Articles 18/04/2017

John Burton Q and A

Posted By Marc

Derren Browns Ghost Train – Rise of the Demon launched at the resort last month and we’ve spoken to John Burton, the lead creative behind the new attraction!

**Warning – This article may contain spoilers for those yet to ride!**

We noticed that there are a few Derren easter eggs throughout the attraction. How many of these are there?
There are so many in-fact that I’ve lost count. Even I discover a new one every so often from last year’s project! Some of the main ones include:
The numbers on the external façade referring to Derren’s birth year.
The graffiti on the platforms referring to some of his shows.
The Ouija board includes references to his birthday & shows.
There are lots of tiny details throughout so keep your eyes peeled at everything!

We also noticed a couple of hints to other attractions in the experience. (The Sub Terror warning announcement being one of them!) What rides have been hinted to, and are there any other experiences that the team drew inspiration on when designed the attraction?"

There were ample opportunities to include a few nods to some of our existing estate attractions this year when we were making this deeper, darker and more intense.


Sub-terra audio fitted perfectly with the Sub-core warning and clearly delivered the lines. ‘ Emergency – Evacuate – This is not a drill.’ It helps drive this scene into a sense of chaos and panic.

After leaving pre-show we introduced new audio to build anticipation. You’ll notice we put a small radio in the room, and every so often WC16 news (reference to The SWARM) can be heard referring to the increased drilling practice of Sub-core and the riots.

There are references to HEX – legend of the towers in the final scene, where we included some of the original hand sketches of brains in jars etc on blackboards.

Other nods include some of the artifacts from previous year of the attraction, like the old ‘luggage’ sign hiding behind the t-shirts.

Check out the vending machine, there is also a hidden message built into the item labels.

Inspiration for this year primarily came from classic horror films and our Dungeons attractions. We had lots of fun watching various horror films and the scares, sounds & tension they build.

VR is still in its infancy, especially when being used in the theme park industry. Even during the redesign stage for 2017, what was the biggest hurdle you needed to overcome?

Sound was such an important layer to the experience to really immerse you into the VR world. Each seat has had new noise cancelling headphones with individual amplifiers to make everything feels as terrifyingly real as we can. Technology is constantly advancing and for our 2017 Rise of the Demon we wanted to target 3 key areas. Realism, scare and more Derren mind bending trickery.

Avoiding spoilers for those yet to experience it, what's your favourite part of the entire experience?

I’ve been through the experience countless times and I find it very difficult to choose my favourite part. As my first project I’m slightly bias that I enjoy all the new elements, especially the ending. Mainly because of the guest reactions we get are priceless.

It must have been quite a relief watching guests running out the attraction terrified on Open Day - what's the most rewarding part of working on an attraction like this?

On opening day I positioned myself within the exit shop and control room, listening to the discussions amongst guests and watching their reactions. Putting the theory into practice and seeing it work for me is where you feel the most rewarded with a sense of achievement.

What do you think of the re-vamped attraction? Let us know on our Forums!

With thanks to Thorpe Park and John  Burton.

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