Thorpe Park's planned new attraction for 2011 is a Spinning Rapids water ride, relocated from its former home in Cypress Gardens, Florida. What can guests expect from the park's new addition?
First off, let's manage expectations. The new attraction is not a major new thrill ride - instead, it will be a rare family-oriented addition to "the nation's thrill capital". Thrill seekers will have to wait until 2012, when Thorpe Park hopes to build the first of two major new rollercoasters.
Image © WhiteWater West
The park is promoting the new ride with the tagline "Spin 'em, Twist 'em, Soak 'em", which is an accurate summary of what riders will experience. After boarding rubber rafts that can hold up to 6 people, guests are carried up a conveyor belt to the top of a 19.4 metre-tall hill, before being propelled by water down a spiral chute. The rafts spin rapidly on the descent, before splashing down into a channel at ground level.
Image © WhiteWater West
Despite appearances, the ride was originally designed not to get riders wet. However, Thorpe Park's advertising campaign suggests that it will add additional water features towards the end of the ride to give guests a soaking. Similar additions were made by Cypress Gardens when the ride was housed there from 2004 to 2009.
Update: Thorpe Park has confirmed that Storm Surge will retain its original name and colour scheme in new promotional artwork, shown below:
Location, location, location
The ride will be located in a prominent position in the park, close to the X:\No Way Out rollercoaster. It will occupy the space previously known as the Octopus Garden, with the 7 "kiddie" rides that were housed there being removed from the park. Thorpe Park says the new attraction will be "themed in a similar way to other buildings located within the core of the park", but it is not yet clear which of the park's existing "lands" it will become a part of.
Caught on video
Manufactured by Canadian-based waterslide specialist WhiteWater West (who also built Thorpe Park's Depth Charge attraction), Spinning Rapids rides are in service in parks around the world. In Europe, heavily-themed versions are in place at Parc Asterix in France (L’Oxygenarium) and Hansa-Park in Germany (Rio Dorado).
The addition of the Spinning Rapids ride is hardly enough to set pulses racing among Thorpe Park fans, but the ride should serve its purpose of easing the queues for the park's other major attractions. Although a slightly surprising addition for a park that is already packed full of water rides, it will at least offer another option for those looking for a break from the park's array of intense thrill rides.
Other Spinning Rapids rides have received broadly positive reviews, such as Coaster Kingdom's take on L'Oxygenarium at Parc Asterix. However, Parc Asterix took the trouble to theme its version extensively, and we hope that Thorpe Park doesn't simply dump the gaudy Storm Surge directly in front of the X:\No Way Out pyramid with no thought for aesthetics.
Our final concern is that the removal of the Octopus Gardens leaves Thorpe Park very short on rides for younger children. Although that's largely by design, with kids well catered for at LEGOLAND, inevitably some families have both teenagers and tots in the mix. We hope to cover these concerns in more depth in a future article.
Nonetheless, we're looking forward to yet another new attraction for Thorpe Park and expect it to be a solid, fun ride. Exciting times are ahead at the park - and you can find out more in our in-depth analysis of Thorpe Park's plans for 2010-2016.
What do you think of Thorpe Park's planned water ride for 2011? Let us know using the comments section below.
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