United Kingdom (Abbreviation: AT)
Merlin Entertainments Group
Park News - (4/3/13) Our friends over at Theme Park Tourist are seeking good stories and tales about a park visit to Alton Towers, or something that took place perhaps when you might have been working at Alton Towers over the past few decades. The goal is to collect material for possible inclusion into a new book about the park. If your story is selected to be included, you can win an Amazon gift voucher. Click here for all the details.
(3/20/13) ScareTour has posted a review of the 2013 version of The Sanctuary maze now open inside Alton Towers.
(3/18/13) ThemeParks-UK has reconfirmed the earlier report from TowersStreet, claiming that The Sanctuary, the haunt from last fall which served as a preview of sorts for the theme to be used with The Smiler, will return again at the start of the season until the new coaster is ready to open, putting you into an encounter with the Ministry of Joy.
(1/14/13) TowersStreet reports that the X-Sector is due to start a bit of a makeover to refresh the area ahead of the opening of the new coaster, including a fresh coat of paint on Oblivion. They also report that the scare maze, “The Sanctuary” which has a tie into the background of the storyline behind the SW7 coaster will also return for the start of the 2013 season.
(10/19/12) TowersStreet reports that Alton Towers has plans to build themed lodges as part of an expansion to their resort hotel offerings, slated to open in time for the 2014 season.
(10/3/12) A fun documentary all about Alton Towers Scarefest from 2011 was posted on YouTube this year. Check it out to see what you can expect from the park’s Halloween efforts.
(8/28/12) Details about Alton Tower’s Scarefest event for this fall, and the list of this year’s haunts can be found at ThemeParks-UK.
(8/21/12) Good news for UK theme park fans, Alton Towers is now offering FREE WiFi service through the entire park. Make the jump over to UKParkNews to get their report on the connection strength of the network and where there are currently holes.
(8/8/12) AirGates reports that an accident took place the other day at Alton Towers involving the park’s Monorail system. From the sound of things, there may have been a minor train collision.
(7/26/12) Fun times at Alton Towers this week as the launch cable on Rita: Queen of Speed snapping in mid launch. Some video of the aftermath has been posted to Youtube which includes a shot of what’s left of the cable.
(7/6/12) Good news for Alton Towers guests, as the park is turning on free unlimited WiFi access across the 500 acre resort for all guests this summer. This is a great move, something I would love to see spread to all theme parks across the globe, sooner than later.
(5/4/12) They’re Back! Yep… The Ropers are back and taking Alton Towers to court once again. We all thought their decade of threatening legal action against Alton Towers was over with, but now they have been granted permission to bring their case back to life in a ‘High Court trial”. Read all the details here.
2013 - The Smiler - (5/23/13) Bad news for those dying to get a ride on The Smiler at Alton Towers. The park has confirmed that due to some snags during testing, The Smiler will not open today as expected. During a media event for the coaster, it actually broke down for a period of time, trapping a few of the journalists on the lift hill for a half hour. So far the park has not set a new opening date for The Smiler.
(5/20/13) Another great POV video of the smiler, giving us a full look at the first inversion (indoor with the lights on) has been embedded below.
(5/17/13) It looks like we finally have a POV view of The Smiler at Alton Towers, which gives us our first (slightly edited) peek at the indoor portion of the ride’s track. Check it out below.
(5/16/13) A new YouTube video shows off even more footage of The Smiler making test runs, shot from several different angles.
(5/11/13) Interested to see the marmlization process in action? A local news anchor was put to the test on The Smiler and recorded with a reverse POV angle. Unfortnuately they start off the video at the start of the first lift hill and still wont show off the indoor portion of the ride, but you’ll see her face experience all 14 record-breaking inversions of The Smiler. Below that, a great teaser for The Smiler lit up at night with a theatrical lighting package which looks fantastic. Again… as an America, I’m so jealous right now. I’m in need of “Correction” and so ready for one of my local parks to “grow a set” and build something with more than 7 inversions in North America. The Smiler has set the new bar… and set it very high.
(5/10/13) The Smiler at Alton Towers is now testing... all confirmed 14 inversions of pure mind bending fun. Check out a video captured and posted to YouTube below.
(3/29/13) The Smiler just took a huge step backwards in the popularity books this week, as the trains from Gerstaluer were unveiled at long last… and woe and behold… instead of the new lap-bar only restraint system, Alton Towers decided to installed the big bulky old-fashioned over the shoulder restraint system instead.
With so many inversions, perhaps the park felt a little more safe in going with “old reliable” instead of the newer system. Of course, with so many inversions… the riders may wish Alton Towers went with the lap-bar only system if they feel their heads are hitting the restraints too much.
(3/27/13) A new construction update from Alton Towers posted to TowersStreet shows off the progress being made on The Smiler this week. Boy that is a lot of twisted steel in such a compact space. I really want a copy of this ride built at one of my local theme parks in the US.
(3/5/13) The jury is still out as to just how many inversions The Smiler will have when it opens, though the report at ThemeParks-UK says they count 14 now, but there are still rumors of a possible 15th as well. The Smiler will also put to use a number of special effects along the way, as seen in the game, all working together to turn your mind into a pile of mush. Check out the details of the Marmalisation process here.
With 14 or maybe even 15 inversions, I’ve got to admit that as an American, I’m very jealous right now, since the most inversions anyone on this side of the pond has been willing to build stopped at 7 inversions way back in 1988 when Six Flags Great America built Shockwave. While we have a number of coasters with 7 inversions, for some reason no one has ever been willing to build one bigger. So if Smiler does have 14 or more inversions... consider me very impressed and green with envy.
(2/28/13) Good news, you can now download The Smiler: The Game at the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.
(2/22/13) A few new details and hints about what you can expect from The Smiler can be seen in a just released preview video for The Smiler: The Game. There is an interesting checklist in the video that warns us to prepare a “Brain Wipe” and “Marmalisation”, which is a fancy way of saying you will be ripped apart to the point of being unrecognizable, before your are then processed to become “Smiling Advocates”.
The game itself looks like a recreation of the coaster experience itself, so give it a download and take a preview ride on The Smiler... or at least what parts they are willing to show off. They do show that there will be a themed indoor segment (with sinister black and yellow smiling faces) between the start of the ride and the first lifthill, though they avoid giving away the surprise element, though a section of the game screen on the video does mention an “Indoor Heartline” element. The game is not yet available but will be sometime very soon it seems on both Android and iOS.
(1/21/13) Alton Towers actually put on a clever bit of marketing for the 2013 coaster this week, with the sudden (wink wink) appearance of sheep all around the area that have been marked with the ride’s sinister “smile” logo. Click here to learn more and then watch the video below as the “Smile” is starting to spread into the city with great projection effects and more.
Speaking of which… according to this news article, the coasters name really will be “The Smiler”.
(1/18/13) A great collection of new aerial pictures showing off the SW7 construction site have been posted to TowersTimes. Unfortunately, they opted to block certain parts of the picture, covering up the location of the rumored inversion roller-room effect.
(12/21/12) A reader sent in this new teaser for Alton Tower’s SW7 coaster, which ominously encourages you to “Get Corrected”.
(12/13/12) An image posted to TowersTimes from the air shows off just how close the SW7 construction site is to Oblivion. You can also make out the first few supports are already up and in place.
(12/10/12) TowersStreet reports that vertical construction on the SW7 coaster may have begun at last.
(10/26/12) Some new goodies have been discovered lately about SW7 at Alton Towers. The latest official stats of the ride, as seen at Themeparks-UK, place the coaster’s heght at 72 ft, a max speed of 85kph, track length of 1170m and ride time of approximately 165 seconds. A video posted to YouTube from ThemeParkWorldwide also shows off Gerstlauer coaster track arriving on site and being unloaded from the back of a truck.
(10/11/12) A video posted by TowersTimes shows off a rough animation describing how an inversion track element would work, just in case anyone needs a visual reference.
(10/9/12) There is a very odd rumor about SW7 starting to float around the inter-webs that sounds crazy... and at the same time, sounds like something Alton Towers would try to do as well. It has come to light that SW7 may attempt to take the inversion record when it opens, but with the track layout already shown to have only eight clear inversions, this was a bit of a head scratcher until now. We know Alton Towers likes to have new gimicks, and that there seems to be an enclosed section of track between the station and the lift hill that has so far remained out of sight. Much of the building it travels through was labeled as a maintenance area, but what if there is more to it than that? What if Alton Towers has found a way to only only score the world record for inversions, but do it in such a way that they could evolve the ride over the years to keep the record, no matter what the competition was to do?
Picture this... what if before your coaster hit the first lift hill, you traveled into a special effects tunnel (imagine a Vortex Tunnel effect) on a very special piece of track that would essentially bring your car to a halt, but begin spinning around and upside down a few times before stopping and sending you out onto the lift hill? A typical Vortex Tunnel effect is enough to make most people stagger off balance when trying to walk through it, but imagine a Vortex Effect mixed with a ride car that would actually spin and rotate around the room in the opposite direction!
Certainly the crazy looking icon graphic they’ve been using the tease SW7 with lately seems to almost to hint that just such an element may be possible. But the genius part of this concept that that with a little reprograming, they can add on more inversions to the program for years to come to always keep SW7 as the coaster with the most inversions on the planet. Stay tuned!!
(10/2/12) A teaser site for the new 2013 coaster (SW7) opening at Alton Towers has now opened with a countdown clock and an odd Twitter style hashtag at the bottom that says #getcorrected along with the same evil smiling face logo seen in the park this fall linked to the Sanctuary haunted maze themed to the Ministry of Joy. Look for the new coster to open in March 2013.
(9/21/12) TowersStreet reports that some early marketing may be taking place in the park as a link to not only the SW7 coaster, but claim that it may also be tied in with the “Ministry of Joy” institute to be featured in this year’s Sanctuary haunted maze at Scarefest.
(4/12/12) Alton Towers have launched an official SW7 mini-website for the new 2013 coaster. Not much there now, but you can sign up for future updates.
(3/20/12) I’ve read that the council has granted planning permission for the new 2013 SW7 coaster project for 2013 and the park has been cleared to begin the demolition of the former Black Hole tent structure in X-Sector. You can read a bit more over at Towers Times.
(2/21/12) Some new fan created artwork about what SW7 may look live has been posted to TowersNerd this week, showcasing how that big SpiderBallTower structure may be incorporated into it all.
(2/13/12) Ride-Guide.co.uk has posted some new plans showing off some of the proposed themeing for SW7, which includes an odd looking giant insect like structure (only 6 legs) that the coaster will pass through several times, with a central column topped off with a sphere like shape that is marked as being covered by a series of LED monitors.
(1/16/12) A great fan-made video showing off just what SW7 could look like has been posted on YouTube and I’ve got to admit, that it does look like a fantastic ride layout.
(1/10/12) ParkThoughts has written an interesting piece, suggesting just why SW7 may not be a Gerstlauer EuroFighter coaster, and may instead be something a little different. Some of their line of thought matches up with my initial thoughts upon seeing the design as well, which caused me to not believe it was a Gerstlauer ride at first either, and despite the noise comparison in the planning application, I’m still not entirely convinced either.
(1/9/12) Some very interesting images showing off a fan made recreation of what SW7 could look like, based on those plans found last week, have been posted to UKParkNews. In other news, I’ve heard from several people that the noise assessment part of the application for the ride mentions that the new proposed ride system will be from ‘the same manufacturer and type” of ride as Saw: The Ride, so it seems fairly certain that they are planning on adding a Gerstlauer EuroFighter style coaster.
(1/6/12) UKParkNews has files some layout images of the proposed SW7 coaster which will stand 22 meters tall and feature a number of inversions. They believe it could be a new Gerstlauer EuroFighter style ride, though I’m not entirely certain of that. However, giving the layout a quick look over, I believe we could be seeing a ride with 11 inversions. It also appears to have a traditional lift hill looking structure as well as a vertical tower, though given the layout, it looks like the vertical portion will be taken going up and not down. There is also a substantial straight section of track just before the incline up the tower, which leads me to wonder if this may end up being a launch straight up to the top of the tower to begin the second half of the ride.
All just idle speculation at this point… based on my first impression of the plans only. More as we find out.
(12/21/11) The latest report from Tower Times claims that two new planning applications from Alton Towers dealing with the site of the former enclosed Blackhole coaster have been submitted. The rumor mill for ideas for an “SW7” project in connection to this has already started swirling, though at this point it’s a bit too early to tell what is being proposed. Stay tuned.
Future Plans - (11/14/12) Screamscape sources tell us that Alton Towers is eyeballing three possible sites for new roller coasters between now and 2019. Two of the sites are said to be in the Forbidden Valley area while the third is near Cloud Cuckoo Land. One proposal is looking into building a coaster to cross between Forbidden Valley and the Dark Forest.
ThemeParkTourist goes over these and other possible future plans as gleemed from Alton Tower’s long-term development plans filed with the local government. Other desires include items to turn the park into a year-round destination, increase overnight stays, new attractions to appeal to a wide range of demographics, and more.
They also say that Sonic Spinball is expected to be removed in this time period, along with Ripsaw, The Blade and The Flume.
(7/15/09) I’ve been told that Merlin has drawn up a long term master plan for Alton Towers to show off to the local residents how they would like to develop the park over the next 10 years. Along the way they would like to see the park’s attendance which had peeked out around 2.5 million last year move up to the 2.9 – 3.0 million guest range on a regular basis.
The best way to do that is though new capital projects, with the general idea being to build 10 new medium to large sized attraction (or replacement attractions) over the next decade, starting with the new coaster opening in 2010. Another hotel is also being considered along with the idea of turning the “southern” car park into a kind of Citywalk style entertainment / retail zone that would link the park up with the hotels. The current overflow lot would then be transformed into a new permanent facility.
A map has also been seen that had some areas of the park highlighted as possible locations for future roller coasters. In addition to the current SW6 / 2010 site, it also listed a site in the back where the old Beast and Mouse were in the late 80s as well a a site using some of the current southern carpark. The map also listed Spinball Wizzer as an attraction could be moved or sold to another park in the future. You can read more about this over at Alton Towers Almanac.