It’s a bit creepy.
I don’t very often get let out of my cage to interact with others, so when the opportunity came to travel up to Thorpe Park for the launch of a new ride on July 21st, I was understandably excited. I am not really a fan of roller coasters and other thrill rides, at least not in the real world. But this new ride is something a bit different – It’s a modern take on the Ghost Train, as created in conjunction with the maestro of mind control, Derren Brown.
Let’s start by checking out the video and press release -
THORPE PARK Resort today announces the launch of the world’s first ever multi-sensory theme park experience – Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.
Marking a new dawn in theme park experiences, this world first deeply psychological thrill ride aims to trick and disorientate guests as they board what appears to be a suspended 20ft Victorian Carriage.
Rated PG13 and with the Park’s longest restrictions board to date – the attraction includes virtual reality, special effects and live action, with the largest static illusion in the world – the suspended Victorian carriage. The Ghost Train resides in a 2,306 metre square warehouse, in the heart of the Resort.
Each passenger will enjoy an intense and personal experience. The vibrating floor plates and self-steaming windows, alongside virtual reality, all ensure high-octane live action throughout, toying with guest’s minds and perceptions of what is real and what is not.
The suspended Victorian Carriage is laden with secrets of a toxic gas leak which is hinted at in the queue line – as guests’ pass through infection check points. A company called Sub Core Energy has been drilling into the earth’s core, and the results of their actions will lie in wait for guests on board Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.
Even though guests will enter the experience as a group, they are isolated and alone once their VR headsets are on because everyone will disappear from around them. Once guests have finished their journey on board the Ghost Train they may find out what they saw was quite different to the person they sat next to.
Derren Brown comments:
“I’m thrilled that the ghost train is finally launching to the public and everyone will be able to experience what I’ve been working on behind the scenes over the last three years.
“This has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve undertaken, but without doubt the most enjoyable. I can’t wait to see the public’s reaction after unleashing this wonderfully twisted experience for the world to enjoy.
“From training the actors to shovelling coal under the suspended Ghost Train, this experience with the team at Merlin Magic Making and Thorpe Park has been a perpetual delight.
Mike Vallis, Divisional Director of THORPE PARK Resort commented:
“We’re thrilled to announce the opening of Derren Brown’s Ghost Train. This is a true world-first attraction and believe this development is a daring and exciting step into a new realm for theme park attractions around the world.
The attraction is a full assault on guests’ senses and will play with their minds – in an original and fully-immersive experience. We ask that guests keep their experience secret, so that other visitors are also allowed to take their journey unaware of the shocks that lie behind the doors once they board the Ghost Train.”
Jon Goddard, European Marketing Director, VR at HTC commented:
“In a world’s first, we have worked with the amazing people at Thorpe Park Resort to combine the best of ride design and virtual reality to give the public a fully-immersive experience like no other, to truly twist the realms of reality. It’s easy to see why we are so excited about the launch of Derren Brown’s Ghost Train and we hope that it exposes a whole new audience to the thrilling experiences that Vive can offer.”
Guests will be subject to a variety of multi-sensory surprises throughout the journey including a series of high-octane live action sequences where participants will take centre stage in the story. And like his TV shows and stage performances, Brown will toy with guests’ minds and perceptions throughout the journey on board the Ghost Train until they no longer know what is real, before leaving them on a cliff-hanger ending.
I have to say, what I didn’t like about the Derren Brown’s Ghost Train experience was the queuing. Damn, it seemed to last forever. But kudos to the rides designers for trying to break it up along the way with some carefully placed hints at the back story, and my hat goes off to the ride attendants with their dead-eye stares. Creepy stuff, and I hadn’t even got into the ride.
So, what can I actually tell you about the ride? Not a lot, I’m afraid. Y’see, it’s a secret, and an ethereal Derren Brown made me promise to be part of the secret and not share with anyone. Derren Brown is a creepy guy, so I don’t want to disappoint him.
What I can say is that the ride is a combination of different aspects, such as live action and static illusion, and some aspects work better than others. As a gamer, it is the virtual reality aspect that interests me the most, especially as this was the first time I had experienced VR, a technology which is taking over my favorite hobby. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the HTC Vive headsets which are used by the ride are surprisingly comfortable, especially considering there was no real option to adjust them besides pulling them around your face. The highlight for me was putting the headset on for the first time and seeing that everyone around me had disappeared. That was pure witchcraft. This simple VR trick took me by surprise and instantly converted me to a VR disciple.
There was so much more to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train than just the virtual reality, and it all came together to to create an incredibly unique experience. But the use of HTC’s VR tech really was the highlight and sent my mind racing at the possibilities of this tech in the future, not least on new thrill rides and theme park experiences.
I would love to tell you more about the actual ride. I would tell you about the chaotic environment, the shock scares, the amazing sense of motion and the theatre of it all. I would reveal it all. But then, that would spoil this great experience. And, more importantly, it would upset Derren Brown and I don’t want to upset him. He may turn up and erase my mind or something.
Experience something really different this Summer. Visit Thorpe Park and ride Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.