|| n. A large or dense group of insects, especially flying ones.
The Swarm is the UK's first Wing coaster, and represents an immersive ride experience from start to finish.
||Bolliger & Mabillard
|On Ride Photo/Video
||57mph (92 km/h)
||Max G Force
||Dive loop, Zero G roll, Inclined loop, Corkscrew, Inline Twist
New for 2013: Brave It Backwards!
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The Swarm is the first Bolliger and Mabillard roller coaster to open in the UK for 9 years, the last being 2003's Nemesis Inferno. Bolliger and Mabillard have a reputation for smooth, reliable rides and as with Nemesis Inferno, The Swarm is no exception. It is without doubt one of Thorpe's best rides.
Thorpe Park seem to have a penchant for death and destruction, with SAW: The Ride in 2009, and 2000's Tidal Wave and Amity Cove before that. The Swarm continues this theme, and is set on its own desecrated island to the very right of the Park. What is immediately apparent to guests entering the area is how much thought and detail has gone into the themeing. It is both plentiful and inventive.
"The Swarm" are an alien race and have launched an attack on the Park. Riding on the wings of "The Swarm", guests hurtle under a crashed plane wing, skim around the rotating blades of a ditched helicopter, and narrowly miss a water explosion caused by a trashed fire engine. The whole area has been wonderfully designed. The station itself is an abandoned church, with the ride control booth being an upturned police van. Queueline TVs show News 16's coverage of the alien attack, with a studio newswoman cutting to increasingly harassed roving reporters. Even the on-ride photo booth and games stall are situated in crashed vehicles. It all helps create the story and immerse guests in the ride experience - truly impressive stuff.
And what of the ride itself? Whilst not being the most intense coaster in the Park (Stealth and SAW take that crown), it's a lot of fun. The standout moment is the initial inversion, where riders are slowly taken upside down at 127ft and then dropped under the plane wing. It's quite a unique feeling, and certainly the most memorable. Following this, the train enters the zero-G roll (which itself is as high as Colossus' first drop), and dives down into the inclined loop. This inclined loop doesn't offer the same thrill as a normal vertical loop-the-loop, but allows riders a breather before the train enters the helix around the helicopter. This a great set-piece, especially for those sitting on the right side of the train - here riders can nearly reach out and touch the water.
The corkscrew which follows is good fun, and is taken less slowly than the zero-G roll before it. The train then sweeps down past a fire engine which triggers a water splash element, before turning through the abandoned church into the inline twist over the waiting guests below. The brake run signals the end of the ride. It's worth noting that more so than with other coasters, the ride experience on The Swam differs according to which seat you get. Front row obviously offers the best views, but the back row on the right hand side is for us the preferred choice - it's the most intense, flips you over rather than under the first inversion, and gives you that helicopter water skim!
As for faults, there are very few. While its track length is similar to Nemesis Inferno's, The Swarm might feel a little short. Given the Wing-Rider seating, it could also offer more "near-miss" experiences than it does. Ultimately though, whichever way you slice it, The Swarm is an £18m triumph for the Park. It's hugely re-rideable, superbly presented, and thoroughly deserves 5 stars.
- A brand new ride type makes for a unique experience.
- Thorpe's most impressively themed attraction.
- One of the smoothest and most fun coasters at Thorpe Park.
- Ultra comfy seating.
- A little on the short side.
New for 2013: Brave It Backwards
Rather than installing an entire new attraction for 2013, Thorpe Park decided to encourage repeat visits by turning the last 2 rows of The Swarm's trains around, allowing guests to #BraveItBackwards. Would this better the original ride experience or would it simply prove to be a cheap gimmick?
Neither, is the answer, although braving The Swarm backwards is certainly a lot of fun. Riders queue in the designated "backwards" queueline and are given a "backwards" ticket upon arriving at the station. This ticket allows the rider to line up for seats on the last 2 "backwards" rows of The Swarm's trains. Aboard the train, the first novel thing is the lift hill - it's quite a unusual experience watching the earth get further and further away from you, and relying greatly on your restraint to hold you in, the hill alone can make guests feel insecure. Furthermore, as the backwards rows can't see what's coming up ahead, there's a definite tension as riders wait for that 127ft inverted drop.
Not being able to see what's coming up unfortunately detracts from one of the key selling points of The Swarm; the near misses. Credit must go to the Park for installing another near-miss for 2013 - a huge billboard - but this effect is completely wasted for those riding backwards. Riding backwards means that nobody ducks to miss the wing of the aeroplane after the inverted drop, or worries about whether they are going to crash into the church wall before the inline twist. Backwards is a novel way to ride, but these themeing elements are suddenly lost.
There is also the question of logistics - Thorpe Park are marketing riding The Swarm backwards as their "new for 2013" attraction. Any new attraction rightly gains large queues, but given that there are only 4 backwards seats per train, braving The Swarm backwards might entail standing in a very long queue beforehand! By our count, expected throughput for the backwards seats must be around the ~320 people per hour mark, which for any major attraction is very poor indeed. Expect long queues for the backwards rows in the summer and around Fright Nights!
In sum, riding backwards is a fun ride (only marginally more scary than forwards), and certainly an inventive way to create a new experience with an existing attraction, but we don't think it's any better than the forwards version. The near misses are a vital part of the ride experience, and it's all lost on the backwards rows. It's still a solid ride, so give it a go - but we wouldn't queue any longer than the standard queueline for it!
"The Swarm is an excellent ride, with possibly the best theming in the country. While it's not too intense, the ride is incredibly smooth, and delivers a fantastic experience. I'd recommend it to any roller coaster fan."
Richard, Kent, UK.
"Absolutley fantastic coaster - the themeing is immersive and the ride experience both intense and amazing! A must-do roller coaster when visiting the park - 10/10."
Jamie, England, UK.
"One of the best rides in the park. The theming in the area and interactions make it a worthwhile addition to the Park. It may not be as forceful or intense as other rides like Colossus but delivers a very smooth and exciting ride."
Matt, London, UK.
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