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month's article is by John Thorp
seem to be at inquisitive stage of my life. Not in the, “Mother,
Father, babies. Where do they emerge from?” stage, obviously, but my
mind gets restless over other, much more trivial things.
it youthful rebellion, but I resist Birthday cards. Society and social
rule dictates that I can’t avoid birthdays, the over the top
celebration excuse of millions determined to ram it down the throats of
all and anybody possible, that they’ve survived another year on the
harsh place we call Earth.
congratulations for this amazing feat, and their Mother’s pain, you,
as an often unnecessary person in the grand scheme of things, present
said person a much mulled over gift. But a card as well? If you’re
presenting somebody with a paid for gift, then why, may I ask, do you
need to give them a piece of card, with your name in and a humorous
picture on the front? What use would anybody have with that?
I’ve been thinking about names. No, I’m not about to become a
Father, at least as not far as I’m aware, but rather that names are
utterly necessary but entirely pointless devices. Without them, we’d
just be in terms of nothingness, or worse, silly little numbers, as
portrayed in The Prisoner.
they stay in our sub-conscious like little meaningless burrowing voles.
The media and culture influences our ideas about names – ever met
somebody called Dracula, or Jesus – but in the day when brand is
everything, a name means a lot to a ride.
Nemesis, for example. The executives at Tussauds felt that the most high
impact ride the company have ever installed, back in their relatively
early days of Alton Towers ownership, Nemesis, had such a cultural
impact our little island, that when the ride’s sister was commissioned
for Thorpe Park, Inferno, it’d gain a ‘Nemesis’ prefix. And
subsequently, Nemesis + Inferno = Nemesis Inferno.
course, this is no new idea. Since the 1970’s, Disney has been opening
clones and tweaked versions of it’s rides all over the world, leading
to pioneering attractions like Space Mountain being just about the most
well know roller coaster in the world, and ‘it’s a small world’
becoming the most mocked, parodied, satirized, yet still shamelessly and
blatantly copied ride in the history of amusement parks.
long, Disney will be releasing a ‘Tower of Terror’ already an
internationally recognized ride name, in Paris. On a serious note,
Disney are spinning it’s title off a history of good press. I doubt a
ride would be originally christened Tower of Terror in today’s
name ‘Big Dipper’ is also scattered frequently through the modern
lexis, and the ever resourceful RCDB lists over 20 rides baring the
title from 1923 onwards – over half of these have since closed, but
two of the most notable exceptions include the classics at both Pleasure
Beach, Blackpool and Santa Cruz Boardwalk, California – two of the
most iconic and famous rides on both sides of the Atlantic.
must go to ‘Barry’ of ‘Barry’s Amusement Park’, County Antrim,
UK, for titling his Pinifari Looper, ‘Barry’s Big Dipper’, the
only listed Big Dipper with any personification… which ironically is
also, not a Big Dipper in the traditional sense at all. It’s always
nice to see pioneering, out of ‘the box’ park owners like Barry
exist in the industry today.
Towers last year suffered much mocking and general bewilderment on the
public’s part when they boldly named their new Intamin accelerator
coaster, ‘Rita – Queen of Speed’. The park’s weekly newsletter
announced that although a name like Pedal to the Metal, or Burnout would
be the obvious choice, a name like ‘Rita’ is unique enough that
it’ll forever be associated with the park, and the ride.
the marketing department’s credit, attendance did rise thanks to
‘Your best Alton Towers ride ever’. Meanwhile, enthusiasts continued
to plot bad gags, puns and dirty in jokes regarding her majesty. Much
funnier still, was that the success of ‘Rita’ prompting nervous fans
to speculate whether this title would be bestowed upon the other Intamin
coaster of the same variety, which was under construction at Thorpe
Park. Well, it happened with Nemesis.
the behemoth now known as Stealth wasn’t called ‘Rita 2- Das
Speedening!’ after all, but was in fact given the equally
idiosyncratic title of Stealth.
anything, Stealth (or ‘Stelf’, to its locals) is even more of an
idiotic title than Rita. Firstly, there is absolutely nothing Stealthy
about a 205 foot tall ‘icon’ coaster in three stark and varying
colour schemes. Secondly, it makes absolutely no sense in the Beach Boys
and faded sea hut theme of the ride. Thirdly, it’s a stolen title
which Paramount parks coined over half a decade ago, and coupled it with
a relevant theme.
who am I to whine – the Pepsi Max Big One is perhaps the most iconic
rollercoaster in the country, and its title was suggested by a five year
old girl. Well, the ‘Big One’ bit anyway, no toddler is that aware
of corporate synergy. In fact, the Big One’s name frequently takes on
a life of it’s own, called anything from ‘The Pepsi Max’, ‘Big
One’, ‘Pepsi Max One’ or my particular favourite, ‘Maximum Pepsi
Dipper’. Indeed, it is the Pleasure Beach which remains the king of
bad, bad names. Their knack for sponsorship has churned out such
classics as ‘Playstation – The Ride’, and ‘Walls Cornetto Soft
but let us not be negative. Out there, in the vast wilderness of
European amusentdom lies real, quality namage – Goliath or Colossus
sits pretty with powerful, imposing rides like Goliath, or Colossus.
Phantasialand are notable namesmiths – Winjas Fear and Winjas Force
are so unique they demand attention, the same applying to Colorado
Adventure’s strange and infamous subtitling as ‘The Michael Jackson
Thrill Ride’, but probably for entirely different reasons.
to mention children’s rides such as ‘Wubi’s Wappi Wipper’ and
‘Wozl’s Duck Washer’. The park have also recently had the nerve to
open their much touted, Ł17 million inverted coaster under the same
title as the world’s biggest selling sex toy. That’s Black Mamba,
for those of you who aren’t on the ball. In terms of German thrill
all my Tussauds baiting, for every ‘The Flume’ or the utterly
misleading ‘Toadie’s Crazy Cars’ (they’re not that crazy), you
get a ‘Nemesis’ or ‘Slammer’, just two really good examples of
titles that fit their ride to a tee, and remain perfectly original at
the same time. In fact, an intoxicated John Wardley decided on Nemesis
on the strength of its ‘S’ sound. A promotional comic, millions of
visitors and it’s own range of soft drinks later, and it remains a
healthy staple name.
personally a fan of those rides are those modern thrillers with odd and
out there names – Expedtion Ge Force actually subliminally tells the
visitor of just what they’re signing up for, just as well as any
Similarly, Thorpe Park’s ‘X:/ No Way Out’
informs us not only of when the ride arrived, during the dotcom and
virus obsessive mid nineties, but perfectly reflects the nonsensical
nature of what is to follow in the pyramid of obscurity.
2006 rolls into full swing, we’ve been treated to Abisimo, at Parque
De Attractiones (add your own gag there), Oakwood’s latest investment,
Speed (a disappointing name from the people that hilariously combined
the power of ‘phobia’ with the super-exciting ‘Mega’!) and
Plopsaland’s Super Splash, a ride name identical to that of the ride
model! Well, it is from the diverse minds of a park called Plopsaland,
so maybe that’s a lucky escape?
next time you’re in a lengthy queue for your favourite ride, perhaps
you’d like to take some time to discuss the credentials, the pros, the
cons, the favourite letters, the grammatical credibility of the
attraction’s name. It’ll make the time fly by, not only for you, but
those plucky regular guests around you! I’m not trying to mislead you.
Author: John Thorp