Oakwood is a great place to work. Every day is different, and you meet new people every single day. The day begins with a briefing from the rides manager, and they call out what rides we’re on. I’m on Vertigo today, which is like a giant bungee swing.
Without a hitch
I was working on Vertigo once when a guy came up to me and said, ‘Can I have a word? Is it okay if I propose to my girlfriend at the top of Vertigo?’ So we winched them up, and when they got to the top, he popped to question. As soon as she’d said yes, he pulled the release cord and they went flying!
At Oakwood we’ve got 30 rides, some of which are world-class. My favourite is Megafobia, which is ranked as one of the best wooden rollercoasters in the world. We get lots of enthusiasts who travel here from all over the world to ride it. I’ve had people from as far afield as California, New Zealand and South Africa. You can tell the hardcore fans because they always ask you lots of questions about the ride, and they wear all their badges to show which rides they’ve been on.
There’s a guy who’s ridden Megafobia 3,500 times, and he’s coming back for a week in July to ride it for eight hours a day - that’s 40 hours over five days – to raise money for charity.
Even faster when wet
He always likes to sit in the front, but personally, I prefer sitting in the back. It feels faster, and it shakes you like mad. What most people don’t know is that it goes even faster in the rain. On a dry day it goes at 48mph but on a rainy day it can hit 55mph. I like rainy days – there’s less queuing, and the rides go quicker.
I still get a thrill from going on Megafobia. When I get the chance I try and go on it twice a day. If it’s a quiet day, and they’ve got time off, some of the staff might throw on a hoodie and stroll around the park, and they’ll usually end up on Megafobia.
It’s not always that quiet, though. In our busy periods, during the summer holidays, the park can hold up to 10,000 people in a day, and on Wednesday and Saturdays we have late nights where we have bands performing, and fireworks and lasers, so that’s a really popular time.
Although Megafobia is my favourite, I do like the other rides. There’s another coaster called Speed which, when it was built, had the steepest drop in the UK at 97 degrees. That’s beyond vertical, and you pull 4.5G at the bottom of the drop, before doing a series of twists. I like it because it’s a nice, smooth ride, and because it’s got hollow steels it’s also really loud, which is part of the experience. I also like Drench, which is the UK’s tallest watercoaster and has a top speed of 65mph. You do get a bit soaked on that one, though.