Here's our review and photos of Thorpe's Bonfire Night Extravaganza:
"After a 3 year hiatus, Thorpe Park brought back its fireworks event once again to provide an explosive end to the season. I've always maintained that Thorpe's fireworks displays are underrated - they receive half the exposure that their Fright Nights do, yet are usually more enjoyable experiences; less crowded and less expensive. The fact that Thorpe keeps pulling the plug on the event every couple of years suggests that it isn't as popular as it should be, but 2011's display really did beat all years before it - here's hoping it makes a return for 2012!
In previous years, Thorpe have pumped a playlist of party tunes out of all of their in-Park speakers - this year, they hired the services of Freddie Smith, a Kiss FM DJ, to get the records spinning live. Freddie did a good job of making a party atmosphere, although the constant plugs for the Park in between songs wore thin by the end. The Park-wide volume dial could also have been turned down a little too during the day - sometimes the feed into the queueline speakers was ear-splittingly loud!
Unlike previous years, Blows It Up (rebranded from Thorpe Blast) did not just offer a fireworks display. For Blows It Up, Thorpe went all out, and made considerable improvements and additions from their 2007/2008 events. One such improvement was the addition of the fire performers. These were stationed in 3 areas around the Park, and performed 3 times a day - fire juggling, fire throwing and fire dancing were all on the menu here. Not spectacular by any means, but entertaining nonetheless, and a nice touch.
Fans had been voting online to choose their celebrity effigy, and the winners emerged as Jedward. At 6:30pm on both event days, Jedward (John and Edward Grimes, of X Factor fame) were suspended from a huge crane over the lake, and were burnt as Thorpe's "guys". This was surprisingly good - the Park did not just burn the effigy, but staged a mini-fireworks display around it as a warm-up act to the main display. Sparks shot out of the effigy's body, and a basket hanging below the effigy showered the lake with pyrotechnics. Jedward, then, inevitably, burnt to a crisp! Thorpe received much backlash from Jedward's fans over this display, but putting this aside, this was a great effort to bring something new to the Thorpe display. More like this next year, please!
This year's display, starting at 7pm, was very similar to 2008's effort - three launch pads on the lake fired pyros that created some awesome reflections, while a second launch site on the car park fired across to the lake for the larger, higher fireworks. The display was around 12 minutes long, and was set to songs by Adele, Coldplay and David Guetta amongst others. What was an improvement on 2008 was the extended viewing area - since the last event, Saw Alive has been built, providing a great new pathway from which to watch the display. Our HD video below was shot from this pathway, an as you can see, the view was unobstructed.
The finale to the display was most impressive - Thorpe seemed to be seeing how many fireworks they could actually put in the sky at one time by the end! There was a good variation throughout, and whilst the fireworks didn't seem particularly in time with the music, the display felt coherent. Coldplay's "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" was a great choice for the finale song.
The Fire Engine
And after all that, came one of the best marketing stunts Thorpe have pulled off to date - the same crane that suspended Jedward over the lake then dangled a real Fire Engine over the water. Over the speakers, a voice warned of The Swarm descending on the Park, and then a countdown from 5 to 1 was heard. Then the Fire Engine blew up. The explosion was pretty large; those down by Vortex could feel the heat from the blast! I don't think Thorpe have ever gone to such lengths to promote a new ride! The stunt complemented the setting off of firecrackers by the Swarm tank as guests walked over the bridge in the morning - great marketing all round.
This was by far Thorpe's best fireworks event to date. Much like 2008, the Park had failed to clean up after Fright Nights, and at times the park-wide DJ was too loud and intrusive - especially when standing next to a speaker in a queue! These are small complaints, though - fingers tightly crossed the Park see a future for the event and bring it back next year..."
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