Alton Towers

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Alton Towers Resort
Alton Towers Resort Logo.png
Alton Towers Resort logo
SloganEscape to Alton Towers Resort!
LocationAlton, Staffordshire, England
Coordinates52°59′15″N 1°53′27″W / 52.98750°N 1.89083°W / 52.98750; -1.89083Coordinates: 52°59′15″N 1°53′27″W / 52.98750°N 1.89083°W / 52.98750; -1.89083
OwnerSecure Income REIT PLC[1]
Operated byAlton Towers Operations Ltd.
Opened13 April 1860 (1860-04-13) (as country estate)
4 April 1980 (1980-04-04) (as theme park)
Previous namesAlton Towers
Alton Abbey
Operating seasonTheme Park
March - November
Sharkbait Reef by Sea Life
Year-round
Alton Towers Dungeon
March - November
Alton Towers Hotel
Year-round
Splash Landings Hotel
Year-round
Enchanted Village
April - November
CBeebies Land Hotel
Year-round
Stargazing Pods
April - November
Alton Towers Waterpark
Year-round
Alton Towers Hotel Spa
Year-round
Conference Centre
Year-round
Extraordinary Golf
Year-round
Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest
July - September
Visitors per annumIncrease 2.1 million (2018)
Area910 acres (370 ha) (total combined resort area)[2]
Attractions
Total37
Roller coasters10
Water rides3
Websitewww.altontowers.com
Alton Towers is located in Staffordshire
Alton Towers
Alton Towers
The park’s location in Staffordshire

Alton Towers Resort (/ˈɒltən/) (often referred to as Alton Towers) is an amusement park in Staffordshire, England, near the village of Alton,[3] which is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group and incorporates a theme park, water park, spa, mini golf and hotel complex.

Originally a private estate, Alton Towers grounds opened to the public in 1860 to raise funds.[4] In the late 20th century, it was transformed into a theme park and opened a number of new rides from 1980 onwards. In 2017, it was the second most visited theme park in the UK after Legoland Windsor.[5]

The park has many attractions such as Congo River Rapids, Runaway Mine Train, Nemesis, Oblivion, Galactica, The Smiler, and Wicker Man. It operates a total of ten roller coasters and offers a range of accommodation and lodging options alongside the theme park. Facilities include Alton Towers Waterpark, conference facilities, a crazy golf course, and a high ropes course.

The theme park is usually open from mid-March to early November, whilst many of its hotels and amenities are open year-round. The theme park is occasionally closed midweek in the quieter months. Special events are hosted throughout the year, including Alton Towers Scarefest (the park's Halloween event), and a season-ending fireworks display held on the last three days of the season.

History[edit]

Alton Towers first opened to the public on a regular basis following the opening of Alton Towers railway station. Money raised from railway excursions was paid to the Earl and helped to maintain the upkeep of the grounds.[6]

In 1924, a group of local estate agents formed Alton Towers Ltd to take ownership of the estate and began to restore the gardens as a tourist attraction.[7] In the 1950s, this included the operation of a fairground, and by the 1970s included a boating lake and chairlift.[8]

After 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 opened a succession of rides and roller coasters around the park, including Corkscrew, Pirate Ship (now The Blade), Alpine Bobsleigh, The Flume, and The Black Hole.

Broome sold Alton Towers to The Tussauds Group, then a division of Pearson plc, in 1990, after encountering financial troubles in attempting to develop the former Battersea Power Station into a similar theme park. The change of ownership brought an era of major redevelopment and promotion, involving the opening of large themed areas and new attractions, such as Runaway Mine Train (1992), The Haunted House (1992), Toyland Tours (1994), and Nemesis (1994). Later, Oblivion (1998) and Air (2002, now Galactica) saw the park sustain its reputation for major roller coasters, both marketed as 'World First' rides. Tussauds' park development team from 1990 to 2002 included well-known attraction producer John Wardley, among experienced others.

The Tussauds Group was sold to venture capitalist firm Charterhouse in 1998, then to Dubai International Capital (DIC) for £800 million in 2005.[9] The Tussauds Group was then bought by Merlin Entertainments in March 2007 for over £1billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control.[10]

In May 2007, The Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group for US$1.9 billion and merged it into Merlin Entertainments with management by Merlin.[11][12] Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.[13]

On 17 July 2007, Alton Towers was sold to private investor Nick Leslau's investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement.[14] Merlin continues to operate the site under a renewable 35-year lease.[11] As of 2016, the property is now transferred to Secure Income REIT Plc, of which Nick Leslau is a non-executive director.[1]

Rides and attractions[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

Name Picture Opened Type Status Height
Min.
Manufacturer Park
section
Notes Previous Attraction
Galactica Air 06.jpg 2002 as Air
(2016 as Galactica)
Steel/Flying Operational 1.4 m Bolliger & Mabillard Forbidden Valley The world's first Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster, formerly known as Air. From 2016-18 it featured virtual reality. Air
Nemesis Nemesis (Alton Towers) 01.jpg 1994 Steel/Inverted Operational 1.4 m Bolliger & Mabillard Forbidden Valley Europe's first inverted roller coaster. N/A
Oblivion Oblivion.JPG 1998 Steel/Dive Machine Operational 1.4 m Bolliger & Mabillard X-Sector The world's first dive coaster. Alpine Bobsleigh
Rita Rita (Alton Towers).JPG 2005 Steel/Accelerator Operational 1.4 m Intamin Dark Forest A launched roller coaster. N/A
Runaway Mine Train Runaway Mine Train (Alton Towers) 01.jpg 1992 Steel/Mine Train Operational 0.9 m Mack Rides Katanga Canyon A powered mine train roller coaster. The oldest roller coaster in the park following the removal of the Beastie in 2013. N/A
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure.jpg 2015 Steel Operational 0.9 m Zamperla CBeebies Land A coaster designed for young children and families. Themed to an underwater adventure. Beastie
Spinball Whizzer Sonic Spinball.JPG 2004 Steel/Spinning Operational 1.2 m Maurer Söhne Adventure Land A spinning coaster themed to a game of pinball. Between 2010-15 it was themed around Sonic the Hedgehog and was named Sonic Spinball. N/A
TH13TEEN Thirteen train 1.jpg 2010 Steel/Family Drop Operational 1.2 m Intamin Dark Forest Featuring the world's first "vertical free-fall drop" element on a roller coaster. Corkscrew
The Smiler The Smiler on opening day.jpg 2013 Steel/Infinity Operational 1.4 m Gerstlauer X-Sector Holds world record for most inversions on a roller coaster (14). Black Hole
Wicker Man AltonTowersWickerManRollercoaster.jpg 2018 Wooden Operational 1.2 m Great Coasters International Mutiny Bay The first wooden roller coaster to open in the UK since Megafobia. The ride interacts with a flaming wicker man feature. The Flume

Ride statistics[edit]

Name Height Length Top speed Max vert.
angle
Inver-
sions
Riders
per train
Designer
Galactica 65.6 ft (20.0 m) 2,755.9 ft (840.0 m) 46.6 mph (75.0 km/h) 40° 2 28 (7 rows of 4) John Wardley
Nemesis* 42.6 ft (13.0 m) 2,349 ft (716 m) 50 mph (80 km/h) 40° 4 32 (8 rows of 4) John Wardley
Oblivion* 65 ft (20 m) 1,222 ft (372 m) 68 mph (109 km/h) 87°* 0 16 (2 rows of 8) John Wardley
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure 21.3 ft (6.5 m) 469.2 ft (143.0 m) 28 mph (45 km/h) 0 14 (7 rows of 2)
Rita 68.8 ft (21.0 m) 2,099.7 ft (640.0 m) 61.1 mph (98.3 km/h) 53° 0 20 (10 rows of 2) Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH
Runaway Mine Train 36 ft (11 m) 1,000 ft (300 m) 22.4 mph (36.0 km/h) 29° 0 46 (23 rows of 2) John Wardley
Spinball Whizzer 55.8 ft (17.0 m) 1,476.4 ft (450.0 m) 39 mph (63 km/h) 80° 0 4 (2 rows of 2, back to back) Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH
The Smiler 72 ft (22 m) 3,838.6 ft (1,170.0 m) 52.8 mph (85.0 km/h) 50° 14 16 (4 rows of 4) Merlin Magic Making
TH13TEEN* 65.6 ft (20.0 m) 2,480.3 ft (756.0 m) 41.6 mph (66.9 km/h) 70° 0 20 (10 rows of 2) Merlin Magic Making
Wicker Man 72.2 ft (22.0 m) 2,608.3 ft (795.0 m) 43.6 mph (70.2 km/h) 40° 0 24 (12 rows of 2) Merlin Magic Making
Key: * = recorded for an average of the whole of 2018

Flat rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Status Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information Replaced
Enterprise Enterprise (Alton Towers).jpg Huss Enterprise Operational 1984 X-Sector HUSS A standard enterprise style of ride that originally operated in Festival Park before moving in 1998, along with Energiser, for the opening of X-Sector where it has operated since. Cine 2000
The Blade Alton towers The Blade.jpg Swinging ship Closed 1997
(1980)
Forbidden Valley HUSS A zero gravity swinging ship, themed to resemble a piece of discarded shrapnel thrown from Nemesis's pit. It was themed as a pirate ship, situated in the Springfield Centre and Fantasy World between 1980 and 1996, before moving to Forbidden Valley for 1997 to make way for the development of Oblivion. Thunder Looper

Water/Dark rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Status Opened Area Manufacturer Notes Replaced
Alton Towers Dungeon Boat ride and walk-through attraction Operational 2019 The Towers Merlin Entertainments / Mack Rides A walkthrough attraction inspired by Merlin's Dungeons franchise that contains 5 scenes and a boat ride section. It incurs an additional charge of £7.50. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride
Battle Galleons Mutiny-bay.jpg Splash Battle Operational 2008 Mutiny Bay Mack Rides A Splash Battle ride, allowing riders to shoot at other ride boats and guests on land with mounted water guns. Splash Kart Challenge
Congo River Rapids CongoRiverRapids 2015.JPG Rapids ride Operational 1986 Katanga Canyon Intamin A rapids ride around the perimeter of Katanga Canyon, interacting with the Runaway Mine Train throughout its layout. Refurbished 1992. N/A
Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back Duel Facade.JPG Dark ride Operational 1992
(2003)
Gloomy Wood Mack Rides A dark ride through a haunted house. Riders are equipped with laser guns to shoot the scenery and gain points. The Haunted House
Hex - The Legend
of the Towers
Alton Towers - Hex.jpg Walk-through/
Madhouse dark ride combination
Operational 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. N/A

Children's rides[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Additional information Replaced
Cuckoo Cars Driving School Alton towers driving school.jpg Driving Attraction 2006 Cloud Cuckoo Land SB International AB A children's car driving attraction. Vintage Cars
Frog Hopper Mini drop tower 1999 Cloud Cuckoo Land Zamperla A mini drop tower for children. N/A
Galloper's Carousel Alton towers carousel.jpg Carousel 1991 Cloud Cuckoo Land Bertazzon A children's merry-go-round ride. N/A
Heave Ho Alton Towers 04.jpg Rockin' Tug 2008 Mutiny Bay Zamperla A rocking and swinging boat ride. N/A
Marauder's
Mayhem
Maurauders Mayhem @ Mutiny Bay.jpg Teacups Ride 1987
(2008 as Marauder's Mayhem)
Mutiny Bay Mack Rides A teacups ride re-themed to resemble barrels of gunpowder. Tea Cup Ride
Sharkbait Reef Sea Life Centre 2009 Mutiny Bay Merlin Entertainments Studios A Sea Life aquarium themed as a shipwreck. 3D Cinema
In the Night Garden
Magical Boat Ride
Boat ride 1989
(2014 under its current name)
CBeebies Land Mack Rides An In the Night Garden... themed boat ride Riverbank Eye Spy/The Canal Boat Ride
Get Set Go
TreeTop Adventure
Powered monorail ride 1996
(2014 under its current name)
CBeebies Land Premier Rides Riders travel through the tree tops in their own vehicle above CBeebies Land. Squirrel Nutty Ride
Postman Pat's
Parcel Post
Convoy Ride 2014 CBeebies Land Metallbau Emmeln An interactive car ride based on the CBeebies programme Postman Pat. Old Macdonalds Tractor Ride
Numtums Number Go-Around Carousel-style attraction 2014 CBeebies Land A carousel-style attraction featuring the Numtums. Doodle Doo Derby
Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters & Greendrops Walkthrough 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An indoor interactive attraction based on the CBeebies programme Charlie and Lola. Donkeys
Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic Factory Playhouse 2003 (2014 under its current name) CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An interactive indoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Justin's House. Berry Bish Bash play area
Mr Bloom's Allotment Show 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An indoor show and attraction based on the CBeebies programme Mr Bloom's Nursery. Animal paddock
Something Special Sensory Garden Sensory Trail 2014 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios An outdoor sensory garden based on the CBeebies programme Something Special. Bookworm attraction
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. Dung Heap play area
Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride Aerial Roundabout 2017 CBeebies Land Garmendale Engineering An aerial roundabout ride themed to CBeebies programme Go Jetters. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017.[16] N/A
The Furchester Hotel Live Show 2017 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios A live show based on the CBeebies programme The Furchester Hotel. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017. N/A
Peter Rabbit Hippity Hop Two Junior Drop Towers 2019 CBeebies Land S&S Power Two mini drop towers based on the CBeebies programme Peter Rabbit. Opened 23 March 2019. N/A
Teletubbies Big Band Live Show Show 2019 CBeebies Land Merlin Ent. Studios A show based on the CBeebies programme Teletubbies. Launched in April 2019. N/A

Theme park transport and grounds[edit]

Name Picture Type Opened Area Manufacturer Notes
Haunted Hollow Alton towers hearse at haunted hollow.jpg Walkthrough 2007 Gloomy Wood Tussauds Studios Themed spooky path between Gloomy Wood and Mutiny Bay, with interactive features.

The woodland path was laid in place of the former Park Railway route, which ran 1953-1996. It can be a short cut to the Gloomy Woods or the Forbidden Valley.[17]

Monorail Alton Towers Monorail.jpg Monorail 1987 Links entrance plaza to car park and 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. Trains were originally used at Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sky Ride Skyride Alton Towers.JPG Gondola lift 1987 Stations at Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and the Towers Poma Cable car to transport guests around the theme park giving views of the gardens. Damaged by fire in October 2007; refurbished in 2009; damaged again by fire 21 July 2009; rebuilt for the 2010 season. Has three stations, one in Forbidden Valley which can send you to the one in the Dark Forest or the one in Towers Street.
The Gardens Alton Towers gardens - geograph.org.uk - 1464404.jpg English landscape garden 1860 Gardens Landscaped gardens located within the valley with lakes, water features and architectural landmarks. Features include:
  • Chinese Pagoda Fountain
  • Choragic Monument- dedicated to the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury
  • The Conservatories
  • Gothic Prospect Tower
  • Swiss Cottage
The Towers ruins Alton towers.jpg Ruins 1970 The Towers The ruins were made safe and opened to the public in the 1970s. Utilised during Scarefest for scare mazes.

Past rides and attractions[edit]

Past roller coasters[edit]

Attraction Opened Closed Relocation
Corkscrew 1980 2008 Display feature at theme park entrance (decommissioned)
Black Hole 1983 2005 Furuvik Zoo, Sweden since 2011[18]
Thunder Looper 1990 1996 Hopi Hari, Brazil since 1999[19]
The Beast 1988 1997 Salitre Magico, Colombia since 2010[20]
The Beastie 1983 2010 Closed during 2011 and 2012 then removed. Used as travelling coaster under the Dragon Challenge name and now located at Barry Island Pleasure Park.
Alton Mouse 1988 1991 Idlewild and Soak Zone, Pennsylvania, United States since 1993[21]
4 Man Bob Coaster 1985 1991 Last operated at Loudon Castle, Scotland, UK in 2011[22]
Mini Apple Coaster 1982 1997 Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, England, UK since 1998[23]

Main Past Attractions[edit]

Attraction Opened Closed
Around The World in 80 Days 1981 1993
Doom & Sons 1981 1991
The Flume 1981 2015
Twirling Toadstool 1984 2016
Toyland Tours 1994 2005
The Haunted House 1992 2002
Now Duel
Submission 2001 2013
Dynamo 1993 2003
Aquarium
(Unrelated to Sharkbait Reef aquarium)
1974 1994
Boneshaker
Formerly Energizer
1995 2003, closed until 2004
Ripsaw 1997 2015
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride 2006 2015
Nemesis Sub-Terra 2012 2015
Ice Age: The 4D Experience 2012 2016

Other notable past rides[edit]

  • Adventure Playground 1974–1993
  • Adventure Railway (15 in or 381 mm gauge miniature railway)[24] 1982–1992
  • Alpine Bob Sled 1980–1986
  • Astroglide 1979–1992
  • Barney's Playground 2000–2002
  • The Blue Carousel 1981–1991
  • Bouncing Bugs 1982–2008
  • 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
  • Nina's Science Lab 2014-2018
  • Octopus 1984–1991
  • Old MacDonald's Singing Barn 1995-2013
  • Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride 1995-2013
  • Park Railway (2 ft or 610 mm narrow gauge)[25] 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
  • Wobble World 2009-2015
  • 3D Cinema 1981–2004
  • 1001 Nights 1985–1994

Food facilities[edit]

  • Theme Park
    • Towers Street: Costa Coffee, Towers Street Hot Dogs, Towers Street Doughnuts
    • CBeebies Land: Little Explores Lunch Box, Big Fun Showtime Snack box
    • X-Sector: Just Chicken, Donut Factory, Rehydrator
    • The World of David Walliams:
    • The Towers: Burger Kitchen, Archway, Front Lawns
    • Dark Forest: Woodcutters Bar and Grill, Eastern Express, Tormented Treats
    • Forbidden Valley: Rollercoaster Restaurant, Costa Coffee, Nemices Donuts, Forbidden Valley Refresh
    • Gloomy Wood: Nitrogenie, Gloomy Wood Kiosk
    • Katanga Kanyon: Explorers Pizza and Pasta Buffet, Katanga Kiosk
    • Mutiny Bay: Burger Kitchen, Costa Coffee, Welcome Inn, Eastern Express, Courtyard Hot Dogs/Wraps/Waffles, Mutiny Bay Doughnuts, Pirates Kiosk
  • Accommodation
    • Alton Towers Hotel: Secret Garden Restaurant, Costa Coffee, Dragons Bar, Captains Bar
    • Alton Towers Conference Centre: Algenon's Bar, Sir Algenon's Grill (Only open in peak times)
    • Splash Landings Hotel: Flambos Jambo, Ma Garrita's Bar, Costa Coffee, Burger Cove, Ice Cream Shack, The Cave
    • Enchanted Village: Crooked Spoon
    • CBeebies Land Hotel: The Windmill Restaurant
    • Stargazing Pods: The Constellation Counter: Stargazing Bar

Past food facilities[edit]

Alton Towers previously had leases with High Street outlets, which have since been replaced by in-house brands such as Explorers Pizza & Pasta, Just Chicken and Burger Kitchen.

  • McDonald's (1998-2007)
  • Burger King (2008-2012)
  • Pizza Hut (1998-2008)
  • KFC (1998-2011)
  • Fried Chicken Co. (2011-2018)
  • Forest Feasts (2010-2016)
  • Towers Street Bar and Grill (1985-2016)

Alton Towers Theme Park[edit]

The Alton Towers Theme Park is divided into areas: Towers Street, Mutiny Bay, Katanga Canyon, Gloomy Wood, Forbidden Valley, Dark Forest, The Gardens, The Towers, Cloud Cuckoo Land, X-Sector and CBeebies Land. 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 capacity at any one time is set at 28,000 guests.[26][27][28][29] According to the TEA attendance report, the park was estimated to have attracted 2,000,000 people in 2017, a 1% increase on 2016's figure of 1,980,000. This makes Alton Towers Britain's 2nd most visited theme park after Legoland Windsor and the joint 12th most visited theme park in Europe. The launch of the Thirteen rollercoaster saw the theme park attract 3 million admissions in the 2010 season, a number equalled by the launch of Nemesis in 1994 and Oblivion in 1998. The park's highest attendance to date is 4,195,000, which made it the second most visited Theme Park in Europe in 1999.

Annual attendance[edit]

Annual park attendance figures are generally not released by the park itself outside of planning applications for new attractions, therefore the figures listed below are largely sourced from various estimates from organisations such as the Themed Entertainment Association.[30] Due to conflicting figures from various sources, some of the figures listed here are not sourced from the TEA.[vague]

Year Attendance
1994 3,450,000 Increase
1995 3,500,000 Increase
1996 3,650,000 Increase
1997 3,795,000 Increase
1998 4,100,000 Increase
1999 4,195,000 Increase
2000 3,800,000 Decrease
2001 3,500,000 Decrease
2002 3,600,000 Increase
2003 3,350,000 Decrease
2004 3,400,000 Increase
2005 3,200,000 Decrease
2006 2,700,000 Decrease
2007 2,400,000 Decrease
2008 2,520,000 Increase
2009 2,650,000 Increase
2010 3,010,000[31] Increase
2011 2,732,000[31] Decrease
2012 2,400,000 Decrease
2013 2,500,000 Increase
2014 2,575,000 Increase
2015 1,925,000 Decrease
2016 1,980,000 Increase
2017 2,000,000 Increase
2018 2,100,000 Increase
2019

Timeline of park areas[edit]

Years areas opened
1980 1981 1984 1986 1990 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2008 2009 2010 2014 2020
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 The World of David Walliams
Towers Street
Kiddies Kingdom Adventure Land
Storybook Land CBeebies Land
Britannia Farm Safeway Farm Old MacDonalds Farmyard
Thunder Valley Forbidden Valley
Gloomy Wood

      Previous themed area

      Current themed area

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 in 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 party 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. Runaway Mine Train is a steel sit down powered coaster that reaches a speed of 22 mph (36 km/h) on a 1000 ft long track (305 m) and height of 36 ft (11 m); height limit 90 cm. It was designed by John Wardley for Tussauds and manufactured by Mack Rides.

Gloomy Wood[edit]

Gloomy Wood serves as the area for the dark ride Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back!, originally The Haunted House. Opening in 1992, this was originally Europe's largest haunted dark ride, but was significantly altered with interactive laser guns in 2003. Each player's shooting score is recorded on a display in the ride car, as guests shoot targets around the ride.

In 2007, a themed footpath through the woods was added to the area, named Haunted Hollow. The pathway follows the route formerly used by the park's old scenic railway, linking from Mutiny Bay. Haunted Hollow includes tombstones, statues and other features, some of which interact with guests using sound effects.[32] In July 2015, Nitrogenie opened and replaced the old Waffles and Ices, a shop producing ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Gloomy Wood was suggested by the 2017 park map to be home to the new Wicker Man wooden coaster, opening 2018. However, the park later stated that the ride was in Mutiny Bay.

Forbidden Valley[edit]

Theming and signs in Forbidden Valley

Forbidden Valley is set in a 'post-apocalyptic' landscape, with standing stones and rustic structures populating the 'valley'. A SkyRide station also serves this area of the park.

The area's principal attraction is Nemesis, opened in 1994. Nemesis is a steel inverted coaster that reaches a speed of 50 mph (81 km) with four inversions, set in a rocky quarry over waterfalls. The ride is built down into excavated ground and was designed by Tussauds, primarily John Wardley. The attraction is themed as a malevolent alien creature inhabiting the quarry.

The Blade is a Huss Pirate Boat modified with a pendulum blade. It opened in 1980, and was relocated to the area in 1997 from Fantasy World. The Blade currently operates as the only flat ride in Forbidden Valley since the removal of Ripsaw. However, in October 2019, The Blade was dismantled to be 'Resharpened by the Phalanx' and no one knows whether it will reopen or not currently.

Galactica is a B&M flying coaster, originally opening as Air in 2002. Air was loosely themed as a peaceful landscape, distanced from the 'apocalyptic' look of Nemesis. Air was redesigned as Galactica in 2016, adopting virtual reality headsets and a space travel theme. The VR headsets have since been removed due to feedback from customers.[33]

In May 2016, the 'Rollercoaster Restaurant' opened, offering a dining experience where guests have their food delivered by looping rails. The restaurant is open daily from 10am - 9:30pm; available to guests without theme park admission after the park has closed, except during Scarefest and Fireworks events.

Adventure Land[edit]

Adventure Land is a small family area featuring Spinball Whizzer;[34] based on a pinball machine in which the car is the ball whizzing around the machine. The ride originally had this name, until 2010 when it was known as Sonic Spinball until the name change back in 2016 when a contract ended with SEGA after six years. The ride is a Maurer Söhne spinning roller coaster, in which riders sit in cars that can spin on their base whilst travelling at speed around the track. For the park map, Spinball Whizzer is listed as being in The Towers area.

Adventure Land is named after the adventure play ground which previously sat on the site. The former play area was one of the attractions of a larger area called Kiddies Kingdom. In 1996, Kiddies Kingdom was split into Adventure Land and Storybook Land.[35]

X-Sector[edit]

View of Oblivion

X-Sector is themed as a secretive industrial complex, suggested to be subjecting park guests to experimental testing.

The area currently contains three thrill rides. The steel dive coaster Oblivion which opened in 1998 as "the world's first vertical drop rollercoaster", designed by Tussauds and manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. The cars are held over the edge of the drop for three seconds, before diving into a deep tunnel. The Smiler is a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster which opened in May 2013 and currently holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster at 14.[15] Enterprise is a standard HUSS Enterprise model which opened in 1984, spinning riders 360 degrees and giving the illusion of defying gravity. The area layout was partly altered in 2013 season to accommodate the opening of The Smiler.

Previous rides in X-Sector include The Black Hole, which was a Jet Star 2 coaster enclosed in a tent, where The Smiler is located today. Energizer (later renamed Boneshaker) was a swinging gondola flat ride. It was replaced by Submission in 2001, a "Chance Double Inverter" flat ride, which was itself removed in 2014.

Mutiny Bay[edit]

Mutiny Bay's pirates

Mutiny Bay is a pirate-themed family area, which opened in 2008.[36] the area was a retheme for Merrie England.

Attractions in Mutiny Bay include: Battle Galleons, an interactive "Splash Battle" boat ride, where guests sit in tracked boats while soaking other riders with water cannons. Also in the area is the rocking boat ride, Heave Ho. The park's original teacups ride was re-themed to become Marauders Mayhem, with the tea cup cars being redesigned as gunpowder barrels. The Flume was a Mack log flume ride that opened in 1981 and was rethemed in 2004 with a sponsorship from Imperial Leather alongside the bubbleworks at Chessington world of adventure. Upon opening, it was the longest flume ride in the world at 886 m.[36] Towards the end of the 2015 season, the ride and the neighboring Tavern closed and was removed in 2016, to make way for the Wicker Man - a Great Coasters International wooden roller coaster and the "Welcome Inn" wicker-themed bar.

In 2009, a Sea Life Centre named Sharkbait Reef opened in the location previously home to the 3-D Cinema. This includes "touch pools" for interacting with underwater species and a 10-metre underwater tunnel.

The World of David Walliams[edit]

Driving School attraction in Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land is aimed at younger children, featuring bright colours and fantasy decor. Attractions include Frog Hopper and Galloper's Carousel. Cuckoo Cars Driving School allows children to drive miniature electric cars around a themed road layout, featuring visual jokes along the way.[37] A SkyRide station is located nearby Fountain Square, giving access to other areas of the park.

Other attractions in the area are currently closed, including an indoor bouncy castle play area called Wobble World and Twirling Toadstool. Previous attractions include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride, which closed at the end of 2015, and Ice Age: 4D Experience, which closed at the end of 2016, however the film is now on show at nearby Drayton Manor Theme Park.

The area was previously known as "Cred Street" and "The Land of Make Believe", with a cartoon-inspired look, mainly featuring Toyland Tours. Prior to this, it was first built as "Talbot Street" in 1981, becoming the park's first themed area, home to the Around The World in 80 Days and Doom & Sons dark rides.

On 21 July 2009, A fire broke out in the Sky Ride station for this area, caused by a faulty vending machine. The station was completely destroyed and didn't reopen until the 2010 season. [38]

In October 2019, it was announced that Cloud Cuckoo Land will be replaced by "The World of David Walliams" for the 2020 season, which will feature attractions based around Walliams' series of children's books.[39]

Dark Forest[edit]

The Dark Forest is themed as a supernatural woodland area; to coincide with the opening of TH13TEEN, a steel family coaster themed as a haunted crypt, that opened on 20 March 2010. Th13teen, features the "world's first freefall drop on a roller coaster" - an indoor, vertically dropping track element. The ride replaced the Corkscrew; the park's first roller coaster, which opened in 1980. Rita is a hydraulically launched steel sit-down coaster that reaches a top speed of 62 mph (100 km) that is now themed around an abandoned drag racer that is used to escape the Dark Forest.

The area was previously a cartoon prehistoric area named Ug Land, which opened in 1999, but was half-demolished to make way for Rita's construction in 2005. Rita used to be themed around drag racing but was changed with the opening of Th13teen and the Dark Forest. With the opening of Th13teen, the area was renamed as Dark Forest and further altered with a new colour scheme and entrance feature. Rita was also given a repainted control cabin and trains, shortening its name from "Rita - Queen of Speed".[40]

CBeebies Land[edit]

CBeebies Land is based on the BBC children's TV channel: CBeebies. It is the newest area of 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.[41] 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, 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. In 2015, Octonauts Roller Coaster Adventure opened, it is an underwater themed children's roller coaster; built on the vacant site The Beastie roller coaster. CBeebies Land was further expanded in 2017 with the opening of the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride and The Furchester Hotel Live, and again in 2019 with the addition of Peter Rabbit Hippity Hop and Teletubbies Big Band Live Show.

The Towers[edit]

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.[42] 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 old oak tree.

During the park's Halloween 'Scarefest' event multiple scare mazes operate within the Towers themselves. For 2018's Scarefest event these were; Sub Species: the End Games, and Altonville Mine Tours.

The Gardens[edit]

Gardens created by the eccentric 15th Earl of Shrewsbury

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.

Alton Towers Waterpark[edit]

Alton Towers Waterpark

The Alton Towers Waterpark, formerly known as Cariba Creek, opened alongside the Splash Landings Hotel in 2003.[43] It is a large (with 7 pools and 10 water slides), 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 there are two food and drink venues: Adventures Cave and Ice Cream Shack. 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 Waterpark is the water coaster The Master Blaster, with uphill sections similar to the Master Blaster at Sandcastle Waterpark, 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 views of the entire indoor area of the 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 Bucket is a container filled with 1000 litres of water which regularly tips its contents over people standing below. Flash Floods are 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 and whirlpool.

The indoor section of the water park operates 12 months a year excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day, although it closes for winter maintenance for around 2 weeks each January.

Resort accommodation[edit]

The fountain at the entrance to Alton Towers Hotel

Alton Towers Hotel[edit]

The Alton Towers Hotel opened on 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 long term phased refurbishment to theme each floor to a different setting. So far, the plan has produced the Moon Voyage Bedrooms and Arctic Explorer Bedrooms.

Splash Landings Hotel[edit]

The Splash Landings Hotel opened 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.

Alton Towers have submitted planning application to expand the Enchanted Village in several phases. The application has been approved and if the plans go ahead, construction on the first phase will commence in 2018 with a scheduled opening of March 2019.[44]

CBeebies Land Hotel[edit]

The CBeebies Land Hotel opened on 8 July 2017, the hotel has a total of 76 themed rooms: 42 standard rooms (themed to the CBeebies Bugbies) and 34 premium rooms themed to different CBeebies shows, such as Something Special and Swashbuckle. Room amenities include child-friendly features, such as steps up to the sink and children's toilet seats. The hotel features CBeebies-themed shows and entertainment, which run every day of the year, as well as the "Windmill Restaurant".[45]

Stargazing Pods[edit]

Although Alton Towers had previously gained the necessary permits to expand the Enchanted Village, these plans were eventually scrapped, and reduced into a "pod" style accommodation option. 102 individual accommodation pods will be constructed, each sleeping up to four people. Accompanying shower and bathroom facilities are located to the southern side of the site.

The proposals have faced some critical views from the public, with many criticisms being raised over the capacity of bathroom facilities as well as how the resort will cope with the increased demand in food and beverages, as the Stargazing Pods will not have its own restaurant or bar facilities.

The council even initially rejected the application citing lack of imagination and "magic", although the plans were granted permission the second time without making any notable improvements.

The Stargazing Pods opened on 12 April 2019.[46]

Recreation[edit]

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. Despite being inside the Alton Towers Hotel, non-hotel guests are able to use the Spa.

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. Extraordinary Golf was refreshed for 2016 including the addition of a Galactica themed hole.

Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest[edit]

Opened May 2015, the Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest is a high ropes course near the Enchanted Village. The attraction opened shortly after, and accompanies, the Enchanted Village development. There is also a low ropes course. Tree Top Quest did not open for the 2018 season or the start of the 2019 season due to budget cuts by parent company, Merlin Entertainments. It is expected to reopen on 13 July 2019.[47]

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.

Plans for a Phase 2 of the Enchanted Village were approved in July 2018. Plans for a Phase 2 on the same site had already been granted in April 2016 however these proposals were scrapped in favour of a camping option. The new accommodation is called the Stargazing Pods and was completed in Spring 2019.[48]

On 12 October 2018, Alton Towers website confirmed that The Alton Towers Dungeon will open in 2019. It will follow a similar format to The London Dungeon, which is also part of the Merlin group.

Alton Towers is working with children's author David Walliams to develop a new collection of attractions at the park. The new attractions will be based in Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is set to be rebranded as 'World of David Walliams' in Spring 2020.[49]

Towers Loving Care[edit]

In 2016, Alton Towers began promoting aspects of its park maintenance on social media, under the banner "Towers Loving Care".[50] The features are typically related to scenic and effects maintenance. The TLC logo was also used as an excuse for why some attractions were not operating, usually for cost-saving measures (as with Hex's closure during 2016) rather than due to maintenance taking place.

The 2015-16 winter saw Nemesis receive a restoration of its station exterior and a full track repaint (although the scenic rust effect was actually removed from the supports and some of the track during this process). The covered scaffold tunnel under Rita's launch track received some decorations. In 2017, Hex re-opened with repairs to some effects under the "TLC" name; also with a new sound system, although the quality or need for a new sound system was contested by visitors.

During the 2017-18 winter, Duel received a new musical soundtrack composed in-house, to restore the zoned audio effect through the ride. It also had repairs to props and some of its lighting altered, notably the use of LED UV.

The project is co-ordinated in-house by Alton Towers Resort as a means of securing budget for essential aesthetic maintenance, to circumvent the lack of dedicated budget delivered by parent company Merlin Entertainments. The resort launched a Twitter and Facebook account[51] which frequently showcases images of what occurrences are taking place under the project.

Secret Weapon roller coasters[edit]

Alton Towers has a tradition of codenaming its new roller coaster developments as "Secret Weapon", or "SW", followed by a number. The name is associated with the park's inclination to promote its rides as holding "world first" or in some way "innovative" features and records. However the naming tradition actually began for unrelated reasons, since "Secret Weapon" was the working title of a roller coaster that was ultimately never commissioned.

SW1 was a pipeline roller coaster, planned to open in around 1992, on what later became the Nemesis site. It was provisionally titled the "Secret Weapon", with the intention of theming the ride as an ambiguous weapon testing facility.[52] John Wardley rode the Arrow Dynamics prototype of their pipeline coaster, but stated "it was very slow and rather boring",[53] as well as the requirement for such a high lift hill being unsuitable for the park's planning restrictions. After a second layout revision, labelled "SW2", the ride was scrapped and development on SW3 (Nemesis) began.[52][53] The code name subsequently became the standard preliminary name for major roller coaster projects at the park.

The convention was briefly dropped while the park (and its parent company the Tussauds Group) was owned by Dubai International Capital, before being continued by the Merlin Group.

The "Secret Weapon" rides are:

Code Name Ride Opened Operating Status
SW1 & SW2 Projects withdrawn N/A Never Operated
SW3 Nemesis 1994 Operating
SW4 Oblivion 1998 Operating
SW5 Air (now "Galactica") 2002 Operating
SW6 TH13TEEN 2010 Operating
SW7 The Smiler 2013 Operating
SW8 Wicker Man[54][55] 2018 Operating

Events[edit]

Prior to the main open season, Alton Towers held the February Half-Term event which saw a selected ride offering opened for the week before the start of the main season in March, however the event was cancelled for 2016; with the exception of Sharkbait Reef which was open for Pirate and Princess Week held at the Resort hotels.

Concerts[edit]

Alton Towers has a history of hosting concerts since the 1960s. Concerts in recent years have included the Alton Towers Live event in 2011 and 2013. In 2010, there was an 80s concert for the 30th Anniversary featuring Rick Astley and Bananarama and also that year hosted a P!nk concert. In the past these concerts were often held in the car park at an additional fee, however more recently concerts have been held within the theme park. Artists that have performed there include Tina Turner and The Black Eyed Peas.

Scarefest[edit]

Scarefest is the resort's largest annual event. It celebrates Halloween with a number of temporary scare maze attractions, scare zones, costumed characters and extended opening hours. Rides and areas are lit with coloured lighting at night, with most rides and attractions continuing to operate until 9pm. 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.[56][57] The scare mazes are upcharge attractions.

Timeline of Halloween scare mazes
Season(s)
active
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1 Terror in the Towers
3 Terror of the Towers: Bloodfest Banquet *
2 Room13
3 The Field of 1000 Screams
4 The Boilerhouse
9 Terror of the Towers: What lies Within
4 Carnival of Screams
3 The Sanctuary
1 The Haunting of Molly Crowe
5 Sub Species: The End Games
4 Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of The Skin Snatchers
3 House of Monsters
2 The Welcoming: Be Chosen
2 Project 42
1 The Attic: Terror of the Towers
1 Darkest Depths

      Previous Scarefest maze       Current Scarefest maze

*Terror of the Towers took in break in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Seasonal Scarefest attractions as of 2019[edit]

  • Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers, live action horror maze, set in the baron town of Altonville. A family of inbred hillbillies are outcast due to their hideous disfigurement and warped way of life. Through desperation they begin capturing townsfolk, before removing their skin and stitching it into their own in a hope that this may finally give them the beauty they so desire.
  • Sub Species: The End Games, a live action horror maze returning in 2018, which will push the boundaries of Scarefest's mazes with multiple routes. A post-apocalyptic, sewer dwelling community have been infested by a species from another world. In order to survive, they appease the creature's hunger by sacrificing innocent people from the surface. However, over time, insanity has twisted the feeding ritual into a sick contest. Your demise is now their entertainment. Let the death race begin![58]
  • Project 42 - The Phalanx base has been compromised and the team is in demise. The base had been used for civilian tests on a unique virus but something's gone wrong; the test subjects, now infected by the virus, have broken out. The Phalanx requires volunteers to enter the compound, find the vaccination and rescue the technician. Can you get out before contracting the infection?
  • Darkest Depths - New for 2019. Board the infamous ghost ship 'The Mutiny' and journey into the darkest depths to earn your piece of eight. The treacherous Sirens will try to lure you into the ocean as you dodge the swords of the mutinous ghost pirates and come face to face with the sea's meanest legend of all ... the Kraken!
  • The Attic: Terror of the Towers - New for 2019. Return of the iconic maze with new storyline and route. Dare you venture up to The Attic in this live action maze where you'll discover the ghost of 'The Governess'! According to local legend, she tries to avenge the death of her charges by taking the spirits of the living as penance - will you be her next victim?

Past seasonal Scarefest attractions[edit]

  • Terror of the Towers. The first incarnation of this long-running annual scare maze was introduced in 2002, and was located in the Towers ruins themselves. Many scenes from the original maze are still used. Visitors walked through the long, winding corridors of the Towers, through themed scenes while being pursued by live actors. The finale featured a winding pathway around actors behind fences, who lunged towards visitors, accompanied with heavy strobe effects. For 2003 it was restructured and given the tagline and theme "Bloodfest Banquet".
  • "TH13TEEN: After Dark" has an enhanced queue line for Alton Towers' newest roller coaster, using fog and lighting effects as well as live actors. This attraction did not return for 2012.
  • Terror of the Towers – Bloodfest Banquet was a new version of the Terror of the Towers scare maze, running from 2003 to 2008.[59] It retained much of the original version, but featured new scenes that included scripted dialogue from the several characters, and a new storyline was added. The strobe maze finale was moved to another point in the maze and replaced by a new ending, in which visitors become trapped in a small room with cages on every side, as actors reach for them through the metal bars for almost a minute. Every year, Terror of the Towers kept changing slightly with revised scenes and new scares.[60] However, for the 2009 Scarefest event, Terror of the Towers was once again completely rethought, with the tagline "What Lies Within". The new incarnation drops the scripted scenes and characters; meaning it is similar to the original Terror of Towers of 2002. The whole layout for the maze was also reversed, with what was previously the entrance becoming the exit.
  • Room 13 was first introduced in 2006 and was located in the conference room of the Alton Towers Hotel.[61] It was only available to guests of the hotel, who were led around the maze as many live actors appeared to scare them. Room 13 had positive reviews and returned in 2007, but was replaced by The Boiler House in 2008.
  • Field of 1000 Screams was first introduced in the 2007 Scarefest event and was the first maze at Alton Towers not situated inside a pre-existing building.[62] The Field was located entirely outdoors in a moderately sized field of maize, which had to be planted especially for the event several months earlier. It purported to be a fictional village called Altonville that had become overrun by zombies. Visitors walked down a long pathway cut through the corn, and encountered characters and scares along the way, before the finale took place. The Field of 1000 Screams did not return for the 2010 event.
  • Haunted Hollow Live was first seen in 2007 and consisted of several sinister, costumed actors performing along the Haunted Hollow walkway in Gloomy Wood. The attraction was similar to Duel Live, which was introduced the year later. Haunted Hollow Live returned for the 2008 Scarefest event, but was cancelled for 2009.
  • Duel Live was first introduced in the 2008 Scarefest event. Throughout this period, the park's haunted house dark ride, Duel, became host to this attraction, which included live actors situated around the ride circuit. Duel was available to ride normally until 12 pm, when the laser guns and LED targets were switched and the actors took their positions. This was changed in 2009, when Duel Live took place throughout the whole day and many more actors than the previous year were present. Duel Live was aimed at the family audience, and included such features as new music playing throughout the ride (instead of the usual Duel theme music), as well as a butler or maid who would welcome you inside the house. The attraction was changed slightly for the 2010 season and featured the park's Scarefest mascots.
  • Skelvin's Haunted Adventure was a newer version of Duel Live, introduced in 2010, and took over Duel – The Haunted House Strikes Back! throughout Scarefest. As in previous years, the attraction included live actors situated at different points around the ride. The laser guns and LED targets were switched off during this time. The ride featured the Scarefest mascots, notably the character of "Skelvin".
  • The Boiler House was a scare maze first introduced in 2008, and was situated next to the Alton Towers Hotel. Originally, the scare maze was set in an abandoned industrial facility and featured live actors in make up. This was changed in 2009, when a new storyline was added. The scare maze later featured the fictional "Hamble Twins" serial killers hiding in the industrial building, and visitors have to escape them as they are chased through the scenes. Visitors queued outside, past a van labelled "Alton News 24", from which television screens play news reports on the activity of the serial killers. Guests then walk through a covered walkway, which hides the marquee that the maze is contained in from view. Once inside, a man appears and warns guests about the dangers of coming inside. The murderers then appear and kill him, before chasing visitors away. Each of the Twins are played by two different actors wearing the same grotesque, latex mask. They appear at different points in the maze, creating the illusion that one character is in several places at once. Dim lighting and scent effects are heavily used. For the 2011 Scarefest, The Boiler House moved along with the Carnival of Screams to the X Sector, where they both shared the old Black Hole tent. After three years it did not return for the 2012 season.
  • Carnival of Screams was a scare maze that debuted for the 2010 Scarefest event. During its debut it shared the same temporary building as the Boiler House. John Wardley contributed to the development of Carnival of Screams, which was entered through a large clown face with horrific features. For 2011 it and the Boiler House were relocated to the X-Sector area. The maze is a mixture of humor and serious scares, and the music used is the former Toy Land Tours attraction theme music warped for dramatic effect. From 2012 onwards, the attraction was situated opposite the hospitality suite, with the exit inside the Goal Striker unit. In 2013 and its final incarnation, the maze gained a theatrical ending involving a knife thrower.
  • The Sanctuary was new for the 2012 Scarefest event and returned in 2013 and 2014. The attraction was set in a research facility operated by "The Ministry of Joy". Alton Towers released the following description at the time: "Lost your Smile? Then check yourself in for a refreshing check up at The Sanctuary. After being closed for new patients for almost 50 years The Sanctuary, The Ministry of Joy’s earliest establishment, is now holding important trials searching for 'Advocates' for its 2013 project." It was revealed to be part of marketing for The Smiler roller coaster, which opened in 2013.[63]
  • Scary Tales Scare Zone was a walk through scare zone that ran for the 2014 event. The attraction setting revolved around fairy tale stories that were rewritten in a nightmarish manner.
  • The Haunting of Molly Crowe, a multi-sensory maze set in the Towers ruins. The maze was based on the old and abandoned house of Molly Crowe, who was last seen engulfed in flames in the cellar of her house, emitting a scream of non-human origin. This ran for the 2015 event.
  • Nox:Infernus Scare Zone, a scare zone which ran for the 2015 event, set in the Dark Forest. The underworld rises again - Will you join the Cult or face the end of the world as we know it?
  • Dark Apocalypse Scare Zone, a scare zone which was first introduced for the 2015 event and returning in 2016. A deadly virus has spread across Forbidden Valley. The infected show signs of highly aggressive behavior and rapid physical decomposition. Phalanx control has quarantined the area however, a recent security breach has questioned their ability to contain the virus and keep society safe.
  • Terror of the Towers – What Lies Within, the signature maze situated inside the Towers themselves, first introduced in 2002. A new format was introduced in the 2009 Scarefest event, along with the new tagline "What Lies Within" replacing "Bloodfest Banquet". Visitors queue outside in Her Ladyship's Gardens, and the attraction itself starts in the derelict Conservatories. Batches of guests watch a short video showing two men exploring the Towers for ghosts. The video then cuts short, and guests enter the Towers to find the men. At certain points in the maze, the bodies of the two men are each seen hanging from a noose. Visitors become lost in the lengthy corridors and themed scenes in the Towers, with live actors pursuing them in every room. The finale to the attraction is a maze-like walkway that winds around actors in cages, with strobe effects.

Fireworks[edit]

For the last days of the season, Alton Towers host firework Shows, 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.[64] 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 and has returned to being an annual event.

Other events[edit]

During the closed season months Alton Towers holds regular Pirate & Princess Weekends. The event entails decorations, and themed activities for children in the Hotels 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 permitted entry to non-hotel guests for the first time however the event reverted to hotel guests only in 2016. Festive Breaks continue from 27 December 2018 to 6 January 2019 with a similar lineup to the Santa's Sleepovers.

Since 2015 Alton Towers have opened the park for a Services Day; a day where a limited quantity of discounted tickets (fewer than on a usual season day) are sold to those who work in public services[65] such as the Police, NHS, Fire brigade, Prison service, Army, RAF, Royal Navy and other similar services. Services Day is usually held approximately two weeks prior to the start of the new season, which usually begins mid-March. Due to the success of the 2015, '16 and '17 Services Days, a two-day weekend of Services Days was planned for 3 and 4 March 2018, however this was postponed to 11 March due to weather conditions. Another two-day event is planned for 16–17 March 2019. Services Days are open to holders of a Blue Light Card or a Defence Discount Service Card.[65]

Incidents[edit]

The Smiler[edit]

In June 2015, sixteen people were injured on The Smiler ride, with two individuals requiring leg amputations. Merlin Entertainments originally released a press release blaming the crash on "human error".[66] However, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) concluded the crash was foreseeable, stating that "Merlin failed to put in place systems that allowed their engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running".[67] During the subsequent court case, Merlin retracted their statement and pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety law. The company was fined £5Million, with the court citing a "catalogue of errors" with Merlin's operating procedure and training.[68][69]

In June 2017, Alton Towers estate owner Nick Leslau repeated the discredited claim that the crash was due to "a human error", but added that "Merlin has paid a massive price, but the performance of the business has been exemplary and the share price is now at an all-time high."[70]

Sky Ride[edit]

On 30 June 2004, due to a strong gust of wind, the Sky Ride cables became caught, jamming the ride. About 80 people were on the ride, and nine people had to be rescued by being abseiled down 200 foot (61 m) cables.[71]

During the 2007 Scarefest season, a fire broke out in the Forbidden Valley section of the park due to a halogen lamp that damaged the roof and mechanics of the ride. The damage was reparable and had to be closed for six months before reopening midway through the 2008 season. Nobody was harmed.[38]

Another fire happened to the ride this time in the Cloud Cuckoo Land station in the 2009 season, due to a faulty vending machine, on 21 July 2009. The fire completely destroyed the whole station. Over the following season, the station was rebuilt, ready for the 2010 season.

Runaway Mine Train[edit]

On 20 July 2006, when the train was entering the tunnel section of its course, two carriages uncoupled, with the front half of the train continuing up the slope while the rear half remained stuck in the tunnel. The front half failed to make it over the hill, rolled back and crashed into the rear half which had remained stuck in the tunnel. Six people were taken to hospital and 23 others were treated for cuts and bruises. Following the incident the Runaway Mine Train was closed for the rest of the season. The train was only returned to full length operation in June the following year.[72]

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 parts of the top of the track is camouflaged green as 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.

Stephen 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.[73]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]