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57 minutes ago, Coaster Jamie said:

40 seconds?!  It's about four minutes now :(

 

Regarding the reasoning for the new trains, I find that strange as there are plenty of Arrow Dynamics coasters still running with their original trains.

 

I bet it's a lot easier for the parts to come in from the same country rather than across the entire Atlantic... Plus I'm sure Tussauds at the time were probably quite stumped on cash especially when Thorpe was the pet project at the time...

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36 minutes ago, Benin said:

 

I bet it's a lot easier for the parts to come in from the same country rather than across the entire Atlantic... Plus I'm sure Tussauds at the time were probably quite stumped on cash especially when Thorpe was the pet project at the time...

True, but I'm referring to UK parks as well.

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2 hours ago, Coaster Jamie said:

40 seconds?!  It's about four minutes now :(

 

Regarding the reasoning for the new trains, I find that strange as there are plenty of Arrow Dynamics coasters still running with their original trains.

Yes, crazy to think that used to be the norm and what's sad is your mention of four minutes is not an exaggeration, sometimes it's longer!

 

The old trains didn't have belts to be fair and from what I remember all the restraints used to just fling up when released and if they didn't they were light to lift.

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I've never been on the Vampire since the change of trains. I know that there were complaints about them being really rough after the changeover, I know we're talking around 16 years ago now but have they improved on this? I usually just don't bother queuing for the Vampire as the queues are always significantly longer than the other rides whenever I go to Chessington.

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In a word, no. 

 

I'd say the biggest problem with the trains is the lack of weight reducing the swing so it isn't as exciting and doesn't flow properly. 

 

The problem that causes the discomfort is the trains seem to not be solidly coupled which causes them to shuffle back and forth into each other as it travels along the track. This isn't really noticeable at the front or back but is worse in the middle of the train. Swinging side to side softly is fun, jerking back and forth not so much.

 

I wouldn't really say it's uncomfortable in the painful sense though, it's more just annoying. 

 

I've not been for a few years now though,  maybe they've fixed it? 

Doubtful!

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The smoothness is to do with how they put the trains back together over winter and the cheaper-than-ideal engineering of the trains. The shunting is annoying indeed and Vampire could be a pretty nifty fast family coaster if it werent for that .

Here's what I'd consider doing in the future if Vampire's still around..

Completely rebuild the track following largely the same layout, as a newer model Vekoma family suspended coaster, not half & half with Arrow and the (not very good) earlier Vekoma model.
Except that would never happen, but would make for a great thrilling family coaster. Make it to fix the dispatch and sequencing issues too, so that the ride can run quickly.

 

And then landscape the area so much more than it currently is. Plant shrubs and build up banks to create some interesting landscape to interact with on the first section. Rebuild the coaster tunnel on the second section as a themed, pitch black tunnel.

 

Landscape the queue as well and completely rebuild the pathways. Build new entrance gates, or link the original gates.  Build a replacement spooky crypt shelter for the one that got demolished, and more themed structures in the queueline to pass around. Re use the queue tunnel and restore its smoke effects.

Restore the whole station and its animatronic, real lighting  & new audio system.

 

Build a castle facade around the side of the building facing the queue, scenically design the exit walkway and portal where the train re-enters the building, for example flying into a grand smashed chapel window  and back into darkness.

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2 hours ago, Wumbamillio said:

Here's what I'd consider doing in the future if Vampire's still around..

Completely rebuild the track following largely the same layout, as a newer model Vekoma family suspended coaster, not half & half with Arrow and the (not very good) earlier Vekoma model.
Except that would never happen, but would make for a great thrilling family coaster. Make it to fix the dispatch and sequencing issues too, so that the ride can run quickly.

 

And then landscape the area so much more than it currently is. Plant shrubs and build up banks to create some interesting landscape to interact with on the first section. Rebuild the coaster tunnel on the second section as a themed, pitch black tunnel.

 

Landscape the queue as well and completely rebuild the pathways. Build new entrance gates, or link the original gates.  Build a replacement spooky crypt shelter for the one that got demolished, and more themed structures in the queueline to pass around. Re use the queue tunnel and restore its smoke effects.

Restore the whole station and its animatronic, real lighting  & new audio system.

 

Build a castle facade around the side of the building facing the queue, scenically design the exit walkway and portal where the train re-enters the building, for example flying into a grand smashed chapel window  and back into darkness.

Brilliant stuff!! If Chessington can just hold out until the next major investment and pull something like this off then I'll certainly forgive them. It's not just Vampire that needs sprucing up though. The ENTIRE park does! If it weren't for the upcoming "brand-spanking-new-safari-quad-bike-adventure" coaster then this would only be a little easier to invest in.

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10 hours ago, pluk said:

In a word, no. 

 

I'd say the biggest problem with the trains isamendablek of weight reducing the swing so it isn't as exciting and doesn't flow properly. 

 

The problem that causes the discomfort is the trains seem to not be solidly coupled which causes them to shuffle back and forth into each other as it travels along the track. This isn't really noticeable at the front or back but is worse in the middle of the train. Swinging side to side softly is fun, jerking back and forth not so much.

 

I wouldn't really say it's uncomfortable in the painful sense though, it's more just annoying. 

 

I've not been for a few years now though,  maybe they've fixed it? 

Doubtful!

 

 

Nope they havnt fixed it, the lack of weight is also the reason it stalls so often before the second lift hill and why they can't send the trains out if the first six rows aren't filled.

 

Mind you given the black hole Surrey is in financially at the moment they might be more amenable to changes at Chessie than they usually are if Merlin help them out with a few things, maybe they should ask?

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The-evacuation-platform-for-the-vampire-

And here is the new evac platform for those wondering. Not the prettiest thing, but if it means the ride can continue operating for the foreseeable future, it's certainly a good thing.

 

Hopefully Vampire still has several years of life left, especially considering the ride is almost 30 now, technically surpassed it's life expectancy in 2015 and loose rumours suggest it won't be around much longer due to mechanical struggles.

 

Perhaps the new proposed Juvelin coaster is intended as a technical replacement.

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What is this life expectancy you speak of? I've never heard of it. And the ride's had mechanical struggles for years, since it opened really, inherent in its design (because of trying to run a fast, tall prototypey coaster in a very restricted space) and complicated by the constant fiddles over the years.

 

Not sure how much longer it can last but its not like its on its last legs as we speak, it's just same old as ever. Not sure about the building though, maybe that will trip it up, due to the "If you don't look for it, the problem's not there" approach to structural maintenance they've had for years.

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1 minute ago, Wumbamillio said:

What is this life expectancy you speak of? I've never heard of it. And the ride's had mechanical struggles for years, since it opened really, inherent in its design (because of trying to run a fast, tall prototypey coaster in a very restricted space) and complicated by the constant fiddles over the years.

I've heard that Arrow suspended coasters have an apparent life expectancy of 25 years, something which is currently known as a shelf life recommendation.

 

It is mentioned in an article about the Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg which closed in 2009 after 25 years. This can be found Here and is an interesting article which is worth a look. The final page goes in depth to why this attraction ceased to exist. 

 

Back to Vampire, the ride will be 27 this year (28th season) and given it's position, is still technically the park's headline attraction. However unfortunately I fear there will be a time in the near'ish future where maintaining and servicing this iconic ride may no longer be practical. A task that presumably gets slightly more difficult as each closed Season arrives.

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That shelf life idea would be totally skew now since the ride has been modified by different manufacturers many times, it's a bit like a vehicle, it will keep going and can have multiple parts repaired/replaced, or be totally renovated and keep going for a long time in special circumstances. However, leave a car with little to no servicing and it will deteriorate very quickly and be much harder to get working again. It's all engineering maintenance when it comes to Vampire I think, and money being spent where it should be.

 

Safari Skyway could have been kept too, had it been properly maintained and the vehicles replaced when they needed to. But their attitude was to 'just not do anything' and constantly shelve plans for it, and then close the whole thing. The ride had outlived its purpose though, should have ideally been retracked but wasn't necessarily practical.

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If the 25 year shelf life is to be based upon the last time the ride went through a MASSIVE refurbishment (something I don't think many Arrow Suspendeds suffered), then it'll be theoretically on it's true last legs in 2027, so we've got another 10 years of "will it won't it" to get through...

 

Besides, on top of that there's still 3 others currently in operation that are over the shelf life... Shelf life means bugger all if the park has the desire to actually keep a ride in operation (like Slammer)...

 

It could probably do with another massive refurb though... Imagine if they actually got Vekoma to do a proper job with it? Turn it into a SFC with tyre driven lift hills (that'll help with the neighbours) and the lifespan of it would be extended no end...

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Vampire was running amazingly today, from the music (which could be heard from Trail of the Kings) to the ride itself which was probably the smoothest ride I've ever had on it. What's not so amazing is the shop, I assumed theyd have left the Vampire half alone and just changed the bubbleworks side, but Gruffalo takes up about 3/4 now and the Vampire walls have been decorated with a weird purple pattern thing - I think its trees but it's hard to make out. This carries on to the photo shop which is a shame because I liked the old castle bit.

 

Props to Chessie though, I'm not a fan of all the Gruffalo stuff but the shop is quite good. The old windows have been replaced by three Vampire logos on one side and three Gruffalo logos on the other. In fact, while I don't like the change, they've done an alright job of tying Vampire into the area.

 

The announcements have been ditched though, aside from the exit one which has been re recorded by the most unenthusiastic person I've ever heard.

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We can be almost certain Vampire is being given the "keep it broken so we can close it soon" treatment. Sad to see the station looking very ugly and bare, with appalling unprofessional lighting. And to be honest, Merlin have the money to restore it and make it better than 1990 tomorrow if only they chose to do it.

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Jeez the chandeliers aren't even there anymore...

 

With all of the substantial improvements being made at Towers and Thorpe (particularly Hex and Nemesis), I have a minuscule glimmer of hope that they may restore Vampire as Chessington's "heritage ride" (seeing how the other contenders for such a title sit wrecked beyond recognition, and no such large-scale work has been performed on Vampire yet). Then again, this is Chessington, so we may just have to make the most until Vampy finally closes his coffin.

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9 minutes ago, Marc said:

Can't see Vampire going anywhere - they know they would never get planning permission for anything like it in its place!


I meant the station being pulled out and redone with a softer theme than the original horror (or a Gruffalo related IP as rumoured), when what every guest really deserves is the ride restored professionally, to be awesome, dark and fun again :) 

 

The large window light box (which has been empty for years) could suit a kind of projection effect similar to what used to be there too, and brand new lighting. Unfortunately under Merlin, money wont be granted to improve an old ride unless it is rebranded as a new ride. This is a policy of theirs. And the park don't have the money (or care) to scrape together a proper budget themselves, like Hex at Alton Towers this winter.

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Good operations on Vampire today, the queue moved much faster than I've known it to in recent years!

 

Louder audio and some additional theming items in the queueline were a plus, but it's still looking very tired and in need of refurbishing; I just hope this happens rather than a retheme.

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The ride gets new props in the queue every single year, new gravestones made of cardboard or polystyrene on a tiny budget from the park's in house team. They like decent at best, for a couple months and then fall apart or get tatty. They really need to get a real studio to restore the whole thing with a complete design, not bits and bobs on a school play budget, even if their in house teams are "trying their best". Things should be done the proper way, if only Merlin would give the budget and grant restorations for their inherited classic attractions.

Same with the parks' audio and effects throughout. Need to be done professionally, it's what guests pay for after all :)

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4 minutes ago, Wumbamillio said:

The ride gets new props in the queue every single year, new gravestones made of cardboard or polystyrene on a tiny budget from the park's in house team. They like decent at best, for a couple months and then fall apart or get tatty. They really need to get a real studio to restore the whole thing with a complete design, not bits and bobs on a school play budget. The way things should be done :)

I completely agree, what it needs is a complete restoration IMO - but I think it's nice that the in house teams have done what they can do on a shoestring budget at least.

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What I would love to see is a major complete refurbishment of Vampire to bring the ride upto date and make it more exciting.

 

If I owned and managed  Chessington tommorow I would:

  • Restore the chandeliers in the station
  • Bring back the Graham Smart Score (along with the announcements)
  • Put red lighting in the crypt and green inside the station
  • Rebuild the organist animatronic and add window projections on some of the walls
  • Add a new ambient soundtrack in the queue 
  • Add more theming for the queue, sculptured tomb stones and old pieces of furniture maybe 

Vampire may be 27 years old, but it still has a place in the Chessington today and I would love for it receive a 'Towers Loving Care style' refurbishment.

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