Rollercoaster Ranking – Thorpe Park

While trawling through the Parks & Trip Reports page checking for dead space it struck me that there’s no love on here for good old Thorpe Park. Having lived less than an hour away from it since birth and having gone to the place far too much already, obviously I’ve never written a trip report about it.

From having family focus and a farm to becoming the nation’s thrill capital, Thorpe has seen quite a change over the years. Sadly my first visit (the one where I didn’t ride anything anyway) took place in the midst of this transition so I never got to experience the park when it had dark rides and stuff. There’s also been an unhealthy dose of remove the good and install the bad more recently and I could spend a while moaning about that, but there’s enough of that around already.

Today I’ll just have to cast history aside and talk about rollercoasters again.
If you want the former, here’s a man getting emotional about it.
If you want the latter, there’s only 7 of them, I won’t keep you long.


#7 Flying Fish

Struggling for pictures here, but there’s only one place to start this list. Runaway Train at Chessington was one of the first major attractions I ever rode and this Fish is just the same thing in a field with none of the effort.

Ooh, struggling to pick what comes next. I think it’s this although I always enjoyed the onride atmosphere whether it was in backwards mode or rave mode (awful, awful queue). As a coaster it never really gets going thanks to the multiple block sections and we would often use the time spent on these discussing how one could utilise these to improve the experience.
Surprisingly I haven’t yet actually seen the real life attempt at this, in the form of The Walking Dead: The Ride.
Circa 2018 I still held a Thorpe only annual pass because it was dirt cheap and I liked to pop in for a couple of hours when the opportunities arose. They held an introductory event for passholders but the retheme failed to open to the public on that day. So they invited us back several months later for an ‘even more special’ introductory event. And it failed to open again.
The same year I noticed that I couldn’t even blitz the park on a mid week September visit (i.e. empty) without queueing what I would personally consider to be extortionate amounts of time (i.e. 20 minutes) and I haven’t been back since.

This is a shame, because the ride is (was) a legend. No points for creativity on the layout itself, but the way they blended this huge, record breaking coaster into the landscape is totally admirable.
I used to like the ride a lot. It provided me with my very first inversions (all 10 of them) and I remember a time when doing back to back laps of the thing to close out the day was an exciting prospect and something to be proud of.
Now it’s just there, steadily getting less interesting as hundreds more of the same model get thrown up around the world without a second thought. I have no desire to ride it any more because a) it’s not that good and b) it’s not that special.
Stop me please, I’m moaning about clones again, but this is one of the reasons why – status.
Colossus was a big name in the UK, even just being a rollercoaster that your average person knows by name is an achievement in itself. It broke records, set standards, had an identity. Then China builds a couple more of the same – oh no, it’s not unique any more but it’s alright, I’m the only man who actually experiences this sacrilegious act. Oops, watch out, there’s one in Italy. And then this daft idea happens and I’ll say no more.

#4 Stealth

From one British icon to another, I won’t mention the fact that this one got cloned too. It bothers me less because you’d hardly call this a layout and it’s become a bit of a ride type in its own right – a way of making things go very high and nothing else.
Aside from the lightning quick duration of the ride I have to admit that the sensation of launches on their own don’t particularly excite me any more. It’s my own loss, I’ve just ended up doing a few too many and the impact just isn’t as prominent as it once was. Once that’s gone, there’s nothing much left of Stealth. A bit of an ‘nnnnnngh’ into shoulder restraints over brake fins and the sound of someone’s makeup bag exploding into the car around you.
Unlike Colossus this ride still has presence though, and I appreciate that. The strong thematic experience of the whole Amity area with the seemingly endless Big Bob on WWTP radio loops, the existence of Tidal Wave and side plot of ’50s drag racing might just be the most quality thing about Thorpe Park.

#3 Saw: The Ride

Despite it being the first rollercoaster I really followed the construction of, I took basically no pictures of this once it opened. All I’ve got is this terrible one that wouldn’t even pass as ‘artsy’.
There may be some twisted reason as to why I did follow this one, beyond the fact that I was old enough to have free reign of the internet and it was being built at my local park. I was also a fan of the Saw franchise. Mmm… torture porn.
I was talking about status above and things just stick in your mind about some rides.
1) There was a BBC Radio 2 talk show about how inappropriate the branding of this ride was. The arguments amused me to no end and I just enjoyed the fact that it was getting attention.
2) Based on hearing this my Dad decided to start telling me to stop riding these rollercoasters because the forces aren’t good for your brain (1000 later he still does! Sorry).
3) It made my cousin cry.
This type of stuff helps a ride to become a legend in it’s own right and the fact that it has both retained the brand and remained uniqu-
“Excuse me.”
“Wait, what?” There’s one in Australia? Oh it’s alright, I haven’t done that one yet and err… it has a different theme.”
“Hypocrite.”
-as an attraction means that Saw: The Ride still interests me.
It’s far from the best of coasters but I do enjoy the dark ride elements and on the days when the train decides not to slow down in the second half of the layout it packs a particularly violent punch.

Aww, I like Swarm. Everyone says it’s boring and bleak and while standing in the queue I’ve literally seen guests playing a game of cards on it mid ride in mock fashion (I hope) of the apparent forcelessness. To illustrate that point better than I ever could, here’s that man again.
Mr. ‘Launches don’t excite me’ over here actually sees stars on the sustained turn around the water so doesn’t personally see the logic.
The near miss elements are cool in the right seat and the inversion over the station is, well, it’s good to watch. Sometimes there’s fire! and the year they turned the back seats around (brave it backwards) was a stroke of genius. I laughed uncontrollably from start to finish on this version, had a ridiculous amount of fun and miss it deeply.

#1 Nemesis Inferno

Another UK park, another B&M invert at the top. It’s no wonder I used to consider it one of the most consistent ride types in the world (don’t worry, just like everything else I’ve since put myself off that idea too). Inferno feels like the most complete rollercoaster package in the park, partly thanks to the quirky little pre-lift dive through the volcano but mostly just from the fact that it’s the most quality piece of hardware at Thorpe.
There’s a flow and grace to these that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the country and it seems to be getting more forceful as the years go by – ageing like a good cheese. Personally I’ve never been offended by the whole Nemesis branding comparison because I’m not overly attached to the original and in my eyes they’re definitely not worlds apart as an onboard experience. I view this one just for what it is and it’s a cracking coaster.

Bonus Round

My favourite ride in the park isn’t actually a rollercoaster and I wanted to give a shout out to Detonator. Whenever I spent a cheeky hour in the park it was Swarm, this, Inferno, this, leave. Buzzing.
I’m not big on flat rides but I am a sucker for drop towers. With the majority of my hobbying life now dominated by a lack of butterflies in the stomach on even the most vicious of airtime, a top tier drop tower can still have that gorgeous effect on me and this is a prime example, right on my doorstep.
This little Fabbri absolutely destroys most of the much more significant towers I’ve ridden throughout the world. They’re all heartless, soulless and comparatively forceless. Whether Thorpe are playing the ticking time bomb soundtracks, mindgames over the microphone or running it in absolute silence it still gets my nerves going. It cheats, supposedly, it kicks the car downwards rather than leaving things to pure freefall, and that makes all the difference. Why can’t they all do that?

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