Top 5 Thorpe Park Roller Coasters
Photo by Thorpe Park Official
Few parks in Europe have a ‘coaster lineup quite like this one- but not all rides are made equal.
Welcome back to Top 5 Tuesday here on Theme Park Addict, where today we’ll be ranking every roller coaster at the UK’s most thrill-centred theme park. As always, we’re taking into account our 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)
Although there are seven roller coasters at Thorpe Park, it might just go without saying that Flying Fish and The Walking Dead: The Ride didn’t quite make the list. Instead, we’ll be counting down what the park call their “five world class roller coasters” from best to worst. Although none of these rides are bad, they can’t all be the best! And remember: this list is pure opinion and disagreement is encouraged.
I almost can’t believe we’re putting Colossus at the bottom of this list, but when we look at the facts we couldn’t justify placing the 2002 classic Intamin any higher. This ride held the record for most inversions on a ‘coaster for over a decade, boasts some of the best scenery in the park and was Thorpe’s first big attraction. However, for all it does right, it struggles a bit to get over some really important hurdles.
Colossus is certainly a thrilling ride, in one of the most beautiful areas of the park. The twisting queue takes guests under green tracks and into a station building ready to shoot up the lift hill. The first five inversions are a joy; riders are thrown about in the best way possible as they’re pulled under bridges and over pathways. That soundtrack alone is reason enough to love Colossus. On the other hand, many people report it being quite rough on the head and the end of the ride is a bit unimaginative. The feeling I get when I look ahead and see those four consecutive heartline rolls is never one of excitement. As well as that, the ride can summon huge queue times and often runs on one train. While these may be the only major imperfections of Colossus, it’s enough to mean that in the high-quality lineup Thorpe Park has to offer, their first big rollercoaster doesn’t quite live up to the standards of its successors.
4. Saw: The Ride
Like Colossus, Saw: The Ride is also known for being a rough ‘coaster. If you can look past that, though, there’s so much to like here. Opening in March 2009, this Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter offers an experience like no other at the park, thanks largely to an excellent indoor section that plunges riders down a near-vertical drop in pitch black darkness. Everything leading up to that drop, including the gradually intensifying queueline, is painstakingly designed to terrify first-time riders. Even if it doesn’t have the same impact the second time through, it can get far too hot in the summer out there.
Once on the ride and through the first rooms, guests are treated to a heartline roll as they head out of the warehouse. This marks one of the only rides in the world that sneaks in a first inversion before the lift hill, which here is a 100ft vertical affair. Arguably the standout iconic image of Saw is this drop, measuring up at 100°, leaving guests staring at low-hanging blades the cars fly underneath. Unfortunately, the second half of the ‘coaster isn’t as strong as the first; after the first drop is done it falls victim to the old ailment of growing rougher over the years. If, like me, you don’t usually feel too tossed about by these ‘rough’ rides, you’ll love the outdoor section of Saw as it winds around the back garden of the warehouse before bringing you safely to a stop in the station. With that said, after all the build-up, you’re only moving at speed for thirty seconds. Maybe it could have benefitted from just a little something more.
Coming in at the middle of the list is a ride that only suffers from not lasting longer. Stealth is a dream for UK ‘coaster lovers, offering something totally unique from the rest of the country, standing tall as one of just two hypercoasters on the isle at 205ft. It’s not heavily themed, but it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t have an indoor station or a complicated queue-line but it doesn’t need one (although it could be better shaded in summer). There are no gimmicks or cheap tie-ins. Stealth lets the ride do the talking. It talks well indeed.
There’s no need for a scare-raising storyline or dark indoor pre-show because the sight of the structure is intimidating enough. Instead, Stealth focuses on emphasising the pure joy of being launched at 80 miles per hour up a 60-meter hill and back down again. It stands, exposed enticingly, in plain sight of guests from almost anywhere in the park. The feeling of hitting top speed in such a short time is one you don’t get anywhere else in the London area, and the view from the top is spectacular. Add in some wonderful narration, a soundtrack of classic rock and the black-and-white racing flag colours and you have something pretty special. Stealth resists the temptation to lean on horror themes or jump-scares and instead focuses on the thing that rollercoasters are all about: fun.
2. Nemesis Inferno
If you read our Ride Review of this B&M Invert, you’ll know we’re big fans of Nemesis Inferno. Throughout the intensifying build-up of climbing through the jungle and up a steaming volcano, entering a dark station filled with mystical music, boarding your seat and pulling the restraints over your shoulders, you remember every second of this experience.
Once onboard, the way the train crawls out of the building and down the banked turn into a misty tunnel is incredibly satisfying every time. Being hauled up the rust-red lift hill is one of the great pleasures in the whole park, and the ride itself is no disappointment either. It brings riders inches away from swampy water before flinging them high in the air and upside-down on multiple occasions. One thing I’ve noticed about Nemesis Inferno is the way it improves as the day goes on; over time, as the ride warms up, the speed difference is tangible and operations tend to become quicker as well. If you can only fit one ride on Inferno into your day, make it one of your last stops before leaving. That way, you can be sure you’ll come away with a grin on your face.
1. The Swarm
Through process of elimination, you’ve probably guessed that The Swarm is #1 on our list- and while you may not agree, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see this winged ‘coaster top the chart. This apocalyptic adventure is equal parts breathtaking and thrilling. It boasts some of the best theming in the park, tucked away in its own derelict area, with fire blasting from a nearby vehicle and an ambulance siren blaring as it gets dark.
The scale of The Swarm is something to behold, and the feeling of climbing the colossal lift hill only serves to reinforce sheer size. Slowly tilting riders 180 degrees, the B&M picks up pace at an exhilarating rate before launching riders through a destroyed billboard. Other highlights include skimming past the surface of a pond, narrowly missing jagged steel and inverting over the station as the ride completes its circuit. The Swarm offers a beautiful blend of some stunning scenery, a smooth ride, an exciting layout and some great near-misses. It may not be the best ‘coaster in the UK, but we firmly believe it’s the best at Thorpe Park.
Do you agree with our picks? Comment your thoughts below and tell us what your #1 would be. Thanks for reading!