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Behind The Scenes with John Burton

Date Posted:

Sunday 26th August 2018


On 20th February 2018, Thorpe Park announced that X, their indoor rollercoaster was going to be rethemed into the world’s first attraction themed around the AMC Series; The Walking Dead. The ride has been through many iterations since opening in 1996 as "X:\ No Way Out" which featured an original storyline.

From 2013, the ride has had its storyline removed and was simply a high-speed rollercoaster to the tune of popular dance music, accompanied by lights and lasers but now the ride has been drastically changed with a brand new storyline based on the aforementioned television series.

Now that the ride has been open to the public for several months we got in touch with John Burton, Creative Lead from Merlin Magic Making and asked him some questions about the project...

What was your first thoughts when Thorpe Park wanted to change X?
"I saw this as an opportunity to do something more immersive than X as well as bringing back some of the original creative ideas that had gone into X:/ No Way Out from an experience point of view. For me this was quite an exciting prospect of having an indoor attraction to work on that can play with all the senses."

We heard that you are a fan of including "Easter Eggs" into attractions you are a part of and noticed a few ourselves throughout. What made you install Theme park enthusiast "Easter Eggs" into this ride?
"A ride like TWD:TR has a lot of history with its previous incarnations as X and X:/ NO WAY OUT. As an enthusiast, adding these ‘Easter eggs’ into future iterations is a small way to pay homage to the classic attractions that are part of the parks history. Theme parks make lasting memories so for me adding Easter Eggs in helps create memories so guests can reminisce over their enthusiasm for theme parks past and present."

As John said, Easter Eggs help pay homage to classic attractions and The Walking Dead: The Ride is housed in a building that certainly had a lot of history. Easter eggs sometimes require multiple re-rides and it takes a true enthusiast to spot some of them. Similar to hidden Mickeys at Disney parks they can pop up anywhere, however not every attraction has them. 

Below are just a few of the "Easter Eggs", how many can you find next time you visit Thorpe Park and ride The Walking Dead: The Ride? 

-Pre-Show – The Safe-Zone Directory is a creative credits list. John is the Safe Zone Community Leader.

-Above one of the doors in corridor C is the phrase ‘Control Room’ which is a reference to the Cabin in the Woods Fright Nights maze room which was previously located adjacent to that space.

-Preload – in the cabinets there are various posters of the Great Thorpe Park Original X poster, there are drawings that went into planning and old photographs from the original X ride.

-There are numerous X signs that were kept and enhanced to match the theme including the ride vehicles front decals feature an ‘X’.

-The final brake run has a replica of the ‘Thorpe Park Power Supply Battery’ from the original X:/ No Way Out.

-The unload platform features the famous ‘Don’t Open, Dead Inside’ doors. This is the first time ever guests will see what is on the other side of those iconic doors.

-The van after the unload platform features a disco ball air freshener hanging off the inside mirror. This is in reference to the original X disco ball that used to be in this room.

-As you leave the cafeteria a voiceover is triggered on the ramp with the quote ’There is… NO WAY OUT’

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