With the 2012 Season now firmly underway, TowersTimes takes a look at a few more of the park’s changes for 2012 as well as some updates that have occurred since the start of the season.
The big news of the season so far was the forced closure of the park last week due to fierce storms hitting the area and whilst the park has now by and large moved on, the eagle eyed may still be able to spot evidence of the storm damage. Mainly the remains of a good number of trees to have been felled by the storm, most notably in the Mutiny Bay, Gardens and Car Parks, but also one seemingly in the Sub-Terra queue line.
Talking of the park’s latest attraction Nemesis: Sub-Terra has now begun a programme of improvements, which most had hoped would be coming after the ride’s poor initial reception. So far the attraction has received a new pre-show and the story has been updated to make more sense of the ride that follows. The ride element has been also been rearranged to follow a more understandable story progression and more of the rides effects are now operational whilst others have been updated to improve the experience. These changes have improved the ride experience, and further changes are expected over the coming week which should help transform the attraction into a more worthy addition to the park. TowersTimes will bring you more information as we get it.
Meanwhile over in Cloud Cuckoo Land, Ice Age 4D has continued its initial popularity and is still pulling in large audiences, though due to the theatre’s large throughput you would be unlucky to have to wait much more than one ride cycle to see the film. A top TowersTimes tip would be that if the queue is looking rather full, chances are that you’ll have time for a sneaky ride on the nearby Twirling Toadstool, Gallopers Carousel or Frog Hopper before joining the queue. By the time you return to Ice Age 4D the queue will likely have gone down and you’re still likely to get onto the next ride cycle.
Elsewhere in Cloud Cuckoo Land, the area has seen several other changes for 2012. Alongside the Aquazorbing which arrived last season and the previously reported Sid’s Snowball Challenge another new sideshow in the area has seen the former Fabulous Toyshop become home to the Driving School in Miniature, a new set of nicely themed radio controlled cars. (Though alas, this has not meant the removal of the awful Forbidden Truckers, which is a poor version of the same attraction). At the far end of the area, the removal of the Peugeot showroom has left the plaza in front of Driving School, as well as Rory’s Play Den looking rather empty. Here at TowersTimes we are hoping that this area could become home to the pipe theming that was removed earlier in the year to make way for Ice Age.
The other big news of the season is the planning approval for SW7 and work starting on the removal of the Blackhole tent. Work is flying along on the demolition, with all the canvas already stripped from the front section of the tent and work already starting on the main dome. The work so far has revealed the original colour scheme of Yellow and Green on the underside of the tent, as well as exposing several old game machines from the old Blackhole arcade, which had been left in the tent. With construction walls now dominating this side of X Sector, Detonator Drop has now also moved to the area in front of Submission.
Adventure Land is also buzzing with life over Easter with the arrival of Mount Rocky for the Easter Holidays, billed as the world’s first chocolate themed climbing wall with a chocolate waterfall. Contrary to initial rumours, Mount Rocky is not a rethemed version of Lava Lump (which is still in storage behind Duel) but a custom built climbing complex, with options for both weak and strong climbers. The entire complex looks very nice and a good little addition to the park for the Easter period running from April 10th-15th. At this point it would also be worth mentioning again Squirrel Nutty’s Storytime in neighbouring Storybook Land, which will be running on weekends and holidays throughout the season and has seen one end of the area transformed to build the show’s quaint new set.
As we mentioned at the start of the season, the Congo River Rapids have received some attention over the closed season with a new queue system put in place for Fastrack and Disabled guests. Other work that has been carried out on the ride has seen the work carried out on the ride’s queue line bridges and guest operated water cannons added on the path near Katanga Cabin, giving a new interactive element to the ride. On the far side of the park Rita has also received new more prominent Fastrack and Single Rider entrances, opposite Forest Feast, which are a great improvement on the old hidden location.
In the Towers themselves, the newly refurbished Conservatories are doing a sterling job as the new exit for Hex and it is lovey to see this part of the house back in use for the first time since the 80s. As part of the refurbishment the Conservatory’s entrance into the house has also been uncovered, revealing various pieces of Victorian wall art that had been hidden from view. On the front of the house the Banqueting Hall’s stained glass windows have now been full removed for restoration. The work is likely to take some time and so the scaffolding has now been removed revealing the temporary Perspex widows that have been installed to protect the inside of the hall during restoration.
Whilst talking about improvements around the park it would be entirely remiss of us not to mention the great work that has been carried out on Duel over the past couple of seasons. The ride has been going from strength to strength, with many new and improved details as well as the repair and return of several previously removed effects. In the queue line we have seen the return of the classic Haunted Book and Twitching Hand effects, which have been joined in the ride itself by improvements to the Skeleton Bill’s Corridor and the ‘Finger Zombies’ amongst other effects. Also the lighting has been much improved throughout the ride, bringing back much of the classic Haunted House’s atmosphere which had been lost in the ride’s transformation into Duel. A tip o’ our hats to the team behind the Duel improvements and long may they continue (and we do of course wish the Pillar Demon a speedy recovery).
2012 has also seen some changes for the park’s catering options. As well as the new addition of The Fried Chicken Co. in X Sector, several other outlets have also been updated. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Wobble World Café now has an external service window, which as well as offering Ice Cream is has also brought Hot Dogs to the venue. Similarly Towers Family Restaurant has also received a second external kiosk, which specialises in Donuts. Meanwhile in Dark Forest, Forest Feast no longer offers a Pie and Mash option, with its kiosk now serving Pasties instead.
Operationally the park has seen a couple of changes since the start of the season with a new ERT scheme currently being trialled, which relieves the crush in the entrance plaza by allowing all guests to enter the park from 9:30am, though only ERT guests can access rides before 10am. The downside of this scheme is that this means that ERT guests have to show the tickets/passes at the entrance of ERT rides during this period, causing extra hassle for these guests. However in other Annual Pass news, a new perk is now available on HB Leisure game stands, many of which are offering Merlin Annual Pass holders a 2 for 1 discount.
Overall there has clearly been quite a lot of work carried out around the park during the closed season, which has seen many improvments. Unfortunately this has also involved the proliferation of temporary vending units, games machines and vending machines that now seem to clutter ever available corner of the park, making the park look rather untidy in various places. This is particularly the case around Katanga Canyon, Dark Forest, Fountain Square, Towers Street and the paths leading in and out of Mutiny Bay (leading both to Towers Street and the Towers). Whist TowersTimes were on park on a Saturday during the Easter Holidays many of these temporary vending units did not even seem to open, leaving several of the park’s paths strewn with abandoned karts and closed up face painting booths, detracting from the park overall appearance.