In early 2012, an advert began to appear on TV’s across the UK, advertising the opening of a new Roller Coaster at Thorpe Park. The advert was pretty good and featured a rather eye catching display of Rollercoaster animations; plus an ear catching theme tune produced by You Me At Six. It was quite easily one of my favourite adverts at the time, and the rollercoaster it was advertising was one that I wanted to ride at some point. That rollercoaster being The Swarm.
I’d never been to Thorpe park before, I had been to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (also my favourite Theme Park) a couple of times, and had visited Alton Towers twice many years previously. Thorpe Park was a park though that had caught my eyes a few times, as this was certainly not the first time that I had seen an advert for a new ride there. In the past they had advertised both Saw – The Ride, and Stealth too.
Just over a year later after seeing the first advert for The Swarm; during a mini Family Holiday, I got the chance to visit Thorpe Park. I was rather excited, and when I got there I sort of slipped into my thought processes into which rollercoasters were best to ride first just so I could build my adrenaline up. There was also the case of how long queues were for the rides. Anyway, I didn’t go on the Swarm first, I went on Nemesis Inferno. The queue was quite long and it took nearly an hour to get on the ride, but it was pretty fun. There was however a problem, and one that would provide a constant pain throughout my entire day there.
The queues provided information about the rides, and one piece of information they displayed was the handy suggestion of trying the example seat at the start of the queue to see if you were able to fit in the safety seat on the actual ride. So, I did, and I was able to get in ok and was comfortable, so then I rejoined the queue for Nemesis Inferno. When I got on the ride, one of the attendants showed me to a row of seats on the ride specially built for much larger people (like myself), and he helped get into it ok, and then I was able to enjoy the ride. So no problem right? Maybe in theory!
After Nemesis Inferno, I went off to The Swarm to take a look, and like before there was a seat outside to try out. But this time I was very unsure! You see the problem with this system is that while it is helpful to see if you can actually fit in the seat, there is no attendant there, so it’s entirely guess work. The theory is that if you can fit into the seat, and have the safety bar tested to your size, it means that when you reach the front of the queue, you won’t have wasted so much time and will be able to join the ride. But it’s not that simple! Whilst you may be able to fit the test seat, the park has regulations on how well you can fit in it. Alongside the seat, there are holes which the seat’s safety bar fits into, and from memories of that day, the bar must go in by at least two of these holes. Now this is for safety reasons of course, but there is nothing to indicate this piece of information; at the seat at the start of the queue. So you could get in and think that simply getting into one set of holes was enough; and then be told something else entirely when getting onto the ride! What would have been helpful was if there was an attendant at that queue test seat, who could have told you right there and then if you would have been ok to ride, maybe even give you a little ticket to prove this!
So anyway, there I was at the start of the queue, trying to think if I was ok to ride the ride. In my mind I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to. One thought that was going through my mind was the thought that perhaps The Swarm, like Nemesis Inferno, may have seats on it for larger people, but this was entirely guess work and hopeful thinking! The test seat at the start of the queue was a standard seat, and there was not a larger seat to test on, nor anything to suggest those seats may be on the ride itself. So, after a head scratching and worrying time, I had to sadly decide not to ride The Swarm, which was the one Rollercoaster I wanted to ride; and that became something of a theme for the rest of the day.
I went over to Saw – The Ride. The test seat did have some indication on it, in the form of a automatic system which read how far the seat safety bar would get into your waist, and then make a sound if it got in far enough to ride. Well, on a couple of occasions when I tested it, it would make the sound, however when I was testing it I was giving the chair a real good slam into my waist, and I was not convinced when the sound went off to say ‘Yes’. Later in the day, I was actually let straight through passed the queues onto Detonator (not a rollercoaster), where some helpful attendants tried hard to get me on the ride, but due to regulations, one set of holes plus the seat belt strap still wasn’t enough to give me a green tick to ride it. But at least this time I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ride Colossus, as the seats on Detonator were supposedly the same size as the ones on Colossus.
It did put a grim note on my day really; but I was still able to ride other stuff! I rode on X (now known as The Walking Dead: The Ride) quite a few times as the safety bar on this ride was just a simple knee bar (probably because this rollercoaster didn’t involve going upside down), plus I went on the water rides like Tidal Wave and Loggers Leap quite a few times. So; whilst I didn’t get to go on what I wanted to go on, at least I didn’t have an entirely wasted day, by the end of it; I still had some fun.
Recently I did sort of get to ride The Swarm, whilst playing Planet Coaster on my PC.