Thorpe Park outside of London will roll out a new coaster, dubbed The Swarm, to the public in mid-March, but has already created plenty of buzz by tearing some crash-test dummies to shreds and then getting a group of high-octane fighter pilots to go on a p.r.-driven test ride.
The “winged” ride doesn’t give visitors anywhere to hide during the “flight through apocalyptic devastation on Europe’s tallest winged rollercoaster,” leaving arms and legs dangling freely on the floorless ride. An inverted drop of 127 feet highlights the ride that includes the illusion that riders will strike buildings.
After crash-test dummies returned from a test ride missing multiple limbs, Thorpe Park enlisted the help of ex The Blades, former RAF and Red Arrows pilots, to serve as the first live riders. One pilot told the Metro the ride was certainly “gut-wrenching” and the near-miss elements were “eye-watering.”
“You really do feel as if you are going to crash into the structures,” he said about the series of extreme near misses and inversions.
The winged coaster idea has caught on quickly in Europe (the U.S. will debut its first winged coasters this year with one at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., one at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania and another at Six Flags Great America in Chicago), so Thorpe Park wanted to offer the tallest and scariest around. Traveling 62 miles per hour with limbs dangling all over might just do the trick. Of course, tearing limbs from dummies gets people talking too.