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Lewis Cox, November 2001


A new site, A new look and a new boring columnist who you will not read unless you have just come home from a good night on the town and can't think of anything better to do.

Every Month I will be sharing all the Theme Park news that's fit to print on a family site and then gently disecting it with the aid of a wooden spoon.

This month, as we enter the dark and deadly realm only known to us as "The Closed Season"... I shall give my DA DA DAAAAA..

2001 was a year not so much of rides, but the parks themselves. Chessington embarked on their first \i real\i0 year of their new family scene by closing their most popular ride, adding a path around the zoo, installing two kiddies rides one of which has been put behind a wall and putting some bits of wood over an existing ride.

I don't think I was the only person this year to feel shortchanged by Chessington. I accept and agree to their new target audience - Thorpe Park really is the best place for thrill rides. However not only did Chessington add nothing of substance, they advertised it as though they had. I felt dissapointed when their 4 NEW ATTRACTIONS turned out to be a path, some wood and two kiddies rides.

TOADIES CRAZY CARS was, In my opinion, very poor indeed. I won't go into detail - there are other places on the internet which share the view - but pieces of plywood??! And there was 1,000,000 points on offer to anyone who found BASH STREET BUS.

However - as I have said, this was the year of the park itself - and Chessington this year has been spruced up and returned to a state a bit nearer how it was when it opened. There was new music in the areas, the staff seemed a little bit more motivated this year (With the exception of SEASTORM) and the Rattlesnake Chewing Gum Tunnel has thankfully been cleared of it's gum. It remained like this pretty much the whole year.

What else? BUBBLEWORKS recieved an on-ride photo, but whether this will be staying when the vampire opens next year is not known - I suspect not. SAFARI SKYWAY got an on-board music track about halfway into the season, with sections reflecting what animals we were looking at at the time. It really isn't that good, but it does make a world of difference on the ride. FORBIDDEN TOMB has now closed for good, with TOMB BLASTER barging it's way in next year. What exactly will change is not known, BUT we can only hope that the shortest-music-loop-on-earth music for the queue will remain, chickens and all. This may mean that the infamous Abdab will also go, like his Zappomatic predecessor. However I suggest the models are kept and two balloons added to them in stragetic positions, then the ride may be more like a computer game of a similar name.

Just down the road from Chessington, THORPE PARK also started afresh will thrill rides galore, now catering for the lost teenagers banned from the Bubbleworks at Chessington. And it shows. Last year and before it, the park had a nice "quietness" about it, nothing was too rushed. This year it was heaving, and with good reason too. 3 new thrill rides was most certainly something to shout about. Unfortuantly, they were so swept away with the novelty of advertising three new scary rides, they forgot one detail: Two of them kept breaking down, and one of them wasn't even there yet. Unsurprisingly, the Joe Public were a little miffed about this, and who can forget BBC's Watchdog (then hosted by the mistress A Robinson) article: "Detonator is broken, Zoidac is receiving maintenence and Vortex is currently a building site... No Chance of "Sensory Overload there then"". However the park had the chance to redeem itself later in the year, when it hosted a whole live Weekend Watchdog show - with great success.

On entering Thorpe Park this year, we got the delights of a groovy new colours scheme, a wicked new soundtrack and a innit glimpse of the delights of VORTEX and ZODIAC, both good rides.

DETONATOR was the other new ride. In itself, it was an excellent ride, but note must be made of the theming. It would seem that the ride only has one year's planning permission, and whilst wanting theming to be good, it had to be temporary. In the end lots and lots of cannons and barrels. Good in their own way... but didn't add much to the ride. So they added a soundtrack. (A good one too) and a countdown. Very nice... but then they took it a step too far and added speakers at the top of the ride facing down. Subsequently now, the whole park get's: "Hold Tight then here we go...." and "5 DUM DUM, 4, DUM DUM, 3, DUM DUM, 2, DUM DUM, 1...... Detonation Complete". Not even the delicatly wooden Canada Creek could shield you from the "5 DUM DUM, 4, DUM DUM, 3, DUM DUM, 2, DUM DUM, 1...... Detonation Complete". Indeed the sunken Garden was not more a place of tranquility, but a place of "5 DUM DUM, 4, DUM DUM, 3, DUM DUM, 2, DUM DUM, 1...... Detonation Complete". Mr Rabbits Tropical Travels was set in a jungle with lots of wild animals, who had an uncanny knack of making noises along the lines of "5 DUM DUM, 4, DUM DUM, 3, DUM DUM, 2, DUM DUM, 1...... Detonation Complete". (There see how irritating it is?)

On the subject of MR RABBITS TROPICAL TRAVELS, since the fire of 2000, the ride was reconstructed but without the indoor bit. This is shown on the map by a section of the ride in with no boats at all, and on the ride by a lot of mud - constrasting to the heavy undergrowth before it. Oh yes, and a painted Jungle fence. And the "5 DUM DUM, 4, DUM DUM, 3, DUM DUM, 2, DUM DUM, 1...... Detonation Complete". Still, if rumours are correct, this ride may not be around for much longer.

Before moving on now, note should be made to X:\\ NO WAY OUT whose speakers worked! For the first couple of weeks, and then went silent as ever. A mojor disspointment though on Thunder River. Only hearing the "And Hey, Have a Super Day" announcement once in a 45 minute queue is unacceptable. It should be played lots, so that we can all laugh lots. I think Thorpe should keep these reminders of it's former self, we don't want classics such as these to disappear into the abyse. As we leave the park, more excellent back-of-the-neck-hairs music, and a feeling of satisfaction from a park that has had a lot of change this year, and seems to have suceeded in it. We look forward to the apparant "10 Looper" next year... "Excuse Me Mr Ranger, where are the other nine loops?"

ALTON TOWERS now. I'm afraid I don't really have much to say - the park didn't change much this year, and it's new ride wasn't really that significant. SUBMISSION - HANG IN THERE. The initials of the name and slogan are really a satisfactory review of the ride.

It troubles me that OBLIVION is now grey. But the most troubling thing now in the park in my opinion is the HAUNTED HOUSE. The quality this year was diabolical. It seems that every season, the amount of time spent on the ride merrly moving around in complete and utter darkness increases. The ride has many qualities, but they are now all looking dated and tatty. The once state-of-the-art holograms in the queuline now look like an old Black And White TV. And this season the TRUMMEL appears to have been as reliable as the boulder in Chessington's tomb. Well, not quite that bad admittedly... Also, the waterfalls on CONGO RIVER RAPIDS were having a bad time this year.

For me, the staff at Alton Towers have always been how theme park staff should be. Polite, friendly, and funny. Well - I expirienced very little of that this year. In fact, staff were all rather boring. Let's hope this was a temporary glitch.

Next Year, Air looks like it will impress and HOORAH! The return of the Dino Dancers into Forbidden Valley.

2002 is certainly the year od the Coaster. All of tussauds parks are recieving one:
Alton Towers: Air
Thorpe Park: Colossus
Chessington: Vampire (Since it now has flooless trains, I am counting it as a new coaster)
as well as some other BIG beauties springing up across the country, Oddysey to name but one.

So, please excuse the TOTAL Tussaud's bias here. I know it is always said, but I will try to rectify this in future articles when I shall be dedicating columns to places Such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Drayton Manor. From now on, I shall be concentrating on specific themes for these columns - if you have any topic you think I may like to cover, why note email me! In fact, email me anyway! Every month I shall post some of your correspondence.

So, in the words of countless Coaster Fans... ROLL ON 2002

Watch Out For February, where we shall have a special FLORIDA article - after I spend THREE WEEKS roaming their best theme parks!