No Way Out, Thorpe Park
seems inherent that the older the ride, the more unsatisfying it
becomes. I’m sure you don’t need me to list the reasons, but
regardless, it can be put down to many aspects such as the novelty
wearing off, the ride aging to the point that it is less pleasant to
ride and the fact that newer, more spectacular thrills have overtaken
most modern coasters have no longevity to them at all. Stand-up
coasters, despite being popular only recently, are now invariably just
an uncomfortable gimmick that Europe has fortunately never really
succumbed to. I question whether Air will really be incredibly popular
in five years time, too. Nemesis still thrills, where-as Air never has
(not to say it’s a bad ride, mind you).
are lots of reasons for rides to go against this grain and become
contemporary classics – or at least improve with age. Certain rides
have a raw staying power, some are just classics through their age.
be patronising you if I told you the obvious examples like Blackpool’s
Roller Coaster or Margate’s Scenic Railway, but there are slightly
less obvious examples like X:\ No Way Out.
little background should give you adequate reason to want to have me
locked up by even suggesting the notion that this ride has done anything
like improve over age. Let’s face it, X:\ No Way Out is anything but a
full-bodied vintage wine.
by 1996 proved that they couldn’t run a theme park. Up until this
point, investment had been patchy at best, and the last major ride
installed by them was X:\ No Way Out, the world’s first (and
fortunately last) ‘Blackwards’ coaster. Preceding fashions since set
by Air, the ride was clearly subdued by budget cuts, despite X:\ No Way
Out’s track and ride system costing only in the region of
hundreds-of-thousands as opposed to tens-of-millions.
interactive and hands-on queue we were looking forward to ended up
making hospital corridors look like a good night out, and the
multi-sensory ride itself ended up overlooking one major sense –
concept is about as exciting as sitting in a darkened room, but one that
had unfulfilled potential.
is all on it’s lonesome on a slither of land between Octopus’ Garden
and Colossus. With absolutely nothing accompanying it, No Way Out is
orphaned from the rest of the park in the truest sense. The burgundy and
blue pyramid has no theme, and with the lack of buildings and
attractions nearby, there’s nothing to enforce the already confusing
style of this ride.
majority of the queue is held outside and let into the pyramid in groups
of 50 every ten minutes. Do a quick head count before joining. It’s
only worth a 20-minute wait, if that. With the only queue-line
entertainment offered by watching people trying to find the entrance to
the maze of zig-zagging chains, your wait can be tiresome at best.
simplicity of the key-hole shaped door in a small pyramid-shaped
‘porch’ is somewhat belittled by the melee of signs littered on it
with various irrelevant information about the ride and the revelation
that you have to be 1.4m tall to ride – the same height restriction as
on the ten-looping Colossus.
Once the chain drops,
the queue is like a half-marathon both in respect of length, and also
down to the amount of over-excited people filtering down unfeasibly
queue is a long, winding black corridor. It doesn’t take long before
the spring in your step erodes away as you listen to robot voices
granting you access to level 5 with slowly pulsating lights piercing the
five minutes later, you join the small queue outside the station. The
buzzing/humming sound effect offers comic relief in that the loop is
only about fifteen seconds long with a long moment of silence before it
goodness the queue is held outside. Once inside, the air is stuffy, the
atmosphere muggy and the waiting uncomfortable.
pass a serving hatch in the wall where you hand over any loose
belongings you have in exchange for a hand-written keyring.
in the station, the empty train rolls into the station backwards,
completely killing the element of surprise. The trains are a cutesy
affair, holding just ten riders each in five two-seat cars. For most
people over the 1.4m height restriction, the lap-bar is just a token
gesture as it hardly covers your knees, let alone your lap.
recorded warning reminds you to stay seated as the train rolls out of
the darkness of the station into the... darkness.
train briskly turns a sharp curve onto the rides only lift-hill. The
sensation of going up a lift hill looking down is an odd one – more so
than on a Vekoma Boomerang due to the fact you’re held in by – well
– not much.
ghostly and echoy voice mutters on about going into the unknown as your
farcical journey begins.
the top, you turn sharply into the first helix, gathering what feels to
be a lot of speed before climbing up into the first set of brakes. Some
random sound effects accompany the misters hissing above slowly
dampening you before the train rolls backwards without warning.
the ride’s highlight: Not the end, but an exceedingly fun turn
lurching into a downward spiral, climbing back up into the second set of
brakes. After a moment of sitting idle in the pitch dark with some
random sound effects, the train slowly rolls off into a couple more
less-interesting turns before again the train stops.
stop is a bit more comical. The train actually rolls forward a bit, then
back – a nice trick, but somewhat wasted as in the dark you don’t
realise until the train jerks to a stop and your head hits the headrest.
what can only be described as an overly-loud ‘turbo booster’ noise
alarms the newer riders into grabbing for the restraints as they
anticipate a launch into the cosmos behind. Of course, X:\ No Way Out
slowly whimpers off into the inky blackness through a small turn, dip
and then onto the final brakes. This non-sensical and utterly over-the
top noise is completely comical and just highlights what a complete
circus X:\ No Way Out actually is.
the train abruptly stops, you can revel at the fact that X:\ No Way Out
is one of only a few rides in the world where a recording actually has
to TELL you that the ride has finished.
No Way Out’s randomness continues long after you get off the ride.
Walking past a 5ft-long Eveready battery labelled as being the ‘Thorpe
Park Power Supply’ just seems as out of place as everything else on
No Way Out is like waking from a terrible, terrible dream. Just like a
nightmare, No Way Out is a chaotic patchwork of complete and utter
nonsense. Walking back into the daylight is like waking up, rubbing your
eyes and trying to make sense of all the random clutter that you’ve
slowly been drip-fed for the last ten minutes.
The saga that No Way
Out actually is never really explains itself. It is a complete mottled
mess of random debris bodged together forming an almost catastrophic
result. With parts dull enough to comatose the weaker rider contrasting
with a palette of haphazard miscellany that looks to be the result of
about a hundred unfinished rides, X:\ No Way Out is nothing short of a
spectacle, just in the completely wrong sense of the word.
But, as you’re
walking the miles of blackened corridors; as you pass 5ft-long battery;
as you listen to deafening turbo-booster noises as you slowly trundle
around backwards upon a glorified rollerboot through the darkness, you
can only chuckle to yourself. Riding X:\ No Way Out feels like you’re
continually slipping in and out of consciousness.
despite No Way Out having the attraction of trampolining on a bed of
nails, it has an involuntary sense of humour about it. Having spent
nearly ten minutes being subjected to what seems to be the off-cuts of
something very, very dreadful, you can only look at your fellow
survivors (for want of a better word) and snigger with relief.
No Way Out’s
downfalls (of which there are many) have become easier to forgive thanks
to the heavy investment at Thorpe Park. When the ride opened in 1996, we
were supposed to believe for a moment that X:\ was actually the best of
a bad bunch of rides. Since then, Thorpe Park have essentially demoted
No Way Out to merely being a support ride to Colossus and Nemesis
Inferno. Thanks to this, and the new and somewhat slapdash effects, No
Way Out has changed from a dreary, trying experience to something
As a result, it’s
far easier to laugh off something that is insanely chaotic and desperate
than something that is dull and mind-numbing. As an accompaniment to the
larger coasters, too, it benefits immeasurably.
Lots of things
ensure No Way Out is anything but a good ride, but nothing really makes
it a bad ride. The things it slips up on just go to make the ride that
bit more of a random experience leaving you wondering whether the ride
will actually live up to it’s namesake.
No Way Out shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of your to-do list, it
is certainly worthy of ten minutes of your time, and offers an
interesting experience, if nothing else.
▪ Um... original?
▪ Rises to the challenge of being a support coaster
▪ Low capacity
▪ Boring and uncomfortable queue line
▪ Has tendency to make people fell ill