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Miss this ride at your peril!
Saw The Ride (Thorpe Park)
Member Name: Commanddoh
Saw The Ride (Thorpe Park)
Advantages: Fast, thrilling, exhilirating fun.
Disadvantages: horrendous queue times during summer and school holidays
I knew nothing about this ride prior to my arrival at Thorpe Park about a week ago, so much so that I thought it was new - it was still being referred to as 'new' in the maps and on the park posters. In fact, it was premièred last season.
I am a roller coaster fan and have high expectations. I will get that out of the way first, so as to qualify some of my descriptions. I may inadvertently 'underwhelm' something that the average theme park fan will find breathtaking or scary. I also had not seen a single 'Saw' movie prior to this, so all of the novelty value and brand association was lost on me.
I got to Thorpe park quite early, and me and my girlfriend made a bee line straight for this. I anticipated that it would be busy as it is a heavily advertised feature, and even though it was an overcast day the week after half - term holidays finished, there was still 45 minutes queue worth of people with the same idea as me.
You enter into a 'Saw Zone' through a large gate/archway with fencing either side, and a disused Police car prop to your left. A merchandise stand is directly in front of you, and there is a live action 'experience' called 'Saw Alive' to your left. That is basically a 'walk through' human chain where you go into 5-6 rooms themed on the Saw movies, and actors will attempt to scare the BLEEP out of you! Its quite well done, but I will go into that in another review I suspect. Anyway, beyond the merchandise stand and to the left is the queue entrance to the Saw ride itself. The ride is built into a disused warehouse to the right of this and next to that is the point at which the ride itself plunges vertically 'through' giant rotating (fake) saws and into a 360 degree loop. This grabs everyone's attention, and invariably it will be the point at which you decide to go on the ride or not. It will scare a lot of people, but for me it was almost a written invitation!
The queue entrance has a red digital display above it telling you how long you will queue for. Pay attention to this, as the queue has cleverly been disguised behind the 'warehouse'. It is a giant maze, lined 10 feet or so high with grating, fake razor wire and other props designed to make you think you are entering something from the movies. There are regularly repeated 'oh my god, where are they, send in backup, watch for traps!' radio chatterings from unseen speakers, designed to distract you from the queue but in reality they just make you more bored. And make no mistake, its a boring queue. When you make it as far as the steps of the 'warehouse' there is a re-enactment of Jigsaws' hideaway with hidden cameras, mesh cages everywhere, T.V. Monitors and thumping pipes. On the furthest T.V. Screen you see a crackling display and the familiar white mannequin head rotate towards you uttering the now famous phrase 'Hello....I want to play a game'. You are then told that you hold your life too cheaply by venturing on thrill rides such as this, and now you will be tested to see if you are worthy of the life you have. It meant nothing to me, but its very familiar if you have seen any of the Saw movies. Up you slowly plod to the top of a flight of stairs and then there is a short corridor. On the left is the access to the ride and ahead is a place to leave any baggage you might be holding. Now is the time to leave it, as you won't be holding on to it on the ride! I deposited my bag, and we moved to a spare double place on the ride. The over locking bars came down and we were almost ready to go. An attendant checked the safety bars and then asked me if my glasses were okay on my head. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about them, but I just said 'I don't know. Guess we will find out in a minute!' and left it at that. They are bendy frame glasses, and usually sit quite firmly on my head, so I wasn't too bothered. Well, maybe a little! A few seconds later and we were off.
The ride started and we rounded a corner. It was dark, and there on your front left was that damned mannequin with the spooky white face again! He was riding a tricycle and laughing like a crazy person. What's this all about thinks I. Ahead is darkness, and I have a feeling something is about to happen. Suddenly you drop down in complete darkness and the roller-coaster has started in earnest. Pretty soon you are out of the 'warehouse' and after a sharp corkscrew you are face to face with a vertical climb. The car moves slowly until you are parallel with the ground and it slowly creaks away as you move inexorably upwards. Hmmm, this is new thinks I. Can't recall a time when I was lying back in my seat with the ground below me like an astronaut before. Ah well, I will have a moment to admire the view at the top before it comes down. Did I mention that I was scared of heights?
As soon as it reaches the top, you are flung into a straight vertical fall at high speed and go through the rotating 'saws' that were mentioned before and proceed right into a high speed 360 degree loop. As the loop comes around you are cut to the left and are thrown into about 3-4 really sharp turns where you are at least half way to three - quarters inverted inside the edges of the turn, generally being flung about all the time. Its pretty short - maybe a minute to a minute and a half all told, but its utterly exhilarating. It's not scary by any stretch of the imagination - under my roller coaster aficionado classification - but its thrilling, fast, jarring and a damn good ride. Its on of those ones where you would kick yourself if you missed out. My girlfriend HATES roller coasters, and I badgered her relentlessly to give this a try. She had serious reservations about it when we were both sitting locked into the seats, but after all the dust settled she said she enjoyed it. Don't go on it if you have any serious neck or back pain though as you will get thrown around. Having said that, I have 2 compressed discs in my neck/back and its never stopped me enjoying myself...
I said at the start that I had never seen the films this ride was based on. I did afterwards (all six of them in a week!), and a lot of the 'mood' effects stated to make more sense. I doubt it would have made a blind bit of difference to the overall experience, but I'm sure it would have given hardcore fans a little bit more of a thrill.
Summary: If you like roller-coasters you would be crazy to miss it.
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