How the UK’s ‘fastest’ rollercoaster came to a halt

How the UK’s ‘fastest’ rollercoaster came to a halt

28 minutes agoAmy Walker,BBC News, South EastAndy HineHyperia – the UK’s tallest rollercoaster – closed a day after opening to the public

Named after the daughter of a Greek god, who is said to have built herself steel wings before launching herself off a high mountain, the UK’s tallest rollercoaster opened to much fanfare last Friday.

Hyperia, which stands at 263ft (80m) – the equivalent to a high-rise apartment block – and can travel at 81mph (130km/h), was dubbed a “marvel of engineering” by its creators at Thorpe Park.

But within a day of offering thrill-seekers an opportunity to experience the feeling of weightlessness as they hurtle around its 168ft (51m) loop, the ride had come to a screeching halt.

Thorpe Park said a temporary closure followed “standard technical pre-opening procedure checks”, and has so far been unable to confirm it will reopen before 8 June.

The closure of the ride which is reported to have cost £18m and Thorpe Park says is the UK’s tallest and fastest, is not only a blow to the theme park and its owners, Merlin Entertainments, but coaster enthusiasts who have been gearing up for the opening since it was announced nearly three years ago.

“Thorpe Park hasn’t had a new rollercoaster in 12 years,” said Bee Moore, a college student from Camberley, Surrey, who visits the park twice a month with an annual pass.

HANDOUTThrillseeker Bee had hoped to go on Hyperia on their 18th birthday

“With it being the tallest and fastest, there’s a thrill element to it that I was just really excited to experience.”

Moore had been on their way to the park for their 18th birthday on 25 May, the day after the ride opened, when they saw the closure on social media. “It was very disappointing,” they added.

Jack Rowbotham, a 20-year-old computing student from Northamptonshire, had booked a weekend in Surrey with a friend to experience Hyperia.

Also a passholder, he has been going to Thorpe Park about five times a year since 2018, but said the new rollercoaster was “different to anything we’ve seen in the UK”.

Mr Rowbotham said they began queuing two-and-a-half hours before the park gates opened, with around 200 other people on 25 May when they heard the news.

“I was gutted. I think the overall atmosphere was disappointment,” he said.

HANDOUTJack said people usually had to go to “America or mainland Europe” for rides like Hyperia

But he is also sympathetic to the theme park. “A lot of people who go quite often to theme parks know that it’s one of those things. It’s not always guaranteed that a ride is going to open,” said Mr Rowbotham.

Both he and Ms Moore will be going back to the park at the earliest opportunity to try out Hyperia.

Thorpe Park also offered those who’d pre-booked on 25 May a free return visit, while those pre-booked up to 7 June are able to change their booking for a later date.

Though he was yet to hear back about changing his booking for 3 June, Liam Atkins, a 31-year-old IT worker from Essex, said he assumed the park had been “inundated with emails”.

In the meantime, he is keeping his disgruntlement about the situation between himself and his partner. “He’s already sick and tired of hearing it,” he said.

Thorpe Park said it would “continue to do everything in our power to open the ride earlier”.

It added that it was “really sorry for the disappointment we know this will cause”.

PA MediaThorpe Park says Hyperia’s 168ft loop makes it Europe’s tallest (pictured during a VIP launch event on 23 May)

It’s not the first time a rollercoaster in the UK has experienced issues. The Smiler, at Merlin-owned Alton Towers, was beset with issues within the first two years of its opening.

Justin Garvanovic, founder of the European Coaster Club, said that “teething problems” were also not uncommon, “especially huge record breakers… when they’re pushing the envelope a bit”.

While Thorpe Park has not disclosed the reasoning behind Hyperia’s closure, Mr Garvanovic said that there were a “million things” that could potentially cause issues.

“It’s a complex machine. There’s three computers all talking to each other for a start, and they have to agree on everything,” he said.

HANDOUTAndy Hine is among the lucky rollercoaster fans to have been on Hyperia

Andy Hine, chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, echoed this line of thought.

He is currently in the United States where he was set to ride on Top Thrill 2 at Cedar Point in Ohio – billed as the world’s tallest rollercoaster – which was also recently opened and abruptly closed due to a “mechanical failure”.

But he was lucky enough to have experienced Hyperia at a launch party last week. “The speed that it comes down the twisting first drop was very, very fast,” he said.

“It’s got lots of airtime, which is what coaster enthusiasts like – that feeling of being out of your seat like when you’re going over a humpback bridge in your car. It was very exciting.”

He added that for Thorpe Park, one fortunate “side effect” of the current situation could be that when Hyperia reopens, there’ll be even more hype.

“There will only be a [few people] who’ve been on it, and if you look online, of course people are boasting that they’ve ridden it!”

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Thorpe Park

Theme parksMerlin Entertainments

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