What I Love About Theme Parks

What I Love About Theme Parks

1102487_10151796228949800_1475324573_oYou know when some people still don’t understand your hobby with theme parks? Yeah, that’s me. I don’t really need to justify why I love theme parks so much but maybe you want to find out why I love them so much – to be honest, 90% of my blog is about theme parks so that’s a hint… No one will be able to separate me from my love of theme parks – it’s a part of my life and it’s going to stay that way! *wink*

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Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2018 | Review

Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2018 | Review

I must say, 2018 seems to have flown by considering it feels like only yesterday it was the 2017 Halloween season. I am not complaining by any means as it is my absolute favourite time of year! This year was going to be a good one when Thorpe Park started announcing their new mazes and scare zones for 2018. I couldn’t wait to get started when I visited for the Press Night on Thursday 4th October.

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Well… you did not disappoint Thorpe. You really made this into a truly terrifying experience and I cannot wait to experience this maze even further. The fact that before you even begin, you have to walk past a small section of the maze where the ‘inhabitants’ are all waiting for you – yes, they can see you. As you venture forward, you are greeted to a standard school bus – bright yellow but oh so awesome. Do you actually walk inside the bus? Yes. Is there interaction in the bus? Yes. It’s one of the most unique start to a maze I have ever endured. I loved wandering through the maze and experiencing the somewhat ‘crazy’ inhabitants of ‘Sanctum’. There are twists and turns throughout the maze with a very scary surprise within the middle of the maze – no spoilers here chaps, just enter into the depths of Do or Die, and try not to get killed. Tip: Do this in the dark!

VulcanPeak

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Okay. First impressions? Nice outdoor theming. Good intro into the attraction, you are explorers travelling to the mysterious Vulcan Peak but with a slight twist, you must be ‘blindfolded’ on your journey. In layman terms, it’s a scare maze where you wear a hooded bag over your head, with only the guidance of a rope to make your way through it. These sorts of mazes – that I have done (3 prior to this one) – can be very hit and miss in terms of scares. Unfortunately, this was the weakest one of them all. There wasn’t anything going for it apart from one slight touch of my hand. I would like to try this again and hopefully I will get a better runthrough but I was pretty disappointed considering this was a new maze for 2018.

DeadCreekWoods

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Located within the Zombie Hunt area, I was very excited to explore these woods… As the story goes, the once pleasant surroundings of Dead Creek Woods have taken an apocalyptic turn and the main water source has been infected with a deadly virus. Keep an eye out as zombie residents roam around the area. I very much enjoyed this maze, and when you end up having a small group of 2 people, the ‘residents’ really get a chance to pounce at you from all angles. I would say this is the perfect starting point for anyone new to scare attractions – there might be a small surprise near the middle but I promise you it is worth it. Great addition Thorpe!

BlairWitch

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Right. For anyone thinking that this is going to be the same as previous Blair Witch mazes, you will be very much mistaken! This has really turned into a fab maze, and I really mean it. It’s tight, it’s spooky and it’s fab. The actors have great opportunity to give some up close scares and perfect hiding spots. I was very impressed by this maze and is certainly up there as one of the best of the Fright Nights mazes I have done. Give it a go, you won’t regret it. Remember, never spend the night, never look in her eyes and never turn away from the corner.

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First off, I want to say how sad I was when it was first announced that The Big Top scare maze was not returning for 2018. When it came about that it was coming back as a scare zone, I was very nervous about how this would be executed. In all honesty, the roaming actors were on fire! The interaction when asking what happened to their big top tent is fantastic – burnt down, destroyed, ‘MATCHES!’ – I bloody loved it. Having a chance to see the scare zone show within the Dome on press night was great too. It created a massive build-up with the iconic IMAScore soundtrack – yaaaaaaas! – before the ‘freaks’ were unleashed to us all. Well done Thorpe, you’ve done a good job!

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Vampires. YES, YES, BLOODY HELL YES! If you don’t know, I love any TV shows or films that contain vampires (more Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Vampire Diaries than the Twilight Saga). I love the fact that Thorpe have decided to branch out into Vampires for this year. Meeting the cast of Amity High was a pleasure – might have flirted a bit with Jackson, the prom King and found a new boyfriend with one of the ‘T-Bird’-esque guys. The interaction with them is incredible, I will be returning to find out more about their back story into how they became Vampires – who knows, maybe I could join their clan? 😉

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with Fright Nights and the new scare attractions they have for this year. There is plenty to choose from – SAW Alive, Platform 15 and The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare return too! – so you will be spoilt for choice. I actually cannot pick one favourite for this year, they were good – apart from Vulcan Peak, that definitely needs some more work in terms of scares!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Top 8 Reasons to love Halloween season

Top 8 Reasons to love Halloween season

Hey guys, I’m back from a short hiatus! It’s September, can you believe it? My inner Morticia Addams is already waiting to come out, yaaas.  It also means that Halloween season is upon us and for those lucky few, Halloween events have already started abroad.

I love this time of the year so I was inspired to write about the top reasons to love Halloween season. Of course, there are some who do not enjoy this time of the year – all I will say is, don’t be a wimp. Read on for my top 8 reasons to love this spooky time of the year.

Pumpkin Top 8 Reasons To Love Halloween Season

#1 Atmosphere

The atmosphere at Halloween events are so fab. Everyone really gets involved, whether you are a scare actor, scare host or a member of the public. When the sun sets, and the incoming darkness sets the scene for what awaits you. Honestly, a scream park or theme park can change completely when it is night-time. And that’s the best part. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to get some fog which can really make things disorientating.

 

#2 SCARE MAZES

You either love scare mazes or you hate them? For me, they are awesome! Yes, I’ll admit I get nervous when it comes to trying out new scare mazes but you have to try them. Honestly, Halloween season would be pretty bland without some scares in place. And with scream parks dotted around the UK, it’s the perfect excuse to have a small road trip around the UK – or why not travel abroad and find some Halloween there?

 

#3 Nighttime riding

For all the coaster geeks, this is a personal favourite. The best part about night time riding is how rollercoasters take on a more menacing persona at night. Plus, there’s the added effect that your favourite coaster can appear faster and more intimidating than during the day. It’s another perk of the longer opening hours during the Halloween season and when the clocks go back, even more, nighttime goodness to enjoy.

Merch Cookie Top 8 Reasons To Love Halloween Season

#4 Halloween Merch

If you love collecting merch, then you might be lucky enough to purchase some exclusive Halloween season merch. Pin Badges? T-Shirts? You name it and more than likely, you will be able to buy it. Who wouldn’t want some spooky merch to add to their collection – give me pumpkin inspired merch any day.

 

#5 Dressing Up

What’s the best thing you can do at Halloween? Dress up as anything you want and make it spooky. Even if it is just a simple face paint job – Halloween season is where you can see people’s creativity come to life. Plus, you might be able to trick people in scare mazes that you are a scare actor (happened to me last year when I went through The Big Top maze at Thorpe Park). 😉 Get your creative thinking caps on and start prepping for your scary costume this year.

Hot Chocolate Top 8 Reasons To Love Halloween Season

#6 Hot Drinks

Am I the only person who loves grabbing a hot chocolate whilst on park at this time of year? When the weather is cold, the best thing is walking around park with a hot chocolate to hand. However, this can slip into general Autumn vibes when it comes to flavoured hot drinks – Pumpkin Spice Latte anyone? It’s just one of those fab little things.

Autumn Top 8 Reasons To Love Halloween Season

#7 Cool Days, Cold Nights

It isn’t really Autumn without the weather becoming cooler and you have a reason to wear that thick coat and put your boots on – probably doesn’t apply to you fellas out there but you know what I mean. I love getting cosy with a thick coat, scarf etc and wandering around theme parks/scream parks till late at night. That for me is a part of Autumn and why I love Halloween season. Of course, if you are abroad and it doesn’t get as cold as it does in the UK during October, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying Halloween season.

 

#8 So many Scare Events to visit

Basically, you can be spoilt for choice when it comes to scare events. There’s so many to choose from around the UK, let alone if you want to go abroad! It’s the perfect time of year to see theme parks in a different light and compare events – see how good UK scare events are compared to scare events abroad. My personal opinion, some UK events are fantastic but when you go abroad, they can be in a whole different league.

Okay, this might have turned into a reason to love Autumn but you get the idea. I honestly get so excited when this time of the year rolls around, it just goes by way too quickly! If only Halloween season lasted all year? 😉

That’s all for now.

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Feed the Flames at Alton Towers

Feed the Flames at Alton Towers

IMG_2315Guys, I did it!

I went on the Wicker Man, after admiring the ride in a blizzard two weekends ago. And boy, I am impressed.

Alton Towers have done themselves proud to make this ride a great addition to the line-up. I would even put it up there with Nemesis, and that is saying something! It’s definitely been a long time coming since we got a woodie in this country. GCI (Great Coasters International) do make some impressive wooden coasters: Troy and Wodan, I am looking at you. I was very much looking forward to experiencing this for the first time.

 

“FIRST IMPRESSIONS – WOW!”

Obviously, I have already admired the coaster in it’s ‘glory’ whilst the snow fell very hard during ‘opening’ weekend. But when you have the audio in the area as well as the effects of the theming element, you start to feel immersed in the experience. The theming of the fences in the area and the Wicker Man entrance sign – LOVE IT! Also worth noting that the area does get very smokey.

The theming details inside the building was fantastic, the walls are made of actual wicker! It is just like being transported into another realm – and as a theme park enthusiast, we like this sort of immersion and detail. The flame effects of the fire torches are a nice touch too. Once you get into the pre-show area, I enjoyed it. I’m not going to post any spoilers but seeing the reactions from the General Public, it really adds to the anticipation and enjoyment of the experience.

Now don’t get my started on THAT station. In a good way I might add! Honestly, it was on par with some European parks in my opinion. Seriously, Merlin has done a great job with this ride and really making it as detailed as possible. The lighting within the station, I do like me some good lighting at a theme park.

 

“GREAT JOB TO THE RIDE TEAM!”

One thing I did notice that affected throughputs is the number of guests that are perhaps a little ‘large’ for the ride. Not too sure why this is a significant problem – certainly didn’t see this as a problem at European parks with the likes of Troy at Toverland and Wodan at Europa Park. Unless I am very much mistaken, please do correct me if I am wrong.

Hopefully with the addition of the test seat, this may help to avoid this issue becoming a significant. I must praise the ride team for doing their utmost best to get every guest on the ride but sometimes, safety does come first. Fab job guys, despite the breakdowns that the ride experienced during the course of the weekend, you were amazing!

In total I managed to get 7 rides on Wicker Man across Saturday and Easter Sunday, that just shows you how much I enjoyed it. I managed to get myself as close to the back as I could and front row – I think riding towards the back gives you the best chance of airtime however I did enjoy riding front row, just to experience all the elements coming right at you.

 

Just one more thing, that downwards S-bend after the second airtime hill… FAVOURITE ELEMENT OF THE WHOLE RIDE. 

I didn’t get a chance to go in the main queue line, and I know there are some good theming elements and photo opportunities of the ride but I hope to go through it at some point when I make a return trip. Yep, Alton Towers has given me more reason to make a return visit before Scarefest! I actually cannot wait to ride this in the dark – yes, I have seen some spoilers of the lighting within the area and WOW, October can’t come around soon enough.

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

 

 

My Favourite Woodies

My Favourite Woodies

Since us UK geeks are getting incredibly excited about the Wicker Man opening next weekend (although some have been lucky enough to ride it already!), I thought I would dedicate a blog posts to the other woodies I have ridden. My first real memory of woodies was back in 2002 when I went to Florida and rode Gwazi… yeah, that ride was interesting to say the least. Now that I have ridden a good few woodies that are absolutely great, here’s a list of my favourites.

 

Wildfire | Kolmarden Zoo

My babe! This ride is just fab and you really need to get yourself to Kolmarden just for this. Wildfire ticks all the boxes for me. The inverted zero G stall element is my favourite part of the ride, quite simply for the fact I was like “What the hell?!” when I first rode it. The ride has everything you need for a thrilling coaster that is fun for all the family and I think the on-ride photo above proves that!

 

Troy | Toverland

This used to my all time favourite woodie before Wildfire came along, but you cannot deny that this is still a favourite among the theme park community. I heard great things about this before I even ventured to Toverland in 2013 and yep, it did not disappoint. The sheer speed of the ride is enough to keep me wanting more – especially if its a hot day.

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Tomahawk | PortAventura

Awwww, Tomahawk was a beaut to ride. I can’t really explain why I prefer this over Stampida. I think it’s the fact that the ride is so fun to ride and you got some real good airtime!

 

Joris En De Draak | Efteling

Joris is another favourite of mine, not quite at the same level of Troy and Wildfire in my opinion but I won’t turn down a ride on it when visiting Efteling. For some people, they do rate Joris over Troy. For me, Joris is more family orientated and with the racing element, it adds to the fun of the ride – especially when you are on the winning train!

 

Twister | Grona Lund

Grona Lund is insane enough with the whole compact nature of the park but Twister… Despite the fact that it doesn’t look like much, I really enjoyed the ride! Don’t be deceived into thinking it won’t be thrilling because of how small it is, honestly it is worth the queue! Plus, you might find a few recognisable images of woodies in the queue line.

 

White Lightning | Fun Spot Orlando

Go to Fun Spot on a quiet day and you can just re-ride White Lightning. Those bunny hops give you plenty of airtime – like seriously. I honestly would return to Fun Spot just to ride White Lightning again.

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Wodan | Europa Park

Okay, I have to say that I have ridden Wodan when it was running ‘slow’ and didn’t rate it highly. However, like with all coasters, when they have been operating for the whole day and if it’s been a hot day, Wodan pretty much packs a punch. I didn’t think it was going to show me that it can be just as good as Troy but it did. Don’t judge the ride if your first ride is slow, wait until the end of the day and it may just surprise you!

 

Megafobia | Oakwood

Probably one of the most iconic woodies we have in the UK (or Wales to be exact) at the moment. I can now see why all the geeks rave about this ride, especially as John Wardley designed it too! Back row is insane on the ride, I just wish it was closer to home so we could all give it more love.

Despite not being a huge lover of woodies, I have ridden a few that have shown me that they can be fun and thrilling. Maybe my early memories of Gwazi put me off for a while! Here’s to next weekend where I get the chance to ride The Wicker Man. Hope to see a few of you there!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My early memories of Chessington

My early memories of Chessington
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I’m going to get all nostalgic now for this blog post. I was thinking the other day about how theme parks have changed, most notably the ones that I visited as a child – and what I can still remember to this day, my memory isn’t that great ha!

I first visited the park in 1998 and have been a regular visitor since then – 20 years on! I still enjoy visiting and seeing how the park has expanded and grown over the years. Of course, I do miss the old attractions that are either no longer with us or have been changed, but it’s the perfect chance to reflect on these and how awesome the park was!

Note: I sadly don’t have many photos from back in the day for these relevant attractions featured in this blog post. *crying face*
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The Original Vampire

My earliest memory was walking through the big Vampire door entrance and feeling so nervous about the ride. As a kid, it was pretty terrifying as you look up and see the bat style trains flying over you in Transylvania. As you travelled towards the station, it was so dark you couldn’t see much, with the coffins separating each row, the massive chandeliers and of course, the organist ‘playing’ the haunting theme of the ride. Once I had my chance to ride Vampire, I loved it – and to this day I still do. I just wish I had more chance to experience the old-style trains more. Considering this ride is almost as old as me – not quite though.

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Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks

This ride was the bomb. From the pink building or should I say ‘factory’ to the sweet-smelling station and that fountain strobe finale. There is nothing about this ride that I won’t miss – it was so good. It was mad, it was crazy, it was great. The whole ride experience, as you follow Professor Burp through a tour of his factory, making all sorts of fizzy pop style drinks. It’s a ride I will not forget in a hurry.

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Terror Tomb

I managed to experience Terror Tomb before it changed its name to Forbidden Tomb and what is now known to us all as Tomb Blaster. This ride actually scared me when I first rode it. As a kid back then, I didn’t really understand the whole ‘story’ to the ride with Abdab. Then again, who does concentrate on the story when you’re a kid. Funnily enough, the only real vague memory I have is of the finale with the Singing/Dancing Mummies or ‘Jukebox Duel’. Looking back at the images some people have gathered up on the internet, it is all coming back to me.

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Samurai

Oh Samurai, you beauty! Well, back when you were at Chessington. I absolutely loved Samurai at Chessington, the black and red colour scheme, the lights, the ride cycles, everything! I remember back when the park shut at 9pm for the Summer season and seeing the lights on Samurai through the trees as we left the park for the day. And being one of the taller kids at school, I reached 1.4m relatively early so I could experience it before it moved to Thorpe Park.

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Park Map

You might be thinking, what the hell? Hear me out, I have loved park maps since I was little – that’s why I have so many at home! My favourite version of the park map at Chessington was around the 2000/2001 year mark with the coloured areas. The artwork was great and it just felt like a good visual map that had the right purpose for helping you navigate around the park. Now, obviously I don’t need a map these days cause, being a geek, you don’t need one for navigation – it’s more to add to my massive collection. 😉

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Beanoland

How could I not include Beanoland! It was pretty much like stepping into the Beano comic and everything had come to life. The Dodgems, Billy’s Whizzer, Bash Street Bus, Dennis’ Madhouse – it was a great collection of rides and attractions for kids. You also had the chance to meet the characters, I vaguely remember seeing Dennis and Gnasher. Let’s also not forget the fab Treehouse in the middle of the area which had a show where I also ‘vaguely’ remember Dennis throwing t-shirts at the crowd – if someone can confirm this, that would be great!

I don’t if it comes with age or something, but I do love being nostalgic and remembering the old times of our favourite theme parks. I’m sure there are more memories that I haven’t included in this post – like I said before, I don’t have the best memory and these are the ones that stick out the most for me. Kids these days won’t remember the classic Chessington and its array of ‘crazy’ attractions it had.

If you have any early memories of Chessington, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if I have missed anything!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Air > Galactica

Air > Galactica
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Remember this whole craze that has been growing in the theme park industry, virtual reality being added to a rollercoaster? Yeah, I hate it. There, I said it. I hate the idea of it. I wish it would go away and never come back. I’m not too sure if many other enthusiasts share the same opinion, but I just don’t get why it is something to be considered.

My only real take on this is Galactica at Alton Towers and maybe in a similar way, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park, but I just don’t like the idea of wearing a virtual reality headset. As a glasses wearer, it’s a pain in the arse! I understand that with the way technology is advancing so much these days, it’s nice to try out new ideas BUT why not just keep the two things separate?

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With regards to Galactica, I really enjoyed Air. I have a soft spot for B&M flying coasters and yet it was decided to add VR to what was a throughput machine. Now, there is long waiting times and the faff of the VR headsets – cleaning them etc. It’s a pain in the arse. I have experienced the VR on Galactica, and as much as it is impressive they turned it into a space theme, I don’t like the fact they have ruined a practically good coaster to begin with.

I miss Air! I’m probably in the minority that really like the ride. Okay, it’s nothing thrilling or intense but it doesn’t need to be – other B&M coaster types can do that for you, look at Nemesis that’s next door! It was designed to give you that flying feeling, a chilled out ride experience. The VR takes that feeling away from you – it’s a gimmick.

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As a personal opinion, I don’t like gimmicks unless they really do work the ride. Galactica, I’m sorry, is one big gimmick. I like that you have the option to ride without the VR headset, and after my first experience of Galactica, I have since ridden without VR. I enjoy the coaster as it is and nothing is going to change that.

Maybe the only positive addition with Galactica is the portal. Don’t get me wrong, the way it is lit up at night is impressive – doesn’t change the ride experience though. I’m waiting for the day when the VR gets taken away. You don’t need VR on a coaster to make it better. Big bosses, stop ruining perfectly good rollercoasters with it!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS