|Slogan||Escape to the Alton Towers Resort|
|Operating season||Theme Park
Alton Towers Waterpark
Alton Towers Hotel Spa
Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest
|Visitors per annum||1.925 million (2015)|
|Area||910 acres (370 ha)|
Alton Towers Resort, commonly referred to as Alton Towers, is a theme park, water park, and hotel complex in Staffordshire, England. It is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group. The site opened in 1860 with flower shows and garden tours until a theme park was built on the site, opening in 1980.
The park currently operates nine roller coasters among other major attractions including Nemesis, Oblivion, Congo River Rapids, Runaway Mine Train, Hex - The Legend of the Towers, Thirteen, and The Smiler. In 2016, Air was rethemed as Galactica, as the "world's first roller coaster dedicated to virtual reality".
Alton Towers Hotel opened in 1996, it was the first onsite accommodation to be built at the resort. It was followed in 2003 by the Caribbean-themed Splash Landings Hotel with an adjoining water park. A development of woodland lodges was completed in 2015, as the Enchanted Village. The resort also includes conference facilities, crazy golf and a high ropes course.
On most days, the theme park operates between 10am and 5pm, however operating hours can change based on expected attendance. The park hosts special events throughout the year, such as concert nights, a Scarefest event for Halloween, and an end-of-season fireworks display.
- 1 History
- 2 Rides and attractions
- 3 Alton Towers Theme Park
- 4 Alton Towers Waterpark
- 5 Resort accommodation
- 6 Recreation
- 7 Future developments
- 8 Towers Loving Care
- 9 Secret Weapon developments
- 10 Events
- 11 Incidents
- 12 Conservation Area restrictions
- 13 Court cases
- 14 Gallery
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 External links
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. In the 1950s this included the operation of a fairground, and by the 1970s included a boating lake and chairlift.
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 (now The Blade), 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, now Galactica, 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. The Tussauds Group was then bought by Merlin Entertainments in March 2007 for over £1billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control. 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.
Rides and attractions
|Galactica||2002 (2016)||Steel virtual reality flying||Operational||1.4m||Bolliger & Mabillard
VR imagery created by Figment Productions.
|Forbidden Valley||The world's first Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster, and from 2016 onwards, the world's first virtual reality dedicated roller coaster. Formerly known as Air.|
|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||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.|
|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||1992||Steel
|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.|
|Operational||1.2m||Maurer Söhne||Adventure Land||A spinning roller coaster located in Adventure Land.|
|Thirteen||2010||Steel Family Drop||Operational||1.2m||Intamin||Dark Forest||The world's first vertical free-fall drop roller coaster.|
|The Smiler||2013||Steel Infinity||Operational||1.4m||Gerstlauer||X-Sector||Holds world record for most track inversions (14).|
|SW8||2018||Wooden||Under Construction||Unknown||Great Coasters International||Unknown||The UK's first wooden rollercoaster in 22 years.|
|Name||Height||Length||Top speed||Max vert.
|Galactica**||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||21.3 ft (6.5 m)||469.2 ft (143.0 m)||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|
|Spinball Whizzer||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)||Werner Stengel|
|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|
|Thirteen*||65 ft (20 m)||2,480 ft (760 m)||42 mph (68 km/h)||70°||0||3||20 (10 rows 2)||John Wardley|
|SW8||72 ft (22 m)||24 (12 rows 2)|
- Key: * = record holder upon opening; ** = current record holder (January 2016)
|Enterprise||Huss Enterprise||Operational||1984||X-Sector||HUSS||A classic Huss enterprise.|
|The Blade||Swinging ship||Operational||1997
|Forbidden Valley||Huss Rides||A zero gravity swinging ship, themed to resemble a piece of discarded shrapnel thrown from Nemesis's pit.|
|Twirling Toadstool||Wave swinger||Operational||2009||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Zierer||A wave swinger for families, featuring a large toadstool.|
|Battle Galleons||Splash Battle||Operational||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||Rapids ride||Operational||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.|
|Duel - The Haunted House
|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
Madhouse dark ride combination
|Under Refurbishment||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.|
|Driving School||Driving Attraction||2006||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Peugeot||A children's car driving attraction. Currently closed.|
|Frog Hopper||Mini drop tower||1999||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Zamperla||A mini drop tower for children.|
|Galloper's Carousel||Carousel||1991||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Bertazzon||A children's merry-go-round ride.|
|Heave Ho||Rock 'n' Tug||2008||Mutiny Bay||Zamperla||A rocking and swinging boat ride.|
|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
|powered monorail ride||2014||CBeebies Land||Premier Rides||Riders travel through the tree tops in their own vehicle above CBeebies Land.|
|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 Studios||An indoor bouncy castle play area, refurbished 2009. Currently closed.|
|Ice Age: The 4D Experience||4D Cinema||2012||Cloud Cuckoo Land||SimEx/IWerks||4D Cinema licensed by 20th Century Fox, located in Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre.|
|Haunted Hollow||Walkthrough||2007||Gloomy Wood||Tussauds Studios||Themed walk way from Gloomy Wood to Mutiny Bay|
|Monorail||Monorail||1987||Links entrance plaza 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.|
|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||Cable car||1987||Links different areas in the park||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||Garden||1860||The Towers||Large Garden located within the valley with structures located around.|
Past roller coasters
|Corkscrew||1980||2008||Display feature at theme park entrance (decommissioned)|
|Black Hole||1983||2005||Furuvik Zoo, Sweden since 2011|
|Thunder Looper||1990||1996||Hopi Hari, Brazil since 1999|
|The Beast||1988||1997||Salitre Magico, Colombia since 2010|
|The Beastie||1983||2010||SBNO during 2011 and 2012 then removed.|
|Alton Mouse||1988||1991||Idlewild and SoakZone, Pennsylvania, United States since 1993|
|4 Man Bob Coaster||1985||1991||Last operated at Loudon Castle, Scotland, UK in 2011|
|Mini Apple Coaster||1982||1997||Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, England, UK since 1998|
Main Past Attractions
|Around The World in 80 Days||1981||1993|
|Doom & Sons||1981||1991|
|The Haunted House||1992||2002
(Unrelated to Sharkbait Reef aquarium)
|1995||2003, SBNO until 2004|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride||2006||2015, currently SBNO|
|Nemesis: Sub-Terra||2012||2015, currently SBNO|
Other notable past rides
- Adventure Playground 1974–1993
- Adventure Railway (15 in or 381 mm gauge miniature railway) 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
- 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) 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
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 capacity at any one time is set at 28,000 guests. According to the TEA attendance report, the park was estimated to have attracted 1,925,000 people in 2015, a 25% decrease on 2014's figure of 2,575,000. The park has cited The Smiler's crash in June as the main reason for the park's large decrease. The decrease demoted Alton Towers to Britain's 2nd most visited theme park after Legoland Windsor and the 12th most visited theme park in Europe. In 2014 it was Britain's most visited theme park and the 9th most visited theme park in Europe. The launch of the Thirteen rollercoaster saw the theme park attract 3 million admissions in the 2010 season.
Timeline of park areas
|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|
|Kiddies Kingdom||Adventure Land|
|Storybook Land||CBeebies Land|
|Britannia Farm||Safeway Farm||Old MacDonalds Farmyard|
|Thunder Valley||Forbidden Valley|
Exterior of Duel
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 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.
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 ten shots. 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. Opened in 1992 by Mack Rides, it was designed by John Wardley.
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.
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 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 roller coasters in the world in roller coaster polls. It features an ancient, malevolent, alien creature which was incorporated into a different ride: Nemesis: Sub-Terra – an indoor drop tower that opened 2012 and closed in 2015.
Once in the area, and continuing the apocalyptic theme, was the Ripsaw flat ride. Ripsaw was 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. It was removed in the 2015 winter closed season. 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.
Galactica is a flying coaster from B&M that opened in 2002, originally known as Air. Air was themed around an oasis and was sponsored by Cadbury's Heroes until 2007. Air was re-themed as Galactica for 2016, and the surrounding oasis was rethemed to a futuristic area, alongside the ride. To create an immersive experience for riders, those who choose to go on the ride will wear a Virtual Reality headset which will give the illusion of riders travelling though space by displaying a virtual environment in the headsets which will be perfectly synced to the existing movements of the ride as it completes its course. A new coffee shop "Coffee Lounge" opened up in the area for March 2016.
In May 2016, the 'Rollercoaster Restaurant' opened, offering a new dining experience where guests have their food delivered by roller coaster track. The restaurant is open daily from 10am - 10pm. It is available to guests without theme park admission after the park has closed.
Adventure Land is a small family area featuring Spinball Whizzer; based on a pinball machine in which the car is the ball whizzing around the machine. The ride was previously known as Sonic Spinball until the name change in 2016 when a contract ended with SEGA after 5 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.
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 which was manufactured by bolliger & mabillard, 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). Enterprise is a standard HUSS Enterprise model which opened in 1984, spinning riders 360 degrees and giving the illusion of defying gravity.
Previous rides in X-Sector include The Black Hole, which was a Jet Star 2 coaster enclosed in a tent and was replaced by The Smiler. Energizer (also known as Boneshaker) was a swinging gondola flat ride and replaced by Submission, a Chance Double Inverter which was itself dismantled in early 2014.
Mutiny Bay is a pirate-themed land, which re-themed Merrie England in 2008, is aimed at families.
Attractions in Mutiny Bay include: Battle Galleons, a large interactive "Battle Galleons" 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. The Flume was a log flume ride that opened in 1981 and rethemed in 2004 to bath tubs. At one point it was the longest flume ride in the world at 886 m. But, in February 2016, Alton Towers announced that The Flume would not reopen, with its last day of operation being Saturday 10 October 2015.
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
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. There are rides in the area especially suited for children such as Frog Hopper, Galloper's Carousel and a Wave Swinger ride called the Twirling Toadstool originally located in UG Land. A SkyRide station is located nearby, which was refurbished for the 2010 season.
Other attractions in the area, which are currently closed include an indoor bouncy castle play area called Wobble World, The Alton Towers Driving School gives children the opportunity to ride their own miniature electric cars around a British style road network. 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.
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. Rita is a hydraulically launched steel sit-down coaster that reaches a top speed of 62 mph (100 km).
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. 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
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. 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 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'.
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
The Alton Towers Waterpark, formerly known as Cariba Creek, opened alongside the Splash Landings Hotel in 2003. 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 are two food & 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 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.
Alton Towers Hotel
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 phased refurbishment to theme each floor to a different setting. So far, the plan has produced the Moon Voyage Bedrooms.
Splash Landings Hotel
The Splash Landings Hotel is the newer of the two hotels, which 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
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.
CBeebies Land Hotel
On July 27, 2016, Alton Towers announced the addition of a 76-room extension to the Alton Towers Hotel themed to CBeebies characters. There will be 42 standard rooms themed to the CBeebies Bugbies and another 34 premium rooms themed to different CBeebies shows, such as Something Special and Swashbuckle. The rooms will feature many child-friendly features, such as steps up to the sink and children's toilet seats. Within the hotel, there will be CBeebies-themed shows and entertainment which run every day of the year. The hotel is set for a Summer 2017 opening.
Alton Towers Spa
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.
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
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. There is also a low ropes course.
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. 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 The new restaurant will be located in an extension to the Air Shop building.
In August 2015, Alton Towers submitted a planning application for the construction 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. This was later confirmed to be the new CBeebies Land Hotel in July 2016.
For the 2016 season, Alton Towers have announced a reduced operating calendar. On some weeks during term time, the park will close on Tuesday and Wednesday. Additionally, the fireworks event will now take place over two days, instead of three.
In April 2016, Alton Towers submitted a screening opinion request to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. The request came attached with a layout of a roller coaster to be situated on the site of The Flume, with a new Smokehouse restaurant occupying the old station building of the ride. Furthermore, banners were erected around the site advertising 'SW8', and a ground breaking new ride experience.
Towers Loving Care
Towers Loving Care is a scheme that Alton Towers are running from 2016-2018. The program includes upgrades to rides, re-painting, relaying paths, removal of rides and new themed music. The 2015-2016 winter season saw various developments, including partial track and station re-painting of Nemesis, significant upgrades to the Dark Forest area, and the introduction of new music across areas of the theme park.
To coincide with the scheme, the resort launched a Twitter account which showcases daily images of what occurrences have taken place under the project.
Secret Weapon developments
Alton Towers has established a tradition of giving code names to future major attractions, using the letters SW, followed by a number. As the SW stands for "Secret Weapon", these rides are known as the park's "Secret Weapons".
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||Opened||Operating Status|
|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. John Wardley rode the prototype of SW1 but stated "it was very slow and rather boring". 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.||N/A||N/A|
|SW5||Galactica (opened as Air)||2002||Operating|
|SW8||SW8 is a wooden roller coaster currently under construction on the site of The Flume. Plans for SW8 were added to the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council website in April 2016.||2018||Under Constuction|
Prior to the main open season, Alton Towers usually holds the February Half-Term event. For the event the Alton Towers theme park has opened with selected rides. However, the event has been cancelled for 2016; with the exception of Sharkbait Reef which will be open for Pirate and Princess Week held at the hotels. Cook and Line, from the Swashbuckle program on CBeebies, will provide entertainment for the event.
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.
– Previous Scarefest attraction. – Current Scarefest attraction.
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. 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.
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 permitted entry to non-hotel guests for the first time.
There have been several incidents. In June 2015 sixteen people were injured on a 'Smiler' ride and two needed leg amputations. The operators were fined £5M for breaking safety regulations.
Conservation Area restrictions
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.
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.
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