The Log Flume
When it first opened in 1981 The Log Flume was the longest flume ride in the world and represented the park's first large-scale engineering project, including a purpose-built reservoir sunk into a former field to the north of the Ingestre Centre, alongside the large turntable structure that would house the ride's station.
The five-and-a-half acre site was bordered on two sides by the Park Railway and initially, access to the new ride was via a railway bridge over the tracks. This situation did not last long however and logistics meant that by 1982 the Park Railway had been shortened to allow easier access for the popular new ride.
On opening, the ride went by the name of the White Water Flume, but by 1983 the ride had picked up its traditional and more popular name of The Log Flume. The flume's 2600ft waterway meandered from the station into the outer limits of the Gardens, where guests could enjoy views of the Park Railway and Temple Lake whilst taking on three drops and two tunnels during the five-minute ride.
The Log Flume was also notable as being one of the first attractions in the park to have an on-ride photo. To accommodate this new technology, during the ride each log would stop briefly at the top of the last lift hill where one of the ride's attendants waited in a small cabin and would present a ticket to guests on the log to be exchanged for a photo taken during the final drop.
In 1984 the Log Flume received some new guests as dinosaurs were added throughout the woodland section of the ride, having been displaced from Dinosaur Land which had closed the previous season to make way for the Black Hole. At the same time, a prehistoric family moved into the tunnel section of the ride.
The 90s saw further developments for the Log Flume, as the ride lost its classic white geometric station in 1994, when it was clad with a more rustic look, keeping with a logging theme. The Dinosaurs survived this re-imagining of the ride, but not for long, as they too departed in time for the 1996 season and once again the woodlands of the Gardens became the main scenery for the ride.
The Flume: Unplugged
By the early 2000s, the Log Flume was starting to look rather tired and the wooden cladding was starting to look rather too rustic. It was time for a new look, and at the end of 2003 the ride closed, ready for a long overdue overhaul.
The culmination of this worked resulted in the 2004 opening of "The Flume: Unplugged". Gone was the wood, the logs and any memory of the dinosaurs, and in their place stood bathtubs, power-showers, and rubber ducks! In a sponsorship deal with Imperial Leather, the ride appeared with its new theme: "Bathtime With Attitude"!
The ride now sported a funky fresh new soundtrack as well as several new features, including a pair of power showers as the ride headed back to the station, and what can only be described as the rubber duck from your nightmares living in the tunnel. The Flume lake also became home to a fleet of remote-controlled ducks to keep non-riders occupied whilst their friends went for a soaking.
Some expected the retheme of Merrie England to Mutiny Bay in 2008 would have lead to a further redesign of this popular ride, however this was not to materialise and instead the ride maintained an interesting contrast with its pirate neighbour. Initially the park even started referring the The Flume as being part of Katanga Canyon, though this only lasted for the first couple of seasons.
What happened next...
After 34 seasons of splashing and soaking, The Flume's final season was 2015. The ride closed on the 10th October, and initially it was believed this might be due to cost saving measures at the end of a difficult season. However, rumours immediately started to circulate regarding the ride's future and over the closed season it was announced on the park's blog that the ride had indeed closed for good.
But the story didn't end there... The Flume stood SBNO for the remainder of the 2016 season. Behind the scenes, planning permission was being gained for the resort's next Secret Weapon - SW8. Teaser posters also popped up around the now fenced off site.
As the season drew to a close, demolition of the ride begin in earnest in late November 2016, ready for the construction of Wicker Man, the brand new wooden rollercoaster built by Great Coasters International (GCI).