Drayton Manor will open a new rollercoaster for the 2011 season, with the ride due to be the first in Europe based on the popular Ben 10 cartoon series. Anticipation among fans is high, with the ride set to feature a "world's first" design and a heavily themed, interactive queue. But can the park deliver an experience that lives up to guests' expectations?
Known as Ben 10: Ultimate Mission, the new ride will be the first in Europe themed around the Cartoon Network favourite. Due to open by Easter 2011, its plot will see guests joining the titular Ben on a mission to defeat his arch-enemy Vilgax. The storyline will be told through an elaborate queue line, as well as forming part of the ride itself.
Ben 10: Ultimate Mission will be a Vekoma Junior Boomerang rollercoaster, and will be aimed squarely at a family audience. Let's take a look at what's in store for visitors to Drayton Manor when it debuts this spring.
Fighting off Vilgax
Drayton Manor has secured an exclusive deal with Turner CN Enterprises, which controls the Cartoon Network brand, to use the Ben 10 characters in its new attraction. The show debuted in 2005, being succeeded in April 2008 by a follow-up dubbed Ben 10: Alien Force. The latest series - Ben 10: Ultimate Alien - began airing on Cartoon Network in April 2010.
Ben 10: Ultimate Mission's plot will centre around the Omnitrix, the watch-like device that 10-year-old hero Ben Tennyson uses to turn himself into a variety of alien superheroes. In the queue, guests will first meet the creator of the device, Azmuth, in his lab on Galvan Prime planet. With Azmuth trying to fix the broken Omnitrix, the villainous Vilgax moves to try and capture it for himself.
Following the lab, waiting riders will move into the Alien Chamber where they will be surrounded by laser beam blasts, flashing lights and warning alerts. To add to the sense of immersion, the floor will shake as Vilgax attempts to destroy the building from above. This sets the scene for the coaster, which sees guests racing to activate a laser cannon in order stop Vilgax's ship from landing - with the enemy in hot pursuit.
First of a kind
The rollercoaster itself will be a "Junior" variation on Vekoma's classic Boomerang design - the first of its kind in the world. Unlike existing Boomerang coasters, the ride will not feature any inversions but will retain the basic "out-and-back" layout.
The photo above shows off Ben 10: Ultimate Mission's green-coloured track, including the 65-feet-tall first lift hill. Riders will be pulled up the hill backwards, traversing the circuit once in a forwards direction, before completing a return trip facing backwards. The coaster will feature a relatively short track length of 590 feet (180 metres), hitting a maximum speed of 34 miles per hour and exerting a force of 3 g on riders.
Following the ride, guests will be funneled into a retail outlet selling merchandise based on Ben 10 and other shows featured on the Cartoon Network. The shop will feature a range of Cartoon Network games and toys, and guests will also be able to view (and purchase) photos and video footage of their ride on Ben 10: Ultimate Mission.
The shop will be part of the new Cartoon Network Street, which will also be home to a new restaurant. The Cartoon Network Diner will be heavily themed and will show a variety of cartoons on flat-screen TVs to entertain guests while they eat. On busy days, Cartoon Network Street will also be home to live entertainment on a stage above the Ben 10: Ultimate Mission entrance.
The Cartoon Network Street and Ben 10: Ultimate Mission will replace the Sombreros attraction, which was removed at the end of the 2010 season.
Although it's a relatively minor rollercoaster compared to the mega-attractions that some of Drayton Manor's UK rivals are planning to install in the coming years, Ben 10: Ultimate Mission looks likely to have strong appeal to the park's family audience. The choice of theme will help to draw in guests as well as boosting merchandise sales, and the park can potentially expand the Cartoon Network Street area with further themed attractions in the future.
Although the Junior Boomerang design appears fairly basic and is likely to provide a relatively short ride, we're delighted to see that - for once - a UK theme park is investing in a properly-themed queue. As it should be on all attractions, the wait in line for Ben 10: Ultimate Mission looks set to be an essential part of the overall experience and to increase anticipation for the attraction itself.
Theme Park Tourist will be visiting Drayton Manor soon after Ben 10: Ultimate Mission opens, and will bring you a full review of the new coaster shortly thereafter.
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