|| n. The twenty-fourth letter of the alphabet.
No longer backwards and in the dark, X has a new lease of life breathed into it by new lighting effects and rave music.
||1996 / 2013
||Thrilling and Fun
|On Ride Photo
||Max G Force
The old X:\ No Way Out ride has never received particularly positive reviews from Total Thorpe Park, which chimed with much of our readership. Opened in 1996 and billed as the world's only backwards roller coaster in the dark, visitors' reviews on this website ranged from "jerky and strange" to "never really gets going" to simply "get rid of it". One of our readers claimed that "a serious redesign is needed, urgently".
Well, 17 years after opening as X:\ No Way Out, Thorpe Park have done just that - given the ride a serious redesign. Gone is the computer-virus-gone-wrong theme, and the colons and backslashes: the name has been reduced to just "X". Gone too are the old Enigma trains, and in come shiny new trains from Vekoma, with individual lap bars and a lower backrest. Gone also is the USP of the old ride - the trains have been turned around so that they face forwards, and the pyramid is no longer pitch black, instead being lit up by lasers and disco lights. Short of actually changing the track layout or removing the pyramid then, this is a pretty serious redesign.
But is the new ride any good? We say that the redesign is certainly an improvement. Guests queue outside and are batched into the pyramid in groups. Riders walk through a series of lengthy corridors, which have new "X" LED lighting on the ceiling and "X" logos stencilled on the walls. Upon reaching the station, guests board the comfy trains - which now shuttle in forwards - and pull down the individual lapbars. As soon as the trains engage with the lift hill, it is clear the ride experience is going to be quite different. The pyramid is a whole lot lighter, with laser lights projecting across the space, and lot noisier, with rave music playing throughout the building. And, for the first time, riders can see where they are going!
There is little to grumble about with this refresh. The Park even took steps to remove the block brake sections, where the old "X:\ No Way Out" used to shunt riders backwards and forwards in an unsettling and ultimately pointless manner. Now, the forwards-facing trains just run through the straight brake sections with little or no slowdown. This in itself is a great improvement, and the Park should be particularly commended for it.
This is not to say that there aren't shortcomings: the lighting effects aren't particularly clever or targetted to certain parts of the ride - and anyone who's been on some of the dark rides on the continent knows how much innovative lighting techniques can enhance a ride. The sound is also too muted for our liking - to truly live up to the new "rave" theme, the pyramid should be thumping with music so that the rider is totally immersed in sound.
This all said, it is laudable that Thorpe Park have made efforts to enhance a clearly tired ride. The new 1m height restriction (down from 1.4m) is absolutely welcome, and will allow young thrill seekers to cut their teeth before venturing on to the Park's bigger offerings. The change in train direction, music and lighting does all add up to a progression on the original, and we're glad that the Park is now positioning X as more of a family ride.
So, now a stunning ride in its own right? Perhaps not. But a big improvement on the original? Absolutely.
- Repositioned to target families and younger thrill seekers.
- Comfy new trains, and ride feels smoother.
- Lighting effects are pretty, if not spectacular.
- Still in the shadow of the Park's more recent coasters.
- Lighting effects are basic.
- Music is too quiet.
"The ride's retheme is excellent and has definitely refreshed it for a good few years."
Richard, Kent, UK.
"When taken on its own terms, this is a terrific and unique ride. Whilst you certainly shouldn't expect thrills reminiscent of the park's major coasters, X is a lot of fun, and should be given a chance!"
George, Malmesbury, UK.
"It's OK but preferred it as a backwards roller coaster, just because there was no other ride like it. The Black Hole that was at Alton Towers was quite similar to X."
Sharon, Essex, UK.
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