November is here and in addition to signalling the imminent arrival of Christmas this is the month when the British Theme parks close for the season. After the relative excitement of the Halloween period it is a time when enthusiasts must face months away from their favourite attractions. They can usually then cheer themselves up with the anticipation of new rides being built for the following season. Except that next year there don’t appear to be any!
After a poor couple of years for the British parks they now appear to be standing off investments in new attractions. All is not jolly hockey sticks in the theme park world and there is little to look forward to next year. That is unless the expansion of the Crash Pad at Thorpe Park rings your bell. For those who have not have the privilege of visiting the park this is a bunch of shipping containers masquerading as a hotel.
Next year should have seen the arrival of a new coaster Thorpe but those plans are on ice. Meanwhile Alton Towers would do well to sort out the coaster they installed this year before trying to build anything else. The Smiler has been plagued by trouble since the first JCB arrived to begin excavations. The ride opened criminally late and then suffered a series of technical faults and incidents making the whole story a bit of a comic caper. Events climaxed recently with a track bolt crashing onto the roof of the toilet block and a guide wheel failing and showering riders with debris. I asserted in a previous article that the most dangerous place to be in a theme park is the queue line but now clearly that place is anywhere near the Smiler or indeed on it!
Thorpe’s last installation, the Swarm, hasn’t fared much better. There have been several track bolt incidents and technical failures but the real issue here is the quality of the ride which is frankly rather poor. After months of eager anticipation and a pretty decent attempt at a themed area the ride proved to be underwhelming and did not lead to an increase in the number of visitors.
So the theme park landscape in the UK will look much the same next year which is very disappointing. There hasn’t been a new ride that has really impressed me for as long as I can remember and so I guess that my theme park buck will be spent overseas in the main, not for the first time. I will take myself off to Europa Park yet again because I know the rides will work, a large piece of metal will not end up embedded in my skull and the food is enjoyable. I can stay in a nice hotel there too rather than a converted shipping container and it won’t cost much more, if anything, than a weekend at Alton Towers. It is all rather sad if you ask me.
Article By Sally Stacey