attention-grabbing starts, well-paced middles and Oscar-winning
finales, even in their most basic form, rides share more than just a
passing similarity to blockbuster films.
very aim is to evoke emotion and feeling, whether of raw terror or
of heartening warmth.
many circumstances, rides go further and add storylines that further
add to the sensation of being a part of a true adventure. Like
films, the theme of choice when it comes to adult rides is that of
disaster. Although essentially glamorising tragedy, Earthquake
(Universal Studios) is just one example of how catastrophes are used
to make an exciting and wholesome attraction.
a ride falls into many categories. Many rides are built around a
theme (Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris), many themes are built
around a ride (Nemesis, Alton Towers) and many simply go hand in
hand perfectly complimenting respective aspects.
isn’t theming alone that makes Tidal Wave special, or the ride
that is an O.D.Hopkins Shoot-the-Chute at its most simplistic.
Together, the two fuse to subtly sustain the experience and at no
point makes either the theming or the ride self-sufficient. The ride
forms just part of the ensemble of visual effects in Amity Cove and
in its entirety offers a compelling finale.
Cove, Marlin County USA is a New England suburb devastated a tidal
wave. The tide-marked town features storm-lashed buildings slanting
precariously sideways, submerged or completely destroyed by the
between classics like Chantilly Lace and Oh Carol!, WWTP Radio warns
the seemingly amphibious residents of Amity Cove that further tidal
waves are to be expected, and to ensure their safety are to head to
the Cannery where escape by boat can be offered.
debris in various forms, the entrance to Tidal Wave is lit in
flickering neon with the ride’s drop and a house semi-destroyed by
a rowing boat through the roof forming a fitting backdrop.
queue continues under the drop and turn around. Trees are littered
with clutter like chairs and other trivial furniture whilst mere
ruminants of homes remain such as overflowing toilets and shower
who rely on the sanctuary of a poncho vending machine closer to the
station will despair at the fact it rarely works. If I were to go to
a swimming pool and jump in fully clothed, I’d be called mad. But,
despite the end result being pretty much the same, by the lack of
changing rooms it is obvious Tidal Wave should be ridden fully
clothed. Whilst wearing a poncho at your local leisure centre may
not do a world of good, wearing one on Tidal Wave is to be highly
station loads one boat at a time.
the scene in Matrix where Thomas ‘Neo’ Anderson has to decide
between the blue or red pill.
red pill allows you to succumb to the full power of Tidal Wave.
Without any form of breathing apparatus, you shall feel as if you
have been pushed to the bottom of the ocean.
blue pill throws you a gauntlet. You SHALL remain dry, and you SHALL
enjoy doing so. I prefer to take the latter, but the choice is
who took the red pill will carelessly step into the boat allowing
their designer footwear of choice to soak up an inch of water. Those
who took the blue pill should note this and walk across the above
the un-named ocean in the bottom of the boat before sitting down,
resting their feet on the bar under the seat in front.
sure your poncho is under your bum, blue pill-takers, as the heavy
teardrop shaped lap bar is pulled down on your row.
the water rushes to the back of the boat, you start the climb on the
lift that is slow enough to feel like being stretched on the rack.
the top, the boat levels out and without due hesitation turns a
quick 180-degree turn before going down the straight drop.
drop doesn’t offer an experience similar to walking on the moon in
anti-gravity boots airtime-wise, but the sensation of speed is there
nevertheless, and the sensation of dropping down at great speed
towards devastated Amity is thrilling enough.
the bottom, it is as if a nuclear bomb has exploded under the boat
sending an unfeasibly large geyser of water skywards completely
enveloping the boat. Water erupts up in front and to the sides as
you are forced forwards into the padded restraint as the boat slows
to walking pace in a matter of feet.
had time to note how soaked you already are, the walls of water that
have blinded you for what seems to be minutes collapse onto the boat
systematically and uniformly soaking riders in their entirety.
who chose the blue pill will have a palaver on their hands trying to
keep their poncho under control. I had to learn the hard way, so you
can too. Suffice to say, keeping the hood up, the ‘skirt’ down
and your arms inside the poncho at all times is a challenge.
you keep your feet under the seat, legs out of the way and
essentially shrinkwrap yourself in the poncho, you should come away
laughing. If not, at least you tried.
drips down from Pier 13 as you head into a turn which takes you back
into the station. A short wait later, you re-enter the station and
showing no sign of emotion are motioned off to the left by the ride
seems to be an inbuilt reaction to run from someone (or something)
that is trying to drown you. Tidal Wave is the same, and in your
haste to run away from this frankly wicked contraption, you – like
many, may run straight out of the door in what can only
conservatively described as a monsoon as the other boat sends most
of the water in Amity Cove pouring onto the exit ramp.
raised pathway continues through the photo booth and then across
Pier 13 which bridges the splashdown area. Windows protect the
furthermost ends of this pier, with crossing the middle section
offering yet another opportunity to get soaked. Many by this point
are soaked to the point they frankly don’t give a damn and
conclude by playing chicken with several thousand gallons of water.
the ride on it’s own is fun, the whole experience of Tidal Wave
goes way beyond a high-slide with a water splash. Watching the ride
play with the other effects in Amity is compelling.
is far from over the top and never intrusive, but features smaller
original touches never normally associated with Tussauds’ normally
formulaic approach to theming. Despite being based around disaster,
the theming is always upbeat and never dreary.
the obvious problem that Tidal Wave is the wettest rides in the
world and the UK is far from being a Balearic island. Tidal Wave
isn’t any Storm Force 10 where it looks no wetter than a log
flume, but in the wrong seat you will end up drenched to the skin.
Wave is clearly wet. The tsunami scathing through the centre of
Amity every minute is a clear indication of how wet you’re likely
to get. Tidal Wave hides nothing. To those who say you get too wet:
take the blue pill and buy a poncho then have fun trying to keep dry
– or don’t ride.
Wave goes against all odds. Thorpe Park needed anything but another
water ride, but due to recent investment, water rides only form a
healthy proportion of the park. Furthermore, a short one-trick ride
only forms a few pages in this blockbuster script. Elsewhere, great
effects and the spectacle of watching the ride itself perform make
Tidal Wave far more than a drop into a wave.
Wave could have been a complete washout. Or ‘total devastation’
as the park likes to call it. Overlooking the obvious irony of
Thorpe, Tidal Wave is anything but, and is as good as the wave is