An amusement park situated 20 miles from London at Chertsey in Surrey, Thorpe Park is one of the major amusement parks but until the 1970’s, it was a worked out quarry, owned by Ready Mix Concrete.
When the quarry closed, the firm decided to diversify by turning it into an amusement park, intending to fill the quarry in. However, this proved to be such a lengthy and expensive job, that the option of filling it with water was taken, leaving Thorpe Park as virtually
an island in the middle of a lagoon.
The amusement park was opened May 24th 1979 by Lord Mountbatten, not long before he was killed by an IRA bomb. It got off to a quiet start, with most emphasis on education and water activities. The amusement park was a local attraction, with few visitors coming from further away. The first roller coaster was added in 1981 and from around 1987, the image of the amusement park began to be changed. Although it continued to be family friendly, there was a move towards an image that would attract fearless thrill hunters. The amusement park became known to a wider public in the early 1990’s when
Princess Diana took her sons there and photographs of them obviously having a good time appeared in the media.
In 1998, the amusement park was sold to the Tussauds Group, which has recently (May ’07) merged with Merlin Entertainments, second only to Disney in size as an amusement park operator.
In July 2000, the amusement park had a major fire, thought to have been started by a carelessly discarded cigarette. The evacuation of the public went smoothly and the amusement park made a rapid recovery from the setback. In 2007, there were 1, 700, 000 visitors to the amusement park, which now has a spectacular trio of coasters. Stealth goes from 0 to 80 mph in 2.3 seconds and the amusement park has a Gerstlauer Eurofighter coaster opening in 2009. This will have a vertical climb and a dark ride and so the amusement park will have no problem keeping its appeal to everyone who is looking for extreme thrills
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