Thorpe Park will be transforming the X: No Way Out roller coaster into a Walking Dead themed ride. Enclosed inside of a building, the Vekoma Enigma roller coaster originally opened in 1996.
The park is marketing the ride as a totally immersive scare experience, that doesn't just start and end with the dispatch of the train. Scare actors and other effects will line the queue and surrounding areas, making this more of a complete attraction. Replicas of props from the show will also be placed in the building.
18 months have been put into the design of the reimagined ride, and the ride's lead creator has gone back to watch all episodes of AMC's popular show to develop as realistic of an experience as possible. This will be the first Walking Dead themed ride to debut at a park. Auditions are being held to find the most realistic zombie actors from around the area to help create the desired atmosphere.
We heard about the franchise branding their show a couple of years ago, with the Sally Corp marketing their concept for a Dead themed dark ride.
Not too much more info has been released yet, as I'm sure that Merlin wants to keep much of the ride a surprise. Hopefully they have gone all out on this one, instead of touting a ride that hasn't added too much effect or scenery wise. The park is scheduled to open March 23rd.
We have learned of some fantastic news from Heide Park, as they have announced that Colossos, the Intamin Prefabricated wooden coaster, will indeed be reopening for the 2019 season. Worry surrounded the theme park community, as the roller coaster was shut down last season due to extensive rail wear. A German inspection firm decided that due to unforeseen damage, the entire length of the ride would need replacement.
Due to the cost of re-tracking the entire ride being around 14 million USD, it was unknown if the park's owner, Merlin Entertainment, would be willing to shell out that kind of money on an existing coaster. To put that into perspective, that is almost the cost of an entirely new ride.
Colossos stands at 164 feet tall, making it the 5th tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. Although not many people make their way out to Germany to ride it, it is highly praised and usually ranks well in roller coaster polls. The majority of enthusiasts would not want to see a roller coaster of this model demolished, or turned into a steel hybrid for that matter.
For about a year, Merlin kept their plans for the ride a secret, and have admitted to looking at all options, such as re-tracking, re-profiling, demolition, and hybrid renovation. The first option was finally chosen as the ride receives high marks, and is the park's only traditional wooden roller coaster. The Intamin Prefab model remains rare, with only four examples of this model in operation, mainly due to construction costs, and the maintenance needed over the ride's lifespan.
The process of renovations will take an entire year, due to fabrication time and installation. Other models of this type, such as El Toro as Six Flags Great Adventure, have done re-tracking in sections over the years, to keep the ride operational, and to spread out maintenance capital.
Intamin's special track is manufactured in a factory unlike traditional wooden coasters. Instead of being built on site by hand, machines do all of the work. Track rails are precision milled and laser measured, bonded together by layers of adhesive. This method leads to more accurate transitions, and a much smoother ride experience. Installation times are also expedited, as track segments can be bolted together, much like steel roller coasters are.
The Intamin models have gone out of style because a competitor in the industry, Rocky Mountain Construction has designed a similar track design using prefabrication, but at a much cheaper cost and has more durability. Hopefully this time around, Heide Park's maintenance team will be more aware of the roller coaster's needs. They will have to do more yearly offseason maintenance in order to avoid the ride shutting down for entire operating calendars in the future.
In the end, they have made the right decision, because Colossos is of a rare breed, and could be one of the most underrated wooden roller coaster in the world, due to it low international track record.