A Journey Through the 2011 Season
The 2011 Theme Park season has now come to an end, so we thought we would take a look back at some of the biggest news stories from 2011, including both the highs and the lows. Join us, as we take a look back at some of the seasonâs best new rides, attractions & events andÂ look forward to what promises to be a very exciting 2012 season.
Still in the grip of winter, January was quite a quiet month for new park news.
With Alton Towers fans still having to wait a few months for the parks to fully re-open for the new season, the park announced via their Facebook
page that they would be running a special Facebook Check-In deal. Guests would be able to enter the park for free on Friday 18th of FebruaryÂ just for checking in to the park on their mobile device. However, there were also a lot of disappointed Alton Towers fans after it was official confirmed that for the first year in the history of the Theme Park, no new attraction would be added for 2011.
Other news in January included: The announcement that Pleasurewood Hills had be sold to new owners HIG, an American investment firm; manufacturer Intamin released their plans for a 12-inversion coaster, and the news that Lightwater Valley were to remove their Vintage Cars attraction to help make way for their exciting new Skeleton Cove park area.
As we approached the start of the new season February was THE month for construction updates, with lots of pictures appearing online for Lightwater Valleyâs Whirlwind & Skeleton Cove, Drayton Manorâs Ben10 Ultimate Mission, Twinlakesâ Dragon Falls and Thorpe Parkâs Storm Surge.
It was in February that it was officially announced that Thorpe Park would be receiving a new Bolliger & Mabillard coaster for 2012. We now know this coaster will be called THE SWARM and it will be one of B&Mâs new Wing Rider coasters.
But it was not all good news for Thorpe Park fans this month as a news story regarding problems with the construction of their new Storm Surge ride received a lot of media coverage, even being picked up by numerous foreign press websites. The story told of how Thorpe Park had been forced to relocate their new ride after preparation work had disturbed an ancient burial ground on Monks Walk, with workers reportedly spotting a headless Monk haunting the area.
Also in February, Pleasure Beach Blackpool announced that they were to install Q-bot (the Lo-Q virtual queuing system) into the park, Lightwater Valley was named âBest Theme Parkâ in the Yorkshire region by Going Places Magazine and 12 gigantic Japanese Spider Crabs arrived at Alton Towersâ Sharkbait Reef by SEA LIFE attraction.
In other news, we revealed our first annual UKPN price guide, compiling & comparing pricing information for 11 of the UKâs bigger parks, covering everything from gate and online prices to car park charges.
In March it was officially announced that Alton Towers would be installing a new âWorldâs First Rollercoasterâ for the 2013 season, Oakwoodâs Hydro water ride would become Drenched and Cornwallâs Crealy Great Adventure Park revelled plans to become the first solar powered theme park in the UK.
On the 24thof March, Rob Roy Collins escaped from a straight jacket whilst suspended 60 feet in the air from Rita at Alton Towers. He managed this amazing feet in 53 seconds.
Madame Tussauds received criticism from Justin Bieber fans after unveiling their new waxworks of the popular teenager, with some fans disappointed at the lack of similarity between the waxwork and the real Justin.
Thorpe Park had to release an apology to fans after a disastrous Passholder Preview Day on the 13th of March. Most complaints were regarding the lack of organisation on the day with some queues at Food/Drink outlets reaching in excess of 45 minutes! Thorpe Park explained that part of the problem was that the event was far more popular than they had anticipated, with final visiting numbers for the day being four times more than that of the same event the year before. Merlin later changed some of the plans for their Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland preview days that were due to happen in the weeks following.
In April most of the World was enjoying Royal Wedding fever, and Theme Parks up and down the country certainly did not miss out on this great PR opportunity. Drayton Manor offered free entry on the Wedding day to all couples called William and Kate (or Katherine), whilst Alton Towers announced they had manufactured a unique 24-carat gold plated âwedding giftâ train for their roller coaster, TH13TEEN.
On Tuesday 5th April 2011, a minor fire broke out at Thorpe Park on board their Saw Alive horror maze. Fortunately the fire had started in the evening when the park was closed and nobody was harmed. The attraction remained closed for an investigation and repair works, before reopening on the 27th of May.
On 9th April, Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park opened to the public. Peppa Pig World, an exclusive to Paultons Park, features 7 magical rides, attractions and play areas all heavily themed to the very popular childrenâs cartoon series.
April 9th was also a big day for Lightwater Valley as they opened the doors to their new ÂŁ1.2 million âSkeleton Coveâ. With its 5 new family rides, this pirate-themed land has already proven extremely popular with park guests.
From the 11th of April, Chessington World of Adventures celebrated the 21st Birthday of their classic suspended floorless coaster âVampireâ, with special additions added to the Transylvania area of the park. Celebrations lasted until the 1st of May.
On Friday 22nd April, Drayton Manorâs Ben 10: Ultimate Mission rollercoaster opened to the public. Ben 10: Ultimate Mission is a steel Vekoma Junior Boomerang roller coaster and is Europeâs first ever Ben 10 themed roller coaster.
Other news in April: Drayton Manor Theme Park founder, George Bryan, celebrated his 90th Birthday, Alton Towerâs Oblivion received its controversial Fanta sponsorship, and Mack Rides increased the height restrictions on their log flumes and tea cup rides at parks such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.
Unfortunately there was also some sad news this month, with a couple of accidents at parks: In one tragic incident, an 11 year old boy fell to his death whilst using a new zip wire attraction at Snowdoniaâs GreenWood Forest Park and Jay Young, a 22 year old acrobat, was left paralysed from the waist down after an accident during a routine rehearsal at Legoland Windsor.
On the 4th of May, Pleasure Beach Blackpoolâs Nickelodeon Land was officially opened by David Hasselhoff. This new six acre site represented a ÂŁ10 million addition to the park and with 12 themed rides it is the UKâs first Nickelodeon-themed attraction.
May also saw the opening of the London Dungeonâs new attraction Vengeance, the UKâs first 5D laser ride and UK Park News were there at the press event to bring you an exclusive review, before it opened to the public on the 28th of May.
With the help of Shane Richie and the Mayor of Kingston, Chessington World of Adventures unveiled its new African themed restaurant âZafari Bar & Grillâ, at the Holiday Inn Chessington. The restaurant experience allows customers to dine in the close company of Zebras, Ostriches and Oryxes as they roam in the adjacent Wanyama Reserve.
On the 25th/26th of May Southendâs Adventure Island entered the Guinness Book of World Records for a second time in recent years when Laura Bying set a new record for the Longest Dodgem Car Marathon, driving her dodgem for a total of 25 hours. Adventure Islandâs previous World record was set in August 2010 when 102 people became the new world record for the most naked people on a rollercoaster.
Other news in May: Thorpe Parkâs Head Rush event returned to the park for the half term week, a scout group visited Pleasureland Southport in an attempt to recreate THAT classic rollercoaster stunt from 1980âs TV âJimâll Fix Itâ and Alton Towerâs Nemesis was voted the best inverting rollercoaster on Earth in the latest Mitch Hawker poll, after coming 5th overall.
Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo near Tenby, opened its new ride, The Pembrokeshire Wheel on the 1st of June. The Pembrokeshire Wheel stands at 25 metres/82 feet tall. It cost half a million pounds to build, and is the largest permanent ride of its kind in Wales.
On Sunday 19thof June Alton Towers hosted a special live music event called Alton Towers Live, featuring music from popular chart acts JLS, McFly, The Saturdays and Eliza Doolitle.
On Saturday the 25th of June, Chessington World of Adventures Resort hosted a very special âafter hoursâ fund raising event in aid of the Chessington Conservation Fund, which had been founded earlier in the year as part of the Zooâs 80th birthday celebrations.
Other news in June: on the 19th of June Pleasurewood Hills added a 50m high bungee jumping crane to its line up of attractions and Oakwood played host to 50 Belgian roller coaster enthusiasts from the Rollercoaster Friends club whose members had requested a trip to the Welsh park to ride the wooden coaster Megafobia.