amusement industry is all about making people happy. If you run a park,
the very cornerstone of your business is to entertain. When people are
entertained, they’ll spend money, and that’ll make you happy.
seems a shame that for an industry moulded around such high-spirits,
that 2004 has been one of the most miserable seasons I’ve ever known.
In fact, I strongly considered not writing this article as there was
very little positive upon which to dwell, but Coaster Kingdom has never
shied away from the bad; in fact, I strongly believe it is one of
Coaster Kingdom’s strongest assets that we say what we see – if 2004
has been a catastrophe, I don’t think we have any right to shy away
from it as we have a certain obligation to report on rides, attractions
and indeed the industry, whether the findings are good – or sadly bad.
Fury was eagerly awaited, and had an important role to play.
2004, and Spinball Whizzer and Dragon’s Fury had been the subject of
scrutiny in old Blighty, whilst abroad on the continent, Denmark were
looking forward to the country’s largest looping roller coaster, Dæmonen.
As the coasters rose, so too did people’s
Denmark would see their first wooden roller coaster,
Falken, whilst Europe would see another Gerstauler 95-degree drop
Eurofighter (Typhoon, Bobbijaanland), the world’s first Vekoma
launched ‘Motorbike’ coaster (Booster Bike, Toverland) and Heiße Fahrt
represented a landmark installation for Freizeitpark
as the first major ride in the park.
But there was a
quite outstanding reason to get excited about this season, for 2004 was
a special year for Thorpe Park, Pleasure Beach Blackpool, Drayton Manor
and Alton Towers.
their tenth anniversary, Shockwave (Drayton Manor), Nemesis (Alton
Towers) and the Pepsi Max Big One (Blackpool Pleasure Beach), whilst
celebrating its silver anniversary after 25 years, Thorpe Park. More
incredibly, though, Sir Hirim Maxim’s Captive Flying Machines would,
by August, have been flying for over a century.
so, the foundations were laid for an excellent year. So what went wrong?
Well, in the UK, almost everything. Birthday celebrations were neigh on
non-existent, Tussauds’ new coasters were dogged with downtime, and
both Blackpool and Oakwood had to learn to cope with almost immeasurable
so, the construction fences came down, and the ticket booths reopened.
Both Dragon’s Fury and Spinball Whizzer opened to modest fanfare from
the parks, but were both subject to almost universal acclaim. Fury in
particular sparked a new-found passion in a park whose ailing line up
relied upon much needed investment.
by Alton's definition, neither efficient with queues or reliable
an interview to the contrary in Attraction Management Magazine
suggesting Alton Towers were after more steadfast and high capacity
rides (of which Air really is neither), Spinball was a coaster with an
excruciatingly low capacity in the wrong place at the wrong time.
as Alton Towers opened Spinball Whizzer, it closed many other rides in a
fairly draconian manor. Due to a lack of interest, Dynamo (Huss
Breakdance), Vintage Cars, Carousel and Bone Shaker (Mondial Supernova)
were all mothballed. Dynamo was packed up and dumped unceremoniously on
the hardstanding behind Duel, whilst in supremely ignorant fashion,
Boneshaker and most of Cred Street were fenced off effectively mocking
everyone by taunting them by rides that were fenced off for their
if four filler attractions closing weren’t enough, the park decided to
close the historical Swan Boat ride with the usual adage of poor rider
numbers being cited as the reason. In place of the stately swans, Splash
Kart Challenge, an ugly up-charge attraction whereby those willing to
pay for the privilege navigate an unsightly floating course in ‘Splash
Alton Towers’ new philosophy has been proven that you either have to
queue for a ride, or pay for the right not to queue by either being
confined to up-charge attractions or having to stay in on-site hotels.
other parks had issues of their own.
attendance was heard as being the catalyst to a knee-jerk reaction
throughout the chain with regards to cut backs. Well-publicised events
such as Alton Towers’ Halloween Spooktacular were cancelled, as were
the fireworks at Thorpe Park and the newly planned and heavily
advertised late summer openings that were advertised in park and on
leaflets right up until the day the event was cancelled. Continues...