New for 2018 at Thorpe Park is the The Walking Dead The Ride and we decided to pop along over the long weekend to see if we could survive the walkers. This review will contain spoilers so if you don’t want it ruined, then walk away now. You have been warned!
So, as i’m sure all of you are aware, you walk under a corrugated metal sign with the rides name on it and into the now completely outdoor queue line. Fastrack is not currently available at the moment, but it will be introduced at some point. The watch tower entrance to the building is a very nice piece of theming and makes the entrance to the building look very cool. So when you reach the front of the queue, you get batched into a waiting area that has a baggage hold to the left. You are then moved into the pre-show. This is a small room just inside the door and sets up the story, it being that you’ve just arrived at the safe zone and because you’ve just arrived you need to be questioned and detained. This, of course, gets interrupted by those pesky walkers. You are then let into the rest of the building. You walk the newly themed corridors of what was X and slowly make your way to what has been dubbed the transit system. These themed corridors have been painted to match with the story. It’s only when you get to the area right before the station where the big theming pieces return. The minimalist theming in the corridors actually work to build on the story and does work quite well. Add to that the smell pots and you have quite an immersive first bit.
The transit system is the traditional X roller coaster. The station has been turned into a loading bay and actually doesn’t look to bad. You get loaded up, in twos, and then sent off. This is where my opinions on the ride vary the most. The bottom of the lift hill has some quite believable theming in the form of pipes. As you ascend the first lift, the theming sort of just vanishes. You then go over the top and round the normal X ride system. You then reach the first brake which has some shabby looking hanging figures. These bits of theming look a bit odd and out of place and if i’m to be honest, slightly cheesy, but you don’t have much time to pay close attention before you’re hurtling onwards. Again, second brake bit doesn’t have much theming. You then reach the third brake. This is where the ride changes for the better!
There are screens to the left and they burst to life to make it seem like the walkers are trying to get to you. As they are bashing through the supposed glass, a voice starts to say things like “I will get you out of there” and “come on, a little bit more”. The transit system has apparently stopped because the walkers got to the generator and he’s trying to get you going again. Along with the visual and audio, the train stutters on the brake, as if it keeps failing. It’s a very clever scene that has to be done to realise how amazing it actually is. You do eventually get going again and the scenes come at you thick and fast. You pass the armory, which is being attacked and defending with gun shots, you hear bullets being shot and they hit the gas canisters which let of smoke, and then hit the final brake. You sit here as the man says something’s and then your ambushed by some zombies to the right. The ambush isn’t that great, but had strobes and figures to make it look like your being ambushed. You then arrive at the unload station and get shouted out to leave quickly. You then pass through what is supposed to be a cafeteria scene.
Dom did it twice yesterday. The first run, the room had just its theming, but the second run there was a zombie actor. When Amber did it, this scene had one actor on her first run and two on her second, so the actor bit is a bit it and miss. After this scene you head back through the corridors of the safe zone and eventually get to some black flaps. You go through and it becomes pitch black with bits of string hanging down. It doesn’t last long and when you reach the other side you are basically at the end.
Overall the new tethered of X has been done quite well. The theming is simplistic in some areas, but works, and extravagant in some areas which work better. I do feel that a couple more improvements could be made. On the day Dom visited, the ride had some issues in the morning, but those were ironed out. For what is basically a zombie themed attraction, there is actually quite a lack of zombies, but I do think it has the potential to become something quite scary for Fright Nights. I think as long as you go in remembering it’s X and to not have high expectations than it will actually blow you away. If you go in with high expectations than I’m afraid you will be disappointed. It is a marmite retheme, but I think it’s one that will benefit the park and is actually better than rave X!