Blaster, Chessington World of Adventures
Since the curtain fell on the
Fifth Dimension in late 1993, Forbidden Tomb has been a replacement with
unfulfilled potential, wreaking of originality but stinking of budget
cuts. Ride it you do, hate it you don’t and love it you don’t –
you come off feeling very unswayed by it and it has never been re-ridable
due to the B-Movie style clichés that abound your poorly animated trek
through some admittedly impressive scenes.
When Tomb Blaster was announced
late in 2001, I expected it to be a revamp lacking the investment it
should, sans originality.
It is. But, in addition it is now
a thoroughly entertaining adventure, filling the gap left by its
predecessor and hitting the mark that the former missed by immeasurable
Where as Forbidden Tomb was no
more or less than an average ride, Tomb Blaster is fantastic, emotive,
fun and pretty much all you could ask for in a ride of its genre.
Forbidden Kingdom: rich and
eclectic theming prospers, with a winding Egyptian bazaar with shops and
games, continuing past Rameses Revenge before your attention is grabbed
by the commanding and epic adventure music at the entrance to Tomb
The entrance, two sandstone
turrets guarded by feline guards, crouched in wait, take visitors up a
steep flight of stairs to the left before crossing the entrance and
making its way over to the right across a wooden rope bridge.
The pathway winds around a
courtyard below onto which the Casbah Café backs onto under a canvas
canopy along the length of the tomb wall. Bright frescos crumble away
revealing the wall behind before the queue turns back and heads down
some stairs into the tomb itself.
In a dark, murky room, you walk
around a long table, cluttered with storage crates. Monitors
sporadically ‘establish connection’ so that you can be effectively
briefed as to what your mission will involve.
It is highly clichéd, but holds
your attention well, getting across the safety advisory (no eating,
drinking, smoking…), a small sales pitch (‘photographic data is
available…’), and how to ‘play’ Tomb Blaster.
Shielding your head from
crumbling masonry, scaffold support grubby planks of wood as the queue
passes over a bottomless pit, a clever trick - of course - using mirrors
and glass giving you the impression the pit goes down into the centre of
The station is dull, dingy but
hints at the former glory of the tomb before it fell into the hands of
the wicked curses you are there to expel. The cars each seat five people
– two in front, three in the back.
Decorated in various forms of
artillery, a so-called Bug Blaster is tucked away in its holster between
each rider and a red display in front that will show your score as you
fire away at the star-field of targets.
Lap-bars lower before the train
slowly moves into the tomb. As it does, the muttering idiot Adab is gone
and incandescent beetles infest a pile of crates as you round a corner
and climb a hill.
Flashing like a christmas tree,
hundreds of red lights beg to be fired at. Red lines scathe through the
inky blackness from tens of guns as people ferociously fire at these
beetles clocking up 100 points for each bull’s-eye.
You climb a hill with crumbling
archways surrounding the train. The deep thunder of a boulder rolling
over the dilapidated masonry fails to draw your attention away from the
red lights turning green as the rounded ball of rock bounces from gap to
gap above your fragile head.
A vapour filled hollow is alive
with squirming and slithering snakes. The train of cars turn to the
right essentially forming a small, tiered theatre of riders to perfect
Pouring from the back, the
snakes’ ominous company present further targets for you to fiercely
fire at. You are too indulged as cobras jump from behind a crumbing
wall, distracting you and losing you valuable points as you try and
recover your aim.
The hazy catacomb continues past
an ivy-covered wall, riddled with cracks and holes from which concealed
constrictors jump, wriggling, writhing as you frantically become
overwhelmed by yet more lights to fire at.
A large web of beetles just begs
you to shoot at them, clocking up a hundred liquid-crystal display
points per each successful hit.
As you enter the next vault, a
semi-circle of rope-strung spikes are slowly pulled back in anticipation
of our arrival. As you do, trigger happy riders are surprised as a
section of wall swiftly turns to reveal a rotting figure of a mummy
clutching a laser gun before firing relentlessly at us with a deep green
To the left, your attention is
vaguely drawn to a crypt opening up revealing lost treasure, and of
course yet more targets.
Unperturbed, the train continues.
The floor drops away to a lava filled pit below, steaming with searing
heat as the 40ft statue of Anibus scans the train with ruby-red eyes.
Half giant, half feline, the head slowly turns as the train scurries
around the surrounding precipice of this bubbling crater as the ground
crumbles away into the molten lava below.
A brief respite follows. The
train passes through a revolving tunnel, devoid of targets whilst your
startled expression is captured on camera. Like the northern lights,
more targets twinkle with an alluring presence as the train explodes
into another frenzy of laser beams as red dots are drawn on the walls
like hundreds of fireflies as people aim to fire.
You stop in the shadow of a huge
statue of a cobra. As you fire away at it and the scenery surrounding
this black-lit creature, lasers from it’s piercing eyes scan up and
down the length of the train accompanied by the gorgeous Tomb Blaster
theme, before after a while, the train moves off past a line of decaying
mummies. As you’re indulging in the last offering of crucial targets,
the mummies jump towards you, startling you as the adventure ends, the
train stops and the bars rise.
The change from Forbidden Tomb to
Tomb Blaster is moderate, with the only notable changes being
hundreds-of-thousands of targets, a re-hashed finale, and the
disgruntled un-dead character firing at riders.
Where Terror Tomb
had a plot more predictable than Danger Mouse, Tomb Blaster has
absolutely no plot what so ever and is basically a gratuitous excuse for
riders to fire with a passion at anything lit in red or green. The lack
of story line benefits Tomb Blaster – riders have no need to be
distracted by following a coherent storyline when the idea of the ride
is to be an indulgent shooting gallery.
Where the ride is not far off
being perfect for what it sets out to achieve, a few things fall short
of the experience offered elsewhere on the ride.
Music in the attraction is patchy
and without a story line, should be relied upon for the sake of
consistency. Music is not as intrusive as a rich storyline, but is often
more emotive than any glitzy effect.
It is nice to see the back of the
mummified Alice Cooper tribute at the end of the ride. Whilst a good
finale in the scale of things, in essence it was infuriatingly
irritating after the first go and annoyed me like someone scratching a
Whilst the new context of Tomb
Blaster doesn’t need a finale to lift the roof from its rafters, the
current one is dull compared to the rest of the ride, and a cobra
peering up and down the length of the train several times really isn’t
enough to carry the scene through once your finger begins to ache.
This could be improved by not
stopping the train for quite so long – the ride is long enough for
people not to worry that they have queued for an hour for a short ride,
and such a subdued finish seems to leave the ride on a somewhat sour
note, and as such you forget what went before it.
And a problem, if you let it
become a problem, is that the thorough sets and theming may be missed as
you intently focus on the targets each time to better your score. It is
sometimes nice to hold back and enjoy the ride. Watch everyone else do
the work so you don’t have to – rider reactions are like they have
never been before on the ride, and it is almost as much fun watching
this than partaking in the fun yourself.
Tomb Blaster lifts the benchmark
of enjoyment on European dark rides. The grins of riders is living
testament to this, and it is great to see that such changes can
essentially transform the ailing Terror Tomb into a fresh, attention
grabbing adventure that can be enjoyed by all the family for years to
come giving it a re-ride value no other makeover could have done.
▪ With the laser guns,
Tomb Blaster is very re-ridable
▪ Elaborate sets add a
lot of depth
▪ Catchy music in places
▪ An easy game to play
▪ Guns can become
painful to use after a few minutes
▪ Very thin plot
▪ Very few characters
throughout the ride
▪ Finale is