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Chuck's Shameless Nostalgia TR: TPR's 2006 UK Trip


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Next stop, the best theme park in the UK: Alton Towers! A park with a real, honest-to-god castle, complete with a terrible curse! Fun for the whole family!


I had high expectations for Alton, and it didn't disappoint me. After all, how can you go wrong with the home of Nemesis, still the best of the B&M inverts; Rita: Queen of Speed, a great Intamin launched coaster; and Hex, a Vekoma Madhouse that gets its back story from local history? Not to mention B&M's prototype Dive Machine, Oblivion, and Flying Coaster, Air.


Yes, Alton is a huge, beautiful park with a lot to offer. Of course, it's not perfect. The old Vekoma Corkscrew, with it's bizarre caveman theming, was pretty bad (it's much better serving as a lawn ornament at the park's main entrance today), and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Ride was a bit disappointing. It's a pain to get around Alton, too, because it sprawls out all over the place around the castle and gardens. But no worries.


TPR had a couple of great days at Alton, and I''m ready to go back there anytime. But really stood out? Hmm . . .


ERT on Nemesis was excellent! I recall how they wouldn't allow consecutive rides due to the coaster's intensity. (It is the most intense B&M coaster I've ever ridden, with Pyrenees in Japan and the Batman clones in second place). I love how Alton got around the city's height restrictions by putting the ride in a huge pit.


Hex was my first Madhouse, and I was a bit worried about how my stomach would handle it. I ended up loving it. Using the old legend of the Curse of the Towers, was inspired, and putting the ride and queue inside the castle itself really upped the creepiness.


Duel was a very enjoyable shooting dark rides involving zombies that shoot back--cleverly done.


Single funniest moment: having the crap scared out of us when the giant rubber duckie slid down toward our boat on the park's huge, and very wet, flume ride.


Here's a glimpse of how the park looked in 2006.


Can you not feel the Curse of the Towers all around you? It involves an ancient tree that's held together by chains--for if a branch falls, someone dies. (This is especially true if you're standing under said branch.)


And how does Rita maintain her dainty figure, you might ask? Why, she uses speed, of course.


Wait for it!


Yes, Rita is a lot of fun . . .


. . . wish I could say the same for Corkscrew, God rest its soul.


This is Spinball Whizzer, before Sonic the Hedgehog took over.


Young Jeff is ready to spin like mad.


Not as good as Dragon's Fury at Chessington, but still fun.


As with Dragon's Fury, two rides on this, and my poor stomach had had enough.


The icy fingers of the curse reach out for you . . .


. . . as they did for me!


Holy crap! Zombies in the UK know how to use guns!


And now, the best coaster in the UK--Nemesis!


B&M has never topped this ride--at least not as far as I'm concerned.


The theming is very clever, too. Essentially, the ride is actually an enormous cage trying to hold a subterranean monster--without much success.


You gotta love any ride that is surrounded by rivers of blood!


Nemesis will spoil you for riding most other B&M coasters. (At least, that's how it was in 2006.)


Hey, Nemesis--if you keep picking at that, it'll never heal.


Remember--I have warned ye!


The park also had a very good powered mine train.


Yes, this is me on the Squirrel Nutty ride. I had to get this picture for a friend of mine back in the States who's a squirrel fan. She's even nuttier about rodents than Elissa! (It just dawned on me that it looks like I'm being raped by a giant squirrel.)


This is the only decent photo I got of Oblivion. B&M came up with better versions of this ride later, but this one was still fun.


However, I wasn't that big a fan of Air. This was the best part.


And let's finish up with a look at the gardens, which should give you an idea of how beautiful this park was (and, I presume, still is). That's all for now. Next up will be the rather odd Drayton Manor.

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I think the 2 overhead skyrides were down for maintenance,

or a recent fire, wasn't it? So we had to keep walking and walking

and walking around the entire park. It was a work out.


Charlie/Chocolate factory was "the new attraction" when we

were there. And it really wasn't that big a deal IMhO for all the hoopla

about it. The Glass Elevator Finale was pretty good, though.


Great stuff to reminice about, Chuck. Looking forward to Drayton and

That Coaster with The Odd Lifthill.

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^Yes, I think most of the budget for Charlie and Chocolate Factory went to the Glass Elevator simulator at the end, which was pretty clever. The rest of it was closer to the level of Winnie the Pooh at Florida's Magic Kingdom.

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Those pictures of Alton Towers look great. I've really wanted to visit the park for a long time and it's interesting to see how the park looked eight years ago. As always, your trip reports are very entertaining to read!

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^It's always good to hear from the fine folk of Canada, Paul.


Next up was a park that, well, wasn't quite as good as Alton Towers, although it was trying: Drayton Manor. Yes, back in 2006, Drayton seemed to be in a bit of a decline, although most of the group agreed that it was once pretty good, and had the potential to be so again. (From what I understand, the park has improved quite a bit since then, which is nice to hear.)


I did rather enjoy our time at Drayton, though. (Well, TPR makes the best of any park it visits.) But, for me, the coasters weren't the main attraction. In fact, G-Force (an X-car coaster with a goofy inverting lift) and Shockwave (an Intamin stand up) were downright bad. But the park made up for these rather painful rides with damn good drop tower and three other, let's say, goofy attractions.


Apocalypse, a drop tower which gives you the option of sitting, "standing" while straddling a bicycle seat, or standing and leaning over on a floor, is definitely in the top three of drop towers worldwide (the other two being Blue Fall at Sea Paradise and Agoraphobia at Six Flags over Georgia). I chose the stand-up-and-lean side next to a rather nervous Bill, who was afraid of heights--but he thought it was great.


Even though it was beat up and cheesy as hell, I loved the park's Pirates of the Caribbean ripoff ride, Pirate Adventure. Never has there ever been a more scurvy assortment of moth-eaten animatronics assembled for one attraction--and it's still better than Disneyland's Winnie-the-Pooh or California Adventure's defunct Superstar Limo. The only attraction to rival it is Phantasiasland's Hollywood Tour (which is hard to find in the park, but worth seeking out). Excalibur: A Dragon's Tale is another somewhat-less-than-awe-inspiring-yet-amusing boat ride through a cartoon version of the middle ages that involves knights that moon boats and a wee bit of fire (very wee). I also enjoyed The Haunting, a Madhouse with a great build up but a somewhat underwhelming climax.


Shall we head on in?


Ah, G-Force--the coaster that tries to squeeze you to death as you proceed through the course.


Fortunately, Maher Sohne has since improved on this model. You can see Shockwave in the background, ascending its lift hill with a train full of poor bastards.


A perfect example of the incredible theming Drayton was capable of in 2006. Yes, you will be magically transported to a kiddie land sponsored by a fruit-drink company. (Has the the much better Thomas Land since replaced this section?)


There's nothing like a fine meal . . .


. . . and this is nothing like a fine meal.


Andrew prefers his factory-produced-and-extruded pink slime in "nugget" form.


Good sammich, Pete?


Yep--livin' the life at Drayton Manor.


"Ahoy! I be Peg-leg Polly, here to tell ye how Drayton's Pirate Adventure in no way plunders the, let's say, somewhat more seaworthy Disney attraction."


"Behold one of the many services offered at Drayton. Atr Disney, pirate scum must walk about with their tattoos mispeled, and sech. A scurvy fate, indeed!"


"Our band be more, ye might say, 'multi-cultural' than the one at Disney. Ay, we has a Chinese pirate, a Mexican pirate (or so it seems), and a shy pirate what hides behind a post and like to blow."


"At Disney, you wants the redhead. At Drayton, the blond with the STD-ravaged face be wantin' you!"


Arr, mates, ye stand a better chance 'o' gettin' yer cutlass polished here than at Disney."


"At Disney, a dog holds the keys. Here, it be a goat! No similarity at all, sez I."


"Weakling Disney pirates shoot over yer head with pistols. At Drayton, we shoot bluderbusses--and we really try to kill you!"


"All those who still believe that Pirate Adventure be no more than a ripoff of Disney be welcome to join this scurvy dog! Are ye convinced now?"


Welcome to Excalibur, and remember--you have been warned.


If this doesn't scare you away or at least greatly discourage you from proceeding, nothing will.


"Er, oops! Sorry!"


"Yoo hoo! Wanna see my "tale"?


Here we have a photo opportunity that is nothing like anything else in any major park chain.


Waiting to get through The Haunting's pre-shows. You're part of a paranormal-investigation team sent into a haunted house to find out what happened to an earlier team. A vampire taunts you and shows what happened. Then you sit in a crypt that flips end over end. The door of a coffin slides open, and you can scarce contain your terror (and hilarity) when out pops a . . . sorry, no spoilers.


And one last look at sexual misadventures on Pirate Adventure. That's all for now.

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Nice overview of Drayton there Chuck!


Drayton is a nice little park and the coasters are ok but nothing standout. I hate G Force as it's just one of the most pointless rides ever created and it mostly now only runs one train so waits can take awhile. (If anyone goes now, wait until around 3pm to ride G Force as it will be practically walk on).


I enjoy Shockwave, it's not long but is unique to the UK and the ride was rather smooth on my last visit.


Your report totally jolted my memory of Fruit Shoot Land, I do remember that and Thomas Town which has replaced it is much much much nicer. Drayton really have done a great job of Thomas Land and the little Troublesome Trucks coaster is very good for a kiddie ride. I do however they added a copy of Fuji-Q's Thomas dark ride in as it would fit in perfectly and was a really nice, very well done ride. It is also one of the only Thomas Land's where you can ride Thomas and actually go to another place! It takes you to the zoo which you can walk back through to arrive back at the park a bit further in. At that other train station, Drayton is also home to the original Thomas sets which have been laid out and still have all the trains whizzing around. There is also a nice retro arcade around there too.


Just infront of the parks Ferris Wheel, Drayton added Ben 10's Ultimate Mission which was the first Vekoma Junior Boomerang. The queue is very well themed and leads you to the totally generic platform. The ride is actually rather good and enjoyable.


I don't think Xcaliber has operated for quite a while and looks to be ready for total renovation or change. Pirates Adventure, like you said, is a try copy of Disney's Pirates ride. I like it, it's not bad for Drayton but does take an age to go around. It also has the cleanest water I have ever seen for the water ride!


I hope this years Air Race will also bring some life back to the area around the final turn of Shockwave as that has been very quiet now for a while and lacks any atmosphere.


Anyway, great report so far Chuck!

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Ah, Drayton. Where I tried traditional British fare, "Toad in a Hole". I did not like it. I do not like G-Force. I did not like the shooting dark ride where half the guns did not work. I did not enjoy the stench of the Super Loo. I was not pleased the Drunken Barrels was not completed for our visit. I did not like the torrential downpour that ended our day and prevented me from riding my first reversing "flume/splash boat". Other than that I enjoyed my visit, glad to here they have greatly improved the place.

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The Wild West shooting ride was actually working perfect on my last visit but it took at least 3 visits originally to actually find it open.


Toad in the Hole is amazing but I agree theme park version might not be as great


The Drunken Barrels I stay away from as I hate spinny flat rides

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I just went back and read the report about Alton. It's amazing to see how much has changed even since 2006!


Spinball looks very strange in it's old support colour. I actually prefer the Sonic blue supports much better than that horrid teal colour. I agree that Chessington got the better half of the deal on those Spinners. Dragons Fury is a much much better ride than Spinball. But still, it soaks up tons of people in it's queue.


Nemesis, even then looked rather new and bold and bright. I really hope they give the station theming some maintenance and tart it up a bit sometime as some parts are now looking rather dull and tatty. I know it's meant to have that style, but it's not meant to fall to pieces. There is a difference and some people I have heard talking about this can't seem to understand that.


Zombies in the UK definitely know how to use guns....so watch out!


Porr Corkscrew... I have to honestly say, it ran superbly well on it's final day and I was quite sad when I saw it being taken to pieces the following day. oh well, change happens. We have Thirteen, YAY.


I'm glad you rode Hex. So many people miss it and it's actually very well themed and designed. I have ridden it pretty much once a visit, mainly to people watch those who have never ridden a mad house/hex before.


Air is most definitely like a starter Flying coaster. Nothing major and is very tame but of all the flyers out there it seems it's the one to most accurately provide the feeling of flight.


Thanks for the photos.

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Looking at those pictures it doesn't look like the parks food options have got better in years. I really don't like to eat at Drayton after I tried their "chicken" nuggets, or as I like to call them mystery nuggets!


Food was definitely not Drayton's strength, although they were probably a bit better than Lightwater Valley in that regard.

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Looking at those pictures it doesn't look like the parks food options have got better in years. I really don't like to eat at Drayton after I tried their "chicken" nuggets, or as I like to call them mystery nuggets!


Food was definitely not Drayton's strength, although they were probably a bit better than Lightwater Valley in that regard.


Shudders at memories of both visits to LV. Food didn't change one bit. Ugh.

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