Reader James submitted this detailed review of one of the UK’s best looking rides. It’s always great to get a little international flavor on the blog.
Saw – The Ride at Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park is a medium-sized park just outside London. Around 10 years ago, there wasn’t much to be desired here, apart from a standard log flume and a couple of common flat rides. The park was only really bought to the attention of the world in 2002, when the world’s only 10 inversion rollercoaster “Colossus” was built. Shortly afterwards, the B&M invert, Nemesis Inferno, was built. 3 years later, yet another rollercoaster was built, this time the 200ft Intamin rocket coaster “Stealth”. In just a few years, Thorpe Park transformed completely. It changed from a standard amusement park to one of the UK’s top attractions.
Saw – The Ride at a Glance
And now, we have the popular custom Gerstauler Eurofighter, Saw: The Ride. The rollercoaster broke the record of having the world’s steepest freefall drop when it was released. If you’re a little confused of what the difference between “steepest freefall” and simply “steepest” then maybe this will clear it up: basically this means Saw’s beyond vertical drop is unbraked. While Saw’s 100ft drop certainly is no big feat and isn’t as large as Thorpe Park’s other attractions, Saw just feels completely different. While the other rollercoasters in the park silently and gracefully leap and dive over well-executed elements with the littlest of rattle, Saw: The Ride roars and screams, as if it’s alive. It just has so much more presence. If this doesn’t unnerve you, then the spinning blades, the screams of delight (or most likely fear) and the blood-covered police car will.
The Queue – Venture in to the Depths of Saw…
The entrance to the queue is situated at the back of the Saw Plaza. The outdoor queue line consists of razor wire fences and some of Jigsaw’s various large torture implements rusting on the ground (most of which come from the films). Walkie talkie announcements are heard from policemen inside the building, often sounding as if they are panicking. Loud ambient music is played throughout the area. The queue travels around the back of the warehouse and then into the building itself. Inside, riders walk through a dimly lit corridor, with four shotguns hanging from the ceiling. The guns ‘fire’ every few minutes to give a jump effect.
The corridor leads up some stairs past a cage with a trap (the Rack from Saw III) seen in it. On special occasions, live actors are placed in this cage and act as Jigsaw’s victims. Above the queue, a body is seen tangled in barbed wire (referencing the first Saw), before the queue goes into the station. In here, mannequin parts are fixed in various small devices or hanging from the walls, and misted windows flash on the wall opposite the queue.
The Gruesome Indoor Section
As you enter the SAW station, you are directed by a ride operator to the appropriate aisle. Shortly afterwards, you board the four-in-a-row Eurofighter cars. Shortly after pulling down the very comfy Gerstauler restraints, you leave the station, and make a sharp right hand turn. Depending on what car you’re in, you’ll either get a very long lecture from the famous “jigsaw doll” or you’ll simply shoot past him.
After passing Jigsaw, you’ll go in to the first element. As you follow a straight section of track, a row of swinging pendulum axes appear in front of you. Just as you think you’re going to get chopped to pieces, you make a very sharp, sudden drop, narrowly missing a bed of nails. The drop provides a pop of airtime and a good headchopper effect. After being hacked to pieces, the car comes to a complete stop, and you’re lightly sprayed with air. I didn’t quite understand the point of this effect, it just felt like it was there just to fill some space. After being sprayed with air, you make a sharp left hand turn and travel through an inline twist whilst a dead body spurts “blood” at you. It’s a cool effect that’s pretty shocking if you’re not expecting it.
The Climb & 100 Degree Drop
After being hacked, sprayed with air and covered in blood, Saw gets ready for the coup de grace. As you approach the vertical climb, the car comes to a complete stop, just in front of two TV screens. Suddenly, a ghostly face appears on the screen and whispers “Game over”. Suddenly, the car comes to life again and before you know it, you’ve started you’re ninety degree ascent. As you crest the top of the hill, you think to yourself, “Now why did I do this?”
To be honest, I was expecting the drop to be a little bit of a gimmick. More “style over substance”. The 90 degree drop on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point was nothing to write home about. And I was expecting the 320ft smaller drop to be the same. But I was surprised.
The Drop delivers completely. As you crest the top of the hill, the track completely disappears before you. You really do get a “freefall” sensation. It’s pretty breathtaking and hard to describe. But it is definitely not a gimmick. Unfortunately, I never noticed the
spinning saw blades at the bottom.
After the wonderful 100 degree drop, you precede in to the first inversion, a large Immelmann, named after the fighter-pilot manoeuvre. While not particularly forceful, it delivers a unique “hanging” feeling. This is followed by a tight overbanked curve. The overbanked curves really shine on Saw. They’re pretty tight and provide some cool g’s. Following the overbanked curve, you precede in to an airtime hill. The ejectors on this hill are awesome! These tight hills are commonly found on Eurofighters, and work really well. After the on-ride photo is taken, you fly in to a set of brakes.
Another pop of weightlessness is experienced as you make a sharp dive out of the mid-course brakes. Following this, you rise in to a dive loop. The dive loop is the most intense part out of all of Saw’s inversions. Again, it provides some pretty strong positive gs. After the dive loop, the car flies in to the final set of brakes.
Saw delivers a truly wild ride. The ride is packed full of positive and negative gs. And it’s also a ride that’ll scare the living daylights out of the general public. Thorpe Park have it in the bag with this one.
However, there are a few issues I have with Saw. First of all, there’s the actual smoothness of the ride itself. I’ve had mixed rides on Saw in terms of smoothness. I think as long as you let the ride ops to really staple you in with restraints and as long as you lean back in the restraint, that should reduce any headbanging. My second issue is with the cars themselves. The first time I rode Saw, which was in the back, I came off extremely disappointed. However, after riding in the front, the ride felt much stronger. The back seats just don’t quite deliver the same sensation. And my final issue is with the theming. I just feel like they could’ve gone an extra mile with the indoor section of the rollercoaster. The water-spraying effect only works if you’re in the back seats and the syringes spraying air just feel a little….. pointless.
In terms of the actual ride, Saw delivers. However, the sometimes rough rides and so-so indoor section bought the final mark of Saw down a little. Final Rating – 8.5 (Great Approaching Excellent)
Here’s an on-ride video of SAW – The Ride at Thorpe Park.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Saw – The Ride? What’d you think? Leave a comment below. Images courtesy of CoasterForce.