has been a bitter/sweet relationship with spin rides that I have had for
the last ten-or-so years. Our first argument was in 1993, where at the
local fair I had perhaps had more candyfloss than is medically
recommended. This resulted in the Technicolor yawn, reacquainting me
with not only candyfloss but also the various party-digested parts of
food that made up my previous two meals.
ignored spin rides for years, but thanks to the much ridiculed settings
theme parks run their rides on (Chessington specifically), we buried the
hatchet and I rode the relatively tame Rameses Revenge.
we’ve been on talking terms, I enjoy spin rides to a certain extent
but hope I know where to draw the line.
company that carefully crafts these most disorientating of contraptions
is German company, Huss. The Pirate Ship to them is what the Boomerang
is to Vekoma – that is, of course, rather popular. A variation was
inevitable, and by replacing the fibreglass keel of the Pirate Ship with
a rotating disk, the Frisbee was born.
was an Italian copy of this ride at Six Flags Holland that had me riding
with my stomach tighter than a bouncer taking a beating from a thug –
fortunately, I didn’t experience ‘banquet recall’, but had it gone
on for perhaps another couple of minutes, then the results would have
been predictably gross.
was the random spinning aspect that really did me in, and although I
wasn’t disorientated, my stomach (specifically the food within)
to Holland. KMG further enhanced this success to swing to 120-degrees
and added inverter-style seats so that there would be no floor beneath
bewildered riders. KMG enjoyed the so-called Afterburner’s success on
the fair circuit for a few years before Thorpe Park ordered one to
accompany their two other thrill rides for 2001.
ride was unforgivably late in delivery and until the middle of July was
a concrete hole on the side of the lake at Thorpe Park. The absence of
the ride was also highlighted by a report on the do-gooder programme,
Watchdog on national television.
ride is certainly an eye-opener. As you enter the park over the bridge,
the pendulous claw of Vortex swings and spins dramatically to your left.
It is a great first impression, and as such will have many excided
visitors heading towards the colourful structure.
ride consists of a mint green structure spanning the entire width of the
platform, suspended from which a rich gold column. From this column span
eight deep blue arms in a star formation, each supporting four
ride is of a reasonable capacity, and queues normally are comfortable.
Watching the ride, I was almost hypnotised by the speed of each swing.
Fortunately, each swing is not accompanied by a whirlpool of spinning,
more a gentle rotation, an aspect that really helped keep me calm during
of the ride is a bit too slow for my liking. It isn’t until the last
person has left the platform before the gate is thrust open. It seems an
annoying trait for people to sit down, comfortably, BEFORE realising
that their shoes may be flung into central London and then spending all
the time in the world removing the offending articles only to be told to
put them back on again.
everyone is sat comfortably, accompanying the safety spiel that pretty
much covers every loose article that could be lost, the bars quickly
lower, clicking firmly into place before upon checking, the operator
leaves the platform.
floor lowers by about a metre before the gondola of seats slowly starts
to turn. Fifteen seconds later, once the turn is at a nearly unnerving
rate, you are pulled to the side as the arm begins to spin.
first, this is really pleasant with gentle shimmies over the surrounding
shrubbery. It is not long before gentle swings evolve into rather large
and exhilarating swoops.
swing is potent and very assisted feeling far less natural than a Pirate
Ship. As you get higher, your feet seem to brush past the edge of the
platform as you swing above the waiting queue line and entrance area to
the pinnacle of each swing, the turning of the gondola is highlighted,
and below you, getting smaller, people stare up at you. The swings soon
get even higher, you feel yourself fall into the restraints as the
swings reach about 120-degrees.
each end, an extremely exhilarating moment of flight is experienced as
you swoop above the courtyard adjacent to the lake, over the below
shrubbery, scraping past the platform.
writhing in terror opposite soon stop screaming as the swoops become
more palatable, smaller, the turning slows and the ride slowly
your feet dangle, the colourful platform floor below rises and you jump
from your seat and cross towards the exit.
I think I’m in love. Vortex is a fantastic combination of forces. The
swooping too and fro is incredibly bracing, surprisingly hasty and not
at all stomach churning. Fortunately, the turning of the gondola isn’t
done to excess and doesn’t stir up my stomach up like a Kenwood mixer.
seats aren’t too uncomfortable. The bars do seem to push on your legs,
but compared to the Chance Inverter and Huss Top Spin, it is like a
leather upholstered settee from Courts. They’re just plastic though,
which perhaps doesn’t do wonders for your back, but the ride is
predictable in its movements and smooth as it does so, so this
shouldn’t leave you crippled.
are just a few gripes. The spinning seems to be just at the wrong speed.
If on the high swings you face the ground, you are pretty much
guaranteed to be looking at the ground on every swing. If you swing with
your back to the ground, likewise you will be spending much of the ride
on your back. A simple change in direction of spin would probably sort
this problem, even perhaps a slightly faster spin.
the moment, the ride seems to be an incredibly popular addition to
Thorpe Park with more repeat riding I have ever experienced with a
simple spin ride. This is perhaps to do with the quality of ride offered
even though queues average out at 30 minutes.
is a very timely addition. With Colossus, thrill
seekers require more than a single coaster (however good), and Vortex
suits this bill to a tee and further enforces the fact that Thorpe Park
is beginning to trounce any local competition what so ever.
well as being a very sensible addition, Vortex ensures that you have a
thoroughly enjoyable ride.
▪ Fantastic location
next to the lake
▪ Very smooth with a
great feeling of exhilaration as opposed to spinning
▪ Music really enhances
▪ Very slow loading and
▪ Certain sides always
get the high swings so ride quality varies