Corkscrew (Alton Towers)

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Corkscrew (Alton Towers) - 1.jpg
View of Corkscrew from ground level
Alton Towers
Park sectionUG Land
Coordinates52°59′05″N 1°53′26″W / 52.984701°N 1.890421°W / 52.984701; -1.890421Coordinates: 52°59′05″N 1°53′26″W / 52.984701°N 1.890421°W / 52.984701; -1.890421
Opening date4 April 1980 (1980-04-04)
Closing date9 November 2008 (2008-11-09)
Replaced byThirteen
General statistics
DesignerArrow Dynamics
ModelCorkscrew with Bayerncurve
Track layoutcustom
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height75 ft (23 m)
Drop68 ft (21 m)
Length2,400 ft (730 m)
Speed44 mph (71 km/h)
Max vertical angle43°
Capacity1,100 riders per hour
Height restriction47.3 in (120 cm)
Corkscrew at RCDB
Pictures of Corkscrew at RCDB

Corkscrew was a steel roller coaster manufactured by Dutch company Vekoma to a design by Arrow Dynamics. The coaster was located in the Ug Land area of Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England. It was the park's oldest ride and is considered the greatest factor in promoting the new theme park to the British public. It was one of the first double-inverting coasters in Europe (the first in the UK),[citation needed] so it received much publicity and avid popularity in the 1980s. Waiting times for the ride frequently reached 6–9 hours during the first few months of operation at Alton Towers, and the park would often be forced to close early as it found itself swamped with visitors long before the evening ever came.


In 1979, John Broome, director of Alton Towers, wanted to make the Towers and Gardens into a new style of leisure attraction.

On 4 April 1980 Corkscrew opened to a crowd of 30,000. It became the main attraction of the park, and led to attendance numbers doubling from 500,000 in 1979 to over 1,000,000 in 1980. It was a Vekoma MK1200 Corkscrew with Bayern curve. The track was yellow, the supports were black, the cars were red, white, blue and black and the station was blue and white.

In 1984 more attractions were built in the new 'Festival Park' along with Enterprise and the Twirling Toadstool (then Wave Swinger).

In 2005, Rita was built (then called Rita: Queen of Speed), as well as there being several other changes to the park. This resulted in Corkscrew becoming dated and eventually a decreasingly popular attraction of the park. Customers also reported that due to its age, it had become increasingly uncomfortable to ride.

In October 2008, after 28 years of service, Alton Towers confirmed that the ride was to be dismantled at the end of the 2008 season, to make room for the 2010 attraction TH13TEEN, then named Secret Weapon 6.[1] On 9 November 2008 the park held a special event in honour of the attraction in which the Corkscrew completed the final circuit of its 730 m track. The official date for the last day in regular service was 2 November 2008 - the last day of the season.

After being dismantled, the section of track which formed the two iconic corkscrew inversions was saved and is now displayed at the entrance to the park near the ticket booths.

Ride experience[edit]

The ride started by a slow ascent of 22 m. Once it had reached the top, the car went round a turn and down the 20.7 m drop reaching 44 m.p.h. The train then pulled through a camel hump and a 180 degree turn before entering the two Corkscrew inversions. Once the train exited the two inversions it then went around a 180 degree turn and into some trim brakes. After that the train went across another camel hump and in to the bayerncurve (a helix type manoeuvre) and around the perimeter of the coaster again before going into the brakes and station.

The coaster became very rough toward the end of its life, and contributed to the decision to dismantle it in 2008.

Popular culture[edit]

One of the coaster's cars was put up for sale on eBay. The car was sold on 15 December 2008 for £7,200, and these funds went to good causes. Alton Towers retained the famous corkscrew inversions which were refurbished and placed as an artwork feature in the entrance plaza.

The opening title sequence used by The ITV Chart Show between January 1989 and November 1991 was created by digitally rotoscoping footage of the Corkscrew.[2] A photograph of the Corkscrew was used on the cover of the 1991 single Everybody in the Place by The Prodigy

Footage of the rollercoaster and the Pirate ship feature in the music video for British doo-wop band Darts cover of Let's Hang On![3]


  1. ^ BBC News - 'Iconic Ride to be Dismantled'
  2. ^ Amiga Computing magazine, November 1991 issue.
  3. ^ Let's Hang On Music Video.

External links[edit]