Top 5 UK Dark Rides
Photo taken from Lancs Live
Sometimes a ‘coaster just won’t cut it, and in those times what you need is a good dark ride.
Unfortunately, we live in Britain, which makes a good dark ride hard to come by. Welcome to Top 5 Tuesdays here on Theme Park Addict, where today we’ll be counting down the best the country has to offer. For this list, we’ll be considering any non-rollercoaster indoor ride a ‘dark ride’, and ranking them using our usual 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)
While many of the best dark rides in the UK have disappeared over the years, there’s still plenty of gems scattered across the land. Let’s get into our (slightly shortened) list! And remember: this list is pure opinion and disagreement is encouraged.
5. Haunted House Monster Party
The newest ride on this list, and the first of two Mad Houses, Haunted House Monster Party is Legoland Windor’s first stab at a true dark ride, and they haven’t done a bad job at all. The facade, which looks brilliant from one side and questionable from the other, is the first thing to catch your eye. However, the immediate downside is a bland queue exposed to the sun on Summer days. Once inside, the experience improves immeasurably, with a wonderfully catchy soundtrack. The Mad House effect is genuinely impressive, and an enjoyable pre-show only adds to the ride. While this isn’t the most groundbreaking of rides, there’s something exciting about walking through those heavy double doors and into the darkness.
4. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure
Few rides in the UK have nailed the ‘relaxing river ride’ concept like this one. The Gruffalo takes guests on a charming and visually fantastic path through a dense forest filled with talkative animals. Even adults who’ve never read the story of The Gruffalo can understand exactly what is going on, making the finale- a drop into the famous fountain room- even more enchanting. Like with the previous entry on the list, the strongest point here is the music, with an absolutely perfect array of gentle instruments and sound effects lighting up the path. Whatever age you are, you can leave this one with a smile on your face.
3. Tomb Blaster
There was always going to be a shooting ride on this list, and for me Tomb Blaster is the best in the land. Not only does it boast the best aesthetic, taking guests above the paths through an ancient Egyptian ruin and into a pyramid, but the theming inside is stunning too. Even though it’s far less horror-based than it’s predecessor, the animatronic snakes and corpses housed inside this long ride are still plenty unsettling. As for the ride itself, there’s more than enough to aim at as you’re taken through a vast array of rooms that grow increasingly dangerous and dramatic. It’s one of Chessington’s best kept secrets, but stands tall as one of their best attractions too.
2. Hex- The Legend of the Towers
The second Mad House on the list is quite a bit older than the first, and steeped in history. Hex has stood at Alton Towers for two decades now, entertaining hundreds of thousands of guests. It takes riders through an intricate and detailed story that I won’t spoil here, which takes several rides to fully understand. It has the perfect soundtrack, like all good dark rides must. It gives riders plenty of length for their queuing time, lasting a respectable five minutes. There’s also plenty of pre-show here, building the tension up to the inevitable finale. Very few non-coasters in the country are quite as iconic as this one.
Speaking of iconic rides, we have to move on to our number one pick- the legendary Valhalla. Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s colossal indoor flume ride is almost exactly as old as Hex, but arguably even more infamous. In three different seasons it has been named “best water ride in the world” by the Golden Ticket Awards. It’s so big that it reportedly uses a third of the park’s power supply alone. It even has so much water that they used it to put out a fire on site. This ride has an incredibly rich history, and the mystery of not being able to see what goes on behind the waterfall only enhances the experience. I promise this is the last time I’ll use the word ‘soundtrack’ all day, but Valhalla has an incredible one. I’ve run out of superlatives in this article, so I’ll simply end by saying that this ride earns the title of best dark ride in the UK. Hopefully, when it opens next year after refurbishment, it’ll be even better.
Do you agree with our picks? Comment your thoughts below and tell us what your #1 would be. Thanks for reading!