Croc Drop: How BIG Theming Makes A BIG Impact

This past weekend has seen me finally able to start getting back to parks again, and of course being the Southern gal I am I hit up my two home parks first with Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures, the latter of which boasted the brand new for 2021 family drop tower ride Croc Drop. Having followed construction of this thing over the past year I was very excited to try it for myself and suffice to say it is really excellent. It's perfectly thrilling without being too intense or scary, so fun and infinitely rerideable and, perhaps most poignantly, it is absolutely stunning to behold. It's an absolute knock-out of a new attraction for a park like Chessington in my opinion and between not being able to put my camera down and running around for endless re-rides it made an instant fan out of me from the offset. 



I had mixed feelings when the park announced the removal and replacement of Rameses Revenge. Being a 90s kid located in the South East of England, that ride was nothing short of iconic. EVERYBODY had a story about Rameses Revenge (usually about getting stuck upside down for three hours or something which, let's face it, was more often than not a playground fib for a bit of glory). A visit to the park in the nineties and early noughties was not complete without a ride on this beast of a Huss topspin and whether you were brave enough to face the forces and risk getting soaked or preferred to marvel at the thing off-ride whilst holding everybody's bags, it goes without saying that Rameses Revenge had legendary status as a theme park ride in the UK, which is no mean feat for a flat ride.

So yes, I was a little bit sad that such an icon of my childhood, a ride so closely interwoven with my happy memories of days out at Chessington, would be no more. In recent years it's not something I would personally have gone out of my way to ride but there was always something so fun about standing around the rim looking down into the pit as the arms of the ride would raise up a panel of terrified looking riders, as us the sadistic audience members observed the 'torture' from off-ride. There was something endlessly enjoyable and primal about that, like audience members watching the chaos take place in the Colosseums of Rome or something, something instinctually enjoyable. I was worried that whatever replaced Rameses Revenge would not be able to recapture that most specific of experiences. 



With Croc Drop we get something different though. It's less about passive enjoyment of voyeuristically watching others respond to the forces of the ride, and more about marvelling at the thing itself. Particularly the theming. In recent years we've seen a bit of a surge in the UK of giant theming centrepieces that act as an attention-drawing beacon for those in the surrounding area to let you know it's there. I'm talking the giant wooden effigy of the Wicker Man, the huge spider-like metallic arms of The Smiler's Marmaliser, the megalophobia-inducing suspended Victorian train carriage of Derren Brown's Ghost Train (am I the only one who experiences this?) These massive iconic theming centre-pieces become icons that represent the ride even though physically they are not a part of the ride itself, and are so memorable that they serve to elevate the ride beyond its physical form, creating a stronger presence and identity beyond. 

For me it's reminiscent of the Disney Parks 'weenies'. The Theory of Theme Parks blog describes the Disney weenies as "an architectural concept named such by Disney Imagineering in describing “visual magnets” that draw guests from one area to another." This is the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, the Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. Huge pieces of theming that yes, as the blog post explains, help us gain a sense of direction when navigating the park but also transcend this functional purpose and become symbols of the attractions themselves that serve to solidify them in our memory and hence give them more meaning and therefore more importance. 


Croc Drop can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the park because of the tower structure of the ride, but it's when we get to behold the thing in its full glory that our breath is really taken away. Walking towards Croc Drop from the Dragon's Fury direction is jaw-dropping. It's just so big and overwhelming in real life, and beautiful too. Covered in carvings and symbols and gorgeous scenic paintwork, I quite literally could not stop taking photos of the thing any time we were close to it. My eyes were drawn to it like a magnet and even now I can't stop thinking about how awesome that crocodile head structure is, complete with glittering emerald teeth that threaten to chomp should we not 'brave the drop' and 'release the curse'.

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So I guess what I'm saying is yes, theming should be immersive and full of detail to help tell a story whilst we're physically in the space, but in order for a ride (or park if you're going down the Disney route!) to really have an impact, to truly be memorable and differentiated from the rest, it seems to me that the way to go is to have one huge, dramatic centrepiece of theming that is so awe-inspiring that we cannot help but remember it, and all the other little details that play their part, forever. 

Have you ridden Croc Drop yet? What did you think of the ride? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,

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