An alien race, known only as The Swarm, are causing devastation at Thorpe Park as they execute their invasion plan and seek to abduct members of the local population.
|Theme Park||Thorpe Park|
|Park Area||Swarm Island|
|Opened||15 March 2012|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Max Speed||57 mph|
The Swarm is set on an island built out of reclaimed land sitting in one the lakes surrounding Thorpe Park. The area is a scene of devastation, caused by attacks from an alien invasion by creatures known simply as "The Swarm". Amongst the destruction lies a crashed plane and helicopter, a church with its roof missing (guess they'll be starting an appeal for that one, heh) and multiple overturned emergency vehicles. This is among the best and more immersive theming at the theme park.
The rollercoaster track weaves its way over, around and through this apocalyptic scene. The trains seat riders to either side of the track, making for a very exposed experience akin to sitting on the wings of the alien monsters.
The Swarm's station is set within the ruined church, with riders being able to choose between sitting on the right hand side of the train or on the left hand side by crossing a bridge over the track to get to the other side.
After climbing to the top of the lift hill, the train twists 180° so riders are facing upside down as they dive down the first drop. During construction, Thorpe Park made a big deal of this dive drop, claiming it to be an exclusive world first. Unfortunately the exclusivity was not to be, with X-Flight at Six Flags Great America featuring the same element, although The Swarm's was still a world first since it opened two months ahead of X-Flight.
At the bottom of the first drop, the train flies underneath the smoking wing of the crashed aeroplane which provides a great headchopper moment. Following a zero-G roll, riders crash through a giant billboard then enter large loop and a turnaround that skims the waterline and circles a stranded helicopter. Next comes a corkscrew, after which the the train passes a wrecked fire engine, swoops over the concourse below to turn ready to turn upside down once more as it flies straight over the station and guests waiting to board the next train.
In a finale more akin to an autocompleted track layout on Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 than a professionally designed coaster, the train heads out towards some wasteland, then awkwardly turns back on itself to line up with the final brakes ready to re-enter the station. After a well thought out layout full of variety, headchoppers and some great elements, the final section is inexplicable but doesn't spoil the overall experience.
Reaction to The Swarm was mixed when it opened in 2012. It is quite gentle, not providing the intensity that some enthusiasts were expecting. On the other hand, the immersive theming throughout the ride and the surrounding area won a lot of praise. It was considered a commercial failure for the park, and visitor numbers failed to increase once it opened. However, now the pressure has eased and it is no longer Thorpe Park's headline ride, it has bedded down and in my opinion is one of the best B&M wing coasters alongside Wild Eagle at Dollywood and Thunderbird at Holiday World.