Thorpe Park Resort is a theme park resort located between the towns of Chertsey and Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey. It is operated and owned by Merlin Entertainments. After demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit. Thorpe Park Resort was built in the 1970s on the gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a water-based theme for the park. This essentially allows guests to view the park as an island, which is where the park's current "island like no other" slogan originates from. It was officially opened to the public by the late Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979. It has since grown into one of the major theme parks in the UK and now also features a hotel.
Major attractions include a large water ride Tidal Wave, a number of roller coasters including Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, Saw – The Ride, The Swarm, and dark ride Derren Brown's Ghost Train. Other smaller attractions include a water area called Amity Beach, a walkthrough attraction based on I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, an indoor roller coaster is known as X and an Angry Birds themed land.
The demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s saw the site transform into a gravel pit, originally owned by Ready Mixed Concrete Limited. In the late 1970s, they decided to flood part of the site and create an educational theme park. The park opened as a small attraction, building slowly up to RMCs first large installation of "X:\No Way Out" in 1996. In 1998, The Tussauds Group bought the park (they also owned the nearby Chessington World of Adventures). From the outset the park started opening key attractions such as Tidal Wave in 2000, Colossus in 2002, Nemesis Inferno in 2003 and Stealth in 2006.
In May 2007, Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group from then-owner Dubai International Capital for US$1.9 billion; the company was merged by Blackstone into Merlin Entertainments and Merlin took over operation of Thorpe Park. Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainments.
On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold Thorpe Park, to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement. Although it is owned by Prestbury, the site is operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.
Merlin decided to target teenagers and young adults, adding rides such as Saw - The Ride and The Swarm. In 2014, Merlin decided to target a more broad-based market with new attractions such as Angry Birds Land, I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! and the park's onsite hotel.
Thorpe Park is split into seven themed areas:
- Old Town
- The Jungle
- Lost City
- Swarm Island
- Port and Basecamp
Amity, previously 'Amity Cove' and also 'Amity Beach', is themed as a 1950s fishing village that has been left devastated by a tidal wave. The attractions in this area are
Tidal Wave, Stealth, Flying Fish, Storm in a Teacup, Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, Amity Beach and Storm Surge.
Old Town, previously 'Canada Creek' and 'SAW Island', opened in 1989 and 2009 respectively. It is themed around the Canadian Rockies. The main attraction of the area, is Saw - The Ride a Gerstlauer Eurofighter with three inversions. It is the only coaster in the world themed around a horror film. This area also has the UK's tallest log flume, called Loggers Leap and the small train ride named the Rocky Express. Old Town is also home to two defunct rides, Canada Creek Railway and Slammer.
The Jungle, previously 'Calypso Quay', is an area in the park themed around a tropical caribbean jungle, with a volcano as its centrepiece. Four rides reside within this area: Nemesis Inferno, Mr Monkey's Banana Ride, Rumba Rapids and the I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Maze.
Swarm Island was the new area for 2012, the land was reclaimed from the water that surrounds the island. It paints a picture of an apocalyptic end to the world with the roller coaster The Swarm.
Angry Birds Land opened on 24 May 2014 and is themed around the Angry Birds video game franchise. The area was previously part of 'Calypso Quay' (now the Jungle), and 'Amity Cove' (now Amity). Attractions include Angry Birds 4D, Detonator: Bombs Away and King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems.
Thorpe Junction opened on 24 March 2016 and is themed to a disused train depot. The building houses Derren Brown's Ghost Train and The Ghost Train Shop.
Amity, previously Amity Cove and Amity Beach, is themed as an American 1950s fishing village that has recently been hit by a tidal wave. With the attraction Tidal Wave as the key attraction. The Area, when opened in 2000 contained only Tidal Wave, KFC and a games stand. It was extended in 2006 with the arrival of the Stealth rollercoaster located behind Tidal Wave, adding with the pre-existing Storm in a Tea Cup ride to Amity's lineup. In 2007 the Flying Fish roller coaster was moved into Amity, increasing the attraction list. In 2011 Storm Surge opened on the old Octopus Garden site. Storm in a Teacup is located near Stealth. Following the addition of Angry Birds Land in 2014, the area is now split in two, with guests having to go through Angry Birds Land in order to reach the Amity Speedway themed area, which is home to Stealth and Storm in a Teacup. Near the Flying Fish, there is Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, and the Amity Beach area.
The Jungle Edit
The Jungle is a Caribbean jungle themed area formerly known as Calypso Quay with four rides. The key attraction is Nemesis Inferno, a B&M inverted coaster themed around a volcano. Mr Monkey's Banana Ride is also in the area, near to the I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here Maze attraction. The Rumba Rapidswater rapids ride is the oldest attraction in the park. Part of the area was originally known as Ranger County, but after the removal of the Carousel and a show arena in late 2014 to make way for Derren Brown's Ghost Train, the Ranger County area is no more.
Thorpe Junction Edit
Thorpe Junction is the name of the building that houses Derren Brown's Ghost Train and The Ghost Train Shop. This is a sub-area of The Jungle and can be found at the centre of the island.
Angry Birds Land Edit
Angry Birds Land opened on 24 May 2014 and is based on the Angry Birds video games. The area was previously part of Calypso Quay and Amity Cove. Attractions include: Angry Birds 4D, King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems, and Detonator: Bombs Away (previously known as Detonator). As of 2016, Angry Birds Land is a sub-area of The Jungle.
Lost City Edit
The Lost City theme is that of ruins of a recently unearthed Atlantean civilisation with the Colossus roller coaster as the main attraction opening in 2002. The area opened in 2001 with the Vortex and Zodiac rides as the only attractions. In 2003 Quantum, a magic carpet ride opened. Two more attractions have since joined the rides line up with Samurai opening after being moved from the also Merlin owned Chessington World of Adventures in 2004 and Rush an S&SScreamin' Swing opening in 2005. In 2013 the X roller coaster was renamed and moved to the area.
Old Town Edit
Old Town opened in 1989 as Canada Creek and is themed around the Canadian Rockies. It has five attractions, a Burger King and the Wild Wings Noodle Bar. The main ride in the area is Saw - The Ride a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter with a 100-degree drop and 3 inversions. It is based on the Saw franchise and the coaster's station and indoor area is themed as a sawmill. The area also houses the Rocky Express, a small Mack Seastorm ride, Timber Tug Boat and Lumber Jump, a Zamperla rockin' tug and jumpin' star, both relocated to the resort from the Weymouth SeaLife Adventure Park and Marine Sanctuary. The area also houses the now defunct Slammer, an S&S Sky Swat. Lastly, the Loggers Leap log flume is currently closed until further notice while essential remedial work and decisions around the ride's future are made. It has been closed since 2015.
Swarm Island Edit
Swarm Island only contains one attraction, The Swarm, a rollercoaster themed around multiple crash sites depicting scenes of apocalyptic devastation. The theme is that there has been an alien invasion and the alien creatures known as 'The Swarm' are interacting with the guests and the area's landscape.
- Loggers Leap is the tallest log flume in the UK, although it lost that record for several years to The American Adventure's Nightmare Niagara, then regained the record when that ride closed.
- Nemesis Inferno has the longest pre lift section of any inverted B&M coaster in the world, and is the first inverted coaster to feature interlocking corkscrews
- The Swarm, is the only winged coaster located in the United Kingdom. Also, between 2013 and 2016 it was the only backward winged coaster in the world (back 2 rows).
- SAW – The Ride is the only rollercoaster themed around a horror movie. It also holds the record for the rollercoaster with the steepest free-fall drop in the world, at 100 degrees, and sixth steepest drop overall in the world after Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach in the USA, Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land in the UK, Timber Drop at Fraispertuis City in France, Green Lantern Coaster (with an angle of 120.5°) at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia and Takabisha(with an angle of 121°) at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan. The drops on the proceeding S&S Worldwide manufactured roller coasters and Takabisha are controlled by braking fins, whereas the drop on Saw is not, hence it holds the title of steepest free-fall drop. It's also Gerstlauer's 2nd steepest rollercoaster, preceding Takabisha, the current world record holder for the steepest drop.
As of 2014, Thorpe Park Resort operates three yearly events. Ministry of Sound club nights in the Port Atlantis Dome occur one Saturday night a month from April to September. These club nights feature well known music DJs playing a variety of themed nights. Summer Nights is when the park reopens after a normal day on Friday and Saturday Nights in July and August from 7pm-10pm for some late-night rides consisting of The Swarm, SAW - The Ride, Stealth, Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, X and others.
Fright Nights Edit
Fright Nights, formerly "Fright Nites" is Thorpe Park's Halloween event and also its largest. It's an annual event that has been running at Thorpe Park since 2002, celebrating Halloween with the park staying open until late at night, as well as operating a range of temporary Halloween attractions. Roaming actors in costume or with makeup can also be found around the park.
In 2013, Fright Nights was relaunched with a horror movie theme, courtesy of a three-year contract with Lionsgate. All of the pre-existing Fright Nights attractions were removed with the exception of The Asylum to make way for new horror-film themed attractions.
In 2017 Fright Nights was reinvented with a Walking Dead theme. The addition of two walking dead attractions were added to coincide with the season 8 premiere of the show. Then mazes which survived the overhaul was; Saw: Alive, The Big top and Platform 15 with Containment returning as an upcharge attraction.
Thorpe Shark Hotel Edit
The Thorpe Shark hotel is themed around a metal shark, made from scrap metal, that appears to be rising out of the lake. The hotel is linked to the Dome. It is also the entry point into the park. It opened in 2014 and replaced The Crash Pad, which was a temporary hotel that operated throughout 2013.
In 2010, the park outlined a 5-year development plan. The development plan highlighted a potential developmental area for a new roller coaster, with a target opening year of 2015, but has since been delayed to at least 2019.
In October 2014, the park submitted plans for an indoor attraction, codenamed 'Project Whitechapel', or 'WC16', due to open in March 2016. Featuring a pre-show area and a post-ride shop, the ride is being constructed on the site of the old arena as well as Chief Ranger's Carousel. On 26 October it was confirmed that illusionist Derren Brown has partnered with Thorpe Park to create a world's first immersive, psychological experience. Recently Thorpe Park released a teaser website 'www.mindswanted.co.uk' which shows project updates and new teasers for the new attraction. On 18 January 2016, it was officially announced the name for the attraction will be "Derren Brown's Ghost Train", and will open on 6 May 2016. This was later delayed and eventually opened on 8 July 2016.
On 27 March 2015, Thorpe Park Resort opened the world's first "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!" maze, set in the building which was home to Studio 13 during Fright Nights 2014. The attraction is home to three of the popular television programs Bushtucker Trails, including The Chambers Of Horror and Celebrity Cyclone. The attraction was announced on 11 February 2015 on social media websites, following a series of hints posted by Thorpe Park on their Twitter and Facebook pages. The maze has been fitted with the latest technology and special effects, including multisensory 'leg ticklers' and a vibrating bridge walkway.
Thorpe Park has had plans for several years to build a hotel, health spa and conference centre. The complex was originally planned to open in 2016; however, due to the Thorpe Shark hotel opening in 2014, the complex will not open for several years, if at all, as the Thorpe Shark Hotel is planned to stay at the park for ten years.