I'm looking forward to riding it next week, however, I fully agree with you about the theming. The shop, station and general area are spectacular. It certainly sets the benchmark for Merlin, following on well from Ghost Train at Thorpe. It does however make other attractions look a little underwelming now. Th13teen, for example, could have been so much more had it been designed today. Think about the potential!
Yeah, though TH13TEEN is still a very unique experience that holds up well on its own. Theming on the level of Wicker Man would have been fantastic of course, but it's far from having an underwhelming experience overall, in my opinion.
You're definitely right in saying that Wicker Man sets the benchmark for future Secret Weapons at Towers. There is something that feels very complete about Wicker Man, which is even more unusual since it doesn't even belong in a named area of the park, but the way it's been intergrated in to the edge of Mutiny Bay is really well done. All the extra theming like the wicker polls and bunting as well as The Welcome – Inn are just really well thought out and makes the surrounding area of the ride feel very well finished!
Without wanting to jump too far ahead, based on what we have seen for SW8, I'm already really exited for SW9!!