Maintenance engineers at Thorpe Park celebrated the 200th anniversary of the rollercoaster with a dizzying celebratory lunch, 205ft above the ground atop of the Stealth ride ahead of the park’s 2017 opening tomorrow.
The engineers celebrated as they took a break from the annual pre-opening safety checks tucking into birthday cake whilst sporting party hats on top of their helmets. It took the workmen 20 minutes to scale the attraction which is the same height as four double decker buses stacked vertically.
Using harnesses and ropes to scale the rides, the engineers spend 11,500 man-hours meticulously checking every inch of the amusement park – that’s 13,552.9ft of track and 11,766 nuts and bolts. Over 10 million litres of oil is used to maintain the rides – which equates to approximately 4 Olympic swimming pools!
The first rollercoasters with wheeled vehicles on tracks appeared in Paris in 1817 – the Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) and the Promenades Aeriennes in Parc Beacon.
200 years on and Thorpe Park Resort is a household name in Europe as the destination for thrill-seekers. It continues to expand and evolve, and this year sees the arrival of Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon which not only has ride movement, but also special effects, VR, live action and illusion.
The engineers’ winter maintenance season comes to an end today, 22 March, as the Park looks forward to re-opening its doors. Checks are also carried out in the early hours of the morning, throughout the day and late into the night during open season.
Theme park rides have been enjoyed for many years, archive pictures of Princess Diana with the young Prince William and Prince Harry have been released by Thorpe Park to celebrate the landmark rollercoaster birthday. Further archive footage revealed images of Jonathan Ross and Richard Branson dating back to the early nineties.
In recent years, the nation’s thrill capital has seen famous riders such as Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Liam Payne (One Direction) and grime artist Stormzy – he hosted a park takeover last summer to celebrate his birthday.
Quick Facts on Stealth:
- Ride Type: Launch Rollercoaster
- Maximum Height: 205ft (62.5m)
- Maximum Speed: 84mph (135km/h)
- Maximum G-Force: 4.5
- Track Length: 1,640ft (500m)
- Ride Duration: 24 seconds
- Cable Length: 50,000m (enough to run a quarter of the way around the M25)
- Brake Power: 1,875 brake horse power (same as brake horse power of two Formula 1 cars or 10 Peugeot 206 GTI’s)
- Capacity: 20 riders per train
- It took 80,000 hours to build Stealth
- Stealth was the first rollercoaster to be blessed – the Vicar of Thorpe performed a special devotion ceremony before the ride first launched
Dominic Jones, Divisional Director at Thorpe Park, said: “The first rollercoaster 200 years ago was very different from the rides we see today. From guide rails and low speeds we’ve seen the rollercoaster progress and continue to defy adrenaline junkie’s dreams, with vertical loops, higher speeds and explosive drops.
As the nation’s destination for thriller-seekers, we continue to strive to offer guests the rollercoaster experiences in a safe and fun environment, which has seen the development of the UK’s first winged-rollercoaster ‘The Swarm’ and the world’s first horror movie themed rollercoaster ‘Saw – The Ride’.
Today we are seeing thrill rides evolve at an incredible pace pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved by using the latest technology alongside classic scare tactics, this is best exemplified in the innovative fear attraction Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of The Demon, which not only includes ride movement but also uses special effects, illusions and VR to create an unforgettable and immersive guest experience.
Theme parks are being given endless opportunities for creative and immersive experiences, even more so in the last 10 years due to the speed at which technology is being developed. From Virtual to Augmented Reality, tech developers are providing us with a toy box full of compelling instruments to play with.”
Thorpe Park was built in 1979 on the site of a former gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a water-based theme for the park. The amusement park attracts around 1.9 million visitors a year and is the 10thmost visited theme park in Europe.
Stealth is one of Europe’s fastest rollercoaster which sees riders propelled from 0-80mph to 205ft in under 2 seconds and experience the same brake horse power of two Formula 1 cars.