Theme Parks Gear Up For Battle Of The Big Rides

With the school summer holidays just weeks away, the UK’s major theme parks are vying to attract their share of the crowds by promoting their latest big rides and dusting off the old favourites.

Weather permitting, 2012 could be a record year for UK park operators, with the promise of a massive influx of additional overseas tourists, drawn by the London Olympic Games, to potentially swell their visitor numbers.

Thorpe Park is best placed geographically to benefit from any Olympic spin-off, being situated just south of London, near Chertsey, Surrey. No surprise then that it has launched a major new ride this year to help draw in the visitors.

Claiming to be the UK’s first winged roller coaster, The Swarm boasts that riders will have nothing above or below them but air. Adrenalin junkies will travel at speeds up to 92 mph, pulling up to 4.5G’s of force, through five inversions and a 127-foot inverted drop. Just for good measure, the 2,543-foot long ride includes an extreme near miss experience.

Not to be outdone, Alton Towers, which is situated between the towns of Leek and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, has also launched a major new ride. Nemesis Sub-Terra is based on the park’s original Nemesis ride that was popular from its opening in 1994, only this time the action takes place under ground, and in the dark. The result, claims Alton Towers, is a psychologically and physically thrilling experience.

Visitors to Alton Towers looking for a less testing attraction can find it in Sharkbait Reef, a pirate-themed aquarium tunnel that is also new for 2012.

With its seaside location as an added attraction, Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, Lancashire, never fails to draw big crowds. Also in its armoury is the Big One, a long-time favourite and still claiming to be the UK’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, peaking at 235 feet high, and with incline speeds of 87mph. It is also one of the longest roller coasters, with a track length of over a mile.

So the rides are ready and waiting to test the bold and the brave, and the theme park operators will be keeping their fingers crossed that their roller coaster investments will bring them more ups than downs this summer.