Fleeing from a herd of walkers on foot is a risky gamble, as many an ill-fated character on AMC’s The Walking Dead has learned the hard way, so Thorpe Park is offering up an alternative method of escape: scooting past the hungry undead at high speed atop a roller coaster track.
The U.K. amusement park announced Tuesday it plans to open the world’s first themed ride based on the popular TV show this spring, one that will take riders on a treacherous journey of survival through recreations of gruesome scenes from the series as well as iconic locales like the prison watchtower and the Alexandria Safe Zone. It will also incorporate multi-sensory elements (smell, too) and an outdoor queue area overrun with blood-soaked walkers — some of whom will appear inside the ride’s narrative as well, at times seemingly surrounding passengers in their vehicles.
Though it will feature cutting-edge theming and on-ride effects like mid-course pauses and live actors, The Walking Dead: The Ride is not a new ride, but rather a retooling of the Surrey-based park’s existing X:\ No Way Out indoor coaster. The attraction originally opened in 1996 and was designed by Vekoma, the same firm behind popular rides like Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and versions of Space Mountain currently operating at other Disney parks in Hong Kong and Paris.
Thorpe Park’s John Burton, who spearheaded the ride’s creative direction, told British outlet The Independent he watched nearly all of The Walking Dead‘s 107 episodes twice in preparation of recreating the show’s environments for the coaster.
“It’s 15 out of 10 on the scare scale,” he told the publication. “‘We are combining physical and digital effects because it is going to be dark, so we are going to make the most of that. The darkness acted as a canvas for us. We have incorporated the latest in special effects, lighting, smells and even touch elements to create a terrifyingly unique atmosphere.”
He added that Thorpe Park is currently auditioning actors to work as walkers throughout the park as part of its Year of The Walking Dead initiative, lead by The Walking Dead: The Ride. Guests can also experience staged zombie hunts for a six-week stretch this summer on top of making their way past walkers in a walk-through, haunt-style attraction.
“Thorpe Park Resort has been consistently raising the bar in the scare stakes for years and this will be the ultimate test of riders’ mettle,” Burton continued. “‘It is going to be right up there with the best in the world in terms of the whole experience.”
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for the latter half of its eighth season this Sunday, Feb. 25, and The Walking Dead: The Ride is expected to debut around Easter. Season passes to Thorpe Park are available now here.
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