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Zamperla Thunderbolt for Pleasureland Southport?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. I have some new UK coaster news for you all; according to Stand up for Southport, Norman Wallis is planning to install a Zamperla Thunderbolt at Pleasureland Southport: https://standupforsouthport.com/thr...daqDwvnH8WHBn1QuEQZcXZ3c_ahM0VV4vyUEiaNQvpW1U

Based on the given stats and renderings, the ride will apparently be Layout 01, which is a clone of the Coney Island original as well as Rollin’ Thunder at OWA in Alabama. There is reportedly a 35m “observation wheel” planned as well.

Isn’t this exciting? Any new coaster for a UK park, especially one this substantial for a small park like Southport, can surely only be good news! As much as the Thunderbolt might seem like an odd choice, the newer models of these (such as the one in Alabama) apparently ride very well, so I’m optimistic!

What are your thoughts?
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
ha, this is such an out-of-the-blue development, but I love it.

Haven't heard to greatest things about the model. But I'm still itching to try it. And if this does get built, it will definitely get me down to the park. And many others I'm sure. So I guess regardless of the quality, it'd be a successful investment in that respect.
 

Niles

Hyper Poster
I think this is great for Southport, while I got Spited at Cony island and did not get to ride it, looking at it I thought it looked fun, while I have not heard the best things about the model I thought it had a good little layout and that would be great for small parks.

While not the best coaster I assume they are cheap and in the scheme of things any looping coaster coming to the UK is great news especially at a park that I had written off ever getting anything interesting, hopefully this comes to fruition and other small parks in the UK follow suit adding thrilling coasters even if they are budget ones.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Zamperla have apparently said in interviews that they’re making a concerted effort to improve build quality and ride experience on their newer coasters, and the newer Thunderbolts, such as Rollin’ Thunder at OWA, are reportedly much smoother, so hopefully this one will ride well and be a great addition to the UK coaster lineup!

Besides, looking at RCDB, their last coaster installation was a Pinfari Mini Mega Coaster that has previously resided at Gulliver’s Warrington and Codona’s, and the current crown jewel of their coaster lineup is a Pinfari ZL42 which had 3 different homes prior to its arrival in Southport, so surely this coaster isn’t anything other than a meteoric upgrade?

Impressively, however, this is coming right off the back of the aforementioned Pinfari Mini Mega; that coaster only opened in May 2021!

Maybe Southport might be a place I could pop to on my next visit to Blackpool when this coaster is built…
 

emoo

Mega Poster
This is exciting for the park. For a long time its only had tat that isn't worth the detour to visit but now I am interested.

Had fun on the one at OWA - looked great while doing a lot in a thin area. Not at all perfect with a very jolty bit but rode better than how all rolling Thunder reviews suggest - and this was only the second attempt.

There are far worse alternatives & a decent headliner for a small park. I even wondered if Margate was considering one to go with their Zamplerla Package when things looked a bit more promising down there.
 

Rupert

Mega Poster
Fingers crossed it has the new Lightning trains.
The spec sheet given in the news article says it’ll have 8 riders per train, rather than the 9 of the old-style cars. Based on this it’s indeed looking like they’re going for the 2-row Lightning trains.

With the smoothness improvements Matt mentioned above, plus the new train design, then hopefully this will be a significant improvement to the original Thunderbolt and a great addition to Southport. I have a soft spot for the place as former home to my first inverting coaster (TraumaTizer) but haven’t been back given how downhill it went. Best of luck to them.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
If this ride gets approved, then it could actually mean very exciting things for the UK theme park industry!

Let me do a bit of a @Pokemaniac style post a second (Poke has done many posts catastrophising about the UK industry using coaster construction statistics) to analyse the impact this ride might have on the UK theme park industry.

To put things into perspective, the layout being mooted is 35m (114.8ft) tall, reaches a speed of 90km/h (55.9mph) and is 681m (2,234.3ft long). As much as the Zamperla Thunderbolt probably wasn’t many people’s first choice for the UK’s next major coaster, it could actually be pretty big for the UK industry if it comes to fruition!

According to RCDB, it would be the joint 9th tallest and joint 8th fastest coaster in the UK.

However, if you look exclusively at more recent coasters, then it grows more exciting. If built, this coaster will be the tallest & fastest roller coaster built at a non-Merlin UK theme park since Speed: No Limits opened at Oakwood in 2006, and even if you include the Merlin parks, this will be the tallest & fastest UK coaster built since Swarm opened at Thorpe Park in 2012, so by the time it opens (presumably 2022 at the earliest), it will have been the tallest & fastest UK coaster built for at least a decade!

Not to mention that it would be the tallest & fastest coaster that Pleasureland Southport have ever built, beating out even TraumaTizer; that’s something I honestly never thought would happen until this was announced!

Isn’t that exciting? Hopefully this is successful, and stimulates other small parks to build similar rides!
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
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I don't begrudge him his enthusiasm, but @Matt N's seemingly constant propensity to see the good in everything does drive me nuts sometimes. Maybe I'm an entitled goon, or just cranky and bitter, but I think there is some real **** put out there which some people seem to get all excited about.

I want to critique this. Thunderbolt and Rollin' Thunder don't receive stellar reviews, their trains look like garbage and their train design is awful (whoever thought 3-across seats on a coaster was a good idea needs drowning in a pond). As Matt says, the biggest coaster in the UK in a decade? And we get this ****? Urgggh.

But I'll be honest, I do think this is exciting. Hopefully it gets the new trains, which surely (surely)are going to be better than the 3-across versions, and if they've managed to tweak the profiling over the years, perhaps this will actually be halfway good. Maybe it'll inspire other parks to add more substantial coasters.

Fingers crossed they paint it an awful colour or give it a bad name so I'll have something to complain about. :p
 
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rob666

Hyper Poster
And it hasn't got planning permission yet...The local council, in all its forms over the years, has always been a bit snooty about the place.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Out of interest, how much do these Zamperla Thunderbolts cost? Are they comparable to the likes of Gerstlauer Euro-Fighters and Zierer Tower Coasters?

Or are they more comparable to something like an RMC Raptor or Vekoma Bermuda Blitz?
And it hasn't got planning permission yet...The local council, in all its forms over the years, has always been a bit snooty about the place.
Surely they would grant planning permission, wouldn’t they? This could be huge for both the park and Southport in terms of attracting tourists!
 

Thorpe Park Teem

Previously Intamin Forever
Out of interest, how much do these Zamperla Thunderbolts cost? Are they comparable to the likes of Gerstlauer Euro-Fighters and Zierer Tower Coasters?

Or are they more comparable to something like an RMC Raptor or Vekoma Bermuda Blitz?

Surely they would grant planning permission, wouldn’t they? This could be huge for both the park and Southport in terms of attracting tourists!
Thunderbolt at Coney Island cost $10 million, so the one at Southport Pleasureland will be £7 million.
 

bdrizzyb

Roller Poster
This is amazing news!! I have a soft spot for the park from formally living in Southport myself and always visiting as a child! I knew something was going to happen that was big, the owner is so ambitious! He's made the park look really good. Some of the rides there are funfair rides, but they have made every effort to make them look like permanent rides with queue lines and even theming! Just look at how the park looks in theme park worldwide and coaster crazy's vlogs from the park, they both seemed very impressed, expecially with the new Alice in Wonderland dark ride/walkthrough/show that Shaun attended. From what I can gather sefton council are extremely supportive of the park, as the park is part of the wider Southport masterplan, which includes a new theatre, surf centre and hotel!
 

bdrizzyb

Roller Poster
I recon maybe 2023? Do you think they may have got one of those Zamperla ride package offers. Could they be a few small flat rides included too? A bit like what Dreamland did. One could wish 😍
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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Back in the days of yore, before computer aided design took off in the coaster industry, building a new coaster could be a bit of a coin toss. Some coasters could be smooth as butter, some could ride like a jackhammer from day one. Certain manufacturers had some issues with producing reliably smooth rides, meaning that even a brand new coaster could deliver a rough and unpleasant ride that would only get worse with age. These were the type of coasters that banged their restraints against your body, whose transitions were sudden and jerky, whose banking flowed like a rockslide in a scrapheap, and that generally sounded (and rode) like a sackful of cutlery falling down a shoddily made staircase.

Even though those days have passed, we still keep circulating the stories and remember the names with dread: Arrow and old Vekoma loopers, PTC woodies, Togo coasters outside of Japan, Boomerangs and the infamous Invertigo models, the dreaded three-letter acronym "SLC", or those cursed contraptions Pinfari used to put up. They are still remembered, but the memories fade with each passing year as those coaster models have long since gone out of production, in many cases because the manufacturing companies themselves went under. It's rare nowadays to hear about new coasters that are outright bad anymore. You've got the occasional rattle in some Intamin coasters, Gerstlauer occasionally produces a coaster with some inherent roughness, and there is still some evidence of the Chinese manufacturers being new to this game, but in general the industry has learned how to not make their coasters unpleasant.

For the most part.

You see, there is one company that somehow survives making coasters just like the old days. Coasters that bring you back to the days of Arrow's track profiling, Gerstlauer's early-days build quality, the ricketyness of PTC, or the overall sheer unpleasantness of Pinfari's loopers, even though these coasters are manufactured well into the second and third decades of the twenty-first century. Zamperla has seemingly looked at old, poorly-maintained Togo coasters and decided "let's build something like that!". Their Volare models are infamous for feeling like you're chained down in a sunbed inside an out-of-control cement truck sliding off-road down a rocky hillside. The Thunderbolt coasters are like homages to the Parisian showmen who first bolted carriages to steel wheels bent in loops vaguely reminiscent of a circle and charged a penny to ride at one's own risk.

Of all the currently active coaster companies, at least those in the West, Zamperla has by far the worst reputation and they seem to work hard to maintain it. I've never heard of a good Zamperla coaster. "Too small for the imperfections to be bothersome" seems to be the general verdict for their family-sized coasters, but when they try their hand at thrill coasters, the feedback I've seen is almost universally negative. The Volare coasters are legendarily unpleasant, and the Thunderbolts have been called mediocre at best and horrible at worst. Zamperla's coaster division seems to be stuck where Vekoma was in the 1990s, and that was not a good place.

So of course when an independent UK park decides to get a new thrill coaster ...
 
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gavin

Administrator
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^ The only good Zamperla coaster that comes to mind is Wild West Mine Train at Ocean Park and, to a lesser extent, its clone in India (which somehow lacked the airtime of the original).
 

TheCoasterCruiser

Giga Poster
Back in the days of yore before computer aided design took off in the coaster industry, building a new coaster could be a bit of a coin toss. Some coasters could be smooth as butter, some could ride like a jackhammer from day one. Certain manufacturers had some issues with producing reliably smooth rides, meaning that even a brand new coaster could deliver a rough and unpleasant ride that would only get worse with age. The type of coasters that banged their restraints against your body, whose transitions were sudden and jerky, whose banking flowed like a mudslide in a scrapheap, and that generally sounded (and rode) like a sack of cutlery falling down a shoddily made staircase.

This might be a bit off-topic, but I found that reflection really interesting. - Like what are some coasters that ended up "accidentally" being smooth and riding good? As you said, it could be a bit of a coin toss, so which manufacturers could one year build a really smooth and well-made ride and another year build the same style of ride, but with a bad result? Or maybe a company that mostly built unpleasant rides and then had a few "miracles"? I feel like there are examples out there, but I can't really think of any off the top of my head.
 
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