The 2024 season is now in full swing across the UK’s theme parks, and for Drayton Manor Resort, this means the beginning of what they are billing as the biggest year in the park’s 74-year history. For good reason too, with a reimagining of Shockwave, their signature roller coaster, the revamp of a Thomas Land attraction and, of course, the opening of their new Intamin Lift & Launch coaster and its accompanying land. Though the as-yet-unnamed coaster is yet to open, on 24th March, Frontier Falls officially opened its gates to guests, marking the third new themed area since the park’s acquisition by Looping Group in 2020.

Frontier Falls is a western re-theme of the area towards the back of the park featuring The Haunting, Drunken Barrels, Sheriff’s Showdown, Accelerator and the 4D Cinema. Whilst this is undoubtedly a selection of the park’s strongest attractions, they have always been a little bit of a mishmash, with a haunted vicarage, Bavaria and the Wild West all neighbours. However, in Frontier Falls, they have been brought together with a corresponding theme to form a cohesive land! The whole area has received an extensive exterior re-theme with bright, colourful western facades across the former ice cream parlour making for stunning photo opportunities, particularly in the jail cell at the end of the row! The level of detail across these facades is impressive, with plenty of bullet holes throughout suggesting that the residents of Frontier Falls are not to be messed with!

Perhaps the most significant change within the land – barring the still-under-construction Intamin Lift & Launch coaster – can be found at the very top, where Drunken Barrels has become Blasting Barrels! As the land’s other Intamin attraction, Blasting Barrels has received a stunning exterior makeover, with fantastic hand-painted signage and theming elements all around the building. At the side of the building, broken panels are visible where a barrel has previously blasted its way out of the structure! Inside, the makeover doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the exterior, with the former vast, painted murals simply painted over in white. The barrels on the walls within have all been appropriately themed however, and a new explosion decal has been added to the rear wall. There has also been no replacement for the ride’s former centrepiece, an enormous statue of a Bavarian barmaid. After the very impressive work on the exterior of the attraction, it was a shame to see the interior receive a definite downgrade. Thankfully, the ride experience itself has been improved with the barrels offering the same, intense spin and a new, on-theme, soundtrack playing throughout. Audio had previously been a rarity during the ride towards the end of Drunken Barrell’s tenure.

Next door to Blasting Barrels sits Sheriff’s Showdown, the shooting dark ride that was previously the only attraction in the park themed to the wild west. Despite already being on-theme, Sheriff’s Showdown has also received some attention. Inside the attraction, small additions have been made throughout, with plenty of new figures and animatronics to spot. There have also been improvements to the audio, with plenty of sound effects throughout on our visit! The exterior of the attraction is also looking very fresh and appears to have received a touch up.

Prior to the land’s opening, there were certainly questions about how, one of arguably Drayton Manor’s most iconic attractions, The Haunting, would be reworked to fit the new area. As of the land’s opening, this remains to be seen, as the attraction is currently still running The Haunting: Reclaimed, the overlay first seen during Halloween 2023. This fantastic version of the attraction brings back the original, darker, narrative, removing Dr Ghostman, and the more humorous elements first seen in 2015. Whilst the interior of the attraction has not been altered – after all, ghosts are just as likely to haunt the Wild West – the exterior has received an impressive new archway blending the attraction into the western street

Located adjacent to The Haunting, and containing the ride’s exit, is the former ice cream parlour. This food outlet has had its exterior receive extensive theming to a Saloon, suggesting that perhaps we could see this space repurposed as a bar, or perhaps a themed restaurant, but as of yet, this is unknown. The windows of the unit have been painted white to prevent guests from viewing inside. Meanwhile, inside, very little work has taken place on the interior of the space, and it’s not clear whether any future use for this area could be expected this season.

Rounding out Frontier Falls are Accelerator and Falls Theatre. Like the former ice cream parlour, Accelerator still appears to be mid-way through a possible re-theme, suggesting we may see more work on the attraction later in the season, or perhaps even over the next closed season. Work has taken place to enable the Vekoma family boomerang to fit more into the area however, with the exterior of the ride, and the first section of the queue, receiving a coat of brown paint. However, the remainder of the queue still features its impressive racing theme, with the large theming elements still in situ. The top of the station building still features futuristic antennae, which are somewhat at odds with the wooden panelling added elsewhere.

Falls Theatre however, has received a full makeover inside and out alongside its new film: Looney Tunes 4-D starring Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote. The exterior of the building has received a complete repaint, with new wooden elements completing the Western aesthetic. Inside, the queue and pre-show areas have both received a fresh new look, with the addition of faux beams and barn doors. The queue area also features fun, themed dividers and portraits of the stars of the theatre’s new film: Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner! Inside the theatre, small theming elements have been added, with crates of dynamite stacked around the stage. Looney Tunes 4-D starring Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote is a fun replacement for the previous Thomas and Friends: Bubbling Boilers. The new film makes good use of the theatre’s range of effects, particularly the motion in the seats, with some aggressive movements throughout!

Finally, at the very bottom of the street, the former Toy Shop has received a makeover into Rory’s Souvenirs. This is a welcome nod to the park’s omnipresent mascot, who has, of course, received a new cowboy costume for the occasion! Nearby, the entrance to the land is marked with some beautifully themed signage across crates, barrels and a swinging signpost.

Frontier Falls is a beautiful addition to Drayton Manor and marks the next step in the park’s mission to offer a fully-themed experience. Since the Looping Group’s acquisition, each new area has been more immersive than the last, and with Adventure Cove, Thomas Land, Vikings and Frontier Falls all now branching from the centre of the park, there is very little of the park that remains unthemed. Of course, Frontier Falls is not complete yet, and we cannot wait to see what the remainder of the land has to offer when the new roller coaster opens later this Spring!

Have you visited Frontier Falls, or are you waiting for the new roller coaster? Let us know your thoughts on our social media channels!
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