Coaster Kingdom > Anniversaries
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Shockwave (10 Years): Shockwave's Shockwaves
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.
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
Coaster, a powered ride consisting of a helix over the
lake, and another in a nicely landscaped garden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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