going to stop short of calling Stealth predictable, but there has always
been an air of inevitability about it from day one.
an iconic coaster, I hoped that the park would rise to the challenge of
giving the UK an internationally noteworthy coaster – an icon – but,
at the back of my mind I was haunted by the spectre of inevitability
that the park would trim back this flourishing rose bush to just a
is a good ride. Really, it is.
it lacks the imagination, spirit and brazenness of real iconic rides,
enduring symbols that should become the envy of the world and embed
themselves indelibly so when you think Thorpe Park, you think Stealth,
just like when you think Blackpool, you think the Big One.
is, it is difficult to make a convincing argument that Tussauds should
beef up the public with all the extra trimmings when seemingly Stealth
is already enough to keep hunger at bay.
the end of the day, Stealth is no taller and no faster than the
prototype ride that was built at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2002. Forgive
my nonchalance, but while it is a good ride, it has nothing at all to
make it stand out from the myriad of so-called rocket coasters around
course, most people wouldn’t have ridden Xcelerator, but come on,
can’t we set standards for an icon coaster higher than simplified
clones that were built years ago? I believe iconic coasters by their
very nature stand out and offer something you’d be hard-pressed to
find anywhere else in the world.
Stealth’s simplicity is beautiful. A single, elegant archway climbs
away from a fan of supports, while the return bunnyhop arches over the
entrance to the area.
strangely, the minimalism of Stealth’s trademark archway kind of
undersells the ride making it appear shorter than it actually is. That
is, of course, until a striking red Chevy-themed train soars over the
arch, when all of a sudden you’re reminded just how tall Stealth is.
whole corner of Amity that Stealth is in feels strangely displaced.
Frankly, there’s not much to look at, and it feels uncomfortably open
and sterile. This isn’t helped by the fact that in front you have the
ground-hugging launch track with nothing behind it – no other rides,
no trees, no scenery – nothing.
the left, you have a large expanse of paving, then beige shingle.
away awkwardly to the right, meanwhile, is the station that uses the
same stand-offish architecture as Rita – Queen of Speed at Alton
Towers. No pretty canopy or station design here, just an exposed
platform clad in corrugated metal.
many people have complemented Stealth on theming, there really isn’t
much to compliment from where I’m standing. A WWTP Radio Airstream
trailer brightens up an otherwise sterile area, and the winch house at
the end of the launch track is good for continuity, if a somewhat
entrance is marked by what is fast becoming the biggest cliché in ride
entrances, a tyre (Rita – Queen of Speed, Vild-Svinet etc) surrounded
by a messy melee of signs, both showy (0-80mph in 2.3 seconds) and
advisory (warning of so-called rollbacks).
queue, like most of Thorpe’s queues, is a largely uninspiring vague
meander, but in the case of Stealth is brightened up with interaction
from the WWTP DJ who can do shout outs between the playlist of the best
of 1950s Americana.
isn’t until the very end of the queue that it properly begins to
interact with the ride, running under the launch track, then
briefly parallel to it before climbing the stairs to the main station.
station is as much of a flatpack affair as they come with the race
control tower overlooking a largely flat and featureless platform. The
train is unloaded further along the track before moving along, empty,
into the main station.
train has just 20 seats, all with Intamin’s new-style overhead
restraints, which are best, described as an overhead lapbar with a
rubber vest. Unlike Air, they’re nowhere near as figure-hugging, which
on Rita – Queen of Speed can be a problem, but for Stealth, they’re
more than up to the job.
the restraint down, seatbelt fastened, 40 curious eyes cast their gaze
towards the row of lights at the front of the station which count down
to the launch.
red light. Two lights. Three. Four. Five. Then green.
you can inhale enough air to scream, 40 now-bleary eyes are streaming
their way down the launch track, everything in their periphery a blur
before you feel the launch let go as the track peels away from the
ground into a vertical climb.
up into the top hat, you have time to savour every moment as miles per
hour slowly ebb away with you spiralling towards the clouds. Suddenly,
the track levels out into a peak, the train slows and teeters leaving
you a moment to regain composure.
the horizon little by little begins to climb as the train slowly edges
over the top of the arch, soon gathering speed as it begins its vertical
descent, quickly but smoothly twisting to the left, dropping down
towards the pathway below, pulling away and arching over the entrance
into the area before offering a strange mixture of forces as it hits a
steeply-banked magnetic brake run.
final turn into the unload station is accompanied by nervous giggles and
whoops of delight. At this point, it is hard to deny that Stealth leaves
that isn’t to say it is unique, world class or indeed an icon. It
was the bare minimum that Tussauds could get away with.
launch, like all Intamin rocket coasters is phenomenal. There is
absolutely no period of acceleration – in the click of your fingers,
you are already at top speed. While there is a difference of 20mph
between Stealth and Alton Towers’ Rita – Queen of Speed, this
difference is hard to quantify, and you soon begin the climb up
Stealth’s trademark element.
every other Intamin rocket coaster in the world, the top hat too is
good. The twist to and from the apex is as subtle and fluid a transition
as you can get at the best part of 80mph. The top meanwhile, ranges from
having a good amount of airtime in the back, to absolutely none in the
front, although the view alone makes that concession worthwhile.
isn’t the extreme airtime-fest of Intamin’s mega coasters, it is
gentle, drawn out and sustained well into the drop back down to the
ground. It’s B&M quality airtime, not the artificial and
aggressive airtime normally associated with Intamin rides.
the restraints’ credit, though, there is enough freedom to enjoy every
negative G of Stealth’s airtime – had Stealth have had lapbars, the
chances are you would have been pinned in too tightly to adequately
enjoy the sensation.
bunnyhop is unfortunately a messy end to the ride. Front seat riders
enjoy the slightly odd sensation of smooth, delicate airtime coupled
soon after with the feeling of quickly being pushed forward into the
restraints as the train hits the brakes, while those in the back of the
train don’t really get anything from an element that promised so much.
largest criticism Stealth deserves is that it is too short. Yes, of
course, the ride is only about the launch and top hat, but that was by
design. So much more can be done with the idea, and if all coasters were
designed with such a despondent and defeatist attitude, they’d rarely
get beyond the first drop that is often a highlight by default.
doesn’t have a problem sustaining a good ride beyond the top hat, nor
does Movie World’s Superman Escape, so it is plainly obvious that
there is more mileage in the idea than just a launch and a top hat.
before it opened, Stealth was dated. Already, there are taller versions.
There are longer versions, there are faster versions, there are versions
that have lots of airtime hills and inversions, and Stealth only has
brake-run in the shape of a bunnyhop to its credit.
argument that people wouldn’t have ridden Xcelerator et al doesn’t
hold water with me. As an icon, it should give the park a real identity,
not one that it is trying share the limelight with six other coasters
that are at least the same height, as well as a handful of others that
instead use length to their advantage.
like to think Coaster Kingdom looks at more than just the raw ride
experience itself, and the overall impact that a ride is likely to have
in the years to come. As a ride, Stealth probably gets a full compliment
of five stars. As a coaster, what there is of it – four stars... at a
as an icon? Just the three I’m afraid.
19 April 2006
do not use our ratings to compare rides head-to-head. They rate only how well
this ride meets its own objectives using criteria that may not necessarily be
relevant with similar reviews. More...
▪ An amazing launch that leaves
▪ Top hat is an interesting and exhilarating
contrast to the launch
▪ WWTP Radio adds much-needed interactivity to queue
▪ Too short
▪ Bunnyhop really isn't that interesting in any seat
▪ Although a good ride, it isn't the icon it could have been