Thorpe Park Resort first opened its doors in May 1979. Located in Chertsey, Surrey, the theme park is just 20 miles away from central London and easily reachable by train, car or bus.
When you arrive in the car park, the first thing that you’ll hear is the distant screams of brave rollercoaster enthusiasts. Once over the bridge, you’ll enter The Dome, which is home to arcades, Coffee Shack, photo collection, Sweets and Souvenirs, 360 Bar & Grill, a snooker table and Sonic the Hedgehog air hockey table. There are also toilets and lockers downstairs. Incidentally, if you can't figure out how to wash your hands at the circular sink, there's a foot button on the floor. Guest Services can also help with any issues or simply to provide a map. There aren’t any signs around the park, so these are quite useful.
The newest addition to the park is Angry Birds Land, based on the popular videogames franchise. The highlight is undoubtedly the Angry Birds 4D experience. With cartoons playing on sheltered TVs outside, you are soon led into a cinema with branded 3D glasses, comfortable red chairs and giant, decorative boxes of TNT. Once the action gets started, your chair will lean back and then catapult you into the action as gusts of air further the illusion of flight. You’ll also get blasted by gentle jets of water, rocked by explosions and your legs tickled by the chair. Smoke and bubbles complete the show which has to be one of the best 4D shows that I’ve experienced. All ages are welcome to watch Angry Birds 4D, but under four’s may find it a little distressing.
Angry Birds Land also contains King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems and a 100-foot vertical drop ride called Detonator: Bombs Away. Gladiators will enjoy Heavy Hitters, where you and an opponent try to knock each other off of a beam. There’s also a gift shop with Angry Birds toys, novelty hats and clothes. Though curiously, none of it is actually branded with Angry Birds Land. If you fancy a bite to eat, visit Peckish for a hotdog, baked potato or snack.
Young families will love Neptune’s Beach, where kids can go for a paddle in the pool or down the giant water slides and flumes. Parents can relax on the nearby beach. All of which are open in the summer months, subject to the weather. You can even learn to surf for an additional £15 on Flowrider.
Also for youngsters is the Chief Ranger’s Carousel; a gentle ride and one of the few places that you can still see 80s mascot Mr. Rabbit. In a clever bit of product placement, there’s also a Tetley branded Storm in a Teacup ride. For more adventurous kids, there’s the Flying Fish rollercoaster, Rocky Express and moderately stomach-churning Mr. Monkey’s Banana Ride.
Here's a tip: don't stand anywhere near the end of the Tidal Wave ride as a HUGE wave of water comes crashing everywhere! It’s actually quite spectacular (and very funny) to watch from a safe distance. Water enthusiasts will also enjoy Logger’s Leap and Rumba Rapids, which used to be known as Thunder River. If it happens to rain during your visit (as it did during mine) then Thorpe Park ponchos are available to buy for £6. It's also convenient if going on some of the wetter rides!
Where Thorpe Park really comes into its own is with rides for adrenaline junkies. Horror movie enthusiasts won’t want to miss Saw – The Ride. Starting off in the dark, you narrowly avoid Jigsaw’s twisted contraptions, before a terrifying vertical drop of 100 degrees from 100ft in the air. From there, you’ll twist and turn at very high speeds, hoping not to lose your lunch or acquire somebody else’s. There’s also a gory souvenir shop if you’d like to take home more than just white knuckles.
We are really just scratching the surface of what Thorpe Park has to offer, as Colossus sends you around 10 giant loops (one of which is a quadruple barrel roll) at 45 miles-per-hour. Nemesis Inferno sends you soaring at high speed while your legs dangle beneath you. On the Swarm, the track is located in the middle of two sets of chairs, meaning that there is no visible track above or below you. X is an indoor rollercoaster that is mostly in the dark apart from disco strobe lights. Stealth was closed during our visit, but we can tell you that it features a giant 205-foot ascent at 80mph in just two seconds.
If you’d like to go for a high-speed spin, then step aboard the Zodiac, Samurai or Vortex rides. Or for a true stomach-in-your-throat sensation, try the Slammer. With a 360 degree freefall from 105 foot in the air, it stops halfway and then sends you swinging back in the opposite direction! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be on a 75-foot swing above the trees, ride Rush, which even sounds scary.
Throughout the summer, Thorpe Park Resort offers extended evening action at weekends with their Summer Nights promotion. There’s also live music on Saturday’s between 19th July and 20th September at 2pm and 5:30pm in The Dome. The Ministry of Sound are hosting two club nights on 27th September and 8th November, keeping the party going until 3am.
On select dates in October and November, the resort gets in the Halloween spirit with four horror mazes based on hit Lionsgate movies, including Cabin in the Woods, The Blair Witch Project, My Bloody Valentine and of course SAW. We will be braving Fright Nights later in the year, so stay tuned to Film-Reviews.net for our official verdict.
There’s a variety of places to eat, including Amity Fish & Chips, Roast & Relish, Amity Kebab, Calypso BBQ, Coffee Shack, Desperado’s Mexican Cantina, Wild Hogs Noodle Bar, Hotdogs & Fries, and even a KFC and Burger King.
As the Calypso BBQ sounded like the most fun, we headed there for lunch. We were first warned that the credit card machine buttons were "a bit sticky". The tables also weren’t the cleanest I’ve ever seen, with somewhat sticky surfaces and cobwebs in the cracks. This could be in part due to it being a self-clear restaurant, where customers are encouraged to clear rubbish into the bins. I'm guessing that most visitors forgot to pack surface cleaner and wipes. The food on offer included a Piri Piri Chicken Burger and New Yorker alternative, a Spiced Vegetable Burger, Cheese and Bacon Burger, BBQ ribs, Piri Piri Chicken Salad, and Mixed Salad with Feta and Olive. All are served with a baked potato or lattice fries, plus a tiny tub of coleslaw. For kids, there's a cheese or chicken burger, or decidedly un-cheesy Macaroni Cheese. The Annual pass holders get 20% off food and drink. The Calypso BBQ experience was a disappointment so we’d suggest trying one of the many other eating establishments instead.
Near the entrance is a giant shark sculpture that leads to the recently-opened Thorpe Shark hotel. The sculpture is made from old roller coaster tracks and relics from around the park. The hotel itself offers free car parking included in the price, along with 2-day resort tickets, a cooked buffet breakfast, evening entertainment, mood lighting, free WIFI and first to ride time (subject to availability).
While there is a decent amount to keep young families entertained, Thorpe Park Resort really specialises and excels in high-speed, gravity-defying rollercoasters that will make you scream your head off! Seasonal events such as Thorpe Park Resort Live and Fright Nights make the annual pass a very tempting proposition too!
Review by: Sarah O'Connell
Review Date: 20th July 2014
Thorpe Park Resort Review
Rating out of 5: