Saturday 23rd March saw Thorpe Park Resort open its gates for the first time in 2019 for the Pre-Season Preview day for Thorpe Park and Merlin Annual Passholders. Attraction Source paid a visit to look at the changes and additions for 2019.
With tickets for the day running out quickly, we were concerned that the Resort would be very busy. Thankfully, crowds were moderate. Let’s take a walk around the park to see what’s new..
The bridge to the Dome has had its audio upgraded, and the rear of the building housing the turnstiles has been repainted.
One of the most substantial changes this year is the removal of the nautical theming which has decked the walls of the Dome for many years. The Resort has not confirmed if this is part of a phased plan of works, or if anything will replace it in the future. Although the previous theming did start to look dated, we feel it looked better than the current plain black walls.
A large projector screen has been installed above the doors leading out to the park, which was displaying a welcome message at the time of our visit.
One of the first things we noticed this season is how clean the park felt. All pathways / midways have received a power wash over the closed season, and it really makes a difference.
Tidal Wave is now sponsored by the drinks brand Oasis, with new murals in progress on the roof of the exit bridge and splash zone flooring. The shortcut bridge across the splash pool has been removed, which is a shame as it offered some nice views of the attraction. The water tower effect which has been dormant for quite a few years may be returning, as the mechanism was showing signs of life!
We initially thought that these drinking fountains were new, but were in fact installed last summer. The original owners of the park offered drinking fountains for guests, but eventually they were removed by the Tussauds Group in favour of guests purchasing water from shops.
Family favourite, Storm in a Teacup has received some exterior painting enhancements over the closed season. It’s nice to see one of the original Thorpe Park attractions still going strong.
Nearby, Stealth has had its airtime hill supports painted a solid navy blue. This is a departure from the vibrant red and chequered pattern seen in the before and after photos below.
Whilst looking at rides that need painting, the track on Nemesis Inferno has been deep cleaned in parts which is a great improvement. However, the once deep maroon colour is looking faded in areas, with patches of paint peeling away in some spots. The nearby queue time board is currently missing and will be replaced.
Rumba Rapids is now running modified boats with a higher backrest, central grab handle and locking entry and exit gates. This is following a trial last season where the boats were tested on both Rumba Rapids, and Congo River Rapids at Alton Towers Resort.
Notable improvements have been made to the Resort’s food and beverage offering this year.
Wilderness Bar & Kitchen has moved in to what was the Sticky Sisters location, and will serve Rollover Hot Dogs in various forms. Wilderness Treats will serve waffles with ice cream and other sweet treats by Wafflemeister.
Elsewhere, new Coca Cola Freestyle stations will open around the park, and interestingly, the machines will require a different type of quencher which utilises a RFID chip on the base. Six Flags and Cedar Fair in the USA use the same quencher, and it is understood that these will be identical. Great news as they leak far less, and are larger than the current Merlin versions. The RFID technology has only been used at Disney and Universal attractions before.
Fin’s Bar & Grill sees a significantly reduced menu which we understand may change again shortly for the main season.
Early preparations are underway for this summer’s events; Jungle Escape, BounceZilla and GameFX.
The theming and signage has been removed from the former I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! building, with large hoardings surrounding the site.
Blue markings have been spray painted on the ground where the BounceZilla attraction will be located.
Nearby, the lake area underneath Colossus’s vertical loop has been infilled to permit easier maintenance inspections. The ride could still benefit from further cleaning and painting.
Also situated in the Lost City, Quantum is still undergoing winter maintenance and was not yet put back together following a strip down.
The Swarm has seen some changes in the station, with further wood removed from the themed roofing structure. New speakers have been installed and the music is playing at a lower volume than before.
We do hope that the church style roof will be replaced, as it looks rather strange now. Compare before and after below.
Returning to the Dome, a nice new park map has been installed which looks far more functional compared to previous years.
Following their success at Fright Nights, roaming actors have joined the park this year, albeit in a much more family friendly role.
We met a group of jungle explorers, as well as a game show presenter and his crew, who are both fun additions to the park. Derren Brown’s Ghost Train has also had its actors return, who occasionally may be seen outside if the attraction becomes temporarily unavailable, as seen here.
Operations throughout the day were generally good. Zodiac, Quantum and Samurai were closed for the entirety of the day. The good weather and moderate sized crowds helped create a great atmosphere around the theme park, something which will hopefully indicate 2019 will be a successful one for Thorpe Park Resort.
Did you visit the Resort for Pre-Season Day? Make sure you share your thoughts over on the Attraction Source Forum.