a true Japanese warrior, for eight years at Chessington Samurai always
commanded the utmost respect, and when it’s work was done, was
sacrificed so that the park could pursue another way of the warrior;
freedom of fear, with the park choosing to focus more on becoming a more
family-orientated day out. Bushido would be proud.
Thorpe Park was in need of – for want of a better term – a cheap
hand-me-down, and what better than a sword-wielding warrior with eight
pilgrimage to Thorpe took him on a long and winding road, via the
kingdom of Terband-Heerenveen in the Netherlands, home of Dutch
manufacturer Mondial who pampered him by giving him a facelift and new
colour-scheme; black was so last year.
the decrepid Calgary Stampede (an aging Troika), Samurai would keep its
name and would serve as a further extension to the sprawling Lost City.
Whilst its link to Lost City is tenuous at best, the predominantly
mint-green colour scheme at least justifies its inclusion in the Lost
City line-up with the park now using the railway lines of the Canada
Creek Railway as the boundary between Canada Creek and Lost City.
Mondial Top Scan has in its short history become one of the most
respected spin rides in the industry. Using a counter-weighted arm, a
star of six rows of seats can make large oblique loops, with not only
the arm turning, but the star of seats and the rows themselves being
able to tumble head-over heals.
all odds, Samurai looks good. What the pasty green structure lacks in
taste, it makes up for in impact, but strangely we’re left with a mish-mash
of colours that even Timmy Mallet would think twice about wearing.
‘Complimenting’ the pale green, the black and red of the arms
continues Samurai’s legacy to a certain extent, whilst yellow strips
break up the blocks of black on the arm supports and the mechanics
holding the ride up towards the back of the platform.
ride now benefits from a lakeside setting underneath the first
turnaround of Colossus, with a row of evergreens almost forming a
backflash to the ride. The ride is actually excellently presented, with
a well-painted platform trimmed with the Lost City-style brickwork
consistent throughout the rest of the area.
queue line is dull enough to kill at least a few braincells, sandwiched
in between the elevated platform and lake, but moves quickly thanks to
the loading of the ride which is far, far improved from Chessington’s
at Chessington, riders are batched into groups of five for each row, but
instead of having the rows numbered, it is the platform
that is numbered. ‘Big deal’ I hear you nay-sayers mumble. Well, yes
it is. During it’s hiatus in Holland, Samurai has learnt how to count
– with the platform being numbered, you know where exactly your row
will land, and like a well-trained homing pigeon, your row will always
come home and land slap bang where it left. This means, instead of
having to work out where your row is and how the numbering is worked
out, you just need to glance at the platform whilst the ride is running
to know where you’ll actually be loading.
the ride loads, the ride is awash with a beautiful and calming piano
melody interrupted by the periodic hiss of pneumatics as the restraints
go down row by row. Loading is refreshingly quick for a park spin ride,
and as the bars have been checked, the musak fades as the ride tilts
back lifting you off the platform.
so the Oriental disorientation begins.
no, my mistake, the ride is just preparing itself for an onslaught of
massively high lateral G-forces by moving the gondola to the highest
point. Good thinking, Thorpe.
the Oriental disorientation begi... Oh, sorry, no, just going back
towards the platform before swooping back up behind into the highest
position again. Getting a bit of momentum, I bet.
the Oriental dis... Grr, what now?
The ride slows to platform level and stops, slowly turning the gondola.
This Samurai warrior is well rehearsed in the ancient art of teasing his
opponents by waving a red rag in front of them I expect.
last, the ride turns in the opposite direction but simply plateaus at a
fairly average speed and stays there meaning the cars just get caught
into the same monotonous pattern over and over again before a minute or
two later this so-called warlord concedes defeat and the battle ends.
this Samurai warrior couldn’t even win a fight in a playground, let
alone defeat hundreds of thousands of Mongols invading Japan.
look at the facts: Thorpe Park are trying to become big-players in terms
of thrills. Whether by accident or calculation, they inherit one of the
most intense thrill rides ever forged out of steel. And then they run it
at the speed of a rusty roundabout.
has a great lakeside setting, and offers wonderful views of Colossus,
Loggers Leap and out beyond the boundary of the park – which is great
if Samurai was a glorified observation tower, but let’s be honest
here; it’s not. Loggers and Colossus should be a blur.
more likely to get a taste of what a Top Scan can do on a quiet day, but
even so you get the feeling this ride is running for the bus when it
could be running a marathon. Even at its best, Samurai is only pretty
showmen at fairs have to turn their rides into transportable night clubs
in order to rouse the interest of the passing punter-to-be, theme parks
can in this respect rest on their laurels and simply make a ride
presentable as opposed to magnetic.
a lot of interest wanes at the prospect of a soulless, tamed down fair
ride, Thorpe Park can at least be congratulated for their dedication to
adding soundtracks for their rides, Vortex, Quantum and Detonator being
the most credible examples.
gets away from boring us with another Lost City remix, instead soothing
us with a magical piano medley during loading crescendoing into a mix of
various upbeat tracks – nothing in particular, but the frantic beat
does add a sense of adrenaline to a ride that often needs it.
simply cannot believe that I
am rating a Top Scan with anything less than a 5-star rating. This seems
even more absurd when the Top Scan is at home in a park pedalling
white-knuckle thrills like they’re going out of fashion. This should
be a match made in heaven, instead, Samurai in the state it’s in would
be far better suited to the family park it has just come from.
Updated: 11 July 2004
16 May 2004
▪ Another quality filler
ride for Thorpe Park
▪ Efficient loading
▪ Very smooth ride
▪ Excellent setting by
▪ Good music
▪ Colourscheme is an acquired
▪ Patchy operation and
very short rides on busy days
▪ Nowhere near the standard of any other Top Scan