This weekend I was invited to Thorpe Park to their ‘Merlin Annual Pass-holder Preview’ event to see what the Chertsey based world of amusement has in store for the 2015 Season.
Immediately obvious in The Dome was my normal first port of call, The Coffee Shack had a makeover. Also a bigger change was the shiny new Fin’s Bar and Grill Restaurant. This is where guests staying in the resort’s Shark Hotel can grab breakfast, and then later in the day will be open to all for a selection of Food and Drink.
A massive Latte procured, it was off out to take in the view you get as you leave the The Dome. The Thorpe Park Skyline – it’s changed a lot over the years, not so much this year. Although the Depth Charge Submarine is looking very sparkly with a fresh coat of paint.
I was gutted to see my normal first ride – Quantum (it’s the rules) was still closed for winter maintenance. This is the unfortunate thing with preview weekends, the parks are never fully open, but Thorpe had done extremely well to have such a large amount of rides ready for thrill hungry punters. As I was in the area, a quick spin on a ten timing twister Colossus started my day wonderfully..
It was also a good opportunity to take a wander around to Saw : The Ride which didn’t look as quite as menacing in the sunshine.
I was in the vicinity of the Resort’s newest attraction for 2015 – The ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of
Here! Maze’ in the building occupied by the The Asylum / Studio 13 Horror Mazes. Construction is coming on apace so it’s all looking good for the 27th March opening! I’ve been invited to the launch, so I’ll give you a full run-down then.
If you want to tease yourself – the full press release is hidden in the box below..
In rainforest temperature mist, camp mates who enter the Maze will be greeted by Ant and Dec who will give them a recorded briefing. They will then have to navigate through tunnels, crawly corridors and dark caves that will make you squawk! Campers should keep their eyes peeled for Bush Tucker Trials where they will unearth the prized gold stars.
Holey Moley is the first Bush Tucker Trial contestants will come up against – the deceptive rock face is home to more than just rolling moss, within dark crevices are openings for contestants to put in their hands to search for gold stars. If they are successful, they will unlock a secret corridor to the heart of the jungle.
Contestants will then enter shower cubicles in the next Trial to take part in a live game show experience, the Chambers of Horror. Don’t Look Up! Above the showers will be tanks loaded with slippery and slimy surprises that could drop at any moment should you answer a question wrong in the pot luck quiz show.
In the final trial, Celebrity Cyclone, camp mates must race against 56mph winds and water jets in search of stars to be crowned King or Queen of the jungle.
Six months in planning, the new attraction has been fitted with the latest technology and special effects to breathe animatronic life into the jungle. Features include multi-sensory ‘leg ticklers’ that simulate the feeling of being covered head-to-toe in bothersome bugs, a vibrating bridge walkway which will leave you feeling unsteady on your feet and moving trees and walls.
Visitors will feel like they are living in a real-life jungle – not standing in the Surrey-based entertainment Park, which is just a ten minute drive from the M25.
Suitable for families and friends, those who venture into the undergrowth will receive a fully immersive and interactive experience and should keep an eye out for iconic sights from the TV show including the red phonebox and the ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ throne.
Mike Vallis, THORPE PARK Resort Divisional Director, commented:
“After thirteen years of watching I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! on the small screen, we’re delighted to offer our guests the chance to brave Bush Tucker Trials inspired by the hit TV show – you don’t have to be a celebrity to grab a slice of the action on our island! And the good news is that we don’t expect any of our guests to chew on a kangaroo’s less palatable parts.”
Claire Heys, Director of Commercial Brand Partnerships at ITV, said:
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! Maze to the public and give them a chance to share in the fun we have on the set. THORPE PARK Resort is the perfect location to bring the hit series to life and we’re excited to be working with Merlin to launch the new attraction later this year.”
I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! Maze ‘Literature Tour’:
Camp mates will gather at Snake Rock before trekking through the Vile Vineyard to arrive at Croc Creek’s rickety bridge. At the other end they will walk through the Catacombs of Doom where they will face their first Bush Tucker Trial, Holey Moley.
Holey Moley is a deceptive rock face etched with cracks, craters and crevices that are filled with jungle ‘critters’ – contestants must place their hands within the rock’s dark corners in search of light-up stars that will unlock a secret corridor to the heart of the jungle.
Contestants will then dive into the next challenge, the Chambers of Horror, where they will be placed into shower containers to take part in a live game show experience. Don’t look up! Above the showers are tanks loaded with ‘critters’ that could drop down on guests at any moment should they answer a series of quiz questions incorrectly.
After camp mates have had a ‘screaming shower’, they will trudge onwards into the darkness of Calamity Caves, where they must guide their way through creepy cobwebs without unsettling any of the cave’s eight-legged residents. When guests reach the light at the end of the cavern it will be short-lived as they plunge into the Pipe of Peril.
Emerging from the pipe, guests will get a chance to catch their breath at Cruelty Towers where they will receive a final island briefing in preparation for the last of the Bush Tucker Trials, Celebrity Cyclone – camp mates must race against high winds and water jets in the final Bush Tucker Trial to be crowned King or Queen of the jungle.
The thing I noticed whilst wandering around Thorpe Park was just how good everything was looking, all very clean and polished, and well maintained. Little touches around the park seem to suggest that hopefully these details are being cared about. It’s obviously the start of the season, but hopefully the good standard of upkeep will stay throughout – the devil is in the detail as they say.
Also, I think all the staff I met were trained perfectly, very happy, smiley, polite and willing to engage – hopefully the polish will stay with the team too. That said, something I’ve noticed across the Merlin group of parks are the staff are great at what they do.
I stopped for lunch at the new Inferno Pizza and Pasta Buffet next to Nemesis Inferno, which replaces the Pizza Hut franchise. It’s fabulous, because if you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass, you get 20% discount on your meal. I think this might have been the only slightly disappointing bit of the day, they at times weren’t quite keeping up with the demand for Pizza, and the vegetarian areas often looked a bit sparse. It’s a new restaurant, and one of the first full days of operation so I’m sure the creases will be ironed out.
I really had a good day at Thorpe Park – it’s a fantastic day out – I’d definitely say not worth visiting if you’ve got babies and toddlers, there’s not masses for them here. If you’ve got bigger kids, tweens or teens, this really is an incredibly fun day out. The #I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! Maze’ is aimed for those aged 8+ so will fit in perfectly with the park’s demographic.
If you’re tall enough, I’d definitely recommend The Swarm – it’s probably one of the smoothest Roller-coasters you’ll go on, it’s not the most terrifying, but it’s got all manner of thrills!
Thorpe Park opens fully on the 12th March 2015 – stay tuned to kiphakes.com for more Thorpe Park coverage throughout the season.
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