A Journey Through the 2011 Season Part 2
In the second part of our exclusive look at the 2011 season we look back at the months of July to December, take a look at some of the exciting new additions opening in 2012 and share some of our personal highs and lows of the past season. If you haven’t yet read Part 1 of our journey through 2011, you can do so here.
The summer season bought with it some new park shows, with Drayton Manor and Oakwood both adding their own high dive shows. Both shows featured teams of performers diving from heights of up to 25m in to pools just 2-3 metres deep.
On the 22ndof July, Drayton Manor teamed up with The Comedy Club to stage an evening of live stand up comedy from three comedians, followed by a disco that lasted until 12.30am. This event was for over 18‚Äôs only.
Brean Leisure Park opened their new Astro Storm rollercoaster on the 25th of July. The ride, which was formerly Space Invader 2 at Pleasure Beach Blackpool was advertised as being ‚ÄúEurope‚Äôs best dark ride rollercoaster‚ÄĚ.
On Friday 29th of July Thorpe Park hosted their first ever under 18‚Äôs event called RELOAD. The event was exclusively for under 18‚Äôs and featured extended ride time and a special club night situated in the Dome with DJ Freddie Smith.
Other news in July: A group of thieves broke into Camelot Theme Park and stole around ¬£1000 in cash from the amusement arcade, Lightwater Valley celebrated the 20th birthday of ‚ÄėThe Ultimate‚Äô the longest roller coaster in Europe and The Black Eyed Peas performed live at Alton Towers on the 6th of July, the popular chart act were supported by LMFAO, Labrinth and Parade.
On the 8th of August, Drayton Manor increased the choice of food available at their park with the opening of ‚ÄėThe Grill Inn‚Äô. Serving dishes created using fresh local produce, the restaurant is open daily from 10am serving lunch and dinner for park visitors and hotel guests as well as local residents and general members of the public.
Also in August the 4-star Drayton Manor Hotel finally opened to the public. With 150 guest rooms including 11 Thomas & Friends themed bedrooms, bars, restaurants, a wedding venue and a conference suite, the hotel is a big step towards making family owned Drayton Manor a resort, rather than just a day trip attraction.
After a summer long competition it was revealed that Nemesis had won Alton Towers ‚ÄėAll Time Greats‚Äô competition. Members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite of the park‚Äôs top five coasters, with Nemesis winning after taking 41% of the total 300,000 votes.
There was more sad news for the UK theme park and fair industry in August following three accidents in the space of eight days. The first incident was at Camelot Theme Park on the 23rd of August, when a 12 year old boy fell from the Excalibur 2 attraction. In the days following the incident the boy was discharged from hospital, with the ride remaining closed pending the outcome of the Health and Safety Executive investigation. On the 28th of August, a 58 year old woman and her 4 year old Granddaughter sustained serious injuries after being thrown from the ‚ÄėRiver Jungle‚Äô Log Flume at Bridlington sea-front fairground. It was reported that the pair were on the drop section of the ride, when they came down there was no water below them and they were thrown from their log. Then on the 30th of August the ‚ÄėSurf Rider‚Äô attraction at Bottons Amusement Park, Skegness, collapsed during operation. Fortunately there were no serious casualties, though many of the riders were treated for shock and minor bruises after being evacuated from the ride. It appeared at the time that the gondola linkage had failed somehow, resulting in the gondola resting in a vertical position. Following incidents such as these the rides would remain closed for investigation by the Health & Safety Executive before re-opening to the public once they had been deemed safe to do so.
Other news in August: Thorpe Park officially announced the name of their 2012 coaster THE SWARM and on-park marketing began near the Sunken Gardens. Oakwood celebrated the 15th anniversary of their iconic wooden coaster Megafobia, as Alton Towers submitted a planning application for their new 2012 attraction another planning application online revealed plans for a Chinese themed park in Rotherham and it was revealed in a survey that only one in 20 people consider theme parks to be value for money.
In September it was revealed that Alton Towers had topped a recent survey carried out by Go Compare. Alton Towers was named the number one theme park amongst those who took part, placing it higher than Thorpe Park, Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Florida.
Pleasure Beach Blackpool was named one of the Top 10 Parks in the World after charting joint 10th place in the category at the Golden Ticket Awards, which was presented by Amusement Today at Holiday World, Indiana.
It was confirmed that the new 172ft observation tower in Weymouth would be opening in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. It is being built by Merlin Entertainments near the Weymouth Pavilion and upon opening will provide 360-degree panoramic views of Weymouth and Portland. The tower is costing approximately ¬£4m to build, with a capacity of up to 70 people at one time.
Other news in September: Thorpe Park revealed the name and theme of their new scare maze ‚ÄėExperiment 10‚Äô, which would be unleashed on the public during the 10th anniversary celebrations of their popular Fright Nights Halloween event. And Doris Smith retired from her career at Drayton Manor after working at the park for an impressive 43 years!
Camelot Theme Park was again targeted by thieves on the 8thof October. This time thieves managed to escape with ¬£4000 worth of goods and then used one of the park‚Äôs converted Milk Floats to flee.
On Friday 10th of October, Drayton Manor welcomed their one-millionth visitor for the season. To celebrate, Surj Lal and his family were treated to an annual pass.
October also meant the start of the very popular Halloween season, with many parks across the country putting in more effort than ever in to their annual scare festivities. And UK Park News was there with exclusive reviews and visits to Thorpe Park‚Äôs Fright Nights, Alton Tower‚Äôs Scarefest, Scare Kingdom Scream Park and Frightwater Valley. We also provided our first annual Halloween Guide, with information about events taking place across the country.
Other news in October: It was confirmed that the Goldmine attraction at Pleasure Beach Blackpool had closed, whilst recent figures filed by the company reported the company had made a loss of ¬£764,000 for the financial year end April 3rd 2011. Construction on Thorpe Park‚Äôs THE SWARM was now well underway with regular photo updates appearing online.
On the 6thof November, Thorpe Park‚Äôs Canada Creek Railway took its last journey after operating at the park for 22 years. Originally providing an alternative method of transport to the Thorpe Farm, the railway had more recently taken guests on a scenic journey around the Canada Creek area, providing usually unseen view of both Saw: The Ride and Loggers Leap, as well as including a ‚ÄėSpot the Bear‚Äô activity for children.
Dreamland Margate were awarded a ¬£3.7 million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This meant that the project of restoring Dreamland, a former Theme Park in Kent, into ‚Äúthe world‚Äôs first Amusement Park of thrilling historic rides‚ÄĚ now had all its funding in place.
It was announced that Jack Osbourne had joined the creative team for Alton Towers‚Äô new 2012 attraction as their ‚ÄėDirector of Fear‚Äô. It was also revealed that Alton Towers would be opening another new attraction for the 2012 season, Ice Age 4D. It will be the park‚Äôs first 4D cinema experience and will be based on the third film in the popular series ‚ÄúIce Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs‚ÄĚ.¬† Stephen and Suzanne Roper‚Äôs ongoing legal battle against Alton Towers was in the press again, after the Ropers appealed to the High Court to re-activate their case.
Other news in November: Lightwater Valley revealed details of their new logo for 2012, Pleasure Beach Blackpool joined several other UK Theme Parks on Google Street View and Merlin Entertainments appointed Paul Moreton as their new Creative Director.
Now that most of the parks in the UK are closed until next Spring many of us fans are now looking forward to the great new attractions that are due to open next year. Here is a very brief look at some of these exciting projects:
Thorpe Park‚Äôs THE SWARM ‚Äď Due to open in March 2012, the track has now been completed and work on the theming for the ride is now in progress. You can follow the construction of this B&M Wing Rider coaster on facebook by ‚Äėliking‚Äô the official ‚ÄėTHE SWARM – Developers Diary‚Äô page.
Alton Towers‚Äô Nemesis: What Lies Beneath ‚Äď Due to open in 2012,¬† it hasn‚Äôt yet been officially confirmed what the ride shall be, but many believe it will feature a series of indoor drop towers with a story based around the Nemesis origin story. It has recently been announced that more information will be revealed at 18.18pm on New Year‚Äôs Eve (31.12.11) on the Nemesis: What Lies Beneath? minisite.
Pleasurewood Hills ‚Äď Pleasurewood Hills have recently teased that their ‚Äú…5th and final new attraction for 2012 has been ordered and is due to arrive at the end of February!‚ÄĚ. One of these five new attractions is suspected to be the 196ft drop tower planned to be installed at the park ready for the 2012 season.
Paultons Park ‚Äď Paultons Park have recently hinted to the theme of their new attraction for 2012 by unveiling the www.theresnosmokewithoutfire.com website and adding a new piece of artwork that suggests the name for the new attraction may be Magma.¬† Very little information about this addition is known so far, but keep an eye on our website for more details once they have been released.
The UK Park News Team‚Äôs 2011 Highlights:
Highs: Personally it has to be our brilliant weekend at Frightwater Valley. Getting to act in their Scare Maze, Dracula’s Labyrinth, as well as seeing how it all works behind the scenes was just great! Also Peppa Pig World – the place is just amazing.
Lows: Now I don’t intend to unnecessarily insult a Theme Park, however, I’m being honest when I say that I was rather disappointed with Pleasure Beach Blackpool, after my first visit a few months back (I know this’ll probably cause some controversy!).
Highs: On a personal level I was finally introduced to many of Thorpe Park’s scary looking thrill rides this season, it only took me almost 11 seasons to try out Detonator!
Lows: It was truly sad to see Canada Creek Railway leave Thorpe Park after its many years at the park, yet another classic Thorpe Park family attraction has now left “The nation’s Thrill Capital”.
High: My personal high has to be the fantastic weekend the UKPN team had at this year’s Frightwater Valley event. Bigger and better than ever; we can’t wait for 2012.
Low: This has to be the shambles that was the Annual Pass Holder event at Thorpe which was combined with the launch of Storm Surge. A disorganised event which left hundreds of disgruntled guests feeling short changed