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Adz
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Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:59 pm

It is time for the Wicker Man to rise! 

A fair warning to everyone venturing beyond this point, this topic will contain serious spoilers about Wicker Man. If you've yet to experience the attraction and want to keep things a secret then we suggest immediately leaving this page.

With Wicker Man now soft open, we want to hear about your ride experiences. Did it live up to the hype? Is it your favourite ride at the resort? Or is there something you could improve? 

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I'll start...

I was lucky enough to be invited on a press preview of the attraction a week or so before it was due to open. I've been on a fair amount of wooden coasters and enough GCI's to have a good understanding of what the ride experience would be like prior to boarding, I was expecting a low thrill but highly entertaining ride with some nice theming, but all of that went straight out the window as soon as I walked into the entrance plaza for the ride itself. 

The Wicker Man structure itself is very imposing and the 'fire' effects are incredibly realistic. The ride itself is sprawled out onto the landscape behind it and looks incredibly impressive, it's certainly not a scary ride to look at but then it's not meant to be. The queue doesn't contain any real cattlepen elements and has some nice thematic touches throughout, along with the soundtrack which gets a gradually darker tone as you progress. This is very noticeable by the time you reach the preshow and the overall atmosphere is considerably more menacing than that of the entrance area. The bag room and preshow room itself are highly themed, way beyond the normal level that you would expect of a UK attraction. Our group took a long time checking out all of the details and I'm sure there is still more to see on subsequent rerides. 

The preshow itself is like nothing before seen in the UK. It's right up there with the likes of Disney and Universal in its presentation and quality. The effects are simple but work effectively to get across the storyline easily to the general public as well as provide a spectacle with the projection mapping elements. It's over very quickly and you're immediately led into one of the most striking rollercoaster stations in Europe. The far wall is ablaze with faux fire and smoke and the lighting on the rest of the station adds a very dramatic scene to the ride. It's a far cry from the sterile environment of The Smiler. 

As for the ride itself, put simply, it's immense fun. It's not overly intense yet the second drop and subsequent banked turns provide a serious thrill. The speed is a lot faster than it looks off ride and there are some genuinely shocking airtime moments. Possibly my favourite is the small bunnyhop into the Wicker Man structure itself as you see the real flames burst out the top as you plunge towards it. The ride doesn't really let up towards the end and you're still travelling at a fairly high speed when you hit the brake run. During our preview rides the maintenance building and tunnels at the end of the ride were dark and empty, though I believe fog and lighting effects have now been added to this so I look forward to seeing those on my next visit.

Overall the ride is an incredible addition to the park and it cannot be overstated how impressive it feels when all the elements come together. I'm not sure yet if it's toppled Nemesis as my favourite ride at the resort but it's certainly up there with the best. 

There's not much else to say other than go and ride it ASAP! 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:31 am

I was lucky enough to ride it on Tuesday and it was a personal thrill that 24 years and a day since I rode Nemesis three times on its first public opening day, I lucked out and rode Wicker Man on its first public opening day too, albeit only once.

Like many others, I had been cynical of the ride since I saw the plans. And I hadn't been expecting much from it.
The previews had raised my expectations somewhat, but still didn't prepare me for the huge surprise that the ride provides.

The whole experience is Disney standard and is the most complete attraction the park has installed since, well possibly ever.

From pre-show to return to station, it's the perfect attraction.

The ride itself is way more wild than I was expecting. The first drop provides a lot more airtime than initially thought and the descent from second sound tunnel to first interaction with Wicker Man is pretty darn impressive.

And from then on, there's lots of bouncy airtime and great banked turns.

And the supposed boring corner isn't actually that slow and feels retro in so far as it's like a turnaround on say Grand National, giving you the chance to anticipate the final speedy part of the ride.

And there are a couple of surprises in the shed, but don't get too excited.

All in all, definitely worth its place as an SW.

Cheers Alton Towers. You amazed this cynic.

And great merch as well. #WickerManHaul
 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:56 pm

Having covered the development of Wicker Man from TTSP for the past three years I had a mix of anticipation, but also some questions about just what type of experience this ride would give. I have literally written about almost every detail of this ride, from the plans, concepts and theming, right down to the nuts and bolts during construction! I've also been fortunate enough to experience a few GCI coasters in Europe, which have been mixed experiences, leaving me hoping that Wicker Man would be at the better end of the spectrum of my experience!Like Adz I was fortunate enough to be invited to a preview event on the 8th March, plus I also attended the Press Launch on 16th March meaning I have been able to experience the ride both in the daytime and at night.

Before I get onto the ride itself, I have to talk a little about the overall area and theme. Wicker Man sits on the edge of Mutiny Bay, and there have been a number of changes made to make it clear that although you haven't gone too far, you are definitely in the territory of The Beornen. From the retheme of The Courtyard Tavern, and Burger Kitchen, to the addition of markings around the immediate area, you now have a clear, but subtle transition from Mutiny Bay to Wicker Man's plaza. However, nothing can prepare you for just how imposing the Wicker Man structure is. It towers over the track and that, combined with the sight of the track twisting through and around the structure gives a powerful first impression of the ride. Even at this early point, it is clear how much attantion to detail has gone into the overall look and feel of the ride, with little details evident around the entrance. The soundtrack drifts across the entrance area and has a kind of upbeat, festival feel to it inviting guests to join The Beornen in their world.

Once you enter the queueline there is even more theming and attention to detail. From the bunting hanging around the ride, various feature points - including a 'Rosetta Stone' for the runic alphabet, and a number of other items, there is plenty to look at. The fact the ride twists around you as you make your way towards the station also adds to the anticipation for the ride. It will pay to listen out to the soundtrack as you progress along the queue as the light, festival feel will gradually be replaced with a darker tone as you are drawn further in - a touch which I was particularly impressed with.

Then comes the pre-show. I won't say much about the content as it really is something that you need to see for yourself, but what I will say is it by far one of the best pre-shows I have seen. It is just the right length to keep the queue oving, but also not so short that you don't get the story. It sets up the ride perfectly. It's worth having a look around in the baggage hold and pre-show room too as there are so many little details that show just how immersive this ride is.

So, what about the ride itself? As you enter the station the attention to detail continues, right down to the wicker detailing on the trains. The ride experience itself is the perfect mix of fun and intensity for what this ride is aiming for. If you want a nice smoothe ride then I'd advise heading for the front. However, if you want airtime and that extra intensity then the back row is where you want to be. It has a nice bit of pace throughout, only letting up right at the end as you make the final turn to the brake run. The effects are very impressive during the day, and even more stunning at night time (and whilst they are definitely at their best at night, don't underestimate how impressive they are in the day time too).

This ride is the perfect addition for Towers Right now. Having a 1.2m height restriction means it fills a gap in the Resort's line up and provides the perfect step for younger thrill seekers towards the likes of Nemesis and The Smiler. For me though what makes this ride is its sheer theatricality and immersion. It truely is a complete experience where you feel you are in The Beornen's world. This is the kind of ride I was hoping Towers would deliver and they have exceeded my expectations. It has become my favourite ride at Towers, knocking Nemesis off my top spot - whilst it of course doesn't match the thril of Nemesis, for me it is that overall, complete, immersive experience which makes it for me. I can't wait to get back on it this weekend!
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:55 pm

I rode the ride several times today.  The first ride of the morning I felt the ride was slow.  But riding the ride again later on in the day in the same seats, it did seem a lot faster and better. 

I loved the themeing and the ride music.  The pre-show was good too. I can only really echo what everyone else have said above.   
 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 1:20 pm

Wicker Man is a fantastic addition to the park!

Whilst the coaster itself is not as good as Grand National or Megafobia, the overall experience is absolutely incredible and something that Alton Towers should be very proud of. Here's to hoping that they can iron out the technical issues of the past couple of days as it's spending much more time closed than open!
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:30 pm

MakoMania wrote:
Wicker Man is a fantastic addition to the park!

Whilst the coaster itself is not as good as Grand National or Megafobia, 

I fully agree, I was one of a few that wasn't actually impressed with the coaster itself, but the themeing is great.  I wasn't impressed with the special effect either.  The pre-show even though it's great, there were nothing new in the way of special effects.  
As for the Wicker Man stature, the fire effects wasn't real enough for me.  I've got very good eye sight and the led's screens inside just look like led's screens.  When you whizz through the tunnels beneath the station and through the wicker man, I did not get the sense of going through fire.  If anything, it reminded me of the special effect that was originally in the Nemesis Inferno volcano at Thorpe park when that first opened.   If any thing, I still feel the effect in Valhalla at Blackpool were more immersing and more realistic despite them being over a decade old, but this is just my personal opinion. 
 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 7:20 pm

my new favourite coaster at towers, people say it lacks airtime but i dont agree, thought it was way more intense than i expected and its topped off with some of the best theming in the country, solid 9/10 from me

Not worth queueing 4 hours for though like i did!
 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:43 pm

Wicker Man may not be the most intense or revolutionary ride at Alton Towers but the whole ride experience goes hand in hand with the preshow and ride to create something that is truly different.

The whole queue line is great with the close interactions with the ride, the landscape around is more appealing to be in as opposed to rides like The Smiler & Galatica.

The Preshow I must say left me gobsmacked. It went above and beyond what they should have done and left me with shivers down my spine, it was simple and effective.

The ride itself is good, it interacts with the area well and the timing with the theming structure is great. There are some moments where it allows you to gain your breath and others where it takes it with force. I can appreciate what the team behind this ride have achieved.

Maybe not the best ride on park but I can see this ride becoming a very fun ride for the majority of the park in a few months when the teething problems have been resolved. A solid ride with a simple yet effective story complimented with a good ride providing some real highlights.
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:36 pm

I absolutely loved this ride, and in my opinion it is the best ride in the park, and my number 3 coaster, after Shambhala and The Swarm. It is the first ground-up GCI I have ever ridden, and I think part of the reason I loved it so much is because I set my expectations quite low, and it greatly exceeded them. There are some small changes and improvements I would make to it, but IMO it is a brilliant ride!
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:18 pm

I've also ridden a few GCI coasters and was really excited about going on a new one. I was glad I hadn't read any spoilers beforehand as everything about Wicker Man is impressive from the great way the queue line offers fab views of the ride to the fabulous pre show. The coaster itself is fantastic and a really great addition to AT and I was also surprised at how nippy it is but in a good way of course!
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:43 pm

ROYJESS wrote:

I fully agree, I was one of a few that wasn't actually impressed with the coaster itself, but the themeing is great.  I wasn't impressed with the special effect either.  The pre-show even though it's great, there were nothing new in the way of special effects.  
As for the Wicker Man stature, the fire effects wasn't real enough for me.  I've got very good eye sight and the led's screens inside just look like led's screens.  When you whizz through the tunnels beneath the station and through the wicker man, I did not get the sense of going through fire.  If anything, it reminded me of the special effect that was originally in the Nemesis Inferno volcano at Thorpe park when that first opened.   If any thing, I still feel the effect in Valhalla at Blackpool were more immersing and more realistic despite them being over a decade old, but this is just my personal opinion. 

Agree with this.  Having the fire effects for Wicker Man use the same technology as the furnace in Blackpool's ancient Ghost Train is so disappointing.  Even more so given how immersive the overall theme is.

 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:11 am

Rode The Wickerman at about half 7 on Saturday after queuing from 4.15. Kudos to the staff for working late.
After queuing for so long, having never ridden a wooden coaster before and getting to ride it in the dark it was possibly the greatest experience I've ever had on a ride. Really looking forward to Scarefest now. Rode again on Sunday in the daytime and was still tremendous fun. Good atmosphere and build up, a fantastic addition to the park.

I imagine Thorpe looking at DBGT and kicking themselves..
 
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:23 pm

 I was apprehensive after the events of the weekend that I wouldn't actually get to ride, however I visited the park briefly this morning and finally got on Wickerman! And a lovely sunny day to boot!

(In my opinion)...
Is it the best ride in the park? No.
Is it the best wooden coaster I've ridden? No.
Is the themeing and area the best Alton have achieved in a long time? Yes.

I loved it. Its a great fun ride, and while it may not be the BEST ride at Alton, it certainly seems like it's going to be my favourite, as wooden coasters usually are at most parks!
Standing by the courtyard looking across the ride plaza made me genuinely happy, I would be happy if this area was installed somewhere like Efteling. I only got to ride in the morning and everyone keeps saying it's much quicker in the afternoon, so I look forward to riding it later in the day sometime soon.
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:51 pm

I won't waste my time on what the ride consists of as it is all listed above (thank you all for saving me typing ;) ), however these are my thoughts and feelings about Wicker Man;

I think I make a very good case when I say the coaster itself is not the best thing in the UK, possibly not the best thing at Alton Towers, but it is the best wooden coaster in the UK. (Not saying the ride is bad, it is actually far better than anticipated) However with that being said, this is my favourite ride at the theme park (and quite possibly my favourite ride full stop) when the theming, atmosphere, and general execution is taken into consideration. The pre show is something very special, and I think Alton Towers have bought themselves up to the challenge of heavy theming. The ride is having reliability issues (at least it has been over the weekend, seems much better today) however on opening weekend nothing can be judged in reliability terms until it's properly broken in. :)
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:20 pm

Excellent addition to the park, perhaps the most "complete" ride that Merlin have created in my opinion.

It's not the best woodie I've ridden; but it is a really fun ride, plenty of speed to it and the theming is top notch for the UK industry.

The pre show is incredible, and was a real surprise for me as I had managed to avoid spoilers. I feel that the ending of the ride could be improved somewhat but it doesn't detract from the overall experience that much. I think it would be good if there was some sensation of heat when passing through the Wicker Man structure.

To comment on Jack's opinion that this is the best woodie in the UK, I would have to disagree. Personally for me Megafobia is a much better woodie, if you were to qualify it on roller coaster experience alone. Obviously as a themed attraction Wicker Man is vastly superior.

I eagerly await 2018's other new UK coaster Icon, which will undoubtedly be a better roller coaster experience, but isn't really a theme park attraction so not sure it can be judged with the same parameters.
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:26 pm

Tom wrote:
To comment on Jack's opinion that this is the best woodie in the UK, I would have to disagree. Personally for me Megafobia is a much better woodie, if you were to qualify it on roller coaster experience alone. Obviously as a themed attraction Wicker Man is vastly superior.

I will say it was tough saying such a thing, Megafobia has a soft spot in my heart ;)
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:41 pm

This is the spoiler thread right, so we can talk about the preshow in detail right?

I had tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible but unfortunately I watched a video of the Meet the Maker Q&A that hadn't had the spoilers edited out nor did it have a spoiler warning, so from that I knew there was going to be a "projection mapped head", and then videos started popping up on youtube of the preshow, which I didn't watch of course, but the head was clearly visible in the thumbnails so I knew what it would look like. Nevertheless, even knowing about it, I was completely blown away. I imagine it would be even more impactful if you didn't know about the head, came into the room and just saw the screen, and didn't expect anything more than a short film presentation on the screen, only for it to go dark halfway through and then suddenly a huge flaming head appears out of nowhere. I'd have loved to have not known about it so I could've had that experience. Obviously, knowing about the head, I guessed it was behind the screen and the screen would move aside at some point to reveal it. What I hadn't expected though was just how well executed the reveal would be, with the blackout, the audio building up the anticipation, and then FWOOM there's the massive flaming head looming over everyone. I also hadn't expected just how huge the head would be. So even though I had been spoiled slightly, it still took me by surprise and had a huge impact. The audio was fantastic throughout as well, building to huge intensity at the end, meaning you leave the preshow super hyped up for the ride.

So yeah, really amazing preshow and great coaster too, really fun and with a lot more airtime than I had expected, even further towards the front. My only nitpicks would be that the LED screens in Big Bob don't look as good in person as they do in pictures, and I'd have appreciated a more complete "finale" aspect in the maintenance shed (what's there feels like a half-assed, quickly cobbled together afterthought which I suppose is exactly what it is, and it feels a bit jarring given how "complete" the rest of the attraction is as a theatrical experience. I feel like they could make it a much better finale with very little expenditure - even just a more complete bit of audio with better timing would do the trick.) But the attraction is fantastic as it is, these are just little things that would make it just that tiny bit closer to perfection. As someone who comes from a theatrical/entertainment background, I really appreciate when a theatrical philosophy is applied to attraction design, as John Wardley often says. And this ticks all the boxes in that sense. I'd say it's now my number 2 coaster at the park after Nemesis, and overall my number 1 ride experience at the park.

Also I like the smells in the station. Mmm, barbecue...
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:56 pm

Wicker man was fantastic! Easily beats the majority of rides at AT and beyond! I'm saying it's on par with The Smiler and Galactica but just doesn't top Nemesis for me. The preshow is great and builds up to the climax at just the right time, and themeing wise, it's clearly the best ride in the UK. Pacing was excellent and like all the rides at towers it packed a punch until the very last second. Overall a very enjoyable experience however slightly ruined by the fact that it breaks down every second :-k
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:58 pm

Today, I finally had chance to ride Wicker Man and it has exceeded all my expectations, so much so, it is now my number one coaster. One thing is certain though, this is definitely not a family ride in the sense of Th13teen as it is more intense. I'd class it as a thrill ride with a 1.2m height restriction.

The theming of this attraction is spectacular, but it now puts the other attractions to shame. The queue line and preshow set the scene well and the ride is spectacular. Riding in the rain is painful though! :lol

Apart from one or two down periods for 10 minutes or so, Wicker Man's operations have been spot on! Dan and I were lucky enough to ride it 6 times today, along with rides on Spinball, Duel and The Smiler. We even sat down for lunch! I can still smell the ride on my clothing :lol
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Re: Wicker Man Reviews & Discussion [SPOILERS]

Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:03 pm

I rode Wicker Man today. I thought it was really really good.

I managed to get to rides on Wicker Man, one around lunchtime and one around 5:30 and can I say how well this coaster warms up by the end of the day as my second ride on it was breathtaking!

The preshow wipes Hex and DBGT's preshows to the floor. I loved the style of the video, and whilst the projection mapping isn't the best it's very good. I love how the queueline boards say 'Do not eat your modern food from this point, It does not please the Wicker Man' and I also love the way they end the preshow with 'Let the ceromony commence' as a nod to The Hunger Games. 

The ride experience is amazing, the ride has stong laterals, a good amount of force (but not to much) and even a few pops of airtime (espically towards the end of the day). 

The post show is also pretty cool, you go into the shed and music starts playing and as you turn back into the station theatrical fog in orangy yellow light goes off in your face, I still stink of it almost 4 hours later!

The Public's responce seems overwhelmingly positive and I was genuinely suprised how many children were riding and enjoying Wicker Man!

This truely is a world class coaster! 

EDIT:

Bert2theSpark wrote:
 'Let the ceromony commence' as a nod to The Hunger Games. 


It has been brought to my attention that the quote 'Let the games begin' is used in other media which as google informs me is also used in various songs and The Dark Knight. Whereas it's not a direct nod to THG, it serves as a nod to the quote 'let the games begin'.

And I can still smell the theatrical fog on me! (It's a nice smell though)
Last edited by Dan on Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merged double post
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