Thorpe Park

13th April 2005

Visiting two different countries in two days might seem a bit silly on paper, but there was a method to my madness. The original plan was to attend the press day for Kanonen, a new coaster opening at Liseberg, on April 14th. Unfortunately at the time of the trip there were no direct flights to Göteborg from Dublin, and the cheapest option by far was to fly Ryanair connecting in London Stansted. Unfortunately, the flight needed for that departed Stansted at 7:00am, which I couldn't possibly check in for without flying over the night before. Rather than fly in the evening, I decided to take a morning flight instead and hit a few parks in the greater London area.

Thorpe Park

On arrival at Stansted Airport a little after 9:30am, I collected the keys for a tiny rental car, met up with Midas, and drove to Thorpe Park. Londoners will by now be shuddering in horror at the thought of trying to traverse the M25 motorway at rush hour, but traffic was relatively light, and the 98 mile journey to Thorpe Park took a little less than two hours.

When I first rode Colossus, it was in its first season. At the time I remember thinking that the first half, up to the end of the fifth inversion, was enjoyable and nicely paced, but that the second half destroyed any rerideability by the high nausea experience of five barrel rolls, four of them in one go. Now, after three years of operation, the ride has developed quite a bit of vibration, the net result being that the train loses a lot of its speed to friction. Unfortunately, this means that the train crawls through the nausea-inducing rolls, causing the riders shoulders to press very heavily on the hard and unforgiving restraints. What was a coaster to be ridden every two or three hours has now become a once-a-day machine, if that. Once was definitely enough for me.

We followed this with what was only my second ride on X:/No Way Out. Someone, whose name escapes me at the moment, described this ride as "Coaster meets Car Wash", and honestly that summarises it pretty well. The train stops a number of times on the course, and the riders are bombarded with various effects, such as mist, air, and loud noises. It's not a bad ride by any means, but you do come off it wondering what on earth was that?

After a lunch break, we went over to Nemesis Inferno. There was no queue to speak of, and within moments we were on board. The floor had dropped and the train edged forward briefly when the ride stopped dead, with a passenger behind us screaming. It turned out that a young child had decided this wasn't for him, and wanted to get off. The ride operator, having seen this, hit the emergency stop button. Park maintenance were called; it seems that ride operators cannot release the restraint system themselves when the ride is stopped. When the staff member arrived, they tried negotiation with a white lie; We can't unlock the restraint once the floor drops; but the child started screaming again, so a few moments later the screwdriver came out and the restraint was opened. I firmly believe that children should not be forced onto amusement rides against their will, and was very impressed with how the staff at Thorpe handled this situation.

In due course the train was released and we were on our way. Nemesis Inferno is unusual in that there is a reasonably sized drop and a long tunnel before the lift hill. The tunnel itself isn't terribly exciting, as the track in it is almost perfectly straight and level, but nevertheless it provides variation when compared against the many other similar coasters out there. The rest of the ride, however, is nicely paced. Of particular note is the view of much of the park from the top of the lift hill. We took a second ride, and might have ridden more if lunch had been a bit less greasy!

At Midas' suggestion, we went over to the Ribena Rumba Rapids. Although they were present on both of my previous visits to Thorpe Park, I had never tried them out. Midas told me that they were not too wet. Famous last words; I got soaked! To dry off, we took two rides on the Detonator drop tower. This is another ride I had never tried before, for reasons that will be known to my regular readers. The ride features a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown that used to be audible all over the park, but the volume has been lowered now to the point that those on the ride can barely hear it. I'm of mixed minds about this; for those of a nervous disposition, the fun of a drop tower is in the anticipation, though hearing a countdown might increase the heart beat still further. I remember watching on occasions when the ride operators dropped the gondola on three or two, and the expressions on the riders faces in that situation really were priceless.

Both Midas and I play Dance Dance Revolution on a semi-regular basis, and we played a game on the Euromix machine at Thorpe. This drew a surprised audience of a local teenaged girl, who remarked that she'd never seen men playing before. She was taken particularly aback when we both admitted to having dance mats at home. It is unfortunate that Euromix will not allow players to choose independent difficulty levels; otherwise, our spectator might have been truly startled!

Though we had seen the new-for-2005 Slammer testing a number of times, it was still not open. Neither of us felt any compelling desire to ride anything else, and for this reason we decided to leave just after 3:00pm for the drive to Brighton Pier.

 

Brighton Pier

13th April 2005

Brighton Pier

Our first impressions of Brighton Pier were not altogether encouraging. There were a reasonable number of rides available, staffed by a very limited number of ride operators. It seemed that whenever a few people congregated at a ride, an operator would come across, take their tokens, and run it. However, some rides needed a minimum number of passengers, such as the Turbo coaster, which required eight. Where were we going to get another six people from?

We started off therefore with the Crazy Mouse (#399). At the time of boarding, there was no restriction on numbers, though after our ride a sign went up indicating a minimum of four people. This could have been due to the incredibly powerful spinning we experienced, which was without question the most intense I have ever seen on a Reverchon mouse. In addition to this, the brakes failed to stop the car completely at the end, causing us to collide with a stationary car at about six or seven miles per hour. That is the kind of incident that at faster speeds causes injuries, and therefore should never happen. Not good, in other words.

We waited a good while for the Turbo, but no other people seemed to want to wait with us. We decided to go for some dinner and then come back. On our return, we waited some more, but to no avail. Two girls approached wanting to ride the Crazy Mouse, so we obliged and made up the second two people required. However, they refused to return the favour on the Turbo. Eventually, however, a group of six French schoolchildren turned up, allowing me to get my ride on Turbo (#400). Naturally I would have preferred this landmark event to have taken place on a decent coaster, but you don't win them all.

The drive from Brighton back to Stansted took just over two hours, going via the Dartford Crossing on the M25. This was quite a surprise, as I was expecting three to four hours, but there was almost no traffic at all. In summation, I'd managed a full circuit of the M25 in three segments totalling just over four hours, surely a record.