Thorpe Park Resort is a theme park in Chertsey, Surrey, England, UK. After demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit. Thorpe Park was built in 1979 on the gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a water-based theme for the park. The park's first large roller coaster, Colossus, was added in 2002. Merlin Entertainments own and operate the park.
Thorpe Park Lake in July 1979, the year the park opened to the public
Originally a gravel pit owned by Ready Mixed Concrete Limited; in the late 1970s they decided to flood part of the site and create an educational theme park. The park opened as a small attraction, building slowly up to RMCs first large installation of "X:\No Way Out" in 1996. In 1998, The Tussauds Group bought the park (they also owned the nearby Chessington World of Adventures). 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.
In 2007, Merlin Entertainments (a subsidiary of Blackstone Investment Group) bought the Tussauds Group; the attraction target market was moved towards a teenage audience with large investment in the form of rides such as SAW: The Ride and SWARM. This was to prevent it competing with Legoland Windsor, and Chessington World of Adventures Resort, both within close proximity of Thorpe Park; Legoland was to cater for children and Chessington World of Adventures Resort was to be a family attraction.
As of 2013, the theme park is open from March until early November. The park and its attractions open at 10am every day on which it is open. The park closed at 5pm on weekdays, 6pm on weekends and 7pm on peak days. During the halloween event Fright Nights, the park is open until 10pm.
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Pre-1930s - The grounds are owned by the Lord of the Manor for centuries.
1941 - 1971 - The land now home to Thorpe Park is used as RMC (now a part of CEMEX) as a quarry.
1979 - Thorpe Park opens to the public as an open air exhibition centre. The park was opened by Lord Mountbatten.
1980 - 1983 - Attractions included the Cinema, Magic Mill, Waterbus services, Model World, Railway, Teacups, Nature Trails, Phantom Phantasia, Thorpe Farm, and Sunken Gardens.
2000 - Tidal Wave, a Shoot the Chute made by Hopkins Rides, opened, becoming the tallest ride in the park at that time. The ride was promoted with a new version of the ThorpePark.com website that featured a skeuomorphic "water-damaged" interface. Dare Devil Drivers and "Dino Boats" closed. A Fabbri Enterprise was installed in the park, opening late Summer 2000. On 21 July a major fire broke out in the centre of the park. The fire destroyed The Wicked Witches Haunt (previously known as Fantom Fantasia) and the inside area of Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels. The Wicked Witches Haunt was closed immediately.
2001 - The Lost City area was established, with the Enterprise (now rethemed and renamed Zodiac) and Vortex (a KMG Afterburner) as its first rides. Detonator, Mega Drop made by Fabbri, opened in Calypso Quay. At the end of the season, Thunder River closed, ready to be revamped into Ribena Rumba Rapids for the 2002 season.
2002 - Colossus, an Intamin roller coaster with a record-breaking 10 inversions, opened. The 2002 website featured a Shockwave 3D "virtual ride" of Colossus. Safari High Dive show opened for one season, and Thunder River re-opened as Ribena Rumba Rapids. Debut of the park's annual Halloween event, Fright Nights.
2003 - Nemesis Inferno, a Bolliger & Mabillard inverted roller coaster themed around a tropical volcano, opened. Also Quantum, a Fabbri magic carpet ride, opened. Eclipse, a 25-metre (82 ft) tall FabbriFerris wheel with 18 pods, opened. A Spiderman show was performed in the arena. This continued into 2004 and was replaced in 2005 by Stuntzmania. At the end of the season, Calgary Stampede closed to make way for Samurai.
2004 - Eclipse closed mid season due to a lack of riders, having lasted just over one season. It was moved to Chessington and renamed Peeking Heights. Samurai, a Mondial Top Scan moved from Chessington, opened. New Spiderman show opened. Tea Cup Twisters rethemed to Storm in a Tea Cup to fit with nearby Amity Cove's theming. Flying Fish closed at the end of the season to make way for Stealth in 2006.
2005 - Slammer, an S&S Sky Swat, opened on 26 March, after being delayed due to technical issues. Rush, an S&S Screamin' Swing and the world's biggest air-powered speed swing (until the opening of Skyhawk at Cedar Point in the US), opened in late May.
2006 - Stealth, an Intamin Accelerator Coaster which launches riders from 0–80 miles per hour (0–130 km/h) in 2.3 seconds, opened with the park on 15 March. A 'Ride It First' competition was held with the lucky winners experiencing Stealth before it opened to the rest of the guests. Zodiac was replaced by another Enterprise, sourced from Drayton Manor. StreetXtreme replaced Stuntzmania in the Arena.
2007 - Flying Fish returned, located between Tidal Wave and Wet Wet Wet. X:\ No Way Out was slightly refurbished, with a new storyline added about how 'X Laboratories Facility' lost control of their super-computer, thus sending riders into the strange and disorientating ride. Also, robot dummies and new lighting were added to the queue line and ride. Thorpe Farm closed, due to a lack of visitors. Canada Creek Railway reopened as a small circuit around Canada Creek, and it no longer traveled to Thorpe Farm. The railway takes guest on a 'Bearhunt' where riders spot models of bears around the journey. Ribena's sponsorship contract ended and so 'Ribena Rumba Rapids' changed its name to Rumba Rapids. The ride remained unchanged. No show was hosted in the Arena, although the Se7en scare maze was still hosted there in Fright Nights.
The park started opening for February half term; in previous years the park had not opened for the season until March. During February reduced entrance fees applied, as limited rides were available.
2008 - New 4D Cinema film "Time Voyagers" opened to replace "Pirates 4D". The arena was once again used for shows this season after having not been used the previous season. It was announced that Canada Creek Railway would not run for the whole season due to construction of SAW: The Ride
2009 - Saw – The Ride, a custom Gerstlauer Euro-fighter rollercoaster opened. Canada Creek Railway re-opened, and Miss Hippo's Fungle Safari closed.
2010 - Saw: Alive is opened. This is the park's second Saw-themed attraction, and its first permanent horror maze. This lasted for two years until 2012 where it was reduced to opening for the Fright Nights event only.
Thorpe Park adopts a new brand image, aimed towards the teenage and young adult market, introducing the 'Fat Heads' mascots. The entrance is repainted and most signage around the park replaced. Octopus Gardens closes in September and is demolished to make way for the 2011 relocation of Storm Surge from Cypress Gardensin Florida. Construction of Storm Surge begins in late September.
2011 - Storm Surge opened on 17 March 2011. Thorpe Park Blast returns but is renamed as 'Blow It Up'. The park introduced Experiment 10 as its newest Fright Night attraction. Time Voyagers 4D and Canada Creek Railway closed permanently. Two new food outlets were opened: Bar 360, replacing 'The Glass House' in the Dome, and Amity Kebabs replacing Amity Bugle in Amity Cove.
2012 - The Swarm a Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster, opened 15 March 2012. Fright Nights 2012 introduced "The Passing", a new 2nd gate horror maze.
2013 - A temporary hotel, "The Crash Pad" opens. The two back rows on THE SWARMs trains are turned backwards, and more theming is added to the ride, such as a large billboard which is also a 'near miss' feature. X:/No Way Out is renamed X and refurbished, with the cars now turned forward and new lighting effects added within the queue lines and within the ride area Fright Nights 2013 teamed up with Lionsgate to introduce 4 new horror attractions with IP based themes, My Bloody Valentine, You're Next, Cabin In The Woods & The Blair Witch Project.
2014 - A new temporary hotel, "The Waterfront Hotel" opens. Angry Birds Land opens featuring two new attractions: Angry Birds 4D Cinema Experience on the site of the previous Time Voyagers attraction, Angry Birds Dodgems ride, and Detonator re-themed to Detonator invaded by Angry Birds
Fright Nights, previously named "Fright Nites", is an annual event that has been running at Thorpe Park since 2002. For a period of time during October, the park opens until 10 pm on peak days to allow guests to ride in the dark. To continue the Halloween celebration, special temporary attractions such as scare mazes are constructed for the event. Actors in costume and make up are also found around the park.
These included The Asylum, recently criticised by mental health campaigners including the charity Rethink Mental Illness and Thorpe Park's local NHS mental health hospital for its portrayal of persons with mental illness. Thorpe Park have officially stated that "We have taken this debate extremely seriously, and will take all of the points raised into account when planning any future events for 2014."
Current yearly attractions
The five main Fright Nights attractions are located around the park. They are usually set up around September and dismantled during February. The lineup of mazes for 2013 was:
The Asylum - The Asylum is a 'live action horror maze' attraction that has been a part of Fright Nights since 2005. It uses a maze of chicken wire fencing, smoke and strobe lighting to disorientate guests. The Asylum involves various actors, including a patient armed with a chainsaw to chase guests out of the exit.
My Bloody Valentine - Live action horror maze - located in the arena.
The Cabin in the Woods - Live action horror maze - located in the back of X, next to Slammer.
SAW Alive, a walk through maze themed around eight different SAW scenes. Opened in 2010 as a full-time attraction, leading to only opening in Fright Nights from 2012 onwards.
The Blair Witch Project - Outdoor scare zone - starts in the former Canada Creek Railway station.
You're Next - Whilst not an attraction as such, the characters from the film roam around the park (live actors) and the music from it plays.
Former yearly attractions
For 2002 only, the stretch of park from Canada Creek through Ranger County was converted into Scare-Zone. Two haunted-mazes, The Freezer and Freakshow 3-D were installed at either end of the area.
The Freezer ran from 2002 until 2004. The attraction consisted of a maze which was entered through a large freezer-style door. The Freezer was altered slightly for the 2005 season and was renamed The Asylum.
Freakshow 3-D ran from 2002 until 2004 Guests wore 3D glasses through the maze style attraction.
Saw - Movie Bites was shown in the Time Voyagers theatre in 2009. It featured short clips from the SAW films and was strictly for guests over the age of 18.
Hellgate was introduced in 2005 and was located inside the X:\No Way Out pyramid, with the entrance at the rear of the building. The attraction was based on a run down stately home, ruled by the fictional evil spirits of Lady and Lord Denham. The attractions last operational year was 2010.
DEAD END is a 'scare-zone' that was introduced in 2010. It is based around the park's past, and features pieces of 'dead' rides and theming, as well as actors.
Se7en open in 2006 was the gruesome third maze, based on the Seven Deadly Sins - lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. The attraction was situated in the Arena in the centre of the park where a temporary structure is erected inside a tent. In 2011 it was then moved to Neptunes Beach, which was the attractions last operational year.
The Curse Opened in 2008 themed around a cursed shipwreck in Amity Cove.
EXPERIMENT 10 Opened in 2011, a walk through maze of a scientific experiment. It was the first attraction to be created by Merlin Magic Making.
THE PASSING Replacing Hellgate, the Passing is a themed walk through maze which replicates death, and being buried alive. This was the first attraction to use headmasks with Bluetooth technology to provide a commentary.
Thorpe Park Blows It Up
An extreme firework show reintroduced in 2011 with the previous title 'Thorpe Blast'. The event in 2011 started with a secret celebrity effigy burning which later was revealed as Jedward chosen by the public via Facebook. The second part of the event was the main fireworks display which lasted around 10–15 minutes, in conclusion to the fireworks; sirens sounded with the voice 'stay where you are, we are under attack' echoing around the park, after a short period another voice cuts in with the speed 'attack imminent in 5,4,3,2,1 with the 1 triggering an explosion linked to a fire engine hoisted above the lake. The explosion was a marketing scheme for the 2012 coaster The Swarm. The event also played host the return of the 'Thorpe Park Radio' with up to date tunes playing park-wide.
Over 18's Club Night
The Ministry of Sound brand was introduced in 2012 and operates the Thorpe Park 'club nights'. These feature well known music DJs playing a variety of themed nights.
An event introduced in 2013 that will possibly return in 2014. The park reopened after a normal day on Friday and Saturday Nights in July and August from 7pm-10pm for some late-night rides consisting of Tidal Wave, Storm Surge, Nemesis Inferno, Saw the ride, X, The Swarm, Colossus, Flying Fish and others. The event was a moderate success with more dates added during the run.
Thorpe Park is split into various themed areas. With Port Atlantis as the park's main entrance, where the pavilion-style The Dome greets visitors; the theming is meant to remind people of the tale of Atlantis.
Amity Cove is themed as a 1950s fishing village that has been left devastated by a tidal wave. The main attractions in this area are: Stealth, Tidal Wave, Flying Fish and Storm Surge. Canada Creek opened in 1989 themed around the Canadian Rockies. This area has Europe's tallest water ride, called Loggers Leap, alongside a smaller train ride named the Rocky Express. Canada Creek is also home to the now defunct Canada Creek Railway, which closed in late 2011. Calypso Quay is an area in the part themed around a calypso in a jungle, with a volcano as its centrepiece. Three rides reside within this area: Nemesis Inferno, Rumba Rapids and Detonator.
Ranger Country opened in 1994 and is an area aimed mostly at younger visitors, the main attraction is Mr Monkey's Banana Ride, alongside the Chief Rangers Carousel. Lost City opened in 2001 and is themed around an ancient Aztec land. Main attractions include: Colossus, Quantum, Rush, Slammer, X, Samurai, Vortex and Zodiac. Neptune's Kingdom is mainly a small beach and water area for children, with two separate water slide attractions. Neptune's Beach opens on warmer days from May onwards, along with a separate attraction Wet Wet Wet. Beside this attraction is Depth Charge, a four lane water slide. The Swarm Island is a new area for 2012, it paints a picture of an apocalyptic end to the world with the roller coaster The Swarm.
The Swarm Island
Amity Cove is themed to look like a 1950s fishing village that has been hit by a tidal wave. With the attraction Tidal Wave as the key ride. The Area, which opened in 2000 originally only contained Tidal Wave, KFC and a games stand, however it was extended in 2006 with the arrival of the Stealth rollercoaster behind Tidal Wave, adding itself and the Storm in a Tea Cup ride to Amity Cove's lineup. Again in 2007 when the Flying Fish rollercoaster was moved into Amity Cove, it's attraction list was increased. In 2011 Storm Surge opened on the old site of the Octopus Garden. A Burger King resturant can be found be Storm in a Tea Cup.
Ranger Country is a children's area that is themed to the now non existent Thorpe Park rangers. There is Mr Monkey's Bannana Ride a small Huss Rides pirate boat and Chief Ranger's Carousel as the only attractions. There is also the Caypso BBQ & Bar resturant in the area.
Neptune's Kingdom is a children's water based area with three attractions, only one is open for the whole season. Depth Charge is main attraction in this area and is a four lain water slide. Neptune's Beach is a small water play area for families and is open from May until September. Wet Wet Wet is a selection of water slides that lead into Neptune's Beach.
Caylpso Quay is a Caribbean themed area with three rides. The key attraction is Nemesis Inferno, a B&M inverted coaster themed around a volcano. Next to Nemesis Inferno is Detonator, a 100ft tall drop tower. At the edge of the area is the Rumba Rapids water ride. Calypso Quay has a Pizza Hut restaurant, a fastrack booth and the Nemesis Inferno Shop.
The Lost City is themed to an ancient Aztec land with the Colossus rollercoaster as the main attraction opening in 2002. The area opened in 2001 with the Vortex and Zodiac rides as the only attractions. In 2003 Quantum, a magic carpet ride opened. Two more attractions have since joined the rides line up with Samurai opening after being moved from the also Merlin owned Chessington World of Adventures in 2004 and Rush an S&S Screamin' Swing opening in 2005. In 2013 the X rollercoaster was rethemed in the area. Lost City has the Colossus Shop, Colossus Snacks and Crust snacks facilities.
Canada Creek opened in 1989 and is themed around the Canadian Rockies. It has three attractions, a Burger King and the Wild Wings Noodle Bar. The main attraction in the area is Loggers Leap a Macklog flume with a double drop. The area also has the Rockey Express Sea Storm ride. Located just outside of the area is Saw - The Ride, a horror themed rollercoaster based on the Saw franchise.
The Swarm Island
The Swarm Island is the newest area and only contains one attraction, The Swarm, an apocalyptic ride that interacts with the areas landscape.
Records the park holds
Stealth was previously the fastest rollercoaster in Europe until Furius Baco took the record in 2007. Stealth still holds the record for the fastest acceleration of any roller coaster in Europe (0–80 miles per hour (0–130 km/h) in 1.8 seconds as opposed to Furious Baco's 0–83.9 miles per hour (0–135.0 km/h) in 3.5 seconds) and is still the fastest in the UK.
Loggers Leap is the tallest log flume in the UK, although it lost that record for several years to The American Adventure's Nightmare Niagara, then regained the record when that ride was removed.
Nemesis Inferno has the longest pre lift section of any inverted B&M coaster in the world, and was the first inverted coaster to feature interlocking wingovers (corkscrews)
The Swarm, is the only backward winged coaster in the world (back 2 rows), it is also the only winged coaster that is in the United Kingdom as well as the tallest and fastest in Europe.
In Rumba Rapids opening year of 1986 (then known as Thunder River), an 11 year old boy called Jonathan White was thrown from a boat and lost an ear.
On 21 July 2000, the park was evacuated after Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels boat ride caught on fire. The fire was allegedly started by a stray cigarette butt. A number of other attractions were also damaged, including Wicked Witches Haunt, which was totally destroyed as the majority of the ride was housed underground beneath the area of Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels that caught alight.
In September 2001, Zodiac was subject to an incident where a pod has detached from the one of the two supports holding the gondola to the steel support framework. Minor injuries occurred to two guests.
On 29 May 2008, a 4 ft piece of metal fell off Rush and fell 100 feet to the ground. The ride was closed immediately for inspection and repairs for a week. The ride reopened shortly after.
In October 2013, Thorpe Park became engulfed in damaging controversy when mental health campaigners accused it of putting profit before the welfare of those with mental illness. Its Halloween attractions included a live action horror maze called the Asylum, complete with "scary mental patients" who had "taken over the Asylum" - coming just weeks after similar controversies involving supermarket chains Asda and Tesco, the commercialist behaviour of Thorpe Park's management was contrasted unfavourably in the media, Twitter and by mental health campaigners, who believed the Asylum perpetrated stigmatising and damaging images of mental illness. In November, just after the Asylum had closed for the season, Thorpe Park finally agreed to change the name in response to being reported to Surrey police for hate crimes.