Something the UK has been lacking in recent times are some decent ‘dark rides’. Most of those still running across the country are rehashed ‘laser pimped’ conversions of their former selves. There feels like very little theatre or thought put into these rides now and they are patched up, hollow shells of their original counterparts.
The UK is in DIRE need of a quality dark ride – does Thorpe Park’s latest offering fill this void?
When I heard that Derren Brown was involved with the ride, I felt reassured. Derren is an extremely talented man, and an excellent showman – nothing he does is just ‘OK’. A ride with his name attached to it wouldn’t be mediocre, and from my ride today – there is nothing average about Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.
It’s hard to write a review of Derren Brown’s Ghost Train without giving away too much. Be assured this is a spoiler free zone! Once you’ve navigated the queue-line, you’re given your ‘train ticket’ and pass through several rooms to check if you’re infected. Once you’re found to be free of infection, you’re allowed to enter the ride (via the baggage check in).
Once inside the ‘show’ begins properly..
It’s very hard to define this as just a ‘ride’ – Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is MUCH more than that – it’s a show, it’s a ride, it’s theatre and bloody hell, it’s masses of fun. There are elements of live action, special effects, and some virtual reality provided by the HTC Vive headsets.
Inside the ride is a Victorian train carriage suspended in the air, but somehow, at the same time, it’s neither of those. You begin to question what is real and what isn’t. It’s not a traditional Ghost Train in any sense, there are no silly rubber masks or ropey hydraulics.
Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is a ride that will scare you, you will jump, heck, you might even scream – I did! The fusion of old tech, new tech and live action is wonderful, and creates an incredible atmosphere. I’ve never seen a large group of people ‘buying into’ a ride before – the cynical members of the invited press were VERY much into the ride.
The actors inside were excellent, in amazing costumes and fully into character the whole time – I *really* hope this continues.
It is incredible, but not perfect.
My first headset was glitching slightly. It wasn’t enough to ruin the experience but when what’s in-front of you flickers off for a second the effect is lost. The ride isn’t fully open at the moment and under ‘Technical Rehearsals’. It’s seemingly open of a few hours later in the afternoon for members of the public, these are subject to pauses and shutdowns. Hopefully these rehearsals will get the bugs ironed out and the throughput as high as it can be.
I’ve been told the ride has several different ‘stories’ so it’s will mean you don’t have the same experience every-time. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the others throughout the season. In theory they can alter the virtual reality element each year to keep it fresh.
Try it now, thank me later
Okay, so maybe you won’t be able to try it RIGHT now, but once it’s open fully, please give it a try. Despite the long list of warnings outside the ride, it’s a pretty tame experience physically. You’re not thrown around or accelerated at breakneck speeds. I understand the 13+ age limit, but the 1.4m height minimum is a little baffling.
It’s not as intense as the ‘horror mazes’ that Thorpe Park have, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train will certainly scare you, and you’ll love it. I honestly wanted to applaud like Shia Labeouf when it was all over. I was transported to the past, and yet into the future, scared to my wits end, and giggling like an idiot, all in a massive warehouse in Staines.
This ride is everything I hoped, and so much more – the UK has a ‘killer’ dark ride once again.
Bravo Derren Brown and Thorpe Park!
As of today (8/7/16) the ride is now out of technical rehearsals and is FULLY open! Amazing news!
FYI – If you want to see some fantastic documentaries about UK Dark Rides, check out these.