VIP Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park Resort is now offering guests VIP packages that range from the standard coaster lift-hill walks, backstage tours to the Gold package which includes park entry, unlimited front of line VIP ride access and other exclusives. On 24th July 2014, we were lucky enough to book a backstage tour of Stealth and the Canada Creek Railway Station, along with a coaster lift-hill walk of The Swarm after park close. Backstage tours and coaster lift-hill walks are sold separately costing £50 each.
Our tour started at 3pm where we were greeted at business reception by our VIP host Francine, who explained the safety rules for the backstage tour. Once fitted into our safety boots and wearing our high visibility jackets we started the tour at Stealth. We were greeted by two engineers James and Guss who took us into the launch chamber of Stealth called the bunker. Whilst waiting around to be let into the bunker, we asked the engineers about Slammer and the problems it has faced in the past few years. They spoke about how the ride is inspected every day like all of the others and they said that the ride is shut down twice every day to be checked.
The bunker has two areas, the viewing gallery and the winch room which contains 2 accumulators feeding the motors for the winch. All of these rooms are air conditioned. To gain access into the winch room you must use a key on the other side of the room which upon being taken will instantly shut the ride down. The Stealth winch room has a triple locking system which upon being tampered with will shut the ride down as well.
Stealth has 24 motors which help spin the winch drum which has the launch cable attached to it. One side of the winch drum has a feed going back to the station and the other side for the cable coming back into the bunker. These sides are separated by a strip of metal. The launch cable is good for 25,000 launches but once used 25,000 times, it will need to be changed. The cable is changed two times every season. To put this into perspective, it is going to be changed the week commencing 28th July 2014.
The magnetic breaks in the launch area are all different. The ones closest to the station are strong and the ones closest to the bunker are weak. There are 72 pairs of magnets, 144 in total which are magnetically inducted. In the bunker there is a computer which monitors the oil measure and the filters. This computer is running Windows 7 but was running Windows XP until recently, the systems for the ride run on fibre optic cables running from the bunker to the control room.
After spending around half an hour in the bunker we were shown the control room where the operator controls the ride. The computer in the op cabin shows where each train is by block. There are 4 blocks: the launch track, loading - station, unloading and hold one.
In the maintenance bay the park checks both of the cars every morning before they are used for guests, checks start at 6am every morning. The track for Stealth is checked every morning visually for each section they can see and the top hat is checked using strong high vision goggles. Trains are stripped down and checked once every year, when the wheels are beyond use they are cleaned up and sent back to Intamin where they get recoated. To test Stealth in the morning the engineers have to send 6 trains then the system will work out the average launch speed needed, during the day the system does not weigh every car but takes an average from the past 6 trains. This is done via the tension in the launch cable and timing how long it takes to pass certain points in the track.
Canada Creek Railway:
This concluded our tour of Stealth so we headed over to the Canada Creek Railway station and met our guide Robert. We asked Rob about the rumour of the trains coming back for fright nights last year and he confirmed that the rumours were true. The park was in fact looking into bringing them back for Fright Nights. However due to the cost to get the ride back up and running again this wasn't a feasible option. If the train was to return then all of the track would have to be replaced and because the width of the track was custom, the track would have to be custom made for the park.
Canada Creek Railway ran from 1989 to 2011. When the layout was changed in 2009 to accommodate Saw - The Ride, the platform the trains had to reduce which included the amount of cars used from five down to three due to the length of platform now used. Back in 1989 there were two trains being used but another was added for capacity in 1994. In the photos below we have the three Canada Creek Railway trains and an old shunter train from the Treasure Island days. The original trains can be identified by their blue noses and the newest one has a yellow nose. Another difference is lettering style on the 1994 train and number on the side of the train.
Coaster Climb of The Swarm:
After the park had closed we headed over to The Swarm and we were greeted by our V.I.P host again who took us into the Swarm workshop quickly to see the second train put into the maintenance bay. Whilst inside the workshop we asked the engineer about turning the trains backwards and he said that B&M knew about it despite the rumours going around that Thorpe Park did it without them knowing. They had to make new chassis for the back two rows but everything was fitted in the Swarm workshop.
We then went into the Swarm console room and got harnessed up. Everyone that walks up The Swarm and Colossus’ lift hill must wear a harness, only exception is Nemesis Inferno due to the gradient off the lift hill. Once harnessed up we were allowed to wander around the station quickly to take a few photos and were then shown how to use the climbing gear. Walking up the lift was easier than walking down. When walking up the lift hill, you didn't really look down however due to the steps being see-through, walking down was interesting.
It took us around 8 minutes to walk up the lift hill however there are 185 steps! Once at the top we had around 15 minutes to look around and take photos. Our V.I.P host was pointing our viewpoints such as the Wembley Stadium hoop, Heathrow airport control and Windsor Castle. When on the ride you don't get enough time up there to realise how far you can see. Not forgetting once at the top you get a great view of the park!
We couldn't recommend this enough to people, if you a theme park fan or just a normal guest you should try and do one of these two experiences. For £50 each the Backstage tours and coaster lift-hill walk packages are amazing! We would like to say a big thank you to our V.I.P host Francine and to the engineers we meet along the way, Guss, James and Robert.