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Garyy

Wicked Witches Haunt

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But rather than being separate trains it was an omnimover continuous string of carriages type system that turned towards each scene.

Thats right, exactly like what you'd find on the Spirit of London Ride at Madame Tussauds

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I only ever rode Wicked Witches Haunt once or twice, but my first ever ride on it amazed the six year old me. From it's beautiful gothic design, sets, humour and set pieces. It was the first large scale dark ride I'd ever ridden and blew anything else out of proportion, which were mostly fairground ghost trains. This was a lot more than a ghost train.

 

I would still argue to this day the loss of this attraction is the greatest loss to the UK and it's tragic to think how all that detail was burn't to ash in it's final moments.

 

Geisterschloss at Europa Park (though noticeably different) is probably the nearest replica to this ride which thankfully still operates to this day.

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And totally surreal and bemusing, really imaginative and simply fun. So many animations and grand scenes too compared to what's typically produced today. Of course it was best as an all round family attraction, not sure if it would have survived Thorpe's 2000s adrenaline era had it not burnt down.

And this video shows it only after its UV refurb to make it more colourful and ghost trainy. Before this it was even much more creepy and gothic by the looks of things.

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Yeah the scenes blended yet didn't really fit together - Medieval to Victorian to Tudor to Georgian etc - I liked that aspect - It didn't need an explicit story, there was lots of stories going on! 

 

I rode it as phantom Fantasia and WWH - I used to think I preferred the PF version - but I think WWH had more depth and detail due to the talents of rex studio and their use of Tromp L'Oeil set painting, and the UV made the scenes 'pop'! SO I'm inclined to say I preferred WWH.

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'Meh' is not a word I'd use to describe it.

I wish rides like WWH/Phantom Fantasia and others similar to it still existed; they really seemed to have a great atmosphere. So much detail and hard work must have gone into making it. Such a shame it was destroyed. 

I've always wondered how popular the ride was, as no one knows it really today, even people who were kids at the time. It's not had much of a legacy; only one of its vehicles was on the Carousel, and that was about it. Was it big news when it was burnt down? 

 

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Yeah it had a good legacy - I often get comments from people who are in no way theme park fans who visited as kids and teens in the 80's and often ask 'is phantom fantasia still there'.... People seem to remember it - even by name! as in no one ever says 'oh that haunted house thing they used to have' - they actually remember it's name.... and that I would say is a good legacy! I think more with people over 30 these days - and with fanboys/girls tending to be a younger crowd - thats why it isn't well remembered. 

Also was the previous lack of photos and videos of it... 17 years since the fire - and things such as the above video are only just surfacing!

 

I actually think it had more of a legacy with the casual patron than the 'fanboy'. It was at the park for 17 years - that's a long old time to ingrain memories into thousands if not millions of people!

 

It NEVER had a que as far as I remember, due to it having MASSIVE capacity - but there always seemed to be people on it! so yeah It was quite popular, It had on-ride photography too - so it was popular enough to warrant installing that!

And yes it was big news at the time!

The thing is Merlin had only just taken reins of Thorpe and they just literally swept it under the carpet and carried on turning the park into a white-knuckle based park! To this day that don't claim to have much information on the ride which is odd as they claimed that since day one (after the fire) - and must have had archives of the track-layout, press photos etc - but there you go! Its only in recent years parks have taken a bit more interest in their past. 

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If you were a child growing up with this at the time, I know from similar experiences this attraction would have been incredible. Whereas kids now have got a couple nice and cosy kiddie dark rides, all plastic and very commercialised, generic and twee. Back then this was a super horrifying, creepy, unexplained tour through the dark that surrounded you with weird cavernous scenes (the scenes went pretty far down below and above you).  It certainly didn't hold back from giving you nightmares, fun nightmares though.

 

It was  a great big horror ride, full of weird animations, sinister sounds coming through the dark, always something a little different around the corner and so much detail. No video can do it justice really I'm sure. I wish there were more to see of Phantom Fantasia, the scarier, darker version.

It's had a great legacy. The reason very few photos or videos have surfaced of Phantom Fantasia or Wicked Witches is because such things didn't exist publically then, and many archives have been lost over time. It was popular on a regional scale and Thorpe didn't get the huge numbers it squeezes in today. The theme park was pretty much brand new when the ride opened and it certainly left its impression. But most of the people who rode it will have grown up and too old for daft old things like theme park forums and the internet now, so of course you wouldn't read about it here a great deal.

I know many people whov'e become theatre &, attraction designers because of this attraction and others just like it around the country. It's fab. And so it's pointless for someone to come along decades later and say its 'meh' based off a grainy video - unless you have something of a dull imagination!

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If its anything like Geisterschloss at Europa, it was probably a eerie and charming dark ride.

I don't think judging a dark ride off a video really gives the ride justice though..
Dark rides have complete different atmospheres that can't be replicated in a POV..

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You are so right - I'm 34 (but still don't find forums too daft lol )...and guess what I'm a theatre designer/maker, and this ride WAS a great influence to me! 

 

I grew up with phantom fantasia, 5th Dimension, prof burps bubble works, the original London Dungeons, the original haunted house (Alton) - all of which fired my imagination!  all original ideas - no IP, no need to explicitly spell out the story line, no real need to make sense and definitely no need to be a 'shooting gallery-on-a-train'! 

 

I hope new-build traditional dark rides do make a come back! 

 

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