Coaster Kingdom

Rameses Revenge (Chessington World of Adventures)

I could sound like David Attenborough describing fair rides in their ‘native environment’. Like a male peacock, fair rides use bright colours and dazzling displays to entice you. Of course, at home (German fairs, naturally), rides are run to full potential, offering a tough challenge to those willing to accept.

Theme parks seem to try their hardest to ensure subdued versions of these rides shoehorn their way into parks. Like caged lions, they offer merely a glimpse of their former majesty and are overly tamed, offering little more than an idea of what it must be like to enjoy these beasts in their indigenous home.

Chessington have gone surprisingly and almost unnecessarily over the top for Rameses Revenge, whereby the majority of a whole area – Forbidden Kingdom – has actually been built around the ride.

As such, it looks well settled in, and with the theming, the ride doesn’t seem as out-on-a-limb as many other park-based spin rides.

Imagine if you will a 40ft tall structure consisting of two arms supporting what is essentially an elongated sofa. This sofa itself is 20-seats wide, consisting of two tiered rows. This sofa is suspended from the arms and swings freely below as the arms can rotate in large circles.

At given times, this sofa can be flicked over backwards and/or forwards and in the case of Rameses Revenge, lowered slowly into fountains below.

The ride is as much fun to watch as it is to ride. The ride is situated in a small hole, so the fountain finale, as it were, is well observed from the surrounding pathway where pained expressions of riders can be clearly seen before their cranium is doused in water.

The entrance is hidden behind you under a crumbling stone archway, emblazened with the modern Rameses Revenge logo. Uneven steps take you up to a balcony walkway crossing over the Arabian Camel Derby below, and crossing a mock rope-bridge.

The sandstone walls are richly decorated with lanterns and masts supporting the canvas roofing, whilst you follow the wall to a staircase leading down into the lush oasis that Rameses Revenge is nestled in.

If you’re someone who wants to focus on the fun of the ride and not get soaked, you have to be quite cauculating at this point. Sitting at the ends of the gondola will secure you a ride sans H20, so make sure that these seats aren’t taken – or are unlikely to be taken – by the time you make the short walk to the ride.

Riders are expected to fill up every row, but should you wish to stay dry, there are about 12-or-so seats on the outer edges that escape the plumes of water. People sitting in the middle of the ride and not filling seats up further stall the loading of this ride, something which is hardly it’s forte.

The seats are snug but feel well formed. As the last person sits, first the overhead restraints automatically lower, before a lap bar tightly pushes down on top. People curse and scream for nothing more than effect, as although tight, the restraints being tight will only make the rest of the ride far more comfortable.

The ride whirs into life. Slowly, the 40-seat gondola is taken backwards, upright until the arms supporting you get to around 45-degrees. You then slowly swing forwards, the ride motion scooping you up towards the sky.

On your back, you slow and again swoop backwards in a gradual arc. So far, movements have been slow, gradual and unassuming. You swoop forwards again, climbing towards the sky before you pause upside-down. As the blood runs to your head, you continue skywards before with a hiss of pneumatics, the gondola rolls around 180-degrees, barrelling around the back of the ride towards the ground below, swinging sharply towards a wall of water.

The water drops just in time as the ride once again continues to tease you. This time upright, you gently go backwards and forwards. Suddenly, you quickly accelerate, rushing backwards and over the top like a magic carpet before returning to the top, where you pause.

Slowly, you creep forwards. Like you’re teetering on a cliff edge, you slowly turn downwards, staring towards the fountains below. Suddenly, like you’re falling, the water rushes towards your face. As your eyes close, the cool water soaks you, as the ride swings into an upright position.

On quiet days, if you blush whimsically at the ride operator, you may be entitled to another ride, normally a far more intense program.

You slowly creep up backwards, and just before you get to the top, you stop. Slowly, you’re taken backwards towards the ground, before the ride speeds up, climbing up to the top, before flicking you over the very summit of the ride, over, and over, and over about five times.

On the fifth flip, you teeter upside-down above the ground before you swing upright, go back up to the top and are once again soaked by the satanic ride operator.

On busier days, you only get one rather unfulfilling program that spends time building up to something that doesn’t materialise. Obviously this is a capacity issue, but I would far prefer the ride to get down to the nitty gritty and spit you out after a whirlwind of sensations than to nonchalantly saunter backwards and forwards before soaking you.

With two rides in a row, you will come up trumps. The second program, whilst not fairground quality, is highly entertaining, balancing the subdued swinging well with the intense rolling of the gondola.

Unfortunately, Rameses Revenge is a watered-down version of what can be found at the fairs. Rides on it range from moderate to fun, and although visitor reaction seems to be somewhat favourable, why run a ride so it is good when it can be great?

3/5 Marcus Sheen