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Thorpe Park Heritage

Find out more about the origins and history of the UK's most thrilling theme park!

History of Thorpe Park

THORPE PARK Resort is the UK’s most thrilling theme park. Located between the towns of Chertsey and Staines-Upon-Thames in Surrey, the park is operated and owned by Merlin Entertainments and is home to over 30 exhilarating rides including Stealth – the UK’s fastest rollercoaster, as well as unmissable live events and quirky, on-site themed accommodation the Thorpe Shark Cabins.

After the Thorpe Park Estate was demolished in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit. Thorpe Park Resort was then built in the 1970s on the gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a unique water-based theme for the park which would later lead to the marketing strapline "An Island Like No Other". It was officially opened to the public by Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979. In the years since the park has continually expanded to become one of the UK’s most beloved theme parks.

Major attractions currently found at Thorpe Park include Tidal Wave, a super-soaking 85ft plunge water ride which was the tallest in Europe when it opened in 2000, the UK’s first VR dark ride Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon which blends virtual reality with thrilling physical effects and intense action and a relentless rollercoaster escape for survival on The Walking Dead: The Ride.

The park is also home to some of Europe’s most thrilling roller coasters including the UK’s only winged roller coaster The Swarm where guests race at speeds on up to 60mph through terrifying near-miss theming elements; SAW – The Ride which plunges guests through a 100ft beyond vertical drop on a roller coaster themed to the cult horror movie classic and the intense inverted roller coaster Nemesis Inferno which twists guests through forces of up to 4Gs.

Thorpe Park Resort is also home to exciting family attractions such as young thrillseeker favourite Angry Birds 4D Experience, the iconic Flying Fish junior coaster and the gravity-defying spintastic fun of Zodiac and magic carpet ride Quantum.

Read on to find out more about some of our previous rides and experiences which are no longer available for guests:

Thorpe Farm

Date: 1982-2006

Since the early 80s, alongside the theme park and rides Thorpe Park guests could jump on the Canada Creek Railway or Waterbuses over to the working Thorpe Farm. Guests could visit the farm and get up close and personal with a wide selection of farm animals including sheep, cows, pigs, goats, Shire horses and Shetland ponies as well as watching sheep shearing and animal births depending on the season.

Although once a core attraction for Thorpe Park in the early days, as the park invested in bigger and better thrill attractions over the years attendance to the farm dwindled leading to the farm’s closure in 2006. Despite being closed for many years now, the Thorpe Farm location is home to many Grade II listed buildings as the farm was actually designed to be a themed recreation of a 1930s working farm and the park restored many of the existing farm buildings to their original 17th Century designs.

Phantom Fantasia/Wicked Witches Haunt

Date: 1983/2000

Phantom Fantasia was Thorpe Park’s first horror themed attraction and was a haunted ghost train style ride that took riders on a journey into some of Britain’s darker history but in a comedic way. The ride included scenes depicting Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop and Henry VIII being haunted by the ghost of one of his dead wives alongside various other generic spooky scenes such as graveyards and torture chambers.

In 1994 the attraction was rethemed to Wicked Witches Haunt and underwent a UV painted update to modernise and improve the scenes within. Witches and giant hairy tarantulas were also added throughout the attraction for a few extra scare moments!

The attraction was sadly destroyed by a fire in the year 2000 leading to the permanent closure and demolition of the attraction. Detonator now stands in this location.

Space Station Zero

Date: 1984 – 1989

Space Station Zero opened at Thorpe Park Resort in 1984 and was the park’s very first roller coaster attraction. A powered figure-8 style roller coaster, the attraction was set inside and in the dark, featuring spaceship inspired theming. When the ride first opened it had over-the-shoulder style restraints and despite being dubbed a ‘fast, family roller coaster ride’ the attraction was very much marketed to a thrillseeking audience before it closed at the end of the 1989 season ready to be moved and rebranded as the more family friendly Flying Fish coaster which still operates at the park today.

Loggers Leap

Date: 1989-2015

Once the UK’s tallest log flume, Loggers Leap opened at Thorpe Park Resort in 1989 as part of a brand new area of the park known as Canada Creek. Guests would board log shaped boats and take a whirling and whooshing journey along a turbulent river before plunging multiple drops including a 20ft drop into darkness inside a tunnel and a 50ft double-down style drop into the final soaking splash. The ride took its final plunge at the end of the 2015 season after 26 years of splashtastic fun and remains a favourite today for nostalgic Thorpe Park fans.

Calgary Stampede

Date: 1993-2003

When it opened in the early 90s, Calgary Stampede was one of the most intense and thrilling attractions at Thorpe Park Resort. A ‘Tristar’ type ride, the classic funfair style attraction span guests around at high speed and had three arms which raised and lowered with the attraction cycle, tilting guests at 34 degrees whilst the ride continued to spin! The attraction operated for ten years before leaving the park at the end of the 2003 season to make way for Samurai, a Topscan style attraction that remains a thrillseeker favourite at the park today.

Chief Ranger’s Carousel

Date: 1994 – 2014

Found at the heart of Ranger County when it operated, Chief Ranger’s Carousel was a beloved classic Thorpe Park Resort attraction. Giving a Thorpe Park twist to the classic carousel ride, this family favourite was well-themed and included all eight of the Thorpe Park Ranger characters wearing their iconic yellow and blue uniforms as well as miniature ride vehicles based on other Thorpe Park rides such as the Flying Fish, Loggers Leap, Thunder River and Wicked Witches Haunt. The attraction closed at the end of the 2014 season as Thorpe Park Resort began developing the land that would eventually become home to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.

Drive In The Country/Miss Hippo’s Fungle Safari

Date: 1990 – 2009

Drive in the Country operated at Thorpe Park Resort in the early 90s and was a classic children’s vintage car style attraction, taking guests on a gentle tour through quaint country fields peppered with quintessentially British icons like red post boxes and telephone boxes. The attraction closed in 1994 to make way for the park’s new roller coaster ride X:/No Way Out.

For the 1995 season, the attraction reopened as part of Ranger County with a brand new theme. The classic vintage cars were reworked to resemble safari-style jeeps and the track took guests on a fun adventure into dense jungle with Miss Hippo. The ride operated for thirteen years before closing in the 2009 season.

X No Way Out/X

Date: 1996 – 2017

The skyline of Thorpe Park Resort changed dramatically in 1996 as the park introduce their most thrilling and ambitious ride to date dubbed X:/No Way Out, located inside a mysterious pyramid at the centre of the park. The ride was the world’s first backwards roller coaster in the dark and featured a storyline based around computer viruses and the dark side of technology in order to appeal to a young teen audience.

The coaster saw many changes throughout its 21 years of operation including a ‘lights-on’ version in 2010 and an even bigger change in 2013 where the trains were switched to be forward facing to take on the track alongside a pumping rave style soundtrack. This remained in place until the end of the 2017 season where the coaster closed for its extensive re-theme to become The Walking Dead: The Ride.

Thunder River

Date:  1987 - 2001

Thunder River debuted at Thorpe Park Resort in 1987 and was the park’s first high-thrill water ride. The attraction took riders on a turbulent and soaking voyage down a rapid river through many drenching elements such as waterfalls and tunnels. The ride was marketed as one of the most intense and thrilling attractions in the park until a rebrand in 2002 in conjunction with Ribena where it was renamed Ribena Rumba Rapids and was transformed into a more family friendly ride.

Park Palladium/Pirates 4D/Time Voyagers

Date: 1988-2013

Before becoming home to the UK’s first 4D cinema, the auditorium at the centre of the park originally opened as Park Palladium, a 630 seat theatre that hosted a selection of shows over ten years including a space themed variety show, Legend of the Ring which was an Indiana Jones inspired action show and a magical illusion style show called Merlin’s Magic Castle.

For the 1999 season Thorpe Park Resort debuted Pirates 4D – a short comedic pirate adventure movie brought to life using 3D screen effects and live special effects including vibrating seats, water squirts and air blasts. After nine years of screening, Pirates 4D was retired and replaced with a new 4D movie called Time Voyagers which showed in the cinema until 2013 when it closed as part of a wider rebrand of the area to Angry Birds Land which opened in 2014.

Slammer

Date: 2005 – 2017

Slammer opened at Thorpe Park Resort in 2005 and was a huge Sky Swatter style attraction that would flip riders through a full 360 degree inversion at heights of over 100ft. The attraction was a very intense experience both for riders experiencing intense forces as their blood rushed to their head and onlookers who could stand and watch the giant fly swat ride flipping riders upside-down.

After twelve years of operation the attraction closed in 2017. It was the last remaining ride of its kind in the world.

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here…Maze!

Date: 2015 – 2018

New for the 2015 season Thorpe Park Resort launched a partnership with one of ITV’s biggest TV shows  - I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! In the form of a live, actor lead style attraction dubbed I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here Maze. The attraction saw guests become camp mates and come face to face with Ant and Dec themselves before putting themselves to the test and pushing their limits in their very own Bush Tucker trials including favourites from the show itself including the Chamber of Horrors and Celebrity Cyclone. The attraction closed after summer 2018 and was used as the location for the horror maze Vulcan Peak before being revamped in 2019 as Jungle Escape – a jungle themed live-action escape game.