Thorpe Park Resort opened for the 2020 season on Saturday 4th July, following a delayed opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SouthParks was in attendance over the weekend to take a look at the changes and improvements at the Resort for the upcoming season.

Upon arriving at the entrance plaza, signage is in place indicating where a queue should be formed, and spatial markers have been installed on the floor showing visitors where they should stand to maintain social distancing. Guests have their temperature and bags checked in the security buildings before heading through the turnstiles. All staff at the Resort have been provided with PPE, and while face coverings are only required to be worn on certain attractions, there were a number of visitors who chose to wear one from the outset for their own peace of mind.

The Resort branding and signage has been updated, having last been refreshed in 2018. Although we feel the entrance plaza and bridge require a complete overhaul, the vibrant new branding and additional information signage is a welcome addition to the area. A new artificial planting wall has been added to the right hand side of the bridge, which blocks the view of the service area.

The Food and Beverage selection across the theme park has been updated once again. Fin’s has been relaunched as the Infinity Bar & Grill with a similar menu to last year. The restaurant has been completely refurbished, removing the previous nautical theme, replacing it with a design of contemporary style that reflects the Resort’s new branding.

The Cantina replaces Crust and offers Pasta and Rice; The Huntsman’s Arms has opened alongside Wilderness Bar & Kitchen; as well as two subtle rebrandings; The Amity Kebab Co. has become Calamity Kebabs, and Sombrero’s Burrito Bar has been altered to Sombrero’s Street Food.

To ensure guests keep a two metre distance, markers have been placed throughout queue lines of all rides and attractions.

The coasters are running at limited capacity, with rows left empty between guests, or if rows permit adequate social distancing, empty seats left between groups. Ride teams are working as fast as they can, but naturally the extra processes in place are causing far lower throughputs than normal, with larger queues forming.

Not all attractions were ready for opening weekend, with a significant amount closed such as Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, Rumba Rapids, Storm Surge, Tidal Wave, and The Walking Dead: The Ride. We understand the Resort intends to open the remaining rides in the near future if operational procedures can permit safe social distancing.

Storm in a Teacup, the classic family spinning ride, has lost the Tetley branding, and has received an attractive new facade.

Black Mirror Labyrinth, originally supposed to open in 2020, has been delayed until the 2021 season with the area currently inaccessible.

Interestingly, the boarding processes on Nemesis Inferno differ to Nemesis at Alton Towers, despite both rides sharing the same manufacturer. An empty row is being left between guests on Nemesis Inferno, however all rows are currently in use on Nemesis.

Due to the cattle pen type nature of Nemesis Inferno’s queue line, we found it impossible to maintain social distancing. It appears the Resort took note of our social media feedback as a section of fence was cut on the Monday following our visit, with guests now queuing straight through the cattle pen section.

New for 2020 merchandise is on sale in the Resort’s retail stores, including a new retro line featuring the original theme park logo and Thorpe Park Ranger characters. Branded face coverings can be purchased for £6.00, disposable face masks for £2.00, pack of five disposable face masks for £10.00, and hand sanitizer for £4.00.

Did you visit the Resort for opening weekend? Make sure you share your thoughts over on the TowersTimes and SouthParks Forum.

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