you Kingdom cronies will know, I have no qualms in calling a spade a
spade, especially when it comes to reviewing rides that – how can I
put it? – leave much to be desired. Like the village idiot with a sign
saying kick me, it is difficult sometimes to pass the opportunity to
scorn these rides with brazen relish.
sometimes, and it pains me to say so, I feel guilty.
I put forward my argument, at the back of my mind I know sometimes the
end result is not because of apathy, and not because the idea was flawed
from the outset; just that the idea doesn’t seem to work.
numbers are there, they just don’t add up.
was a great idea, but just doesn't work
what happens in between someone coming up with a good idea, announcing a
good idea, building a good idea, and then having opened the ride, wonder
whether it really was such a good idea in the first place?
too many ideas can be a bad thing.
get a lot of stick for it, but I think Valhalla was a nice idea, poorly
executed. They had the blue sky, but they weren’t content with filling
it with white fluffy clouds. They thought bigger and better – they
thought thunderclouds and lightning. And fire. Lots of it.
all sounds like elements of an amazing ride, but the end result was a
mess. You are confronted by effect after effect with little correlation
between them in an experience that is often miserable and always
contrast, Phantasialand’s Feng Ju Palace went the opposite way,
absconded from OTT effects and relied on subtlety and a discerning
Ju Palace looks great but is actually quite boring
while most things Phantasialand touch turn to gold, no amount of carats
could distract us from the unsettling fact that Feng Ju Palace is
actually quite boring, verging on pretentious.
what is that happy medium? Dark rides are something of a science, and
what looks good on paper might not necessarily translate well into
reality. In the case of Valhalla and Feng Ju Palace, it’s evident that
hearts were in the right place
fact, and this is a bold claim, there are probably more dark rides that
look good that aren’t than those which actually are good.
They’re an acquired taste, they cater for a broad audience so the odds
are stacked against any park who want to gamble on installing something
that people won’t lose interest in within a season or two.
while Phantasialand normally has the midahs touch, Drayton Manor has the
touch of death.
on the topic of great rides that weren’t, this whole article could
have been about Drayton Manor. If Drayton was a kitchen, it would be
full of juicers, ice cream makers and break makers – you know, things
that look like they’ll change the world, but soon drop off the radar
when people realise they’re more trouble than they’re worth.
of many "great rides that weren't" at Drayton Manor
first is Shockwave – another original coaster bought to the UK by
Drayton Manor. It was always the weakest of the 1994 triplets, but it
was always up against stiff opposition (Big One and Nemesis). The
finished ride has flashes of inspiration, such as the immensely fun
inline twist, but is otherwise almost a non-event.
Haunting, a Vekoma Mad House, despite the camp charm, is also another
example of Drayton Manor trying something original and coming up trumps
– assuming a trump is something you’d rather throw away and forget
Excalibur – where to start? Excalibur is watching paint dry, just in
ride form. An outside dark ride was a great idea, but replacing a ride
like-for-like was not, and neither was advertising it as ‘an amazing
trip into a medieval kingdom’ when it is actually a ‘fairly
forgettable trip around a lake with the occasional broken animatronic’.
it’s difficult to pick just the one, but Drayton Manor’s just opened
a new white elephant; one that is painted red and grey and is called
the final ride quality, this ride is brilliant. Honestly, it is.
first computer illustrations came out and painted a picture of a unique
ride with a unique layout. It had an upside-down lift hill, a parabolic
airtime hill that makes Expedition Ge-Force look as flat as a Roman
road, and a fluid-looking ‘cuban eight’ double inversion.
looks great, but as a ride most couldn't care less
everybody was talking about Stealth, a glorified Space Shot if ever
there was one (despite it being years off), they ignored the first
genuinely original coaster for years in the UK.
Muggins here sung the virtues of G-Force – something which my perfect
20/20 hindsight makes no apologies for; the illustrations looked
amazing, the photos looked amazing... it was just the ride that
exactly a small ride with such theatrical turns and inversions could
turn out to be so boring and G-forceless is one of those mysteries along
with why cats always land on their feet and toast butter-side down.
had I been in Drayton’s shoes, I probably would have made the same
mistake as them.