Almost 10 years on from the opening of The Swarm at Thorpe Park, the Resort now have plans to add what is set to be the UK’s tallest rollercoaster. Likely to open for the 2024 season, the flagship new ride will be located in the area that has historically been Old Town, principally replacing Logger’s Leap following its closure in 2015.
Opening weekend gave the first glimpse of the construction site for Project Exodus, with most of the former Old Town / Canada Creek area closed off behind large construction walls. At the time of writing, the planning application has been submitted to the local council and is pending consideration for approval. Until permission is granted, works cannot start on the site other than demolition of fixtures and fittings throughout the area. Peering through the construction fence reveals some new signage attached to the former Mill Grill building, humorously teasing the departure of the residents of the area. A vibrant new decal has been installed on the service gate next to Burger King – it remains to be seen if this is a teaser of the branding for Project Exodus.
Following the completion of the public consultation, and confirmation that a full Environmental Impact Assessment would not be required for the development, the Resort submitted the full planning application for Project Exodus. The layout remained as per that which was put forward during the consultation phase, although the application documents did 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 confirmed that the rollercoaster will have a maximum speed of 130km/h (80mph), and have c. 143 supports. Although it was stated that the ride will benefit from a bespoke theming concept, there were no specific theming elements shown in the plans. A rollercoaster train was 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. The visual appearance of the train shown seemingly confirms that the ride will be manufactured by Mack Rides. The documents stated that construction is anticipated to commence in late 2022 and last an estimated 16 months, putting the ride on track for a 2024 opening.
Shortly following the commencement of the public consultation, the Resort also submitted a request for a formal Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion to the local authority. An applicant is only required to prepare a full EIA where the respective project is likely to have significant effects on the environment. The purpose of this submission was therefore to seek agreement with the Resort’s assessment that an EIA would not be required. Much of the detail included in the submission reflected what had been disclosed as part of the consultation process. However, there was some additional detail in respect of the lake infilling that this would be required for the purposes of construction and part or all of this infill was likely to be retained permanently to house footings for the new rollercoaster – a plan was provided to identify the likely maximum infill required. Zone of Theoretical Visibility modelling of the proposed rollercoaster was also included, along with specific clarification of the structures that would be demolished.
In December 2021, the Resort commenced a four week public consultation on the proposed new rollercoaster, providing a first look at the prospective development. Concept images released show the ambitious scale of the attraction, which is set to reach a maximum height of 236 feet / 72 metres. The initial plans indicated that the station will be situated on the former Canada Creek Railway station building. The layout of the rollercoaster stretches either side of the lake, and features an outward banked curve out of the station, a steep lift hill, steeper first drop, overbanked turns, inversions, airtime hills, and a splashdown element. Although the Resort stated that they were still in discussions with multiple manufacturers, the style of track depicted and elements featured suggest Mack Rides, Gerstlauer or Intamin as likely choices.