When people say they like being scared, I think it’s bullshit. Why on earth would anyone like their heart racing, clammy hands and a funny anxious feeling in their stomach? That’s exactly what happened when Thorpe Park invited me to try out Derren Brown’s new Ghost Train.
To soften the impending feeling of doom Thorpe Park did lay out a nice spread, I ate some free chilli and got some ciders in, to calm the nerves. Once I was feeling slightly more inebriated and like I could take on anything, it was time to queue for the main attraction.
The Ghost Train is slap bang in the heart of Thorpe Park, and is housed in a 2,306 meter square warehouse, designed to resemble a train station. If, like me you’re put off by theme parks for the time spent in the queue rather than on the rides, The Ghost Train has taken this into account, with ‘data dump’ and ‘infection inspection’ stations dotted down the line.
When finally in I was greeted by an impressive suspended Victorian train carriage, modelled on an antique carriage built in 1903, this certainly has the wow factor and makes a refreshing change from the usual rollercoaster appearance of rides.
Once in the carriage itself I was told to don a ‘safety mask’, which in actual fact is a virtual reality headset and headphones. This is when it really started to get interesting, visuals of a deserted train carriage are beamed in front of you, it’s disorientating and the butt clenching moments begin here.
The use of virtual reality is what really makes this ride stand out, and with the impressive rise of games like Pokémon Go bringing it to a mainstream audience, it’s something that we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in varying forms.
Derren tells riders to ‘challenge your perceptions of reality and what’s real’, although the ride didn’t make me forget I was in fact… still on a ride. It is very clever, jumpy and worth the queuing time to experience a new take on an old fashioned format.