that both Swarm and DBGT had extenuating circumstances working against them that contributed substantially to said failures, particularly Swarm), so for an investment like this, which really needs to rejuvenate the park after a dry spell, why not go for something that they know has a fair chance of working?

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I don't think it will be a family rollercoaster either. Even though that would be a very logical choice based on Flying Fish being the only entry level ride there, Thorpe won't be able to market family like they could an RMC or a B&M hyper.

 

To be honest though, as much as I think a B&M hyper would be the right choice for Thorpe (the only park that can realistically do height, the only ride really that could have the capacity and reliability Thorpe needs), I think they would go the RMC route, simply for the selling point. Which IMO is a shame, as we have seen Inferno and The Swarm becoming more and more popular at Thorpe over the last few seasons whilst the Intamins have fallen slightly from favour (IMO ;) )

 

 

 

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On 11/21/2021 at 3:44 PM, ZeroG said:

Don’t get your hopes up for any theming for the 2024 Mack . Samurai looks like it’s staying for a while!

 

plans will be out soon 🤫

 

On 11/1/2021 at 10:04 AM, JoshC. said:

Ah I love it when people post one liner rumours with no evidence as facts. I might join in.

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I think if it came down to being between a B&M Hyper or RMC, the higher ups at M£rlin would go for the Hyper over the RMC.

 

Why?. Well they know that the last two big investments for Thorpe wasnt seen as a success in terms of driving up the gate numbers for various reasons. So they know (or should know) the very next big investment for Thorpe needs to work out.

 

Now with an RMC, yes if Thorpe went down that road the enthusiasts would absolutely make a beeline for the park. That however does NOT mean the same thing can be said for the general public. Ask ANY non enthusiast/GP what an RMC is and I highly doubt they will know what it is. Enthusiasts only make up a super niche part of the overall audience and in terms of buisness model and strategy, M£rlin who as I just mentioned will want the next big investment to work out financially are simply not going to make an investment that only appeases a niche group. They will want something that will appeal to everybody.

 

A B&M hyper absolutely ticks that box. They are huge coasters which the GP seem to think automatically makes a coaster must ride and is a model of coaster that enthusiasts enjoy given the popularity of Mako and Shambhala.

 

I also think a GCI would be higher up the food chain here than an RMC given theres the chance M£rlin could look at Wicker Mans success over at towers and could possibly think cashing in on that and making a Troy scale woody at Thorpe.

 

I hope I am wrong in terms of Thorpe getting that elusive UK RMC. I just personally cant see it unfortunately.

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Just catching up on these new posts - interesting reading and speculation. If @ZeroG is right then hats may have to be eaten, we shall see! :)

 

I just wonder how Thorpe will promote the 2022 & 2023 season if there's nothing new until 2024 - I guess the answer there, from the market research questionnaires going out is more events...  and maybe new for 2022 will be the Tidal Wave fire effect, to pull the punters in? Can't really see Black Mirror having much pull in 2022 unless they stick a demon at the end of it.

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13 hours ago, Martin Doyle said:

I also think a GCI would be higher up the food chain here than an RMC given theres the chance M£rlin could look at Wicker Mans success over at towers and could possibly think cashing in on that and making a Troy scale woody at Thorpe.

I agree with this. If they really are learning from the past (good and bad) - Wicker Man has been very successful and it may swing them towards a more "thrilling" version for Thorpe. Its success is probably a combination of the ride itself and the effort put into theming, but it seems to have been a winning formula for them.

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Some important things to consider here regarding a hyper or a RMC

 

A hyper by very definition would have to be over 200ft. This is something that the park will struggle to get planning permission for. Stealth took a lot of consultation, was situated in the back corner of the park and had to be painted white. The mtdp (which is definitely out of date but the best point to work from) outlined that the coaster on swarm island would be 40m and the coaster on the island behind it would be up to 50m. Too short for the desired 61m and even if they did get permission it would overshadow Stealth.

 

The loggers leap site which seems the most likely for the next development is the closest point to Staines and planning concerns relating to noise and looks will limit the height of the site accordingly. I struggle to believe they will get permission for anything over 35m there. Because of this I would be highly surprised if thrope get a hyper next.

 

As for an RMC/GCI my concern with these is the sudden rise in timber costs. Any return on investment for these is now unlikely to be viable. Covid poses a huge risk to guest numbers meanwhile the project would have sky rocketed in price. Merlin doesn't like risks and always seeks unrealistic returns so will likely avoid it for now. 

 

In my opinion Merlin are going to play it safe. It will have some world's first tag line and an IP slapped on the side. Probably fitting the disaster/end of the world theme they love so much. 

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13 hours ago, Project LC said:

Some important things to consider here regarding a hyper or a RMC

 

A hyper by very definition would have to be over 200ft. This is something that the park will struggle to get planning permission for. Stealth took a lot of consultation, was situated in the back corner of the park and had to be painted white. The mtdp (which is definitely out of date but the best point to work from) outlined that the coaster on swarm island would be 40m and the coaster on the island behind it would be up to 50m. Too short for the desired 61m and even if they did get permission it would overshadow Stealth.

 

The loggers leap site which seems the most likely for the next development is the closest point to Staines and planning concerns relating to noise and looks will limit the height of the site accordingly. I struggle to believe they will get permission for anything over 35m there. Because of this I would be highly surprised if thrope get a hyper next. 

Couldn’t they just aim the high points of the ride away from Staines and towards the back corner of the park? If they did that, surely that might overcome some of the problems?

 

I’ve often heard it said that Thorpe could run a hyper around the back of the park from Old Town/the Logger’s Leap site, with the main body of the ride itself running along the service road around the back of the park.

 

For what it’s worth, John Wardley even said that a hyper would be doable within Thorpe’s planning restrictions.

 

In terms of where Wardley said this, it was a comment made within Making Thorpe Park regarding a B&M Hyper that Wardley and B&M had strategised for a 2012 coaster instead of The Swarm. The source was cited as an interview with John Wardley himself conducted as part of the research for the book (the source is cited as “Interview with John Wardley, 20 July 2020” in the book’s bibliography). Here’s the exact comment; the relevant part is in bold:
“When [B&M] was approached to suggest ideas for the first of the new development islands, they were strongly against using the new Wing model. The flat piece of land didn’t really play to the strengths of the concept, and Wardley felt that a different B&M option should be used instead. His preference was a Hyper Coaster, a tall ride that offers high speeds and massive airtime. Having good knowledge of local planning restrictions, he was confident that permission would be agreed and it would be the perfect complement to the four major rollercoasters already in operation at Thorpe Park.”

For context, this would have been a few years after Stealth, perhaps around 2009-2010.
 
Thorpe’s height ceiling is 500ft, apparently, with structures over 200ft needing to apply to the CAA for approval (due to Heathrow being close by). While I’ll admit that a 500ft coaster seems like a long shot in terms of approval, I don’t see them struggling too much with a hyper in the 200-250ft range, personally. As much as Stealth may have required special permission at the time, I’d argue that it may well have set a precedent for the minimum height that Thorpe would be allowed to build a coaster to; if a coaster of Stealth’s size or a little bit taller encountered issues, then the park could quite feasibly say “We’ve operated Stealth at 205ft for 15 years with no issues” to defend themselves and make a case for the approval of a hyper coaster.
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Sorry to double post, but before anyone asks, I thought I should clarify why the 2012 hyper was canned, for anyone who hasn’t read Making Thorpe Park, as I think it does provide a promising outlook for whether one could be built now.

 

According to the book, the reason for the ride’s cancellation was not what you might expect; the reason for Swarm being built in 2012 as opposed to a hyper was actually because Merlin HQ was adamant that the Wing Coaster design had to be used due to them having acquired multiple Wing Coasters from B&M when they brokered the deal for Raptor at Gardaland. As such, in spite of neither Wardley nor B&M wanting to build a Wing Coaster on the site, Merlin HQ forced a Wing Coaster upon Thorpe due to them having one going spare.

 

The thing I should note here is that the commonly cited obstacles of cost and planning constraints clearly weren’t seen as a problem for Merlin at the time. Therefore, there’s nothing that would necessarily stop Merlin green lighting a hyper for Thorpe now.

 

 

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Merlin are very money driven and risk averse. They won't take on any project that doesn't promise atleast x10 return on their investment. Applying for permission to the CAA is going to be expensive and risky.  The go/no go decision is likely to fall at that hurdle unless it promised crazy returns.

 

A hyper in the eyes of Merlin is also likely to be harder to market. It wouldn't cary a worlds first tag line and to the general public will seem tame due to the lack of inversions. Something would have to change at MMM and the marketing rules for a hyper to be given the green light. 

 

I'm not saying its not going to happen, I just think its very unlikely at the moment. 

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2 hours ago, Project LC said:

A hyper in the eyes of Merlin is also likely to be harder to market. It wouldn't cary a worlds first tag line and to the general public will seem tame due to the lack of inversions. Something would have to change at MMM and the marketing rules for a hyper to be given the green light. 

 

I’m not sure whether this is necessarily true; if a hyper above 235ft in height (I know RCDB says Big One is 213ft, but the park claims 235ft, so it would probably be best to aim for that figure) were to be built, it would become the UK’s tallest roller coaster, and possibly fastest as well dependent on how high it was built; a hyper with a drop of above about 230ft or so would likely exceed Stealth’s 80mph. A hyper of this size would also be in with a fair shot at claiming the UK length record (it’s technically now held by the Big One at 5,497ft, as the Ultimate is SBNO).
 

Even though a ride like this wouldn’t have a world’s first per se, I think that “the tallest & fastest coaster in the UK”, or even “the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the UK” if they fancied beating the Big One’s length record, would be incredibly marketable and would make a big splash within the UK industry; look at the likes of Smiler, Big One, the Ultimate, even Thorpe’s own Colossus, Stealth and Saw. These rides all had either national or worldwide records at the time of opening, and they were all incredibly popular. Rightly or wrongly, I think records sell in Britain, and based on the likes of Smiler (no real world’s first besides the record), I’d argue that a UK record breaker would be a pretty compelling sell to Merlin.

 

In terms of whether the lack of inversions would make it seem tame; the likes of Big One and Stealth have certainly coped fine in terms of public opinion and reputation even without inversions, so I’m confident that a Thorpe hyper would be the same, personally.

 

A hyper may not have a gimmick in the traditional Merlin sense, but I think it would be equally as marketable!

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  • JoshC. changed the title to Project Exodus - New for 2024 (Hopefully)
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