Ghost Train 2 Review
Derren Brown's Ghost Train: Rise Of The Demon, or less ridiculously 'Ghost Train 2' seems to address some of my main concerns about the original incarnation of this attraction, however were they addressed correctly in my opinion?Batching
I have to admit the new batching process for Ghost Train is fantastic - it really helps keep the queue flowing and makes the whole experience far more pleasant. The new entry into the building is also quite nice as it feels more atmospheric to me, what a difference a shed makes!Pre-Shows
After entering the first room I was surprised to find the pre-show room had been invaded by a large box in the back corner or the room. Whilst I know it's necessary to have this, it really made the already small room feel even more cramped (and hot!). I was kind of hoping there would be some kind of alteration to the pre-show speech but alas, I was left with the same thing. Nothing of major concern though. Moving into what seems to be a now permanent second 'pre-show' I found the room leading to the warehouse to be a bit dark now. There was also an issue in which half the group could not get up the stairs and so missed the 'conductors' speech about the train and it's swaying. Again, nothing major and can be resolved with some better people management. The reveal was, as usual, fantastic and for some reason I felt compelled to look below the train this year. I'm not sure if they have changed the lighting configuration to draw attention to underneath the carriage but either way - it enhanced the experience greatly.Spoiler(ish) Review
Spoiler Free ReviewVR Scene 1
VR Scene 1
Upon boarding the train I was happy to hear brand new announcements playing within the train itself. What made this special was the way that these were instructions on how to put the headset on and that they were disguised so effectively you almost sub-consciously listened to it, unlike Galactica and it's absolutely hideous EVE video! I then had a quick glance around and I didn't see a single headset out of action - I was starting to get impressed.
So after putting the headset on the journey started. Now I know that many have said how they love the new headphones and I agree - I'm glad they've changed them all to this now! I feel as though this initial VR has had some very subtle voice over changes, the story felt more fleshed out than last year and it really wouldn't surprise me if this was the case. This section of the ride has always gotten my heart going - I don't know why, so I loved this just as much as last year. I'm also extremely glad to see that there is now a 'please remove your headset' message, saving frustration for guests and staff!
Now, when I heard the train crash was more or less confirmed to be left unused (on my ride at least) I was quite honestly sad. However, I was very happy to see what they have replaced it with (hopefully to be used in conjunction with if the train comes back). But first I've got to highlight an issue. One thing I feel is a huge missed opertunity is how you are rushed off the train so fast you don't notice you're in a completely new environment. Personally I'd like to see a moment in which we all wait in the platform for a 'is everyone off' check just to really set home the idea we have moved. Back to the live action scene. As I was saying there was no train, however instead of telling you to leave straight away we were told to run back toward the door we came in from - I was hesitant so hung back until I noticed something had changed with a very effective use of an actor. My suggestion would be to hang back where the tunnel is here, and watch the terror unfold in front of you!
VR Scene 2
After rushing back on the train and getting the headsets on I did say "woah" to what I saw. The VR looks miles ahead of last year due to it being a video - not CGI. Having the scene set entirely in the train and underground made this whole scene feel much more suspenseful, and having the scene force you to look around was also a great touch. I was impressed with the brutal nature of this section, it really felt like the ride had earned its 13 age rating (which was being enforced quite heavily). However, it didn't scare me. Whilst the scene now looks great and has a great atmosphere it still didn't scare me. After my first ride I was somewhat disappointed by this, but after re-riding I found that once I'd gotten out of the "this ride HAS to be the scariest thing ever" bubble and just enjoyed the craziness that unfolded, and I ended up really loving the scene.
In summery, I was pleased to see all headsets working and with the new headphones. The journey still manages to get my heart rate up and so I'm quite happy with this section. Live Action
As a whole whilst I wasn't expecting much from this scene I was pretty surprised, and I am almost inclined I liked the subtle change more than last year!VR Scene 2
This scene was much improved on last year and although I didn't personally find it scary, once I sat back and enjoyed the chaos I found it to be great fun.Exiting The Train
The exit from the train was fairly good, now that you exit left and you go through to the shop via a longer route I found it really gave me time to reflect on the ride. The only issue I have is they really need to sort out some of the lights in the exit as a couple seem to flicker a tad General
My main issue with 2016's Ghost Train is there was no re-rideability to it. I felt bored with everything and it was more "I'll go on it again because it's new". This year I have to say I would happily ride this twice a visit, just to appreciate it. The ride seems to be viewed in two ways now (by myself at least) - either you really get into it or you just observe the madness that unfolds and the theming. Both scenarios left me with a smile on my face and I did consider a third go today. Reliability is what's going to be an issue this year. Whilst the ride is running much better than 2016 it's still had a few issues. The headsets seem to be working well but having delayed openings really needs to be sorted by summer - otherwise I wish guest services luck!
As a whole I really enjoyed Ghost Train 2. It's still got little things that need to be fixed but honestly I think you can say this with everything. I personally feel it's the UK's best dark ride by far and the best attempt at theming we have too. It's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea but honestly, it's my cup of tea.
That is why Ghost Train 2 gets 8/10
from me. Once the little issues have been sorted and it's opening consistently I have no reason to say that it won't go up to a 9/10!