If you had told me just last month that my park plans would include anything not in the U.S. and not even in North America, I would’ve told you that you were delusional and that I must be waking up from this dream soon. But life happens and a month or so ago, I got an opportunity to head to London for a work trip. I was able to stay one extra day on the weekend and decided to spend that day at Thorpe Park. Although Alton Towers is higher on my list of parks I wanted to do, there didn’t seem to be a way to get my money’s worth out of a 3 hour roundtrip commute to Towers. If they had been running their Scarefest and open from 10-10 or the like I might’ve been able to swing it, but they were open from 10-5 and I couldn’t justify 6+ hours of travel for 7 hours at the park. So Thorpe Park was next on my list and only being 20 minutes out of the way from Heathrow, where I was flying out of the next day, made it an easy choice. So I took the subway from downtown where I was staying to Heathrow and took an Uber to Thorpe Park. I ended up getting to the park a little after opening at 10 and after taking a second to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, walked through the gates, grabbed a locker and immediately headed to Colossus.
Colossus - 71/100
There’s one refrain that nearly all prominent UK enthusiasts echo: Colossus is way too rough and rattly and not much fun. To that I say, what?? I boarded this ride expecting the worst and even riding in the back I found it exceedingly smooth and easy to ride, even felt a pop of airtime over the airtime hill before the cobra roll. I will say that it was very disorienting with all of the inversions and that at the end of the ride, my head was swimming a little bit but that’s a very different feeling than rough and rattly. My only hypothesis is that the U.S. tends to have the lions share of Arrow mega loopers so we tend to ride an inordinate amount of those rides and those form our opinion of what rough is. Because give me Colossus over Vortex (RIP) or Viper any day. Now with that being said, this wasn’t a perfect coaster. Although the first half was excellent, the second half of back to back to back to back rolls followed by a turnaround and another roll was awkward and didn’t work. A pair of rolls back to back would’ve been great but no further than that.
Saw - 73/100
I remember when this ride was announced and was built. Although 10 years ago I didn’t really like horror movies, I was drawn to this ride and the themeing that we never get in the U.S. And in that 10 year intermission, I grew to love horror movies and really enjoyed the Saw films, even if they ended up devolving into gore porn. So after I joined the line I made sure to pay attention to the details in this ride. The queue had plenty of things that would look right in place in a serial killer’s backyard and I loved the rotating saws out front of the ride. I made sure to board the second train so I’d have time to sit and enjoy the themeing after we left the station but before we started the actual ride. The first drop under the spikes and saws was awesome and I loved the slow roll over the dead body. Unfortunately it’s really hard to tell a compelling story in a medium that is predicated on speed and disorientation. So although I think I understood the story (we stumble on Jigsaw’s hideout and get caught in a trap. The first half of the ride is our attempt to win the game and the second half is “game over” for us as we plummet to our demise. Or at least that’s what I got out of it) it wasn’t as clear as watching the movies. Although to be fair, I lost the plot on most of the Saw movies too. But the second half of the ride was a lot of fun. The drop is as forceful as other Eurofighters and I love the compactness of the track. There also was copious amounts of hangtime in the inversions, which readers of my other TRs will know that I’m a huge fan of in my Gerstlauer coasters! This is my favorite Eurofighter up until this point!
After waiting for about 30 minutes at Saw I decided to bite the bullet and get a Fast Track. I was really hoping to get rerides and it didn’t look like it was going to happen without a skip the line pass. This did eventually end up being true, with wait times for most of the big rides hovering around 45 minutes.
Nemesis Inferno - 67/100
This ride tends to constantly live in the shadows of its older brother up the country probably because they share the same name - aside, I like to imagine that Merlin has or had some plans of making a Merlin Cinematic Universe but I know that more likely than not it was just a ploy to get people into the park by associating their shiny new ride with a fan favorite. But I haven’t ridden Nemesis so my thoughts will be comparison free! Overall, this was an excellent B&M invert and honestly, probably my favorite invert of all time! I really enjoyed the misted and red-lit tunnel in the pre-lift section and the rest of the course was the usual whippy, intense B&M invert formula that we all love. I definitely liked it better than the Cedar Fair inverts including Raptor because of the jungle atmosphere and small amount of themeing and liked it better than the Batman clones since it was a little bit better of a layout in my opinion. Later on in the day, I’d have one of my favorite experiences on a coaster ever, but I’ll tell more about that when we get there!
Stealth - 77/100
What’s really amusing (and surprising) to me looking back is that before the end of July this year, I had only ridden one Intamin accelerator coaster (TTD) whereas now I’ve ridden 4 (and 2 new ones in the span of 3 weeks). But not to lie, Stealth was a little bit of an afterthought to be as I’ve been thinking about my trips since it’s basically a mini Kingda Ka and a less long Xcelerator. But I love these rides so much that Stealth ended up being my favorite ride at the park (and compares pretty favorably to Xcelerator in my opinion)! The launch is just as intense as Xcelerator and the top hat gave just as much airtime. The thing that set it apart from Ka or Xcelerator was the airtime hill after the launch. I wasn’t expecting a ton from it but found that it sent me flying into my restraints, almost uncomfortably so. After riding this ride, it was time to move on and finish off the rest of the rides I needed to ride!
Swarm - 72/100
This is the ride that most enthusiasts consider to be the best coaster at Thorpe Park. Before I get into my thoughts, I will prefix it by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of wing coasters. I’ve ridden 2/3 of the ones in the US (just missing Wild Eagle) and I’ve been generally underwhelmed. X Flight has some great environment interaction and Gatekeeper is a majestic ride but neither of them are ones I have to ride whenever I go. With that being said, ride wise, I thought Swarm was a completely good wing coaster. Wing over drops are always fun and I like the acrobatic inversions that wing coasters do. But with Swarm, it’s not just about the ride, it’s about the incredible props they’ve built around the ride. And wow, does it look even better in person. I thought the massive props were amazing and provided some of the best head/feet choppers in any ride ever. The specific standouts to me were the dive into the billboard and the roll over the church. Both provided some great near miss moments. Overall, I really really enjoyed Swarm! Although it’s not my favorite coaster at Thorpe or even my second favorite, I think it is the best wing coaster I’ve ridden!
Flying Fish - 30/100
🤷♂️ It’s a powered kiddy coaster, so even more pathetic than my normal credit whoring.
After riding Flying Fish, I headed over to Fin’s restaurant to grab some lunch. I was really pleased with the burger I got. I thought it was actually one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever had at a park! After filling up, I headed out to grab my last credit I needed and then it was time for a flat ride or two and then some rerides!
The Walking Dead: The Ride - 45/100
This conversion never made a ton of sense to me. I failed to see the logic in converting what is ultimately a family friendly attraction into one of the more gory, mature franchises to run on cable TV lately. But convert it they did. The preshow was really cool and the queue was pretty well done although it seemed a little long considering that they were pulsing people via the preshow but the inappropriately long lines are a theme for this ride. The ride felt to me like a weird mixture of The Dark Knight coasters at Six Flags with Runaway Mountain or Skull Mountain at SFOT and SFGADV respectively. I would’ve liked to see a lot more walkers throughout the ride since it felt really light in that regard. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that Fright Nights was going on and they needed them elsewhere? Regardless, it was a little disappointing. Then came the exit line which was both way too long and way too dark. I like the idea of having a haunt type experience year round in the queue line but I thought that it was pretty poorly done in this case. Oh also, the no single riders rule is pretty weird. Luckily both times I was paired up with someone I enjoyed talking with but it’s still a very strange policy and one that’s reminiscent of my trip to Lagoon
Darren Brown’s Ghost Train - 9/10
Continuing on the path of strange rides at Thorpe Park, next was Darren Brown’s Ghost Train. I made sure not to do very much research before going in so I only knew that it used VR. So after a preshow with Darren Brown (at least I assume so, I’m not British and have no idea who Darren Brown is) that looked almost exactly like a Universal one, we were led into a room with a huge train car where we entered and put on our VR glasses and the experience started. To avoid spoilers I won’t say much more other than that it was a much longer ride than I expected and that I had a really difficult time understanding the nuances and detail of the story since the main narration moment was with a British voice actress whose accent I thought was particularly impossible to understand. But overall, I was both impressed and a little confused. I appreciate the big swing that Thorpe Park took with an interesting attraction and hope that they continue to do so in the future!
I got in line for Angry Birds 4D figuring that the premise was so strange that it was a must ride but after being led in, given glasses, taking our seats and singing happy birthday to the kids in the theater who were celebrating their birthday, they discovered that the motion seats were malfunctioning and kicked us out of the theater. I never did end up getting back around here since it switched to showing Haunt movies in the afternoon. I’m a little bummed since the whole idea seemed like a train wreck I wanted to be there for but hey, that’s alright! But after that it was time for rerides.
It’s worth noting that this reriding was only possible because of my Fast Track. The regular line was around 30 minutes long but Fast Track was a walk on so that’s a great plus for Fast Lane!
The Walking Dead: The Ride
Again I got paired with an awesome group of Brits that I actually ended up going through a couple of mazes with later that night! The second time through this ride was just as underwhelming and generally unclear story wise!
After riding Saw I decided that it was time to take some pictures before the park got dark enough.
After spending a few hours walking around the parks getting my shots, it was time to ride! And I had a good incentive: Thorpe Park was doing a promo where you could win a free festival style ribbon wristband if you rode their top 5 coasters from 5 to close and unscramble a letter they give you after riding each ride by scanning the QR code placed at the exit. So I was determined to win myself this wristband!
At this point, I had gotten 4/5 of the codes at the preceding 4 rides after striking out at Saw (got in line just before it broke down) and it was pretty apparent what the code was. Not going to give it away here in case Thorpe doesn’t plan on changing their codes but lets just say that I guessed it after two rides. But it was dusk at this point so I figured it was as good a time as any to start going through mazes!
Blair Witch - 21/50
To prepare for this maze I had watched the movie on my flight over. Maybe it was a “you had to be there” type of movie but I didn’t think it was scary at all. I know found footage was a revelation back then but nowadays it felt more like a psychological thriller than a true horror movie. But I was still pretty intrigued and interested to see this maze. After waiting only a few minutes thank to Fast Track I made my way into a small preshow where an actor (with a semi-passable American accent) told us about Burkittsville where the maze and movie was set. After that she walked us into the maze where we immediately hit a dead end and had to turn around to go thr correct way. After that we passed through a really tight overgrown path that took us by mostly crazed humans lost in the woods until finally making it to the house form the movie which was filled with various monsters although it was too heavily fogged to really tell much of what was going on.
Concept - 4/10
The concept for the maze was fairly weak. Like I mentioned I didn’t think the movie itself was that scary. The tension rising in the movie was the best part and it’s really really tough to do that effectively in a walkthough maze. The house is best part of the movie that could be made into a house but save for heavily expanding the section there wasn’t really enough to carry a house.
Production Value - 6/10
Although there wasn’t any particularly impressive set pieces here, I give Thorpe a lot of credit for the setting of this maze. It was on a path that was slightly overgrown and walking through it you had to dodge branches from hitting you in addition to actors. I thought that this made it a touch scarier that you didn’t really have anywhere to run with forest bearing down on you.
Scare Potential - 3/10
The scares were fairly constant here. Every scare except for the final house was a crazed person getting in your way and acting generally crazy. Good idea for a section of the maze but it wasn’t good enough to carry the entire maze. The house on the other hand was a little bit too foggy to work. I wish it was just a touch less foggy and the house was full of mannequins that I could just barely make out and as I’m trying to do so one or two of them lunge at me. I think that’d be a better way to end this.
My Run - 7/15
I’m rating this based on both this run and my run at night when it was darker (which ended up being much better than my second run). I got a few small scares through the main section of the maze but did get got pretty solidly in the house when a monster jumped out at me from within the mist. At night the atmosphere was much better in the first half of the maze and although I didn’t really get scared by the actors, it was definitely a little unnerving.
Bonus Points - 1/5
I am awarding a bonus point for the start of the maze. I loved that both times our group walked to the end of the initial run only to find that we hit a dead end. In both instances there was real confusion as the group decided how to get through the maze. We ended up having to double back where we came but it was still a little disorienting and worrying. I thought that that was exactly like the movie and one of the best parts of the entire experience!
Walking Dead: Do or Die - 22/50
I followed Halloween at Universal Orlando much closer than I did any other Halloween event and I remember a couple of years ago hearing complaints about the use of Walking Dead over and over again. So I find it hilarious that the IP made its way across the pond to Thorpe Park! Whereas I knew that it wouldn’t quite be Universal level I was excited to see what the maze looked like over here! To prep for this maze (and the other Walking Dead maze) I also watched the first couple of episodes of the TV show on my flight over.
Concept - 7/10
So the other Walking Dead maze was the token “iconic scenes” maze whereas this one was free to tell a slightly different story. In this maze we’re being housed safely from the walkers into a human compound but unbeknownst to us the compound is actually inhabited by cannibals who want to eat us! So we have to escape and find our way out! The concept seems really cool! I see the first 1/3 of the maze being an escape from walkers into the compound, maybe a few scenes where the inhabitants are creepy without being flat out cannibals and then the bulk of the maze being trying to escape from them. The final scene could be one where on one side we see the cannibals and the other has a horde of walkers and we have to decide which one to choose. So I was really excited about the concept!
Production Value - 5/10
The production value of this maze was pretty solid. There were plenty of good props and the maze was generally well done. There wasn’t anything that hugely stood out to me, which is why I’m rating it so mediocrely.
Scare Potential - 4/10
And here’s the most disappointing part of the maze. There were no walker scenes! Everything was just cannibal related. Now within that subgroup the scares were fairly varied with some actors getting right up in your face whereas others startled you but even still, I was disappointed to see only one aspect of what could be a hugely scary maze represented.
My Run - 6/15
I wasn’t the most impressed wth my run through the maze either. So the part I was looking forward to the most about Thorpe’s haunt was that actors can touch you. That makes the whole experience soooo much scarier. I hadn’t seen that at all in Blair Witch so I was hoping to see it a little bit more here. In the maze. we’re literally pieces of meat to these cannibals, they should treat us like it. Grab our arms and make a comment that it’s gonna taste real good with some olive oil or something like that. Corner us and make us squirm. That wasn’t super prevalent in this maze. The group I walked through with had this happen to them once or twice but not to me. It’s frustrating sometimes never being on the end of scares because I look like I don’t get scared!
Bonus Points - 0/5
Nothing worthy of bonus points here although British people trying to do Southern accents is pretty close to me
Platform 15 - 29/50
So the story here is that there was a train going through the wilderness on a cold winters night that broke down. Although several people tried to go get help, no one was able to save this broken down train and the rest of the passengers ended up freezing to death. Although that’s what I think the story is, to be honest I already don’t remember it although I’m writing this less than a week later.
Concept - 7/10
So the story of the maze was told my a skeleton conductor and I have to say that I really liked it! It was a really creepy story and one that lent itself super well to a maze with a variety of scares.
Production Value - 6/10
This maze also featured a variety of well done props. It was a little bit more sparse than some of the other mazes but it made up for it by having some standout props. Specifically, the best one was the train. It actually featured fire effects and was full of mannequins and other small details that were great when it was dark enough to not be sure what was a person and what wasn’t.
Scare Potential - 7/10
This maze impressed in this category as well due to the varied scares that the backstory provided. Several dead people from the train made an appearance as well as the conductor. The most interesting part of the maze had to be the huge black tunnel. It wasn’t the most effective scare but it was super unique having to make a human train and walk through a pitch black tunnel while actors run around you and scare you.
My Run - 8/15
I had a pretty solid run. For the unique tunnel portion I was lucky enough to go first since the people in front of me were genuinely terrified and just not going to go in front. Fine by me! The portion was a little disappointing considering that the actor within used a flashlight a little much to scare people. I think it would’ve been much better to walk down the line and grab our shoulders or legs or whisper in our ears or something. But on the plus side, after the tunnel, you are let out in a house that I thought was the end only to be terrified by a monster jumping out at me. That was by a good margin the best scare of the night!
Bonus Points - 1/5
The uniqueness of the tunnel section deserves a point! I’ve never seen that done in any other maze!
Creek Freak Massacre - 8/10
And now time for what people in the know had called the scariest maze in the park. It’s a classic backwoods, hillbilly maze but they’re classics for a reason, they work! What’s really interesting about this maze is that it uses the station for Thorpe’s old log flume Loggers Leap. Pretty cool bit of history! It’s a little bit of a shame though since during the day the section of the park seems fairly empty. Hopefully they get something awesome to fill that gap!
Concept - 7/10
Like I mentioned, this concept is a classic. Hillbilly backwoods areas are always scary especially when they’re a slaughterhouse.
Production Value - 7/10
This seemed to be the best maze installation out of all of the ones at Thorpe Park. The scene that really stood out to me was the one with the girl getting sawed to death. It was just as good as one from Universal (I feel like I’ve seen it before at HHN actually). The rest of the maze was full of interesting, disgusting props and was generally well done.
Scare Potential - 7/10
The scares were very well done and well varied. There were simple jump scares, creep scares as well as scares that used more elaborate set pieces. Overall, I was extremently impressed with the variety on display in this maze.
My Run - 10/15
So I was put in a group with some locals who obviously knew people in the maze. So they tended to get singled out while I was more or less left alone. A chainsaw guy did come up to me in the maze and tried to scare me. I have to assume that if I’d have shown a better reaction I would’ve gotten singled out further but unfortunately I don’t really get scared anymore by houses which is a huge bummer in my book. The other most interesting portion of my run was the strobe room. So I’m not a huge fan of strobe lights. I think putting strobe lights in a room is a cheap way to get a scare. But in this case I actually liked what this maze did sending actors to chase people around in the strobes. It was a really disorienting effect that actually creeped me out!
Bonus Points - 1/5
Bonus points here for consistently singling people out and scaring them. There were a couple moments when I saw others in the group get cornered by actors which would be really scary!
A quick aside about the disability passes at Thorpe Park. I feel bad complaining about them because I know that there are many people with legitimate injuries or disabilities that can’t wait in a line but there is also a ton of abuse. I felt bad saying that until I overheard a group talking about it in the queue for CFM. They had the (smart) policy of only letting one disability group go through in a house run and although the disability line was much shorter than the main line, it ended up being about even since they were letting so many more people through from the regular line. But the people in front of me at CFM were talking with their friends that had just entered the disabled line about how the regular line was about the same time and that they should’ve just done that instead. The implication being that they could reasonably use the regular line but just wanted to save time. That made me so mad. There are enough people that need it and people like me that paid a lot of money for something like it that people shouldn’t take advantage of it. Not to mention that based on their choice of clothes, they were enthusiasts as well. Shame on you!
Walking Dead: Living Nightmare 21/50
And now the final maze at Thorpe. Fittingly, this maze was located inside of the show building for Walking Dead: The Ride. This maze seemed like the more TV focused one replaying some of the more iconic scenes from the show. Actually, it really reminded me a ton of a less well done version of the year round Walking Dead maze in Hollywood. It was a little bit longer but featured less walkers so I’d rate it just a touch behind the USH maze.
Concept - 4/10
Although the TV show translates fairly well to a house, I’m taking points because this concept has been done before for a few years by Universal Orlando. I realize that it’s on an entirely different continent and that 99% of people at Thorpe didn’t experience the Orlando mazes (and neither did I quite frankly) but I get to decide how I want to rate it!
Production Value - 5/10
The production value here was fairly solid. I appreciated the Don’t Open Dead Inside door as well as the prison complete with a character firing a gun at the top of the steps. Other than those two scenes, nothing really stands out so I’ll leave it at a mediocre score.
Scare Potential - 5/10
To be honest, I barely remember any of the scares in this maze so that tells you how good it was when it comes to scares.
My Run - 6/15
The one thing I do remember is that my run seemed understaffed. There was so much more room for zombies that were just empty. A lot of Thorpe’s mazes felt that way but this one in particular felt empty. Hopefully I just missed out on a good run!
Bonus Points - 1/5
I really liked the actor playing Negan(? haven’t watched far enough in the series to know who that is but I remember he was talking about his baseball bat named Lucile which the Internet tells me is Negan’s). He ended up making one of the people in our group kneel on the ground right before the rest of us went in. He was pretty intimidating (even though his Southern accent was still fairly bad) and I don’t know what I would’ve done if he’d have told me to kneel!
At this point I had done all of the mazes so figured it was time to start thinking about last rides. But first I wanted to give Blair Witch one more shot now that it was completely dark and not just dusk.
So this maze was much better in the complete darkness. I still stand by what I said in my more complete review that the house was not explored nearly enough but this time the “getting lost” part of the maze was much more effective and it was much scarier having actors jump out of bushes at you.
So the forecast had been threatening rain all week. Luckily to this point in my day it had just looked overcast out without actually raining. Well that changed at this point in the night. Although it never poured, it was definitely coming down. To Thorpe Park’s credit, they didn’t shut anything down for the weather and instead just carried on! My first rain night ride was Stealth. I already really liked this ride but this experience put it over the top for me. There’s something incredible about hurdling down that launch track with my hoodie hood flapping behind me getting hit with rain drops. It’s an experience I just won’t forget and one I’m really glad I got a chance to do before I had to leave the park! After two rides on it though, I wanted to ride a couple more rides instead of just marathoning Stealth, although that would’ve been a great way to end the night too!
It was coming down a little harder at this point and you could definitely feel it on Inferno. It was another great experience with the rain adding to the intensity and making it to where you could barely keep your eyes open as you fly around the jungle. What a great experience that I’m really glad I got to do!
After Inferno I headed over to Saw which was closed for the night, unfortunately. So I headed over to Colossus where after getting strapped in, the ride went down, leaving us trapped in the restraints in the station for 5 or 10 minutes until they were able to release us. I couldn’t afford to wait and see if they fixed it in time for me so I headed on to my next ride.
Rush - 8/10
I’m a huge fan of Screamin Swings and I’d been listening to the soundtrack to Rush for a couple of months so I knew that I needed to get on this ride. And even though it was a shorter cycle and smaller model I still hugely enjoyed it!
Although at this point, the rain had mostly quieted down, it was still raining enough to make this an interesting ride!
Wow, what a day!! I know I’d said a couple of previous times that I had had my best day ever at a theme park but I think this day definitely takes it. I got to do everything I wanted multiple times at a location I thought it would take me a couple of years to do. Overall Thorpe Park is an incredible park mixing thrills with some theme. I had been hoping that I could leave this park off of my list of parks I need to do when I come back to Britain in a couple of years but I think I liked it too much to skip it!!