Colossus (Thorpe Park)
through any edition of the Guinness Book of World Records and you’ll see the
extraordinary lengths people will go through to break a world record. Although
breaking records is evidently a labour of love for some people, theme parks
globally endeavour to break world records not only because many people abide by
the mentality that bigger is better, but also because the record breaking ride
will be rewarded with unprecedented publicity.
breaking coasters are often iconic by their very nature, and this is what Thorpe
Park needed to debunk the reputation previous owners, RMC, had allowed the park
to gain. Stat-savvy enthusiasts will know how the loss of the tallest (and
inevitably fastest) record to another park is a near-annual event, and the
record for the tallest coaster was one Thorpe Park couldn’t even consider
because, as lenient as their planning restrictions were, they simply couldn’t
stretch to in excess of 300ft.
record that seems to have a certain durability to it, though, is the record for
the most inversions. Up until 1995, no park seemed to go beyond a maximum of
seven inversions. Opening with Port Aventura in 1995, the stalemate was
eventually broken by Dragon Khan which tumbled riders head-over-heels eight
the record for most inversions became stale, so too did Thorpe Park. Whilst
nearby Chessington was reeling from the effects the Vampire had on their chances
of getting permission for any more major rides, Thorpe Park had the luxury of
being able to build major rides but had to first shed the reputation of being a
glorified water park for kids to make such investments pay for themselves.
‘Sensory Overload’ began in 2001 with the addition of three rides;
Detonator, Vortex and the somewhat less-thrilling Zodiac. But the park needed a
signature ride, and one with the impact to say that Thorpe were now a big
player. Breaking world records was the only way to go, and with little over
100ft of airspace to play with it made sense that the record they’d pursue
would be for the most inversions.
far, the record still stood at eight inversions, with Dragon Khan now sharing
the honour with Brazilian roller coaster Monte Makaya. This Intamin roller
coaster was a small but perfectly formed 100ft tall, but the inline twists in
particular are particularly sparing when it comes to the use of gravity, which
enabled this relatively short ride to go through a relatively high number of
the final helix, two additional inversions were added, both inline twists which
meant Thorpe Park would triumphantly steal the record for most inversions by
2001 and therefore unearth a marketing goldmine.
fanfare would accompany the construction of ‘Project Odyssey’ that spanned
the 2001 season as the park discovered more Lost City remains from which the
slender pale-cream supports would rise, topped by a slender aqua-coloured track.
In front of the construction site, a model of the ride was displayed with every
loop (by the laymen’s definition) marked with a label detailing the inversion
number, type and how many inversions each element accounted for.
2002, excited riders would have their very own chance to summersault their way
through a record-breaking ten inversions; a vertical loop, cobra roll, a pair of
corkscrews before ploughing through an unprecedented four inline twists with
only a brief respite before rolling through a final inline twist onto the final
City is the largest area at Thorpe Park, both in geographical terms and as far
as ride counts are concerned. Considering it took even Tussauds years to unearth
Lost City, it alone is the single biggest example of how Thorpe Park has grown
since RMC sold the park.
many themes tell stories, Lost City’s theme elects to be merely decorative.
The style applied throughout the Lost City is simple consisting mainly of
crumbing stone buildings decorated with triangular obelisks, which, when
combined with the lush greenery and lakeside setting brilliantly disguises the
fact Colossus is essentially a clone with knobs on.
queue line on busy days will take you onto a peninsula cast under the shadows of
the inline twists towards the end of the ride, before heading straight into the
centre of the ride, following the lift hill and then splitting towards the
station for those who want to do the first two seats.
of two trains will be your conveyance throughout the ride, each seating riders
in a fairly standard 2x2 per car with seven cars per train. Each dark red and
gold car features elevated seating in the rear of each car meaning that back
seat riders get as much of a face full of the action as those in the front.
loading of Colossus is neither fast nor efficient. For the computer to register
that the ride is ready for loading, every single restraint must be pulled up
into the full upright position by staff. Unlike Nemesis Inferno, the ride offers
no assistance by popping up off their own accord, and are instead incredibly
heavy and time consuming to open.
until all the bars are up are the gates then opened for the throngs of thrill
degree in osmosis will most certainly help riders of a normal stature get into
the rear of each car. Owing to a catalogue of issues including lack of headroom
thanks to the restraints design, lack of legroom due to the seats in front, and
a floor composed of numerous blocks to form ‘foot holes’, getting into the
trains – specifically the back seat – is a palaver at best. Once seated,
though, the seat is comfortable although the restraint is designed to keep
wayward legs securely pinned down which can be uncomfortable if you pull the
restraint down to far.
everyone is sat comfortably or otherwise, the train slowly advances out of the
station and immediately onto the 100ft lift hill. As the back of the train
starts the climb and the train behind enters the station, the lift moves up a
hear as you climb away from the ground affording excellent views of Loggers Leap
below, Nemesis Inferno stage right and beyond the edge of the park to your left.
a clatter of anti-rollbacks, the train dips into a sweeping 180-degree bend
which slyly evolves into the first drop.
train makes an ungainly exit from the summit plummet, making a bid for the sky
but not without turning riders’ heads groundwards as the train circles through
a teardrop shaped vertical loop.
from orbit, the train buries itself underneath the main pathway through Lost
City arching over the queue-line below through a sublime bunnyhop. As you head
towards a shop window of waving children, almost as an afterthought the train is
pulled down an into a cavern beneath the souvenir shop before sensationally
erupting from the ground arcing up into a snappy cobra roll – as the train
plateaus above the walkway below, it abruptly curls back into the opposite
direction, plunging back beneath the shop, climbing up through a sweeping curve
which peels away from the ground, tearing the train to the right hand side
through a clockwise corkscrew.
track takes on almost a needle and thread-like quality to it as it threads
itself up, over and through the fabric of Lost City. As the corkscrew curls over
the queueline below, the track threads itself underneath the main pathway as it
lurches into a second corkscrew, itself rolling over the pathway below.
choppers abound as you pass through a forest of columns supporting the first
turnaround as you make a 180-degree turn regaining as much lost height as
possible before the ride changes from what has so-far been pre-amble into a
remorseless looping machine.
ride rolls its sleeves up by lining the train up with a perfectly circular
tunnel of inline twists, unveiling a quintet of inversions enough to make even
the most devout thrill seeker slack-jawed.
staring into a washing machine on spin cycle, everything in your sight soon
becomes a kaleidoscope of colours as the train tumbles over, and over... and
over. And over.
restraint suddenly transforms itself from an obtrusive straightjacket to a much
appreciated lifejacket as your entire weight falls into the restraint as you
cartwheel through this horizontal steel vortex over water, over the pathway,
over the shrubbery below.
quarter of a minute later, having travelled the entire length of the ride
somersaulting through inline twists, the train manages to break free from this
whirlpool and stumbles into a scenic turnaround, where the track slowly climbs
up and over the pathway right below.
execution like an afterthought, lest we forget the final inversion. Just as you
are able to start making out the detail on the back of the train in the station,
the train coils its way through a ground-hugging anti-clockwise inline twist
with the front of the train hitting the brakes as the back is almost still
most certainly isn’t a passive experience, and takes you for a ride from the
outset. Whilst many criticise Colossus for being rough, you have to ride with
it to get the most out of it, and only then does it show it’s true colours.
ride is at its most feisty at the base of the first drop which is the only
unexpected moment of roughness, and even so, this isn’t roughness at the hands
of Lucifer, just a sharp transition from a curved first drop into a straight
the cobra roll is sharp and snappy, but is an element that is even laterally
forceful on B&M rides such as Superman Ride of Steel (Movie World Madrid).
you do prefer your rides to be passive and less forceful, then a front seat ride
most certainly is worth the wait. Unlike the rest of the train, the driving seat
is as smooth as glass, yet still maintains this unyielding sense of
gets off to a familiar and conventional start, but the inline twists that abound
the second chapter of this story really give Colossus an identity of its own.
Say what you will about multi-looping roller coasters, but Colossus is quite
unlike anything else in the world.
many coasters fizzle out, Colossus literally explodes onto the brake run by
rolling through one last inversion, low enough for you to almost pick daisies
off the ground.
beyond the subjective, Colossus is a success in every meaning of the word. The
ride succeeded in putting Thorpe Park on the map, and remains the parks’ main
workhorse in that respect. Furthermore, whilst many immediately write off
multi-looping coasters, to the public they remain a unique phenomenon,
especially Colossus which is quite unlike any coaster in Europe.
5/5 Marcus Sheen