Originally opening at Thorpe Park in 2016, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train was an ambitious dark ride that combined live action, psychological manipulation, virtual-reality and practical effects. Located in Thorpe Junction, the attraction maintained an eerie atmosphere initially, becoming more terrifying as the experience progressed. In 2017, the experience became deeper, darker and more intense – becoming Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon.

Credit: Paul Hurst


A mysterious new development commenced in 2015, with the construction of a new dark ride.



An application submitted in October 2014 revealed Thorpe Park were developing a dark ride for 2016.

The Attraction

Located at the heart of the Island in a disused Victorian warehouse, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train took guests on a multi-sensory journey which would de-rail their minds and leave them questioning where their perception ends and reality begins. Masterminded by psychological magician Derren Brown, the attraction took over three years of development and involved a team of over 1000 specialists to make Derren Brown’s vision a reality using ‘cutting edge technology’ at the time, including HTC Vive Virtual Reality systems, and filming using Nokia Ozo cameras.

As guests approached the attraction they would pass through a feature sign leading to a partially covered queue area. Here guests would enter the themed queue line which was split into main, fastrack and disabled queues. The queue line featured two photo points, one of which was themed as an ‘infection check point’ giving the first hint as to the storyline of the attraction. Once guests reached the front of the queue they were batched into one of two holding areas. Upon entering the main building, guests were presented with a short pre-show featuring a projection of Derren Brown himself, before being directed towards the boarding area. On entering the main warehouse section of the attraction building, guests were greeted by a seven tonne Victorian train carriage suspended in mid-air by Iron Chains giving the first indication of the journey which lies ahead. Guests then proceeded to the ride vehicle over the first of two metal bridges, with each train capable of holding up to 58 guests. The ride experience featured a mix of live action sequences, grand-scale illusions, 4D special effects, and virtual reality technology with guests playing a major part in the action to fully immerse them in the experience as they discover the consequences of Sub Core Energy’s programme of drilling into the Earth’s core. No two rides on board Derren Brown’s Ghost Train were the same with a range of journeys featuring different characters and, as of the 2017 season, an additional surprise at the end of the experience.

Key Facts

  • Opened: 8th July 2016
  • Closed: 31st October 2022
  • Duration: 10-15 minutes
  • Capacity: 58 Seats per train
  • Ride Type: Multi-Sensory Ghost Train featuring a mix of physical transit, live action, grand illusion, 4D and virtual reality
  • Designers: Derren Brown and Merlin Magic Making
  • Creators of Digital Content: Figment Productions
  • Manufacturers of Ride System: Intamin and Severn Lamb
  • Ride Area: Purpose built warehouse occupying 2306 square metres
  • Minimum Height: 1.4 metres
  • Age Recommendation: 13+

Official Images


Derren Brown’s Ghost Train was located on the site of the former Arena and Carousel. Over the years, the Arena hosted a wide range of shows from Spiderman to a variety of stunt shows. In 2006, the Arena was used as a temporary home for a succession of Fright Nights attractions, including Se7en, Experiment 10 and My Bloody Valentine.

In October 2014, plans were submitted for a “first of its kind indoor fully themed attraction’ located on the site of the former Arena and adjacent to X, Nemesis Inferno and Amity Boardwalk. Codenamed “Project Whitechapel” or “WC16” for short, plans detailed a purpose built building with a “warehouse themed appearance”, along with an entrance plaza and feature theming element. Inside the building, a distinct ride area was shown with a baggage hold and loading and unloading platform indicating guests would board a ride vehicle of some kind. The plans were approved the following January, paving the way for construction to begin later on in 2015.

The initial signs of construction appeared in spring 2015 and the first foundations for the main building being laid in May. Construction progressed swiftly with the skeleton of the building being erected in August and much of the exterior walls being completed by the end of the main 2015 season.

Work continued to progress throughout the closed season with both Thorpe Park and Derren Brown releasing periodic teasers relating to the attraction’s theme until, on Monday 18th January, the Island’s “dark secret” was finally revealed.

With the theme park opening for the 2016 season in March, there was plenty of opportunity to see the progress made over the closed season and observe the final stages of preparations to the attraction in the build up to the grand opening, which was announced as May 6th 2016. Throughout March and April, a range of theming details were added to the exterior of the attraction giving further subtle hints to the theme of the ride. On Friday 26th March, the Ghost Train Shop opened at what would become the exit to the attraction. In-keeping with the overall theme of the experience, the shop included a number of features where all was not as it seemed, including a rotating wall and a fortune telling machine, and offered a range of merchandise from typical t-shirts, hoodies, and pens, to more unique items such as artwork and a levitating train.

However, despite the apparently good progress being made on the attraction, on Wednesday April 27th, less than 10 days before the previously announced opening date of Friday 6th May, Thorpe Park announced that they were delaying the opening of the attraction. No new opening date was confirmed with the announcement of the delay, with the park instead telling people to keep their eyes on social media and the official website for an announcement of the new opening date, and any references to 6th May being replaced with ‘Arriving May 2016 – date coming soon’.

As May progressed, the final touches were made to the exterior of the attraction, with queue time boards being installed at the ride entrance, additional signage added to the main, fastrack and disabled queues, and the temporary hoarding being replaced with permanent fences around the outside boundaries of the building. Inside the Ghost Train Shop, the ride photos were tested in seeming preparation for the opening of the attraction. The park also released the official television advert which advertised the attraction as ‘coming end of May’ raising hopes that it would not be long until Derren Brown’s Ghost Train finally took its first passengers. Despite the apparent good progress, on Tuesday 24th May the park released another statement on their social media channels stating that once again the attraction would be delayed and this time not giving any clue as to when the ride would open.

On Saturday 18th June, the park held the first of a number of limited previews, with Shark Hotel and other invited guests being some of the first to experience Derren Brown’s Ghost Train. These previews were the first opportunities that members of the public had had to experience the attraction, however, anyone who experienced it during these previews had to sign a non-disclosure agreement which prevented them from divulging any of the secrets of the ride.

Following the limited previews, and without warning, on Friday 1st July the attraction entered ‘Technical Rehearsals’, offering the general public their first opportunity to discover what lay inside Thorpe Junction. The rehearsals saw the attraction opening around lunchtime each day, however the ride was subject to several periods of downtime due to technical delays, something which was only to be expected, being in rehearsal phase. Only a limited number of the available scenarios were activated during this rehearsal period with only one ending active, and a number of other characters kept under wraps. Despite this, reactions to the attraction were generally positive from those who experienced it.

The ride finally officially opened on Friday 8th July 2016 with no prior announcement from the park that the attraction was moving from technical rehearsal to official opening. Queues over the official opening weekend peaked at 200 minutes with the park having to set up a temporary extension queue. Derren Brown never attended any of the previews or the opening day which was disappointing.

Following the official opening, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train had a mixed first half season with it being affected by several periods of downtime and the ride frequently opening between one to two hours after the main theme park opened at 10am each day. Thorpe Park planned a one off Summer Nights event at the start of August for annual pass holders to celebrate the newest addition to the theme park, however technical issues struck the ride once again resulting in it failing to open for the event.

Despite initially advertising in press releases that Derren Brown’s Ghost Train would have twelve possible journeys and two different endings, only a small selection of these were activated including just one of the two endings.

At the start of October 2016, Thorpe Park started advertising a ‘new terrifying destination for 2017’ on posters around the theme park. Many speculated that this would be the addition of the second ending which was initially supposed to be active when the attraction opened, however the park were keeping any further details about the new destination top secret.

On 19th October 2016, Thorpe Park submitted plans for an extension to the building. Described as comprising of ‘an enclosed shop and open roofed lobby space’, the extension would also see a new set of solid timer doors and a themed window installed. Whilst the plans didn’t indicate what would happen to the existing shop, they did state that the changes would ‘enhance the visitor experience’ suggesting that there could potentially be alterations to the existing interior layout, something which would point to an additional element of the attraction.

It would be on 17th January 2017 that the park would confirm the new name for the attraction, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon, promising that the experience would be ‘deeper, darker, and more intense’ than before, however exact details of the changes were kept a closely guarded secret.

Further details regarding the new version of the attraction were revealed on 9th March 2017, including confirmation that the experience would include a deleted scene not previously signed off due to fears guests would find it too intense. A few days later, the park would confirm the official opening date as 31st March 2017.

Following rumours that significant changes would be coming to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon for the 2023 season, on 1st February 2023 Thorpe Park confirmed the end of the Derren Brown IP and removal of the virtual reality element of the attraction. In the replacement experience, with the name simplified to be called Ghost Train, they announced that guests will “depart the mortal world on a one-way ticket beyond the veil into darkness, with the warning to watch their tracks, as death is always one stop ahead.”​​ “The next generation of Ghost Train will take guests on a harrowing ride into the realms beneath the park to where the supernatural believers call home.” The experience was to have an entirely new storyline and incorporate new special effects. While the VR element was be removed, live actors would remain part of the experience. Ghost Train officially opened on 26th May 2023.



Throughout the summer of 2015, Thorpe Park teased various elements of the new attraction with a marketing campaign combining social media, posters around the theme park, and a dedicated website – MindsWanted.co.uk, revealing a series of clues for people to solve and win the chance to be amongst the first to experience the new attraction when the ride opens in Spring 2016.

During Fright Nights 2015, a number of subtle hints were placed within The Big Top scare maze, along with further clues on social media, all of which offered pointers towards the involvement of Derren Brown. His involvement would finally be revealed at the end of October after a series of teaser posts across the park’s social media channels.

In the months following the announcement of Derren Brown’s involvement with the project, Thorpe Park continued to gradually unveil further clues on MindsWanted.co.uk, each offering a hint towards the theme of the attraction. On Monday 18th January 2016, Thorpe Park and Derren Brown finally revealed the secret they’d been teasing since summer 2015 with the announcement that the new attraction would be named “Derren Brown’s Ghost Train” and feature, amongst other elements, a carriage suspended by iron chains, and the use of HTC Virtual Reality technology in a 21st Century reinvention of the classic ride. The precise details of the experience were still kept under wraps with Derren Brown wishing the attraction to remain a secret so that those yet to board the Ghost Train can experience it at its full potential.

On 18th April 2016, Thorpe Park and Derren Brown unleashed a terrifying demon on the public as the theme park stepped up its marketing campaign in advance of the opening of the new attraction the following month. The demon was revealed to be one of a number of characters who would feature in the virtual reality storyline of the attraction and was designed by Derren Brown himself, alongside a team of specially commissioned special effects experts and prosthetic artists.

With the confirmation of a delay to the planned opening date of 6th May, the park reduced their marketing activity. On 14th May, the official advert for the attraction was released featuring Derren Brown himself and a few subtle hints towards the VR content. The advert also offered a new opening date with the final frame stating ‘Coming end of May’. With the confirmation of the second delay on the 24th May, the advert was changed to simply state ‘Coming Soon’, leaving many frustrated at the lack of a definitive opening date.

After much anticipation, the attraction finally opened on 8th July. Selected press and other invited guests were able to experience the attraction the day before the official launch allowing for one final publicity push to coincide with the official opening.

At the start of October 2016, posters started appearing around the theme park advertising a ‘new terrifying destination for 2017’, however precise details of the new destination were kept secret.

On 21st December 2016, Thorpe Park released what at first seemed like a seemingly innocent Christmas video. However, the video was in fact another teaser for Derren Brown’s Ghost Train’s new destination and prompted a number of media outlets to report that the video was intended as a television advert which was banned due to being inappropriate for the timeslot it was reportedly booked for.

Further teaser videos were released during January 2017, promising a ‘service update’ for the attraction. On 17th January, these teasers revealed the new name for the attraction, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon.

It would be March before the next flurry of marketing activity occurred, with the park publishing a blog seemingly promising the announcement of an opening date for the ride on Tuesday 7th March. However, no announcement was made on that date, instead those who raised a question on Thorpe Park’s Twitter account received a cryptic reply telling them either to check their Direct Messages with a Gif stating ‘Did you think it would be that easy’, or that ‘We’re no longer looking for volunteers…We look forward to seeing you on the other side…’ suggesting that the park had something else planned before they announced an official opening date. On 15th March 2017, the park finally confirmed that Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon would open on 31st March 2017.


When the Island’s dark secret was finally revealed on 18th January 2016, these two videos were released by Thorpe Park Resort, giving guests an insight into Derren Brown’s 21st Century re-invention of the ghost train.

Ghost Train Shop

Ahead of the attraction’s opening, the Ghost Train Shop was opened at the end of March allowing guests a first look inside the disused warehouse and the opportunity to purchase a range of unique merchandise, which gave a hint at the mind-blowing contents of the Ghost Train itself.

PR Stunts

At the beginning of December 2015, two life-size Victorian dolls spooked London commuters, then, with opening day just weeks away, Derren let a demonic creature loose on unsuspecting staff members.

MindsWanted Clues

As part of the marketing campaign for Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, people were tasked with solving seven clues on MindsWanted.co.uk several of which were given in the form of a short video clip.

TV Adverts

Enjoy the original TV adverts for both versions of the attraction.