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Thorpe Park - Trip report and musings

Pokemaniac

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Finally got some time to do this.

Anyway, a little over a week ago, I went to Thorpe Park in England, UK. I presume most of you are familiar enough with the park that I don't need to introduce the rides, and in any case others have done that better than me before. I don't think a straight-up list of the rides I rode would be very engaging either, and my pictures are not very good (at any rate, the battery on my phone gave out halfway through the day, so I didn't take many of them). So instead, let me just take you along on a ramble through the park from my perspective. It's an interesting little place, which does some things right and makes some ... confusing choices. I'll try to supplement my own poor photos with pictures found elsewhere, such as Google Maps. Anyway, let's Thorpe.

Transport to the park was pleasantly convenient: Find the right platform at Waterloo station, hop on a train, and wait until you arrive at the village with the unfortunate name Staines. From there, a bus will take you to the park. Interestingly, the bus crosses the Thames on the way, and there's actually only 200 meters of dry land between Fleet Lake (where Thorpe Park is situated) and the waters of the Thames. If you can wiggle through the right drainage pipes, it should theoretically be possible to swim from Thorpe Park into central London. The other way 'round would be considerably more difficult, I imagine.



I had last been at the park in 2009, during Easter break when the place was absolutely crammed. A friend and I queued for more than an hour to ride each of Stealth and Nemesis Inferno once, Saw had just opened and had a three-hour line, Colossus was broken down, and we queued for ages for the major flats. That wasn't a very productive day, so this time I was determined to make more out of it. I came on a Thursday as soon as the park opened, and practically every ride was practically walk-on. I decided to head for Stealth first, figuring it would be the most likely to break down so I better get to it before it did.

On the way to Stealth, there will be some musings. You see, the entrance to this park is rather fascinating in its badness.



Thorpe Park has such a lovely outer entrance, with a bridge across the water, here captured by Google Street View. The bridge leads to the park's entrance dome, which I think is supposed to combine a souvenir shop, a restaurant and an arcade. It is crammed with coin-op machines including those terrible claw machines that are designed not to be able to grab prizes until a certain amount of money has been poured into them. Most of the time, buying the price directly on some Chinese website would probably cost less money than the machine asks for in the first place. Anyway, we'll come back to the claw machines later.



The machines weren't there the day Google went in early 2017, but you get the idea. Anyway, the dome is not a very interesting place. It's dark, the music is loud, and there is nothing to do there except spending money on faff or visiting the bathroom. So I went for the latter, since it had already been more than an hour since I left the hotel, and it was a few minutes left before the park properly opened. There was another claw machine placed outside the bathrooms. Sigh. Either way, I like the way each urinal and bathroom stall down there was branded with a ride. It lets you choose which ride to take a leak or a dump on. With Derren Brown's Ghost Train sufficiently watered, I went back up and headed for the bright light of those doors beckoning me into the park proper...



...umm ... what? I seem to have missed the entrance somehow. Why am I on a balcony? Where's the way into the park? Why am I behind the waterslides? This is the park entrance, right? I walked straight through the dome out of the main doors, I can see the rides off in the distance, but I'm behind the waterslides!

Yeah, Thorpe Park has a very confusing entrance area. Beyond the dome, it feels like you're suddenly dumped into the park's most remote backlot corner and tasked to figure out the way to the attractions yourself. Forget Disney's classic concept with a straight path leading you to the park's centrepiece, with sightlines to each of the main lands and obvious paths leading you there. Thorpe lets you see the attractions, but it doesn't exactly lead you into the park. Apparently, the right way to go after exiting the dome is to the left, following the balcony until you pass the restaurant's outdoor seating area(?!?), where this side path along the bushes will lead you to the central area:



Makes perfect sense. Thorpe Park's version of Main Street. It looks like you're headed down a maintenance road for another waterslide, but it's the fastest way to the center of the park. Where the waterslide is. Yeah, this place is confusingly laid out. Alternately, you can go to the right and follow a narrow path winding between two kiddy pools, that way will also take you to the main attractions.



As you can see, Thorpe has this big waterpark right between the entrance and the rest of the park, with various minor paths radiating out from the dome and winding behind a lot of stuff before they go anywhere. As seen in the pictures above, it's like everything is in the far distance when you enter the park, with no obvious way to get there. You just follow one of the paths that go behind a water attraction and hope there's some interesting stuff on the other side. Also note how no path seems to go for more than fifty meters in a straight line before you hit an intersection and have to jut out at another random angle.

Anyway, on to Stealth now. I just had to pass Amity Beach, walk between the two slidy-splashy water rides, up where a main street starts to form, it turns into Angry Birds Land halfway up the street for no conceivable reason, and then back into Amity Speedway when you enter Stealth's area.



Yay, Stealth! Second for second, it's clearly the best ride in the park. But those seconds are so, so few. You go "Launch - wheee!" to "Over the tophat - wheee!" to "Flying into the brakes - wheee!" and then the ride is over. Very fun all the way, but also very short. However, so was the queue, and operations were efficient. I got a front seat without queueing, and when I got off the ride on the offload platform, I could go straight onto the onload platform and sit down in the other train before it could dispatch. I got four or five rides in a row this way before remembering that other rides might build up a bit of a queue. So I decided to head to what would probably be the busiest coaster in the park, Swarm. As seen on the Google Maps photo above, it lies so close to Stealth they're practically touching, so there should only be a brief walk between them. Hang on a second, where does the path between them go?



As the park map helpfully showed me, I had to exit Amity Speedway, go through Angry Birds Land, back into Amity, around Tidal Wave, past Flying Fish, behind the waterslides (why is everything in this park behind a waterslide?) and up a small side path to get to Swarm. Half a kilometer to walk between rides that lie thirty meters apart. Not that I mind walking, but I find the planning pretty poor here. It seems like Thorpe Park was built without an overall layout idea in mind. Or the layout they went for was ridiculously poorly future-proofed. It looks like the first park you make in Rollercoaster Tycoon/Parkitect, where rides are plopped around willy-nilly at first, and then you have to build around them later and connect new rides to the main path network through a convoluted maze of pathways.



Anyway, Swarm. Yay, Swarm! The area is clearly well made and there is a consistent theme to it that they're pulling off pretty well. Ruined buildings and destroyed vehicles, and shipping containers because the Merlin top brass secretly wanted to work for Mærsk instead. Apart from its location in relation to the rest of the park, this is a pretty good area. It even had a fire truck that spit actual fire (they're supposed to do that, right?). Not a lot to do here unless you want to ride the coaster, but then again, in that case you probably wouldn't come out here in the first place. Also, the coaster is pretty good.



I think Swarm is a contender for best coaster in the park, and it might be somewhere in my top 10 as well (although this says more about my coaster count than Swarm's quality). It has great views from the lift hill, the wing rider position is very fun, it interacts well with its theming and is very smooth, but it also feels short. When the first set of brakes come up, you think "ah, yes, it's time for a little breather now before we meander back to the station", but then there's just one turn and the ride ends. Then again, it's worth riding twice because the other wing has somewhat different experiences, notably the swooping turns at the end of the ride and the inversion right off the lift hill.



Also, the operation booth is pretty well made. Kudos to the designers for an original idea. And to that guy for pulling off the sunglasses/beard combo so well.

After two rides on Swarm, I went on to another coaster I spent an hour and a half queuing for at the end of my last visit: Nemesis Inferno. It meant backtracking all the way back to Stealth, but at least I got to see more of the park. And pass behind the waterslides again.



Now this is how to do it right. A clear main street with an enticing piece of theming at the end, a so-called "weenie". Good use of sight-lines there, to draw guests to the mysterious object. Forced perspective is even employed to make it look like a mountain several miles in the distance. Okay, the execution isn't perfect, but it's a trick right out of Disney's playbook and it's pulled off well.



After some thiking, I've concluded that Nemesis Inferno is the best coaster in the park, edging ahead of Swarm. It wins due to its theming, lovely foliage and path interaction, plus the fact that it isn't miles away from everything else. It's a great fun, snappy ride, although I experienced some headbanging when I rode in the front. The restraints also felt very rigid and unforgiving, making it difficult to breathe - but that's probably the fault of my diet rather than of the designers. Easy on the chocolate, kids, it makes coasters worse in the long run. I was also surprised to see Nemesis' effects running, I've heard Merlin doesn't usually let that happen. Another surprise was how far apart Inferno's entrance and exit were: on completely opposite sides of the coaster. I only noticed that after I left the park, though, realizing I hadn't re-ridden Inferno despite the short queue.



Next on the list was Colossus. Man, what a run-down ride. It looks like it hasn't been painted since 1997 - quite a feat since it was built in 2002. As mentioned above, I didn't get to ride this back in 2009, so I was determined to give it a go now. I had heard bad things about it - even in 2009, when the ride rode like it was scarcely 25 years old - but how bad could it really be? One ride would surely be manageable. Also note the waterslide in the background, by the way. Everything in Thorpe is behind a waterslide.



I found this tree along the queue line. The hope is alive, folks! Remember that Orion at King's Island started with the word "GIGA" spelled out in the snow in - exactly! - a queue line! The cladding on the wall behind the tree is more evidence of the Merlin folks's secret dream of working at Mærsk.



So, how did Colossus ride? Well, let me provide a transcript of my thoughts as I rode it:

In the station): "Ouch, I'm pretty clamped down, or what? Perhaps it will be better when the ride is in motion?"
(On the lifthill): "Nope, still painful. But hey, the ride could be enjoyable."
(First drop and loop): "This isn't too bad?"
(Approximately halfway through the cobra roll): "Ouch! Ouch! My ears! Any my thighs!"
(Through the corkscrew): "That was painful, and I know there's one more of these! Oh no, make it stop!"
(Going into the barrel rolls): "Four more to go... Three... Oww, owww! Ah, heck, I forgot there's one more after the turn! Please, couldn't we go straight to the station without this faff?"
(At the end brakes): "Get me out of this thing! Now!"

I've heard the derogatory term "Colossucks" before, and it is pretty descriptive. From the painful restraints to the painful restraints and the painful restraints, this was not very fun to ride.



By the way, another bit of musing as we move on to the next coaster: The path winding through Colossus is one of the main thoroughfares of the park, but it still feels like a cramped, narrow back road. Look at how four supports are plonked in the middle of the path here. If you follow it up to the loop (the picture above) the path does an S-bend to weave around the track. And from the other side, it really doesn't give the impression of being the quickest path back to the entrance:



Now, this isn't really a bad thing, after all, it's pretty cool that the path winds through a coaster like that. But making it the main path? Especially when they could have had a lovely lakeside promenade around it? Also have a look at the loop, Google isn't perfect when it comes to image splicing. Although the loop might not have been quite like that (it was the smoothest part of the ride), I would certainly have believed it if it was the corkscrew instead.



There even is a path along the lake, you just have to slip behind the restaurant (no sign directs you here) and walk past Saw Alive, but that's not where the shops and stalls are. There isn't even a claw machine there, a sure sign that the path is completely abandoned by the park.

Anyway, next on the list was Saw. Another coaster I saw (heh!) back in '09, but didn't get to ride.



It was alright, I guess. I'm no big fan of horror, but it didn't take the theme too far (I think - I closed my eyes for the indoor portion of the ride). A decent layout but with some headbanging, and not much force to it. Its drop was surprisingly weak too. As if it needed a holding brake. The lift chain just whipped us over the top and then we were down before I could take in how tall or steep it was.

It gets bonus points for the hilarity of Jigsaw giving ride instructions, though. You can just imagine him as an acne-faced teenager in a colourful cap and T-shirt, calling out the kids who try to bring their phones on the ride. Or calling a mechanic when the ride breaks down, in that voice.

With this being the last of the major coasters, let's muse a little about theme too. By this point, it's hard not to notice a trend among Thorpe's rides:
  • Swarm is themed to a disaster area, where buildings are razed and left to crumble, abandoned vehicles lie by the wayside, debris is scattered around, weeds are growing and metal is slowly rusting away as there is nobody left to paint it.
  • Colossus is themed to a ruined city, where buildings are razed and left to crumble, debris is scattered around, weeds are growing and metal is slowly rusting away as there is nobody left to paint it.
  • Saw is themed to an abandoned warehouse, which is in disrepair and left to crumble, abandoned vehicles lie by the wayside, debris is scattered around, weeds are growing and metal is slowly rusting away as there is nobody around to paint it.
  • TWD: the ride is themed to a zombie apocalypse, where buildings are razed and left to crumble, debris is scattered around, weeds are growing and metal is slowly rusting away as there is nobody left to paint it.
  • All of Amity is themed to a seaside village after a natural disaster, where... oh, you get the point. To top it off, there's also Derren Brown's Ghost Train and all the 742 Halloween mazes that do variations on the same theme.
It seems like the decay of civilization is a major theme in Thorpe Park, where structures and vehicles are abandoned, debris is scattered, weeds are growing, rust is spreading and things are generally left to fall apart. The common denominator is "it doesn't matter if nobody does maintenance, because it would fit the theme!". But it comes across as a lame excuse not to do maintenance. Like nobody cares about making things shiny and ship-shape, leaving them to decay instead. Nothing (except the overly corporate Angry Birds Land) is bright and beautiful, it's bleak, scary and decaying, and to be honest it makes the place kind of depressing. Stealth is the only headliner attraction whose theme tries to come off as something pleasant and cool, and not rotting and abandoned. Glancing over to Alton Towers, it seems to be the same story there. Merlin seems to be all too fond of the post-apocalyptic, scary, urban punk theme, presumably because it's cheap. And it makes the whole chain feel cheap. Aren't amusement parks meant to be fun? It's literally in the name.

Anyway, I had a ride on Samurai too:



It was alright at first, but by this point I had been in the park for an hour and a half riding attractions non-stop, and hadn't had any water since breakfast. Halfway through Samurai's ride cycle I realized I really needed to go lie down or I would throw up. So I stumbled into the Old Town kiddie area (why the heck is this all the way at the back of the park?) and sat there in the sunshine, reading a book I'd brought for the train ride. Afterwards I spent the rest of the day doing re-rides, as well as trying out Rumba Rapids (pleasant!), Rush (fun!) and Flying Fish (it exists!).

Walking back and forth across the park eventually made me realize it has a main area of sorts; it begins approximately at Storm Surge and continues up to the entrance of Nemesis Inferno. But everywhere else in the park manages the spectacular feat of feeling like a back area, a shortcut away from the busy parts. Everywhere feels like it's out of the way. There's hardly any signs you're moving from one area to another, or an intuitive way to get anywhere. You just find the small path behind the waterslide, which turns out to be the main path, and then you somehow get to your destination. I really can't see the logic in the way the park is laid out.

And then there's the claw machines. Let's do a lightning round:



Holy bleepin' bleep. It's not like there's one of them on every corner. There's four of them on every corner. And again, they are a total sham. These machines are constructed so that the claw will only apply sufficient force to grab and hold on to an item every so often. Most of the time, your skill is completely irrelevant, it's all down to chance whether the machine is physically able to catch an item. The question then becomes: Why are Thorpe keeping so many of them? Did they buy a hundred of these at a factory sale, or is there an actual demand for them? Is it really profitable to keep that many claw machines? Apparently so, otherwise they would have had fewer. I'm not sure if this speaks the most about the greed of the owners or the gullibility of the customers, but this many claw machines in one place is a symptom of something gone badly, madly wrong.


So, overall, what did I think of Thorpe Park? I actually liked it. It has a decent line-up of thrilling rides, and a large number of smaller flats that help fill out a day. There was a certain commitment to theme, if a little one-tracked. The food was affordable and competently made, which is way more than you can say about the food at TusenFryd. The park has some quiet areas where you can catch a breath between the thrill rides. And even some nicely themed buildings:


(Look! Stealth living up to its name!)

However, the layout of Thorpe Park is a complete mess. The water park is extremely badly located, it should have switched places with the Old Town or something, not blocking the entrance area. Even its main street is confusingly built, with game stalls blocking the sightlines and obscuring the otherwise nice themeing. And how come there are back alleys even in the main street? Why are the buildings even located so you can walk completely around them, when there's only themeing on two of the sides?

Swarm being located so far out on the fringe of the park seems like a strange choice, but it's a consequence of poor planning too. Hopefully one day the next island will be developed, and connected to Stealth. Storm Surge might be the most stupidly located ride I've ever seen, it completely dominates an area where it simply doesn't belong (a water slide in the dry park?!?) and hides away other attractions (like the X/TWD pyramid - to get there, you have to pass under a water slide).

And I noticed that the park has only really added two new attractions since 2009: Swarm and DBGT. It's not like its lineup suffers from the lack of anything, but a park lineup needs some renewal every now and then, and Thorpe feels overdue for something new. A total revamp of all of Amity could give the park a sense of order it's currently lacking, or the waterfront along Colossus could be developed. Come to think of it, Colossus itself is reaching the end of its lifespan already, and could do with a total replacement.

Overall, though, I had a nice day. Got a little motion sick, but also a great number of rides and two new creds. It was my only park visit in 2019, and I consider the park well worth a visit. Doubt I'd go there again if I returned to London soon, though, unless the park adds something awesome or I get company.
 
The layout used to work really well in Thorpe's peak (mid 00's). The theming was consistent and the park was very well landscaped. You could start at Lost City and slowly make your way round in a circle back to the front of the park.

It's far less picturesque nowadays. Storm Surge is a huge eyesore and Angry Birds Land is stupid. Canada Creek/Old Town is pointless since losing Slammer, Loggers and possibly worst of all - Dolly Parton tunes.

On the plus side, the X:/NWO area looks a lot better with the Walking Dead theme. They've done a good job there.
 

Pokemaniac

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The layout used to work really well in Thorpe's peak (mid 00's). The theming was consistent and the park was very well landscaped. You could start at Lost City and slowly make your way round in a circle back to the front of the park.
Ah, I can see that now. I take it Stealth was the first thing to break the pattern, being located a little off the beaten track along the side of the park, but it was still located on the main "loop" of the park. But then Swarm was built way off on the fringe, causing the center point of the traffic streams to shift more down towards the Amity area, where there frankly isn't much to do. All the people passing on their way to or from Swarm will just pass Flying Fish on one side and the wall of Amity Beach on the other. Maybe the disconnected feeling of that area influenced what I thought of the park as a whole.

It's far less picturesque nowadays. Storm Surge is a huge eyesore and Angry Birds Land is stupid.
I just looked it up: Storm Surge was built this decade?!? It's really crammed in in the last place to need a water slide. It's so much in the way of everything, both TWD and the main gift shop. Its splash pool is right in the middle of what could have been a nice, open square. And it turned this (clicky) sightline down a main path towards X into this (clicky). Whose idea was it to buy that thing (a water slide for the dry park?!?) and built it there, of all silly places?

Canada Creek/Old Town is pointless since losing Slammer, Loggers and possibly worst of all - Dolly Parton tunes.
That was my impression too, that the whole area felt a little abandoned. The concrete trough of Loggers was still visible, as were the pylons of Slammer. Abandoned railroad tracks even cross the path at one point (or even two?). Sure, there were Halloween mazes there and a few kiddie rides, but the area felt deserted and empty. It's off the main path so at least it constitutes a quiet corner of the park, but as there was nothing on the main path either, that whole section of the park had that ubiquitous "back road" feeling. Just a transport stretch between Inferno and Saw, with no real reason to hang around. At least the Burger King back there had reasonable wait times.

On the plus side, the X:/NWO area looks a lot better with the Walking Dead theme. They've done a good job there.
I didn't visit that part of the park more than casting a glance at it, but looking at how X used to be, I'm willing to take your word for that. Again, a shame about Storm Surge taking up that much space and blocking the sightline.

I think overall, if I had got Thorpe to play with like a Parkitect/Planet Coaster scenario, I'd have moved and/or removed all the three water rides at the entrance of the park. Amity Beach, Storm Surge and Tidal Wave. Put them on the island behind Stealth and Swarm, perhaps, or back by Loggers. A corner of the park that can be closed off when the demand for water rides isn't as great, like the beginning and end of the season. That would keep the entrance area from feeling so dead, and open up space for a shortcut from Stealth to Swarm by way of Flying Fish. Or yet better, north of Flying Fish and into the Swarm area approximately where the tail of the plane wreck lies - but I think Stealth's transfer track is such an obstacle it would be hard to make the route more direct than that.

Clearing the water rides would leave room for a proper main street with a proper ramp from the dome and an open sight line all the way up to the KFC building, which would be outfitted with a tower or big logo or something to catch the eye. The boat-shaped game stall looks lovely, but it should be pulled back off the road and open up the street past DBGT, which it is currently blocking. That way, the park would have a clear Y layout as it base, with one loop to the left with Colossus and Saw, one loop over the top of the Y with Inferno, and one loop to the right of the Y with Stealth and Swarm. I think a move like that would be what the park needs to tidy up a little. For now, though, the impression of a poorly thought-out RCT park remains.
 
Actually, the Stealth area has always been used. Flying Fish used to be over there as well as a Model Village and gardens. I've not been for a while but I think the sunken garden is still there next to Stealth? It was a nice, relaxing area of the park. Flying Fish looked brilliant surrounded by greenery with small streams and rocks. Stealth was an excellent addition, but it awkwardly stretched out the Amity Cove theming and this is where the inconsistency began.
 

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Chris Brown

Mr CoasterForce 2016
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Actually, the Stealth area has always been used. Flying Fish used to be over there as well as a Model Village and gardens. I've not been for a while but I think the sunken garden is still there next to Stealth? It was a nice, relaxing area of the park. Flying Fish looked brilliant surrounded by greenery with small streams and rocks. Stealth was an excellent addition, but it awkwardly stretched out the Amity Cove theming and this is where the inconsistency began.
Yeah the sunken gardens are still there, give a great view of stealth if you wanna take 5 mins out! Agreed flying fish used to look great, was perfectly landscaped in a beautiful area. Best bet would be to get this second island built up and build a walkway from the sunken garden connecting Swarm island and the new island, would really open the park out and utilise Swarms area better!
 

InsomniaMelon

New Member
Yeah the sunken gardens are still there, give a great view of stealth if you wanna take 5 mins out! Agreed flying fish used to look great, was perfectly landscaped in a beautiful area. Best bet would be to get this second island built up and build a walkway from the sunken garden connecting Swarm island and the new island, would really open the park out and utilise Swarms area better!
Totally agree. They even left a gap in the theming etc by the swarm’s queue. I think they planned to link them but ran out of money


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Pokemaniac

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Totally agree. They even left a gap in the theming etc by the swarm’s queue. I think they planned to link them but ran out of money
Looking at the map, I find it more likely that they are waiting for the next island to be developed. Linking the two sites would require a pretty long path, and they would have to build stuff along it so it wouldn't just be an empty field, so it makes sense to postpone it all until the next stage of development, the next big investment.

Why the heck they chose to blow such a big wad of cash on DBGT instead escapes me, however. Maybe some ruckus with planning permissions? Anyway, it seems clear the next island will be developed eventually, with a path finally linking Stealth and Swarm, preferably with something else great in the middle. And then it would be about time to do something about the entrance area.
 
Great report... Your Collosus story is pretty relatable, I hate those reestraints, and the restraints, also, the restraints suck too.

If you think the walk from Stealth to the Swarm is long and annoying, for the love of god never try walking from Thirteen to Galactica at Alton towers!

Finally... Leave us brits and our unhealthy obsession with claw machines alone... Yes they’re a rip off, and only payout to those evil enough to watch other people waste their money first, but the British public clearly love them, as it’s not just Thorpe!!! Every theme park has LOTS. They’re on every seafront, thousands of them, just yards apart. They even line the streets of some destination towns such as Matlock bath. And guess what, at the end of most days, well busy days, they’re usually almost empty, so they must be making a killing off them.
 

Pokemaniac

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If you think the walk from Stealth to the Swarm is long and annoying, for the love of god never try walking from Thirteen to Galactica at Alton towers!
At least those two are physically located quite far apart. Stealth and Swarm are only 30 meters away from each other, yet the walk between them is more than half a kilometer.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Nice report - thanks for sharing.

As someone who's visited the park for 25 years, and worked there for 3, it's interesting hearing such a different perspective. You make a good point about the park's layout, and it's something which I think I've taken for granted. You do get a wonderful view of the park, eventually, but there's no obvious way to get anywhere.

The big issue with this is the park haven't really had any major infrastructure changes since, well, I guess the park opened. You've got the Colossus pathway (which has always existed, was more just redone to fit Colossus), Saw Alive bypass and the infilling they've done (Flying Fish, Saw, Swarm, etc) as the only 'new' pathways. And of course the layout wasn't designed with a theme park in mind. It's something which could do with a major refresh, but probably just isn't feasible.

Another surprise was how far apart Inferno's entrance and exit were: on completely opposite sides of the coaster. I only noticed that after I left the park, though, realizing I hadn't re-ridden Inferno despite the short queue.
The original plan for Inferno was for the queue line entrance to roughly be where the drop out of the station was. It would then turn left, run alongside the tunnel, and go to the area where the horrid cattlepen is, and then go up to the station as intended. The exit would then have to the right of the station, towards Rumba Rapids. However, this was before they had any theming planned (the original plan had the station as a sort of tropical island shack high up in the area with little else).

When they decided to go for the volcano theming, they moved to entrance to give a clearer view of the volcano. And when they decided they wanted an 'exit through a shop', they moved the exit far away so they shop didn't ruin the view of the theming feature.

All those changes did unfortunately mean that the entrance and exit are a gulf apart!

And I noticed that the park has only really added two new attractions since 2009: Swarm and DBGT. It's not like its lineup suffers from the lack of anything, but a park lineup needs some renewal every now and then, and Thorpe feels overdue for something new.
How could you forget about the Dodgems though?! ;)
(I completely get your point though, and I totally agree)

Looking at the map, I find it more likely that they are waiting for the next island to be developed. Linking the two sites would require a pretty long path, and they would have to build stuff along it so it wouldn't just be an empty field, so it makes sense to postpone it all until the next stage of development, the next big investment.

Why the heck they chose to blow such a big wad of cash on DBGT instead escapes me, however. Maybe some ruckus with planning permissions? Anyway, it seems clear the next island will be developed eventually, with a path finally linking Stealth and Swarm, preferably with something else great in the middle. And then it would be about time to do something about the entrance area.
Yep, the plan was (and, in the long long term, still is) to link up the Stealth and Swarm island via that island.

When Swarm was designed, the plan was that a new ride - almost definitely a coaster - would open in that island in 2015 (or, potentially, 2016), again increasing the park's physical space and creating that nice loop. After Swarm failed in Merlin's eyes, and with changes coming within Merlin, they decided to look into doing something different, and the idea of Derren Brown and a Ghost Train performed well in market research.

DBGT was built where it is for planning reasons. The park have a very strict amount of 'indoor'/'building' space they're allowed (in terms of square meters). Putting a huge dark ride building (regardless of the ride) would have been very difficult to pull off (and would have required even more exterior theming, something which DBGT still misses the mark with a bit). By putting it where it is, it got rid of the arena and carousel and loads of game stalls (all things which added to this allowance of indoor space), making it easier to balance the numbers.

As an aside, one of the reasons Swarm's station doesn't have a roof is because it means it doesn't count to this 'indoor' allowance, since even though it has four walls, it has no roof, so can't be classed as a building or indoors. Fun way of getting round things I guess!
 

MouseAT

Active Member
It's interesting hearing such a different perspective about the park's layout.
This thread has certainly been an interesting read, and I'd certainly not considered how somebody visiting for the first time in 2019 would see the overall design of the park. I suppose many of us have known the park for over a decade, so when we first visited, the layout probably made a lot more sense. Since then, it's been changing in ways that make less and less sense, but as the old timers already learned where everything is, and where the paths lead, we probably don't notice the weirdness so much.
 
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