Thorpe Park

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Thorpe Park Resort
Thorpe Park logo.png
Location Chertsey / Staines-upon-Thames / Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°24′17″N0°30′47″W / 51.40472°N 0.51306°W / 51.40472; -0.51306 Coordinates: 51°24′17″N0°30′47″W / 51.40472°N 0.51306°W / 51.40472; -0.51306
SloganAn Island Like No Other
Owner Merlin Entertainments
Operated by Merlin Entertainments
General managerUnoccupied (Divisional Director)
Opened24 May 1979;41 years ago (1979-05-24)
Operating seasonMid/Late March – late October/early November
Visitors per annumIncrease2.svg 1.9 million (2019)
Area490 acres (2.0 km2; 200 ha)
Attractions
Total26
Roller coasters7
Water rides4
Website ThorpePark.com
StatusTheme Park and Hotel
Closed

Thorpe Park Resort, commonly known as Thorpe Park, is an amusement park located in the village of Thorpe between the towns of Chertsey and Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey, England. It is operated and owned by Merlin Entertainments and includes rides, a themed hotel, live events and Stealth, the UK's fastest rollercoaster.

Contents

After demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit managed by Ready Mix Concrete (RMC). When the pits were expended, RMC regenerated the site for leisure, opening Thorpe Park as an outdoor activity park in 1979. It has since grown into one of the major theme parks in the UK.

Major attractions include a large water ride Tidal Wave , a number of rollercoasters including Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, Saw – The Ride, The Swarm , The Walking Dead: The Ride and dark ride Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon . Other smaller attractions include a water area called Amity Beach and an Angry Birds themed land. It also has on-site accommodation, the Thorpe Shark Hotel.

History

Thorpe Park Lake in July 1979, the year the park opened to the public Thorpe Park Lake in early days - geograph.org.uk - 771796.jpg
Thorpe Park Lake in July 1979, the year the park opened to the public

The demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s saw the grounds transform into a gravel pit, originally owned by Ready Mixed Concrete Limited. When the pits were expended, RMC flooded part of the site. In 1975 the Water Ski World Championships were held on the site. [1] RMC established a subsidiary, Leisure Sport Limited, to operate a 400-acre park for water sports, leisure and heritage exhibitions, at a cost of £3 million. [2]

The park was officially opened to the public by Lord Louis Mountbatten on the 24th May 1979. In addition to lakes and parkland, the park featured a replica Stone Age cave, Celtic farm, Norman castle and Viking camp as well as ancient water vehicles and aircraft. [2]

In the early 80s, the park redeveloped into a theme park with permanent themed rides and attractions. [3] New attractions were opened throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Space Station Zero was the park's first rollercoaster, opening in 1984. [4] The last large attraction opened by the park's original owners was "X:\No Way Out" in 1996.

In 1998, The Tussauds Group bought the park. From the outset the park started opening key attractions such as Tidal Wave in 2000, Colossus in 2002, Nemesis Inferno in 2003 and Stealth in 2006.[ citation needed ]

In May 2007, Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group for US$1.9 billion and the company was merged into Merlin Entertainments, who took over operation of Thorpe Park. [5] [6] Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainments. [7]

On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold Thorpe Park, to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement. [8] Although it is owned by Prestbury, the site is operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease. [5]

The target audience for the Resort is Teenagers and Young Adults, adding rides such as Saw - The Ride and The Swarm for example. In 2014, Merlin decided to also target a more broad-family based market with new attractions such as Angry Birds Land and the park's onsite hotel. [9]

On 20 February 2019, the official Twitter account of Thorpe Park confirmed the permanent closure of Loggers Leap, a log flume that opened in 1989 but had been closed since 2015. [10]

On the 25 February 2020, Thorpe Park announced the addition of a live action Black Mirror attraction, named Black Mirror Labyrinth, which was scheduled to open in 2020, but was postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. [11]

Rides and attractions

Rollercoasters

NamePictureTypeOpenedTerritoryManufacturerAdditional Information
The Swarm The swarm drop, thorpe park, england.jpg Wing Coaster 2012Swarm Island Bolliger & Mabillard The UK's first winged coaster, opened in 2012. Was the first winged coaster to feature an inverted 'wing-over drop'. Between 2013 and 2016, the rear two rows were modified to face backwards.[ citation needed ] Height Limit 1.4m. Max Height Limit is 1.95m
SAW -The Ride Sawopen.jpg Euro-Fighter 2009Old Town Gerstlauer A custom Eurofighter featuring a 100 degree 100 ft drop. Themed around the SAW movie franchise. It was branded as the world's first horror movie themed rollercoaster.[ citation needed ] Height Limit 1.4m.
Stealth Stealth Thorpe Park.jpg Hydraulic Launched Coaster 2006Amity Intamin An Intamin hydraulic launch coaster, 205 ft tall and accelerating from 0 - 80 mph in 1.9 seconds. It is the second tallest coaster in the UK and also the fastest. It has a loose 1950s-era drag racing theme.[ citation needed ] Height Limit 1.4m. Max height limit is 1.95m
Nemesis Inferno Nemisis inferno.jpg Inverted 2003The Jungle Bolliger & Mabillard B&M inverted coaster opened in 2003, named after Nemesis at Alton Towers. It has a loose volcano theme and features the first interlocking corkscrews on an inverted coaster. Height Limit 1.4m.
Colossus Colossus (Thorpe Park).jpg Steel Sit down2002Lost City Intamin Opened as the 'world's first ten looping rollercoaster' (record now beaten by The Smiler with 14) and has a loose lost civilization theme. Height Limit 1.4m. Max height limit is 1.95m
Walking Dead: The Ride X-nowayout.jpg Steel Sit down1996 (2013) (2018)The Dock Yard Vekoma Located at the centre of the park in a pyramid. Based on the The Walking Dead (TV series) franchise. On peak days, the ride's exit also includes live actors.[ citation needed ] Previously known as X and originally X:\No Way Out. Height Limit 1.4m.
Flying Fish Thorpe Park flying fish 1.jpg Steel powered coaster 1984 (1990) (2007)Amity Mack Rides Powered coaster. Opened in 1984 as an indoor coaster named Space Station Zero. It moved outdoors in 1990, in the location now occupied by Stealth. It reopened next to the Beach in 2007.[ citation needed ] Height Limit 0.9m.

Flat rides

NamePictureTypeOpenedTerritoryManufacturerAdditional Information
Timber Tug Boat Rockin' Tug 2017Old Town Zamperla A Zamperla Rockin' Tug that was relocated from Weymouth Sea Life and opened in 2017. Height limit 0.9m.
Lumber JumpFrog Hopper2017Old Town Zamperla A Frog Hopper ride that was relocated from Weymouth Sea Life and opened in 2017. Height limit 0.9m.
King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems Dodgems 2014Angry Birds Land Bertazzon Dodgems ride added in 2014 for Angry Birds Land. Height limit 1.1m (with guardian over 1.3m).
Rush 'Rush' at rest - geograph.org.uk - 1294739.jpg Screamin' Swing 2005Lost City S&S Worldwide An S&S Worldwide screamin swing. It has a max speed of 40 Mph. This is the only ride of its type in the UK.[ citation needed ] Height limit 1.3m.
Samurai Samurai Thorpe Park.jpg Top Scan 2004Old Town Mondial Top scan ride, formerly at Chessington World of Adventures Resort under the same name. The ride was repainted when it moved to Thorpe Park.[ citation needed ] Height limit 1.4m.
Quantum Thorpe Park Quantum ride.jpg Magic Carpet2003Lost City Fabbri Group Large magic carpet ride. Height limit 1.2m.
Zodiac Zodiac thorpe park.jpg Enterprise 2001Lost City HUSS HUSS enterprise that opened in 2001. Relocated from Drayton Manor Theme Park where it was known as Cyclone. Height limit 1.1m.
Vortex Vortex in action - geograph.org.uk - 1294900.jpg Afterburner 2001Lost City KMG KMG afterburner ride that opened in June 2001. Height limit 1.4m.
Detonator: Bombs Away Fasten Your Safety Belts^ - geograph.org.uk - 1165821.jpg Drop Tower 2001Angry Birds Land Fabbri Group 35m tall drop tower. Originally named 'Detonator' and was added following the Thorpe Park fire and was intended to be temporary but was then decided to be made permanent.[ citation needed ] It was later renamed 'Detonator: Bombs Away' for the opening of Angry Birds Land in 2014. Max speed 45 Mph. Max G-force 5.5 . Height Limit 1.3m.
Rocky Express The Rock Express - geograph.org.uk - 1294763.jpg Sea Storm1989Old Town Mack Rides Family friendly spinning train ride. Height limit 0.9m.
Mr Monkey's Banana Ride Pirate Ship 1994The JungleMetallbau EmmelnA small banana themed swinging ship ride themed to one of the Thorpe Park Rangers. Height limit 0.9m.
Storm in a Teacup Teacups 1986Amity Mack Rides A teacups ride. In 2011, Tetley sponsored the ride and the sponsorship remains to this day. Height limit 1.1m.

Water rides

NamePictureTypeOpenedTerritoryManufacturerAdditional Information
Rumba Rapids River rapids ride 1987The Jungle Intamin It opened in 1987 as Thunder River and is one of the earliest remaining rides at Thorpe Park. It was sponsored by Ribena from 2002 until 2006 but in 2007 the sponsorship was removed.
Storm Surge Thorpe Park - Storm Surge.jpg Spinning Rapids Ride2011Amity WhiteWater West The ride has a 19.5m lift and spins riders down a spiral chute. Originally located at Cypress Gardens , until Merlin acquired the park and made it Legoland Florida.
Tidal Wave Tidal Wave Thorpe Park.jpg Shoot the Chute 2000Amity Hopkins Rides When the ride was opened in 2000 it was the tallest water ride in Europe.[ citation needed ] The ride has had many sponsors including Dr Pepper and Oasis (drink). Height requirement 1.2m.
Depth Charge Thorpe park skyline.jpg Water slide 1991AmityNV AquaticOpened as the first four lane dingy waterslide in the UK.

Other attractions

NamePictureTypeOpenedTerritoryManufacturerAdditional Information
Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon Derren Brown's Ghost Train .jpg Dark Ride 2016The Dock YardVarious, including Intamin, Simworx and Figment ProductionsMulti-sensory virtual reality dark ride created in collaboration with Derren Brown.
Angry Birds 4D Experience 4D Cinema 2014Angry Birds LandSimworx4D Cinema showing the Angry Birds 4D movie. Replaced Pirates 4-D and Time Voyagers.
Amity Beach Thorpe Park fly motion.jpg Beach Area with Pool and Waterslides1979AmityOriginally named "Fantasy Reef".
Jungle Escape Escape Room 2019The JungleRogue Productions/ Thorpe Park ResortAn escape room where you take on various challenges to escape The Huntsman.
Black Mirror LabyrinthMaze Attraction2021Old TownA maze using cutting-edge technology & sensory-defying environments.

Territories

Since 2016, Thorpe Park is zoned into eight 'island territories'.

Themed 'island territory' areas at Thorpe Park 
  •  Port & Basecamp 
  •  Amity 
  •  The Jungle 
  •  Angry Birds Land 
  •  Old Town 
  •  Lost City 
  •  Swarm Island 
  •  The Dock Yard 

Port and Basecamp

The 'Basecamp' area contains the turnstiles and bridge where guests enter the park. This leads to 'the dome' which acts as a hub for the park, which houses 'The Infinity Restaurant' (formerly Fin's Bar and Grill), an arcade area, a café, toilets, lockers, the Island Gift Shop, guest services, first aid, photo points and staff areas.

The dome was previously known as 'Port Atlantis' with an underwater Atlantian themed interior. Much the scenery and underwater effect went missing since Merlin's acquisition of the park and was removed altogether after the building's change of name.

The Dome remains open outside park operating hours to provide entertainment and dining facilities for guests staying at Thorpe Shark Cabins, including a breakfast buffet.

Amity

Amity is set as a 1950s-era American fishing village hit by a tidal wave and opened with Tidal Wave in 2000. It was previously named 'Amity Cove', as still named on themed signage. The area was expanded in 2006 with Stealth, set at 'Amity Speedway' racetrack. It later took on attractions from the former 'Neptune's Beach' family area, Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet and Amity Beach outdoor water park.

It also includes attractions from the former 'European Park' area, Flying Fish and Storm In A Teacup. Flying Fish was originally located beside Tidal Wave but moved following construction of Stealth to its present location nearer to The Swarm. In 2011, the raft water ride Storm Surge was re-located from Cypress Gardens in Florida, USA, before it was rethemed into Legoland Florida. Storm Surge was built on the former site of the Octopus Garden children's area.

The Jungle

The area's main attractions are Nemesis Inferno , a Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coaster set in a volcano, and Rumba Rapids a river rapids ride. The area was previously named 'Calypso Quay', the area now also includes part of the former 'Ranger County' family area, including Mr Monkey's Banana Ride a small swinging ship ride, as well as shopfronts and restaurants from the former 'European Park' area.

In 2019, Jungle Escape an escape room experience opened in the building formerly housing the I'm a Celebrity... Maze.

Angry Birds Land

Angry Birds Land opened in May 2014 and is themed to the Angry Birds video game. Attractions include Angry Birds 4D a 4D cinema, King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems a dodgem ride and Detonator: Bombs Away a drop tower ride.

The Dock Yard

This area is primarily the plaza for Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon an indoor dark ride and also contains The Walking Dead: The Ride an indoor rollercoaster. The area has no major themed features, other than buildings and scenery remaining from 'Octopus's Garden' (a since-closed children's area) which was later themed to Amity such as the Megastore, various buoys and a carnival game that resembles a cargo ship.

Lost City

The Lost City theme is that of ruins of a recently unearthed Atlantean civilisation with the Colossus roller coaster as the main attraction opening in 2002. The area first opened in 2001 with the Vortex and Zodiac rides as the only attractions. In 2003 Quantum, a magic carpet ride opened. More attractions have since joined the rides line up with Rush an S&S Screamin' Swing which opened in 2005.

Old Town

The main ride in this area is Saw - The Ride , a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter with a 100ft, 100-degree beyond vertical drop. The ride is themed to the Saw movie franchise and is set in a derelict warehouse/sawmill. the flat ride called Samurai was relocated from Chessington World of Adventures in 2004. Timber Tug Boat and Lumber Jump were children's attractions relocated from the Weymouth SeaLife Adventure Park and Marine Sanctuary. The area is also home to the brand new 2021 experience Black Mirror Labyrinth. Old Town includes a Burger King and a food outlet and a small indoor hub/events space.

The area was previously named 'Canada Creek' and was the plaza for Loggers Leap log flume, opened in 1989. When it opened it was one of the tallest log flumes in the world. It had a loose Canadian forest theme, although this has mostly been lost through redevelopments and resembles more of a Western town theme. Today the main attractions listed in the area sit outside the plaza. Rocky Express, a small Mack flat ride, is the only attraction remaining from 'Canada Creek'.

Logger's Leap has remained nonoperational since 2015 and its permanent closure was confirmed in 2019. [10] This area also was home to Slammer a S&S Sky Swat flat ride, which also still stands but is not operating (SBNO) the ride was also confirmed to be permanently closed.

Swarm Island

Swarm Island is the plaza area for The Swarm , a Bolliger & Mabillard wing-rider rollercoaster, opened in 2012. The area was built on land reclaimed from the surrounding lakes. The area is themed as the scene of an apocalyptic disaster/alien invasion with a crashed plane, various damaged emergency vehicles like a helicopter and fire truck, a destroyed church and other destroyed structures. Many of the areas facilities are based within these structures, such as the ride station being housed in the church, the shop being housed in an old war container and the ride operating room being based in a wedged police truck.

Records held by the park

Events

As of 2020, Thorpe Park run the following events:

Oktoberfest (Sept - Early Oct) which the park offers live entertainment (music and roaming actors) at the Island Festival Centre (By Derren Brown's Ghost Train) and German food and drink offerings around the park. Rides and attractions are open until late and select rides have Bavarian themed music/ride announcements to fit with the Oktoberfest theme.

Fright Nights (Oct - Early November) which the park offers a range of Halloween entertainment: including horror mazes, shows, scare zones and roaming actors. On top of this, rides and attractions are open until late.

Furthermore, in recent years, Thorpe Park has held a range of unique events such as Zombie Hunt (2018), GameFX (2019), and many more.

Fright Nights

Fright Nights, [13] formerly "Fright Nites" is Thorpe Park's terrifying annual Halloween event and also its largest Halloween event in the UK. It's an event that has been running at Thorpe Park since 2002, celebrating Halloween with the park staying open until late at night, as well as operating a range of temporary Halloween attractions. Roaming actors in costume or with make up can also be found around the park. [14] During Fright Nights, the park stays open until 10pm, with a range of scare mazes available for guests, who normally enter in groups of 8-10. "Face it Alone" has sometimes been available as an upcharge, where a guest enters unaccompanied and must sign a disclaimer before entering. [15]

In 2013, Fright Nights was relaunched with a horror movie theme, courtesy of a three-year contract with Lionsgate. All of the pre-existing Fright Nights attractions were removed with the exception of The Asylum and SAW: Alive to make way for new horror-film themed attractions.

In 2014, when the Thorpe Shark Hotel opened, Thorpe Park decided to do an overnight scare attraction that involved live actors terrorizing you while you are in your bed.[ citation needed ] Before the experience began you were led to the back of the hotel where an actor would read you some scary stories.[ citation needed ]

In 2017 Fright Nights was reinvented with a Walking Dead theme. The addition of two Walking Dead attractions coincided with the season 8 premier of the show. SAW Alive, The Big Top and Platform 15 remained in operation from previous years, with Containment returning as an upcharge attraction.

In 2020, restrictions put into place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic meant that only two mazes operated: Platform 15 and Roots of Evil, both of which took place primarily outdoors. This led to a wide selection of scare zones introduced for the first time to Fright Nights, with The Swarm: Invasion located on Swarm Island, Creek Freaks Unchained in Old Town, The Fearstival Arena in The Dockyard, The Howling of LycanThorpe High in Lost City (on the site near Zodiac and Rush typically used for a scare maze), and Terror at Amity High returning for its third year on the Stealth Plaza. The Crows were also added as roaming actors dressed as scarecrows, based in a few main locations but found anywhere around the park, including interacting with other scare zones. [16]

Fright Nights theme history
YearThemes (number of seasons)
2002Freakshow 3D
(3)
THE FREEZER
(3)
     
2003
2004Carnival of the Bizarre
(5)
2005The Asylum
(9)
Hellgate
(6)
2006Se7en
(6)
2007
2008The Curse
(5)
2009 
2010SAW: Alive
(9)
Dead End
(1)
2011Experiment 10
(2)
 
2012The Passing
(1)
2013My Bloody Valentine
(3)
Cabin in the Woods
(4)
Blair Witch
(4)
2014Studio 13
(1)
2015Containment
(5)
The Big Top
(3)
2016Platform 15
(5+)
2017The Walking Dead:
Living Nightmare

(3)
The Walking Dead:
Sanctum

(1)
2018Blair Witch
(2)
The Big Top: Showtime
(1)
The Walking Dead:
Do or Die

(2)
Terror at Amity High
(3+)
Screamplexx Cinema
(3+)
Vulcan Peak
(1)
Dead Creek Woods
(1)
2019Creek Freak Massacre
(1)
  
2020The Swarm: Invasion
(1)
Creek Freaks Unchained
(1)
The Howling of LycanThorpe High
(1)
Roots of Evil
(1)
The Fearstival Arena
(1)
The Crows
(1)

  – Previous Fright Night attraction.   – Current Fright Night attraction.

Hotel

Guests can stay over on-park at the 'Thorpe Shark Cabins', comprising 90-rooms converted from shipping containers with a link to facilities in the adjacent Dome. The accommodation takes its name from its shark head entrance feature built from scrapped park signage.

The hotel initially opened in 2013 as 'The Crash Pad', run by external company Snoozebox. The temporary development was purchased by the park the following year and rebranded as the Thorpe Shark Hotel. [17]

Thorpe Park had originally been planning to build a permanent 250-bed hotel as far back as 2006. This would have been located on the opposite side of the lake, on the site of former excavation works, featuring a lakeside bar, health club and restaurant.

The development was pitched again following the installation of 'The Crash Pad' to "test market conditions". The park received planning permission to construct the permanent hotel in 2014, with construction planned to begin in 2016 and an opening in 2018. However, the hotel was never constructed and the Shark Hotel's planning permission was extended by 10 years instead. [18]

Developments

In 2010, the park outlined a 5-year development plan that outlined new coasters for 2012 (The Swarm) and 2015, as well as a permanent lakeside hotel. No application was ever submitted for the 2015 development and the intended site of coaster behind The Swarm remains vacant.

Incidents

Main gallery: Thorpe Park Resort at WikiCommons

See also

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References

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