Perceptive Media at the theme park?


I had the pleasure of going to Thorpe Park on the weekend as I gatecrashed Kate’s Birthday.

A number of things got me thinking as I queued 18 times for Stealth, 10 times for the Swarm (forward and backwards), 3 times for Nemesis Inferno and once on Saw the ride (don’t think my head could hand the banging nature – not impressed! Gerstelauer could learn something from Bolliger & Mabillard). I adored Stealth even though I had butterflies in my gut about the height of the top beforehand. I remember seeing a board years ago when I last went to Thorpe Park talking about a new ride, shows how long ago since I had returned.

Although I fell in love with Stealth, I was also very impressed with the swarm.

Not only was it a great ride but flexible enough to have a number of options including riding it backwards! Which I did 5 times and I can only describe it as being dragged by a tentacle monster attached to your waist backwards. You can hardly feel the over shoulder constraint and it just feels amazing being dragged along with your arms and legs naturally dragging along.

The swarm is one of the modern coasters which has been properly thought out. Ironically (ironic because Alton Towers has bags of land but seems to always tightly pack rides and London land is expensive) because Thorpe park have loads of empty space it could build a complete site with waterways, over turned police vans, busted fire engines, etc. The whole thing is really well themed. Nemesis and Oblivion were early on this front but in Swarm has given it a super modern and very London overview.

The Swarm roller coaster at Thorpe Park

While waiting in the queue theres a news report about a national emergency spawning from Thorpe Park. After spending much time in the queue waiting for my forward and backwards adventures in space. I started to notice the same video parts coming up again and again. Don’t get me wrong I expect there might be about 30mins of footage on a loop, which is much more than any other theme park I’ve been to.
But I started thinking what a great chance to do something Perceptive. The ride should react and change to the people waiting, how long their waiting, whos waiting, etc.

Swarm news report

Can you imagine what would happen if you conversations were used in the queue experience? Tweets, photos, the lot were included and manipulated to fit the theme. Now thats an idea I may have to take forward…

I was also interested in Thorpe parks teaming up with Ministry of Sound, which seems to bring it closer to the concept of a Rave than you can make up. The whole site was blasting out dance music and I got to say I quite liked it. Not only that, in the line for the Swarm, they were handing out wireless headsets for the queuing. The headsets had volume and a switch for off, channel a and channel b. Channel A was generally MoS dance music and channel b more 60s and 70s disco. Each headset seemed to have a number of sponsors including O2.

Line music

Although I thought it was a nice idea, I was a little miffed with having to wear one in a queue of 2mins later in the day. I was literally walking to the entrance being handed a headset and walking through the queue system and then giving them back up before getting on the ride. I imagine in a much larger queue it could be rife for abuse/fun with Perceptive Media…

So who do I need to get in touch with about this idea?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.