Rumba Rapids (Thorpe Park)
you ever wanted to see the ‘source of the current’, the fictional home of
Ribena? No, neither have I.
Rumba Rapids is another attempt by Tussauds at injecting life into a lifeless
attraction. Thunder River has never been anything to tell your friends about,
but then before there has been little reason to get excited about such an
unassuming ride – with a subdued entrance and a queue as plain as a cream
cracker, it has never been that much of a shock to find the actual ride to be
somewhat featureless throughout.
in its loosest sense the dictionary term of ‘new’ does cover overhauls of
existing rides, I put it to you that anyone would laugh in my face if a luridly
painted queue line and some fibreglass blackcurrants with cheeky grins would
constitute as being a new ride.
This is exactly what Rumba Rapids is.
Rumba Rapids experience starts near the Tea Cup Twisters in Calypso Quay. Sadly,
the entrance of the ride being a sensational shade of green fails to put people
off the ride, and the queue often reaches back across Calypso Quay as the Rumba
Rapids queue-line is unable to hold little over 30 minutes of queue.
onto the lime-green bridge at the entrance to the ride is a mischievous little
lizard, surprising unwitting queuers by spraying a craftily aimed jet of water.
You can look forward to similar little touches as much as you like, but
they’re never going to materialise.
brightly coloured walkway skirts around the edge of a rather square lake. Safety
announcements are introduced by an odd popping noise, the language I assume to
be spoken by a safety conscious Ribena berry before a softly spoken person
speaks the law of the land.
rest of the queue is although brightly coloured, featureless. The end of the
queue drops down onto the customary turntable. The control box in the middle is
again a shade of green, trimmed with stripy drainpipes and a yellow snake thing
on the plastic thatched roof with the turntable surrounded with an undulating
fence. No prizes for guessing what colour it is painted in.
boats are simply awful and look like the cheap plastic toy you get in Christmas
crackers that you throw away. In garish shades of red, purple and green, each is
littered with a melee of random tasteless and tacky logos, trimmed with a tatty
rubber ring at the base.
problems with the boats go way beyond aesthetics, however. The eight-seater
boats are exactly the same size as the six-seater ones that they replace.
Despite being told in my childhood not to talk to strangers, I’m slightly
uncomfortable by the fact that nowadays children are expected to virtually sit
on strangers laps to enjoy the ride.
seats are not padded, and seat back ends uncomfortably halfway down your back.
With no central grab rail, I find it insulting that I am told to hold on when
all I have is a pathetic handle to the side of my seat that I am almost sitting
you’re even seated comfortably (although, should the truth be told, that’s
never going to happen), the boat rolls off the end of the turntable and
immediately saunters around a 180-degree turn and skims beneath a waterfall. A
crescendo of excitement from our fellow marines is offered as a drum roll as we
approach the waterfall. It all to soon changes to a sigh of disappointment as
the boat passes unscathed and without any war wounds. The waterfall is best
compared to a runny nose and makes a toilet flush look like Niagara.
sudden 180-degree turn takes us into a long but slightly choppy straight
section. Pipes beneath the shallow water are like speed ramps in every sense as
the boat violently thumps over each pipe offering a sensation not dissimilar to
sliding down a storm drain on a dustbin lid.
few less violent ripples follow as your under-whelmed expressions are caught on
camera without warning. You enter a misty tunnel and skirt around the outer
walls beneath a waterfall lit in a nice shade of purple.
we see the ‘source of the current’. Quick, turn it off. Of course, this is
like a scene from Professor Burp’s Bubble Works although far less animated as
the Ribena berries stand around and do something or other. I guess the berries
are making Ribena, which is sinisterly made from their pulped friends. Maybe
they’ll endure the same fate – who knows?
again, we pass a riverside shack with a Ribena berry on a rocking chair just as
we enter a wave pool. You slowly hover for about 30-seconds before dipping under
a bridge and through a sweeping 90-degree bend.
finale is simple. You pause beneath a (bright green) water tower. As people
whoop with expectation, not a drop falls from the water tower, and instead a
couple of jets of water spray hit the back of your head from elsewhere as boats
are siphoned onto the final lift.
is a strange phenomenon that by spending even too little on a ride the finished
attraction is actually worse than what forewent it, but Tussaud’s have sadly
made this an art form.
the capacity is a good move, but as well as looking like glorified washing-up
bowls, the new boats make the ride an uncomfortable and frankly lousy
main complaint with rapids rides at theme parks that is aside the minority, they
make no effort to explain why you’re actually white-water rafting in the first
place. There have always been exceptions, especially newer rides, but if
you’re going to theme a ride, you may as well do it properly.
is why I’ve never had a problem with Thunder River – it has always been
quite inconspicuous and inoffensive – it has never been themed and although
dull, doesn’t profess to be anything else.
Rapids on the other hand now joins ranks of themed rides – it is beyond me why
the opportunity to actually explain why you’re drifting down a river is passed
up, and why they thought painting the previously weathered shades of brown in
adventure playground colours would constitute as theming.
colours bright enough to necessitate the wearing of darkened shades whilst you
queue, it seems the ride itself is all the more dull remaining untouched with
the peeling paint on the sides of the concrete channel. Where before the ride
was a complete non-event, the flippantly themed queue-line now just highlights
how dreary the ride actually is and makes it look like they’ve run out of
paint mid-way through the re-theme.
Again, like the boats not only am I saying the ride is no oil painting, but also that the ride is as dull as old boots too. The two waterfalls around the ride are useless and have no effect.
wave pool is ineffective as it isn’t a respite from the normal flow of the
ride, more an anti-climatic conclusion following on from the most lifeless
stretch of rapids I have ever gone down.
Wave pools normally throw the boat from side-to-side - this just stops the flow
Wave pools normally throw the boat from side-to-side - this just stops the flow of water.
water is too shallow, showing too much of the ugly concrete channel and the
bright yellow pipes beneath the water that make (or should make) the waves. Of
course, the boat doesn’t really react to these waves too well, grinding along
the bottom on a couple of occasions.
the flaws of Rumba Rapids are simple. Before, a dull queue line was unassuming
and low key, as was the ride. Now the brightly coloured queue offers a casually
themed build up to a Ribena-themed adventure that frankly never transpires.
can’t even take comfort in that the ride is actually a good rapids ride. It
never has been and I doubt ever will be – not whilst they rely on spraying
water from bushes, anyway.
1/5 Marcus Sheen