What's new

In your opinion, what's wrong with Derren Brown's Ghost Train, and why did it fail?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. Recently, the psychological thrill dark ride at Thorpe Park known as Derren Brown's Ghost Train celebrated it's 5th birthday; scary, given that I remember it being built! But I did not make this thread to reminisce. I made this thread because now that the ride is 5 years old and has had plenty of time to bed in, I think it would be safe to say that it hasn't exactly been a rip-roaring success, and I'll admit that I'm struggling to pinpoint an exact reason why.

The ride was said to have not attracted new guests in the way that Thorpe Park hoped it would (although given that Swarm also failed to do this, this might not be an overly accurate indicator of an individual ride's overall "success"), and they retooled it in 2017 as a way of reviving interest in the attraction.

Even away from the commercial aspect, reviews haven't exactly been universally glowing, and I get the impression that DBGT isn't overly popular among Thorpe visitors even once they're already in the park (I could be wrong there, however).

I will stop short of calling DBGT a failure per se, as the ride definitely has its fans (I've heard reviews calling it the best dark ride in the world), and its impact on guest figures was never officially confirmed, but I'll admit that I'm struggling to think of a less successful attraction of comparable magnitude/price (although the exact price was never confirmed, Thorpe did confirm it to be their most expensive investment ever, so it must have cost at least the £20m that Swarm cost).

So my question is; as someone who's never done the attraction (it's not my thing at all), what exactly was wrong with Derren Brown's Ghost Train, in your view, and why do you think it failed?
 

Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
It failed because it’s sh*t. Basically.

It’s not even really a ride. It’s like a flight simulator from the 90’s that doesn’t do the exciting movements of a flight simulator, leaving nothing much in terms of an actual “ride”.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
I’m surprised that you haven’t ridden it? Granted, this forum is a platform for discussion, but riding it would surely help inform your views better than anything else?

I don’t think it’s a failure. I actually think it’s a “flawed” masterpiece. I can equate the experience to an elaborate and inspiring magician’s trick, where (unfortunately) the execution by the magician isn’t slick enough to warrant universal amazement… and the let down may result in some scoffing / jeering at the magician. I like “magic” so I find the principle of the trick to be so (relatively) impressive, I’m quite forgiving of some of the flaws. Others are far less forgiving.

The specific obvious flaws:

(Spoilers ahead - “major” spoilers in tags)

- The headset technology used simply isn’t reliable or compelling. It’s glitchy, it’s uncomfortable, it’s surprisingly low quality. It doesn’t always sync up with the audio and temporarily flickers etc. This is going to irritate guests.

- The quality of the CGI used in the film sections is also lower than the ideal “film standard”, The monster that appears looks like it belongs in a PS3 game. I can’t tell if this is because of the monster itself, or how it is “blended in” against the human actors using editing wizardry. Either way it sticks out like a sore thumb. This is disappointing for many and will cause people to scoff.

- The ride experience involves ~40 guests at once in a group and multiple groups in the attraction at any time. Immersion can be broken at any point by any other guest. Anyone goofing around or heckling at the attraction will break the immersion for everyone else. Also, when put in big groups like this, the expectation / scepticism bar is raised significantly because of our awareness of others.

- The ride system requires the synchronisation of multiple groups of ~40 people being guided around. This causes delays, pauses and frustration and people are held back from experiencing the next part of the attraction. Multiple groups need to be in the right place for everyone to move on. It’s very difficult to execute smoothly.

- The ride is at Thorpe Park in the UK. People are not entering the attraction with the wide eyed forgivingness that they would a Disney attraction.

- They have now added live actors with dialogue for some inexplicable reason. This is unwelcome. It was far better when the attraction was aloof and confusing by the omission of personal interaction.

Notwithstanding all of this, I enjoy it. Each time I have exited the ride, I have speculated with some (due) awe over exactly how the ride system “works”. Did you stay on the same spot, or did you physically ‘move’? How the ride seemingly takes you from one place to another, and back, all whilst juggling another group, is impressive and not immediately obvious:

It’s some sort of scaled down version of ‘back and forth’ moving ride vehicles that cross over with another, just like the Hogwarts Express ride at Universal Studios Florida where the trains cross over.

I also think the following is amazing and should be applauded:

Different headsets show different actors. This caused huge confusion amongst my group as there were disagreements over what we saw. I then realised, to my absolute delight, that this was intentional. Derren Brown foreshadows this by expressly mentioning in the pre-show that “some of you may remember it differently”.

Specifically, in the first film section, it can either be an old woman, or a man.

That is ****ing cool.

I also like that the attraction, despite its flaws, is dramatically more frightening/ominous that any other theme park attraction I’ve experienced, with its jump scares and screeching sound effects. The first film section in VR is particularly ominous. Of course, just like seeing any scary film in a room full of noisy teenagers, it’s hard to appreciate what you’re seeing in the environment.

In summary, it should be applauded for being so “out there” but it’s very ambitious and, it’s very fair to say, let down by its execution. When I rode it, I was quite astonished. My company of non-theme park enthusiasts immediately declared it was ****, which baffled me. They had no appreciation for the principle of what had happened and only cared for the execution.

If you want to enjoy it you will. If you don’t, you won’t.

As an aside, I remember seeing the horror film Hereditary in the cinema. I’m a bit of a horror aficionado and I was so blown away and startled by the film that when the credits started to roll I was already seriously contemplating whether it was the best horror film ever made. Whilst I was sat there in total awe, someone else (a stranger) stood up in the cinema and declared to me that it was the worst film they had ever seen.

*shrug*
 
Last edited:

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
I think there's another thing here which also feeds into the general dislike of the ride.

For a price tag of +£20m, the new hardware in the Vekoma/Mack/RMC/GCI/etc catalogues basically show off a big long list of "here's what you could have won".

That's what I don't like most about it (I agree with a lot of what @Nitefly writes - although I don't have quite as many good things to say about it).
 

Heth

Mega Poster
As far as I'm concerned the only illusion in the entire ride is the hanging carriage. The rest is not illusions, it's basically just screens. Hardly impressive.

Additionally it's slow loading times and regular breakdowns mean it is almost impossible for the ride to live up to the hype.

Its biggest issue though (for me) is narrative and immersion (or complete lack thereof). The ride chops and changes what the theme and story of the ride actually is. Here is how the ride pans out.

1. Derren introduction makes it explicit you're preparing for a theme park ride. Immediate immersion killer.
2. You see the hanging carriage with a Victorian theme, suggesting a time period to be immersed in...
3. ...which is immediately undermined by making carriage modern inside. I know this was deliberate, but it begs the question what's the point? Illusion for illusion's sake. You go from modern (Thorpe) to Victorian (hanging carriage) to modern again!
4. The first VR section is consistent with the carriage and the story continues as a modern 'ghost train'
5. The middle section is also consistent and keeps with the modern story...
6...but suddenly the final VR section is now showing park guests with headsets, making it explicit that you're on a ride again. Immersion killer again.

It's hard to be immersed in a rise which veers between being:

A. Victorian
B. Modern
C. A theme park ride invaded by monsters.

The twist that the carriage is modern inside and old outside is not terrible, but surely that's the wrong way around for interesting theming?

To use a different theoretical example, imagine that you had another dark ride which had a modern themed queue and the station was themed to pirates. The ride then starts and magically transports you back to modern for the rest of the ride. Guests wouldn't be going "wow, what a twist", they'd wonder what on earth happened.

Turn that the other way around, and have a modern station but the ride takes you back in time to see Pirates, that is a bit more interesting, right?

I get the logic in the train changing from modern / Victorian. However, theme parks are at their core about transporting you to 'the other' (so a different theme / time / place. What is seemingly backwards about DBGT is that the queue is 'modern' with mentions of fracking, then the carriage is 'Victorian', but then we're magically transported back to the time period we started off in! It's a bit backwards.

This is why I feel that a simple switch from a modern and abandoned tube carriage with a Victorian interior would be more 'magical' and therefore more interesting. It takes guests to a new place, where the current ride takes you super briefly to a Victorian carriage before taking you back to modern immediately.

Here is my proposal:

1. You start in Thorpe Park in an abandoned warehouse = modern
2. You see the hanging carriage which is now a modern tube train. The story is now that the train has been experimented on for paranormal purposes.
3. You step on board and now it's Victorian. You've been taken back in time by the mysterious carriage, and the ghosts are after you!
4. Events pan out as they did before but all in a consistent Victorian theme and plenty of ghosts. The second VR section omits the headsets on other virtual people.
5. The shop ending remains the same, because it's the best bit of the current ride.

I'm obviously not suggesting the is is viable to change the carriages now...but it's how I'd have done it with the same ride system.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
@Heth - some relevant observations, spurred on from your post.

You obviously didn’t like that the theming shuffled around so dramatically and incoherently (from your expectations of other attractions). I completely understand what you mean from that certain perspective, but I think the confusion and lack of coherency is one of the principal reasons I enjoyed it: it made no sense and what was going to happen next couldn’t be predicted.

In almost all forms of entertainment, I absolutely love my expectations being subverted and being put into a situation where I cannot foresee what is going to happen next. But I know that many people detest this. Going back to what I said about the film Hereditary, many people (at the time) were very disappointed that the film was not as they had anticipated. Meanwhile, there were so many absurd left turns in the film that it shocked/gripped me.

A more obvious example is something like the final episodes of the Game of Thrones TV series. I completely accept that there are many valid and due criticisms of it, but I was surprised at the overwhelming abundance of negative reception that seemingly revolved around it not being as people expected and people saying: “this is how it should have been” with respect to the outcome or even how certain scenes played out.

I’m don’t think you’re criticisms are unfair and if the ride was different as you suggest, perhaps it would have been better received. But I do think it’s interesting how people can perceive and enjoy things differently because of the perspective they approach the product with (both during the event and retrospectively) or how individuals may be different in how they receive entertainment.

Separately, you didn’t mention (in your post) anything about the “second train room” which is modern and themed to a tube station (and the external appearance of the train is now a tube carriage, matching the interior). On my first ride, when I was being bustled through the attraction (which is key the purposes of illusion) I wasn’t entirely sure whether we had actually moved or not (noting that you exit the train from the opposite side - “perhaps we were stationary and one side of the train looks different than the other?”, I thought at the time). What actually happens is as I mentioned in per my spoiler tag above.

I think a lot of energy went into this aspect of this attraction, yet it’s something which people either don’t care for at all, or perhaps don’t even notice. At the time, I was furiously trying to figure out what had just happened - but I didn’t have time to process it whilst being bustled through the attraction, again being key to “the illusion of the whole”. I left the attraction thinking “how the **** did that work?!” - but again, nobody in my group seemed to share my fascination with that part of the attraction (instead commenting on the VR sections) and I think Mrs. Nitefly only became curious when I shared my observations with her…. But even then wasn’t particularly interested.

It is fiendishly clever, but missable. Or, perhaps merely unimpressive / underwhelming to those that were expecting something else.
 
Last edited:

Heth

Mega Poster
This all being said, using Game of Thrones as an example, it is surprising and unexpected in a coherent and thematically viable way.

If in the middle one episode Ned Stark walked into a room and suddenly the room was in 18th Century France I wouldn't think that was a clever surprise, I'd think it was nonsense. Then imagine the camera crew start getting attacked on screen by the White Walkers...that would be absolutely trash. This incoherence is what DBGT essentially does. Surprises aren't created equal, some surprises are nonsense.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
I’m surprised that you haven’t ridden it? Granted, this forum is a platform for discussion, but riding it would surely help inform your views better than anything else?

I don’t think it’s a failure. I actually think it’s a “flawed” masterpiece. I can equate the experience to an elaborate and inspiring magician’s trick, where (unfortunately) the execution by the magician isn’t slick enough to warrant universal amazement… and the let down may result in some scoffing / jeering at the magician. I like “magic” so I find the principle of the trick to be so (relatively) impressive, I’m quite forgiving of some of the flaws. Others are far less forgiving.

The specific obvious flaws:

(Spoilers ahead - “major” spoilers in tags)

- The headset technology used simply isn’t reliable or compelling. It’s glitchy, it’s uncomfortable, it’s surprisingly low quality. It doesn’t always sync up with the audio and temporarily flickers etc. This is going to irritate guests.

- The quality of the CGI used in the film sections is also lower than the ideal “film standard”, The monster that appears looks like it belongs in a PS3 game. I can’t tell if this is because of the monster itself, or how it is “blended in” against the human actors using editing wizardry. Either way it sticks out like a sore thumb. This is disappointing for many and will cause people to scoff.

- The ride experience involves ~40 guests at once in a group and multiple groups in the attraction at any time. Immersion can be broken at any point by any other guest. Anyone goofing around or heckling at the attraction will break the immersion for everyone else. Also, when put in big groups like this, the expectation / scepticism bar is raised significantly because of our awareness of others.

- The ride system requires the synchronisation of multiple groups of ~40 people being guided around. This causes delays, pauses and frustration and people are held back from experiencing the next part of the attraction. Multiple groups need to be in the right place for everyone to move on. It’s very difficult to execute smoothly.

- The ride is at Thorpe Park in the UK. People are not entering the attraction with the wide eyed forgivingness that they would a Disney attraction.

- They have now added live actors with dialogue for some inexplicable reason. This is unwelcome. It was far better when the attraction was aloof and confusing by the omission of personal interaction.

Notwithstanding all of this, I enjoy it. Each time I have exited the ride, I have speculated with some (due) awe over exactly how the ride system “works”. Did you stay on the same spot, or did you physically ‘move’? How the ride seemingly takes you from one place to another, and back, all whilst juggling another group, is impressive and not immediately obvious:

It’s some sort of scaled down version of ‘back and forth’ moving ride vehicles that cross over with another, just like the Hogwarts Express ride at Universal Studios Florida where the trains cross over.

I also think the following is amazing and should be applauded:

Different headsets show different actors. This caused huge confusion amongst my group as there were disagreements over what we saw. I then realised, to my absolute delight, that this was intentional. Derren Brown foreshadows this by expressly mentioning in the pre-show that “some of you may remember it differently”.

Specifically, in the first film section, it can either be an old woman, or a man.

That is ****ing cool.

I also like that the attraction, despite its flaws, is dramatically more frightening/ominous that any other theme park attraction I’ve experienced, with its jump scares and screeching sound effects. The first film section in VR is particularly ominous. Of course, just like seeing any scary film in a room full of noisy teenagers, it’s hard to appreciate what you’re seeing in the environment.

In summary, it should be applauded for being so “out there” but it’s very ambitious and, it’s very fair to say, let down by its execution. When I rode it, I was quite astonished. My company of non-theme park enthusiasts immediately declared it was ****, which baffled me. They had no appreciation for the principle of what had happened and only cared for the execution.

If you want to enjoy it you will. If you don’t, you won’t.

As an aside, I remember seeing the horror film Hereditary in the cinema. I’m a bit of a horror aficionado and I was so blown away and startled by the film that when the credits started to roll I was already seriously contemplating whether it was the best horror film ever made. Whilst I was sat there in total awe, someone else (a stranger) stood up in the cinema and declared to me that it was the worst film they had ever seen.

*shrug*
I know it seems stupid that I haven’t ridden it, but if I’m being completely honest, I have a bit of a fear of actors/costumed characters, and the general type of attraction that DBGT is doesn’t really align with accommodating that fear (nor should it, might I add; it’s a scare attraction by its very nature!). I get a bit anxious even around some of the more placid characters that greet you around the park (heck, Winnie the Pooh wandering around Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom made me a little bit anxious, I’ll admit), so god knows what I’d be like with the actors doing what they allegedly do to you within DBGT! To tell you the truth, I actually considered giving DBGT a go on my last Thorpe visit, but even the thought of doing it made me incredibly anxious. I know it’s really silly, as enthusiasts are probably supposed to be able to do this kind of attraction without so much as flinching, and most enthusiasts absolutely relish scare attractions, but that kind of thing doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. There’s not too much in the way of physical ride hardware that genuinely fazes me these days, but as soon as you chuck anything “psychological”/actor-y into the mix, it makes me a bit of a nervous wreck!

In terms of what makes the attraction; I actually agree with you in rather admiring it! They could have gone for a more “conventional” dark ride, but they designed a dark ride quite unlike any other on Earth, with so many different elements! That must have taken some serious balls, and I do rather admire Merlin Magic Making for thinking outside the box with this installation. Admittedly, a more “conventional” dark ride would quite possibly have worked better here, but I do think that the decision to go with a ride like Derren Brown’s Ghost Train perhaps deserves more applause than it gets; they didn’t just push the envelope, they blew it off the table, and I will happily applaud MMM for their ambition!

If you view the attraction by the technology within it, it’s utterly, utterly mind-boggling, and I’ll admit that’s why I was left scratching my head as to why few seem to like it. Personally, as someone who’s scared of actors and isn’t a huge fan of forced participation or VR either, it sounds like my worst nightmare, but if I put myself in the shoes of those for whom actors aren’t an issue, then it sounds like any horror fan’s dream!

One thing that @Nitefly said did intrigue me, however:
Nitefly said:
The ride is at Thorpe Park in the UK. People are not entering the attraction with the wide-eyed forgivingness that they would a Disney attraction.
Sorry if I’m misinterpreting you here, but are you basically suggesting that the ride isn’t well liked merely because it’s at Thorpe Park, and that it would receive more love if it were in a different park? And vice versa, that if you put any of Disney’s much-loved headliners (for instance, Flight of Passage) into Thorpe Park, they would be liked far less?
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
@Heth yes, DBGT is jarring and silly from a ‘conventional storytelling narrative’ perspective, but I don’t think that is what the ride was going for. Would it be ‘better’ with a more focussed narrative? Perhaps. But I do think it would be less ‘interesting’.

@Matt N there is a very fleeting moment of a “scare actor” at the very end of the attraction but it is nothing like a scare maze - you will not have any actors jumping out at you “unexpectedly” other than this one fleeting moment and you may not even be near the scare actor when he makes his appearance. The newer actors just give dialogue. That said, there are some deliberately jumpy moments on the VR sections that are relatively intense compared to other theme park attractions due to the claustrophobic nature of the VR, but really it is nothing to avoid the attraction for. You can just shut your eyes if you’re particularly frightened - only children and the most unduly nervous of adults are likely to be ‘upset’ by it. People who don’t like scare mazes should be able to tolerate DBGT. I suggest you give it a go.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Sorry if I’m misinterpreting you here, but are you basically suggesting that the ride isn’t well liked merely because it’s at Thorpe Park, and that it would receive more love if it were in a different park? And vice versa, that if you put any of Disney’s much-loved headliners (for instance, Flight of Passage) into Thorpe Park, they would be liked far less?

Yes - that is what I meant. It would be more well received at somewhere like Universal Studios. But, the execution of the ride would undoubtedly be better too.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
@Nitefly I was under the impression that the actors were allowed to touch you, in a similar vein to scare attractions?
Sometimes the actors may brush passed you on the VR sections when you are sat down with the headset on to sync in with the visuals, but that’s it. There are no ‘scare actors’ that jump out from the dark and grab you (which hasn’t happened on any scare maze that I’ve experienced either).

They have to mention that you might be touched as it’s a practical risk that you might be.
 

Ethan

Strata Poster
I completely understand what you mean from that certain perspective, but I think the confusion and lack of coherency is one of the principal reasons I enjoyed it: it made no sense and what was going to happen next couldn’t be predicted.
I'm happy for you if messy, poorly thought out attractions really tickle your pickle, but I just can't sympathise with this viewpoint at all tbh.

It's like writing a book in which every sentence is unrelated to the previous, and then getting annoyed when readers aren't immersed in the story. To me, the blatant lack of coherency in DBGT only takes me out of it, it doesn't grab my attention.
 

Rupert

Mega Poster
Good discussion and raised some thoughts I hadn’t considered about narrative. I agree with Heth that the weird timeline flip between Victorian warehouse & train exterior to modern Underground train interior felt completely off. @Nitefly I appreciated your take on the ride but this:
I think a lot of energy went into this aspect of this attraction, yet it’s something which people either don’t care for at all, or perhaps don’t even notice.
…still strikes me as a failure for the ride - it can’t have succeeded if the narrative is so subtle that almost everyone misses it. Sadly (or actually maybe not), theme park attractions either have to handhold guests through a story so they definitely get it, or be so generic that they can put their own narrative on that definitely fits. This ride doesn’t do either - it is oddly specific on certain bits, has weird changes in timeline and setting, and overall is difficult to fill in the gaps or put your own take on it.

My major take on it though, before I considered any of the posts above, is that after riding it once I have absolutely zero desire to ride it again, and it’s for this reason I really consider it a failure. Maybe it’s just me and dark rides, or maybe it’s the fact it’s all so static (unlike tracked dark rides or moving simulators), or maybe it’s just that the narrative is so poor and unexciting I don’t want to see it again, or maybe I just really prefer coasters (this is definitely true), but for me DBGT was a one-time thing and the subsequent revamps hold no appeal.

Finally @Hixee is completely bang on the money that it is also seen in the context of what could have been if they’d used that money on a decent coaster. All of Thorpe’s coasters are completely average or poor and the park is still crying out for something genuinely brilliant including with some actually good airtime, and £20 million could have done wonders for this. Instead it’s been completely wasted on an incoherent one-shot mess.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
I'm happy for you if messy, poorly thought out attractions really tickle your pickle, but I just can't sympathise with this viewpoint at all tbh.

It's like writing a book in which every sentence is unrelated to the previous, and then getting annoyed when readers aren't immersed in the story. To me, the blatant lack of coherency in DBGT only takes me out of it, it doesn't grab my attention.
Ha, funny you should say this as my favourite book is Catch-22, which is known for being ‘unreadable’ to many due its eccentric style/characters, with chapters that don’t coherently flow into each other.

Being sanctimonious isn’t my jam either, so to each their own 🤷‍♂️

@Rupert - I’d agree that it is a failure in the sense that it hasn’t gained long term appeal for the masses and enthusiasts, yes. At that cost, it should have.
 
Last edited:

swalesuk01

Roller Poster
If they could have made it appear like you sat in a victorian carriage and then arrived in a tube train then the reveal of the modern tube station would be more effective. With the current set up as soon as the doors open that illusion is broken so just doesn't make sense after that.

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
I think there's a lot going on with Ghost Train.

If we go back 8-10 years ago, I think there was definitely a demand for a dark ride at Thorpe. It was a glaring and obvious gap in the park's line up. Maybe there wasn't a huge demand from the wider audience, but I don't think anyone would necessarily turn their nose up at it.
In hindsight, the decision of whether to invest in a coaster or dark ride for the 2015/16 major investment was a big crossroads for the park. Do they just go down the 'coaster park' route, or do they create a more balanced and diverse line up. But I guess that's neither here nor there for now.

My point is, investing in a dark ride was a necessary thing for the park, but it was a big change for the park. It needed to be a success.

Thorpe and Merlin decided to go for the unique/world first route. Because that's the way they think and work. Try something different and out there. And that was their first mistake. Going for something so different opened up so many risks: reliability, interest, popularity, etc. All of those things would not be an issue if they went for something more tried and tested.
So basically they went for an incredibly risky investment, and that's just asking for trouble.

Now then, I think a lot of things have been brought up already, but just to put my view on things...

Troubled Opened
Not a big issue in the grand scheme of thing, but it kind of sets the scene. The opening for Ghost Train was delayed multiple times, and kept breaking down repeatedly. It led to a huge lack of faith in the ride. And lots of people weren't happy. In its first year, how many people managed to get a ride on it without experiencing issues? Probably only a small proportion of people out of everyone who went on it. This is excusable if the ride ends up being good, but that's something to get onto in a bit.

Poor Reliability
Related to this, the ride struggles with reliability. Shutdowns are common with it. The ride now opens at 12pm because it's such a nightmare. If you ask people who have done, there's probably only a small number of people who have experienced it trouble free. Over its years of being open, that's not a good sign. Again, excusable, to a degree, if the ride is good.

Virtual Reality
Do people really like VR in theme parks? Arguably not. It was a fad in the late 2010s. But outside of Europa Park, has any park successfully implemented VR on rides? I don't really think so?
As such, it already leaves Ghost Train facing an uphill battle for popularity.

But then on top of that, the VR is...average. VR is always improving, which means that something from 5 years ago is going to be outdated, or at least, subpar. Some of the graphics aren't great.
The headsets are clunky and overly heavy. It's not an enjoyable experience having to deal with it for so a long period of time.

Story
What is the story of Ghost Train? There's the whole Derren scary thing. There's fracking. There's demons. There's the Victorian/modern train motifs. None of it really flows or makes sense.

This year, they've tried to shoehorn and jack knife every storyline together so it's coherent. It makes it even worse. A dark ride needs a story: either a very basic one, or an involved one which is clearly conveyed imo. Ghost Train doesn't really have any of these.

On top of all of that, the whole story and experience doesn't make it very re-rideable.

Lost Point
I think this is the main. The point of Ghost Train is constantly lost. (More spoilers here)

You have a big grand illusion to start off with (the hanging carriage). It's a really awesome set piece. But people's attention isn't drawn to it, and they're not made to think it is a big deal. It kind of just happens, and that's a real shame.

The VR was originally meant to have 12 possible situations, including 2 completely different endings (and indeed, that is still advertised to this day). Firstly, that never happened. At best, there might have been 6...but even then, I'm not sure.
Those situations were having different people in the VR speak to you. Old man / old woman / young woman, for example. It's a small thing, but it can mean that people talk about it and go 'Oh, we had different things happen' (like Nitefly said). But the trouble is, something like that isn't particularly impressive to most people, and is quickly explained by saying "Oh, maybe they have different videos".

The scene when you get off the train happens so quickly. Again, it's lost on so many people. It is presented terribly, because that sort of scene should happen slowly and come as a big reveal.
The scene which happens afterwards has been chopped and changed so much that again, the point has been lost. And again that happened partially because that section was so unreliable.

At this point, I really don't know what the aim of Ghost Train is.


So tl;dr:
What's wrong with Ghost Train?
-It's unreliable and has a bad reputation as a result
-It's not particularly re-rideable
-It acted as a major investment, and now Thorpe have had no coaster for so long, some have bad feelings against it
-People still don't know what it really is
-The concept at heart (sitting on a train wearing VR headsets) isn't particularly interesting
-It misses the mark on what it should have delivered

Why did it fail?
-Thorpe should have catered more to coasters than dark rides for major investments
-It had a terrible opening period in terms of reliability, and it hasn't improved much since
-It shouldn't go unsaid that theme parks / Merlin were struggling post-Smiler incident still
-Ultimately, it's just not that good


I say all this as someone who has a bit of a soft spot for Ghost Train. There's some positives behind it, and when it all works and runs smoothly, I think there's positives to be said for it. But at this point, there is just no point trying to keep it going. I'm still genuinely surprised they reopened it rather than just keeping shut because of Covid. Guests would have understood and not many would have shed a tear tbh.
 

Ethan

Strata Poster
Being sanctimonious isn’t my jam either, so to each their own 🤷‍♂️
Not once did disagreeing with you make me superior, I just think DBGT is a flop and by the looks of it, most others do too! If you enjoy it, that's good? The thing is there to enjoy after all...
 

Jamesss

Mega Poster
How they managed to justify the supposed £20M+ price for a completely unproven concept, I don't know.
 
Last edited:
Top