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Thorpe Park and Paultons Park May 2021

SilverArrow

Active Member
After weeks of lockdown and faff it was finally time to head out to my first theme parks of the year. Only a +1 was to be had over both days, but honestly after the last year we've had this really didn't matter. I was going to a park with cfers!!

Thorpe Park

I've been to Thorpe lots of times and I know a lot of people here have so I'll try and keep this report off the beaten track a bit.

As the week running up to this trip ran on it was clear that the Thorpe day had one of the worst predicted forecasts of the year so far! 49mph or so winds were forecast for the entire day so I arrived mentally prepared for a day of chilling and eating in the dome looking out at closed rides, whilst complaining that we'd picked a bad day to visit. Well, as it happened we got really lucky and the weather was a lot better than predicted so we got lots of rides in!

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This photo came out awfully but first up I wanted to highlight my disappointment at the removal of the undersea theming in the dome. Yes it was tacky, maybe it's just nostalgia, yes, maybe it doesn't fit the park's theme so much (although it is an island...!) if they're moving away from Neptune's Kingdom (I'm guessing depth charge is on the chopping block soon) but it just looks bare and bland now. It would have been nice to see something else put up in it's place, even if it had not theme and was just something nice and decorative. Perhaps there's more to come with it in the future? Of course, it's not a huge deal but this is a place for pedantic theme park rants so here it is! 😂 The sparkly floor that everyone has been raving about was quite cool though (as cool as a floor can be anyway) so I'll take that.

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We did a couple of flats to start with including Quantum which I hadn't done in about 10 years after deciding that I didn't like it back then. Turns out it's fine and we had a good giggle on it to start the day! Zodiac was also on the cards, one of my favourite flats! We thought the ride had broken down before we got on because it kept coming down as soon as it rose but it turned out that I think they were stopping the ride because people were taking their masks off. Fair play.

I got 3 rides on Stealth which I was really pleased about and it confirmed my opinion that it is indeed the best coaster in the UK! There are very few coasters that give you that rush over and over again no matter how many times you ride!

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For lunch we went to the Infinity Bar in the dome. After some faff with mobile ordering I ended up with a nice pizza. I also had a Camden pale Ale which was good and a change from the usual theme park beer suspects. The food seemed to vary a bit depending on what you ordered (Chainedbanana had a bit of a struggle to get his) so I'd definitely say go for pizza if you're unsure (and you like pizza). The food options in this bar seemed a lot more varied than a few years ago, so that was nice.

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We were originally planning on doing Black Mirror Labyrinth but the tickets for both that and DBGT got booked up early on in the day. If you want to do either of these two attractions I'd definitely recommend sorting those as soon as possible. I wasn't too bothered about doing them so it was fine for me. Chris managed to get hold of two tickets for both later in the day so him and Chainedbanana did BML and him and Mouse did DGBT (after a bit of....negotiation 😂).

I did all the major coasters except for Colossus, which was closed all day. I still prefer rave backwards X to The Walking Dead but I feel like I'm probably in the minority there. It was just a lot more cheery and fun! Nemesis Inferno was good, as usual and Saw was even more rough than I remember it. Not my favourite at all. Detonator was down pretty much all day so I didn't have to put myself on that, as I don't think I've ever done it! I, like Serena and Jordan have been partaking in the "riding drop towers to do something that scares me" challenge for the last year or so, so it is on the list to be done at some point.

I usually have a good day at Thorpe but I really do hope they sort out some areas of the park that need some work and sort out their target market direction. For example, this building is right in the middle of the park, opposite one of their newest attractions.

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I mean. Even a mural or some jazzy paint would give it some interest.

The Old Town/Canada area is still looking very sorry for itself. Hopefully we'll see a big cash injection coming in the next few years as this park has so much potential! Tidal Wave has lost it's gas ball but from what I've heard it was pretty rusty so I guess it was inevitable. Still love that sign!

Anyway, it was still a really nice, chilled day out with cf friends filled with many rides so here's a photo of Nemesis Inferno (which should have just been Inferno!) to finish off.

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Thanks for reading!

Other from the trip please feel free to add any reports, comments or photos to this thread! :)
 
It was great to be back at a Park - despite not being a big fan of modern Thorpe, one of the reasons being is that it makes me sad at what it used to be (see Emily's photo above of the arcade games outside a once palatial facade! - HOWEVER, you can't deny their line-up of coasters and flats which are just right for blowing away those coaster-cobwebs!

Started the day on a couple of the flats, including the first time I'd ever done Quantum - which In my opinion is a bit of a hidden Gem - actually quite fun....memories of the trauma of the flying carpet at chessington had put me off for years - and it had the appearance of doing your back in.....but it rides pretty smoothly with a little airtime tingle..... just fun.... which I happen to love in a ride! Also got on Zodiac after a bit of breakdown/weather/people taking their mask off faff, another solid classic.

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The weather whilst moody and drizzly - actually held out for most of the day - apart from a shower whilst riding Swarm.... why do I always end up on b&m's in the rain? In no particular order got on most of the open coasters that day - with flying fish the only real oversight! Also got on SAW which I haven't done in years, Love the indoor section - but everything after the main drop is pretty vile unfortunately with a pronounced rumble/buzz with leaves your neck and brain jangled!

Best(only) special effect of the day goes to the mist on Nemmie Inferno including the fog tunnel! Speaking of fog - there was none in walking dead the ride - which imo basically makes the ride.

Spoiler alert!

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to try out black mirror - and it's an interesting experience for sure, with some good effects. My take on it is that is feels like it's part of something as apposed to being it's own attraction such as a pre-show or post-show, or more of an 'event' attraction i.e. Halloween scare maze! The experience was more 'dramatic' than scary - and it is genuinely disorientating, making me wonder if the walls are actually moved by staff inside to trap you in certain areas! it's definitely worth checking out if you don't have to wait long and fancy a new experience in your day!


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Anyhow - that was pretty much it! a good day was had, glad they got many of the rides open, and that the way wasn't a washout! Onto Paultons.....
 
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Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
This photo came out awfully but first up I wanted to highlight my disappointment at the removal of the undersea theming in the dome.
Tidal Wave has lost it's gas ball but from what I've heard it was pretty rusty so I guess it was inevitable.
see Emily's photo above of the arcade games outside a once palatial facade
Speaking of fog - there was none in walking dead the ride - which imo basically makes the ride.
Sounds like a lot of decorations and effects are being removed. The park is either preparing the grounds for an overhaul, or they're cutting down on maintenance costs, and since these are all over the park in unrelated areas, my money is not on the former. It's a shame to see. The picture of that building is outright depressing.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Sounds like a lot of decorations and effects are being removed. The park is either preparing the grounds for an overhaul, or they're cutting down on maintenance costs, and since these are all over the park in unrelated areas, my money is not on the former. It's a shame to see. The picture of that building is outright depressing.

Just to give some extra context to all of those things:

This photo came out awfully but first up I wanted to highlight my disappointment at the removal of the undersea theming in the dome.
The dome has gone through (going through?) a very slow change. The Atlantis theming has been chipped away since 2018/19. I've been under the impression that the park want to modernise it completely, but seem to only be doing it small chunks. This year is probably the cleanest its looked since there's no mish-mash of styles now all the Atlantis stuff has effectively gone.

Whether this will be followed up is something only time will tell for now.

In saying that, I did like that Atlantis style, even if it was verging on tacky and nostalgia played a part...I do think it would have been easy, and smart, to justtart it up a bit and keep with an underwater vibe to fit in with the island motif they've got going..

Tidal Wave has lost it's gas ball but from what I've heard it was pretty rusty so I guess it was inevitable.
The gas ball was basically falling apart, yes. It's been replaced with a smaller jetty up:
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This is meant to have a new flame effect. The original flame effect infamously stopped circa 2005; the believed reason being that they for some reason needed to be cut during Stealth's construction (how true that is I don't know).

I heard that there were delays getting all the necessary parts from the supplier of the flame effect in time (with both Covid and Brexit blamed), so the fire effect probably won't happen this year.

The current set up doesn't look as striking by itself, but if the fire effect is installed, is reliable and looks impressive, that will be a perfectly fine replacement in my eyes.

see Emily's photo above of the arcade games outside a once palatial facade
This lovely change happened last year. Here's a photo of how it looked in 2019:
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It certainly doesn't look great there, but it's incredible how it does look better.

My first thought when I saw it was that there might have been a structural issue with the canopy-like part of the building (it is quite old so maybe just standard wear and tear, or maybe a contractor with a lorry drove into it, or maybe the curse of Derren Brown stretched over and it crumbled of its own accord), meaning it had to be taken down, and the park simply didn't have the funds to replace it like-for-like. And if that was the case, then I imagine they won't replace it later as it will be seen as a low priority thing to do.

The latter half of last season saw the space used for the stage used for Oktoberfest and Fright Nights, which hid it very well. But yes, for now, it's a painfully bland eyesore. One can only hope they have something planned for there eventually.

Speaking of fog - there was none in walking dead the ride - which imo basically makes the ride.
There was fog on my ride on Thursday, albeit not as much as in the past. It had always been hit and miss for me though after the first couple of months of operation, but hopefully they can make it more consistent.



I think again it highlights the main issue that faces Thorpe, that has been highlighted on here many times. The park has a lot of stuff which is ageing. The flat rides are regularly mentioned, but the wider infrastructure too. The car park and entrance has needed re-working in recent years. The Dome is/was (depending on your opinion) dated. All of the older toilets needed refurbs (both in terms of look and inner workings). With lots of short term investments and no (good) major investments for a while, it all adds up to create a tired park, and it just takes an off day for everything to feel very...meh.



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Anyways, enough rambling there..Nice to see short TRs from Thorpe. I do have a soft spot for the restaurant in the Dome, and the food choices and variety have definitely improved the last year or two after a couple of average years. They didn't quite have the mobile ordering down to a tee when I lasted went in there, but hopefully that improves with time.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
I think again it highlights the main issue that faces Thorpe, that has been highlighted on here many times. The park has a lot of stuff which is ageing. The flat rides are regularly mentioned, but the wider infrastructure too. The car park and entrance has needed re-working in recent years. The Dome is/was (depending on your opinion) dated. All of the older toilets needed refurbs (both in terms of look and inner workings). With lots of short term investments and no (good) major investments for a while, it all adds up to create a tired park, and it just takes an off day for everything to feel very...meh.
I agree with all this. My last visit was in September 2019, and I noticed that the Dome was ... kinda awkward. It ties in well to the entrance of the park, and you'd expect it to serve as a sort of "hub" with the park fanning out in front of it, but it barely connects to the rest of the park at all. If you come from the park entrance, go straight through the dome, and exit on the other side, you'll find yourself on a naked veranda overlooking some waterslides, with the park proper still being far in the distance. You can look over to Swarm too, but there's no obvious way to get there. There are stairs, but those are blocked off and only lead you to a closed-off area by the waterslides anyway. You have to walk around the dome and down an unmarked path behind the waterslides to get to Swarm, all the time feeling like you've wandered into some maintenance backroad.

The Dome is conveniently located for the flat rides, but to get there you have to pass through a restaurant inside the dome. The "proper" way into the park involves going straight ahead, then to the left along the veranda, then down another road that looks like a maintenance backroad. The Dome is the entrance area to the park, but is severely out of place in relation to the rest of the park, as if it was located in a faraway forgotten corner. It has several entrances/exits, but none of them seem to lead anywhere. Finding your way back is a bit of a chore too. I'm not sure if this is intentional, to keep guests in the park for longer. You won't think about leaving if you can't see the exit.

I place most of the blame on the Amity Beach area. It blocks the direct path from the Dome to the "main street" where the rest of the park is centered, and makes the indirect path - which is actually the main route - feel long, winding, and unappealing. You have to wiggle around it to get into and out of the park, and it creates a gulf of separation between the main park, the flat ride corner, and the Swarm area. It makes the entrance to the park look so messy.

However, it is clearly an expensive fix, not within reach of a park that only receives sporadic, small touch-ups. The park is in need of a major overhaul, and the aging ride lineup doesn't make things much better.

Maybe that is the final fate of a park in the long run? Maintenance costs piling up, leading the park to choose between replacing the rides or replacing the infrastructure, and if neither is chosen there won't be any profit left to do any of them? I hope Thorpe can pull out of this, but if so they can't continue on the current trajectory.
 
and the food choices and variety have definitely improved the last year or two after a couple of average years. They didn't quite have the mobile ordering down to a tee when I lasted went in there, but hopefully that improves with time.

Hmmmmm I did forget to mention the restaurant in my review.... whilst the pizzas some of the others had looked decent quality.... the chicken i had was very anaemic!! They had already gotten my order once wrong and the first wrong order looked the same! So maybe be mindful of WHAT you order there!
 

witchfinder

Member
This was a big trip for me – my first theme park for more than 6 months, my longest solo car journey for well over a year and my first time being surrounded by the general public since I got my second Covid vaccine shot! :D

I drove down from Stoke in the morning and arrived at the park just before 11:00 to see this at the entrance…
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Not a great sign and I was expecting plenty of ride closures, though I had seen both Stealth and Swarm testing from the car park. They were in fact the only two coasters running for most of the morning. I joined my fellow CF members in the Dome and we headed to Stealth for what was for most of us the first coaster ride of the year.
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What a great start to the season – it may be short but you rarely get a disappointing ride and that launch is the perfect way to clear the off-season (and lockdown) cobwebs!

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It’s illegal to go to Thorpe and not take this photo, right? 😆

Next up was Swarm, which had the extended queue line open, which I didn’t even know existed until now! We waited around an hour which included a break in operations while the trains were cleaned. By this point it was raining quite heavily.
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Eventually we got on and as the odd man out of the group of five, I decided to wait for the front row so got a shot of my fellow goons leaving for their ride.
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I got my ride shortly after and Swarm is always fun even if the ride is a bit too short and doesn’t offer much intensity.
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With no other creds open at that point and the rain tipping down, we headed to the Dome for lunch and were amused by several staff behaving oddly, including a quite aggressive greeter at the restaurant and a guy that insisted I have a knife and fork even though I was eating a sandwich! 🤷‍♂️

After lunch the weather had improved a little and myself, SilverArrow and MouseAT grabbed another ride on Stealth while the others tried the Black Mirror Labyrinth. Later we grabbed a ride on Nemesis Inferno which had recently re-opened after several closures throughout the day.
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Annoyingly we’d only been in the queue for 10 minutes when they closed the ride for the scheduled cleaning of the trains. Honestly, if you’ve only had the ride open for 20 minutes after a breakdown, why not clean the bloody thing when it was out of action? 🤬

It eventually re-opened and we ended up with a back row ride. It may not be the best Invert but you can rely on it for an enjoyable and fairly intense ride, and sure enough I left the ride with wobbly legs as I always do.
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With time slipping away we headed for a third and final ride on Stealth and then dashed over to get in the queue for Saw about 10 minutes before the park closed. Saw had been down most of the day so it was a gamble that it would even stay running, but it did and we got our final ride of the day to complete the set of major coasters that were open (Colossus was closed all day)
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I know the others weren’t fans of Saw but I still enjoy it – the theming is great and while the ride is a bit rough in places, that somehow feels appropriate for a ride with this theme so it doesn’t bother me that much.
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Given that we were there on a relatively quiet Friday, you might think that only getting 6 rides in 6 hours wasn’t that good, but that’s not really what this visit was about. It was a nice, laid back day where nobody was desperate for creds and we could just take our time and hang around chatting. It was just great to get back on a few thrilling rides and hang out talking about coasters and theme parks with fellow enthusiasts with no stress. The park definitely has problems as other posts have detailed, but I always enjoy a trip to Thorpe simply because it takes a while for me to get there so it feels a bit more exotic than Alton for example, which is just up the road from me.

Quick note on the Covid prevention measures at the park – overall, pretty good. Temperature checks at the gate, wearing of masks was enforced on rides, social distancing was generally OK but you’re always at the whim of other people in that respect. They also insisted on Track & Trace check-in at the restaurant and had one–way systems in place in the shops. So no complaints really!

After we left the park we went our separate ways and that’s where things started to go a bit wrong for me. I’d booked into a cheap hotel at one of the Motorway Services on the M3 (en route to Paultons) but due to a major accident the Motorway was closed between the two junctions that the Services was located between! I hung around for a while at an earlier Services to see if the road would reopen, but by 8:30 they still hadn’t and when I spoke to the Hotel they reckoned they wouldn’t be opening the road until after midnight. ☹️

I made the decision to cancel that hotel and book one at another Services on the M27. The upside of this was that this was only 10 minutes from Paultons. The downside was that instead of following my instincts, tiredness set in and I followed the SatNav, which decided to take me off the Motorway and access the hotel via a B-road which took me to the restricted (and blocked) access road to the Services. A totally dumb mistake on my part which added another 30 minutes to my journey, meaning it was nearly 10pm by the time I got to the hotel. Moral of the story: never book hotels at Motorway Services! 😆

Have a couple more pictures just to finish off this report!
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Why would anyone ride this on such a horrible day?
 

SilverArrow

Active Member
Next up was Paultons the next day.

I had visited before in 2016 for the live so the main attraction for me (and most of us bar Chainedbanana) was Tornado Springs.

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Storm Chaser is a really fun family ride and after 4 rides it definitely seems to ride differently on each go, which, coupled with it’s mild-to-mid-range spinning makes it really re-rideable. Backwards was definitely my favourite direction to sit in because it felt that bit more out of control, especially on the first drop.

Cyclonator is surprisingly intense considering the park’s target market but I had no complaints except that the seats were a bit uncomfortable. It looks really good too.

Obviously we had to do the rethemed dinghy slide and race each other. I can't remember who won the first go but I don't think it was me. Here is the second lot of cfers below.

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I think Del Piero and mini-Del Piero just snagged the win, followed closely by Chris, then mouse! (Red people are randoms)

After hearing good reviews about Phantasialand’s version we also rode one of the smaller drop towers next door to Cyclonator which was really good fun! All 8 of us took up the whole of one tower and when the op asked if we wanted to ride again absolutely no-one paused for thought on their way back to their seat to accept this nice offer!

The park has also rethemed some of their older attractions to fit in with the new theme which is a nice touch. Hopefully some of their other older attractions will get this treatment in future themed expansions as the Cobra area is looking a bit bare and old now compared to the themed areas. There are some ncie gardens and animal attractions to see which add some variety to the day. We went to the new diner for lunch which was ok but a bit expensive and had almost all of it’s food items in set meals so you couldn’t mix and match things which was a bit annoying. It also seemed to have a distinct lack of cutlery!

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The building decor in this area is cool!

It seems that Peppa Pig Land still reins supreme as it seemed to soak up the crowds in the morning and throughout much of the day and so the queues were mostly pretty short all day apart from perhaps Magma and the Dino car ride. Obviously we went to Tornado Springs first and I remember we were all confused as to where all the people we had seen at the entrance and in the car park had gone until we looked over into Peppa Pig Land, which was rammed!

The park seems to have a weird crowd flow where, despite it having been a busy Saturday with a very full car park and lots of people around, hardly anyone was in the queuelines in many areas. This is most likely due to the age of the young visitors (more kid faff time and small kids being less good at waiting etc) but it was quite striking in places. Storm Chaser was pretty much walk-on for the last hour or so of the day and didn’t have a huge queue before this. Perhaps it’s just because of the new area that it seems to stand out. Miss Rabbit’s (?) ferris wheel ride in Peppa Pig Land had an absolutely huge queue so maybe once you’ve been through that with a little one, that is enough! We joked that the queue for ice creams was so long in the afternoon because most parents had been using it is a bribe for good behaviour throughout the morning! It will be interesting to see whether this new area changes guest behaviour and demographics over time. The relatively low queue times meant that we got plenty of rides in which made for a nice, chilled day.

Overall, the Tornado Springs area is a great addition to the park and has helped add to what is now quite a substantial ride line up at the park. It’s definitely worth a visit if you get the chance as it's now a substantial day out for an enthusiast.
 
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MouseAT

Active Member
Paultons was always planned to be the main attraction for this trip. We’d intended to visit once hotels and restaurants reopened for business, and a rough outline of a plan had been coming together for a while.

Then somebody suggested the idea of adding on a day at Thorpe Park.

There are reasons why I’d not been to Thorpe Park since 2015. It’s a long journey from Yorkshire, and requires overnight accommodation. They have a decent enough ride line-up, at least on paper, but that’s not saying much when you expect several of said rides to be closed when you visit. They’ve not added anything substantial since 2012, focusing instead on branded, gimmicky, filler attractions instead of worthwhile ride hardware, and allowing the park to slowly decay. Ordinarily, I’d save my money and annual leave, and put it towards jetting off to somewhere more worthwhile in Europe instead.

However, these aren’t normal circumstances. Thorpe has some decent rides that I’ve not ridden in years, and CFers make everything better.

MouseAT said:
Damn it, I can't believe I'm seriously considering Thorpe.

What can I say? The park itself was a mixed bag, the company was great, and we all had a great day out.

Ride availability was all over the shop. Rides were up and down a fair bit throughout the day, Colossus and Detonator were down all day, and even Inferno was having issues. On the other hand, riding a few flats to start things off, including my first magic carpet, made for a nice chilled start to the day, and provided the opportunity to catch up with people I’d not seen in months. Stealth followed shortly afterwards, with a massive adrenaline kick to remind us why it’s so awesome, then the likes of Swarm, and the Walking Dead, because why not?

Lunch followed in the dome. The pizza got a thumbs up from me, but the reliance on a web-based ordering system via. mobile phone that requires registering a user account and entering card details manually turned the whole ordering process into a faff. Again, it was nice to just eat, drink, chat and chill for a while with a bunch of friends, with no real sense of urgency or ride anxiety.

Dark rides and other attractions followed. With limited slots available at the moment, I was happy to skip Black Mirror Labyrinth, as I’ve no interest in style over substance, and was happy to take the time to ride Stealth again. I was persuaded to check out DBGT, as I’d never done it, and it’s probably the most stereotypically "Merlin" train wreck of an attraction I can think of:
  • Initial pre-show waffle that goes on far too long? Check!
  • Introduction of pointless evil corporation that has no actual relevance to the storyline, could easily be omitted to streamline everything, but probably exists so that the park can sell branded merch? Check!
  • Random character-driven scene that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the Dungeons? Check!
  • Opening scene on the train? Surprisingly, this part of the attraction works reasonably well. The VR is fairly well done, the setting is creepy enough, the sense of the train moving is good, and if this made up the majority of the attraction time, I’d be OK with it.
  • Pointless scene getting off and on the trains, with more character driven BS involved? Check!
  • Second on train VR sequence? Yep, and this time they had to ruin the immersion by adding a load of virtual people reacting to what’s going on. People that you know aren’t there, and are likely sat where your friends are. Seriously, the empty train from the first half of the attraction was more immersive. The pay-off at the end of the VR sequence wasn’t exactly bad, per se, just underwhelming after all of the faff that preceded it.
  • Final sequence on the way out of the ride? Nice idea in principle, underwhelming in practice.
All in all, big fat "meh" to DBGT. It’s high time that Merlin learned that they’re supposed to be in the business of building Theme Park rides, and running the ones they have reliably, not building half-assed proof of concept walkthrough attractions that belong in technology museums or midway attractions.

I also passed up Inferno whilst experiencing DBGT. I do like B&M inverts, and hadn’t ridden Inferno in a while, so that was not a worthwhile trade-off.

Anyway, the end of the day was fast approaching. Stealth had a short queue, so a quick re-ride was in order, before we decided to squeeze in a ride on Saw to end the day. I ended up regretting that decision, as Saw was in full on, headache inducing brain-rattle mode. File under "that can 🤬 right off".

This has been a really weird post to write. On the one hand, I’ve covered a lot of undeniable problems with the park, and that’s really validated my decision to not revisit the park until now. On the other hand, we actually had a really good day in spite of the park’s problems. We had a day socialising in person for the first time in ages, we got to ride a load of decent stuff, even if we didn’t get to ride everything we might have wanted to, it didn’t feel like we wasted any of the time we spent there, and short-lived issues with Zodiac aside, we didn’t end getting spited by anything we were waiting for.

What a weird, yet enjoyable day.
 

witchfinder

Member
Then somebody suggested the idea of adding on a day at Thorpe Park.
I think that somebody was me. Sorry! 😆

After the Hotel/Motorway debacle of the previous night, I was at least able to take advantage of the fact that I was only ten minutes away from the park so was able to laze around a bit in the morning and still get to the park well ahead of opening time.
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I do like this view from the car park – there are very few parks in the UK where you can see all the coasters on the skyline, Six Flags style, so even though the creds are pretty small, they still look impressive from this perspective. This car park filled up significantly later on by the way!
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I met up with the rest of the group at the entrance, which included a few more than the previous day and I got to meet @DelPiero and son for the first time and also Nathan (sorry, don’t know your CF username if you’re on here!) Once everyone had arrived, we entered the park and made our way to Tornado Springs, expecting to find plenty of people queuing to ride the latest attractions, but finding that every major ride in the new area had no queue whatsoever!
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After snapping a few photos of the impressive entrance and theming, we got our first ride on Storm Chaser, which was pretty fun. It’s nothing too spectacular but it has some nice twists and turns and a bit of intensity in the helix towards the end, and is undoubtedly a small step up from the other coasters in the park in terms of thrill factor.
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The rest of the group the rode Cyclonator, which I skipped because these rides make me want to throw up most of the time (it’s an age thing) and it had been less than an hour since I’d had my breakfast. So I took some snaps of them on the ride and also checked out the construction site for the park’s next cred, which also includes a banner showing what the train is likely to look like.
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We then rode the Windmill towers (twice) which were pretty fun, and also the rethemed dinghy slide whose staircase offered some nice photo ops for Storm Chaser.
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With the new area done, we then headed around the park to ride all the other coasters. I think all of us apart from @chainedbanana already had all the creds but everything is enough fun to be worth a ride, apart from the Dino Chase kiddie cred. Cat-o-pillar offers a surprising pop of air as you get pulled over the lift hill near the back, Velociraptor is one of the better Junior Boomerang layouts, Cobra is jerky as hell in the first half but makes up for it with a couple of great bunny hills in the latter stages, and Flight of the Pterosaur mixes things up as the park’s only non-sitdown coaster, with some lovely theming/interactions and a nice helix at the end.
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We also rode Magma and the Dinosaur Tour Company, with a lunch break at the new diner in Tornado Springs at some point during all the activity. After lunch we took a stroll round the Africa Alive mini zoo which was a nice diversion from the rides for half an hour. We also walked past the penguin enclosure just as they were being fed – there’s not many places you can see penguins with a coaster in the background! :D
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Later we had a re-ride on Storm Chaser, which was a lot more fun second time around, possibly due to a less balanced car, the ride warming up or starting off facing backwards, or a combination of the three. Whatever the reason, that ride probably pushed it up to being the best cred in the park, though Cobra and Pterosaur both have a claim to that title too in my opinion.
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To round off the day we had a ride on the train, which I believe has been rethemed and slightly rerouted to fit in with Tornado Springs, and it ran nicely through the area as well as other parts of the park.

Paultons is a fantastic family park with something for everyone (up to a certain age) and combined with decent weather and a great group of people to hang out with, it was a great visit all round. It’s a lovely park to just wander around with some fantastic landscaping, and the two most recently added areas are excellent. I wouldn’t say I was completely blown away by Tornado Springs but the theming was very good. My niggles were that it all looks a little bit too new and shiny for the theme of a weathered American town, and the area is a little too small to ever feel totally immersive. Another potential issue is that as impressive as the new rides were, they never drew queues more than ten minutes for the entire day, which was a near sold-out Saturday. I wonder if they are just a little bit too intimidating for the park’s current demographic, though perhaps they’re part of a long-term plan by the park to have something that will make families that are visiting now want to come back in a few years’ time when their kids are older and seeking more thrills. If that’s the case then we should probably expect another more thrilling addition in a few years to help them keep the families loyal.

The big problem the park has now is that the quality of the two newest areas (and Peppa Pig World to some extent) makes other parts of the park look worn out or tacky by comparison. In particular the ‘main street’ was embarrassingly bad, the area around Cobra was underwhelming and the log flume is pretty tragic. I know there’s another cred coming next year and everyone is crying out for a compact woodie, but they should really be spending money over the next few years on sprucing up the more run-down areas of the park and bringing in a decent water ride. Hopefully the park management know this as well as we do and we’ll see improvements in those areas soon.

Finally, I want to mention how disappointing the park’s Covid prevention measures were. No temperature checks at the entrance, or bag checks for that matter, so anyone could easily bring in something sharp or explosive if they wanted too! They did have guidelines at every ride entrance as to whether masks should be worn in queues or on-ride, but very few people were following those rules and the ride ops weren’t enforcing them. When our group rode Cyclonator they were pretty much the only people wearing masks and there were no gaps left between parties, so that was poor. The new diner did ask for Test & Trace check-in when ordering, but it wasn’t mandatory so I’m sure most people didn’t bother, and I didn’t see any regular cleaning of touch points. The hand sanitiser was also really sticky! Given that a high percentage of park visitors are small children that are notoriously unclean, I’d say if you’re nervous about Covid then you might want to give this park a miss.

Anyway, that wasn’t quite the end of the trip for me, as I left the park at 4PM along with DelPiero and son and we made the trip down to Clarence Pier to pick up the two new creds that had been installed there since my last visit down to this neck of the woods in 2016. Unfortunately the spinner was closed so we only managed to get the Mad Mouse cred, which is not a mouse but a Zyklon, and pretty much an exact clone of the pier’s Skyways coaster which it replaced, down to the layout and the fact the ops have to push the cars through the station! At £4 to ride, £2 to park and an 80 minute round trip from the bottom of the M3 to get there, that was rather expensive for a single cred, but such is the life of a goon! 🤷‍♂️
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That rounded off my trip South and I headed home with some more diversions due to road works and accidents, but I still managed to get home before 10PM. A pretty exhausting trip as I’m out of practice for these things, but it was great to hit a couple of parks, meet up with some CF members and get back into the swing of coaster things after almost 9 months. Now I’m just anxiously waiting to see if travel to the US is allowed this summer so I can embark on some bigger road trips!
 

zazobo

Member
Interesting to read your thoughts on the covid measures at Paultons. We went yesterday and had a lovely day but agree that the covid measures were not great.. no spacing between groups and mask wearing not enforced on rides. No temperature checks either and some of the indoor queue areas (such as Cobra) didn't require a mask to be worn throughout. Weird...
 

DelPiero

Well-Known Member
Not much to add from me apart from how amazing it was to spend time with you guys again and meeting some new faces, it was a lovely chilled day in a great park.
What Paultons have added has really padded out their early teen offering, they are still missing something for the 13-16 year old market but realistically they don't need it. A new water ride which will appeal to the 8-12 year olds should definitely be the priority, in the Cobra area and take the opportunity to retheme it.

Paultons have cemented themselves as the family park in the UK imo, realistically no other park really comes close right now, if they keep adding appropriate stuff they will be top dog for a number of years.

P.S - @Chris Brown dropping his keys in the meerkat enclosure is winning funniest moment of the year so far 👍
 

MouseAT

Active Member
I guess it’s past time I got around to posting a Paultons trip report. Better late than never, right?

This report has been really difficult to write. It would have been pretty straightforward to write something along the lines of “Yay for Paultons, Yay for Tornado Springs, and Yay for the fantastic company”, but whilst that’s all true, in the case of the first two, my thoughts are a little more nuanced.

I like Paultons as a park. I’ve visited the park three times, and have always had a fun day there. It’s a pleasant place to spend a day out with a bunch of friends, and has a decent selection of rides to keep everyone entertained. They’ve been making some really good investments recently, starting with the solid, family-friendly attractions in the Lost Kingdom area, and have now taken another big step forward with Tornado Springs.

We’d all been really looking forward to our visit. I had another fantastic day there. The park is clearly the best it’s ever been. Yet, when I started trying to write this trip report, I couldn’t help but feel like something seemed really odd about the park this time around. Not bad, just a little weird. It’s taken a while, reflecting on conversations I remember being part of whilst we were there, and on other trip reports I’ve read, but it’s only today that I think I figured it out; The park feels strangely inconsistent these days. The park is slowly transitioning from a landscaped park full of rides to more of a true theme park, but it’s in a bit of a strange in-between state right now, and I feel like it doesn’t seem to have a clear identity at the moment.

Tornado Springs has gone all in on being a full-blown themed area. Lost Kingdom is basically a well themed collection of solid family rides, all in close proximity to each other. Peppa Pig World is well kept, and well put together. Magma is a decent ride with a decent, stand-alone theme. Cobra, Edge and the old log flume are fun enough rides that are just… there. There are still incredibly pleasant gardens making up a large section of the park, making for a nice nod to the park’s apparent origins as the grounds of an old manor house. There’s a cool African animal exhibit that I didn’t even know about tacked onto the end of Peppa Pig World. There’s apparently an old water mill that we didn’t bother to visit. The park entrance is really slick and modern. It’s all really well kept, but it feels like the more they add coherent new attractions, the more disjointed everything else has begun to feel.

Anyway, on to the major attractions. I’m with everyone else who’s mentioned it so far; The park skyline looks awesome these days when viewed from the car park. All of the major rides are instantly visible, and the excitement was definitely there, even before setting foot inside the place.

Tornado Springs is great. The area has a really good sense of character, and is full of little details that you’ll keep noticing through the course of the day. I love that they’ve made the effort, rather than going for a more minimal approach; You might not notice all of the details, but the fact that you keep picking up on extra bits as you spend time there really helps with the immersion. I think Mat hit the nail on the head when he said the whole place is a little too small and a little too exposed to feel truly immersive when you’re walking through it, but it’s a damn good effort, and if this represents the overall direction in which the park is moving, then I am 100% on board.

Storm Chaser looks great from off ride and in the queue, but can be a bit of a mixed bag to ride. Some of my rides on it were decidedly average, but I definitely had some more enjoyable runs later in the day. Some of that’s probably due to Mack coasters taking a while to properly warm up, the back row is definitely interesting when you start the ride facing backwards and can’t see what’s coming up, but it’s not a particularly intense ride, and doesn’t tend to spin much, so I think the balance and resulting rotation of the cars probably makes quite a lot of difference, and will often be the deciding factor between a good ride and a forgettable one.

Paultons has definitely hit it out of the park, so to speak, when it comes to the flat rides in Tornado Springs. I was a little concerned when I discovered that the restraints on Cyclonator lowered automatically and attempted to staple me into the seat without any space to leave the seat, as that’s usually a sign that any sensation of airtime is going to be badly restricted. As it turned out I needn’t have worried, as the ride delivers thrills and ejector airtime in spades. It’s easily in the running for the best ride in the park.

The Windmill towers are also a lot of fun, and a great replacement for the old Moser tower that the park used to have. They pretty much ride like the Moser towers do, except that these ones seem to cope with a full load of CFers without breaking down. Good stuff.

Lost Kingdom is still as good as I remember. The Vekoma family boomerangs are always fun, and the suspended family coaster Flight of the Pterosaur is probably a contender for the best coaster in the park. Magma is an entertaining and well themed drop tower, albeit with an annoyingly slow throughput. Peppa Pig World is as neat and as popular as ever. The rest of the park is well kept and pleasant, albeit a little bland in places.

I do hope that recent investments really pay off for the park, and that the minimal queues in Tornado Springs aren’t indicative of the area’s long-term popularity. The park is clearly trying to expand beyond their traditional catchment area, as when I stopped for food at the A1 services near Wetherby on the drive down, they had adverts for Tornado Springs running on the digital billboard in the car park.

As for the company, it’s been great to see people in person again, especially DelPiero and Jesse, neither of whom I’d seen in years. Thanks to everyone who helped make the weekend fab!

I did take photos over the weekend, but they’re taking a while to work through, and I’ve not had much energy outside of work these last couple of weeks. I’ll throw a follow-up post in this thread once I’ve finished wrangling the collection into something manageable.
 
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