I love Thorpe Park. I’ve been a rollercoaster junkie ever since I went to Florida when I was about nine. Thorpe Park is the theme park I’ve been to the most, and I have many happy memories of standing in sweltering queues or, better, running round and round the empty queue section of Nemesis Inferno with my brother just before closing time when everyone else had already given up.
So it was an absolutely brilliant perk of my job to be going along with the team to the launch night of Thorpe Park’s new attraction, the I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! maze.
But before we checked out the maze, we exploited the after hours, queue-less experience that was the rest of the park. I went on The Swarm for the first time, went backwards twice and thought it was brilliant – some great twists and turns that are really effective when you can’t see where you’re going, although it’s definitely too short.
Saw was more frightening than I remembered – that first drop is just insane, and the rest has its moments too, and I managed to fit in two goes there too. Stealth reinforced itself as my favourite ride as I got to go at the front for the first time – and twice more further back – as its speed and height are both unrivalled. Then of course we went on the classics too – corkscrew-filled Colossus and Nemesis Inferno.
We also enjoyed some team bonding on the Angry Birds bumper cars – although how the theme extended beyond red and blue coloured carts is beyond me.
The Thorpe Park team put on a great Bush BBQ with some pretty delicious burgers and fries with optional critters on the side. Staff were also roaming with creatively decorated and designed canapes, designed around the jungle theme. The food area was also where we spotted most of our minor celebrities, including Pat Sharp, Matt Edmonson and Nicola McLean. The most famous was Katie Price, who we saw twice getting special access to rides.
But as for the new maze itself, I’m sorry to report it’s disappointing and not a touch as convincing and all-consuming as the terrifying Saw maze. In fact, if you have one day to visit the park and it’s packed, spend your time queueing for any of the other rides instead.
You will be greeted by a video message from Ant and Dec (who else) with t-shirts from famous ex-campmates hanging from the ceiling. Then you will be led through for a picture (which cut half of us out and my face in half) after which you will have to queue again.
Then an enthusiastic actor greets your group of 10, makes you stand in a line, speaks a bit, makes you move along to stand in a line further down, then speaks again before you walk over an image of bugs projected onto the floor which barely fools anyone.
Other sections include placing your hands into gooey holes to turn on some lights, which didn’t all appear to work, and the chamber of horrors in which despite my dread, I actually thought the amount of bugs released onto any of us was pathetic. And the door at the back of at least one of the chambers through which you’re supposed to leave was broken – the actor had to open my other door and ask me to leave through a different chamber.
The final stage wouldn’t be good for claustrophobics, as you have to squeeze through a tiny gap between inflatables into a wind tunnel where you’re supposed to crawl up and hit the stars to finish before exiting down a slide. Except the wind tunnel didn’t seem to kick in until near the end, the buttons wouldn’t all light up even though they were definitely all pressed more than once, and there was an awkward queue for the slide.
All in all, I’m sad to say the new maze was a disappointment, but I’m definitely not put off from visiting Thorpe Park.