So after all the fun that we had on Saturday (I say we, but I reckon she would have happily excluded the trip to Westfield), Sinéad and I headed out to Thorpe Park for the day. Given that we had 2for1 tickets, we reckoned it was a good way to spend our day.
It started stupidly early, because we wanted to get to the park when it opened, as we figured the queues would be shortest. After a relatively uneventful trip, we actually ended up in the park before 10am, as it opened delightfully early, and began our day of roller coasters and adrenaline.
The last time I was in a theme park was about ten years ago, on a school trip. For my sister, it was even longer. Eleven years ago our uncle took us to Alton Towers, but at the time she was too small to go on the biggest rides. Now she’s a lot taller, but Ireland has no theme parks, so roller coasters are an experience which she had sadly been denied for her first twenty years of life.
We soon put paid to that problem. Starting off with Saw, we worked our way around the park, doing the biggest rides we could find. The queue for saw was non-existent, colossus was only twenty minutes and after about ten minutes we managed Rush as well. Going around to the other side of the park, the advertised queue time for Swarm was only thirty minutes, so we decided to go in there next.
It was the longest thirty minutes of my life (aka, it was about fifty five minutes). The queue was deceptively long, and snaked around invisibly. At one point we turned a corner, thinking we were almost there, only to reveal about four hundred people standing patiently waiting their turn. Still, the morning was young, and we got there eventually. Even better, we got to sit in the front row, so the thrills were stupidly visible.
While the queue was very long, for a while we did get to stand underneath a net which caught things which had fallen out of people’s pockets, which was entertaining. The first net we saw was liberally sprinkled with tins of Vaseline, pairs of glasses, a Thorpe park programme, someone’s house keys, and a wallet. The second net had a hat, two shoes, many, many more pairs of glasses, and a few more sets of keys.
Weirdly, though, when we came back later, the shoes were still there. We couldn’t actually tell if they were a pair. I didn’t think they were, but Sinéad was a little more willing to believe only one person was stupid enough to lose their shoes.
You have to wonder, though, if you lose things like that, essential things like your wallet or shoes, when and how do you get them back? Do you have to wait for the ride to close at seven, and some poor net-retrieval person gets them? Did those shoes only land there today? Do they get a lot of shoes?
Judging by the quantity of stuff on the net, and the signs everywhere which said to contact a staff member to retrieve your lost property, evidently lots of stuff falls from pockets. They must have some sort of system for giving it back.
After Swarm, we had only two of the five biggest coasters left. Stealth, which accelerates from 0-80km in 2.3 seconds, was phenomenally good. And Nemesis: Inferno was also a twisting, turning rush of adrenaline which was over only too soon.
After lunch, we went to check out some of the rides which weren’t full roller coasters. Taking in zodiac, samurai, detonator and vortex, we were almost finished the ‘extreme thrills’ listed on the map. The last one we needed was slammer.
But, here’s the weird thing: we walked around that park four or five times, and couldn’t find it. We checked a map, and checked what rides it was near, and wandered around aimlessly for ages too. Tidal Wave was closed, which was a pity, because I would have liked to have done that.
Besides the incredible disappearing slammer, I had a magnificent time. We also, towards the end of the day, went back on swarm (backwards this time) (and with a mercifully shorter queue!) and on colossus again.
Being only two people gave us a lot more freedom to skip forward in queues. There were a few rides where groups didn’t want to split, and we were ushered forward to fill some empty seats. I definitely recommend going as a smaller group!
There was a lot of queuing, which we had expected, and we had to entertain ourselves somehow, so we spent a substantial amount of time people-watching, and eavesdropping on others’ conversations. We met a large variety of people, from the very friendly-seeming Colossus family (guess which queue we were in with them…!) to the incredibly annoying stealth teenagers, the yolo-swag twelve year olds at nemesis and the ADD child (who kicked me!!!) at zodiac.
It gave us plenty to talk about, though, and then when we recognised people in other queues, we felt a sort of camaraderie with them, and tracked their progress through the queue. Except for ADD child. He was my least favourite, so when his dad said they had to leave the queue for vortex, I practically cheered. Sinéad just giggled.
The only water ride we went on was Loggers Leap – we wanted to do all the water ones together, but the queue for storm surge was ridiculous, tidal wave was closed, and I was too tired and cranky to walk to the other ones.
Then on the way home, I had neglected to check that the trains were actually running, so I was outsmarted by a rail replacement bus service.
Nonetheless, we were home before ten, and ready to collapse with it. I thoroughly enjoyed my day, and my weekend, although it wasn’t cheap. Thorpe Park was definitely a good day out. I’d recommend going early to beat the queues, and people-watching to keep yourself entertained in the longer ones. Big groups will always have to wait longer than twos or threes. Also, if you’re afraid of heights, there is no point in you going to Thorpe park, as you will have zero fun.
But if, like me, you’re an adrenaline junkie, it’s certainly a very entertaining (albeit tiring) way to spend the last day of the summer holidays.
One last point which is pretty important – Staines railway station is outside the oyster zones. If you’re travelling from London, you’ll need to buy a ticket which will get you to Staines, as you cannot touch off the oyster.
Thorpe park’s website is here, and their full ride list is here.