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Thorpe Park to retheme Derren Brown's Ghost Train

Matt N

CF Legend
From reading the website, it does sound as though live actors are still a part of the experience, but the VR is gone, as is the Derren Brown IP.

Interestingly, the answer to the question of “Has the ride experience changed much?” is:
Yes, Ghost Train features an entirely new storyline and special effects.
 

spicy

Giga Poster
So Derren Brown is no more.

Also note : "There’s nothing virtual about this petrifying experience" So looks like the VR headsets may have gone too..

 

Coasterfreck

Hyper Poster
Thorpe Park never ceases to amaze me with this being marketed as “new for 2023”. To be honest though, I am excited that this version of the ghost train won’t feature the VR, and will hopefully enable it to reach it’s much higher capacity experience as it was hampered down with the amount of riders per cycle due to failed headsets.
 

Joelpagett

Mega Poster
Lets be honest, they should have saved themselves the effort and done this in the first place and not bothered with the VR 😆

Personally I am quite excited for this, it was always very well-themed inside, and it was the VR that was always the jarring element.

I look forward to seeing what they come up with
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Looks fun 😍

Although… I do always feel a bit awkward with ‘actors’ having dialogue and softly expecting/demanding participation. I think I’d rather recorded dialogue… if any. But let’s see how it is!
 

spicy

Giga Poster
I'm expecting more of a 'Dungeons' style experience this time?

Maybe a few extra added rooms with actors and the train acting as a transport to and from the 'Realms beneath Thorpe Park'.

I guess without the VR, screens will be added into the windows like on the Hogwarts express..
 

Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
I did kinda hate the VR, but that was the main part of this ride, and without it there’s not a whole lot of a “ride” left.

Can’t say I’m particularly excited about it becoming more “actor led” either, as these never seem to last more than a year or two because of labour costs and heavily depend on the actors.

So what’s going to actually happen to the ride? Will they just replace the windows with TVs like the Hogwarts Express?

Personally I’d love them to gut the entire building and put in an actual dark ride attraction. That way the ride might actually be fun, rather than just merlin trying to jump scare people into thinking they’ve had a good “ride”**.


**Getting on and off a train awkwardly while underpaid staff unenthusiastically act is not a ride.
 
I like how they capitalised #VISIT in their second post after people noted the spelling mistake on the first #Vist. Can't they edit tweets?

I'll be interested to see what they do with the ride, I don't think screens for windows would work that well though, as for horror it kind of needs to be in your face and up close, where it would be obvious it's a 2D screen. Hogwarts express works better because what you see is generally in the distance or mid ground and not up close. I wonder if the ride system could incorporate any sort of video tunnel, but I suspect not. Does anyone know how much space and clearance there is around each ride vehicle? I dont think i've ever seen any behind the scenes photos of it.
 
Having thought about it, one interesting way to remake the ride would be with transparent OLEDs for the windows. This is the same technology used for the raptors chasing the train in the velocicoaster queue line, and could be used for some really interesting effects - frost on the window, hand prints, slime, blood splatters, cracks and a whole bunch more. Combine that with some sort of projection system outside the train or second set of screens and there's lots of different things you could do. Sadly I reckon the cost would be way outside of what thorpe park would have budgeted.

The train sets off, and ice effects show on the inner screens/windows. spreading from the bottom to the top. Hand prints move across the windows as you feel an icy chill on your neck. words appear on the windows as if written by a ghostly finger on the ice. "get out" "beware" "leave" etc etc.
Ghosts and Demons appear on the second set of screens outside the carriage and appear to throw stuff at the train and cracks appear on the windows. a horrific scene plays out and blood splatters all over the windows and drips down.
 

Snurt2theHark

Roller Poster
Having thought about it, one interesting way to remake the ride would be with transparent OLEDs for the windows. This is the same technology used for the raptors chasing the train in the velocicoaster queue line, and could be used for some really interesting effects - frost on the window, hand prints, slime, blood splatters, cracks and a whole bunch more. Combine that with some sort of projection system outside the train or second set of screens and there's lots of different things you could do. Sadly I reckon the cost would be way outside of what thorpe park would have budgeted.

The train sets off, and ice effects show on the inner screens/windows. spreading from the bottom to the top. Hand prints move across the windows as you feel an icy chill on your neck. words appear on the windows as if written by a ghostly finger on the ice. "get out" "beware" "leave" etc etc.
Ghosts and Demons appear on the second set of screens outside the carriage and appear to throw stuff at the train and cracks appear on the windows. a horrific scene plays out and blood splatters all over the windows and drips down.
I believe that originally the windows were supposed to be misted, when you arrived at the Tube Station they would demist to reveal the platform. But obviously it was an effect that never ended up being used (like the leg ticklers). I wonder if this retheme will bring them back.

I always thought that this ride was impressive but bogged down that the technology was too ahead of it's time to be reliable. Hopefully now the technology has aged a bit they can use it effectively. This ride has the potential to become a headline Thorpe attraction, like originally intended, but it is entirely dependent on the reception of this retheme.
 

Jamesss

Hyper Poster
If there are creative people on the team then something decent could easily come of this.

Often the best effects are the simplest. It doesn't always require flashy tech.

Memorable experiences and visuals are key.
 

JoshC.

Strata Poster
I believe that originally the windows were supposed to be misted, when you arrived at the Tube Station they would demist to reveal the platform. But obviously it was an effect that never ended up being used (like the leg ticklers). I wonder if this retheme will bring them back.
I believe there was some sort of plan to have 'screens' for the 'windows' on the carriages which could mist up and have a couple of effects. There were a few issues with implementation though. I can't remember the ins and outs of it. Ultimately I never got the fuss over the idea in context, given that people were wearing VR headsets 95% of the time on the train, it would be lost of people.

The park did have leg ticklers for the ride, but they were never installed on the carriages.

Does anyone know how much space and clearance there is around each ride vehicle? I dont think i've ever seen any behind the scenes photos of it.

There's not much space around the ride vehicles. And the ride was never designed to be seen outside of the vehicles and the show sequence when you get off. I'd be very surprised to see them do something which allows you to physically see outside the carriages.


One thing which I've seen mentioned a few times is the worry about staff levels for this, and how it will likely reduce. I understand the concern, but
comparing the 2017 version to last year's version (ie when the attraction had the most staff because of it being new, and having the new ending), the actor and staffing levels in Ghost Train remained pretty consistent.

In 2017, there was:
-Staff member at entrance
-Staff member at batch
-Staff member for pre show
-Staff member for load room
-2 staff members (ride hosts) per train (3 trains in operation)
-2 staff members (ride operators) operating the ride
-Staff member for VR goggle cleaning
-Approx. 3 actors in train crash scene
-2 actors in finale
Total: 9 ride staff, 5 actors

Last year, there was:
-Staff member at batch
-Staff member for pre show
-2 staff members (ride hosts) per train (2 trains in operation)
-2 staff members (ride operators) operating the ride
-Staff member for VR goggle cleaning
-Approx. 3 actors in train crash scene
-2 actors in finale, when in operation
-Actor in load room, sometimes
Total: 7 ride staff, 3-6 actors

The load room actor seemed to be chopped and changed and wasn't necessary. The finale was skipped sometimes over Fright Nights if there were actor shortages. So whilst there has been staffing reductions on Ghost Train, it's not as dramatic as some may think. That at least suggests the park can keep a level of consistency with actors and staffing for Ghost Train.


I have several thoughts regarding the development. Firstly, it's good that they're doing something with this. DBGT could not continue to operate in the way it did last year, especially towards the end. Literally having it SBNO would be better than the embarrassing state it was in over Fright Nights.

The story idea sounds solid enough, and works nicely with what they have.

No VR is a double-edged sword. Obviously the VR was outdated, temperamental and a faff. But there was potential with it, which was largely unfulfilled. But the bigger thing now is what do you do without the VR? The 'ride' portion is very much just the train moving a bit, stopping for a few minutes, and moving again. The park have said they expect the attraction to last about 15minutes, which is the same as DBGT. That would mean each train portion of the ride is about 4 minutes.
Now here's the thing, how do they plan on keeping a train carriage full of people entertained for 4 minutes? Putting screens in the windows could work, but watching a screen entirely for 4 minutes in a train carriage full of people is going to be a bit awkward, no? And would also mean potentially halving the capacity of each train. Entirely actor based sounds impractical given the set up of the trains. A blend of the two is probably the best way forward, but difficult to execute.

There's talks of extra / new special effects too. With no VR it may be easier to introduce / maintain special effects, such as smoke, leg ticklers or bringing back things like rocking the train carriage. But how much do those things truly add?

The best bet for Ghost Train, in my opinion, is to go 'full Dungeons' on it. The Dungeons are, in essence, actor-led, interactive scenes, with a loose narrative linking it together, and some ride elements. If the park can recreate something like that, then it will be fairly good. Whether they can is a different matter. And if that's what they go for, they need to ensure that it's marketed as such. Setting suitable expectations for guests is perhaps the biggest challenge for this attraction right now.
 

Tonkso

Hyper Poster
I'm still of the opinion that they should just rip it out and put in an omnimover to effectively bring back Wicked Witches Haunt but for the 21st century.

I really do believe this investment was a collosal mistake. The concept was good but Merlin would have been better off (and they have the capability to do so) doing this as a single ticketed attraction that tours the country. 6 months in London, 6 months in Manchester etc. Given what I know about VR (which given my job, is a lot, frankly) this could have easily been a profitable endeavour.
 

Chris Brown

Mr CoasterForce 2016
Quite excited to see how Thorpe manage to paper over the cracks again.

What are we on now, the third or fourth refresh / update to this ride?

Fully aware that I'm in the minority here but I actually liked the first VR section, if they could improve the reliability of the VR and take away its clunkiness I wouldn't mind seeing more attractions like the first section. Cool back story, nice pre show, spooky VR bit, then a better crescendo when you take your goggles off. How cool would it be if you boarded a normal tube when you put the goggles on but when you take them off its dilapidated and covered in graffiti with smashed windows and stuff. Think UV light to reveal graffiti ect that would have been invisible before. Much better than the external carriage swap that most people don't even notice.
 

spicy

Giga Poster
The best bet for Ghost Train, in my opinion, is to go 'full Dungeons' on it. The Dungeons are, in essence, actor-led, interactive scenes, with a loose narrative linking it together, and some ride elements. If the park can recreate something like that, then it will be fairly good. Whether they can is a different matter. And if that's what they go for, they need to ensure that it's marketed as such. Setting suitable expectations for guests is perhaps the biggest challenge for this attraction right now.

Exactly this.

Just make it an actual Dungeons experience with an up charge to pay for the actors?
AT do this and it still seems pretty popular? Every time i’ve done it at Alton it’s been fairly busy..

If this iteration doesn’t work surely Thorpe Park Dungeons with a £10 entry will be the next step..


DBGT has to be the biggest high investment dark ride flop ever. £13 million and got it so wrong. Could have got a half decent 4D simulator ride in.
 
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