Coaster Kingdom


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I, like so many others, was awestruck when I first saw Vortex when I arrived at Thorpe Park during a visit in Summer 2001. Given my previous fondness of Pirate ship rides, I was expecting it to be a good laugh, and it way surpassed my expectations. Most people have complained about hitting the same height of swing each time, but I haven't often found that to be true, or at least, I haven't noticed! I enjoyed the ride so much when I first rode it, I did so twice again, and if there is one ride that is visited twice every time I go to Thorpe Park, it is the Vortex. That held true this Monday. I have never stopped enjoying this ride. Congrats to KMG.

Sam Morris

I love spin rides, and found Vortex comparable even to the mighty Samurai. It could turn a bit faster, though, as the spinning isn't really evident.

Cat Mason

I hate spin rides, but this is truly exhilarating. I really enjoyed it.

Simon Casey

I don't really like spinning rides, but Vortex changed my mind.

Carly Corbin

Brilliant ride - Humm, it would just about fit in my back garden!

Chris Keys

My fav spinning ride in the UK by far, looks stunning and a pleasure to ride. There's few flat rides I'll queue for more than half an hour for, but Vortex more than justifies it's often lengthy queue.

No name supplied

Though it took its time to arrive this is an excellent ride, with slightly repetitive music and a wonderful sensation.

Andrew Jack

I loved Vortex, despite it being a lot smaller in real life than expected, it spins you just enough and for long enough not to feel sick and the music with the circling at the start is really cool. But maybe we could have done with out the 'OK here we go' fairground style voice over just as it was getting going. And it's true that the way it spins, only certain sides get the go high, and the other stays facing up, which is a bummer.

Roger Beale

A truly fantastic attraction. It is actually one of the only rides I would truly describe as 'exhilarating'

John Thorp

In 2001, the UK theme park world went crazy. Thorpe Park installed thrill rides! As part of the remarketing of newly Tussaud's acquired Thorpe Park, it became THE place to overload your senses. 2001 saw the introduction of three new high thrill flat rides. One of these was Vortex.

Vortex got off to a bad start, being late in arrival from KMG and hence opening weeks after opening day and resulting in a Watchdog article on the programme. It was worth the wait though.

Vortex is the first KMG Afterburner to appear in a fixed state at a theme park, previously only appearing on the travelling fair scene. Although a potential marketing gold mine, was never exploited, and so with a lack of advertising and a late arrival, Vortex started off life as the underdog.

Compared to its accompanying instalments, Vortex might seem quite tame. It doesn't have the speed of Detonator, nor does it have the upside down sensation of Zodiac. Yet in ride enjoyment, Vortex wins hands down.

An imposing structure it is, a giant of a ride, a hybrid of a Pirate Ship and an Egg Whisk to quote the official site. You and 31 fellow riders take your seats in one of 8 rows facing inwards, making up the octagon. The floor lowers and the octagon starts to rotate before the operator presses the Go button and the pendulum starts to swing. A few swings either way before the ride reaches full height. It is here when the ride starts to show its true colours. At a maximum angle of over 100 degrees you swing back and forth whilst rotating.

The rotation isn't as fast as the likes of a Huss Frisbee but faster than an Intamin Gyro Swing. A perfect mix... almost. You see, the "clever" people at KMG made a fatal error with the rotating of Vortex. Get the right seat and you will be at the highest point of the octagon but get the wrong seat and you will be at the lowest, fine you may say, but the rotating is so precise that you will be at the same point on every swing. The rotation is such that is rotates exactly half way with each swing, so you will always be in the same spot.

It is perhaps this that lets it down, as if everyone could experience the top seat each ride then it would be a perfect ride. But when queuing over and hour and not experiencing much more than a pirate ship, it is hardly a thrill ride to shout about.

A super ride when at the top yet a real disappointment when at the bottom.

Dan Thompson

As you enter the bridge that leads into the heart of Thorpe Park, the closest ride you will see is Vortex, to your left hand side. When this ride is in operation, it is truly breathtaking to watch - even more so if you have not encountered this type of ride before.

What differentiates this ride from it's fairground equivalents is the speed of the spin more then anything else. Far from pinning you into your seat, it acts as a gentle addition to the swinging motion, making the ride feel far more graceful as it majestically swoops from side to side.

Length is just right, though if you are unlucky enough to choose a bottom seat the ride experience will be very different. The lost city theme is getting overused, but there is no doubt that the pounding drums as the ride starts to swing fit perfectly, before disintegrating into some forgettable straing chords as the ride reaches it's climax.

The length of the queue and the slow loading of the ride is a problem, though in many cases this is because of factors that staff cannot control. (If you get lumbered with slow staff, it makes it all the worse!)

The floor's screw mechanisms are very very slow compared to the hydraulic fair versions, and it doesn't start rising until the ride has fully stopped swinging - which due to the low power of the motor, takes a while in itself. Once the floor has finally managed it's way up, riders exit in the same direction that they enter - meaning that if the gate it opened straight away, the two get entangled and it takes even longer for everyone to get sorted. Bags are frequently left by the edge of the platform, not a good idea with a lowering floor and need to be tidied up before the ride can start.

The restraints cause even more problems. KMG are known for tight harnesses, and Vortex's really take the biscuit. It is not uncommon for guests to be asked to leave the ride as they cannot be locked. Restraints can only be unlocked whole-ride at a time, and once the guest has left, there is the added hassle of getting everyone to put their arms out to lock them all again. An easy answer may be to have a test seat by the entrance - ala the main roller coasters?

It's a good ride, but slow operation due to several factors leaves the queue far longer then it might ought to be. If such problems could be ironed out, this could well be the best flat ride at any British Theme Park.

Lewis Cox

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