Rode it yesterday. A significant improvement over the former Derren Brown version with a few absolutely fantastic bits but still plenty of room for improvement. But as it is a more actor-oriented experience I believe it'll be far easier to change what happens during the ride
Without spoiling anything, the second half is definitely where the best bits happen but the first half leaves a little to be desired. There's a bit where our entire carriage broke out into cheers, laughter & applause plus a few "wow"s and "woah"s across certain sections
The only spoiler I will put in here is that the train carriage windows are not screens which is something that I expected to happen but I'll drop a full review with spoilers later on
I got three rides on the new Ghost Train yesterday. I actually quite enjoyed it. I thought it was far superior to the old DB version, and I feel like this version is a lot more re-rideable, much more of a mini dungeons style attraction.
I echo Rob, there is definitely room for growth with the attraction, I will be very interested to see how Thorpe evolve the project over the season and the future years.
I really loved that there was a couple of little Easter eggs to my favourite scare maze Platform 15.
I was fortunate enough to ride it during the press night on Thursday. I'll list some thoughts in spoilers, as well as some broader points / non-spoilers underneath:
The pre show is a strong segment. I really enjoy the setting and vibe they've created - I really enjoy the train time board which clicks over. The character of Angelus Mortis (Latin for 'Angel of Death' btw) works well. The story of a ritual to do with death is a common one, so easy to understand, but doesn't feel cliché or overly unoriginal.
You can be held here for a little bit. But as there's a story to build on, it's easier to work, and doesn't involve stupid numbers. This is where Ghost Train excels over DBGT - a story is introduced right from the start. That's not necessarily a knock on DBGT (the pre show for that served a purpose, and had the story been clearer on the train, would have been fine). Again, the theming is good.
The floating carriage is transformed into Platform 13. In its own right, it looks good. For me personally, it's a shame to lose the floating carriage illusion, even if it wasn't drawn attention to. It also feels a bit awkward that Platform 13 isn't really a platform, and can only be accessed by the walkways which go over a set of train tracks. But this is a minor detail.
Train - Scene 1
This is more story building. It's cool, but on reflection, it feels like it could have used a bit more oompf.
Scene 2 is set in a graveyard, which looks pretty cool. It's a bit of an awkward transition, you are at Chapel station, walk pass black walls, then are at the graveyard. Feels like there could / should have been a better transition here.
This is where the attraction feels its most "Dungeons" like, but it is pretty cool. It features cool effects (audio, lighting changes, flying wraiths, moving statues, actors appearing from darkness). It's the real catalyst for the experience.
Train - Scene 3
This build upon the fear nicely, and features two surprise actors, dressed as nuns. The costumes are a bit confusing within the context of the story, but they're good generic spooky. There's UV scrawling on the train, which looks cool too.
The "See it, Say it, Sort it" line at the end is pure comedy though, and nicely executed.
Fake Shop / Post Show
Now this is the part that feels most disjointed from the rest of the experience. It's the same idea: you're held for some silly reason, things start happening, and an actor appears, featuring loads of effects. Then Angelus reappears on a screen, spits at you, and some statues move. It's got a level of theatrics to it, and will get first-timers.
Two things, however. Firstly, it looks exactly the same. Yes, okay, they've put new merch in there, and they've moved the photo op screens. But it looks like the old Ghost Train shop. It doesn't feel like it's part of this Ghost Train. It doesn't feel connected to the experience. Maybe that's part of what they're hoping for (so first-timers are lulled into a false sense of security). But it just doesn't quite work for me.
The second is the one actor. The actor appearing, in Thorpe clothing no less, has a vague relevance to the story (people becoming possessed in a way), but it falls a bit flat. A second actor, perhaps dressed as the grim reaper, would be a better fit here. Or just something in a costume. Having an actor you've already seen just doesn't work.
Overall, it is a positive change. The experience is much more a show / Dungeons experience than a ride. It doesn't have that much re-rideability. And of course, questions will always remain about an actor heavy experience, which still seems to have reliability issues. But nonetheless, a positive, much-needed change.
It's good fun. It's an actor led, story driven, Dungeons-esque experience. It's an improvement on DBGT and more rideable, but it doesn't have strong rerideability. It's on the higher end of what they could have done with the ride system in place.
I have concerns about how it will run with full groups of paying guests. But that will be seen in time.
Theming is good for the most part. Story is clear and straightforward. There's some cool, simple effects.
It's up there as one of the better incarnations of the ride (probably joint with the 2017 version when all effects worked for me). It's not perfect, but it's a good, well rounded addition to the park's line up.
Some non-spoiler bits, found out during the Press Night:
-Kieron Smith, Global Artistic Director for The Dungeons, was described as the "writer and director" of Ghost Train. What they means exactly I'm not sure, but in any case, it means that this has had significant input from someone who is in charge The Dungeons, which are very successful, and what this attraction should aim to be like.
-The park acknowledge this will take some time to perfect. As with things like this, there will be a need to be responsive to guest and actor feedback, and things like timings, scripts, etc may need to be tweaked. The park will do this.
-Not having the restriction of an IP means it is easier to change / update the story too.
-A general consensus from everyone I spoke to who rode it was that it was perhaps the best they could have done given the constraints they had. There's a "ride system" in place, but it is minimal and restrictive, and was designed for a very specific purpose. The building was designed for that ride system. Replacing the ride system is pipe dream worthy at this stage. But what they've with it, and what they've turned Ghost Train into, is (as I've already said), on the higher end of what they could have done. They could have done more, but they've done a good job.
Now after 8 rides across two days, I think my biggest issue with the attraction is inconsiderate guests interrupting the experience. I’ve had a couple of runs where the experience was tainted because of it. I felt sorry for guests that were experiencing it for the first time as well as the actors that have to deal with keeping the show going while people were being rude.
Finale: With it currently being set in the fake shop with the photo section, this does fall a little bit flat considering this iteration of the ghost train doesn’t have on ride photos. I feel like the actor scare in this section really needs two actors minimum, one in Thorpe uniform and the other in either a costume from the crypt sequence, or another monster.
Ghost Train reopened after it’s mini four day closure, for “improvements”. Now from what I believe (pardon the pun), this was to enhance the show sequences on the train carriages, as sometimes if a carriage got delayed it was causing the show sequence to not play for the carriage finale. Prior to today I had experienced two runs on GT with this specific issue.
The actors knocked it out of the park on my multiple journeys, only one of the eight runs that I had on it today seemed to have the actors put less effort into it, but this was a run where a lot of the guests were being rude and talking over them, so I honestly couldn’t really blame them for it. I just wish people could actually show them respect.
On every ride I’ve done on Ghost Train since the 10th June, the flying winged demon has flown. It’s still badly lit so if you don’t know it is going to happen you could still miss it, something that we have fed back to management on a survey to improve Ghost Train today.
Overall I do absolutely adore this new version of the attraction, and I love taking the last trains multiple times each day, and getting different casts performances, and pairings, in that regard the attraction still feels very fresh, but this does also mean I do get targeted a bit more.