Hyperia, the UK’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, has officially opened at Thorpe Park! Attraction Source were fortunate to be invited to the VIP Launch Event on the evening of Thursday 23rd May, ahead of attending the public opening day on Friday 24th May.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Hyperia is currently closed with Thorpe Park stating that they cannot commit to re-opening Hyperia before Saturday 8th June. Nonetheless, we still wanted to publish our article to celebrate the record-breaking roller coaster in anticipation of it reopening soon.

Thursday’s launch event got underway at around 5pm, with us first making our way to the area between Zodiac and the lake where there were the opportunity for photos, as well as number of food vans. Guests were then directed along the golden carpet to the main party area, which featured a bar and music provided by Arch Nemesis. A range of roaming entertainment could also be found across these areas, all keeping guests occupied ahead of Hyperia opening for the evening.

Shortly after 6pm we were led by a dance crew from outside SAW – The Ride to Fearless Valley, with a stage in place at the far end of the plaza area. The opening ceremony began with a dance routine telling the legend of Hyperia, which was followed by speeches from both Neil Poulter, Divisional Director for Thorpe Park, and Scott O’Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments. Finally, following a 10 second countdown, Neil and Scott struck the golden anvil to officially declare Hyperia opening for the evening’s guests, with golden confetti, smoke and fire erupting as a train soared overhead! This made for a truly epic and momentous opening ceremony that captured the triumphance of Hyperia.

Neil and Scott rode in the front row on the first train of the launch event, with others on this train including representatives from Mack Rides, the roller coaster manufacturer. Also in attendance was John Burton, Senior Creative Lead for Merlin Magic Making, who has headed up the project’s creative team.

Guests enter the queue line for Hyperia at the base of its 236ft lift hill, beneath a large archway that’s adorned with the iconic golden wings and the roller coaster’s name. There is also a test seat available next to the entrance portal, together with ride information and restrictions. Notably, Hyperia has a 1.3m minimum height restriction, the lowest of Thorpe Park’s major coasters! Alongside the main queue line, Hyperia also has lines for Ride Access Pass, Fastrack and Single Riders.

The main feature of the queue line is Hyperia itself, with guests queuing beneath the lift hill, non-inverting Immelmann and exit from the dive stall. However, there is also signage which each tell a different chapter of Hyperia’s backstory as guests progress through the queue line. There are also screens which display the video version of Hyperia’s story, along with boarding information and a look back at the coaster’s construction. The path of most of the queue is lined by relatively low, gold, metal fencing apart from around the perimeter of the ride area, where a much higher fence is used which also incorporates lighting fixtures. There is some very soft landscaping found in the vicinity of the queue and wider plaza area, consisting of wood chippings, the planting of young shrubs and trees, and the addition of some rocks. It did appear as though there may be some final finishing to be done, with sections of exposed pipework in places.

The first sections of the queue line have a cattle-pen layout, with the Fearless Fuel kiosk at the approximate halfway point – as well as serving the queue, this also has a window on the plaza-facing side. After this, guests are directed towards Hyperia’s maintenance building, which has signage encouraging guests to ‘Find Your Fearless’. This part of the queue also runs alongside the first turn out of the station, before ascending the lift hill, making it a great spot for interaction between riders and queuing guests. The final section of the queue takes guests back beneath the coaster, to a merge point just ahead of the stairs up into the station – as this section is underneath the ride, there is overhead safety netting throughout, so this does make for a somewhat more enclosed area, when combined with the high perimeter fencing.

The exterior of the station building is relatively simple, with this adorned with gold panelling and Hyperia’s wings. This simplicity carries over into the interior, which is predominantly black but with golden features such as wings on either side and imagery depicting mythical flying creatures. Signage on the interior wall above the doorway through which guests enter the station, denotes them as ‘The Fearful’. In the far corner on the side on which guests enter the station is an elevated area upon which sits Hyperia’s forge, featuring an anvil and what looks to be parts of her wings. A golden pipe leads from this to a template to be used for forging a pair of wings above the point from which the train exits the station upon dispatch. Guests are batched into one of the 10 rows, as indicated by numbered arrows which hang overhead. When it is time to ride, the black airgates open allowing guests to cross over and place any baggage into the shelves on the far walls. These are of the same designed featured on other Mack Rides coasters, with a panel automatically flipping when a train is dispatched so that guests only have access to the baggage of those on the same train.

There are two trains which have a golden-gilded design, each with 10 rows of two seats, allowing up to 20 guests to ride on-board. The seats feature Mack’s lapbar restraints, which provides a significant amount of freedom during the ride, whilst still being very comfortable. Once guests are in the seats and the usual restraint checks have been completed, a voiceover announces “Restraints locked. Wings forged. It’s time to Find Your Fearless.” as the train is dispatched from the station. This coincides with a swell in the audio, coupled with synchronised lighting above, in-front and below the train, as well as smoke effects from beneath the track.

The train immediately enters the first coaster’s first element, being an outer-banked turn which now gives guests their own opportunity to wave to those still queuing. The train then smoothly engages with the lift hill, which then accelerates to its full, relatively speedy pace that sees the train reach the top in around 30 seconds. Off-ride speakers positioned around the first turn and up the lift hill provide audio to add to guests’ anticipation all the way up to the reaching the first drop. As well as providing riders with views across Thorpe Park, Hyperia’s record-breaking height also means there are views much further beyond the park’s boundaries including of London.

As the train crests the lift hill, gravity takes over and guests plummet down what is effectively a vertical drop, twisting to the left as they do so and getting a significant amount of airtime in the process, especially when seated towards the back of the train. Reaching a maximum speed of 81mph, the train then ascends into a non-inverting immelmann with further airtime achieved at the top of this, before accelerating back towards the ground where the on-ride photo is taken. The track then rises up into a unique outer-banked turn which provides more airtime/hangtime, with the train then descending into an inversion. The second and final inversion then follows, being a stall dive that sees guests hung upside down for an extended period of time – enough to look straight down at those below. This exits directly into a simulated splashdown, with the train followed by a series of water jets along this section of track which also features brake fins that start to slow the train down. Nonetheless, it still takes the outer-banked hill with enough speed to generate a good amount of airtime, along with the final airtime hill into the brake run. Magnetic brakes comfortably slow the train down, allowing it to then crawl towards the station. From cresting the lift hill to hitting the brakes, the ride experience is around 40 seconds.

Upon re-entering the station, another sequence of sound and lighting is triggered, celebrating that the returning guests have found their fearless, as well as adding to the anticipation of the next riders. After collecting their baggage, guests exit through a doorway where overhead signage now brands them ‘The Fearless’.

The viewing area along the exit path shown on the original plans and concept images has sadly not been implemented, although it is nonetheless still possible to view the ride through the fencing and overhead netting. The path leads to what is a newly constructed building, inside which is located the on-ride photo collection point and retail store. The former is named the ‘Fearless Gallery’ and features screens on both sides displaying guests’ photos. This then leads into Hyporium, where there is a variety of merchandise on sale. This includes a number of different clothing lines, along with pin badges, bottles, bags, keyrings and notepads. On the building’s exterior, opposite the entrance to Hyperia, is a Refresh & Refill station that has two Coca Cola Freestyle machines and a vending machine dispensing Hyperia quenchers. This serves a Hyperia themed drink called Citrus Courage, which is a combination of Sprite Vanilla and Fanta Orange.

For the launch event, additional spotlights were installed beneath the brake run making for some unique photos as well as adding to the experience of riding Hyperia in the dark!

Also found within the Hyperia plaza area is Cloud Nine Treats. This unit serves a selection of sweet items including ice creams, waffles and chocolate-covered snacks. It is a shame not to see Hyperia themed items like those served at Coach House Confectionary at Alton Towers.

Despite being a Friday, opening day itself still brought large crowds to Thorpe Park, with many people excited to be amongst the first public guests to ride Hyperia. With these being pre-empted by the park, a system of holding areas was implemented. The first was outside of the front entrance, to one side of the security checkpoint. Once guests were let into the park, the queue line was directed across the bridge and to the left hand side of the Dome, through Lost City and into the next holding area located on the walkway next to Colossus. The queue then continued past SAW and Samurai, until reaching Fearless Valley. This was also the final toilet break opportunity, with staff operating a ticket system to allow groups of guests to collectively leave and then return to the queue. After making their way down the right-hand side of the plaza, guests then entered Hyperia’s main queue line, which holds a queue of approximately 90 minutes. Overall, the queue was well-managed by Thorpe Park. Having arrived at the park at around 7am, we rode Hyperia shortly before 1pm hence queuing just under 6 hours, although with the ride opening at 10am this represented a ‘true’ queue time of about 3 hours. There were some short periods of downtime throughout the day, but these appeared to be resolved relatively quickly with the ride reopening after cycling a few empty trains.

An opening ceremony similar to that for the launch event was held shortly before 10am, with Neil Poulter being joined by John Burton for speeches and then the striking of the golden anvil. Additionally, two planes trailing yellow and white smoke flew overhead, providing a spectacle that could be seen by all queuing guests, even if not in the vicinity of the plaza. Club 236 winners then took their places on the first public trains. As an extra touch, all guests who rode Hyperia on its opening day received a certificate to celebrate becoming “Officially Fearless”. With guests both on and off-ride cheering and applauding, there was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the day, which was also helped by some glorious weather!

The opening of Hyperia brings to an end a two and a half year period since it was first revealed as Project Exodus via a public consultation in December 2021. The submission of the full planning application followed in March 2022 and, after a protracted planning process, it finally received approval in November 2022. This then enabled demolition of Logger’s Leap and the wider Old Town area to be demolished over the remainder of the 2022/23 closed season. Groundwork was completed over the course of 2023, and then October 2023 saw the name revealed at the Fright Nights preview event, followed by vertical construction commencing on-site shortly there after. Construction continued over the remainder of 2023 and into the first few months of 2024, with Hyperia’s lift hill topped off at the start of March 2024, completing the layout. The final pre-opening milestone came with the first test run on 16th April 2024, with the continued test runs over the last month building anticipation in the lead up to opening day.

Hyperia is undoubtedly a very strong roller coaster, with many people placing it amongst their top coasters worldwide. It is unlike any other UK coaster, combining a series of incredible and unique elements that do not see it let up until reaching the brake run. Whilst its height would have clearly enabled the layout to be longer if desired, the ride experience does not leave you feeling short-changed. It is also refreshing to have in Hyperia a new UK coaster that is pitched as being exhilarating rather than intimidating, despite its record-breaking size. In summary, with Hyperia, Thorpe Park have brought to the UK theme park industry a roller coaster that can truly hold its own amongst modern day, world-class coasters found across the globe.

The fact that Hyperia has had to remain closed from Saturday 25th May due to unforeseen circumstances, will no doubt be incredibly disappointing for Thorpe Park. Nonetheless, we know that the day will come when we will all be able to find our fearless once again.

Did you visit on opening day to experience Hyperia? Or perhaps you have a trip planned soon to find your fearless? Be sure to let us know via our social media channels!

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