Wicker Man Top 5 Best Bits

After not being able to attend the press event, snow raining on our parade opening weekend and already having plans for the alternate opening date - I am delighted to say that I have FINALLY experienced Wicker Man! Jesus Christ, was a process it's been! The team have done an absolutely incredible job of maintaining the hype, so much so that I didn't even blink twice at the prospect of driving six hours in a day and spending my whole day in a queue with all the other coaster fans.

Obviously if you're reading this you're interested in my thoughts on the thing - so yh, spoiler alert, but here's my top five best bits of Wicker Man!

I guess it goes without saying that this thing is ALL about the theming and how the ride comes together as a whole package. Given the weird layout of Alton and all the annoying restrictions they have to adhere to when putting in a new ride, they're always forced to work creatively with the land they're given. And as such, the result is usually pretty impactful: the Nemesis creature emerging from Forbidden Valley, the drop of Oblivion looming ominously, and now the Wicker Man itself.

When you round that corner you really can't help but stop and stare at just how incredible a feature it is. The thing is seriously impressive, from the smoke billowing out from underneath, to the flaming shoulder pads (yas queeennnn) to the unnerving stare of the faces. It's incredibly intimidating - I'd liken it to that feeling of slowly approaching the Tower of Terror, it really does create a sense of imposing dread which fuels the anticipation for the journey you're about to go on before you even enter the queueline. It's easily one of the most impactful pieces of theming in the world.

I'd heard the pre-show was good but my god, I was not prepared! OK, so firstly it caught me completely off guard. Obviously a ride themed to human sacrifice isn't going to have the smiliest and happiest of back stories, but I was not ready for quite how....well graphic things were going to get! It's honestly absolutely terrifying, and the special effects are incredible. The room itself is SO well themed, the lighting really sets the tone and the smell pods anchor you right in the moment.

I can see why the park don't want guests to spoil the 'surprise' - when the big reveal happened for us people in the room literally yelped in horror. It's bloody terrifying and so unexpected! I absolutely love the extra effort Merlin Magic Making go to to bring the narratives of their attractions to life, and it's little bits like this that really set them apart from the rest in the theme park game.

The layout of the coaster itself is probably one of the most unique in the world, which I guess is a given due to the space GCI were given to work with. It's always incredible to me what these manufacturers can do with the spaces they're given. One of the best and most exciting parts of the entire layout to me is the s-bend transition (y'all know the one I mean!).

One thing GCI do amazingly is create little pockets of awesomeness, and this transition is definitely one of those. I would love to experience this in the back or front row - it's incredibly snappy and even has a little hint of airtime! It adds to the erratic and frantic way the coaster rides and when combined with the smoke billowing from the Wicker Man it's brilliantly disorientating and thrilling.

It's incredible to think how many times the coaster actually passes through the Wicker Man structure itself, but out of all those moments my favourite is easily the last pass through after a final wicked little airtime hill. It kind of comes out of nowhere and just when you think the coaster is letting up it surprises you with one last butt-kicker into the effigy.

I think what makes this final pop of airtime the best is that it really leaves you with the final thrill as you plant onto the final brake run - it's kind of like that final scare they talk about in the Scream movies - you think it's done and then it comes back to give you just that little bit more!

Anybody who has ridden Wicker Man knows that the best thing about the ride is how it all comes together to tell the story. As a theme park enthusiast, there's nothing I love more than a ride that manages to perfectly blend the art of exploring a narrative with providing a thrilling experience at the same time. Given how few of these kinds of rides there are in the world is testament to just how difficult this is to pull off effectively, but Wicker Man is a coaster that does this flawlessly.

It begins even before you get to the park - the marketing for the ride does the leg work in setting the scene for the journey you're about to go on. Following the story of the Beornen and immersing myself in the lore of the Wicker Man really helps to set the scene and heighten the impact of the ride when you finally enter the queueline.

The way everything comes together once you're at the park is masterful - the IMAscore, the smells, the theming, the pre-show, the forces of the ride, every inch of it has been thought about and plays its part in bringing the story of the Wicker Man to life and it's so much fun to be a part of!

Honestly, I am gagging to get back on this thing - especially at night to get more of a fix. I really want to further immerse myself in what Alton and Merlin have created with Wicker Man and I'm gutted that I'll likely have to wait until Scarefest or fireworks to get back on the thing.

Talk later xoxo,


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