Ride Review: Nemesis Inferno
Image credit DailyCoaster via Imgur 2016
Welcome to the start of Ride Review, a weekly series on our brand-new blog where we talk about rides we’ve been on and how we felt about them- for better or worse!
In these articles we’ll be judging each ride by five criteria:
– Queue and facade
– Physical ride experience
– Theming (including audio and atmosphere)
– Operations (reliability, capacity and throughput)
– Suitability (sense of belonging in the area and park as a whole)
Every point will be marked out of ten before an overall average rating will be awarded to determine where the ride sits on our leaderboard. I have a feeling I know what will take the #1 spot after today…
Today, I knew that the perfect ride to start the series was the first big rollercoaster I ever went on- Thorpe Park’s 2003 B&M Invert, Nemesis Inferno. This 4-inversion thriller has become one of the UK’s most popular rides since opening as the follow-up to Alton Towers’ legendary Nemesis. Here’s how we feel it holds up…
Nemesis Inferno was built at Thorpe Park in Staines on the back of the success of Colossus, which had opened a year earlier. The Tussauds group, who were operating the park at the time, said the ride aimed to “transform Thorpe Park into a real thrill park”. It is one of only a handful of inverted steel coasters left in the UK today.
Queue and Facade
Like most rides at Thorpe Park, Nemesis Inferno doesn’t have a traditional facade. Instead, it opts for a simple archway and lets the ride itself do the talking. Visually, it’s a spectacle, winding through the whole area like a steel red ribbon. But the eye-catcher here is a volcano, one of the tallest structures on site, that looms over the queue. Catch it on a good day and it’ll be billowing smoke from every peak, one of the most intimidating structures in any UK theme park. When the mist effects are off, admittedly, it’s not quite as impressive. However, the dense vegetation that surrounds the mountain never fails to set the tone.
The queue itself is mostly straightforward, with a few more cattlepen sections than I’d like- but this is mostly made up for by the immersion in a world of green and brown. While the in-line shop is only open on busy days, that’s no big deal because once you reach it you’re close to the fastrack merger point. After the two lines become one it’s a winding path up the rocky side and into the depths of the volcano. If you feel like extending your wait by at least fifty per cent, you have the option of joining a front-row only queue (personally I’d always recommend the back of the train unless you’re rope-dropping). A weakness is the station, which is relatively bland despite a solid soundtrack. All in all, the experience between joining the queue and reaching the gates is one of the most interesting and visually appealing in the country, but still falls some way short of the truly world-class attractions overseas. 7/10
This is where I feel Nemesis Inferno is somewhat underrated. Yes, it lacks the intensity and near-miss elements of the original Nemesis, but judged independently the thing still packs a punch. The ride starts with a small turn and drop around the corner and through a (usually mist-filled) tunnel before climbing the lift hill. From there, it’s a steep plummet into a vertical loop and you’re off, racing through interlocking corkscrews and dangerously close to algae-brimming water before reaching the break run. It’s a reasonably long ride by UK standards, and never feels like it’s slowing down to take a breath- there’s no mid-course break run and certainly no noticeable loss of pace.
One thing that makes a big difference is the train design. The seats are always comfortable, restraints never too tight and headrests functional. By Merlin standards, it’s a fairly smooth coaster too. Unlike some of the other E-ticket attractions at the park, you don’t come off of Inferno with a headache. Other highlights include the mist in the tunnel, which sets the scene brilliantly, the rush towards the water in the first drop and the views over Thorpe from the top of the lift hill. Arguably my favourite thing about the coaster is the force it exerts- when warmed up it’s one of the most forceful rides around London. 7/10
One thing nobody can accuse this ride of lacking is thematic identity. Nemesis Inferno is dripping with character, perhaps more so than any other non-IP coaster in the park, tying every aspect of the ride nicely together in one bundle. The concept of a queue that takes you up a rocky mountainside and into the heart of an active volcano before the ride spits you out to make your escape adds up to a high quality experience aided by the foliage and rockwork surrounding the area. There are parts of the ride that succeed in placing you in the middle of a dangerous jungle, and parts that leave you very aware that you’re in a very grassy patch of Staines.
However, the soundtrack in the station does a great deal to aid the atmosphere. From the moment you step inside, your ears are greeted with a rolling, tribal sound that only ups the tension for nervous first-time riders and seasoned veterans alike. This is one of the key strengths of Nemesis Inferno- creating an atmosphere that builds you up (literally) to the climax of the first drop. 7/10
At least when compared to other big rollercoasters in the country, I’ve always found the operations of Nemesis Inferno to be extremely impressive. Rarely is it running fewer trains than it needs, and the current operators are probably the quickest in the UK. A train is sent out pretty much every minute, which considering a capacity of 28 riders per train (7 rows of 4) means it eats up the queues. That’s why it’s so staggering that this thing still gets colossal wait times. On a peak day, you’re looking at between seventy and ninety minutes for most of your trip. Even on a quieter morning you may find yourself waiting forty minutes or more to ride.
In terms of reliability, I find that B&M’s seventeen-year-old engineering holds up pretty well in the modern park. It’s one of the most consistently open rides in the lineup and rarely goes down for a significant length of time, but one drawback is that it can struggle with rain- specifically testing times after rain has stopped- which in England is something of an issue. However, on any given trip to Thorpe Park it’s very likely that you will be able to ride Nemesis Inferno without any troubles. As a side note, it also runs brilliantly at night, particularly if that mist is activated beneath the station. 8/10
Nemesis Inferno doesn’t just fit nicely into the Jungle area of the park- it’s the centrepiece. The whole theme of the area revolves around the ride, from the dense forest throughout to the style of the wooden huts that sell fastpass tickets and games. However, the coaster dominates the other attractions in the area (Rumba Rapids, Jungle Escape and Mr Monkey’s Banana Ride), towering over (no, literally over) the pathways frequented by guests heading for the volcano.
It’s also the perfect ride for Thorpe Park’s lineup as a whole. The relative novelty of an inverted coaster is enough to draw younger guests to the ride without being as intimidating as The Swarm or Stealth- which is exactly how it ended up being my first major rollercoaster. It also appeals to enthusiasts too, as far as I can tell; the general consensus in the community is that Nemesis Inferno is one of the better rides at the park. It couldn’t be much better suited for the general audience. 8/10.
Boasting a thrilling ride through a luscious environment but slightly let down by an understated station, Nemesis Inferno has an average score of 7.4/10. Finishing this review now, I can breathe a sigh of relief that our new rating system has calculated what feels like a fair overall result. Is it the best coaster in the UK? No, but you’re likely to have a good ride nonetheless. There’s a reason why few people come to Thorpe Park without giving this popular attraction a go.