Thorpe Park's development plans for 2010-2016 have been released online, revealing that the park hopes to open major new rollercoasters in 2012 and 2015.
As TPT reported on Thursday, the park also plans to add five new flat rides alongside the two rollercoasters. Thorpe Park's "Medium Term Development Plan" details a number of smaller additions and changes that it hopes to make during the period - all of which are covered in our detailed analysis below. The park expects to spend £22.3 million on the upgrades, and to see a 3% increase in visitor numbers as a result.
As was the case with previous medium-term plans outlined by Thorpe Park (for the periods 1999-2004 and 2004-2010), it is likely that not all of the upgrades will be made by 2016. Several of the planned additions are carried over from the previous plan, and the park will still need to seek individual planning permission for each new ride.
Thorpe Park (which is based in a flooded former gravel pit) hopes to locate the new rollercoasters on two previously unused islands behind the existing Stealth rollercoaster. This will mean seeking an extension to the area on which it is currently allowed to develop (of around 5%), and the park has also suggested an alternative location for the 2015 rollercoaster close to the entrance of the park should this prove unsuccessful.
Details of the proposed coasters are still light, although the plans do include early "sketch designs" for the layout of both. The 64 documents that comprise the park's planning application do reveal a few other details, which are summarised below.
The first of Thorpe Park's planned rollercoasters is planned to be the tallest, reaching a maximum height of up to 50 metres (164 feet). This is 12.5 metres shorter than the park's current tallest coaster, Stealth. The park plans to situate the coaster close to Stealth, on a currently unused island. Sections of the coaster will extend out over the park's lake, with up to 30 support columns set to jut out from the water.
Thorpe Park's plans include early designs for the new coaster, which appear to show a massive first drop followed by a series of high-speed twists and turns. The design includes a heartline roll just after the lifthill, which would see riders starting the first drop in an upside-down position before roaring down into an upright position for the ensuing turns. The ride will have a maximum length of 850 metres, and no more than 9 vertical loops - although it's not clear from the current drawings whether any inversions other than the heartline roll will be included.
No mention is made of the type of rollercoaster or its planned manufacturer, and it is likely that the current design could change significantly prior to the ride's eventual opening.
Two potential locations are under consideration for Thorpe Park's second new rollercoaster. The first (and seemingly preferred) location is on two islands in the north-west corner of the park, extending slightly into areas on which Thorpe Park does not currently have permission to locate rides.
The second, alternative location is next to the Port Atlantis dome at the front of the park, close to its existing Education Centre. This would make the ride highly visible to guests as they enter the park via a bridge across the lake.
Few details are given of the 2015 coaster in Thorpe Park's outline plans, although like the 2012 coaster it will have a maximum length of 850 metres, and no more than 9 vertical loops. It will be slightly less tall than the 2012 coaster, at a maximum height of 40 metres (131 feet). The current outline given in the plans shows two long, straight sections (possibly hills) and several twists and turns.
Thorpe Park plans to add up to five new flat rides by 2016, and has highlighted 9 possible locations for them (as shown on the map above). Three of the locations are on the new islands, close to the proposed new rollercoasters. None of the rides will exceed 25 metres in height, and all will have surface areas of less than 750 square metres. Given the park's focus on the thrill-seeking market, it is likely that most will be off-the-shelf thrill rides in the same vein as the existing Slammer and Samurai attractions.
Thorpe Park plans a number of smaller changes and upgrades to the park during the 2010-2016 period. These include:
- Pizza Hut extension - the park plans to extend the existing Pizza Hut (building on the outdoor seating section at the rear of the restaurant) in 2013.
- Burger King extension - the Burger King at the rear of the park (close to Logger's Leap) is also set to be extended, in 2011.
- New fast food restaurants - new fast food outlets are planned - one next to the 2012 rollercoaster, and one in the same building as the Nemesis Inferno shop.
- Shop extensions - the sweet shop close to the park's 4D theatre could be extended in 2011, with the Thorpe Mega Store also set to be extended in 2013.
- Bridge widening - the bridge over which guests enter the park (which often acts a bottleneck) is due to be widened, though it is not clear when.
- New bridges - new bridges will be added linking the currently unused islands on which the new coasters will be located with the rest of the park and each other.
- Open air stage - a small stage of less than 70 square metres is due to be added in 2012, close to the Rumba Rapids attraction. It will host low-key family entertainment such as jugglers and acrobats.
- Arena refurbishment - Thorpe Park's arena, which hosts seasonal shows, is due to be refurbished.
- Entrance upgrades - the park's entrance area is scheduled to be updated in 2016, adding additional ticket booths.
- Hotel - the park has already submitted a separate application for a 245-bedroom themed hotel, which would be built at a cost of £31-33 million and include a health spa and conference facilities
Despite the expected attendance increases over the next few years, Thorpe Park has pledged to keep guest numbers below 17,000 per day during peak season. To do this, it will encourage guests to visit on off-peak days, possibly by offering discounts on mid-week and out-of-holiday visits.
Please note that all of the dates and plans given in Thorpe Park's Medium Term Development Plan are subject to change. Theme Park Tourist will keep readers updated on any further details released by the park.
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