Coaster Kingdom

Logger's Leap (Thorpe Park)

Up until recently, it is hard to appreciate how much effort goes into building each and every ride at Thorpe Park. Most of the land the park is built on is a flooded quarry, excavated into futility by RMC, drained and reclaimed by the park to build new rides.

Building on what is essentially a swamp is a challenge. Time and effort is spent (and in the case of No Way Out, wasted) making the land useable, and aesthetically satisfactory.

Perhaps, one of the less appreciated areas is Canada Creek. Again, reclaimed from an exhausted quarry, the park made a feature of the lake surrounding it – Canada is famous for the lakes, after all. To do this, rocks were brought into the park to build up the stony shores around the lake. We’re not talking pebbles here, we’re talking about enormous boulders.

But we’re not here to talk about rocks. Loggers Leap when it opened was one of the largest Log Flumes in the world. The final double-drop was something of a modern wonder, and compared to anything else, it towered.

Log Flumes are perhaps one of the slowest advancing areas in the ride trade. Backwards drops are still something of an incredulity, an effect that is hardly rocket science and hardly improves the ride THAT much.

Loggers Leap is probably as simple as you can get. Two drops, one enclosed, and that is your job lot. It was the size that was to amaze, and now even Tidal Wave makes a mockery of this fabled claim to fame.

Surrounded by rustic Canadian buildings, you can watch the worst Loggers Leap has to offer. A miniature peninsular juts out into the final turns into the station. Sandwiched between two rows of trees, the main drop. Every thirty-seconds, a log themed boat will drop down into view, splashing as it does, riders laughing and grinning as they pass you.

The station is to your left. A short zig-zag will take you to a bridge outside that crosses the flume. An enormous amount of zig-zagging follows on a busy day, about a third of which is enclosed. Expect to do the enclosed bit on a busy day, taking about twenty valuable minutes.

A few more steps take you into the gloomy station. Hacksaws and buzz saw blades hang rusting on the wall, as a perpetual line of ‘logs’ (boats) pass through the centre of the station.

After the obligatory ‘how many’ question, you board the five-seater fibreglass log, slowly moving along the conveyor down the centre of the station.

As soon as riders are seated, one behind another, seat back in the middle, the boat dips into the water, turning immediately to the right around a pile of wood. You slalom back around to the left, heading through the undergrowth to the left of the lake.

You enter a pitch black tunnel, and as soon all sense of direction is lost, you begin a slow ascent up a conveyor, anti-rollbacks breaking the anxious hush. With haste, the boat levels out before dropping further into the darkness, hitting the water, spraying riders with a dense mist before squirming further through the darkened tunnel.

Once outside, rocks stack up to your left as you pass the lake to your right. Though the wooded area, you approach a rickety chute conveying water above your heads. It spills through, dripping down before you head off bridging the lake, parallel to the wooden trusses of the Canada Creek Railroad.

Once again, you head into a corridor of fir trees before hitting the final conveyor belt, taking you high into the final drop. The view is odd. A good view of the park is to be had, but to the right, a motorway, and below, a lake.

Once you reach the top, there is no waiting as you promptly accelerate downwards. As you teeter on feeling the effects of airtime, you bump your way over the middle dip, steepening once again before hitting the fusty green water, spraying up and around the boat as you quickly slow down to walking pace.

A final turn-or-two takes you back to the station, past an embarrassing photograph of yourself on a television before you step off into the chaos of the photography shop.

As a flume, Loggers Leap will hardly dissatisfy. It doesn’t consist of continual winding through nothingness, but is hardly short enough to leave you wanting more. The first drop is a good conundrum with the darkness being thoroughly effective in making you speculate just how tall it is (it isn’t very).

The brief stint beyond that is just that – brief. The lift into the final drop is exposed enough to have many vexed about what is to follow. Although it would be interesting to have the drop without the dip in the middle, it hardly slows the boat and effectively flicks you further downward at great speed into the water below.

Like most log flumes, you don’t get too wet, just a face full of spray, so it is fair to say you come off really impressed. What may let you down, however, is the lack of theming, or the unoriginality of it. The log theme really is tried and tested, and with little more than Canadian firs to keep you entertained you may feel that the ride is a lost opportunity.

Even if the logging theme was to be kept, more could be done to it. That said, if you don’t like it, close your eyes. The ride is great. Bad theming doesn’t detract from the ride, but good theming adds to it.

3/5 Marcus Sheen