John Wardley

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John Wardley
Born (1956-06-06) 6 June 1956 (age 59)
Nationality British citizen
Occupation Attraction designer
Known for The Smiler, Air, Nemesis, Oblivion, Vampire, Dragon Khan, Professor Burp's Bubble Works, The Haunted House

John Wardley (born 6 June 1950) is a British award-winning[specify] concept designer and developer for theme parks (such as Alton Towers Resort); an innovator of dark rides and roller coasters particularly in the UK attraction industry.


Early years[edit]

Wardley started off as a stage manager at Windsor's Theatre Royal then moved on to the film industry, including creating the special effects for five of the James Bond movies. He was later hired by the Tussauds Group due to his experience in designing animated figures and rides for amusement parks. His first project was the creation of the animated show "50 Glorious Years" for Tussauds "Royalty and Empire Exhibition" at Windsor.

Later years[edit]

Saw - The Ride showing a key drop that Wardley consulted on

After this he was asked by the Tussauds Group to transform the failing Chessington Zoo in London to become a theme park. Now called Chessington World of Adventures, Wardley's work included the design of such park favourites as the Vampire Suspended coaster, constructed by Arrow Dynamics, and The Fifth Dimension dark ride. John designed famous attractions such as the globally celebrated Nemesis, Oblivion and Air roller coasters and The Haunted House at Alton Towers. As well as the world-renowned Professor Burp's Bubbleworks dark ride at Chessington World of Adventures.

One of his other accomplishments was that he, along with the late businessman Geoffrey Thompson, created a magic show called Mystique at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The show ran successfully for nearly 20 years.[citation needed]

He is well known for a dark ride he designed in partnership with Spark's Creative Services for Chessington World of Adventures, which opened in 1990. Professor Burp's Bubbleworks took visitors on a tour of a fizzy pop factory set in Transylvania. Wardley stated that they treated the ride as if it was a comic book and that it was his favorite ride to create. Bubbleworks was closed at the end of 2005 and rethemed.

The Smiler on its opening day

Wardley also worked with Chris Sawyer and Frontier Developments for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, a game about amusement park management. His name is also a secret cheat code in the game - when visitor's title is named after him all height restrictions are removed, alluding to the severe height restrictions that his most well-known work at Alton Towers was required to comply with.[citation needed]


From 2000 to 2007, when the Tussauds Group was owned by Charterhouse and DIC, Wardley went into semi-retirement. However, in May 2007 Merlin Entertainments took over the company and he was asked to become actively involved once again in the group's theme parks. His new role is ride consultant - this means he has significant input in the decisions of new developments but no longer designs his own rides. Some of his projects designed in this time include SAW - The Ride at Thorpe Park and TH13TEEN at Alton Towers, as well as creating effects for the "Carnival of Screams" Scarefest attraction. More recent projects with Merlin have included Raptor at Gardaland, The Swarm at Thorpe Park, The Smiler at Alton Towers and Flug der Dämonen at Heide Park

On 22 January 2013 John announced his retirement, meaning Flug der Dämonen would be his last attraction.[1] In April 2013 John's autobiography (titled "Creating My Own Nemesis") was published.

Despite this, there is speculation that John Wardley may be working with Alton Towers on a new ride. This increased with the recent formal screening option submitted for at Alton Towers for a ride with "timber truss construction"[2] as John has said he believes a wooden roller coaster should be built at Alton Towers.

Video games[edit]

Publishing history[edit]

  • Creating My Own Nemesis (April 2013) - author

Rides designed by John Wardley[edit]

Significant rides designed by John Wardley
Yr Ride name Role Description
1987 Dragon Falls Ride Designer Log flume
1987 Runaway Train Ride Designer Roller coaster (later to become Scorpion Express)
1987 The 5th Dimension Transit system Dark Ride
1990 Professor Burp's Bubbleworks Concept and transit system Dark boat ride (later to become Bubbleworks)
1990 Vampire Concept and layout Roller coaster
1992 Runaway Mine Train Ride Designer Roller coaster
1992 Haunted House Concept and transit system Dark ride (later to become Duel)
1994 Nemesis Concept and layout Roller coaster
1995 Dragon Khan Layout Designer Roller coaster
1998 Oblivion Concept Roller coaster
1998 Rattlesnake Concept Rollercoaster
2000 Hex – The Legend of the Towers Concept Dark ride
2002 Air Ride format and layout Roller coaster
2002 Colossus Reprofiling of a previous layout Roller coaster
2004 Sonic Spinball Layout Designer Roller coaster
2009 SAW - The Ride Consultation Roller coaster
2010 TH13TEEN Consultation Roller coaster
2011 Raptor Consultation Roller coaster
2012 The Swarm Consultation Roller coaster
2013 The Smiler Consultation Roller coaster
2014 Flug der Dämonen Layout Designer Roller coaster

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]