Home » UK Theme Park Round-Up – April Review and May 2014 Preview

UK Theme Park Round-Up – April Review and May 2014 Preview

Your news update for April and May in the British theme parks.

April was a surprisingly quiet month for the UK theme parks, with the 2014 season officially up and running and well underway. Construction for Angry Birds Land and CBeebies Land continues, and both are expected to open this May. With the exception of a few scattered Easter events at the UK parks and the opening of Thorpe Park’s new hotel in April, there is much less to report than back in March and the season start. However, let’s take look in more detail at the news and updates in this instalment of your monthly UK theme park review and preview.

Thorpe Park

Quite possibly the biggest piece of news from April in the UK parks came from Thorpe Park, which quietly opened the Thorpe Shark Hotel, the new on-site accommodation for 2014. Thorpe Park is advertising the Shark as having 90 “bite-size” rooms, which sleep up to 4 people, and consist of a double bed and two bunk beds.

Thorpe Shark Hotel concept art

A theming element, consisting of a giant metal shark, is due for completion in May. This will be located on the bridge leading to the Thorpe Shark Hotel, forming a tunnel to walk through, and if the artists’ impressions are anything to go by, extinct rides alongside present day rides will feature on the sides of the shark as a tribute to Thorpe Park’s fascinating and vibrant history. However, one has to ask why the theming feature is opening a little later than the rest of the new hotel – could this be delayed due to the apparent last minute change of the hotel from Waterfront to Thorpe Shark, or is there another explanation?

In keeping with the new Shark Hotel theming and change in marketing for 2014, Thorpe Park has also quietly changed its slogan from “The Nation’s Thrill Capital” to “An Island Like No Other”. New posters including this slogan can be found on-site, which also feature metal sharks swimming around Thorpe Park’s main thrill rides and rollercoasters. While “The Nation’s Thrill Capital” remained very fitting for Thorpe, right up until 2013 when they reversed the back row of The Swarm and continued to vamp up the thrills, it could be seen as quite dated, and “An Island Like No Other” fits the more all-round exciting place they are trying to portray.

There was always speculation amongst enthusiasts as to which park had the better thrill rides in Britain – Thorpe Park or Alton Towers (Thorpe Park undoubtedly had a higher quantity but it was always a debate of the better attractions), so the slogan “Nation’s Thrill Capital” could have always been just a little bit of a sore point. It was especially questionable after The Smiler opened at Alton Towers in 2013 and became one of the most iconic rollercoasters in the world due to its fierce nature and high inversion count, but it has to be said there is certainly nowhere else in the world like Thorpe Park, befitting the “Island Like No Other” slogan very nicely.

Big Easter

To generate anticipation and mark the upcoming opening of Angry Birds Land, The Big Easter ran over Easter weekend at Thorpe Park. The theme park brought in 20,000 Easter eggs as prizes for their park-wide Easter Egg Hunt.

Seven Angry Birds characters were located across the theme park, with a riddle to solve at each Bird. After picking up their Easter Egg Hunt maps in the Dome, guests had to solve each of the seven puzzles, before claiming their prize in the Dome.

Brainiac Live, located in Ranger County in the Hideaway (or The Asylum to Fright Night fans) was the headline show on at The Big Easter – featuring stunts and dangerous experiments in an experience based on the hit TV show the whole family could enjoy.

Still no confirmation of an exact date for Angry Birds Land to open, but it remains to be due to launch in May 2014. Will Thorpe Park surprise us and open Angry Birds in the first few days of May, or will they wait until the end of the month and take their time to ensure everything is complete? It’s possible the park hasn’t chosen a date to secretly open Angry Birds Land at all, allowing them to be completely flexible. Either way, we will definitely find out soon, and on which of the 31 days in May the feathery fun will start.

Angry Birds Land

On the subject, construction over April for Angry Birds Land appears to have been quite sparse, with nothing but a concrete slab at the dodgems site, as they still wait to almost be fully constructed, though this won’t take very long to put together. More painting work has taken place on the buildings in Angry Birds Land, and this looks to be almost finished. Thorpe Park have been taking every opportunity to generate enthusiasm for Angry Birds Land; most recently by posting pictures of the new Angry Birds 4D Experience on social media.

Ride and Club Night

Thorpe Park’s Ministry of Sound events kicked off this April with the first “Ride & Club”, Miami Sessions, on the 12th of April. The next event, “90s Anthems”, takes place on the 10th of May.

Ministry of Sound “Ride & Club” events have proven to be hugely popular in the past at Thorpe Park, and this year there are DJs performing from 8pm until 3am and exclusive ride time on selected attractions from 9pm until 11pm.


In other news, it’s still not looking good for Slammer this year, as Thorpe Park has confirmed it will remain closed for the “foreseeable future”. Slammer, an S&S Sky Swat, is unfortunately well-known for its unreliability and is now the only operating ride of its kind in the world. Will Thorpe Park consider it to be worth the effort and try and get it back up and running, or will it cease operation altogether? Only time will tell, and it seems unlikely the park would stop one of its thrill rides without major expense, but for now, we will have to wait and see if Slammer’s mechanical arms will be spinning on our Thorpe Park horizons once again.

The brand new Amity Fish ‘n’ Chips shop opened next to Stealth this April, featuring a higher guest capacity than its predecessor, as well as a choice of indoor or outdoor seating.

Finally, Stealth has also been given a gift shop all of its own, and now fans of Thorpe’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster can find all of Stealth’s merchandise in one place as they exit the ride (surprisingly, it’s not made out of a shipping container). Until this year, Stealth remained to be the only major rollercoaster at Thorpe Park without an exit gift shop.

Alton Towers

CBeebies Land

CBeebies Land construction is well underway, with the much anticipated May launch fast approaching. Due to open on Saturday the 24th, in time for the May Half Term Holiday, CBeebies Land is Alton Tower’s big new attraction for 2014 – its target audience being families with younger children.

It is the first time the BBC have worked in conjunction with Merlin Entertainments, and it seems we can expect them to create an immersive, educational and interactive experience based on the CBeebies TV shows, with 12 attractions to explore and enjoy.

The Smiler

No news is good news for The Smiler over at Alton Towers this spring, as there have been no major recorded newsworthy breakdowns or otherwise. It seems the winter refurbishment has done the rollercoaster some good, and fingers crossed the reliability will continue into the peak summer months.

Legoland Windsor

Star Wars Miniland Experience

Star Wars fans everywhere have a reason to be excited this spring – not only have the cast just been announced for Episode 7, but Lego Star Wars event days are running over at Legoland Windsor, from Saturday the 3rd of May to Monday the 5th of May (first Bank Holiday Weekend in May). The annual unofficial Star Wars Day, May the 4th (taken from the Jedi greeting “May, the Force be with you”) is also conveniently that Sunday.

Events such as lightsaber training and daily marches of the 501st Garrison will take place over the Star Wars event days, as well as the opportunity to see a full-size replica of a podracer, to explore the galaxy in the Lego Star Wars Miniland model display, and to build your chosen intergalactic Lego Star Wars characters brick by brick. Guests are also encouraged to dress as their favourite Star Wars characters, so be prepared to see many young Padawans running around the theme park on their interplanetary adventures.

Drayton Manor

Air Race

Alongside opening the only thrill ride in the UK for 2014 – Air Race, another world record attempt was claimed for the Staffordshire theme park this year, as Drayton Manor smashed the world record this April for “the largest gathering of people wearing one-piece pyjamas”. To help achieve the world record, Drayton Manor apparently reduced their ticket prices – and it appeared to have worked. 3,152 people turned up in onesies, breaking the previous record of 1,184 quite significantly. The world record attempt only made the news when Drayton was forced to close their gates due to visitor numbers at 12:30pm on the day of the record attempt.


With 2 brand new theme parks lands due to open this May, theme park fans everywhere will have a chance to experience the likes of Angry Birds and CBeeBies in an immersive environment. 2014 doesn’t appear to be a good year for thrill-seekers, unlike the introduction of The Swarm and The Smiler in 2012 and 2013, but any good theme park enthusiast appreciates the fact a mix of thrill rides and family fun makes for the best parks anywhere, and 2014 will be our year for that. Feathery friends and Postman Pat will be launching in our parks this May – let’s wait and see what fun they bring to our beloved theme parks.