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Does the Victorian carriage and rail depot tie into the story in any way other than causing the bizarre moment of contrast when entering the ride vehicle?
I find it a bit odd that all of the marketing material, the merchandise and promotional images focus on the decaying Victorian aesthetic and the eerie image of the carriage suspended by chains only for it to have nothing to do with the actual ride story line.
I managed to get to Thorpe Park for a couple of goes on the Ghost Train today. I have put some of my post in spoiler tags but overall it is "spoiler lite", I don't go into real detail.
I find it quite frustrating as all the ingredients seem to be there for a great attraction, but little bits and pieces just don't seem to work properly. It seems "almost great", but like something is missing. I do suppose this is why it has been delayed so long, and why even now it is classed as a "technical rehearsal". I think with some work it could be really great, but it remains to be seen if further tweaks continue to be made.
I'll mostly talk about the ride operationally, since I'm sort of wait times/throughput geek. If we thought Sub-Terra, or Galactica required an enormous number of staff to operate, Ghost Train really takes it to a whole new level. The number of staff working on the ride was mind boggling, far too many to even count. It may be that less staff will be used after technical rehearsals, but here is what I remember:
-2 Staff at entrance to ride
-2 Staff queue line photo point 1
-2 Staff standing in queueline shop
-2 Staff queue line photo point 2
-2 Staff batching area
-2 Staff baggage storage
And then just the photo/shop staff-1 Staff stairway after preshow
-2 Staff onload
-4 Staff in train carriage
-2 Staff offload
-3 Staff mid-show
-2 staff onload 2
-4 staff in train carriage 2
That seems to be a total of 25 minimum, up to maybe 40 staff across the entire attraction, to keep everything ticking over.
And even with this number of staff there seemed to be operational problems getting people through the attraction, though I suppose this is natural at this stage. Firstly, the 2 queue line photo points are massive bottlenecks at this point in time. The throughput of the actual ride is far quicker than the amount of time it takes to get everyone's photo taken. This means the entire queue today was held up before the first of two photo points, and spilling out the front entrance of the ride. However the entire snaking queue line after the photo point was totally empty, and a shortcut gate was even open BYPASSING the manned shop. I mean what the hell, there is an hour queue, and they are using a shortcut that bypasses an open queue line shop? I didn't even get my picture taken in either photo point the first time around because the manager came over and told them to batch through 60 guests without photos, as "our train had arrived". We proceeded directly to the front of the queue without getting to use either photo point. This seems like a massive oversight, the photos and queueline shop are in the complete wrong place in the line, and aren't able to process guests quickly enough.
When you get to the batching area, there is even more chaos, as the area is laid out poorly meaning that people waiting to board the ride, people putting their bags away, and those trying to enter the batching area are all standing in each others way. This slows down the batching process a lot, and people were still trying to put their bags away when we were being directed inside.
Once inside,there is plenty of space in the preshow room for everyone, with 3 tiered levels so everyone can see. Personally for me, I loved the preshow. It seems to build a lot of tension, and you can tell that everyone in the room doesn't know what to expect and is nervous. This is really Derren Brown at his best, when he is just talking! I was starting to feel a little nervous which is unusual for me.
Next we moved into a small holding room but were not held, but instead persuaded to move through the room as quickly as possible, a very rushed feeling that persists throughout the ride. It's nice they care about throughput but it seemed to be at the expense of the experience a little bit. We then entered the train room which as others have mentioned is spectacular. No time to appreciate it though, as we were rushed immediately on to the train! "Go go go!"
Once on the train we had to figure out putting the headsets on without assistance. With half the train still struggling to put the headset on the ride got underway. The first section in the train is great and really builds tension, and the confusion as everyone leaves the train is a fun experience.
Into the mid-show room and the actors in here are great. This is probably the strongest part of the attraction. I had no idea we were getting straight back on the train afterwards which is a great touch. Other than being rushed the whole first train and mid show work great... Then for the finale...
The finale is a shame. It starts well, but then seems to switch to a grey screen where nothing happens for about 2 minutes. This happened both rides. I'm pretty sure something is missing, as the first time I actually took my headset off and saw others doing the same as nothing was happening which caused confusion, and for what seemed like a really long time. I thought it was an error but 3 hours later the same again, nothing happening for at least 2 minutes, just a grey smoky screen and the monster pops his head out every 30s on loop. After the bizzare 2m absence of action, the motion simulator reallly starts to show us what it can do for about 30s before the ride is over.
My main complaint is this underwhelming finale where nothing seems to happen for 2m, and the fact the simulation seems to be able to do some clever stuff which is underused in favour of nothing happening for 2 minutes! I really just have to think the finale is unfinished because it could be great without the random blank spot. And the motion simulator seems only properly used for the last 30s which is a waste considering the the finale is at least 5m long in total.
Not really a full review but those are some of my random observations. Overall I liked it but it was just missing something. I hold out hope that this can be a truly great attraction once everything is ironed out!
Just from what I'm hearing it sounds like lots of really cool concepts lacking a central premise to hold them together.
I love the idea of reimagining a Ghost Train. The Victorian train morphing into the modern underground works well with this concept. After all Victorians were the people who popularised illusions and the ageing underground fits with our modern perception. It's after that and the whole Fracking part that I don't get the link too, clearly just pandering to Fraking being a controversial subject...
On the subject of the ride system if it is a train inside what looks like another train but is actually a tunnel, that's a very cool trick!
It doesn't morph. It's pretty obvious from the outside it's a shell. And then when you get aboard and see the brushes, you know.
It does move, the Victorian train is just a shell that the modern train moves back and forth through and I'm assuming the second part is just a simulator on a track hence why you disembark in the same place you get on.Ride system. There is no ride system. The train never moves.