Total Thorpe Park
home park info park guide features archive buy tickets
Connect

Should Thorpe's next investment be a dark ride?
Yes No

Current Results
History

Thorpe Park was not always a successful Theme Park. It was once disused flood land, and has changed over the years to become the leisure attraction it is today.

How Thorpe Park has evolved

1930 - 1940: The bulk of land that occupies the Thorpe Park site is purchased from the Lord of the Manor. Discussions take place as to what to do with the flood land.

1940 - 1970: The site becomes a "wet-working" gravel pit, owned by the Ready Mix Concrete Group. Excavation of the site for the gravel commences, leaving behind the large lakes that are still mostly present today.

1970: RMC wants to develop the land into a leisure attraction. Planning permission is granted for the whole pit to be filled with land. This would take anything up to 20 years.

1971: Planning conditions are changed, and the site is to be filled with water. This would
take a lot less time. Landscaping work commences.

1972-1978: A water park is built on the filled in water. It is to be half an exhibition, half an amusement park. The theme of the park is to be: "The History of the British People as a Maritime Nation". 10,000 trees and plants are planted on the site.

1979: The late Lord Mountbatten, Godfather to Prince Charles, opens Thorpe Park. What is today known as the Park "Dome" - Port Atlantis - is named after him, as "The Mountbatten Pavilion". A WW1 aircraft display is one of the main attractions on Park, situated where Calypso Quay lies now. Another similar attraction is the Schneider Trophy aircraft exhibition, which lies on what is now Canada Creek. Model World is also present at the opening. Thorpe Park wins the ‘Come to Britain’ trophy awarded by the British Tourist Board for the best new leisure development of the year.

1980: Thorpe Park adds Waterbus Trips and Windsurfing opportunities to its collection of attractions.

1981: Cinema 180, a 3D Cinema is opened (nothing to do with today's Pirates 4D!). Thorpe Park's initial landscaping is complete.

1982: Thorpe Farm is opened to the public. As a working farm, Thorpe Farm offers more interactivity with Thorpe Park's visitors than the other attractions.

1983: Magic Mill, a water ride is opened (later to become Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels). Riders sit in boats with canopies and meander around a gentle course. Space Station Zero (rethemed in 1990 to the Flying Fish) is opened. Treasure Island Railway also opens this year (demolished 1993).

1984: Phantom Fantasia is this year's new attraction. It is a haunted house ride (rethemed to Wicked Witches Haunt years later).

1985: Cap'n Andy's Revue is opened to the public this year at Thorpe.

1986: Teacup Twisters is 1986's new attraction. This ride is rethemed to Storm in a Teacup in 2004.

1987: It's decided that Thorpe Park would seriously compete in the leisure industry, and is to start building more intense and exciting rides. 1987 is the year where Thunder River (now Ribena Rumba Rapids) was built, costing £2 million.

1988: The 630 seat Palladium Theatre opens (which later housed Pirates 4D and Time Voyagers).

1989: Logger's Leap and Rocky Express are both opened in this year, along with the Canada Creek Railway, in the newly created area: Canada Creek. Canada Creek, with the exception of the instalment of Slammer, remains to this day largely unchanged.

1990: Space Station Zero is rethemed to the Flying Fish. Carousel Kingdom and Drive in the Country are opened - Carousel Kingdom is demolished in 1999 and Drive in the Country is rethemed to Miss Hippo's Fungle Safari in 1995.

1991: Following on from Canada Creek, 2 years later Thorpe Park adds Fantasy Reef (now Neptune's Kingdom) as another new area in 1991. Depth Charge and the pools open in this area.

1992: Hudson River Rafters and Viking Rowers are both added to Thorpe's collection of rides. The children's area is redeveloped to the current Octopus Garden.

1993: Calgary Stampede opens in Canada Creek, along with a virtual reality area.

1994: The Vekoma Pirate Ship, Mr Monkey's Banana Ride opens in the new area, Ranger County, alongside Chief Ranger's Carousel.

1995: Miss Hippo's Fungle Safari is added to Ranger County. Magic Mill is revamped to Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels to fit in with Ranger County, too.

1996: Thorpe Park boosts its credibility as a Park with the opening of the World's first (and even now, the World's only) backwards Roller Coaster in the dark: X:\No Way Out.

1997: Thorpe Park is voted the most parent friendly park in the UK. Hudson River Rafters, which sat on part of the lake that Logger's Leap still sits on, is removed. No new rides this year.

1998: Wet! Wet! Wet! torpedo slides appear in the pool area, and the Dino Bumper Boat Ride is also opened. Dare Devil Drivers is opened (demolished 2000), and the Rangers Show gives its final performance. The Tussauds Group buy Thorpe Park to join CWoA, Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds, the company having just changed hands from Pearson to Charterhouse Capital Partners. The Park opens for a non-stop 24 hour period to celebrate the Spring Bank Holiday on 25th May, from 5am - 5am - Funrise to Funrise!

1999: Tussauds install their first ride at Thorpe, Pirates 4D, a 3D film with special effects starring Leslie Neilson, in the Palladium Theatre. Viking Rowers is demolished to make way for Tidal Wave, to open in 2000.

2000: New for the Millennium is Tidal Wave - Europe's highest water ride at the time. Advertising is heavy for the ride. However, a fire sweeps through the Park in July 2000 due to a careless smoker, which destroys one of the best themed attractions, Wicked Witches Haunt. Nobody is injured. Detonator (a 115ft Fabbri Megadrop) is rushed in as a replacement ride. Jungle Zone Family Golf, Dare Devil Drivers, Cap'n Andy's Revue and Dino Bumper Boats are all demolished.

2001: Tussauds continue investing, installing 2 new thrill rides into the Park alongside Detonator: Zodiac (an Enterprise) and Vortex (a KMG Afterburner). Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels is demolished (and later becomes the site for Nemesis Inferno).

2002: Colossus opens to the public: the world's first and only rollercoaster with 10 inversions. The ride is true icon for Thorpe, and puts the Park's name on the map. Visitor numbers boom. The High Dive Show has its last year at Thorpe Park. The first Fright Nights Halloween Event is staged.

2003: Tussauds follow up Colossus' success in 2002 with another rollercoaster, sister to Nemesis at Alton Towers, Nemesis Inferno. The ride is also a great success, and is complemented with fellow additions Quantum (a Fabbri Magic Carpet) and Eclipse (a Febbri Ferris Wheel). Spiderman Shows start to take place in Thorpe's Arena this year.

2004: Samurai, a Mondial Topscan, comes to Thorpe from it's sister Park, Chessington World of Adventures, and replaces the ageing Calgary Stampede. The Spiderman Show has another year at Thorpe and Teacup Twisters has a retheme to Storm in a Teacup. At the end of 2004, Eclipse leaves Thorpe Park to make way for 2005's Rush. Eclipse moves to Chessington World of Adventures and becomes Peeking Heights.

2005: 2 new rides arrive at Thorpe Park this year; Slammer, a Sky Swatter, and Rush, a Giant Swing, both from S&S. Slammer, which was supposed to open on opening day, opens late, and Rush opens as expected in June. StuntzMania is this year's new show. Flying Fish and Model World are removed to make way for the 2006 Icon Coaster. The Tussauds Group changes hands once again from Charterhouse Capital Partners to Dubai International Capital.

2006: For their biggest Season yet, Thorpe Park open Stealth, a 205ft Intamin Rocket 'Coaster. This is Europe's tallest and fastest Launch 'Coaster (0-80mph in 2.3 secs), with the 4th steepest drop in the world. StreetXtreme opens in the Arena.

2007: Due to popular demand, Thorpe Park reinstall Flying Fish, in a new location in between Tidal Wave and Depth Charge. Stealth is "tweaked" to accelerate trains from 0-80mph in under 2 seconds. In March, Merlin Entertainments buy the Tussauds Group for £1 billion, and in July, Merlin sells the freeholds of Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury, who agrees to lease the attractions back to Merlin. Thorpe Blast Fireworks event returns at the end of the Season.

2008: Thorpe Park replace Pirates 4D with a new 4D film from Gardaland (Merlin Entertainments' Sister Park in Italy) - Time Voyagers. Season-long shows stop in the Arena.

2009: Thorpe Park opens SAW: The Ride - a unique horror movie tie-in ride from Gerstlauer. Miss Hippo's Fungle Safari is removed, due to high maintenance costs and Thorpe's changing target audience. Thorpe Blast is removed from the events calendar.

2010: On the back of the success of SAW: The Ride, Thorpe Park convert the old Thorpe Belle boat into a year-round live horror maze, SAW: Alive.

2011: Following Merlin's purchase of the closed Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, USA, Thorpe Park receieve one of its old rides - Storm Surge. The WhiteWater West Spinning Rapids ride is loosely rethemed to fit Amity Cove, but the original garish slide colours remain. Thorpe Fireworks return after a 2 year abscence as Thorpe Park Blows It Up! Time Voyagers has its last screening and is closed.

2012: Thorpe Park makes its biggest investment yet (£18m) in The Swarm, the UK's first Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Rider coaster. Blows It Up! Fireworks do not return.

2013: Thorpe's first venture into the overnight stay market sees temporary hotel The Crash Pad being installed on Park next to the Dome. The Swarm has its last 2 rows modified with the seats turned backwards - the ride becomes the world's first backwards Wing Rider. X:\ No Way Out is refurbished to become "X", with the trains rotated forwards and height restriction lowered to 1m.

This brings us to present day.

Thorpe Park Attendance Figures

Thorpe Park has ranked in the top 20 Theme Parks in Europe for a good many years now; below you can see how the attendance figures have changed over time (position in the Top 20 in brackets), and how they compare to other top European Parks. Gate figures are taken from the annual Themed Entertainment Association reports.

Recent Annual Attendance Figures (000's):

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Thorpe Park (UK) 1,700 (13th) 1,700 (14th) 1,870 (12th) 1,850 (11th) 1,900 (11th)
Alton Towers (UK) 2,400 (11th) 2,520 (10th) 2,650 (9th) 2,750 (9th) 2,600 (9th)
Europa Park (DE) 4,000 (4th) 4,000 (2nd) 4,250 (2nd) 4,250 (3rd) 4,500 (3rd)
Disneyland (FR) 12,000 (1st) 12,688 (1st) 12,740 (1st) 10,500 (1st) 10,990 (1st)

Historical Annual Attendance Figures (000's):

1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1990 1995 2000
Thorpe Park (UK) 300 450 500 600 800 1,020 1,420 1,600 900

Copyright
Twitter Logo Youtube Logo TotalThorpePark totalthorpeparktv