April and May are always great months to enjoy our awesome UK parks in the springtime, and still look forward to what awaits us for the rest of the year. All eyes are on the Merlin parks these past few weeks, with new ride plans, new on-site accommodation, and (another) new Annual Pass Sale. Rivalling the excitement of the new season being underway, more attraction details have finally been confirmed for Thorpe Park’s 2016 ride, and the Enchanted Village at Alton Towers is now officially open!
After months of glossy promo shots, construction updates, artists’ impressions, and early booking offers plastered all over its social media channels, the Enchanted Village finally opened, as Alton Towers' official third on-site accommodation choice, on April 18.
Wonderfully on time and beautifully created for a truly immersive experience, the Enchanted Village certainly lives up to its name.
Meanwhile, Alton Towers has also been pushing on its website and posting teasers on social media for the Big Six Challenge. Briefly mentioned earlier in March, final details for the Big Six Challenge have now been confirmed - starting on May 1, any guest riding all six of Alton Tower’s big rollercoasters in one day will reap the reward of a free day of entry to the theme park on September 30. It’s great to see Alton Towers celebrating all of its famous rollercoasters, and not just its newest installation or most iconic coaster.
A brand new 2015 summer event has been confirmed in the past few weeks of April for Thorpe Park.
More live music is on its way as Thorpe Park commences its new “Island Beats” events, where guests can enjoy a great mix of pop music from a variety of artists like Professor Green, The Vamps, and Conor Maynard. Selected rides are open until 10pm so alongside these live music performances guests can brave Stealth and other rides (line-up to be confirmed) and make the most of a long summer’s evening.
Island Beats are taking place almost every Friday and Saturday night in July and August, starting from the 11th and then right from the 24th of July until the last event on the 29th of August. Looks like we will find out if these new Island Beats events are running alongside Summer Nights, or replacing it altogether. As Summer Nights entry remains a perk of having a Thorpe Park Annual Pass, their return seems likely.
Excitingly, Thorpe Park released the code name of its brand new 2016 attraction, as well as a few more details on the theming elements and for the first time, a glimpse into what is planned for the interior of the ride building.
“Project Whitechapel” is the code name which has been confirmed for the new ride. As with all attraction code names, this could mean something, or it could be almost completely unrelated. On top of that, we may uncover the relevance, or we may never really know the connection between this and the finished attraction - rumours and speculation the closest we can get. Still, it is always exciting when a ride code name is released; trying to see if it is a hint towards the theme, name - anything that could tell us what we can expect from the upcoming ride. Whitechapel could be interpreted in a number of different ways.
Of course the most effective way to do this would be to combine it with any latest plans or profiles released by the park when the attraction is in its earliest stage of development, and then following any news and updates on the ride’s construction as this progresses, and finally as the launch date draws ever (yet still slowly) closer, any teaser or promotional material plastered around the park, and on its website and social media channels.
In the case of Project Whitechapel, we are still in the early construction phase, with nearly a year still to go. We have two sets of plans released (the first back in October, the second only a few weeks ago in April), a code-name, and a clear site for the ride which is undoubtedly a construction site - it is now surrounded by black panelled fencing letting us know “a dark secret is coming”. At the moment Project Whitechapel is a concrete slab, but as the months pass we’ll probably see the ride building coming together and a bit more activity happening at the site.
As previously mentioned, more details for Project Whitechapel have made an appearance in the latest plans released. Main points include drawings and profiles for the theming feature we first knew about in the first plans - in the “plaza” outside the attraction, which seems to be an abandoned watchtower, and remains in keeping with the derelict warehouse ride building we have already seen on the original plans - so Thorpe Park is still keen on and proceeding with this theme.
With regards to the ride building itself, a pre-show area is visible on the newer plans, as well as what appears to be a bag drop area and shop at the ride exit (of course). The queue line was previously almost completely undercover, but the latest plans show the covered queue has been reduced by nearly 50%.
Chessington World of Adventures
Year of the Penguins has officially kicked off at Chessington, with Humboldt penguins arriving (and being named) at their brand new home at the Resort.
On the April 30, a power outage affected infrastructure in the South London area, and in an unforeseen and incredibly rare turn of events, this affected Chessington’s rides, to the point where they closed for a couple of hours in the morning, with park gates re-opening towards midday.
Chessington was quick to act - entry tickets were reduced to £18 as a result, and due to the disruption the theme park stayed open until 6pm, an hour later than normal. They even threw in another show of Penguins of Madagascar Live! Operation Cheezy Dibbles at 4pm to continue to try to make it up to their on-site Adventurers.
Guests with pre-booked tickets for Chessington were actually allowed to use these for a day at Thorpe Park or Legoland Windsor instead - these parks being further away yet within good driving distance, and not affected by the power cut. This was an alternative option for good-natured park-goers who were happy and able to drive to another theme park and make the most of their day on different rides.
A Summer Sale has commenced for all Merlin Annual Passes, so those who missed out on the 2014 end-of-year Annual Pass sale can take advantage of lower prices again for a limited time. Prices are higher than the end-of-year sale a few months ago (they needed to be - Merlin guaranteed those prices would be the lowest available for 2015), but are of course still better than the off-the-shelf full prices that currently apply.
With the Enchanted Village opening, the Year of the Penguins starting, and more details gradually seeping through for Project Whitechapel at Thorpe Park, April has been an exciting month. May brings with it warmer weather, even longer days, and of course, the start of the Big Six Challenge over at Alton Towers - riding six different rollercoasters a wonderful excuse for a challenge. But most importantly, “a dark secret is coming” - what awaits us inside that abandoned warehouse at 2016 Thorpe Park?