Editorial: Thorpe’s new ride must be the next Hex

Derren Brown

As Thorpe Park begins to step up the marketing activity for its new enclosed attraction, it is critical that the end product matches the hype.

While Merlin Entertainments has not completely shied away from attempting to create enclosed, immersing experiences, it has not yet succeeded.

The Nemesis Sub-Terra ride at Alton Towers was a flop at opening, and a partial recovery when they bolted on a scare-maze finale was all too short-lived and half-hearted.

The fact is that since Hex’s arrival at Alton Towers in 2000, an immersing indoor experience has not been pulled off by Tussauds and subsequently by Merlin since their 2007 takeover.

Hex divides all theme park guests, regardless of them being enthusiasts or the general public.

But the ones whom it does impress are the ones that feel theme parks should be as much about escapism and wonder as they are g forces and thrills.

While Hex now stands at more than 15 years old, it is still the best example of theatre, atmosphere and absorption at any UK theme park.

The new attraction coming to Surrey could also potentially be a springboard for an upturn in Merlin’s UK theme park fortunes, after they have taken a battering following the Smiler crash.

The danger is that it will be the latest in a long line of actor-laden flops that are stripped bare – or even mothballed – in no time at all.

And although at a possible disadvantage due to the gimmicky-celebrity link in the form of Derren Brown, Thorpe Park’s new ride absolutely must put its very large budget – or its money – where its mouth is.