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Lewis Cox August 2002



Please note: Lewis Cox is a drunken vagrant, which explains why the long gap between column updates. It also explains why this page is riddled with errors and spelling mistakes (the tramp thought he had a rideas.co.uk email address!). I have done my best to correct these mistakes, but as I spend my life operating Ronald McDonald's cameras in the Cred Street Diner toilets at Alton Towers, some mistakes may still remain.

My goodness! It's never August already! Alright, own up, who fiddled with my alarm clock?

Tell you what - let's pretend that I did write the last 5 months worth of Coloumns, and that they were so brilliant, they had to be taken down because too many people from all over the world were visiting the site and using up it's valuable bandwidth... Yes - sounds plausible to me!

Anyway - AUGUST COLOUMN 2002

This month, we see how the 2002 new attractions have weathered from their opening day, to the summerholidays. Also, as Thorpe Park gradually rid themselves of their historic cheesy recorded announcements of water park fame, we explore the murkey world of recorded ride announcements.
But first, you can imagine how, after 5 months, my column mailbag has filled up. Let's have a look at the most interesting comments:
"Dear Sir, Would you like to see my new XXX webcam?! I am waiting and willing to satisfy you! Visit this address now and cum inside!" <address withheld, though get in contact if you want it>

And yes, that was pretty much the most interesting mail. Let's make it better for next month! Email me your Theme Park problems and queuries, and let me, your agony ankle, answer your questions.

Anyhow! In my last coloumn (do you remember it? I don't...) I see that I promised you all a review on the 2002 new attractions. Well, better late then never I suppose, so let's have a look at them, and with the benefit of hindsight, how have the attractions fared over the months?
I was going to sort it in order of most disgustingly looking park on opening day, but then I thought that would be unfair, so I should do alphabetically. Either way, Alton Towers is still top of the list.

ALTON TOWERS: New for 2002, the much anticipated, much looked-forward to, much hyped out of all proption ride, AIR. (With a name like that, how can you fail to get excited!) The ride was certainly going to be a world first, and indeed it remained a world exclusive after opening. For a few weeks. It was billed as being the most "Technology Advanced Coaster in the World". But we brits are not fathomly good at technology. If we were, we would have post arriving on a daily basis 1 day after posting, trains running on different tracks to each other and not colliding with others, and a way of getting to Alton Towers without careering into walls and buildings.

But we are not. So the most technologically advanced coaster ever broke down. Then it broke down again. Indeed, it broke down many many many times. And this was only on the first day. The back rows of the flying trains had to be hauled into a locked position by member by big burly men, only for the ride to lower the seats back to the original position. The lift hill couldn't get the trains to the top without continually stopping. At this rate, more trains were leaving village stations on the National Rail Network then were leaving the double-station of Air.

It is now August though, and through the terrible situations of the firt few months, Air is now running A-OK. The ride is short, and is not a one trick wonder - it takes rides and time to grow on you. No where near as good as Nemesis or Oblivion, in my opinion. However there is still a design falt - ride Air in the rain at your peril - as soon as you engage on the lift hill, the water pours down the train, on to you and down your back and trousers and it feels stunningly like you have wet yourself. Others looking may think that you had too, except that they are moaning and groaning because of the same thing.
Air is a good addition for 2002, and after you get your head around the fact that the ride is not themed, which enables you to stop being dissapointed with the theming, then it becomes acceptable. It's just odd that it is placed in a heavily themed area, but there we go.

The runaway train now has on-ride photos, and the new Ice Show is far superior to it's predecessor although the illusions are sadly lacking and I can't help but think that in 2 or 3 years time, the show will be hideously out of date.

CHESSINGTON WORLD OF ADVENTURES: Deep in the heart of Transylvania, Vampires CAN be killed, either by exposure light, or a stake through the heart. This does not suffice however, for they may be brought back to life by means of a secret ritual that can be performed but once a century..... by Vekoma!
It was indeed Vekoma who were drafted in to re-vive the Vampire. Not only to fix maintenance and reliability issues, but also produce new trains that had legs dangling "screamingly" free. (And many people found that they were also screamingly hitting things)
The ride had been closed for 2 closed seasons, and 1 open season - so the re-hab was expected to be rather large. But, wonder of wonders, this extended down-time was not enough! Well into the opening season, the Vampire was still shut. What on gods name were they doing to the ride in all this time! Well the answer, from the riders point of view, is pretty much sod all.

New Trains, new computer system. Some supports reshaped (or having a chunk cut out of them). So what were they doing for the rest of the months of closure? Well, they filled in the time by having JCB races along the grounds, ripping out stations and breaking everything that could be broken, putting up some black plyboard in parts of the queueline and er,er, not a lot else. When the Vampire did open, it was horrific! The area was attrocious, the theming destroyed but not removed, and the trains were injuring people at every availbale point - either by letting feet whack branches or knocking out front seat riders as it runs into the second lift hill.

The train didn't have any wheel covers, and managed to trap several birds causing in more downtime, but even at point of writing, the thought of putting the wheel-covers on still has not occured to the park engineers.

After floods of injured riders, Chessington did the decent thing, and closed the front seats, meaning that the BEST SEATS ON THE RIDE are no longer accepting passengers. Despite some modifications to the ride, these remain this way up to now.
And, horror of horrors, the Organist does not play the organ anymore. I think a petition is in order...
Tomb Blaster when opened, was brilliantly recieved. The new genre works exceptionally well... however, maintenance has deterioarated and many features are not working at the moment.

Dennis' Mad House has too many flaws to count, the worst being that the hight limit is far too low, only allowing babies who do not know how to even get up the stairs let alone operate the guns in. The amount of old Timekeepers theming still remaining from the Millenium Dome is astounding, even a fence panel facing the Billy's Whizzer queue line has its original paintjob, and only ONE gun has Dennis theming. (Presumable, the one gun that was used in the TV adverts!)

THORPE PARK had the biggest success story for 2002. Colossus, the world's only 10-"looping" rollercoaster has retained it's world exclusive status for more then 2 weeks. It has had very little downtime, it opened with no problems, and apart form the lift hill coating it's supports with oil in the first few months, it is pretty much flawless. Where station queuelines attracted grafitti, the queues were changed to succesfully stop it from happening.
Not enjoying the same success over the other side of the park is the new Rhumba Rapids. The ride opened with a mixture of old and new boats. The ride was closed for some weeks, and to this day still has boat design flaws which I consider to be unsafe.
When queueing for COlossus, I was delighted to hear some new recorded announcments for Thorpe along the lines of "Welcome to Thorpe Park, home of the world's first 10 looping rollercoaster."

The announcment was friendly, which reminded me of the days when Thorpe Park had a wonderful collection of pre-recorded announcments.
Most parks have them, and yet they can be so variable in quality and style. Here are some announcements which stick out in my head:

Thunder River: Before Rhumba Rapids was born, or should I say ripped out oprematurely and is now struggling to breathe, it was Thunder River, home of the best announcement of all time: "Welcome to Thunder RIver, the wildest wettest adventure yet. There's no doubt about it, you will get wet!" Oh glories of glories! And then, after the hight restrictions speil, we had the grand finale: "And Hey, Have a super day!" It is impossible to describe to people who never heard it just how wonderful this last line was, the monotony of a bored man sitting in a studio who really couldn't give a toss whether anyone had a super day or not. Back in those days, all announcements at Thorpe had a female equivalent. They said the same things but different operators had preferences, or they were just random. The only ride still left with these is now Loggers Leap, and the female one is rare.

X:/ No Way Out: Some classics, again, by a bored sounding man: "Please remain seated throughout the duration of the ride" and "The ride has now come to an end. Please exit to your left." These always seemed to pointless, though it is a sign of the ride that you had to be told that the ride had finished, and could you sod off please?

Tomb Blaster: It's new and it aint bad, though it can have a stunning resemblance to Nick Hancock at times... There is still a feeling of a nice voice trying to sound nasty though, which is not particularly satisfying.

Dennis' Mad House: The Dennis voice sounds completely different to all the other ones used in Beano Land, indeed, it sounds suspiciously like Timmy Mallett.. Okay, where's Wacaday around here then?!

Flying Jumbo's: Somebody has hidden Milo from the Tweenies into the ride, and now is making annoying squeaky voices to firhgten the children. Somebody get him out! Quickly!

Congo River Rapids: Obviously made by a drunk tramp. When it comes to clarity of announcemnets, this must take the biscuit - the accent is so poor and so bad, that on the odd occasion that you may be able to make out the works, you can't hear it through laughing.

Ronald McDonald: "Beep... Beep... YAHOOO!" Obviously some pervert.
What about announcements that just downright lie? Like Air's "Please use both sides of the queueline. Both sides are of an equal length." Equal Length my arse!

Do you have any favourites from any rides? Let me know! Next month's article will be on RIDE OPERATOR'S: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. If you have anything that you might like contribute to it, email me. My address is lewis@reride.net
Until Next time, safe Riding!