Thorpe Park Resort have submitted the full application for Project Exodus, which will see the installation of a rollercoaster along with associated buildings and structures in the Old Town area of the theme park.
The application formalises the Resort’s aspirations, as revealed during the public consultation in December, to build the UK’s tallest rollercoaster, with the proposed ride set to have a maximum height of 72m. The layout remains as per that which was put forward during the consultation phase, although the application documents do state that the rollercoaster will feature two inversions at heights of 43m and 50m, as well as another high point of 48m. Details contained in these latest documents also confirm that the rollercoaster will have a maximum speed of 130km/h (80mph), and have c. 143 supports. At the consultation phase, it was noted that the logistics of a splashdown element were still being worked through, and, while these latest documents do not confirm the arrangements for this, it does appear as though some sort of trough may be outlined on some of the plans. Whilst no specific track colour is given, it is confirmed that the track which extends above the tree line will be finished in a lighter colour to blend in with the sky and reduce its visibility, as per the approach taken with Stealth. Although it is stated that the ride will benefit from a bespoke theming concept, there are no specific theming elements shown in the plans, with it instead said that the ride itself and its positioning over the lake will be the main theming feature. Approximately 2,335sq.m of the Abbey Lake inlet will be temporarily infilled to facilitate construction of the rollercoaster, but much of this will then be excavated on completion to reinstate the lake edge and include new reed beds with a total area of 4,761sqm (i.e. a net reduction of 657sqm from the existing lake inlet).
The ride is shown to have a queue line, mostly in the form of a cattlepen, which will have a timber fence and a timber-clad food and drink kiosk located along its route. There will also be a second queue line for Fastrack, along with disabled access via a third queue, with a lift up to the station platform. The ride’s station is located on the south-western edge of the site, and will be 16.9m in length, 2.8m wide and 9.4m in height. No theming details are apparent from the plans, with the external walls set to be clad with natural timber panels. Guests will climb up stairs to enter the station and board the ride on the north-east side, and then exit on the opposite side. A rollercoaster train is shown on the plans for the station, confirming that it will have 10 rows, each seating two riders and so giving each train a capacity of 20 riders. Based on the length of the maintenance building and the fact that there is no mid-course break run, it is expected that the ride will run with two trains. The visual appearance of the train shown seemingly confirms that the ride will be manufactured by Mack Rides, featuring the same train design as seen on Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
After exiting the ride, guests will be able to watch others having their turn from a ‘splash plaza’ area. Although there will be surfaced areas on both sides of the lake, these are noted as being maintenance roads, so are not expected to be accessible to guests. To exit back into the theme park, guests will then be directed into a photo collection point and retail outlet, which will see an existing building in the area extended with the addition of the photo shop, which will be 8m in length, 5m wide and 4.4m tall. This extension will close off the northern entrance to the area, with the plaza at the front of the ride due to be accessible from an expanded entrance-way to the west.
The ride’s maintenance building, located behind the retained Burger King building, will be 34.6m in length, 4.85m wide and 7.6m tall, and raised above ground on stilts for flood mitigation purposes. Like other buildings, its external walls are noted to be finished with natural timber cladding panels.
To facilitate the proposed development all of the remaining hardware and infrastructure of Logger’s Leap will be removed, with the project site having been slightly expanded since December to reflect that the former ride’s trough will be removed along all parts of its route. The Diana Memorial which was previously located in front of Logger’s Leap has been relocated to the Sunken Gardens north of Stealth. With respect to Old Town’s family attractions, it is believed that Timber Tug Boat will be relocated to Chessington World of Adventures Resort, following the recent submission of proposals to add two attractions to the Pirate’s Cove area, while Lumber Jump will be relocated to Amity Cove and become High Striker for the 2022 season onwards. However, after 33 seasons of operation at the park, it is understood that Rocky Express has reached the end of its lifespan and will be permanently removed.
The application also provides an insight into the design and development process to get the attraction to this point. An initial conceptual layout for the ride had the track extend further out towards the east, following a more out-and-back route more akin to a Bolliger and Mabillard hyper coaster design. Furthermore, there would have been a turnaround above the former site of Slammer, with it appearing that the demolition of the former ride would have formed part of Project Exodus’ application. However, after environmental considerations were discussed, it was agreed that the canyon area to the East should be retained as an ecological buffer to reduce sound and visual impact from outside the park. In addition, it was agreed that the ride should be condensed to retain the current food and beverage building and its surroundings in order to reduce waste.
The submission of the finalised planning application follow the public consultation held in December of last year, where it is noted that 1,787 responses were received overall of which 97% support the proposed new ride in the planned location. Of responses received from local residents, it is stated that 86% were supportive. This was therefore interpreted as indicating strong support for the proposals. Queries raised included the impact on Heathrow flight path, with it noted in response that the ride is not expected to pose a significant obstacle to passing aircraft, but that the Resort continues to liaise with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure any risk appropriately mitigated. There were also requests regarding further details surrounding height, potential visual impact, the impact on Monk’s Walk and the ride’s visual appearance (i.e. colour and theming).
With the proposed development cited as being key to helping the Resort recover from the impact of COVID-19, it is said that it is expected to generate 185,000 additional visitors compared to the 2021 baseline position. This would result in estimated indirect and induced expenditure from the proposed development of £5.1m each year, with the Resort as a whole generating £17.5m.
The documents state that, if the application is approved, construction is anticipated to commence in late 2022 and last an estimated 16 months, putting the ride on track for a 2024 opening. The Resort has reviewed the condition of the fencing along Monks Walk following comments received at the public consultation, and, as part of the proposed development, is exploring options for improving the fencing to maintain security and safety for those who might want to view construction progress from Monks Walk.
Are you looking forward to following the construction of a new rollercoaster at Thorpe Park Resort, and experiencing it when it hopefully opens in 2024? Let us know your thoughts via the Attraction Source social media channels.