On Thursday 9th December 2021, Thorpe Park Resort held an in-person public consultation on a proposed new roller coaster that will be located in the Old Town area of the theme park.
The in-person consultation was the first stage of the planning process timeline, taking into account feedback from local residents, which was followed by a virtual presentation event on Monday 13th December that was hosted online and available to all. From Friday 10th December, a consultation website containing the relevant information from both consultation formats was published. Present at the in-person consultation were staff from Thorpe Park Resort (including General Manager Neil Poulter), Merlin Magic Making, and a contact from Lichfields, the planning consultants working with the company on the project.
Named Project Exodus, and planned to be located in the Old Town area of the theme park, the proposed attraction will reach a maximum height of 236 feet / 72 metres, which will make it the tallest roller coaster in the UK, taking the record from The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. A bird’s-eye view plan and initial concept visuals were included in the presentation, and made available as part of the virtual consultation and published on the website.
Although not clear exactly what type of steel roller coaster was depicted in the images, it was stated that Thorpe Park Resort are still in negotiations with different manufacturers on who will build the ride. From the plans, we noted that the station will be situated on the former Canada Creek Railway station building, with a maintenance area directly north of this, adjacent to Burger King. The layout of the roller coaster stretches either side of the lake, and features an outward banked curve out of the station (similar to the element on Untamed at Walibi Holland), a steep lift hill, steeper first drop, overbanked turns, inversions, airtime hills, and a splashdown element. It is important to note that, at this stage, Thorpe Park Resort clarified that the proposed design may change significantly throughout the planning process, with the layout to be finalised in early 2022. This will then be submitted formally as part of the planning application to Runnymede Borough Council.
The images show the ride in silver and black, however the colour scheme is yet to be decided. Due to the attraction being the highest structure in the theme park, it will adopt a fading colour scheme already seen on Stealth, which will blend the ride in with the sky, ensuring a more subtle appearance is maintained from outside the Resort. A new plaza and viewing area will be created next to the former Logger’s Leap station, which will provide fantastic views for non-riders of the attraction.
Although many trees will be removed to build the new ride, a management plan has commenced that will ensure that any older, more ecologically important flora and fauna will be maintained, and a new tree planting scheme introduced to replace those removed during construction. The site has been classified as generally low ecological interest already. Noise surveys have been carried out from strategic points around the local area, and the planners don’t believe that the new roller coaster will create any additional noise in comparison to the general levels already created from the theme park. Noise and environmental concerns will be a continued focus of the planning application, and Thorpe Park Resort are keen to be ‘good neighbours’ to local residents. With the ride tucked in the corner of the Resort between the M3 and A320, it will be most strikingly visible from the motorway, and look more subtle from viewpoints such as the River Thames and Thorpe Village, blending into the existing skyline of the theme park.
Trailers, the new for 2021 scare maze at this year’s Fright Nights, featured the name ‘X:\O-DUS’ on one of the posters in the attraction, so it will be interesting to see if the other Easter Eggs featured in the maze come to fruition, especially the inscription of ‘RMC’, the famed US coaster manufacturer. The layout of the ride looks more like an attraction that Rocky Mountain Construction would build, opposed to a design from other manufacturers like Bolliger & Mabillard and Mack Rides. However, about that splashdown…
The economic benefits of continued investment were discussed, and the speakers recognised that attendance at the theme park has dwindled since the early 2010’s, whilst acknowledging that the potential competition from The London Resort could be a threat to business. With a complete drought of substantial new attractions for a number of years, we are pleased that Merlin Entertainments have finally recognised that Thorpe Park Resort must invest in exciting new attractions and experiences to keep visitors returning year after year.
The proposals revealed today could put the development on course for a 2023 or 2024 opening, with a full planning application expected to be submitted in spring 2022 for approval by summer 2022, allowing construction to start later in the year. If ultimately approved, this would make it the first rollercoaster to open at the Resort since The Swarm in 2012.
Has the initial consultation got you excited for the future of Thorpe Park Resort? Make sure you share your thoughts over on the Attraction Source Forum, and stay tuned for ongoing coverage of the project, with plenty of construction updates in the run up to opening day.