Its fair to say that Thorpe Park has probably changed the most over the last 25 years or so while Chessington had the history of being a well known zoo, perhaps one of the best, Thorpe Park really only started to come to life in 1979 starting off really as more of a Museum/Exhibition.
Before looking into the History of Thorpe Park let’s have a look at some of the best and worst years for the park since its opening.
Best year for Thrill Seekers: 2012
Once again the park pulls forward with the thrill seekers in 2012 with the introduction of The Swarm. The UK’s first wing rider roller coaster opened at the park and with the closure of Canada Creek Railway really pushes the park forward in thrill seekers. All other rides remain to give a massive thrill line up for 2012!
Worst Year for Thrill Seekers: 1995
OK, this isn’t the easiest one to pick but the reason I have picked this year over say 1979, is that Chessington was open and keeping things in line with there competition at the time I thought I’d pick a year that would be in comparison to Chessington. Although the park did nothing wrong this year, it was full of Family attractions while Chessington had a top coaster and Rameses Revenge. Thorpe Park just had Calgary Stampede, a beach and just a powered coaster.
Best Year for the Family: 1996
With the opening of X:/ No Way Out (as it had a lower height restriction) it opened up a new more older generation coming to Thorpe Park to try it out, Families with older children would have a few more thrilling rides to do and the park was voted most parent friendly, with facilities and the park both in great condition.
Worst Year for the Family: 2012
Well the best year for Thrill Seekers usually means the worst for the Family and whilst this hasn’t always been the case in the past few years, 2012 is follows suit over the previous two years, with the closure of Octopus’ Garden followed now by the closure of Canada Creek Railway and Time Voyagers giving very little, or even nothing for the very young to enjoy. Accompanied with last years minimum height changes to two rides and of course the opening of The Swarm, 2012 is all for the thrill seekers only.
Best Year for the Park: 2003
Many may disagree with this but the best year for the park in my view has to be one with a good mix, and the whole park was open with a good atmosphere, for me that was 2003. The reasons for this are the park had a good mixture of old and new, and a good mixture of thrill and family. On one hand you have recent additions in Colossus and Nemesis Inferno, along with recent area in Lost City; on the other hand you have family rides in Eclipse, Flying Fish and classic attractions including Calgary Stampede and Model World. Along with the second most improved event in recent times Fright Nights, and the last year of the fireworks until a one off in 2011, Thorpe in my eyes had there best year to date in 2003.
Worst Year for the Park: 2014
It’s difficult to top the year that was 2000 (the fire of the park) as the worst year, however 2014 was not a good year for the park and here’s why we believe why. The park is currently lost in their direction, with thrill rides being a huge part of the parks advertising over the past decade now their is a slight change of direction. The already “loose” theme park theme is broken again with the more family area of Angry Birds Land breaking up the best themed area in the park, Amity Cove. Although the cinema is the best show in the UK, the dodgems provide a break in theme once again detracting from the experience. Reserve and Ride was introduced into a system where many rides were constantly run on single train operation and over selling of fast track ruining days out for many (reviews, Twitter and Facebook in particular during Fright Nights made it obvious) really hit the park. With the big issue here being the service from the park, staff in general were the worst seen in the park in many years and it was such a shame. With this ride closures (Samurai a great example) along with constant breakdowns make 2014 the worst year.
This is a difficult list to make up and I’m sure there are many that may disagree, with the park having big years since Tussauds brought the park in 1998 and even X:/ No Way Out in 1996, the park has made more progress in the last 8 years than any other. The direction of the park is easily the most noticeable of any in the UK, over the past 10 years over 12 new thrill rides have come to the park, with less and less for families to do every year. Although there is clearly no problem in becoming a thrill park as it is working, there is nothing wrong with a healthy mix.
Yet the burning question still remains, would Thorpe Park be what it is today without the fire of 2000? Yes OK Tussauds probably had plans for the park, but would they have brought a 22 year old Enterprise in? I shouldn’t think so; would they have closed Wicked Witches Haunt? Again I wouldn’t think so. This takes Detonator away from the park which was a last minute ride based on short term planning. Looking at it now I’d expect WWH to be a laser gun game with the park keeping it, but who knows?
Many people are now wanting a resort out of a theme park and although Thorpe are trying to change, the concern has to be that family rides aren’t the best in general still, although money is going into new rides which is great a new ride doesn’t need to be added every year and fixing effects for a magical experience to the public (like Disney Land) will work as well as a new ride. I’d still like to see a real clean up of the park, the changes on X were a cheap but better step in the right direction (still should have been gutted) and Tidal Wave needs to be put back on the map. Not sure now these are going to be addressed but with more and more investment in the park someone has to stand back and fix what’s broken.