Angry Birds Land for Thorpe Park









I found out today that as of May 2014, Thorpe Park will be the host of the second Angry Birds themed area in a theme park in the UK (the first being at Lightwater Valley in Yorkshire). The new land includes the use of the 4D cinema, dodgems and…..*dun dun DUN* a Detonator retheme.


So let’s discuss the first two parts of that announcement. Use of the 4D cinema building that had previously housed the awesomely themed Pirates 4D and the dire Time Voyagers that made no sense in a theatre themed to pirates. It’s a good use of the space and an OK IP (does anybody still play Angry Birds? Even if they don’t, the brand is known, so makes sense). Dodgems. Yes. YES! Dodgems have LONG been missing from Thorpe and will be an excellent replacement for the plethora of game stalls in the surrounding area that stand unused for the majority of the season. So yes, so far, so good. I do have a bit of an issue with parks using IPs instead of original concepts as I feel it is lazy and quickly dated, but one cannot deny that this is much better than the space standing unused.



Angry Birds land at Sarkeniemmi, Finland
Now, onto the true horror that is the Detonator retheme. Firstly, a quick description of the area as it was in its original state. Calypso Quay (from what I gathered anyway) was themed to a tropical island invaded by pirates. A cool mash-up of the pirate and jungle theme allowing for some interesting thrill ride concepts, straightforward yet effective theming and fab music. Slowly but surely we’ve seen bits and pieces leave the area, Pirates 4D left the park, effects stopped working on Nemesis Inferno, cannons mysteriously disappeared from Detonator, which ultimately decreased the effectiveness of the area. But it still worked in providing an innovative and unique themed environment in which guests could experience theme park rides.


Nemesis Inferno and Detonator in their current themed environment
So where does the Angry Birds re-theme leave this area? From what I can gather, Detonator is having a few fibre glass bird characters sprinkled around, the pirate theming will ultimately become non-existent and so we’re left with what? A random volcano in the middle of the park that makes no thematic sense in the land of Angry Birds. 
I long for the day Merlin, and all theme park companies (including Disney) will revert back to the original concepts that live in our childhood memories and that we cherish. I hardly think any child will look back at Angry Birds land with the same nostalgia any child who visited Chessington World of Adventures in the early 90s does with Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks. 



Professor Burp's Bubbleworks was is a nostalgic ride for any theme park go-er in the early 90s
I long for the day Merlin, and all theme park companies (including Disney) will revert back to the original concepts that live in our childhood memories and that we cherish. I hardly think any child will look back at Angry Birds land with the same nostalgia any child who visited Chessington World of Adventures in the early 90s does with Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks. 


Yes the rides will still ride the same. But it’s not just about that. I whole heartedly believe that a well themed environment plays a massive factor in the enjoyment of my ride experience and I feel like once upon a time, Merlin understood that too. Now, it’s just sad when we see stuff like this happening. Sure, Angry Birds is popular now (by the skin of its teeth, mind you), but it will age and quickly become out of date as easily as the next fad phone app game comes along, no matter how many versions of it they release. What is missing from IPs like this is the security of longevity. Calypso Quay stood for a good ten years and never once felt out of date because themes like this are timeless. Themed spaces are meant to be immersive and almost seamless, not loud and jarring like Angry Birds land will undoubtedly be if it is anything like its Finnish and Northern counterparts (I have visited both so speak from experience).

There’s a different kind of magic with original concepts found only in unique locations because they provide a direct link to that date, that time, that memory. Angry Birds is everywhere and plonking it in a theme park, in my opinion, is a cheap and nasty way to lazily make use of a neglected space.


But we’ll see. *Holds breath for May*



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