Re: Derren Brown's Ghost Train (WC16) | Thorpe Park | May 2
Worst attraction I've ever been on. Absolute, utter garbage. Not scary, not thrilling, not fun... just downright boring. Hated it.
You know the Samsung VR Gear? There's a little demo you can download to play on it, a creepy room kinda thing, and that was a million times scarier than this poxy Ghost Train. And you can do that in your own front room with a decent phone and a 70 quid headset.
And that, in a nutshell, is where the problem lies. VR doesn't belong in a theme park. At all. VR is something you'd use at home to visit, say, a 'virtual' theme park. When you're actually at a theme park, why in the name of blue f*ck would you wanna sit in a dark room with a headset on when there's real rides and attractions whizzing around just outside?
It just doesn't make any sense.
The entire concept is fundamentally wrong.
On top of that, you've got the appalling execution, the pathetic and laughable physical effects, the bad acting from the staff and the atrocious quality of the VR graphics.
I just watched the teaser trailer again, just for a laugh, and it makes me want to kick Derren f***ing Brown square in the bollocks.
"A heart stopping experience featuring grand illusion, live action and special effects".
Really, Derren? Sorry, but it's painfully obvious how the 'grand illusion' is achieved, any idiot can see that. Being shouted at and ordered to 'panic' by some gobby teenage bint does not constitute 'live action', and I've seen better 'special effects' at a Punch & Judy show.
"This will completely re-write the rules of what theme parks can do."
No it won't, Derren. You're a knob.
"Over a thousand specialists have come together to create this experience."
Have they really? How come not a single one of them at any point said; "Hang on, this is gonna be sh*t. Shouldn't we be building an RMC or sumat?"
"I believe this represents the future for theme parks across the world."
No it doesn't, Derren. The only thing this represents is what theme parks across the world should never, EVER attempt to try again. You're a knob.
So yeah, firmly and emphatically in the 'absolutely hate it' camp. Joey's and Lofty's reviews are spot on.
What a tragic waste of an opportunity.
I was pretty savage in my appraisal of this first time round. The thing is though, I meant every word of it. I didn't call it 'Derren Brown's Giant Turd' just to get some cheap laughs, I genuinely felt that this was the worst theme park attraction ever built.
But wait... what's this? They've revamped it? Made it scarier, have they? Turned the fear factor up from an 8 to a 10?
For those of you yet to experience 'Rise of the Demon', I'll try not to spoil any of the 'new stuff', any of the... ahem, 'improvements', but there may be a few spoilers for anyone who hasn't ridden it at all.
First of all, it's got a... well, it's a... What is it?
There's a new... thing. To be fair, it's quite a startling new thing. It'll probably only 'get you' the first time, but it's still quite an impressive effect. You'll like it. Honest.
The preshow remains unchanged. First time round, it was quite intriguing and set the scene nicely. Second time round, knowing in advance how turdy the rest of the ride is, it comes across as a bit pompous and long-winded.
Ditch the 'peekaboo' crap, Derren, and get on with it.
We then have to endure that brick holding room bit. I timed it, we were in there for over 4 minutes. No theming, no music, nothing to distract you (except in this case, listen to bunch of gobby young teenagers (who'd obviously been on it several times already that day) discuss loudly how they thought it was all done, thus ruining any potential surprise for anyone else in the queue. Grrr!)
Anyway, my point is, this needs major attention. It ruins any atmosphere built up by the preshow. The tension evaporates and gives way to frustration. It's just plain bad.
Then you've got that bit where you wait by the train carriage for the previous riders to get off - another tension ruining moment and another opportunity for the gobby teenagers to look around and point and say annoying things like "Oh look, the train just slides into the next room over there". Little ****er. I wanted to throttle him!
This section too needs attention. It needs to be more efficient, you need to see the splendid Victorian train carriage in some sort of grand reveal with music or lighting or smoke or something, take a few moments to appreciate the detail and then get straight on board. Instead you just walk through a doorway and there's the train, and you just hang around for another 2 or 3 minutes waiting for your turn.
On to the first VR section, then. I may be wrong about this, but I think it's a bit longer than it was before? Some have argued that it's already too long, and they're right, but I seem to remember that first time round, as soon as the VR started to get creepy (when the girl breaks through the window) we were told to remove the headsets and evacuate the train. This time, the video is allowed to run for longer and it gets really
creepy. Either that, or last time we were ordered off the train before the VR had actually finished which, given the state of operations last year, is a distinct possibility.
It's still too long, but if they shaved a bit off the intro and got to the creepy stuff sooner, this could actually be quite good.
The live action bit is still a bit of a disaster. It just feels so contrived and false; "Quick, wait here by this escape tunnel, argh, a train, quick, back the way you came, argh, zombies, quick, through this door and get back on the train... argh" etc...
There seems to be a few more ride staff for this bit than last time, most of them 'in character' - they're clearly trying to manage the scene a bit better but sadly it's still a tad chaotic, comes across as a bit... what's the word? Am dram.
Now the second VR section is arguably the bit that came in for the most criticism before, and rightly so, it was awful, but thankfully this is the bit that's benefited from the biggest overhaul.
The previous version was such a passive experience, it wasn't involving, it wasn't immersive,
it didn't utilize the VR technology in a creative way. You literally just sat there, (seemingly) on your own, looking straight ahead at a sh*t cartoon. The same effect could have been achieved with a screen on the opposite wall.
The new version is... different. Not just as in, it plays a different video, not just as in, it's changed from CGI graphics to live action, but... I dunno, it's quite hard to explain without ruining it. Let's just say that you're involved more, as are your fellow passengers. There's a fundamental difference between this and the previous version that makes it, well... it just kind of... almost works.
I'm gonna say it - I found it genuinely quite unnerving. I can imagine some people getting properly freaked out by this. Indeed, the difference in the post-ride atmosphere between this year and last year is tangible. People seem to be more excitable, more eager to talk about what just happened, pick it apart, compare notes etc, rather than just slinking off going "Well that was a load of sh*t, wasn't it"?
Don't get me wrong, overall it is still a bit sh*t. It doesn't flow very well, there's still a lot of work to be done to make it work as a coherent, thrilling experience, but with the new VR bits, the additional characters and the extra 'bonus' section, it's no longer the worst attraction ever built. I can see some potential here. If they could somehow streamline the whole thing, address those shortcomings, chop out those bits where the immersion is lost... then yes, possibly, Thorpe Park could have a worthwhile attraction on their hands.
I would previously have rated the Ghost Train 1 out of 10.
I rate the Rise of the Demon 5 out of 10. Still not great, but that's a 500% improvement over last time, Thorpe Park deserve some credit for that.
In conclusion then, it turns out the old saying is true - you can't polish a turd.
But maybe you can roll it in some glitter.