The world’s first, and only backwards roller coaster in the dark. Its “kids stuff... not”.


Originally – The hill where Drive in the Country used to be was flattened to make way for the X:\ No Way Out building.

Then – Fantasy Reef

2000 – 2001 – The X-Zone

Now – Lost City

Official Thorpe Park Description:

From the 1995 park map “A top secret development that is being kept under wraps until 1996!”

From the 1997 park map “Now open... the world’s first and only pitch black, backwards ride X:\ No Way Out. Face the pre-ride challenges, strap yourself in and hold tight for a terrifying ride through the darkness. It’s only at the Great Thorpe Park, dare you enter – there’s no way out!”

From the 2000 Thorpe Park website “An innovative roller coaster ride featuring unique and dramatic concepts in ride technology that make it a world-first over and over again. X:\ No Way Out is sure to give you one of the biggest scares of your life, plummeting you backwards through total darkness. The world's first "backwards" roller coaster!”

From the 2005 Thorpe Park website “A deviant psychology creates total disorientation. Fine track engineering is abused by running in reverse... ... in darkness” “Perverted computer power launches bizarre commands down 100 core power cables, pumping relentless sound through utterly confused brains. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Icy mist and gales of wind compound the misery of this malignant concept.”

From the 2007 Thorpe Park website “New and improved for 2007… Take a tour through the former X:\ Technology Research Centre and discover what happens when technology powering the world’s largest super computer turns bad! Will you get out???”

From the 2010 Thorpe Park website “X:\No Way Out is the ride that takes no prisoners. Enter and you will be thrown into a world of disorientation as your senses are pushed to the limits with eerie sounds and crazy flashes. And did we mention you're hurtling backwards...the entire way!”

The Ride:

X:\ No Way Out opened in 1996 as the world’s first backwards in the dark roller coaster. It was manufactured by Vekoma and is an Enigma model coaster that has been modified so the cars can run backwards. It was one of RMC’s largest investments at the park with reports at the time announcing Thorpe Park were spending over £1 million on advertising for the ride alone.

X:\ No Way Out was Thorpe Park’s first non-powered roller coaster and was designed to appeal to 10 – 15 year old children, in an attempt to take a share of that market from nearby rival Chessington World of Adventures and the newly opened Legoland. To appeal to the young teenage market of the time both the ride and its advertising were loosely themed around computer systems, computer viruses and robotics.

The launch of the ride was supported by a 40 second TV advert that had a budget of £200,000 and was directed by Ian Sharp who had worked as 2nd Unit Director on the movies “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the Bond movie “Goldeneye”. The live action Sci-Fi inspired action advert was a big change for the park, away from their usual animated adverts starring the Thorpe Park Rangers.

The ride is situated inside a blue and terracotta pyramid.  When the ride opened the pyramid building was quite daunting, with the numerous black steam vents outside adding to the feeling that something new, exciting and different for the park was inside. The several warning signs outside the entrance also reinforcing there was no escape only helped to scare off some of the younger riders.

Once you entered the building there was a long queue line walk way that went around the inside perimeter of the building. The queue line corridors were dark and were dimly lit with a mixture of coloured spot lights, ultra violet lights and effects lights. The queue line also used to take you through a number of themed rooms including one with a large walk through ‘spinning tunnel’ and another with life sized robot bodies appearing to come out of the walls. This later room was so strongly lit with UV light that people’s teeth would shine bright green as they walked through the room. You would then reach a more traditional queue line area with TVs on the wall showing videos about the ride.

Around the corner you would now see two door ways that lead through to the loading station. Nowadays you can walk straight through these but when the ride first opened these were part of the Pre-Ride show. You would be loaded in small groups into one of the two lift cars, the exit doors on the other side being closed. The entrance doors would then close and the floor would vibrate to give you the feeling that you were being lifted to the ride station. Only when this stopped did the exit doors open and you saw the dark loading area. Then an empty train would pull into the station backwards. For various reasons most of this theming has been unused or removed over the years since the ride opened.

The inside of the ride has also seen a number of changes. In the early years the whole ride area operated in near pitch black darkness, some of the only light coming from the flash of the On-Ride Photo camera. But over time more lights have been added around the ride (e.g. new strobe lights were added in 2000). Another change was to the ride’s sound effect audio track, this originally played through built in speakers on the trains but was later played out through speakers on the ride’s brake runs.

X:\ No Way Out can run with a maximum of 5 trains, each with 5 capsules/cars that seat up to two passengers. The cars are blue in colour with luminous green X:\ logos on the side and black seats. The cars have singular black lapbars that are manually lowered and then checked by staff before the trains leaves the station.

The trains then leave the station backwards, turn a corner and start to climb the drive tyre lift hill. Once at the top the trains then start their journey around the track through a number of helixes. This first section of the ride is where the On-Ride Photo camera used to be before it was removed in 2005. The ride contains three sections of animated block brake runs which have used various effects over the years including overhead mist spray effects, wind effects and sound effects e.g. helicopter sounds.

When the ride comes to an end you get out of the train at a second station platform so the empty train can continue around to the loading platform. Once through the double doors you are in the area where you used to be able to view and buy your On-Ride Photos. Following the corridors towards the exit you then pass by a large over-sized Philips PowerLife battery attached to the wall this is labelled as ‘Thorpe Park Power Supply’. This is one of the last pieces of the original theming still used today.

The 2007 Re-Theme

In 2007 X:\ No Way Out was closed from mid February until mid March when the ride re-opened after a few modifications.

One change was to the queue line lighting, this now used red and blue LED spot lights. The queue line area also received a much needed fresh lick of paint.

X:\ No Way Out also had a new storyline about how the ‘X Laboratories Facility’ lost control of their super computer that controls the ride. A new queue line video was added explaining this storyline. A link to a clip of this video can be found in the related links section on this page. Thorpe Park stopped using this video after the 2007 season and the TV monitors are now, once again, no longer in use.

A few more changes added in 2007 included new ride music, several coloured flashing lights going up the length of the lift hill and two robot dummies (from the old queue line robot room) were added to the third animation block brake run.

The 2010 Lights On Trial

During the 2010 season Thorpe Park’s management decided to trial running the ride with its safety lights turned on. This meant that for a large part of the season X:\ No Way Out no longer operated in the dark. One explanation for the trial was an attempt to improve the rides down time by lessoning the amount of people getting sick on it due to disorientation.

Riding X:\ No Way Out with the lights on created a different ride experience as you could see the tracks layout clearly and also how close the trains can pass near each other at various points.

For the course of the trial Thorpe Park would put out a sign at the rides entrance informing guests when the ride would be operating with the lights on.

During the park’s 2010 Fright Nights season X:\ No Way Out operated in the dark again.

X:\ No Way Out is 15 years old in 2011, hopefully it will soon receive the much needed updating or re-theming we feel it deserves.

Memories of X:\ No Way Out:



Related Videos:

Facts & Trivia:

Maximum height = 43ft (13m)

Maximum speed = 28mph (45km/h)

Track length = 1,312ft (400m)
Maximum G-Force = 2.5
Ride duration = 180 seconds
Although X:\ No Way Out is the world’s first and only backwards in the dark roller coaster both Thirteen (at Alton Towers) and Revenge of the Mummy (at Universal Studios Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore) contain backwards sections in the dark.
Since 2002 parts of the old queue line have been used for the Fright Nights horror mazes Freakshow 3D and Hellgate.
The 1996 television advert for X:\ No Way Out was one of the first (if not the first) to be made as a completely computerized PreViz ‘Storyboard’ before filming.

Related Links:

Ÿ - A number of pieces of ride audio can be downloaded from the Thorpe Park Mania site.
Ÿ - The 1996 television advert for X:\ No Way Out can be seen on this page, along side the original computer generated PreViz ‘storyboard’ for the advert.
Ÿ – A photo taken in 2002 of a ride car.
Ÿ – A forum thread containing photos of some of the old queue line theming can be found on the Towers Times forum.
Ÿ - An article from Campaign Magazine from 1996 about the opening of X:\ No Way Out and the advertising campaign.
Ÿ - An article from the Independent in 1996 about the television ad campaign.
X:\ No Way Out (1996 - Now)

< Back to Past Rides Section

The front of an X:\ No Way Out On-Ride photo from 1999.

The middle of an X:\ No Way Out On-Ride photo from 1999.

The back of an X:\ No Way Out On-Ride photo from 1999.

The X:\ No Way Out logo,

taken from the 1997 park map, supplied by trainsandstuff.

The X:\ No Way Out pyramid,

taken from the 1997 park map, supplied by trainsandstuff.

Inside X:\ No Way Out,

taken from the 1997 park map, supplied by trainsandstuff.

The original X:\ No Way Out corridors, Taken in 2005.

Supplied by James Salter.

The X:\ No Way Out pyramid complete with working steam effects taken in 1997.

Photo provided by Michael Pantenburg.

The original pitch black lift hill, taken with a flash in 1997.

Photo provided by Michael Pantenburg.

Uploaded to YouTube by weeksy.

Description: On-Ride footage of X:\ No Way Out with the lights on, recorded in 2001.

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