Wicker Man (roller coaster)

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Wicker Man
SW8 Logo - Alton Towers.jpg
Alton Towers
Coordinates 52°59′20″N 1°53′19″W / 52.98889°N 1.88861°W / 52.98889; -1.88861Coordinates: 52°59′20″N 1°53′19″W / 52.98889°N 1.88861°W / 52.98889; -1.88861
Status Operating
Opening date 20 March 2018 (2018-03-20)
Cost £16,000,000
Replaced The Flume
General statistics
Type Wood
Manufacturer Great Coasters International
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Drop 72.2 ft (22.0 m)
Length 2,027.5 ft (618.0 m)
Speed 44 mph (71 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 3:30
Capacity 952 riders per hour
Height restriction 120 cm (3 ft 11 in)
Trains 12 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in a single row for a total of 24 riders per train.
Website Official website
Fastrack available
Wicker Man at RCDB
Pictures of Wicker Man at RCDB

Wicker Man is a wooden roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. Manufactured by Great Coasters International, the £16-million ride opened to the public on 20 March 2018 following a three-day weather delay. It set several milestones among wooden coasters including the first to be built in the UK in over 20 years and the first to incorporate fire.[1][2] Initially codenamed "Secret Weapon 8", a traditional naming scheme for upcoming projects at Alton Towers, its official name was revealed in January 2018.[3][4]

History[edit]

In April 2015, the park explored options to open a new attraction in Forbidden Valley. Those plans were eventually dropped in favor of developing on the former site of The Flume attraction, which closed in October 2015.[1] Planning documents were submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council on 23 April 2016.[5][6] They documented the basic layout of SW8 and the surrounding area. They also suggested that The Flume's old station be turned into a 'Smokehouse' restaurant, but the idea was later abandoned and the station was removed.[citation needed] The Planning Applications Committee approved the plans on 25 August 2016.[7]

The roller coaster was designed by Merlin Entertainments. Retired attraction developer John Wardley was brought in at a late stage to improve the ride's first drops, describing the original profile as "atrocious" and that the drops "lacked major thrill". He added, however, that he was "sure the Wicker Man will be a huge success".[8][9] Construction on the new ride, which was initially named "Secret Weapon 8" (SW8), commenced on 28 November 2016 beginning with the demolition of The Flume.[10] In 2017, a path leading from Mutiny Bay to Katanga Canyon was closed for the season for vehicle access to the construction site.[citation needed] The coaster's main structure – consisting of the station, shop and queue – was started in March 2017.[citation needed]

The first timber for the coaster arrived at Alton Towers on 4 May 2017. The lift hill's construction reached its highest point in early July, and by October 2017, sections of track were installed. On 9 December 2017, the European Coaster Club and multiple other sources stated that the ride had made its first test run on 7 December 2017.[citation needed]

Wicker Man opened to the general public on 20 March 2018, three days behind schedule due to inclement weather.[11][12][13] The opening ceremony for the ride was moved from 17 March 2018 to the following weekend on 24 March 2018.[14] During opening weekend, the ride experienced intermittent closures.[15]

Marketing[edit]

On 16 March 2016, the park's "Towers Loving Care" Twitter account shared an image of construction fences surrounding its defunct attraction, The Flume. A sign was posted that read "SW8: A Ground-Breaking New Ride Development", where SW8 was the shorthand for Secret Weapon 8.[citation needed] As the park has traditionally done in the past, they used a codename beginning with "Secret Weapon" followed by a number to refer to major projects under construction.[citation needed] A video was released on the ride's website in August 2017 and on YouTube detailing the park's previous Secret Weapon rides.[citation needed]

Several days following the video's release, signs around the construction site were updated with a phrase written in runic alphabet translating to "Be Chosen". The same phrase was burnt onto nearby wooden fences adjacent to some of the signs. The ride's potential name and logo was leaked by a website on 25 August 2017, discovered through a trademark filing by Alton Towers.[3] A second video was released on 27 August 2017 featuring two hosts discussing past "Secret Weapon" rides in a large room filled with references to other rides in the park. The video included hidden messages designed to help decode the runic phrase that had been created for the ride.[citation needed]

During Scarefest at Alton Towers in 2017, the park debuted a new scare attraction called "The Welcoming: Be Chosen". It was described as a prequel to SW8, and its theme was centered around a cult village. A third video was released on 27 October 2017. Approximately halfway through, the video is interrupted by words written in the runic language:

"We interrupt this to bring you good news. You are invited to a celebration; a celebration of our Earth and its beauty. All this noise. All this technology. It's too much, isn't it? There's no time or space to think, is there? Deep down you know the truth, don't you? The technology has now taken the reigns. How did you get here? Maybe it doesn't matter. What matters is this chance; your opportunity to reconnect with the Earth. Come join us near the woods and partake in our celebration. How far you choose to go... that is your choice. What part you choose to play... only you can decide. Be chosen on the night where the living meets the dead."

Wicker Man's official name and logo were confirmed in a press release on 8 January 2018.[4] Along with its spring opening date, it was revealed that the ride would be the world's first roller coaster to fuse wood with fire.[4][2] On the same day, a promotion featured Wicker Man's logo being projected on the London Eye.[16] Artwork to promote the ride was created by Kyle Lambert, with Hollywood-style illustrations of the ride passing through a flaming wicker man effigy.[17]

Description[edit]

Alton Towers' Wicker Man

The ride begins with a preshow prior to boarding the ride with “the chosen ones”, who are told that they will be sacrificed to the Wicker Man. The cloth upon which the short video had been played is then lifted up in darkness to reveal a three-dimensional Wicker Man head, which has graphics projected onto it. It is accompanied by sound as well as various lighting effects. [18]

After boarding, the train takes a 180-degree right turn downward, briefly passing through a smoke-filled room with orange lighting elements, emphasising the ride’s theming around fire. The train takes a 180-degree turn left and ascends up the lift hill. Passengers then accelerate through a sound tunnel filled with smoke and lightning elements into the first drop, upon which the ride camera is situated. The car then passes through another sound tunnel again filled with lightning and smoke before cascading down a second drop. The train passes through a Wicker Man effigy, filled with screens showing fire and smoke effects, which bursts into flames simultaneously as the train passes through. The track layout has the train passing through the structure three times through three separate tunnels before returning to the station.[19]

After stopping, the train rolls forward inside the building onto a section of track parallel to the maintenance area with light and smoke effects in the tunnel ahead. After a pause to allow for boarding of another train, the ride proceeds into the station where a command is spoken, “Exit to the left, there is no escape to the right.”

Following baggage collection, riders have the option to view and purchase ride photos. There is also a ride shop including a large Wicker Man Sculpture as the centre piece, where additional merchandise can be purchased, including a limited edition "Pre-Launch Wicker Man Photography Box" featuring a numbered wood piece from the ride. [20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Wooden Rollercoaster Confirmed for Secret Weapon 8". TowersTimes. 31 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Puhak, Janine (1 March 2018). "New Wicker Man wooden roller coaster bursts into flames mid-ride". Fox News. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Rdzanek, Austin (25 August 2017). "Alton Towers New Coaster To Be Called "Wicker Man", Logo And Name Trademark?". Amusement Insider. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c "Alton Towers announce SW8 as 'Wicker Man'". Airgates - The Theme Park Experts. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  5. ^ "First glimpses of SW8's layout?". Towers Street. 23 April 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Planning application details". Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Ride Plans". TowersTimes - Secret Weapon 8. 
  8. ^ Alton Towers: John Wardley ‘thrilled’ with wood ride - Ride Rater. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  9. ^ "An Evening With John Wardley - TTSP@15". YouTube. Towers Times. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 16 Jan 2018. 
  10. ^ Wollaston, Steve (20 April 2017). "New Alton Towers rollercoaster could have Wicker Man theme". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  11. ^ "Wicker Man". Alton Towers. Retrieved 14 March 2018. 
  12. ^ Burnett, Tom (20 March 2018). "All rides open at Alton Towers today following bad weather". 
  13. ^ Waldron, Ben (18 March 2018). "Celebrities including Matt Terry and Rag'n'Bone Man flood to Alton Towers for launch of The Wicker Man". The Burton Mail. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  14. ^ Marden, Duane. "Wicker Man  (Alton Towers)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  15. ^ Richardson, Andy (2018-03-25). "Father reveals six-and-a-half hour wait to ride new Wicker Man". birminghammail. Retrieved 2018-03-25. 
  16. ^ Rawlins, Kirsten (8 January 2018). "Alton Towers reveals new Wicker Man ride". Express & Star. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  17. ^ "Artist Kyle Lambert helps Alton Towers make a scene as new ride is revealed!". Merlin Backstage. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "Wicker Man | New Rollercoaster at Alton Towers Resort". www.altontowers.com. Retrieved 2018-04-09. 
  19. ^ "Alton Towers' new Wicker Man ride will 'fuse wood and fire' – and people have questions - Independent.ie". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2018-04-09. 
  20. ^ "Exclusive Pre-Launch Wicker Man Photography Box". Alton Towers Resort Online Shop. Retrieved 2018-04-09. 

External links[edit]