Given that my Florida trip reports seemed to go down well last year (definitely didn't forget all about those last few ), I've decided to make an effort to make more this season. With that in mind, here's a report from trip #1 of 2017!
It was a hot, sunny day for early April. We arrived on-park at about 9:30. Actually, no, that makes it sound like we were walking through the turnstiles at 9:30. We drove into the car park at 9:30. The park appeared to have just opened, with some rides visibly operating while others were testing. The excitement began to build; we were just a *quick* Merlin Pass pick-up from the 2017 season. 45 agonising minutes later, we reach the front of the Annual Pass queue (in all fairness to the park, all tills were open). As per usual, my pass' picture looks horrible. I guess I'll forget all about that during Alton Towers ERT next week.
Psyched to finally get into the park, we gazed upon our next queue: the one for the new "Island Security" tents. Much like everything at UK parks, this was just a really inefficient and poor version of what Universal do. It took 15 minutes to get to the front of the queue, where we were told at the front to skip the tent and head straight to the turnstiles. Turns out, this happens to about 70% of people. Nice security, Thorpe.
The turnstiles' spruce-up looks great, but it was yet another example of Thorpe noticeably cramming this "Island" theme down our throats, especially when I feel compelled to say "it's not an island" every time I see it written down. Anyway, off we went to the first ride of the season: Stealth. 1 train operations were a disappointment, but we were on within half an hour. It definitely felt good to be back on it, looking forward to several more throughout the year!
When walking past the dodgems, we saw that they were a walk-on, despite it being 11am on a busy day (is it just me or is the novelty finally wearing off with them?) After a quick spin, we found ourselves in a 20 minute queue for Nemesis Inferno, mercifully on two trains. It looked like it was going to be almost exactly 20 until someone threw up in the station. That was fun. After a commendably quick clean-up by the ride team, we boarded and eventually left the station. The ride was its usual, enjoyable despite being incredibly average. It was, however, nice to see the mist on for once, with new light colours!
Rush was up next. It's a bit depressing to note that it was a surprise to see both sides operating, but it meant that the queue was short, so no complaints here. An unfortunate result of the short queue was the notoriously short cycle, but it was still exceedingly good. Looking forward to getting some longer cycles on quieter days later in the year.
Thanks to the late entrance and general crowds at the park, it was already nearly 1, meaning there was only time for a quick whizz on Quantum before eating lunch (a packed lunch, because I visit Thorpe way too often to splash out every time). We had a look at a queue board, which told us that The Swarm, Colossus and Saw were all 60-75 minutes (no thanks), undoubtedly not helped by the fact that both Ghost Train and Stealth were #unavailable, although they both opened up soon.
To pass the time in the hope of some of the bigger queues dying down a bit, we did Flying Fish (10 min) and X (30 min). Both are fairly mediocre rides which I wouldn't bother with normally, but I hadn't been on either in at least 6-9 months. Upon re-checking a queue board, we saw that The Swarm had dropped to 10 minutes. It was like we were in the movies or something! Alas, it was too good to be true, as the ride broke down when we were in the station. After waiting a short while (in which we played rock-paper-scissors to see who would give the sob story at guest services if it didn't reopen), an engineer arrived and worked some magic - probably in the form of turning it off and on again - and we got going again.
I'd totally forgotten just how good The Swarm is! I rode in the front row, far right seat and it was fantastic, probably only beaten by Nemesis and maybe The Smiler in the UK. We followed this up with a trip on a slightly less fantastic ride: Storm in a Teacup. I've always considered Teacup rides to be underrated and so this was good fun.
It was around 3 at this point, and we were all getting a bit sick of queues. A Merlin Pass holder does not simply stay the entire day if the park's busy, because there's no need to. As a result, we grabbed a drink, took a quick look at the new merch for this year (more on that later) and headed for a last ride or two to end the day.
The plan was simple: it was 3:30 and Vortex had a 10 minute queue, so we could do that and catch the 4pm showing of Angry Birds 4D to end the day, right? Apparently the ride ops on Vortex had other plans, turning our 10 minute wait into half an hour, much of which seemed to be blatant chatter while the ride sat dormant. These unacceptably poor operations meant we missed the show, but I don't think anyone really cares about that anyway to be honest. What did kind of suck was my useless seat on Vortex - I didn't go to the top once!
On the way out, we did a merch stop. I'm a big collector of resins, so I was interested to see what was new for this year. We seem to have three: a really cool Storm Surge one, a really cheap Saw one (which is basically Jigsaw on a piece of plastic) and yet another Swarm one, this time featuring the church. It was noticeable that they've all taken a price hike, all three of these are currently priced at £9, even the rubbish Saw one. I ended up buying the Storm Surge one and will consider whether or not to bother with the others later in the year. The Storm Surge one may well be my favourite resin from any Merlin park, which is ironic seeing as it's my least favourite ride at any Merlin park.
Overall, it was a good first day. Queues were fairly high, but could have been worst for sunny Easter holidays Sunday just after ROTD's opening. Would have been nice to get on the other major coasters, but I guess they'll have to wait until after my exams now. Looking at my clock, I've just spent an hour on this, so I'm going to end it here. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading this report. If you did, look out for more reports coming from the rest of my Easter excursions!