Thorpe Park Resort and Chessington World of Adventures Resort have both opened their gates over the past week to provide a selection of rides and activities for February Half Term. As well as the advertised attractions, the half term openings also provided the ideal opportunity to take a look at any changes that have taken place across the parks over the winter.

Thorpe Park Resort

The last time Thorpe Park held a Half Term event was in 2009 (Thrill Chill), to very negative reviews. Known for poor ride reliability and limited food options, the park scrapped the event and kept the start of the season to March. When the resort announced they would be opening for this period in 2015, fans were eager to see what was on offer.

February Half Term saw the arrival of Braniac Live! at the resort, offering a range of fun, science based activities and shows for everyone to get involved with, alongside a selection of the resort’s attractions – including The Swarm, Stealth, Flying Fish and Angry Birds 4D.

After featuring successfully at the resort during the Big Easter last year, Braniac exploded back into the park for February Half Term. Central to this year’s event was the Brainiac Live show, hosted in the Lakeside Pavilion. The show featured a whole range of action packed experiments, from seeing which gas produced the loudest bang, to experimenting to see how to get the most spins from an office chair! To complement the live show ‘Braniac in training’ stations were located across the park allowing guests to get hands on with some of their very own experiments.

Clearance work on the site of the old arena is well underway in preparation for construction of the building which will house the new dark ride for 2016. The tiered seating has now been completely demolished with only the old concrete floor providing a reminder of what was there before.

A number of food and beverage outlets have received a refurbishment ready for the new season. Bar 360 has now become Fin’s Bar and Grill to fit in with the resort’s island theming and the interior of the restaurant has been expanded allowing for extra capacity. As part of the refurbishment new furniture has been introduced, and a permanent buffet bar has been installed which will be used to serve breakfast to guests stopping at the Thorpe Shark Hotel. During half term a reduced menu was being served, however a full new menu is due to be brought in for the main season. The old Pizza Hut restaurant has been extended and re-themed to Inferno’s Pizza Pasta. Merlin Annual Pass Holders were offered a reduced price preview on Wednesday and Thursday during the half term, however initial reviews of the offering have been mixed with some being disappointed with the standard of food on offer.

Over in Amity Cove some of the theming elements have been removed from Tidal Wave’s pool with the large water tank being the largest feature to be removed. It is not known at this time if this removal is permanent, or if it has simply been taken for some refurbishment for the main season.

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Retail outlets across the park are stocking a selection of new merchandise, including clothing carrying the ‘Island like no other’ tag line which the resort introduced to its marketing strategy last year.

Advertising for 2015’s new addition – the world’s first I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! Maze – has been put in place at strategic points across the resort, as well as being featured on the LED screens at the park entrance. Advertising has also been placed just before the park exit for ‘A Summer of Sound’ taking place during July and August. Promising ‘World Class Bands and Artists’, the advertising would appear to suggest 2015 may see a return of the live music seen at the resort last summer and on a much larger scale.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Over at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, African Adventures made a return for February Half Term, with a small selection of rides available – including Scorpion Express, Tomb Blaster (replacing the advertised Bubbleworks which had to remain closed due to ongoing winter maintenance), and Hocus Pocus Hall – as well as the Zoo, Sealife Centre, and Wanyama Reserve

During the winter period a substantial amount of work has been taking place across the park. Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes is the removal of the entrance to Rameses Revenge. All that remains of the former entrance now is a concrete block alongside the entrance sign. It would appear that the new entrance is set to be located at the top of the ride’s pit, meaning a reduced amount of queuing area for the ride.

Many of the resort’s larger rides are still undergoing their winter maintenance with Dragon’s Fury having sections of track removed, Bubbleworks’ boats sitting outside of the attraction – alongside Black Buccaneer, and Black Buccaneer itself being surrounded by scaffolding.

Work on the new penguin enclosure is progressing well. The boat shaped viewing area now appears to be fully constructed and is now awaiting the installation of the fabric canopy. The glass panels for the viewing areas now appear to all be in place with rock styled theming being installed in-between each window. Some theming elements have also arrived on site with a number of small boats being placed within the enclosure.