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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.
|Location||Chertsey / Staines / Surrey, England, United Kingdom|
|Slogan||An Island Like No Other |
|Operated by||Merlin Entertainments|
|General manager||Neil Poulter (Divisional Director)|
|Opened||24 May 1979|
|Operating season||Mid/Late March – late October/early November|
|Visitors per year||1.9 million (2019)|
|Area||490 acres (2.0 km2; 200 ha)|
|Status||Theme Park and Hotel|
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. The new attraction that was due to open in 2020 is Black Mirror. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, this attraction is now due to open in 2021.
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. 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.
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.
In the early 80s, the park redeveloped into a theme park with permanent themed rides and attractions. New attractions were opened throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Space Station Zero was the park's first rollercoaster, opening in 1984. 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.
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. Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainments.
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. Although it is owned by Prestbury, the site is operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.
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.
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.
Rides and attractionsEdit
|The Swarm||Wing Coaster||2012||Swarm 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. Height Limit 1.4m. Max Height Limit is 1.95m|
|SAW -The Ride||Euro-Fighter||2009||Old 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. Height Limit 1.4m.|
|Stealth||Hydraulic Launched Coaster||2006||Amity||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. Height Limit 1.4m. Max height limit is 1.95m|
|Nemesis Inferno||Inverted||2003||The 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||Steel Sit down||2002||Lost 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||Steel Sit down||1996 (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. Previously known as X and originally X:\No Way Out. Height Limit 1.4m.|
|Flying Fish||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. Height Limit 0.9m.|
|Timber Tug Boat||Rockin' Tug||2017||Old Town||Zamperla||A Zamperla Rockin' Tug that was relocated from Weymouth Sea Life and opened in 2017. Height limit 0.9m.|
|Lumber Jump||Frog Hopper||2017||Old 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||2014||Angry Birds Land||Bertazzon||Dodgems ride added in 2014 for Angry Birds Land. Height limit 1.1m (with guardian over 1.3m).|
|Rush||Screamin' Swing||2005||Lost 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. Height limit 1.3m.|
|Samurai||Top Scan||2004||Old 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. Height limit 1.4m.|
|Quantum||Magic Carpet||2003||Lost City||Fabbri Group||Large magic carpet ride. Height limit 1.2m.|
|Zodiac||Enterprise||2001||Lost 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||Afterburner||2001||Lost City||KMG||KMG afterburner ride that opened in June 2001. Height limit 1.4m.|
|Detonator: Bombs Away||Drop Tower||2001||Angry 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. 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||Sea Storm||1989||Old Town||Mack Rides||Family friendly spinning train ride. Height limit 0.9m.|
|Mr Monkey's Banana Ride||Pirate Ship||1994||The Jungle||Metallbau Emmeln||A small banana themed swinging ship ride themed to one of the Thorpe Park Rangers. Height limit 0.9m.|
|Storm in a Teacup||Teacups||1986||Amity||Mack Rides||A teacups ride. In 2011, Tetley sponsored the ride and the sponsorship remains to this day. Height limit 1.1m.|
|Rumba Rapids||River rapids ride||1987||The 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||Spinning Rapids Ride||2011||Amity||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||Shoot the Chute||2000||Amity||Hopkins Rides||When the ride was opened in 2000 it was the tallest water ride in Europe. The ride has had many sponsors including Dr Pepper and Oasis (drink). Height requirement 1.2m.|
|Depth Charge||Water slide||1991||Amity||NV Aquatic||Opened as the first four lane dingy waterslide in the UK.|
|Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon||Dark Ride||2016||The Dock Yard||Various, including Intamin, Simworx and Figment Productions||Multi-sensory virtual reality dark ride created in collaboration with Derren Brown.|
|Angry Birds 4D Experience||4D Cinema||2014||Angry Birds Land||Simworx||4D Cinema showing the Angry Birds 4D movie. Replaced Pirates 4-D and Time Voyagers.|
|Amity Beach||Beach Area with Pool and Waterslides||1979||Amity||Originally named "Fantasy Reef".|
|Jungle Escape||Escape Room||2019||The Jungle||Rogue Productions/ Thorpe Park Resort||An escape room where you take on various challenges to escape The Huntsman.|
|Black Mirror Labyrinth||Maze Attraction||2021||Old Town||A maze using cutting-edge technology & sensory-defying environments.|
Since 2016, Thorpe Park is zoned into eight 'island territories'.
- Port and Basecamp includes the turnstile entrance, bridge and dome.
- Amity (originally 'Amity Cove') opened with Tidal Wave and now includes Stealth, Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, Amity Beach and Storm Surge.
- The Jungle contains Nemesis Inferno, Rumba Rapids, Mr Monkey's Banana Ride and a street of restaurants.
- Angry Birds Land is sponsored by the Angry Birds video game. Attractions in this area include Angry Birds 4D, Detonator: Bombs Away and King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems.
- Old Town is located towards the back of the park and includes Saw - The Ride, Rocky Express, Timber Tug Boat, Black Mirror Labyrinth and Lumber Jump.
- Lost City contains Colossus, Rush, Quantum, Vortex and Zodiac.
- Swarm Island opened as the plaza for The Swarm.
- The Dock Yard (previously named 'The Depot' and 'Thorpe Junction') is the plaza immediately outside Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon and includes the nearby The Walking Dead: The Ride rollercoaster, previously known as "X" and "X:\ No way out".
Port and BasecampEdit
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 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 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 LandEdit
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 YardEdit
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.
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.
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. 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 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 parkEdit
- Nemesis Inferno is the first inverted coaster to feature interlocking corkscrews.
- The Swarm opened as Europe's tallest Wing coaster.
- SAW - The Ride has the steepest drop not controlled by brakes and was marketed as the world's first horror movie themed roller coaster. While the park claimed it had the world's steepest drop on any roller coaster this isn't true as Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach had opened the previous year with a 111° drop. It now features the ninth steepest drop behind The Monster at Adventureland, Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land, Timber Drop at Fraispertuis City, Cannibal at Lagoon, Crazy Bird at Happy Valley Tianjin, Green Lantern Coaster at Warner Bros. Movie World, Takabisha at Fuji-Q Highland and TMNT Shellraiser at Nickelodeon Universe
- Colossus held the world record for the most inversions on a rollercoaster on opening in 2002 with 10 inversions, before being beaten by The Smiler at Alton Towers resort with 14 inversions.
- Stealth is the UK’s fastest roller coaster, launching from 0-80 in 1.9 seconds. Many places such as signage on the ride say 0-80mph in 2.3 seconds although this is actually incorrect as the ride's launch was modified to accelerate faster in the off-season of 2013. Standing at 205ft, it is also the UK’s second tallest roller coaster (behind the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach).
- Rush was the world's largest screaming swing on opening in 2005.
- Tidal Wave opened as Europe’s tallest water ride.
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, 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. 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.
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. Before the experience began you were led to the back of the hotel where an actor would read you some scary stories.
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.
|Year||Themes (number of seasons)|
|2004||Carnival of the Bizarre|
|2013||My Bloody Valentine
|Cabin in the Woods
|The Big Top|
|2017||The Walking Dead:
|The Walking Dead:|
|The Big Top: Showtime
|The Walking Dead:
Do or Die
|Terror at Amity High
|Dead Creek Woods|
|2019||Creek Freak Massacre
|2020||The Swarm: Invasion
|Creek Freaks Unchained
|The Howling of LycanThorpe High
|Roots of Evil
|The Fearstival Arena
– Previous Fright Night attraction. – Current Fright Night attraction.
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 recycled 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.
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.
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.
- Main gallery: Thorpe Park Resort at WikiCommons
- Merlin Entertainments
- The Tussauds Group
- RMC Group
- "Thorpe Park", an episode of The Inbetweeners where the main characters visit Thorpe Park
- Primeval - the third episode of Series 2 featured the park under a fictitious name.
- Staines railway station
- Alton Towers
- Chessington World of Adventures
- Theme Park
- Drayton Manor Theme Park
- "IWSF World Championship Historical Facts". International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- "Glossy Image – But It's Still A Gravel Pit". Surrey Herald. Surrey. 24 May 1979.
- "Park Plans Thrill Rides". Surrey Herald. 7 January 1982.
- "Flying Fish". Thorpe Park. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- "Merlin conjures up leaseback deal". 17 July 2007 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Cho, David (6 March 2007). "Blackstone Buys Madame Tussauds Chain" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Alton Towers sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Thorpe Park - Coasterpedia - The Roller Coaster Wiki". coasterpedia.net.
- "Thorpe Park Resort". Twitter. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "Opening of the Black Mirror Labyrinth at Thorpe Park postponed until 2021". ThemeParks-UK.com. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "Record Holders". rcdb.com. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
- "FRIGHT NIGHTS at THORPE PARK Resort". www.thorpepark.com.
- "Haunted Attractions UK - Thorpe Park Fright Nights... an EVILution!". Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
- "What to expect from Face it Alone 2016 (my first ever.)". Thorpe Park Mania Forums.
- "FRIGHT NIGHTS FEARSTIVAL Announcement". Thorpe Park. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- Sim, Nick. "Thorpe Park names new hotel for 2014 as Thorpe Shark Hotel". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Total Thorpe Park. "Thorpe Park Hotel planning". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved 21 May 2019.