Theme Park Insanity

Will Thorpe Park ever put major investment into their park again?

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Will Thorpe Park Resort ever put any major investment into the resort again, and if so what form will that likely take and when?

Out of all of the questions currently being asked by the UK enthusiast community to date, the question of Thorpe Park Resort in Surrey’s next major investment seems to be the one question that appears to be at the forefront time and time again.

Will Thorpe Park ever invest majorly into the resort again? What form will that major investment take? and possibly the most frequent question of all – When?

In truth the last major investment to be put into the resort in the form of an attraction or ride was back in 2015 with the addition of the now highly controversial Derren Brown’s Ghost Train which only ran in it’s original format for just one season before having the ante upped due to claims it just wasn’t cutting the mustard so to speak.

Due to this the attraction relaunched at the start of the 2016 season in the newly reformatted iteration Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon which although still not great intended to up the scare factor and terrify all those who chose to ride it.

This again sadly just didn’t appear to be the case and as such this attraction is now considered by many (and not just by those within the enthusiast community) to be a major flop for the resort and a failed investment overall.

At time of it’s input into Thorpe Park the new addition was boasted as utilising cutting edge technology never before seen in any ride of attraction to deliver a real ‘one of a kind’ ride experience that would thrill and terrify everyone who rode it.

This the resort claimed was achieved through a number of factors such as low lighting, special effects, live actors and the integration of cutting edge VR which used well directed cinematography and a heightened sense of realism to create an environment which would truly lead guests to buy into the the experience they were having and the storyline at it’s heart.

The truth is that out of all the UK based theme parks it is Thorpe Park that is most commonly known for it’s endorsement of IP based properties and this is evident from such additions as not on Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, but also Saw: The Ride and Walking Dead: The Ride too. The resort even intend to introduce yet another IP based attraction into the resort in 2021 (postponed from 2020) in the form of Black Mirror Labyrinth.

Again what has become more and more clear in recent years is that the only investments placed into the resort since Derren Brown have been far smaller and much more temporary in nature, however sadly fans of Thorpe Park are starting to get bored of this, and as such this is now leading to more and more people starting to ask that all to familiar question “When will the next major investment come?”.

What form will it take?

By now it will be no secret that Thorpe Park will be more than aware that the main type of investment craved the most by not only the enthusiast community, but also the general public alike will be in the form of a brand new ride of major coaster, however the main thing to consider here is this – Merlin by it’s definition haven’t always lead by popular opinion when it comes to the introduction of brand new additions into any of their UK based resorts.

Although it’s clear that from what we believe Merlin parks and their creative teams do conduct extensive market research, the end result doesn’t always reflect the general consensus of those they have conducted the research with.

In truth, Thorpe Park have by this point had a more than sufficient amount of time to plan how their next major investment will be introduced into the resort and when, however to date we have still yet to see it happen.

To put things into perspective, when it comes to a new roller coaster being introduced into the resort the last major ride to be so was The Swarm back in 2012, and although as previously mentioned the resort trialled something different with a new major investment in 2015, believe it or not neither The Swarm nor Derren Brown were popularly received by park goers in both cases.

Now when it comes to roller coasters Thorpe Park have of course tried something with regards to an investment since the Swarm in the form of Walking Dead: The Ride back in 2018 as part of park wide celebrations surrounding The Year of the Walking Dead, however this merely saw an existing roller indoor roller coaster (formerly named X: No Way Out and prior to that just X) rethemed to incorporate the television show IP and the themeing and storyline to match.

This not only saw the complete overhaul of the current ride’s indoor layout and space, however it also introduced a brand new storyline which saw all indoor spaces being transformed into the “Thorpe Park Safe Zone” and as such this even included a fairly average pre-show which sat well with the idea of reaching safety from the walkers outside.

As previously mentioned however this was purely just a retheme and as such not an introduction of a completely new ride of indeed ride hardware into the resort.

This has therefore lead many to speculate as to what the next major coaster at the resort could be, and to date there are two extremely popular opinions surrounding this heavily speculated topic.

The first of which we we’re sure you will be more than aware of by now is the introduction of an RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction) coaster into the resort.

This has been brought about by two factors and these are as follows;

1) it’s no secret that nearly every enthusiast within the UK to date desperately wants to see an RMC coaster (particularly the company’s signature IBOX Hybrid) introduced on our shores and after much discussion and speculation surrounding this topic the conclusion drawn by many is that Thorpe Park would be the most likely park out of all the parks within the UK to have the space available to support such a ride.

2) The success of The Wicker Man at Alton Towers has prompted many to ask if a wooden coaster will ever be introduced into the Thorpe Park line up (and this was indeed originally planned to happen prior to the resort going ahead with the introduction of Saw: The Ride back in 2009.) leading many to follow that question with the analogy of ‘wouldn’t the introduction of a hybrid be more in keeping with the park’s existing feel as opposed to just a standard wooden coaster?

In truth as much as we would love to see an RMC open here in the UK ourselves, more and more we have to admit that we don’t feel that Thorpe Park would now be the most likely park to receive one (however we could of course be proven wrong).

The second type of roller coaster most wanted by those who speculate appears to be some form of hyper coaster as many have argued it would sit nicely with the resort’s current line up and would continue the trend of Thorpe Park being the self proclaimed ‘thrill capital of the UK’ that Thorpe Park claims to be (we have to admit as great as the rides are there though, there are definitely much better and far more unique rides located elsewhere within the UK in our opinion).

Now, alot have speculated that the most likely manufacturer to introduce such a ride into the resort would most likely be B&M and this is due to their strong existing relationship with Merlin Entertainments following the introduction of many of their rides into Merlin Parks worldwide already, however the one manufacturer which has grown in popularity when it comes to Hyper Coasters in recent years are of course Intamin.

Alot have also argued that an Intamin Mega Coaster would also be a great fit for the resort and as such we have to say we actually agree.

There are of course other types of roller coaster being speculated as being the perfect fit for the resort as well such as the increasingly popular Intamin Blitz model, a B&M Dive Machine and the ever more popular GCI Woody (Great Coasters International).

All of the above would also present a great fit for the resort too, however there is another question to consider here, and that’s this?;

Could a Multi Coaster Deal have already been struck?

There is one thing to take into consideration when looking at most current major Merlin Owned UK parks and that’s the trend of introducing similar existing coaster types or rides by set manufacturers (particularly B&M) into those particular parks.

You only have to look at Nemesis at Alton Towers and Nemesis Inferno (which holds no direct connection to the original other than the use of the Nemesis name) to see this is the case.

Other similarities between Thorpe Park and Alton Towers include the following;

The introduction of Rita in 2005 and then Stealth just a year later in 2006 as part of a two coaster deal struck with Intamin by Tussauds prior to the acquisition of all Tussauds owned parks by Merlin Entertainments in the late 00’s.

The fact that both Saw: The Ride and The Smiler are both coasters manufactured and supplied by Gerstlauer Rides to the two parks concerned

Finally, the current rumours (and at present we must stress that that’s all they are, just rumours) that Wicker Man was purchased by Merlin Entertainments for Alton Towers as part of yet another multi coaster deal.

If this was to be the case then the likelihood of a GCI wooden coaster being introduced at Thorpe Park in the years to come certain would be increased to say the least, and with the manufacturer revealing their brand new steel hybrid track at the end of 2019 we all know just how much Merlin Entertainments love their ‘world’s firsts‘.

Could this mean we might see the world’s first ever ground up GCI wood and steel hybrid being introduced at Thorpe Park in the not too distant future?

In short, the likelihood of Thorpe Park introducing a brand new coaster by a manufacturer who has already supplied a ride for a Merlin owned park in the UK in the not too distant future is higher than we would like to expect, however there are of course other Merlin owned parks within the UK too and as such there is of course a chance that another ride agreed with a manufacturer (if of course that has indeed happened) could well end up going to them instead? Maybe Chessington World of Adventures perhaps?

What other forms could it take?

One other matter to consider when it comes to the next major investment received by Thorpe Park however is this – It may not necessarily be a new ride!

Back in 2013 the resort introduced ‘The Crash Pad‘ – brand new guest accommodation comprising of 90 rooms in the form of individual cabins converted from shipping containers.

In recent times however, this has of course become the ‘Thorpe Shark Hotel‘ and most recently ‘Thorpe Shark Cabins‘.

The plan was to convert Thorpe Park from just a theme park into a fully fledged resort with a more permanent 250 bed hotel set to see construction commence in 2016 following planning permission being approved in 2014 and with an official opening planned for the start of the 2018 season.

This of course never unfortunately happened (most likely due to the costs involved) and as such the resort instead extended the planning for a further 10 years on the Thorpe Shark Cabins instead.

The Hotel was said to be located on the opposite side of the lake to the park and would enable guests staying at the hotel a short commute between the park and the hotel making an overnight stay at the park far more comfortable and luxurious overall.

The resort had also applied for planning permission to build such accommodation prior to 2014 too with initial planning applications being submitted for the park’s proposed accommodation as far back as 2006!

With all of this in mind could the next major investment put into Thorpe Park be a hotel instead of a ride? Or could we perhaps see both? Only time will tell! 

A hotel isn’t the only possibility however where future major investment is concerned.

Other possibilities include a complete overhaul of an existing area to create a brand new area within the park (perhaps Angry Birds Land?) creating in turn the possibility of a new ride being introduced, the complete overhaul of the entrance plaza for a much more efficient and better scaled entrance to the resort overall and of course the full removal of an existing attraction or ride (perhaps 2?) in favour of again the introduction of a brand new ride (maybe Walking Dead: The Ride once the IP has expired whenever that will be).

The list is therefore fairly broad when it comes to future additions to the resort, however the main question which remains on everyone’s mind the most (more so than what) is WHEN?!

When will all this happen?

Let’s face it! 2020 has been an absolute shower of excrement of a year, and with that in mind we have to consider the heavy financial impact this year’s terrible pandemic has had on the theme park and leisure industry as a whole.

Although it’s fair to say that Thorpe Park may well have had an investment plan in place for the next 10 years prior to the current situation taking place, there is every chance that as a result of this year’s financial hardship any plan in place prior to 2020 will have more than likely changed with the times.

That doesn’t however mean that we won’t necessarily be seeing anything happen any time soon.

Like any other major park here in the UK Thorpe Park will have already very likely have the funds allocated for any future investment within the next 5 years, and with that in mind we anticipate we could a new major investment at the resort within that time frame, assuming the resort can viably recover from the effects of the pandemic within the next 2 to 3 years at the very latest.

In truth, as mentioned previously the resort will now more than likely be well aware of the public’s desire to see something major introduced at the resort within the not too distant future, and with that in mind we think that the resort are more likely to introduce that investment sooner rather than later.

The one thing that Thorpe Park definitely won’t want is for the demand for the park to drop off and visitors go elsewhere and with the proposal of The London Resort moving steadily ever forward towards reaching fruition it’s becoming ever clearer that Thorpe Park will really have to step up their game if they want to keep the public pouring in through their gates when the time comes for this brand new world class resort to open in it’s proposed opening year of 2024!

This exciting new resort will after all be virtually with reaching distance for Thorpe as well as all other Merlin owned parks too which means that not only will Thorpe Park have to up their game when it comes to investment, but so will Merlin as a whole if they want to keep the attention of the public on their resorts in the years to come.

With all of that in mind we feel that the most realistic time frame for the next major investment to be introduced at Thorpe is more than likely within 2 to 3 years at the very latest, however as also mentioned previously this all depends on the resort’s financial situation and how they manage to bounce back from their current pandemic related struggles.

The one thing that did become clear to us back in August however is that despite the resort’s reduced capacity and despite all the ongoing scare mongering by the Mainstream Media guests certainly didn’t seem detered when it came to being out and about at the parks during the pandemic.

This was also a common trend throughout other UK parks too, and for this reason we feel that despite the financial impact of this year in our opinion any future investment within the resort will almost certainly be intended to proceed as planned.

This is of course just our own personal opinion and as such we are just as in the dark regarding this subject as the rest of you.

At the end of the day it’s clear that despite any recent major investment taking place, Thorpe Park Resort doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon which means that the question surrounding major investment taking place at the resort is no longer a matter of “IF”, it’s more a matter of “WHEN”!!

What are your thoughts on this however? What do you see the resort’s next major investment being? and when do you think it will most likely occur? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

As ever guys, Thank you very much for reading.

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