Dominic Jones, the man in charge of Britain's Thorpe Park, wants to up the ante when it comes to theme parks, with plans to take its IPs to a whole new level as part of immersive ride experiences.
Thorpe Park has heavily invested in ride theming, particularly in recent years, with Derren Brown's Ghost Train
and the rebranded Walking Dead rollercoaster
both prime examples of this.
Speaking exclusively to Attractions Management
, Jones, who was named divisional director of the park in January last year, said that immersion was key to creating memorable experiences for visitors, not just riding the ride itself.
"What we're trying to do with all of our experiences and rides is making them more than just that," he said. "We want you to be immersed in whatever world it is and that's what we've done here."
After securing the exclusive rights to the Walking Dead brand last year
, Thorpe Park has gone all in, creating Halloween-themed horror mazes based on the property and now opening the former X: No Way Out as the rebranded Walking Dead: The Ride. Combining the elements of a traditional horror maze with a rollercoaster, the unique addition to the park has completely refreshed the offering, turning the formerly empty queue lines into one of the park's most popular attractions.
"What's been nice about this ride is the level of theming," said Jones. "It's been really important for me since I've been that everything we put in, we get to that level of theming and immersion.
"We spent a lot of the budget on making sure the theming for Walking Dead
is spot on. We've had the creators come over and work with us on it. We've got everything from the iconic bits of the show to hidden stuff and little nods."
With the British summer fast approaching, Jones promised another "game-changer" for the park – last year's being the Walking Dead
"For me, we need to put the guests at the heart of everything we do," said Jones.
"We call it 'guest obsession' – everything we're doing over the next five years, we look at 'how do we make sure we're guest obsessed?' It's about getting that thrill potential back. It's important to reinforce that with Walking Dead: the Ride and everything we're doing with the Walking Dead
"I can't reveal our plans for the summer because we're currently in the contract stages. What I can say is it's another game-changer. You're not going to want to miss it."