The Vampire - 1990 Arrow Dynamics Suspended Coaster located at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, UK!
Here at Theme Park Insanity there’s nothing we enjoy more than reading a great review, and with Vampire at Chessington being one of our top ‘to ride’ coasters we just couldn’t resist when we were contacted by a good friend of ours named Sam Costello with the view of publishing an official review covering this legendary John Wardley creation here on TPI!
We are therefore thrilled to present our first official guest review here on Theme Park Insanity covering what is arguably considered one of the UK’s most iconic John Wardley coasters (aside from the likes of Nemesis of course).
This fang-tastic review delves deep into what the legendary Vampire has to offer and takes a much closer look at what awaits those who are brave enough to climb aboard this blood sucking winged phantom and soar high above the trees and rooftops of the former Transylvania (now the deep dark wood).
Therefore, without any further ado, here we go!
A review of The Vampire by Sam Costello!
Roller coasters can be intimidating, spectacular and incredibly addictive and for many brave riders in the UK the Vampire is their gatekeeper.
‘Like a bat out of hell’
Deep within the wild wood, beyond the village scene sits a castle in the shadows. It is rare to find a roller-coaster where the story begins before you enter the queue. The Vampire is one such ride.
Whilst the ride’s presence is not quite as dominant as the towering coasters of Thorpe Park or the roaring sounds of Nemesis the attraction’s notoriety is inescapable, almost enhanced by the mystery. There is a befitting element of secrecy surrounding the park’s signature coaster, tucked away within the lowest area of the park.
As you enter The Wild Wood you finally get the iconic shot of the second drop swooping above the village before disappearing back beyond the buildings. Perfectly displaying the swinging trains and building the anticipation for guests. This ride, brilliantly designed by John Wardley, took a specific theme and transformed a generic roller-coaster ride into a full experience, an event designed to immerse guests in the world of the Vampire.
Now, riding the Vampire is an event, as it is one of those roller coasters that bridges the gap between ‘family ride’ and ‘thrill ride’. Since opening in 1990 it’s tested the courage of guests looking to make the step up, building anticipation from the screams of riders swooping across from The Gruffalo queue, to the eerie red waterfall and the gothic castle gates that precede the queue hidden beneath the trees.
What can you expect from the queue?
The queue is incredible and perhaps my favourite of any roller-coaster in the UK. A dimly lit underpass winding beneath the trees, throughout the castle graveyard, the coaster flying above you are fully immersed. My highlight of the experience is that you cannot see any other attraction or building from the moment you enter the queue.
Once beyond the gothic tombs you follow a dark tunnel into the Vampire’s Castle and the coaster’s station.
Heavily themed stations are not as common with coasters as they are with ride-through attractions such as dark rides that focus on visuals as opposed to thrills. Vampire, a coaster built in 1990, is unique in this sense. The thrill begins from the moment you enter the station, rising beyond the generic loading platform the station delivers a final test of courage as you’re transported into a dimly lit gothic ballroom. The loud gothic soundtrack seemingly blasts from a spellbinding animatronic organist playing a large pipe organ, lightning flickers and your ride vehicle ominously waiting to take flight.
Now what can you expect from the ride itself?
Vampire is the only Arrow suspended coaster operating outside of North America. It reaches heights of 70 feet, spans across 2,200 feet of track and as aforementioned acts as a perfect steppingstone for guests graduating from family rides to thrill rides.
Whilst the coaster is moderate enough to encourage younger guests to challenge themselves, the layout is more exciting than other family coasters such as Dragon’s Fury or the easily comparable Vekoma junior suspended coasters. It exemplifies a well-designed thrilling experience; riders will glide throughout the trees with purpose, plunge into trenches at speeds up to 45 mph and whip round some impressive, banked turns that perfectly make use of the swinging cars.
Once aboard guests climb from the dark station towards the tree line where the journey begins. As the ride does not feature any inversions or a major drop the thrill factor is generated by near misses and a sequence of winding transitions, producing an intensified sense of speed.
You will realise just how much the trains tilt as the train swings round into the second lift hill before climbing to the summit above the entrance to the Wild Woods. Following a fairly tame drop into the Wild Woods courtyard you fly above the crowds and quickly swing back into the forest and meander through the trees again.
Here you come so close to the trees that you’ll be able to kick the leaves if you’re feeling mischievous. After you meander through the trees you enter the fastest section of the ride and charge through the curved drop into the tunnel at 45 mph pulling the types of forces most white-knuckle coasters would be proud of. Finally, you speed out the tunnel besides the site of the Black Buccaneer, traversing the banked turn at such force that the swinging train could be mistaken for a corkscrew!
Overall Vampire is a solid coaster with excellent theming, and like its character, does not seem to age. Despite the layout being tame by today’s standards the experience provides just enough force to satisfy a thrill seeker and provides the perfect payoff to encourage younger guests to tackle the fearsome thrill coasters.
We want to thank you Sam for this absolutely fantastic and highly detailed review! You really have provided us with a very unique and highly valuable insight into Chessington’s most iconic coaster and for that we really appreciate you reaching out to us and giving us the chance to get to know more about one of our must ride coasters!
Sam has also now joined the Theme Park Insanity team as our newest member and we can’t wait to share loads of brand new content in the years ahead from the South of England and further beyond as we brand out into new territories from the UK and beyond!
If you want to find out more about this brilliant ride then you can check out the park’s official website on the following link!;