Cahill Design Consultants (CDC) was contracted by Merlin Operations Attractions Limited, Thorpe Park to undertake detailed fire and acoustic strategies for a new attraction within their Thorpe Park Resort theme park in Surrey. CDC was contracted to undertake full services from inception to completion and post completion services.

This unique, complex project, designed by Derren Brown, provides a guest experience which includes interactive elements, virtual reality and scenes narrated by actors. The ride take place in a themed London Tube Train and a mock up London Underground Station. The attraction was located in a purpose built building, replicating a warehouse from the external elevations and a floating train station internally. In addition to the attraction space, the building also incorporated pre show areas, retail space, staff control room, back of house space, maintenance facility and staff areas.

The Clients, both Derren Brown and Merlin, demanded the highest standards for design integration and safety of guests, both able bodied and disabled users. The fire strategy was required to ensure that all guests and staff were able to enjoy the attraction while being in a safe and secure environment, without fire safety elements being obviously visual, thus negatively affecting the desired effect of the attraction.

These challenges were successfully overcome with very close coordination with the design team, including architects, engineers, creative teams and Derren Brown himself.

The fire strategy was focused on solving the complex scenarios for evacuation during various operational attraction scenarios. A key focus was on successful implementation of evacuation procedures for disabled users of the ride. The fire strategy included extended travel distances, smoke extract design, evacuation strategies, compartmentation, internal room layout advice, fire alarm system design, building separation, fire services access, escape stair numbers, code compliant dimensions and sizes, building fire rating and minimum protection requirements.

Close liaison with Building Control and Fire Services Officers was essential, in order for them to understand the complexity of the building and the proposed fire strategy. Based upon the complexity of the operational scenarios, fire engineering solutions were required to allow the attraction to operate successfully and to the desired aspirations of both Merlin and Derren Brown.

CDC provided full fire engineering design services, CFD modelling, construction phase support and fire risk assessment services to the project. Post Construction services were also provided to ensure that the fire strategy was successfully implemented into the operations of the attraction.

Extensive acoustic modelling was undertaken to ensure that the breakout noise from the attraction was not audible outside and that guests were not able to hear what was happening in adjacent rooms during their experience.

The attraction is successfully and safely operating and is a unique attraction in the World of Theme Parks.