Alton Towers

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Alton Towers Resort
Alton Towers Resort Logo.png
Slogan "Britain's Greatest escape"
Location Alton, Staffordshire, England
Coordinates 52°59′26″N 1°53′33″W / 52.99056°N 1.89250°W / 52.99056; -1.89250Coordinates: 52°59′26″N 1°53′33″W / 52.99056°N 1.89250°W / 52.99056; -1.89250
Owner Merlin Entertainments Group
General Manager Ian Crabbe
Opened 13 April 1860 (1860-04-13) (as country estate)
4 April 1980 (1980-04-04) (as theme park)
Operating season Theme Park
Alton Towers Waterpark
Alton Towers Hotel Spa
Conference Centre
Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest
Extraordinary Golf
Visitors per annum 2.958 million (2014)
Area 910 acres (3.7 km2)
Total 50+
Roller coasters 9
Water rides 5

Alton Towers Resort, commonly referred to as Alton Towers, is a theme park, water park, and hotel complex in Staffordshire, England. It is the flagship attraction of Merlin Entertainments in the United Kingdom. The site opened in 1860[citation needed] with flower shows and garden tours until a theme park was built on the site in 1980.

Alton Towers Theme Park opened on 4 April 1980. Major attractions include Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, Runaway Mine Train, Congo River Rapids, Hex – The Legend of the Towers, Rita, Thirteen and The Smiler. Alton Towers is known for creating new ride types when it comes to roller coasters. They have a line of 'Secret Weapon' rides which usually bring something new to the industry.

The Alton Towers Waterpark opened in June 2003. It consists of several pools and slides including the Master Blaster water coaster. The waterpark, along with the adjoined Splash Landings Hotel, carries a tropical Caribbean theme with the 'Paradise Plumbers' creating the slides.

The Theme Park opens at 9am and closes from 4:30pm at the earliest to 7pm at the latest during the main season (excluding Concert nights, Scarefest and Fireworks) with selected rides, then from 10am onwards the rest of the Theme Park will start to open. During Scarefest and Fireworks the Theme Park opens at 9:30am and closes at 9pm due to the number of people that visit the two events.


Entrance to Alton Towers, with the monorail behind

The Alton Towers estate was a former seat of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Following its sale in 1924 a group of local businessmen formed Alton Towers Ltd and began to restore the gardens as a tourist attraction.[1] In the 1950s this included the operation of a fairground, and by the 1970s included a boating lake and chairlift.[2]

After millionaire property developer John Broome married the daughter of majority shareholder Denis Bagshaw in 1973, he bought out the controlling stake in Alton Towers. Over the next few years he laid the foundation for the modern theme park by installing various permanent rides and developing areas of the grounds in progressive stages. In the 1980s Broome marketed the park by installing a major new ride every year - including Corkscrew, Pirate Ship, Alpine Bobsleigh, The Flume and The Black Hole.

With Broome in financial troubles having acquired the former Battersea Power Station for development as a tourist attraction, in 1990 the park was purchased by The Tussauds Group, which itself was owned by Pearson Group. The change of ownership heralded an era of sustained investment and aggressive marketing based around the US theme park model epitomised by Disneyland, involving the development of major family-oriented attractions such as Runaway Mine Train (1992), The Haunted House (1992, now Duel), Toyland Tours (1994) and Peter Rabbit and Friends On Ice (1994), alongside state-of-the-art, high-intensity rides such as Nemesis (1994, Europe's first inverted roller coaster). However, Tussauds subsequently reoriented the resort's business strategy towards the teenage market with the introduction of Oblivion (1998, a B&M Dive Coaster) and Air (2002, a B&M Flying Coaster), both marketed for their innovative 'World First' ride elements and restoring, to a degree, the youth credibility it had established in the 1980s. Ride designer John Wardley was behind the concepts and layouts of the major attractions in the 1990s that brought success to the themepark.

2005 saw the acquisition of Alton Towers by the investment group Dubai International Capital (DIC) when it purchased Tussauds for £800 million.[3] The Tussauds Group was then bought by Merlin Entertainments in March 2007 for over £1billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control.[4] In July 2007, the resort and park was sold to Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury who now lease the park back to Merlin Entertainments to operate on a 35-year lease.[5][6]


Prior to the main open season, Alton Towers holds the February Half-Term event for one week and two days. For the event the Alton Towers theme park opens with selected rides. Rides such as the Runaway Mine Train, Hex – The Legend of the Towers, Nemesis and Air usually operate alongside smaller attractions.

Scarefest is the resort's largest annual event. It celebrates Halloween with a number of temporary scare maze attractions, costumed characters and extended opening hours. Rides and areas are lit with coloured lighting at night, with rides continuing to operate after dusk. The Scarefest event has been running since 2007, although the park started celebrating Halloween with decoration several years before and has operated the Terror of the Towers scaremaze since 2002.

For the last days of the season, Alton Towers host firework displays, these have been running annually since the 1990s on the Great Lawns. The displays were considered disruptive by some local residents, which led to formal complaints. Two local residents decided to take the theme park to court regarding this issue. The court issued Alton Towers with a noise abatement order in October 2005 which restricted the theme park to three shows a year, previously five, with noise readings not exceeding 40 decibels outside the park.[13] In 2006, the display was rebranded as Electric Towers, but then discontinued. However, the fireworks and laser show was reinstated in 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the theme park.

During the closed season months Alton Towers holds regular Swashbuckling Pirate Weekends. The event entails pirate themed activities in the Splash Landings Hotel and the waterpark. The theme park's Sharkbait Reef aquarium also opens for the event.

During December, the Santa's Sleepover event takes place. Both resort hotels are decorated for the event and a pantomime takes place. The Alton Towers Theme Park also opens for Christmas with a small number of rides open as well as a Santa's Grotto. The event is largely aimed at children. In 2015, the theme park will permit entry to non-hotel guests for the first time.

Rides and attractions[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

Name Picture Opened Type Status Height
Manufacturer Park
Air Air 06.jpg 2002 Steel flying Operational 1.4m Bolliger & Mabillard Forbidden Valley The world's first Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster.
Nemesis Nemesis (Alton Towers) 01.jpg 1994 Steel
Operational 1.4m Bolliger & Mabillard Forbidden Valley Europe's first inverted roller coaster. Voted 9th best roller coaster in the world in the 2013 Mitch Hawker steel coaster poll.
Oblivion Oblivion.JPG 1998 Steel dive Operational 1.4m Bolliger & Mabillard X-Sector Dubbed as world's first vertical drop roller coaster yet its dive angle is not 90°, it is the world's first Dive coaster however.
Rita Rita (Alton Towers).JPG 2005 Steel
Operational 1.4m Intamin Dark Forest A launched roller coaster involving a race car succumbing to the powers of a supernatural forest.
Runaway Mine Train Runaway Mine Train (Alton Towers) 01.jpg 1992 Steel
mine train
Operational 0.9m Mack Rides Katanga Canyon A powered mine train roller coaster. The oldest roller coaster in the park following the removal of the Beastie in early 2013.
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure 2015 Steel
Operational 0.9m Zamperla CBeebies Land A new model of a children's coaster from Zamperla. Opened as part of a CBeebies Land expansion.
Sonic Spinball Sonic Spinball.JPG 2004 Steel
Operational 1.2m Maurer Söhne Adventure Land A spinning roller coaster featuring video game character Sonic the Hedgehog.
Thirteen Thirteen train 1.jpg 2010 Steel Family Drop Operational 1.2m Intamin Dark Forest The world's first vertical free-fall drop roller coaster.
The Smiler The Smiler on opening day.jpg 2013 Steel Infinity SBNO 1.4m Gerstlauer X-Sector The world's first roller coaster with 14 inversions and world record-holder for most inversions on a roller coaster.

Ride statistics[edit]

Name Height Length Top speed Max vert.
on ride
per train
Air* 66 ft (20 m) 2,760 ft (840 m) 47 mph (76 km/h) 40° 2 3 28 (7 rows 4) John Wardley
Nemesis* 43 ft (13 m) 2,349 ft (716 m) 50 mph (80 km/h) 40° 4 2 32 (8 rows of 4) John Wardley
Oblivion* 65 ft (20 m) 1,223 ft (373 m) 68 mph (109 km/h) 88.8° 0 7 16 (2 rows of 8) John Wardley
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure 0 1 14 (7 rows of 2)
Rita 68.9 ft (21.0 m) 2,099.8 ft (640.0 m) 62.2 mph (100.1 km/h) 53° 0 2 20 (10 rows of 2) Werner Stengel
Runaway Mine Train 36 ft (11 m) 1,000 ft (300 m) 22.4 mph (36.0 km/h) 29° 0 1 46 (23 rows of 2) John Wardley
Sonic Spinball 56 ft (17 m) 1,476 ft (450 m) 38 mph (61 km/h) 80° 0 8 4 (2 rows of 2, back to back) John Wardley
The Smiler** 72 ft (22 m) 3,840 ft (1,170 m) 53 mph (85 km/h) 50° 14** 5 16 (4 rows of 4) John Wardley
Key: * = record holder upon opening; ** = current record holder (September 2014)

Flat rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Status Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Enterprise Enterprise (Alton Towers).jpg Huss Enterprise Operational 1984 X-Sector HUSS A classic Huss enterprise.
Ripsaw Ripsaw.jpg Top Spin Operational 1997 Forbidden Valley HUSS A top spin ride with the addition of operator controlled water fountains, themed to resemble a piece of rusty machinery.
Twirling Toadstool Twirlingtoadstool.jpg Wave swinger Operational 2009 Cloud Cuckoo Land Zierer A wave swinger for families, featuring a large toadstool.

Water/Dark rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Notes
Battle Galleons Mutiny-bay.jpg Splash Battle 2008 Mutiny Bay Mack Rides A Mack Splash Battle ride, allowing riders to shoot at other ride boats and guests on land with mounted water guns.
Congo River Rapids CongoRiverRapids 2015.JPG Rapids ride 1986 Katanga Canyon Intamin An Intamin rapids ride around the perimeter of Katanga Canyon, interacting with the Runaway Mine Train throughout its layout. Refurbished 1992.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Ride, Alton Towers, UK.jpg Water dark ride 2006 Cloud Cuckoo Land Mack Rides Boat tour and elevator simulator ride emulating Willy Wonka's CHOCOLATE factory. Based on the children's book by Roald Dahl.
Duel - The Haunted House
Strikes Back!
Duel Facade.JPG Dark ride 1992
Gloomy Wood Mack Rides A dark ride through a haunted house. Rides are equipped with laser guns to shoot the scenery and gain points.
Hex - The Legend
of the Towers
Alton Towers - Hex.jpg Walk-through/
Madhouse dark ride combination
2000 The Towers Vekoma A walkthrough attraction based on the legend of the chained oak. Concludes with a Madhouse attraction in the ride's Vault area.
Drop tower
2012 Forbidden Valley ABC Rides Walkthrough and drop tower combined to make a dark ride experience based on the Nemesis legend. Housed partly underground.
The Flume The Flume, Alton Towers - - 1466159.jpg Log flume 1981
Mutiny Bay Mack Rides A log flume based attraction with themed bath boats. Originally held the title of the longest log flume in the world. Rethemed 2004.

Children's rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information
Driving School Alton towers driving school.jpg Driving Attraction 2006 Cloud Cuckoo Land Peugeot A children's car driving attraction.
Frog Hopper Mini drop tower 1999 Cloud Cuckoo Land Zamperla A mini drop tower for children.
Galloper's Carousel Alton towers carousel.jpg Carousel 1991 Cloud Cuckoo Land Bertazzon A children's merry-go-round ride.
Heave Ho Alton Towers 04.jpg Rock 'n' Tug 2008 Mutiny Bay Zierer A rocking and swinging boat ride.
Maurauders Mayhem @ Mutiny Bay.jpg Tea Cups Ride 1986 Mutiny Bay Mack Rides A tea cups ride re-themed to resemble barrels of gunpowder. Rethemed in 2008.
In the Night Garden
Magical Boat Ride
Boat ride 2014 CBeebies Land Mack Rides Boat ride taking in sights of In The Night Garden. Rethemed Riverbank Eye Spy.
Get Set Go
TreeTop Adventure
powered monorail ride 2014 CBeebies Land Premier Rides Riders travel through the tree tops in their own vehicle above CBeebies Land.
Postman Pat's
Parcel Post
Convoy Ride 2014 CBeebies Land MSI An interactive car ride based on the CBeebies programme Postman Pat.
Numtums Number Go-Around Carousel style attraction 2014 CBeebies Land A carousel style attraction featuring the Numtums.
Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters & Greendrops Walkthrough 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An indoor interactive attraction based on the CBeebies programme Charlie and Lola.
Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic Factory Playhouse 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An interactive indoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Justin's House.
Nina's Science Lab Activity Centre 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An indoor educational science attraction based on the CBeebies programme Nina and the Neurons.
Mr Bloom's Allotment Gardening Area 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An indoor show and attraction based on the CBeebies programme Mr Bloom's Nursery.
Something Special Sensory Garden Senses Trail 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An outdoor sensory garden based on the CBeebies programme Something Special.
Tree Fu Tom Training Camp Play Area 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An outdoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Tree Fu Tom.
Wobble World Play area 1993 Cloud Cuckoo Land Tussauds An indoor bouncy castle play area, refurbished 2009.

Other attractions[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Notes
Ice Age: The 4D Experience Alton towers building.jpg 4D Cinema 2012 Cloud Cuckoo Land SimEx/IWerks 4D Cinema licensed by 20th Century Fox, located in Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre.
Haunted Hollow Alton towers hearse at haunted hollow.jpg Walkthrough 2007 Gloomy Wood Tussauds Studios Themed walk way from Gloomy Wood to Mutiny Bay
Monorail Alton Towers Monorail.jpg Monorail 1987 Theme Park Entrance Plaza,
Resort Hotels
Von Roll Habegger Monorail system to transport guests from the resort hotels & car parks to the theme park entrance. Trains refurbished in 2008 by AV and multimedia company, Sarner, with different themes added for each of the 8 trains, including the jellybean and daisy designs.
Sharkbait Reef Sea Life Centre 2009 Mutiny Bay Merlin Entertainments Studios Large aquarium themed to a shipwreck that follows a similar layout to the Chessington Sea Life Centre which opened a year before at Chessington World of Adventures's Zoo
Sky Ride Skyride Alton Towers.JPG Cable car 1987 Towers Street,
Forbidden Valley,
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Poma Cable car used to transport guests around the theme park giving views of the gardens. Was damaged by fire in 2007; refurbished in 2009; damaged again by fire 21 July 2009; Rebuilt for the 2010 season.
The Gardens Alton Towers - - 1252658.jpg Garden 1860 The Towers Large Garden located within the valley with structures located around.

Past rides[edit]

Past roller coasters
Attraction Opened Closed
Corkscrew 1980 2008
Black Hole 1983 2005
Thunder Looper 1990 1996
The Beast 1988 1997
The Beastie 1983 2010, Standing but not Operating (SBNO) until 2011
Alton Mouse 1988 1991
4 Man Bob Coaster 1985 1991
Mini Apple Coaster 1982 1997
Other past rides
Attraction Opened Closed
Around The World in 80 Days 1981 1993
Doom & Sons 1981 1991
Toyland Tours 1994 2005
The Haunted House 1992 2002
Now Duel
Submission 2001 2013
Dynamo 1993 2003
Aquarium 1974 1994
Formerly Energizer
1995 2003, SBNO until 2004
Other notable rides
  • Adventure Playground 1974–1993
  • Adventure Railway (15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature railway)[15] 1982–1992
  • Alpine Bob Sled 1980–1986
  • Astroglide 1979–1992
  • Barney's Playground 2000–2002
  • The Blue Carousel 1981–1991
  • Bouncing Bugs 1982–2008
  • Boneshaker 1995-2003
  • Cable Cars (open air) 1964-1986
  • Cine 360 1981–1987
  • Cine 2000 1980–1992
  • Cred Street Carousel 2000–2005
  • Cred Street Playground 2006–2008
  • Dinosaurs 1980–1983
  • Doll's House 1981–1995
  • Fantastic Fountains 1981–1992
  • Ferris wheel 1985–1986
  • Gravitron 1990–1992
  • Magic Carpet 1984–1985
  • Magic Show 1980–1986
  • Miniature Golf 1980–1994
  • Mississippi Showboat 1985–1996
  • Model Railway 1957–1992
  • Motor Museum 1987–1992
  • Nickelodeon: Outta Control 1997–1998
  • Octopus 1984–1991
  • Old MacDonald's Singing Barn 1995-2013
  • Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride 1995-2013
  • Park Railway (2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge)[16] 1953–1996
  • Paddling Pool 1963–1992
  • Peter Rabbit and Friends on Ice 1994–2005
  • Planetarium 1972–1987
  • Rowing Boats 1923–1996
  • Sea Lions 1957–1990
  • Space Boat 1983
  • Spider 1986–1991
  • Splash Cats 1966–1996
  • Splash Karts 2004–2007
  • Sun Liner Trains 1984–1986
  • Swan Boats 1987–2003
  • Tea Cup Ride 1986-2007
  • Thunderbirds 1982–1990
  • Towers Express 1974–1983
  • Tri-Star 1989–1992
  • Turbo Star 1984–1989
  • Tweenies Playground 2003–2005
  • Vintage Cars 1983–2005
  • 3D Cinema 1981–2004
  • 1001 Nights 1985–1994

Alton Towers Theme Park[edit]

The Alton Towers Theme Park is divided into ten themed areas: Towers Street, Mutiny Bay, Katanga Canyon, Gloomy Wood, Forbidden Valley, Dark Forest, Cloud Cuckoo Land, X-Sector, Adventure Land and CBeebies Land. The theme park is also home to the historic Towers and Gardens. The SkyRide cable car system travels between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and Cloud Cuckoo Land and takes in views of the gardens.

The park's maximum daily capacity is set at 35,000 guests.[17][18][19][20] In 2014 the park attracted 2,900,000 people, following the opening of the new CBeebies Land, as well as The Smiler rollercoaster the year before.

Timeline of park areas

1980 1981 1984 1986 1990 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2008 2009 2010 2014
Ingestre Centre Aqualand Katanga Canyon
Merrie England Mutiny Bay
Springfield Centre Fantasy World X-Sector
Talbot Centre Festival Park UG Land Dark Forest
Talbot Street Land of Make Believe Cred Street Cloud Cuckoo Land
Towers Street
Kiddies Kingdom Adventure Land
Storybook Land CBeebies Land
Britannia Farm Safeway Farm Old MacDonalds Farmyard
Thunder Valley Forbidden Valley
Gloomy Wood

Towers Street[edit]

Opened in 1986, Towers Street is the first area that visitors to the park encounter. Themed loosely as a town street, it leads to views of the gardens and the Towers across the lake in the distance. Along the pathway are the park's jumping frog fountains and a lawn where seasonal events take place. The first SkyRide station is located nearby, which is a 1048 m long cable car transport that opened 1987, and was refurbished 2009. The monorail moves guests from the three on-site hotels and the water park to the theme park; it opened 1987 and was refurbished in 2008. In this area during the hour before the park's daily closure, departing guests are entertained by three people wearing police costumes, two of them riding Segway-like vehicles which play music and the third standing with an old-fashioned megaphone that is unused, and a man riding a miniature ship while dressed as a sea captain.

Katanga Canyon[edit]

Themed as an African village; created in 1992 and incorporated existing rapids ride. Rides include the roller coaster Runaway Mine Train and Congo River Rapids. Both are well-established rides in the park whose ride tracks share a tunnel. Congo River Rapids is a river rapids ride that opened 1986, as The Grand Canyon Rapids, and was refurbished in 1992. A 735 m long wild river rapids ride down the Congo River that lasts six minutes. Despite the gentle nature of this ride in comparison to a log flume, riders still may receive a soaking since other guests are offered the use of pressurised water jets aimed at the ride at the price of £1.00 for three shots. Runaway Mine Train is a steel sit down powered coaster that reaches a speed of 22 mph (36 km) on a 1000 ft long track (305 m) and height of 36 ft (11 m); height limit 90 cm. Opened in 1992 by Mack Rides, it was designed by John Wardley.

Gloomy Wood[edit]

Gloomy Wood is a small, haunted house themed area containing the ride Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back!. The ride was originally a standard ghost train ride named The Haunted House from 1992–2002. However, the ride was upgraded in 2003 with laser-based plastic guns fitted to shoot LED lights scattered around the ride in order to deactivate scares. Each player's shooting score is recorded a digital display in the ride car to encourage competitive play.

In 2007, a path cutting through the woods was added to Gloomy Wood, named Haunted Hollow. The pathway follows part of the route formerly used by the old scenic railway, linking from Mutiny Bay to Gloomy Wood. Haunted Hollow includes tombstones, statues and other features, some of which interact with guests using sound effects.[21]

In July 2015, Nitrogenie opened and replaced the old Waffles and Ices. It is a new way of making ice cream using liquid nitrogen. It is located outside the entrance to Duel.

Forbidden Valley[edit]

Theming and signs in Forbidden Valley

Forbidden Valley is set in a frightening post-apocalyptic landscape, with large rocks and rusty pieces of metal and machinery scattering the area with waterfalls coloured red to look like blood. A SkyRide station also serves this area of the park, and there is The Edge: Video Arcade.

One of the major rides is Nemesis; designed by John Wardley and opened in 1994. Nemesis is a steel inverted coaster that reaches a speed of 50 mph (81 km) with four inversions (corkscrew, zero g-roll, loop, barrel roll). Nemesis is regarded as one of the most well-designed rollercoasters in the world in rollercoaster polls. It features an ancient, malevolent, alien creature which is now incorporated into the new ride: Nemesis: Sub-Terra – an indoor drop tower that opened 2012.

Also in the area, and continuing the apocalyptic theme, are the Ripsaw and The Blade thrill rides. Ripsaw is a Huss Top Spin ride with a water element which opened in 1997, resembling a piece of shrapnel supposedly thrown from the alien creature's pit. The Blade is an older Huss Pirate Boat featuring a pendulum blade. It opened in 1980, and was relocated to the area in 1997 from Fantasy World. At the end of the valley is an "oasis", with calmer colours and plants, where the steel flying coaster Air, the world's first B&M flying coaster, can be found. Also designed by John Wardley, it has two inversions (fly to lie and in line twist). Opened in 2002, it was originally sponsored by Cadbury's Heroes, until 2007 when the 5 year sponsorship deal ended. Air is the only ride in the Forbidden Valley which does not follow the post-apocalyptic theme.

Adventure Land[edit]

Adventure Land is a small area consisting of a single, family thrill roller coaster. Sonic Spinball, the only ride in the area, is based on the hit Sega video game franchise Sonic the Hedgehog. The ride was previously known as Spinball Whizzer until the name change in 2010 when a contract was purchased with SEGA. The ride is a Maurer Söhne spinning roller coaster, in which riders sit in carts that can spin on their base whilst travelling at speed around the twisted track.

The area previously contained the Space Adventures play area and Beastie roller coaster, the latter of which was closed in 2010. The Space Adventures play area was demolished at the end of 2014, and the site is now occupied by the Octonauts Roller Coaster Adventure, which is part of the CBeebies Land area.


View of Oblivion

X-Sector is themed as a sinister government experiment facility, which is controlled by the "Ministry Of Joy". The area has an Orwellian undertone and features elements of psychosis.

The area contains three thrill rides, two of which hold world records. The steel sit down dive coaster Oblivion, opened in 1998 as the world's first roller coaster with a vertical (88.8°) drop. The extra-wide cars are held suspended over the vertical edge for three seconds before plunging into darkness, playing on the fear of being forgotten. It was designed by John Wardley, as was the second roller coaster in the area, The Smiler. The Smiler is a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster which opened in May 2013 and holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster (14 inversions). The Smiler is currently 'Closed for the foreseeable future' due to a major accident on 2 June 2015.[14] Enterprise is a standard Huss Enterprise model which opened in 1984, spinning riders 360 degrees and giving the illusion of defying gravity.

The X-Sector also used to house The Black hole which was a Jet-star 2 coaster enclosed in a tent which was replaced by the Smiler, Submission, a Chance double-inverter which stood next to Oblivion was dismantled in early 2014 and Energizer (also known as Boneshaker) which was a swinging gondola flat ride.

Mutiny Bay[edit]

Mutiny Bay's pirates

Mutiny Bay is a pirate-themed land, which re-themed Merrie England in 2008, is aimed at families.[22] Live shows and entertainment include the live shows The Pirates of Mutiny Bay: The Kidnap of Lady Victoria Sponge, introduced in 2013. There are pirate walkabout characters in the area, Finn's Pirate Training Camp, and Meet and Greets with Finn the Shark.

Attractions in Mutiny Bay include: Battle Galleons, a large interactive "Splash Battle" water ride where guests sit in pirate boats that travel through a water channel, while soaking other riders with water cannons, which replaced the Splash Karts. Also in the area is the rocking boat ride, Heave Ho. The teacups ride was re-themed to become Marauders Mayhem, where rotating gunbarrels replaced the tea cups. Slightly outside the area is The Flume Unplugged ride, an updated log flume with boats themed as bath tubs and many rubber ducks quacking around the station area. The Flume opened in 2004 after being re-themed from a traditional log flume ride and at one point was the longest flume ride in the world at 886 m.[22]

In 2009, a new Sea Life Centre, Sharkbait Reef, opened in the location previously home to the 3-D Cinema. This includes designated "touch pools" for interacting with underwater species and a 10-metre ocean tunnel. The attraction is one of the most heavily themed Sea Life Centres to open worldwide. In April 2010, a live webcam was installed to allow internet users to watch one of the tanks, which can be accessed via the official website.

Cloud Cuckoo Land[edit]

Driving School attraction in Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land is aimed at the younger audience of Alton Towers, and is themed with bright colours incorporating oversized flowers and toadstools, as if in a fantasy garden. There are shows at the theatre, and as of 2012 the Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre is the home of Ice Age: The 4-D Experience. A SkyRide station is located nearby, which was refurbished for the 2010 season.

Among the attractions are an indoor bouncy castle play area called Wobble World, and a Wave Swinger ride called the Twirling Toadstool originally located in UG Land. There are other rides in the area especially suited for younger children such as Frog Hopper and Galloper's Carousel. The Alton Towers Driving School gives children the opportunity to ride their own miniature electric cars around a British style road network.[23] There is also Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride, based on the Roald Dahl novel. The dark boat ride opened in 2006, and is an 11-minute fantasy journey that replaced Toyland Tours, which in turn replaced the original boat ride Around the World in Eighty Days.

Dark Forest[edit]

The Dark Forest opened in March 2010; replacing UG Land which opened in 1999. Dark Forest is themed as a supernatural area of woodland that has been disturbed by recent excavation of an ancient burial ground. Among the three main attractions are Crypt Games. The new ride for 2010 was unveiled as TH13TEEN, a steel sit down partly indoor coaster themed as a haunted crypt. It features the world's first freefall drop on a roller coaster, and a drop into total darkness. The ride replaced the Corkscrew; the park's original roller coaster. Along with Thirteen's opening, the surrounding land was rethemed into the Dark Forest with refurbished outlets and game stalls to fit the theme. Rita, an existing roller coaster, was also altered, with new station and train designs to look 'engulfed' by the supernatural forest.[24] Rita is a hydraulically launched steel sit-down coaster that reaches a top speed of 62 mph (100 km).

CBeebies Land[edit]

CBeebies Land is based on the BBC children's TV channel: CBeebies. The area is the newest addition to the Theme Park and opened on 24 May 2014. The area includes rides, shows and interactive experiences based on programmes from CBeebies, including In the Night Garden and Postman Pat.[25] Attractions in the area are: In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Postman Pat's Parcel Post, Get Set Go Treetop Adventure, Something Special Sensory Garden, Nina's Science Lab, Numtums Number Go-Around, Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters and Greendrops, Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic Factory, Mr Bloom's Allotment and Tree Fu Tom Training Camp. Shows at the Big Fun Show Time stage include: Mike the Knight, The ZingZillas and Nina and the Neurons. Octonauts Roller Coaster Adventure opened in 2015 and is now the park's children's roller coaster after the departure of The Beastie.

The Towers and Gardens[edit]

The Towers
Main historic house

The Towers are the ruins of Alton Towers stately home and are the source of the park's name. They belonged to the Talbot family as a stately home until 1924 and largely designed by Augustus Pugin, also noted for his work on the Palace of Westminster.[26] The Towers are now in a state of disrepair following decades of neglect. The ruins are open to the public during most of the open season. However, some areas are closed off as part of a £1.1 million project in place to restore the oldest parts of the Towers. Key areas of The Towers include the banqueting hall, the chapel, conservatories, and Her Ladyship's Gardens.

Hex – The Legend of the Towers, a walk-through dark ride based within the ruins themselves, opened in 2000. The finale to the ride is a Vekoma Madhouse located away from the real Towers but themed as a secret vault. The storyline is based on a local legend about the chained oak tree, located in a nearby forest, and makes use of the history of the Towers. It draws its theme from the legend of the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury who was said to be cursed by a beggar woman to suffer death every time a branch falls from an oak tree.

During the park's Halloween 'Scarefest' event a temporary scare maze, Terror of the Towers, operates within The Towers and has done yearly since 2002. It takes guests through a tour of the ruins and uses live actors, lighting, mist and sound effects to add atmosphere. The attraction won the 2009 London Screamie Awards for 'Best Seasonal Attraction/Maze'.[27]

The Gardens
Gardens created by the eccentric 15th Earl of Shrewsbury

As an example of the mixed style of Humphry Repton's gardens, Alton Towers' garden was begun, circa 1814 by the eccentric 15th Earl of Shrewsbury, of whom J. C. Loudon (who was consulted on design features of which there were many) relates that he consulted every artist, only to avoid 'whatever an artist might recommend'.[citation needed]

Alton Towers grew into a collection of gardens: a Swiss Cottage, a Stonehenge, a Dutch garden, a Pagoda Fountain, said to be based on the To Ho pagoda in Canton, Lysicrates' Choragic Monument from Athens (a feature in English gardens since the 1760s), domed glasshouses (originally gilded), even a fairly large Matterhorn as a backing to one of England's earliest Alpine gardens.[citation needed] Near the garden entrance is a cenotaph to the 15th Earl, a marble bust with an inscription reading "He made the desert smile". Landmarks include a Chinese Pagoda Fountain, The Swiss Cottage, Miniature 'Stonehenge', a Greek Choragic Monument, and orangeries. In 2015, Alton Towers is due to restore the Gothic Prospect Tower located near the Forbidden Valley SkyRide Station.[28]

Alton Towers Waterpark[edit]

Alton Towers Waterpark

The Alton Towers Waterpark, formerly known as Cariba Creek, opened alongside the Splash Landings Hotel in 2003.[29] It is a large, part indoor and part outdoor waterpark themed as a tropical Caribbean lagoon. The waterpark features several fast slides, a lazy river, a giant tipping bucket and many other water features. Also located here is The Original Sandwich Co. & Ice Cream Parlor, which was previously themed as a shipwreck until 2007 when it was extended.[30] Unlike Chessington Zoo at the also Merlin operated Chessington World of Adventures Resort, a separate ticket is needed for Waterpark access as it is not included with the theme park entrance price.

Attractions include Lagoona Bay, which is the main tropical pool, with water cannons, geysers and waterfalls. The Little Leak is a paddling pool for young children with two small slides and interactive pipes to play with, while Wacky Waterworks Treehouse is a wooden 'treehouse' with water cannons, and other interactive features to squirt passing people with.

The largest ride in the area is the water coaster The Master Blaster, with uphill sections similar to the Master Blaster at Sandcastle Water Park, Blackpool and Nucleus at Water World, Stoke-on-Trent. The Master Blaster is a high speed water flume that contains sharp turns, drops and dark sections, and has a view of the entire waterpark.

Other rides include Rush & Rampage, twin racing slides where riders experience wide turns. This attraction requires rubber rings. Lazy River (Calypso Creek) is a slow-moving water circuit, taking riders underneath spraying water jets and tipping buckets of water. Rubber rings are available. The Tipping Bucketis a very large container is filled with 1000 litres of water and then intermittingly tips its contents over people standing below. Flash Floods is tiered outdoor pools with two slides leading to the middle pool and three leading to the bottom. Other swimming pools include Volcanic Springs, and indoor heated hot pool, and Bubbly Wubbly Pool, an outdoor heated pool & whirlpool.

Resort Accommodation[edit]

The fountain at the entrance to Alton Towers Hotel

Alton Towers Hotel[edit]

The Alton Towers Hotel opened in 10 April 1996 and is themed to the eccentric fictional character Sir Algenon Alton and his travels. The rooms are decorated in a quirky English style with pictures of Sir Algenon's inventions. The hotel is four star and has 180 rooms. The hotel was the first phase in a plan to turn the theme park into a multi-day resort.

The Alton Towers Hotel is currently undergoing a phased refurbishment to theme each floor to a different setting. So far, the plan has produced the Moon Voyage Bedrooms.

Splash Landings Hotel[edit]

The Splash Landings Hotel is the newer of the two hotels, opening in 2003. The hotel has a relaxed Caribbean theme and is attached to the Alton Towers Waterpark. It is also four star and it has 216 rooms with a choice of six room types, Family of 4 'Beachcomber' room, Family of 6 'Beachcomber' room, The Ice Age Suites, The Pirate Suites, Interconnected Family of 4 'Beachcomber' room and, Interconnected Family of 3 'Beachcomber' Room. The interconnected rooms are all on the ground floor and the family of 3 rooms are also disabled accessible. The rooms are numbered in the ranges of 1101 to 1159, 1201 to 1259, 1301 to 1359 and, 1401 to 1459, there are a few room numbers that are not used due to the shape of the hotel, these are 27, 29, 31, 33 and 35 on each floor

Enchanted Village[edit]

The Enchanted Village is made up of 120 lodges and 5 secluded treehouses set in the fictional Enchanted Forest woodland. Situated next to the Alton Towers hotel, it features new recreational activities, such as various playgrounds for children and an archery range, which is available to use at no extra cost. The site is also home to "The Crooked Spoon" restaurant, and also an additional shop which sells alcohol and outdoor activity toys.

The Enchanted Village opened to the public on 18 April 2015.[31]


Alton Towers Spa[edit]

Alton Towers Spa is part of the Alton Towers Hotel and opened in 2004. It includes relaxation and treatment rooms and an adults only swimming pool.

Extraordinary Golf[edit]

Opened in 2007, the Extraordinary Golf mini-golf attraction is themed to different rides and attractions at the park, some of which, are from the park's history. Extraordinary Golf is located to the west of the Splash Landings Hotel.

Enchanted Forest Treetop Quest[edit]

Opened May 2015, the Enchanted Forest Treetop Quest is a high ropes course near the Enchanted Village. The attraction opened shortly after, and accompanies the Enchanted Village development.

Future developments[edit]

In July 2009, the Alton Towers Resort outlined a 10-year development plan for the park (2010–2019), the aim being to increase visitor numbers, in particular multi-day guests. The plan showed an option for a third hotel or new accommodation of some sort over the coming years.[citation needed] This was later revealed to be a log cabin development, The Enchanted Village. The plan also highlighted areas for development, as well as suggesting the possibility of a new park entrance nearer to the hotels, which could act as a second entrance or replacement to the existing one in Towers Street.

In April 2015, the Alton Towers Resort submitted an application for a new restaurant in the Forbidden Valley area of the park. The proposed catering location will be similar to the FoodLoop restaurant at Germany's Europa-Park[32] The new restaurant will be located in an extension to the Air Shop building.

In July 2015, Alton Towers submitted plans for further improvements to Air (roller coaster). This includes the construction of walls around the ride's station, pre-show areas, a new on-ride photo shop and 2 new themeing elements. These will debut in 2016 along with the FoodLoop restaurant, due to open in the Air Shop.

In August 2015, Alton Towers submitted a planning application for the constriction of a third hotel next to the Alton Towers Spa. Although the plans are an altered version of the originally submitted extension to the Alton Towers Hotel, the plans indicate that the development is an entirely separate hotel. The plans show four floors, including a new restaurant, bar, entertainment area, and sunken garden landscaping.[33]

Secret Weapon Line[edit]

Alton Towers has a line of 'Secret Weapon' rides, these rides are code named with "SW" (followed by a number) before their name is officially announced.

The convention was briefly dropped while the park (and its parent Tussaud's Group) was owned by Dubai International Capital, before being reinstated on its incorporation to the Merlin group. As the only major coaster built in this era, 2005's Rita is not included in the Secret Weapon series.

The Secret Weapon rides are:

Code Name Ride
SW1 & SW2 SW1 was a pipeline roller coaster roller coaster intended to be located on the Nemesis site and was originally going to be themed around a secret military facility.[34] John Wardley rode the prototype of SW1 but stated "it was very slow and rather boring".[35] And that it was very energy inefficient which meant that for a given lift height it couldn't go very far and due to height restrictions for roller coasters in the park the project was scrapped. The project was then revived as SW2, and to fix the problem of the lift height they decided to dig into the ground to create a canyon for the roller coaster to be built in. But Arrow Dynamics were having problems with the prototype, and Wardley decided that it was still too slow and boring, so it was scrapped and development on SW3 (Nemesis) was started.[34][35]
SW3 Nemesis
SW4 Oblivion
SW5 Air
SW7 The Smiler


Conservation Area restrictions[edit]

Alton Towers is set in a Conservation Area, which puts a restriction on the height of any ride or building development in the park. It has been agreed with the local council that no buildings should be built above the tree line and if so should be disguised to fit the landscape; this can be seen on the ride Rita, where part of the track is camouflaged to fit in with the trees.

Noise pollution is also a problem for the park due to the close proximity to the villages of Alton and Farley and the town of Cheadle. There have been several cases where Alton Towers have been taken to court over the noise levels emitted from the park and have been served noise abatement orders in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Court cases[edit]

On 3 May 2012 a couple from the local village of Farley won the rights to a full High Court trial on the amount of noise generated by the park. The couple have been in a legal battle with the park for nearly a decade, and during this period succeeded in a noise abatement order on the theme park which led to the audio from the top of the Oblivion drop being removed, and Alton Towers having to limit the amount of annual fireworks displays to only three a year.

Stephan and Suzanne Roper, who live only 100 yards from the park, say that their lives have been made a misery by the noise of the screams as well as fireworks displays and music. They launched their legal fight in 2002, but after years of wrangling, their claim for an injunction and damages was thrown out in January 2011. Judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom later overturned that decision, bringing the claim back. This now paves the way for a full court hearing. The Ropers will seek an injunction forcing the park owners to close or relocate some rides and an order forcing them to pay damages for noise suffered from 1998 to the present.[36]


Main gallery: Alton Towers Resort at WikiCommons

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gardens and Grounds". Alton Towers Memories. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Gary, Kelsall. "The Birth of the Modern Park". Alton Towers. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Dubai firm buys Tussauds". BBC News Online. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  4. ^ "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News Online. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  5. ^ Ghazarian, Arsineh (18 July 2007). "Prestbury seals deal for attractions". The Times. p. 42. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Ghazarian, Arsineh (18 July 2007). "Prestbury seals deal for attractions". The Times. p. 42. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Scarefest 2015 announcement". TowersStreet. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Scare Attractions UK – promoting and supporting the UK scare entertainment industry since 2006". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Scare Attractions UK – promoting and supporting the UK scare entertainment industry since 2006". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Scare Attractions UK – promoting and supporting the UK scare entertainment industry since 2006". Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Scare Attractions UK – promoting and supporting the UK scare entertainment industry since 2006". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Sanctuary new for 2012". TowersTimes. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Fireworks go-ahead for theme park". BBC News Online. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  14. ^ a b "Smiler smashes Guinness World Record". Uttoxeter Advertiser. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Old Rides - Adventure Railway
  16. ^ Alton Towers Memories - Park Railway
  17. ^ Machnik, Stef (28 June 2010). "ALTON Towers says it has not ruled out holding more music concerts after successfully playing host to pop superstar Pink.". This is Staffordshire. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Alton Towers turns to Islam and gay markets - Birmingham Post
  19. ^ metrowebukmetro (13 April 2010). "Rides evacuated after Alton Towers power cut | Metro News". Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  20. ^ "JLS, McFly and The Saturdays to perform at Alton Towers". This is Staffordshire. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Alton Towers: New for 2007
  22. ^ a b "International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions". IAAPA. January 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Coming soon … the first ‘drive of your life’". 10 July 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  24. ^ "SW6 Revealed: TH13TEEN". Towers Nerd. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  25. ^ "Alton Towers targets the lucrative toddler market with first ever CBeebies Land". Daily Mail. January 2014. Retrieved 15 2014 March 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  26. ^ "Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin". Explore Parliament. 
  27. ^[dead link]
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Making a splash with a ‘waterpark hotel’". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2 June 2003. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "Alton Towers Waterpark – Cariba Creek opening times & pricing". Alton Towers. Archived from the original on 25 June 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Alton Towers to convert Air retail unit into new restaurant". Airgates - Theme Park Place. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  33. ^ Kemble, Harry (11 August 2015). "Alton Towers plan hotel extension to get visitors numbers up". Daily Star. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  34. ^ a b "The Secret Weapons - Developing the Magic". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  35. ^ a b Wardley, John. "The creation of Nemesis". Alton Towers Almanac. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  36. ^ "Theme park noise battle is reignited". This is Staffordshire. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 

External links[edit]