John Wardley

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John Wardley
Born John Richard Wardley
Harrow, Middlesex, England
Nationality British citizen
Occupation Attraction designer
Known for The Haunted House, Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, Prof. Burp's Bubble Works, The Vampire

John Wardley (born June 1956 in Harrow, Middlesex) is a British award-winning[specify] concept designer and developer for theme parks; an innovator of special effects, dark rides and roller coasters in the UK attraction industry.


Wardley started his career as a stage manager at Windsor's Theatre Royal, then moved on to the film industry creating special effects. This included effect designs 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 "60 Glorious Years" for Tussauds Royalty and Empire exhibition at Windsor. This led him to meet Elizabeth II.

After this he was employed by the Tussauds Group to transform the declining Chessington Zoo in London to become the Chessington World of Adventures theme park. There, Wardley oversaw the production of attractions including The Vampire suspended coaster, constructed by Arrow Dynamics and Dragon River (now Dragon Falls) log flume. In 1990, he produced the world-renowned Prof. Burp's Bubble Works dark ride at Chessington World of Adventures with influential attraction designer Keith Sparks.

Working for the Tussauds Group, John went on to produce famous attractions such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air roller coasters. He also produced several of the developments at Thorpe Park from its acquisition by Tussauds in 1998.

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]

John Wardley had various roles in the production of attractions for Tussauds and Merlin, since 1982.

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 in the group's theme park developments. He was employed as a technical design consultant for rollercoaster projects, such as SAW - The Ride at Thorpe Park, TH13TEEN at Alton Towers, Raptor at Gardaland, The Swarm at Thorpe Park and The Smiler at Alton Towers.

On 22 January 2013 John announced his retirement.[1] In April 2013 he published an autobiography entitled Creating My Own Nemesis.

Video games[edit]

Publishing history[edit]

  • Creating My Own Nemesis (April 2013) - author

Attractions Designed with John Wardley[edit]

Significant rides designed by John Wardley
Yr Ride name Role Description
c.1977 Uncle Frankenstein's Scream Machine (Barry Island) Production & build Dark ride
c.1978 Wacky Gold Mine (Barry Island) Production & build Dark ride
1984 Royalty & Empire Animatronics & consultancy Exhibition
1987 Dragon River Concept & production Log flume
1987 Runaway Train Concept & production Roller coaster
1987 The 5th Dimension Ride type Dark Ride
1990 Prof. Burp's Bubble Works Concept & production Water dark ride
1990 The Vampire Concept & production Roller coaster
1992 Runaway Mine Train Concept & production Roller coaster
1992 The Haunted House Concept & production Dark ride
1993 The Spirit of London Ride type & consultancy Dark ride
1994 Nemesis Concept & production Roller coaster
1994 Toyland Tours Consultancy Water dark ride
1995 Dragon Khan Production Roller coaster
1996 Megafobia Production Roller coaster
1998 Oblivion Ride type & consultancy Roller coaster
2000 Hex – The Legend of the Towers Ride type & consultancy Dark ride
2002 Air Ride type & consultancy Roller coaster
2002 Colossus Consultancy Roller coaster
2009 Saw - The Ride Consultancy Roller coaster
2010 TH13TEEN Consultancy Roller coaster
2011 Raptor Consultancy Roller coaster
2012 The Swarm Consultancy Roller coaster
2013 The Smiler Consultancy Roller coaster

Further reading[edit]


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