Home to some of the UK’s most popular and arguably best coasters, Thorpe Park is one of the UK’s top theme parks.
Despite its reputation for being Alton Towers’ little brother, Thorpe Park became a leisure attraction in 1979, a year earlier than Alton Towers which became a theme park in 1980.
Thorpe Park may not have the heritage that Alton Towers has, but there are still plenty of hidden secrets and Easter eggs to spot, even today.
Here are a few hidden secrets that you can try to find on your next visit!
It’s a pit…
You may have noticed, Thorpe Park is actually on an island surrounded by water. That’s because the land used to be owned by a concrete company, who used it as a gravel pit.
In the 1970s, the company finished extracting gravel from the pit and decided to flood the new enormous pit with water, leaving the island in the middle of a lake, on which they built a small leisure park.
Over the years, as the park has grown, the amount of land needed has had to grow too. Tricky, considering it’s surrounded by water! The solution was to remove some earth from the outside edges of the lake, and move it to the sides of the island in the middle to create a larger piece of land.
The Swarm sits on an entirely new, reclaimed piece of land, as does Saw the Ride and the area where Saw Alive’s disused queue currently sits.
1. New Land
Next time you’re queueing for Stealth, have a look out past the trees towards the lake, you’ll see a whole new ‘island’ that has been reclaimed over the last few years next to the Swarm, ready and waiting to be the home of a new attraction!
Here’s what Thorpe Park looked like in the year 2001 compared with how it looks today – notice how the top edge of the island used to be next to Tidal Wave, which now sits in the middle of the park today! Also you can see here that Colossus is yet to be built, right on the water’s edge, there’s no land for Saw the Ride at all.
Notice the empty ‘new’ island next to The Swarm, ready for new attractions in the future.
The gap left by the fire
Did you know, Thorpe Park had a huge fire back in July 2000?
The fire took 100 firefighters from 15 crews to put out, but it destroyed the Mr Rabbit’s Tropical Travels and Wicked Witch’s Haunt rides, along with the buildings they were housed in.
2. The actual Inferno
You can still see where the Wicked Witch’s Haunt building used to stand, and where the old fire-damaged building was demolished, leaving an abrupt ‘end’ to the remaining building’s facade.
You can see this for yourself by standing near Detonator’s entrance, and looking at the green building.
After the fire, Detonator was brought in as a temporary “1 year only” attraction to fill the gap, but was so popular that it’s still there today, alongside the permanent replacement, Nemesis Inferno.
It’s quite ironic that the ‘Inferno‘ rollercoaster now roars over the space cleared by the fire!
Thorpe Park is home to many record braking rides. Colossus was the world’s first 10 looping rollercoaster, and held the record for the most inversions of any rollercoaster in the world, until it was beaten by the Smiler recently. Nemesis Inferno also held a more unusual record until recently too – the most naked people on a rollercoaster at a time!
3. Word Record Breakers
Next time you ride Colossus or Nemesis Inferno, have a look in the window of the Operator’s cabin – you’ll see the official Guiness World Record certificates hung up on the wall!
Saw the Ride also held 2 world records when it opened in 2009, the “world’s steepest freefall drop”, and the “world’s first horror movie themed coaster”.
Flamingo Land opened an even steeper rollercoaster within a matter of days however, and named it “Mumbo Jumbo” in response to these claims.
Some hidden details around Tidal Wave
The areas and buildings surrounding Tidal Wave’s splashdown pool are cleverly themed to resemble a small American seafront town that has just been hit by an enormous tidal wave, washing away part of the shore and depositing a lot of debris around the area – this means there are plenty of hidden secrets to look out for!
Next time you’re over near Tidal Wave’s queue entrance, have a look down at the walkway – most people don’t notice there are tramlines built in to the pavement, and because of the tsunami, these disappear in to the sea.
If you have a look above the entrance of the building KFC is located inside, you’ll see this is the Amity Hotel. The hotel has an unexpected visitor though – a shark has been washed in by the tidal wave and has crashed through the facade of the building.
If you go inside KFC and look up, you’ll see the shark’s head which has crashed through the wall, along with a boat which has washed up and crashed through the roof of the building!
The tidal wave’s devastation doesn’t stop at KFC, the toilets in front of Tidal Wave also have boats and vehicles which have been picked up by the tidal wave and deposited through the roof of the building. Look up next time you’re in there – many people miss these details!
On the subject if KFC – have a close look at the bottom of the building, and you’ll spot the green seaweed high tide mark showing where the flood happened!
6. Hidden backstory in the newspapers
Next time you’re in KFC, have a look out for the posters on the walls which tell the hidden backstory of Amity Cove, along with some weather forecasts predicting the tidal wave!
Hidden secrets around The Swarm
There are quite a few hidden secrets around the Swarm.
7. The plane is actually real.. Well, the ‘bits’ are real at least!
The crashed plane that the Swarm dives underneath came from the aircraft graveyard at the Cotswolds Airport.
It’s actually a bizarre model made up of several different planes, including the tail section from a Boeing 737, the wing from an FMI Air Bombardier CRJ-200LR reg S-GSBX, and 2 engines suspended from the one small wing (CRJs don’t even have engines on their wings!)
8. It’s for you
If you stand next to the upturned phone box near the crashed ambulance for long enough, you’ll hear the phone ringing as people try to call!
See what you can hear next time you’re in the area.
The Swarm’s theme music was written and released by the band You Me at Six, specifically for The Swarm. An instrumental looping version plays in the area, but the full song (“The Swarm”) can be bought or streamed online just like any other.
10. Hidden codes
The codes written on the side of the shipping container have hidden meanings relating to The Swarm, including the opening date, maximum height, number of inversions, and number of riders each train can hold.
Saw the Ride hidden secrets
11. The props are real
There are various traps dotted around the queue area at Saw the Ride, many of which are the actual props that were used in the films.
12. Hidden victim
There is a victim’s body suspended in barbed wire inside the building.
You can spot this from 2 places in the indoor part of the queue – first of all, when you reach the bottom of the stairs, look up and you’ll see a victim’s legs hanging from the tangled barbed wire. Later in the queue, just before you reach the top of the stairs, look to your left through a dirty window, and you’ll see the victim’s head among the barbed wire.
This is a reference to the barbed wire trap in the first Saw movie.
13. Bathroom Break
The first part of Saw the Ride’s track is indoors. Just before the ride leaves the building in to the outside section, you’ll go through an inline roll over the top of a body on the floor which will spray you with ‘blood’.. If you look closely in this scene, you’ll see that this is actually an accurate replica of the iconic bathroom from the first Saw film, and that body on the floor is the main character, Jigsaw.
14. “You thought the games were over?”
Have you spotted the reference to Saw IV in Saw the Ride?
At the end of the ride as you head down the stairs to leave the building, have a look up – you’ll see Jigsaw’s severed head on some scales which hang from the ceiling.
15. More hidden codes
Like the Swarm, the codes written on the side of the shipping containers that form the Saw Store have hidden meanings relating to Saw the Ride.
You’ll see “PRO DYLAN” which was the name of the project, supposedly named after the project manager’s cat, along with 130309, the ride’s opening date, and various statistics about the ride.
Princess Diana Memorial
Princes Diana controversially used to take Prince Harry and Prince William out in to the general public for more ‘normal’ days out, including to places like McDonald’s, the beach, and various theme parks. Famously they took a trip to Thorpe Park in the Easter holidays in 1993 – There are countless photos online of them enjoying a ride on Loggers Leap.
Loggers Leap is no longer open at Thorpe Park, but you can still see the Princess Diana memorial in an old `Logger’s Leap boat in the Sunken Garden, behind Stealth.
To access the Sunken Garden, use the path just to the left of Stealth’s queue entrance.
Sunken Garden is also a really nice little spot away from the crowds to relax on a bench and eat lunch.
Things left over from the past
There are a few things around the park which have been hidden away as a reminder of some past attractions.
Here’s a good one to look out for –
17. Blast from the past
Next time you ride The Walking Dead The Ride, look out for a nod to the ride’s former name.
It’s hidden on a car’s numberplate, which is just to your left as you go through the doors leading out of the ride’s exit station.
Have you ever noticed the seemingly random ‘roofs’ dotted around the park?
As time goes by, they’re gradually disappearing, but some remain even today.
Well, here’s what they are!
18. Free Fastrack?
Near some of the older rides’ entrances, you’ll see some roofs either standing in the middle of nowhere, or that have been re-purposed in to something else.
Believe it or not, Fastrack used to be free, and this roofs used to shelter the Fastrack machines, much like they have at the Disney parks.
See if you can spot them next time!
Don’t believe everything you read
19. Stealth’s sign is weirdly wrong!
Stealth’s entrance sign says the launch takes you from 0 – 80 in 2.3 seconds, but actually it’s quicker than that.
Stealth opened as (and still is) the fastest rollercoaster in the UK, and one of fastest accelerating rides in the world.
The launch was upgraded a few years after opening to help it reach top speed even faster, to prevent the trains from failing to make it over the top.
Now adays Stealth launches from 0 – 80 in a staggering 1.9 seconds – that’s much faster acceleration than any car in the world (including Formula 1).
Thorpe Park’s ‘Space Mountain’ knock-off lives on!
Did you know, back in 1984 Thorpe Park had a go at cashing in on the success of Disney’s Space Mountain which opened 9 years earlier?
Only, this was a little more “low budget”.
Space Station Zero was Thorpe Park’s first rollercoaster, which was located indoors, inside the building where KFC currently is.
The entrance to the arcade next to KFC used to be the entrance to the ride.
20. Take a ride on Space Station Zero
It may be 37 years old, but you can still ride Thorpe Park’s first coaster, Space Station Zero, today – only it’s now been moved outdoors and renamed the Flying Fish!
Thanks for reading!
Do you have any other Thorpe Park hidden secrets to share?
Let me know in the comments below!