Thorpe Park: General Discussion

DistortAMG

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Pirates of the Caribbean (DLP)
I have two tickets for the first public front seat ride if anyone would like to make me an offer.

I can offer Beads and titties.

On a serious note. This is an exciting development. I will eat my hat and my leg on live stream if it is a super tall coaster, with the restrictions due to heathrow I cannot see a hyper being that tall though. If it even is a tall tall coaster all. Exiting non the less.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
I think we could learn a surprising amount on the 10th, you know; even though a consultation won’t reveal everything, it should give us the bulk of the important info about what to expect if Chessington’s is anything to go by!

For instance, I’d expect that we’ll at very least discover a very broad description of the ride that limits our guesses down to a greater degree than they were previously; to use Chessington’s initial consultation in May as an example (given both are Merlin properties, I’d imagine that Merlin would want to keep procedures fairly consistent), the initial consultation they did revealed most of the key info. It was revealed then that it would be a “family thrill” shuttle coaster with a potential inversion and a 1.4m height restriction. The basic ride layout was also confirmed, as well as a rough idea of scale.

The big theming structure and the land with the 2 additional filler rides was also confirmed at the initial consultation.

I even remember the winged seating being thrown around by people who’d been to the consultation back then, although I’m unsure if winged seating was expressly confirmed at the initial consultation.

The only things the full planning application for Project Amazon a few months later really confirmed that we didn’t already know were the finer statistics (e.g. height, track length), the finer details of the land, and that B&M was officially confirmed as the manufacturer (although B&M had been thrown around as a very strong rumour ever since the initial consultation).

So from this consultation, I’d imagine we should expect:
  • A broad description of what the ride is and what it does. A manufacturer may or may not be confirmed, but I’d imagine we may be able to take a fair stab based on what the park says about the ride. In terms of what I mean here; if the ride were a hyper coaster, for instance, the park would probably say that they were building a tall out and back coaster with lots of large airtime hills.
  • A basic overview of the layout. Even though they probably won’t delve too much into specifics, they’ll probably show the footprint the ride will take up, the basic layout and the essence of what it does, the rough scale they expect (we expect the ride to be around [x]ft tall with [x] high points).
  • With the site being picked, I’d also imagine that Thorpe may specify what’s being removed in terms of rides, infrastructure, trees etc.
  • We may also get some hint at the theme, such as any theming structures being included. Chessington’s consultation revealed the basic jungle style theme, as well as the big theming structure.
Of course, this is all conjecture on my part, but I’d personally say there’s a fair chance that we’ll get these sorts of things (or at least, something similar) revealed on the 10th based on what Chessington’s consultation for Project Amazon was like.
Agreed. Even more reason to wait until the 10th of December.

If it is a hyper (like @DistortAMG , I don't think it's as dead a cert as people make out as I think the Heathrow issue is underestimated) then we'll know pretty much everything there is to know. Hypers do little more than go up and down and all the interesting bits would be so high that they'd need to be detailed in a consultation and planning document I would imagine. If it is a hyper by the way, it'll likely be too short both in terms of length and height to be a very good one but I suppose it would be wise to reserve judgement at such an early stage anyway.

The only thing you wouldn't get from either planning or a consultation in the case of a hyper is the theme and name. But who cares about that anyway, it's Thorpe.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I’ve actually done a little research on Heathrow. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely clued up on this, so do excuse me if I’m being stupid or getting things wrong here, but here’s what I found in a government PDF online.

In terms of Obstacle Limitation Surfaces near to Heathrow (I’m assuming this means places where heights are limited), apparently the height limit within an Inner Horizontal Surface (closer to Heathrow, from what I can gather) is 67.87m (or around 222.7ft), while the height limit for an Outer Horizontal Surface (further away from Heathrow) is 172.87m (or around 567.2ft).

For what it’s worth, some people on another forum apparently did some research, and while parts of Thorpe are within an IHS (including, interestingly, the part containing Stealth…), Old Town is not within an IHS, instead lying within an OHS, thus meaning that in theory, they could build up to 567ft in that part of the park. Of course, I don’t see anything even close to that height getting planning permission for other separate reasons, but my point still stands.

As I said, I’ll admit I’m not an expert on this, but from what I can ascertain, Thorpe would be able to build tall in the area being utilised here. And even if the worst case scenario was true and the entire park was within an IHS, they could still build to 222ft, which is 9ft taller than the Big One’s RCDB height…

Here’s the PDF I used, for reference; it’s a council PDF, so I’d say it’s probably legitimate: https://www.richmond.gov.uk/media/4361/appendix_3_ud.pdf
EDIT: If you’d like further reading and understand aviation lingo better than I do, here’s a December 2018 PDF I found by the Civil Aviation Authority on the topic more generally. I don’t think it gets much more official than that: https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP 1732 Aerodrome Survey Guidance.pdf
 
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Matt.GC

TS Member
Having 2 Obstacle Limitation Surfaces in a park the size of Thorpe sounds far fetched to me. If I was a Ready Mead local planner, I wouldn't accept that. Jumbo Jets can't just ascend over 300ft within a couple of hundred meters.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Having 2 Obstacle Limitation Surfaces in a park the size of Thorpe sounds far fetched to me. If I was a Ready Mead local planner, I wouldn't accept that. Jumbo Jets can't just ascend over 300ft within a couple of hundred meters.
For what it’s worth, some of Heathrow’s runways (27L and 27R) apparently have some very tall buildings clustered together in the run up to them.

Thorpe is also apparently outside of Heathrow’s main “conical surface”, so the height limits might not be as extreme as somewhere closer.

And surely if the park were building under the given limits (222ft within an IHS, 567ft within an OHS), then planes flying overhead wouldn’t be affected?

As I said, I don’t know an awful lot about the topic, but based on the research other people have done and the PDFs I’ve read, I don’t personally see it being too much of an issue.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
Having 2 Obstacle Limitation Surfaces in a park the size of Thorpe sounds far fetched to me. If I was a Ready Mead local planner, I wouldn't accept that. Jumbo Jets can't just ascend over 300ft within a couple of hundred meters.
I understood it to be they were two rings around the airport with the closer one being the shorter limit. Granted it's not a big site but I guess there has to be a boundary between the two zones somewhere.

I don't know anything about this. I'm content to wait until 2024, let alone for the consultation.
 

Matt N

TS Member
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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
For what it’s worth, the distance between the southernmost extremity of Heathrow (below a runway; it’s an area called Stanwell) and the northernmost extremity of Thorpe Park (I went for the top of the car park, where cars actually enter the site) is roughly 6.5km as the crow flies according to Google Earth. The distance would be greater if we went from Old Town to an actual Heathrow runway.

I’m not entirely sure what that means in terms of planning constraints, but the CAA PDF I posted did say something about an envelope within 10km of an airport needing objects above 100m/328ft to be “collected”. So in theory, that would allow a Thorpe hyper.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
For what it’s worth, some of Heathrow’s runways (27L and 27R) apparently have some very tall buildings clustered together in the run up to them.

Thorpe is also apparently outside of Heathrow’s main “conical surface”, so the height limits might not be as extreme as somewhere closer.

And surely if the park were building under the given limits (222ft within an IHS, 567ft within an OHS), then planes flying overhead wouldn’t be affected?

As I said, I don’t know an awful lot about the topic, but based on the research other people have done and the PDFs I’ve read, I don’t personally see it being too much of an issue.
I think what's being underestimated is how this all appears to planners. I doubt they'd give a damn about Stealth being in one zone and Old Town being in another. Bearing in mind they're politicians, if I was a local who didn't want a big coaster built on my door step, that's the first thing I'd be clinging on to and writing to the local rag about.

Your originally quoted 225ft limit sounds far more plausible to me. Merlin could even package it as a concession to the locals and planning committees even if this was their plan all along. A change of zones in such a small area sounds like a loophole/technicality thing. It would cause bad reputational damage to Merlin to steam roller through something on such an issue regardless of whether they can get away with it or not. Tesco can technically convert any retail building or pub to a Tesco Express almost anywhere they like and only require planning for external lighting and a cash machine. The reason they don't do this anymore (oh boy did they use to!) is because it's unpopular and upsets people.

It's just a roller coaster to the GP and if I was against it, I would be arguing tooth and nail against such a grey area. Not long ago I posted in the LR thread that property management companies etc use tricks like this to get planning and then flog the land to housebuilders once permission to build something has been granted (not saying this is happening with the London Resort holding company but entirely possible). Because planning committees that make these decisions do so for a variety of reasons. If it was some business centre that proposed to use some sort of loophole with the promise of creating tonnes of jobs and local tax revenue then I'm sure they'd be more favourable of letting them exploit the situation and go that little bit higher. I'm sure they'd also listen to a Merlin plea of what breaking the UK height record might mean to the business. But local councillors are unlikely to buy the argument of "well Mr councillor, if you give us another 20ft, you and your eldery mates from the 1922 committee will be able to enjoy 2 seconds of extra floater airtime and geeks on online forums will be thrilled to bits with you for it".

Lastly, Merlin do not have the cash to build a substantial B&M hyper. If they do build one, they'll likely spend just enough to break The Big Ones record and nothing more.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I think what's being underestimated is how this all appears to planners. I doubt they'd give a damn about Stealth being in one zone and Old Town being in another. Bearing in mind they're politicians, if I was a local who didn't want a big coaster built on my door step, that's the first thing I'd be clinging on to and writing to the local rag about.

Your originally quoted 225ft limit sounds far more plausible to me. Merlin could even package it as a concession to the locals and planning committees even if this was their plan all along. A change of zones in such a small area sounds like a loophole/technicality thing. It would cause bad reputational damage to Merlin to steam roller through something on such an issue regardless of whether they can get away with it or not. Tesco can technically convert any retail building or pub to a Tesco Express almost anywhere they like and only require planning for external lighting and a cash machine. The reason they don't do this anymore (oh boy did they use to!) is because it's unpopular and upsets people.

It's just a roller coaster to the GP and if I was against it, I would be arguing tooth and nail against such a grey area. Not long ago I posted in the LR thread that property management companies etc use tricks like this to get planning and then flog the land to housebuilders once permission to build something has been granted (not saying this is happening with the London Resort holding company but entirely possible). Because planning committees that make these decisions do so for a variety of reasons. If it was some business centre that proposed to use some sort of loophole with the promise of creating tonnes of jobs and local tax revenue then I'm sure they'd be more favourable of letting them exploit the situation and go that little bit higher. I'm sure they'd also listen to a Merlin plea of what breaking the UK height record might mean to the business. But local councillors are unlikely to buy the argument of "well Mr councillor, if you give us another 20ft, you and your eldery mates from the 1922 committee will be able to enjoy 2 seconds of extra floater airtime and geeks on online forums will be thrilled to bits with you for it".

Lastly, Merlin do not have the cash to build a substantial B&M hyper. If they do build one, they'll likely spend just enough to break The Big Ones record and nothing more.
So what you’re basically saying is that we should assume a worst case scenario here, where Thorpe could build up to 68m, which if we’re using RCDB as a source would narrowly beat the Big One (Big One is 213ft on RCDB, 68m is a little shy of 223ft)?

My only worry there is that it wouldn’t beat Blackpool’s own 235ft claim, so Blackpool might report them to the ASA or kick up a fuss in another way if they tried to report it as the UK’s tallest coaster.

Apparently the bit where Loggers sits does come slightly outside the inner surface of Heathrow, so they could technically build to 500ft, but whether they’d attempt to build above the inner surface limit is another thing entirely. Your point about breaking the UK height record and what it would do for business is an interesting one, because I feel like Thorpe could possibly use this as an excuse to build to, say, 250ft at a push (I think it would make quite a big splash), but whether Merlin would attempt it is another thing entirely.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
So what you’re basically saying is that we should assume a worst case scenario here, where Thorpe could build up to 68m, which if we’re using RCDB as a source would narrowly beat the Big One (Big One is 213ft on RCDB, 68m is a little shy of 223ft)?

My only worry there is that it wouldn’t beat Blackpool’s own 235ft claim, so Blackpool might report them to the ASA or kick up a fuss in another way if they tried to report it as the UK’s tallest coaster.

Apparently the bit where Loggers sits does come slightly outside the inner surface of Heathrow, so they could technically build to 500ft, but whether they’d attempt to build above the inner surface limit is another thing entirely. Your point about breaking the UK height record and what it would do for business is an interesting one, because I feel like Thorpe could possibly use this as an excuse to build to, say, 250ft at a push (I think it would make quite a big splash), but whether Merlin would attempt it is another thing entirely.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

If it's a hyper (and I don't think we should automatically assume it is by the way) then yes that's exactly what I'm saying. There's little point in going all the way to 250ft. Possible of course but why would they bother? It'll cost more and be harder to get through. It'd be good for business just to get the record, and and almost any hyper you could build, especially a B&M would likely be better than the Big One anyway.

I wouldn't worry about Blackpool's claims because it's a lie, simple as. I was at Blackpool today and read all the claims in person. It's not 235ft tall, it's 213ft tall. They'd be better off shutting up in terms of challenging a new Thorpe coaster heght and just carrying on with their claims. If Blackpool build a truly Vertical B&M dive, they'd be perfectly within their rights to claim it's the first one of it's type in the UK as it would be true as Oblivion isn't the World's first vertical drop roller coaster. Nemesis isn't the World's most intense ride experience, Revolution isn't the most exhilarating ride ever (or whatever they were saying to me earlier) and Air isn't the World's first flying coaster. These marketing claims are only challenged when there's a reason to challenge them, if Blackpool are being liberal with the truth, they'd be better off not drawing attention to it.

If Merlin do build one and do go higher, you'd like to think it would be for the right reasons. It doesn't make sense to spend an extra £millon or so and putting a planning application at risk just beat some Blackpool porkies.
 
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Matt N

TS Member
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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Update; the map I was looking at originally was the area where fixed wing aircraft can’t enter as opposed to the IHS and Conical Surface. These apparently form a radius of 6km around a runway, and Thorpe’s nearest side is 6.8km from the nearest part of the Heathrow runway, so they’re technically entirely within the OHS, where the upper height limit is 567ft.

So in theory, they could build above 225ft. Whether they could in actuality is another thing entirely; the locals would likely kick up a fuss if they built something ridiculously tall. For instance, I can’t see a giga or strata coaster going down too well… so while I’m open to surprises, I’d probably say 250ft or so is our upper bound here. If this is a hyper, of course; it could well be something smaller yet.
If it's a hyper (and I don't think we should automatically assume it is by the way) then yes that's exactly what I'm saying. There's little point in going all the way to 250ft. Possible of course but why would they bother? It'll cost more and be harder to get through. It'd be good for business just to get the record, and and almost any hyper you could build, especially a B&M would likely be better than the Big One anyway.

I wouldn't worry about Blackpool's claims because it's a lie, simple as. I was at Blackpool today and read all the claims in person. It's not 235ft tall, it's 213ft tall. They'd be better off shutting up in terms of challenging a new Thorpe coaster heght and just carrying on with their claims. If Blackpool build a truly Vertical B&M dive, they'd be perfectly within their rights to claim it's the first one of it's type in the UK as it would be true as Oblivion isn't the World's first vertical drop roller coaster. Nemesis isn't the World's most intense ride experience, Revolution isn't the most exhilarating ride ever (or whatever they were saying to me earlier) and Air isn't the World's first flying coaster. These marketing claims are only challenged when there's a reason to challenge them, if Blackpool are being liberal with the truth, they'd be better off not drawing attention to it.
The main reason I’d want to go to 250ft is because it would make the ride a more noticeable amount taller than Stealth (thus exacerbating the ride’s raw size compared to everything else), and it would also open up potential to claim UK speed and length records, particularly speed (you could probably exceed Stealth’s 80mph with a hyper of around about 230-240ft). So it would essentially be for marketing purposes; I think claiming 2 or 3 records would make such a ride sound even more impressive, and I think having it a noticeable amount taller than everything else would give it more gravitas in marketing campaigns. Do you get what I mean?

In terms of Blackpool; do the boards in the park say 213ft, then? I admittedly haven’t been since 2019, but I could have sworn that the park themselves said 235ft and 85mph for Big One’s vital stats. Whether or not that’s technically true is up for debate, but it’s what the park says, and both Blackpool and someone who wasn’t informed on the matter could quite legitimately pull Thorpe up if they tried to advertise a hyper shorter than 235ft as the UK’s tallest coaster based purely on both parks’ adverts.

In terms of how this affects Thorpe; correct me if I’m wrong, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think they’ve ever expressly referred to Stealth at 80mph as the UK’s fastest coaster… from what I’ve seen, they usually opt for the more open-ended “one of Europe’s fastest rollercoasters”. So Thorpe may not want to tread on Blackpool’s toes if they were to build a hyper of between 213ft and 235ft, whereas a hyper of 235+ft would have a far more clear cut lead over the Big One.

As I said above, though, this is if it ends up being a hyper, of course… it could end up being a much smaller ride!
 
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Matt.GC

TS Member
Update; the map I was looking at originally was the area where fixed wing aircraft can’t enter as opposed to the IHS and Conical Surface. These apparently form a radius of 6km around a runway, and Thorpe’s nearest side is 6.8km from the nearest part of the Heathrow runway, so they’re technically entirely within the OHS, where the upper height limit is 567ft.

So in theory, they could build above 225ft. Whether they could in actuality is another thing entirely; the locals would likely kick up a fuss if they built something ridiculously tall. For instance, I can’t see a giga or strata coaster going down too well… so while I’m open to surprises, I’d probably say 250ft or so is our upper bound here. If this is a hyper, of course; it could well be something smaller yet.

The main reason I’d want to go to 250ft is because it would make the ride a more noticeable amount taller than Stealth (thus exacerbating the ride’s raw size compared to everything else), and it would also open up potential to claim UK speed and length records, particularly speed (you could probably exceed Stealth’s 80mph with a hyper of around about 230-240ft). So it would essentially be for marketing purposes; I think claiming 2 or 3 records would make such a ride sound even more impressive, and I think having it a noticeable amount taller than everything else would give it more gravitas in marketing campaigns. Do you get what I mean?

In terms of Blackpool; do the boards in the park say 213ft, then? I admittedly haven’t been since 2019, but I could have sworn that the park themselves said 235ft and 85mph for Big One’s vital stats. Whether or not that’s technically true is up for debate, but it’s what the park says, and both Blackpool and someone who wasn’t informed on the matter could quite legitimately pull Thorpe up if they tried to advertise a hyper shorter than 235ft as the UK’s tallest coaster based purely on both parks’ adverts.

In terms of how this affects Thorpe; correct me if I’m wrong, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think they’ve ever expressly referred to Stealth at 80mph as the UK’s fastest coaster… from what I’ve seen, they usually opt for the more open-ended “one of Europe’s fastest rollercoasters”. So Thorpe may not want to tread on Blackpool’s toes if they were to build a hyper of between 213ft and 235ft, whereas a hyper of 235+ft would have a far more clear cut lead over the Big One.

As I said above, though, this is if it ends up being a hyper, of course… it could end up being a much smaller ride!

They're treading on much more thin ice trying to battle with Heathrow (the busiest airport on the planet) than Amanda Thompson. Technically they may well be able to build above 225ft, but then technically they could also build a coaster of 213ft and 1 inch and claim the UK height record.

I do get what you mean. We know Merlin will happily splash millions to buy gimmicks and marketing claims so you're spot on there. The Smiler only needed 11 inversions to get bragging rights but going for 14 must have been seen as worth it when balancing out the cost effectiveness with the impact of the marketing, something which I would say has been the right choice. If they could do it within a reasonable budget and could design it to achieve that number then it's a good decision.

But then we're not taking about a Gerstlaur at Alton here are we? We're taking about a (potential) B&M hyper - at Thorpe Park no less. You may "want" to go for 250ft, and for all we know until the 10th December they may well do this. But I wonder if this makes business sense and fits with what is needed?

I didn't say the boards said 213ft at Blackpool, I was alluding to the contrary being the case. They repeat the lie that it's 235ft tall as you say they do. And it's not "up for debate" - it's simply not true. I live in a seaside town as you know, and pretty much everything there has to be above sea level (apart from my house which isn't but then let's not get too technical about how the new builds on the Somerset levels are developed). It doesn't make the buildings any taller. You could relocate Octonauts on top of ruardean hill but it still wouldn't make it 971ft tall.
 

Benzin

TS Member
Can really tell how desperate people are for Thorpe to have some actual good investment.

Perhaps this is Merlin's new marketing tool? Like having teaser trailers for trailers? Teasing the planning permission rather than it just turning up because someone refreshes the Runnymede council page every day.
 

DistortAMG

TS Member
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Pirates of the Caribbean (DLP)
I regards to the outer limitation surface, this is not a flat rate. It rises gradually in height the further into the outer ring that you get. I believe this is more relevant underneath the runway approach paths. But is still relevant in other areas of the surface. It is a complex minefield that is for sure.

Only surfaces close to the airport are what they call a flat rate, ie, uniform height restrictions along it all. The outer surface rises in allowed height between a ratio of 1.20 and 1.50, the further out you get.
 
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Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Perhaps this is Merlin's new marketing tool? Like having teaser trailers for trailers? Teasing the planning permission rather than it just turning up because someone refreshes the Runnymede council page every day.
Interesting theory… you could be onto something there. I’m not sure if Merlin would waste time on a full-blown consultation if they didn’t need to or see any wider benefit, though, as surely doing a consultation costs a lot more money than doing it the regular way? And I’m not sure that Merlin would spend all that extra money just to cater to enthusiasts, as we make up a very minor percentage of the parks’ clientele.

I could well be wrong here, but my personal theory is that Merlin either wants a more friendly relationship with local residents around its parks or that they’re building something that might have a tougher time getting planning permission ordinarily. Or even perhaps both of those things?
 

JoshC.

TS Member
Can really tell how desperate people are for Thorpe to have some actual good investment.

Perhaps this is Merlin's new marketing tool? Like having teaser trailers for trailers? Teasing the planning permission rather than it just turning up because someone refreshes the Runnymede council page every day.

Jeez, I don't refresh the Runnymede council page EVERY day. I know they have weekends and bank holidays off... ;)
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
With regard to Heathrow, I was actually alerted to the Stealth mini-site from 2005 over on CoasterForce: https://web.archive.org/web/2006070.../your_questions/august_2005_answers.asp?css=2

Now I haven’t just plonked in Stealth’s old minisite for the sake of it. One of the questions on the page posted above is very interesting indeed, and links in perfectly with this conversation:
Thorpe Park said:
Did you have to warn the airport?
Good question, part of our planning application included consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority, they confirmed we do not need to install aviation lights as the ride structure is below 500 feet (nice view from a plane though).

And having had another look at Heathrow’s current inner area, I was wrong originally; it’s actually a funnel-type shape that encompasses a certain distance from the runways on either side, and Thorpe lies outside of that distance, so they technically aren’t bound by Heathrow any more than they were when Stealth was built, meaning that they aren’t bound to any lower than 500ft (by Heathrow at least).
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Maybe one of these should be Thorpe's next coaster? :p



(Seriously though, this model does look incredible! Has a turntable-station for extra capacity too)
 
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