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Lewis Cox March 2002

lewis@reride.net

Hello again all! This month I am going to blow the whistle about THEME PARK NOISES. (That pun, and all puns following were completely intended)
But before we go any further, Professor Lew answers YOUR personal theme park worries and problems:

Q. Dear Professor Lew,
Please help me! I am in a terrible state! I know it sounds silly, but with all of the Theme Parks closed at the moment I have had to make my own thrill rides! I walk around Debenhams perfume department thinking that it is a ghost train, and pretend that the ladies behind the counters either side of me are ugly models who smell disgusting, then I scream at them, and they call security. Please help me!
Freaked Out from Hertfordshire

A. Well, Freaked, this is a difficult one. But I think whatever gets you through is a good thing! My suggestion is to try the Car Park lifts at the Watford Harlequin shopping center. Who needs a freefall ride when these will do it for free!

Q. Dear Professor Lew,
You think you know everything about the theme park world don't you? Well you don’t! I hate you and your column. I think the incredibly talented Webmaster of Reride.net should throw you away, and not litter up his site with the likes of your trash.
Yours Faithfully,
T Payne

A. Thomas, you forgot about the auto-complete in your mail sending software didn't you?

Q. Dear Professor Lew,
If you don't mention Alton Tower's AIR in your next article at least 673 times, I will eat you.
Yours Sincerely,
J.W.

A. Well, whilst I really don't care for rude emails such as this, I am aware that many of you want more Air. So, I am pleased to announce that this article *will* feature Air more heavily.

OK - onto the main article proper. Theme Park Noises. There is no disguising or denying it. Theme parks make their own noises. In their never-ending endeavor to take their visitors to never-been-before places, sounds play a huge part. From area music, to the sounds of the rides themselves, lets take a little look at the world of THEME PARK NOISES.

Our journey begins at Blackpool, for no apparent reason. Blackpool may not have the most varied repertoire of music and noises, but the ones they have certainly strike with a vengeance. For example, when you are queuing for over half an hour for your wristband, you will surely want to hear the laughing policeman laughing and laughing and laughing... Once you have either gone mad or purchased your wristband, whichever comes first (usually both at once it would appear) you can try out the Alice in Wonderland ride. Music both cheerfully tacky inside and out, you will be humming it for at least 6 hours after riding. Or how about "Roll Up Roll Up, the greatest show on earth is about to begin" and a pause of 3 seconds before it’s off again. This is a very odd statement anyway, I looked for about 10 minutes for the Greatest Show on Earth, and it was only after asking a member of staff that I realised that it referred to the Haunted Swing...

The next park in the Alphabet, if you're going backwards, is Alton Towers. Alton Towers thrives on Music. The infamous "Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg plays through the towers and the skyride. Well, when I say the skyride, it is quite rare for you to get a pod that will actually play the music. Most of them tend to crackle for two or three minutes, before conking out altogether.

It isn't long before we reach Ug Land. Land of dinosaurs, the Ug Family and Rocks that sound like they are obviously enjoying something very energetic. "Oooh... Ahhh.... Ooooh.... Ahhhhh......." and so forth. Of course, they do have a musical bass line, so perhaps that makes them the worlds first "Synchronised Sighing Rock Team" Hahahahaha! Oh dear.....

Moving ever so swiftly on, Alton Towers have a great roar machine in the form of Nemesis. But even more spectacular, for whatever reason, is the clunk-hiss of the brakes. Apparently. Though to be honest, I would hate to ride it and not hear the brakes.... if you get my point.
The Haunted House has a delicious Boooom.... Thud Thud Boooomm... piece on the entrance, which creates just the right atmosphere for those foolish mortals queuing up... or at least, it used to. Since then, a foul spirit has taken over the tape-playing machine, and suddenly all the music stops for no particular reason, and a voice booms out "I AM YOUR HOST, YOUR GHOST HOST! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!" Then, the same happens in the station, cutting the music cruelly to announce "Don't pull down on the safety bars pleeeeeeease.... I will lower it for you" These are recent additions to the house, but my some miraculous co-incidence, are both lines that have been used in Disney's various Haunted Mansion rides since they opened long before the Haunted House. Funny thing, chance.

And of course, I have to mention Old MacDonald's Singing Barn. This keeps me amused for ages - but many visitors miss the charm of how it works, run in, madly press all the buttons and run out again without even stopping to see what the buttons do. And yes, I like the pig! ;-)

NEXT: Chessington World of Adventure. The defunct park of the south, that isn't quite closed yet. Perhaps I am being too harsh... the wonderful thing about Chessington is that it used to have an atmosphere. Whilst this has disappeared recently, many of the old hints still remain, such as the Vampire and the Bubbleworks. Music for both is top-notch, but as much as I like the Transylvanian outside music, it is painfully out of place so far as, when you enter TRANSYLVANIA, you have loud cheerful poppy music with assorted fart sounds echoing around the windy street.

Despite being void of music for years, the Safari Skyway (please paint it) got a soundtrack last season. Not a very good one it has to be said, it probably took all of half-an-hour on a keyboard to do. But imagine my surprise when a trumpet fanfare suddenly burst forth from between my legs. (Coz that’s where the speaker is you see.)

Chessington has lovely theme music in most of the areas, though Mexicana and Forbidden Kingdom seem to be lacking. However, with the rehash of Forbidden Tomb, I can't be alone in hoping that the queue music does not disappear with it? This wonderful loop must be the shortest music loop in history. It goes something like this: Some jangly Egyptian instruments and a theme tune. Then some chickens clucking. A man making some strange singing-type of noise, then some more chickens. And suddenly we're back to the start. It’s about 2 minutes long, repeated over and over again. So, by my calculations, in a half-hour queue, you hear it fifteen times, by which time it has firmly pressed itself upon your brain.
"Hello Beanoland!" <silence>
"I said, HELLO BEANOLAND!" <more silence>
"Dennis is very shy, so you will have to shout for him to come out!" <some wind>
"I said....." and so on. Oh yes, the joys of Beanoland Stunt Shows in the off-season days.

From Chessington, to Thorpe Park. Up until last year, the park's music supplement mainly consisted of the Macarena, and Hot Hot Hot played repetitively over "Thorpe Park Radio" played around the park. Not so any more though. Oh noooo. Whilst we do have some grand opening music, this can be easily over looked by "5... DUM DUM, 4... DUM DUM, 3...DUM DUM, 2... DUM DUM, 1 ! WHOOSH! Detonation, complete" , which tends to be much louder then anything else in the park regardless of where in the park you are. It stretches for miles. I feel sorry for the local residents personally. For more on this ingenious sound, see my very first article.

Because Thorpe Park was indefinitely cheesy for years and years, they provided the funniest sounds. Every trick in the book was up for grabs, and the American style of friendly announcements was greeted with welcome arms. Unfortunately, they didn't pick British actors who sounded very friendly, giving us the absolute classic Greatest British Theme Park Sound Ever Created: "And Hey.... Have a Super Day!" (Pronounced Have a Soup A Day) But the curious thing was how false it was. The actor couldn't give a toss whether you had a super day or not, and you can hear it. The woman version wasn't much better. These were heard every 5 minutes on Thunder River, but with the invention of Rhumba Rapids, will almost certainly be lost. So for old times sake: "There's no doubt about it, you WILL get wet!"

I suppose the only other sounds of note at Thorpe are/were those on X:\ No Way Out. Speakers were attached, actually to the trains. They consisted of general rumbling when you were moving round the track, then when you stopped, you got helicopters flying around and some strange clunks. The same throughout the ride, until the end when they would start "Buzzz Buzzz Buzzzz"ing at you. If you would like to hear these sounds on the ride, you need to ride in the first month of each new season. After this, they will invariably be as silent as a mouse.

(You forgot about the inncoent swearing at Thorpe Park, caused either by Detonator, or when people in Canada Creek realise that the only cash machine is outside the gates! Ed)

So there we go, and quick round up. But here are some sounds we didn't quite get time to cover:
- Girls screaming at the scariness of Alton's Toyland Tours.
- The "Meeeeyyeahhhhhhh..." of the faces in the Haunted House.
- The Incessant honking of Miss Hippos Fungle Safari
- The Chessington visitor swearing at everyone.

Next Time: It's April, and the new season has started. As well as a Drayton Manor article, we investigate the CHHHRAZY ideas about 2002 circulating the net. Until then, Bye Bye!

Ooops - nearly forgot:
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR AIR
So there! ;-)