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Shockwave (10 Years): Shockwave's Shockwaves

It is difficult to overstate the extent to which Shockwave  changed the look of Drayton Manor Park. Until 1992, visitors  were met with a variety of disparate ride set around the  edges of the lake. These were almost always presented  exactly as the manufacturer left them, with no effort to  create a unique look. The most extreme case of this was the  Pirate Ship, which was presented exactly how it would appear  on the German fairgrounds, even to the extent of having a  huge name sign giving the ride's German name, "Pirat". The  only major unique ride was the Log Flume, which had opened  as a standard model one-drop ride, and latter extended to  feature two further drops and a section running through the  lake.

Other rides came and went, including the Jumbo Jet (actually a Schwarzkopf City Jet), and Vekoma Para Tower, a relatively tame drop ride, the short lived Quasar and Octopus spin rides, and various incarnations of the Ghost Train / Haunted Crypt. The park's first foray into custom designed coasters was 1987's Buffalo  Mountain Coaster, a powered ride consisting of a helix over  the lake, and another in a nicely landscaped garden.

Although the park saw a great number of small rides appear  and disappear over the years, the area that now forms  Shockwave's entrance remained relatively stable. The Pirate  Ship occupied the area where Shockwave's corkscrews now  stand, while the Jumbo Jet and Log Flume stood in the places  now taken by Klondike Old Mine and Storm Force 10. In the  mid 1980s, the Jumbo Jet was replaced with the Python, a  coaster identical to Klondike, albeit totally unthemed.  Beyond this trio, a large area of grassland stood empty.

Although Shockwave opened in 1994, the landscape actually  changed in 1993, when the first phase of the park's grand  plan was completed. The empty space had gone, replaced by  "Splash Canyon", the park's new Intamin rapids ride. It also  marked the park's first attempt at real theming, albeit on a  relatively small scale. A frontier-town look greeted riders,  while the ride itself passed various scene of wild-west  buildings and the occasional animatronic cowboy. While the  theming may not have been exactly world-class, Drayton Manor  was on its way to becoming a major theme park.

When 1994 arrived, Shockwave dramatically changed the  park's skyline. From a park whose only major coasters had  been compact portable affairs, Shockwave towered over the  surroundings and sprawled itself across the park like none  of its predecessors had done. In terms of looking imposing,  it surprisingly managed to hold its own against the main  competition, the equally new Nemesis at Alton Towers and  Pepsi Max Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Although not  themed as such, it continued the wild west style of Splash  Canyon.

If the arrival of Splash Canyon and Shockwave changed the  look of Drayton Manor, they were only the beginning of  something much bigger. In 1995, Python was replaced with the  heavily themed Klondike Mine, and almost every year has seen  some new features that have continued the transformation  into a major theme park, notably the elaborately themed Storm Force 10 in place of the ageing Log Flume; Apocalypse, the world's first stand-up drop tower; Maelstrom; and 2003's Excalibur in place of the old Jungle Cruise.

The Drayton Manor of today is a very different place to  the Drayton Manor of old. It has transformed itself from a  quaint group of amusements, to a highly respected modern  theme park, while managing to enhance its sense of identity  rather than destroying it. If ever you needed evidence of  what a major coaster can do to trigger wholesale evolution  of a park, look no further than Shockwave.  

1995 Python is replaced by Klonedike Mine, a single-looping Pinfari Zyklon coaster

1996 The Haunting opens, the UK's first modern haunted swing ride, manufactured by Vekoma

1999 Storm Force 10 opens, the first flume in the UK to feature a backwards drop

2000 Apocalypse opens as the first stand up Giant Drop ride in the world, manufactured by Intamin

2000 Cont. Also in 2000, Golden Nuggets Shoot 'Em Out, an interactive family dark ride

2002 Floorless stand up opens on Apocalypse, and Maelstrom, an Intamin GyroSwing opens

2003 Excalibur: A Knight's Tale, a family towboat, replaces Jungle Cruise.

2003 Cont. Also in 2003, Cyclone, a new Huss Enterprise opens opposite Apocalypse

2004 A new entrance area, and Pandemonium, a Fabbri spin ride opens