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Thorpe Park on a Weekday (and a Sunday)


Hyper Poster
A trip report for a park nearly everyone has been to with photos that nearly everyone has taken? Why not! :D

Last weekend myself and the wife has a 2-day visit to Thorpe Park. You can get a really decent deal via the Thorpe Breaks website for certain dates, and we got park entry for 2 days plus a night’s stay and breakfast at the Hilton in Bracknell for just £111, which I’d say is very good value.

This was my third visit and her first, and was more focussed around what she wanted to ride as I really wanted to see what she would go on having become more willing to ride thrill coasters after our visit to the USA last year. She fell in love with Wild Eagle at Dollywood so I was hoping Swarm would be an appealing, more local alternative :)

It was absolutely scorching hot weather for both days and as a results the crowds were pretty large, but we still managed to ride all the good stuff and the weather gave a good excuse to try out some of the water rides which I’d not ridden on my previous visits.

We arrived just before midday on Sunday and after some unnecessary queuing for entry tickets (turned out our printed out voucher could just be scanned at the turnstiles) we decided to eat our lunch first and then hit the rides. We amazingly found a nice picnic bench in the shade right at the end of Colossus where it turns around to go back towards the station.

After lunch we decided to cool down with a ride on Tidal Wave. I’ve been on a few of these shoot the chutes rides now and most of them don’t tend to get you that wet due to projecting the water away from the boat. Not so with Tidal Wave, as it propels the water forwards and then the boat goes under the wave. The result was a thorough head-to-foot soaking!

(Well we were warned!)


Next stop was Rumba Rapids, but just as we were about to board it broke down, which amusingly led to all the boats accumulating at the end of the ride.

With Storm Surge having a 60 minute queue, that was the end of any water rides for that day and we moved on to the creds. First up, Nemesis Inferno, since it was so close to the rapids. I’ve previously not been that impressed with Inferno. It’s a poor relative of the original for sure, and it was ranked as my worst B&M Invert. However this time around it has grown on me a bit, as we had a few rides over the two days. I do like the theming and now all the plants are well established the area is really nice.

Overall it’s fun but a bit lacking in intensity compared to the others, but Anna really enjoyed it (more than Alton’s Nemesis :O) and I’ve decided to move it above Batman in my invert rankings. One thing it does always do is make me really dizzy when I come off, probably because of the interlocking corkscrews.

Next up we headed for Thorpe’s ‘new’ addition for 2018, The Walking Dead: The Ride. It may just be a re-theme of crappy old X, but fair play to Merlin, they’ve done a great job with it. You now get an outdoor queue line, a pre-show, a variety of neat touches in the indoor corridors, some reasonable effects on-ride and even scare actors on selected days (probably only on weekends). They do put a sign up to warn you if there are scare actors on duty.


They also seem to have done ‘something’ to the way the ride operates. I won’t give any spoilers away for anyone that wants a surprise, but it’s quite impressive that they made the effort to modify the operation of a 20+ year old coaster. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the whole package, despite the coaster itself being rather ****.

After a short break to cool down with an ice cream, we headed towards Swarm, stopping for a ride on Flying Fish on the way. I’ve never known this have more than a one train wait and this day was no exception. Probably helps that the train is ****ing massive!

On to Swarm then, which was down to a 25 minute wait by this time. Anna was a bit intimidated by the dive drop so I suggested we start on the left side as I feel the 180 degree turn is less weird on that side.

(Nobody has ever taken this photo before!)

I always knew it wasn’t going to match up to her expectations based on Wild Eagle, because despite being a wing coaster it’s a very different ride, being more focussed on inversions. And so it proved to be - she didn’t really enjoy the first ride and the hangtime elements in particular, but she was willing to try again the next day. As for me, I enjoy the ride despite the lack of intensity and short length, and it has become my favourite in the park.


We then headed back over to Stealth, and I was hoping this might become Anna’s first coaster over 200ft, if only because if she didn’t like it, it is over almost as soon as it begins. She did give it some consideration but in the end I couldn’t convince her, so I went for a solo ride and grabbed front row as the queue wasn’t too long.

(Definitely nobody has ever taken this photo before!)

I’d only ridden Stealth for the first time myself last year, both rides near the back, so I hadn’t had the joys of the view you get on the front row when you head over the Top Hat. I absolutely loved it! I still think it’s a shame the ride doesn’t do anything after that, but it definitely went up in my estimations a bit after that front row ride.

With time pressing on, we headed towards Saw and Colossus, stopping for a second ride on Nemesis Inferno on the way as the line was down to ten minutes. They had the effects on this time around so the tunnel under the station was nice and misty, which was very welcome on a hot day.

Next up was Saw, which Anna was never going to consider riding. I do really like the theme and the layout of the ride, but it does get rougher every time I ride it and when I consider it was my No. 2 coaster in my pre-goon days a few years ago, it makes me realise just how many great coasters I’ve ridden in the last two years.

(Pretty sure nobody has ever taken this photo before!)

Last ride of the day should have been Colossus, but just as I joined the queue it broke down so we decided to call it a day and managed to get out of the park just before 5pm, avoiding any bad traffic. We headed over to our hotel and had a quiet night in, apart from eating at a pretty decent BBQ place called Blues Smokehouse in Bracknell.

Pretty good first day to be honest, grabbing all but one coaster and even getting a re-ride in under 5 hours on a hot summer day.


Hyper Poster
On to day 2 then and the hope was that it would be nice and quiet and we could get plenty of rides on everything we wanted to. First signs were good when we arrived at 9:30 to a near-empty car park.

Unfortunately the good weather would ultimately draw a pretty large crowd to the park again for a weekday, and there were other issues too, which you’ll know all about if you’ve heard the song by @Serena :)

Anyway, it was fun to be in the park before ‘rope drop’ (actually ‘gate opening’) and first up was the only cred not ridden the day before – Colossus. But it was shut again :(

With no interest in re-riding Saw and Swarm also not running, we headed for Nemesis Inferno again. Once again the effects were on and the wait time was non-existent except for the front row, so we went for the back row. While I love riding front row on inverts, I must say this was probably the best ride on this coaster we had, as it certainly has a bit more intensity on the back row, particularly on the zero-G roll.

(Another photo that nobody has ever taken of a B&M Invert)

As predicted in the aforementioned song, most coasters were only running one train and Nemesis in particular suffered worst for this as the wait time topped 60 minutes later that morning, so we’re glad we rode it when we did.

Next up was Rumba Rapids, which had recovered from its breakdown on Sunday. Pretty bog-standard rapids, not very splashy apart from a bit near the end. I did like the tunnel though it would benefit from some more theming in there. A nice touch was one of the ride attendants being quite chatty on his megaphone as we went past - nice to see the staff having a bit of fun.

I then tried to convince Anna to try Stealth but she’d watched a couple of videos on YouTube the night before and as soon as she heard about the possibility of a rollback she was having none of it. I joined the queue but then noticed Swarm was open so we dashed over there to grab a ride before any queues built up. This was also running one train (as was Stealth) so we were happy to get on in under 10 minutes, doing the front right side this time.

Front right is my personal favourite position and Anna preferred it here too, enjoying the interactions such as the ‘skim’ of the water more on this side. As we crested the lift hill I noticed that Colossus was testing so as soon as we got off Swarm we headed over and I spent about 15 minutes hanging around the entrance while a poor staff member continually told everyone approaching the ride that it would be open soon but she wasn’t sure exactly when.

(Just hurry up and bloody open!)

Eventually it did open and I got a front row ride on the second train of the day, while Anna sat this one out as the thought of those final 5 inversions didn’t appeal to her. I was amazed to find Colossus was running two trains right from the off! I only got the one ride on Colossus but I really enjoyed it. I don’t get why people say the ride is rough to be honest. Sure, the trains are a bit uncomfortable and there is a bit of rattle or vibration, but anyone that thinks that is rough needs to man up a bit in my opinion. The ride would definitely benefit from new trains and a coat of paint, and now it doesn’t have the inversions record I would quite like to see them remove some of the heartline rolls and maybe put a couple of small airtime bunny-hops in their place. But otherwise I genuinely don’t think there is much wrong with it!


With all the creds done and the time just before midday, we decided to check out the Angry Birds 4D Experience, something I’d not done before. It was pretty crap really, with the effects mostly being limited to the chairs annoyingly jolting every few seconds and water being sprayed in our faces too often.

We then made our way back to Swarm for another ride as the queue time was dropping again, but stopped off for a ride on Depth Charge first, which was best described as uneventful. We grabbed another front row, right side ride on Swarm and since our first ride they had decided to switch all the effects on, which was a pretty bizarre decision for a weekday when they hadn’t been on the day before. As a result we were lucky enough to get the fireball going off just as we went down the first drop, and could still feel the heat from it as we passed the fire engine, which was very cool.

Making our way back to Stealth, it now had a 50 minute queue thanks to the single train ops, which is just not worth it, but they had put the second train on Nemesis Inferno which had brought the queue time down to 20 mins, so we had our fourth and final ride of the trip. Amusingly/worryingly there was a family eating their KFC lunch right in front of us in the queue, and having to wolf it down because the queue wasn’t that long. We then ended up a couple of rows behind them on the train and were half expecting to be hit by their vomit, but thankfully it didn’t happen!

After that we had our own lunch at Sticky Sisters, which wasn’t bad for theme park food, despite being a bit pricey. Another look at Stealth and its queue time after lunch confirmed that I was destined not to ride again on this trip, so we grabbed another quick ride on the rapids before heading home.

It was a bit disappointing not to get more rides on Monday but I still enjoyed the day. I think the sun shining just makes any theme park trip fun, even if it does bring more people out and extend the waiting times. It pains me to say it but I think I prefer Thorpe to Alton Towers at the moment. The coaster line-up is pretty comparable, they have more water rides, it’s much easier to get around and it just seems to have a better vibe, perhaps because it is more compact. Maybe it’s because a trip to Thorpe is more of an event for me and any trip to Alton tends to be disappointing because I always end up reminiscing about the glory days, but I would say Thorpe is my number 2 park in the UK after BPB right now.

Of course there are issues – one train ops resulting in 40-60 minutes queues on a day when the park is only open till 4pm is pretty disgraceful, but that’s more of a Merlin issue than specifically a Thorpe one. I think the operations were pretty good with two trains and most of the staff were positive too, and even the GP weren’t too disgusting on this visit. The reliability of Colossus is probably the biggest concern and the sooner they give it some TLC the better. I’m also hoping they will eventually link up Swarm island and the area near Stealth so that there’s a proper loop around that part of the park.

You wouldn’t catch me dead there during summer holidays, but again that’s true of any UK park, but I can definitely see us taking advantage of the cheap 2-day park/hotel offer again and hopefully the next time we head down there will be a new coaster to ride.

I’ll sum up by paraphrasing Serena’s song. Thorpe Park on a weekday – the coasters only run one train (sometimes) but the atmosphere is still pretty good (at least when the sun’s out!) :D