Alton Towers

Alton Towers Resort (UK: /ˈɒltən/ (listen) OL-tən) (often referred to as Alton Towers or ATR for short) is a theme park and resort complex in Staffordshire, England, near the village of Alton.[3] The park is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group and incorporates a theme park, water park, spa, mini golf and hotel complex.

Alton Towers Resort
LocationAlton, Staffordshire, England
Coordinates52°59′15″N 1°53′27″W
SloganBritain's Greatest Escape
OwnerSecure Income REIT PLC[1]
Operated byMerlin Entertainments
General managerIan Crabbe
Opened13 April 1860 (1860-04-13) (as country estate)
4 April 1980 (1980-04-04) (as theme park)
Previous namesAlton Towers
Alton Abbey
Operating seasonTheme Park
March - December
Alton Towers Gardens
Year-round
Sharkbait Reef by SEALIFE
Year-round
Alton Towers Dungeon
March - November
Alton Towers Hotel
Year-round
Splash Landings Hotel
Year-round
Enchanted Village
April - November
CBeebies Land Hotel
Year-round
Stargazing Pods
April - November
Alton Towers Waterpark
Year-round
Alton Towers Hotel Spa
Year-round
Conference Centre
Year-round
Extraordinary Golf
Year-round
Tree Top Quest
April - November
Visitors per year 2.13 million (2019)
Area910 acres (370 ha) (total combined resort area)[2]
Attractions
Total41
Roller coasters10
Water rides3
Websitewww.AltonTowers.com

Originally a private estate, Alton Towers grounds opened to the public in 1860 to raise funds.[4] In the late 20th century, it was transformed into a theme park and opened a number of new rides from 1980 onwards. In 2019, it was the second most visited theme park in the UK with 2,130,000 visitors which puts it after Legoland Windsor.[5]

The park has many attractions such as Congo River Rapids, Runaway Mine Train, Nemesis, Oblivion, Galactica, The Smiler, and Wicker Man. It operates a total of ten roller coasters and offers a range of accommodation and lodging options alongside the theme park. Facilities include Alton Towers Waterpark, conference facilities, a crazy golf course, and a high ropes course.

The theme park is usually open from late March to early November, whilst many of its hotels and amenities are open year-round. The theme park is occasionally closed midweek in the quieter months. Special events are hosted throughout the year, including Alton Towers Scarefest (the park's Halloween event), Octoberfest, the Mardi Gras and a season-ending fireworks display held on the last three days of the season.

History

Alton Towers first opened to the public on a regular basis following the opening of Alton Towers railway station. Money raised from railway excursions was paid to the earl and helped to maintain the upkeep of the grounds.[6]

In 1924, a group of local estate agents formed Alton Towers Ltd to take ownership of the estate and began to restore the gardens as a tourist attraction.[7] In the 1950s, this included the operation of a fairground, and by the 1970s included a boating lake and chairlift.[8]

Property developer John Broome acquired the park after marrying the daughter of majority shareholder Dennis Bagshaw in 1973 and subsequently buying all its concessions. From there, he began the theme park by developing new areas and installing permanent rides, including the Corkscrew, The Flume, Around The World In 80 Days, The Black Hole and the Grand Canyon Rapids.

In 1990, Broome sold Alton Towers to The Tussauds Group, then a division of Pearson plc, after his development of the former Battersea Power Station into a sister theme park encountered financial difficulty. The change of park ownership brought another era of development, involving the opening of more intensively themed areas and new attractions, such as Runaway Mine Train (1992), The Haunted House (1992), Toyland Tours (1994), and Nemesis (1994). Tussauds' park development team from 1990 to 2002 included well-known attraction producer John Wardley among others.

The Tussauds Group was sold to venture capital firm Charterhouse in 1998. The opening of Oblivion that same year and Air (now Galactica) in 2002 saw the park sustain new major roller coasters, both marketed as 'World First' rides. In 2005, Dubai International Capital (DIC) acquired Tussauds for £800 million.[9]

In May 2007, The Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group for US$1.9 billion and merged it with its then-subsidiary Merlin Entertainments.[10][11][12] Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.[13]

On 17 July 2007, Alton Towers was sold to private investor Nick Leslau's investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement.[14] Merlin continues to operate the site under a renewable 35-year lease.[11] As of 2016, the property is under control of Secure Income REIT plc, of which Nick Leslau is a non-executive director.[1]

As of early 2008 the resort changed its name to 'Alton Towers Resort' to better reflect its status as a multi-day destination. Most other Merlin-owned theme parks with onsite hotels would follow the same course over the following few years.

In March 2020, the resort's opening for the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[15] The park reopened on 4 July, when the relaxing of government restrictions allowed.[16]

Rides and attractions

Roller coasters

Name Picture Opened Type Manufacturer Height
Min.
Park
section
Notes Previous Attraction
Galactica 2002 Steel/Flying Bolliger & Mabillard 1.4 m Forbidden Valley The world's first Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster, formerly known as Air (2002–2015). From 2016 to 2018 it featured virtual reality. Air
Nemesis 1994 Steel/Inverted Bolliger & Mabillard 1.4 m Forbidden Valley Europe's first inverted roller coaster. N/A
Oblivion 1998 Steel/Dive Machine Bolliger & Mabillard 1.4 m X-Sector The world's first dive coaster. Alpine Bobsleigh
Rita 2005 Steel/Accelerator Intamin 1.4 m Dark Forest A launched hydraulic launch coaster. Boneshaker
Runaway Mine Train 1992 Steel/Mine Train Mack Rides 0.9 m Katanga Canyon A powered mine train roller coaster. The oldest roller coaster in the park following the removal of the Beastie in 2013. N/A
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure 2015 Steel Zamperla 0.9 m CBeebies Land A coaster designed for young children and families. Themed to an underwater adventure. Beastie
Spinball Whizzer 2004 Steel/Spinning Maurer AG 1.2 m The Towers A spinning coaster themed to a game of pinball. Between 2010 and 2015 it was sponsored by Sonic the Hedgehog and named Sonic Spinball before losing the contract in 2016. N/A
TH13TEEN 2010 Steel/Family Drop Intamin 1.2 m Dark Forest A family coaster featuring the world's first "vertical free-fall drop" element on a roller coaster. Corkscrew
The Smiler 2013 Steel/Infinity Gerstlauer 1.4 m X-Sector Holds world record for most inversions on a roller coaster (14). Black Hole
Wicker Man 2018 Wooden Great Coasters International 1.2 m Mutiny Bay The second large-scale modern wooden roller coaster to open in the UK, and the first wooden rollercoaster to be themed to wood and fire. The ride interacts with a flaming wicker man feature. The Flume

Ride statistics

Name Height Length Top speed Inversions Manufacturer Designer
Galactica 65.6 ft (20.0 m) 2,755.9 ft (840.0 m) 46.6 mph (75.0 km/h) 2 Bolliger & Mabillard John Wardley / Bolliger & Mabillard[18]
Nemesis 42.6 ft (13.0 m) 2,349 ft (716 m) 50 mph (80 km/h) 4 Bolliger & Mabillard John Wardley / Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH[19]
Oblivion 65 ft (20 m) 1,222 ft (372 m) 68 mph (109 km/h) 0 Bolliger & Mabillard John Wardley / Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH[20]
Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure 21.3 ft (6.5 m) 469.2 ft (143.0 m) 28 mph (45 km/h) 0 Zamperla Zamperla[21]
Rita 68.8 ft (21.0 m) 2,099.7 ft (640.0 m) 61.1 mph (98.3 km/h) 0 Intamin Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH[22]
Runaway Mine Train 36 ft (11 m) 1,000 ft (300 m) 22.4 mph (36.0 km/h) 0 Mack Rides John Wardley / Mack Rides GmbH[23]
Spinball Whizzer 55.8 ft (17.0 m) 1,476.4 ft (450.0 m) 39 mph (63 km/h) 0 Maurer Söhne Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH[24]
The Smiler 72 ft (22 m) 3,838.6 ft (1,170.0 m) 52.8 mph (85.0 km/h) 14 Gerstlauer Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH[25]
TH13TEEN 65.6 ft (20.0 m) 2,480.3 ft (756.0 m) 41.6 mph (66.9 km/h) 0 Intamin Intamin Amusement Rides[26]
Wicker Man 72.2 ft (22.0 m) 2,608.3 ft (795.0 m) 43.6 mph (70.2 km/h) 0 Great Coasters International John Wardley / Jeff Pike, Skyline Design LLC[27]

Flat rides

NamePictureTypeStatusOpenedAreaManufacturerAdditional informationReplaced
EnterpriseHuss EnterpriseOperational1984X-SectorHUSSAn enterprise ride that originally operated in Festival Park before moving in 1998 to X-Sector. Cine 2000
The BladeSwinging shipOperational1997
(1980)
Forbidden ValleyHUSSA swinging ship, themed to a swinging blade. It was originally situated in Fantasy World between 1980 and 1996, as the Pirate Ship, before moving to Forbidden Valley in 1997. Thunder Looper

Temporary flat rides

Alton Towers are renting four temporary flat rides for the 2021 season to help with capacity. Three of them will be part of the "Retro Squad".

NamePictureTypeStatusOpenedAreaManufacturerAdditional informationReplaced
Funk'n'FlySuper trooperOperational2021Forbidden ValleyPWS RidesA super trooper flat ride owned by UK showman 'David Irvin'. The ride was manufactured by PWS in 2020. Ripsaw
MixtapeSmashing JumpOperational2021X-SectorSartori RidesA smashing jump flat ride owned by UK showman 'Davis Stokes'. The ride was manufactured by Sartori in 2012. Submission
Flavio's Fabulous FandangoSizzlerOperational2021The World of David WilliamsPWS RidesA sizzler/twister flat ride owned by UK showman 'George Burrows'. The ride was manufactured by PWS in 2015. Twirling Toadstool
Roller DiscoWaltzerOperational2021Dark ForestFairtrade ServicesA waltzer flat ride owned by UK showman 'John Collins'. The ride was manufactured by Fairtrade in 2020. UG Swinger

Water/Dark rides

NamePictureType StatusOpenedAreaManufacturerNotesReplaced
Alton Towers DungeonBoat ride and walk-through attractionOperational2019The TowersMerlin Magic Making / Mack RidesAn in-park version of Merlin's Dungeon brand attractions, with 5 interactive scenes and a boat ride. It incurs an additional charge of £7.50.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride
Battle GalleonsSplash Battle Operational2008Mutiny BayMack RidesA Splash Battle ride, where riders shoot with water guns while passing multiple pirate-themed scenery. Splash Kart Challenge
Congo River RapidsRapids ride Operational1986Katanga CanyonIntaminA rapids ride around Katanga Canyon, interacting with the Runaway Mine Train. Refurbished 1992. N/A
Duel - The Haunted House Strikes BackDark ride Operational1992
(2003)
Gloomy WoodMack RidesA refurbished dark ride where each train is equipped with 5 laser guns and multiple targets scattered around the ride layout. The Haunted House
Hex - The Legend
of the Towers
Walk-through/
Madhouse dark ride combination
Operational2000The TowersVekomaA walkthrough attraction based on the legend of the chained oak. Concludes with a Madhouse attraction in the ride's Vault area. N/A
Gangsta Granny: The RideDark ride Operational2021The World of David WalliamsGarmendale EngineeringA dark ride based on the story of Gangsta Granny, written by David Walliams. Wobble World

Children's rides

NamePictureTypeOpenedAreaManufacturerAdditional information|Replaced
Cuckoo Cars Driving SchoolDriving Attraction2006The TowersSB International ABA children's car driving attraction. Vintage Cars
Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp (Formerly Frog Hopper)Mini drop tower1999
(2021 as Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp)
The World of David WalliamsS&S PowerA mini drop tower for children. N/A
Royal Carousel (Formerly Gallopers Carousel)Carousel1991
(2021 as Royal Carousel)
The World of David WalliamsBertazzonA children's merry-go-round ride. N/A
Heave HoRockin' Tug2008Mutiny BayZamperlaA rocking and swinging boat ride. N/A
Marauder's
Mayhem
Teacups Ride1987
(2008 as Marauder's Mayhem)
Mutiny BayMack RidesA teacups ride re-themed to resemble barrels of gunpowder. Tea Cup Ride
Sharkbait ReefSea Life Centre2009Mutiny BayMerlin Magic MakingA Sea Life aquarium themed as a shipwreck. 3D Cinema
In the Night Garden
Magical Boat Ride
Boat ride1989
(2014 under its current name)
CBeebies LandMack RidesAn In the Night Garden... themed boat ride Riverbank Eye Spy/The Canal Boat Ride
Get Set Go
TreeTop Adventure
Powered monorail ride1996
(2014 under its current name)
CBeebies LandPremier RidesRiders travel through the tree tops in their own vehicle above CBeebies Land. Squirrel Nutty Ride
Postman Pat's
Parcel Post
Convoy Ride2014CBeebies LandMetallbau Emmeln An interactive car ride based on the CBeebies programme Postman Pat. Old Macdonalds Tractor Ride
Bugbie Go Round (formerly Numtums Number Go Round)Carousel-style attraction2014/2020CBeebies LandA carousel-style attraction featuring bugbies. Doodle Doo Derby
Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters & GreendropsPlayhouse2014CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingAn indoor interactive attraction based on the CBeebies programme Charlie and Lola. Donkeys
Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic FactoryPlayhouse2003 (2014 under its current name)CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingAn interactive indoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Justin's House. Berry Bish Bash play area
Mr Bloom's AllotmentShow2014CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingAn indoor show and attraction based on the CBeebies programme Mr Bloom's Nursery. Animal paddock
Something Special Sensory GardenSensory Trail2014CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingAn outdoor sensory garden based on the CBeebies programme Something Special. N/A
Tree Fu Tom Training CampPlay Area2014CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingAn outdoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Tree Fu Tom. Dung Heap play area
Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom RideAerial Roundabout2017CBeebies LandGarmendale EngineeringAn aerial roundabout ride themed to CBeebies programme Go Jetters. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017.[28] N/A
The Furchester Hotel LiveShow2017CBeebies LandMerlin Magic MakingA live show based on the CBeebies programme The Furchester Hotel. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017. N/A
Peter Rabbit Hippity HopTwo Junior Drop Towers2019CBeebies LandS&S PowerTwo mini drop towers based on the CBeebies programme Peter Rabbit. Opened 23 March 2019. N/A

Theme park transport and grounds

NamePictureTypeOpenedAreaManufacturerNotes
Haunted HollowWalkthrough2007Gloomy WoodTussauds StudiosThemed spooky path between Gloomy Wood and Mutiny Bay, with interactive features.

The woodland path was laid in place of the former Park Railway route, which ran 1953–1996. It can be a short cut to the Gloomy Woods or the Forbidden Valley.[29]

MonorailMonorail1987Links entrance plaza to car park and hotelsVon Roll HabeggerMonorail system to transport guests from the resort hotels & car parks to the theme park entrance. Trains refurbished in 2008 by AV and multimedia company, Sarner, with different themes added for each of the 8 trains, including the jellybean and daisy designs. Trains were originally used at Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sky RideGondola lift1987Stations at Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and the TowersPomaCable car to transport guests around the theme park giving views of the gardens. Damaged by fire in October 2007; refurbished in 2009; damaged again by fire 21 July 2009; rebuilt for the 2010 season. Has three stations, one in Forbidden Valley which can send you to the one in the Dark Forest or the one in Towers Street.
The GardensEnglish landscape garden1860GardensThe Talbot FamilyLandscaped gardens located within the valley with lakes, water features and architectural landmarks. Features include:
  • Chinese Pagoda Fountain
  • Choragic Monument- dedicated to the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury
  • The Conservatories
  • Gothic Prospect Tower
  • Swiss Cottage
The Towers ruinsRuins1970The TowersThe Talbot Family The ruins were made safe and opened to the public in the 1970s. Home of several scare mazes during the Scarefest event.

Past roller coasters

AttractionOpenedClosedRelocation
Corkscrew19802008Double corkscrew has been moved to the entrance (decommissioned)
Black Hole1984[30]2005Furuvik Zoo, Sweden since 2011[31]
Thunder Looper19901996Hopi Hari, Brazil since 1999[32]
The Beast19881997Salitre Magico, Colombia since 2010[33]
The Beastie19832010Closed during 2011 and 2012 then removed. Used as travelling coaster under the Dragon Challenge name and now located at Barry Island Pleasure Park.
Alton Mouse19881991Idlewild and Soak Zone, Pennsylvania, United States since 1993[34]
4 Man Bob Coaster19851990 [35]Currently in operation at Family Park in France.[36]
Mini Apple Coaster19821997Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, England, UK since 1998[37]

Main Past Attractions

AttractionOpenedClosedRide Type
Around The World in 80 Days19811993Mack Rides Boat Ride
Doom & Sons19811991Keith Sparks
The Flume19812015Mack Rides Log Flume
Twirling Toadstool19842016Zierer Wave Swinger
Toyland Tours19942005Mack Rides Boat Ride
The Haunted House19922002
Now Duel
Mack Rides Dark Ride
Submission20012013Chance Rides Inverter
Dynamo19932003Huss Breakdance
Aquarium
(Unrelated to Sharkbait Reef aquarium)
19741994
Boneshaker
Formerly Energizer
19952003 (removed in 2004)Mondial Supernova
Ripsaw19972015Huss Topspin
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride20062015Mack Rides Boat Ride
Nemesis Sub-Terra2012SBNOABC Rides Drop Tower
Ice Age: The 4D Experience20122016

Other notable past rides

  • Adventure Playground 1974–1993
  • Adventure Railway (15 in or 381 mm gauge miniature railway)[38] 1982–1992
  • Alpine Bob Sled 1980–1986
  • Astroglide mid-1970s–1992
  • Barney's Playground 2000–2002
  • The Blue Carousel 1981–1991
  • Bouncing Bugs 1982–2008
  • Cable Cars (open air) 1964-1986
  • Cine 360 1981–1987
  • Cine 2000 1980–1992
  • Cred Street Carousel 2000–2005
  • Cred Street Playground 2006–2008
  • Dinosaurs 1980–1983
  • Doll's House 1981–1995
  • Fantastic Fountains 1981–1992
  • Ferris wheel 1985–1986
  • Gravitron 1990–1992
  • Magic Carpet 1984–1985
  • Magic Show 1980–1986
  • Miniature Golf 1980–1994
  • Mississippi Showboat 1985–1996
  • Model Railway 1957–1992
  • Motor Museum 1987–1992
  • Nickelodeon: Outta Control 1997–1998
  • Nina's Science Lab 2014-2018
  • Octopus 1984–1991
  • Old MacDonald's Singing Barn 1995-2013
  • Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride 1995-2013
  • Park Railway (2 ft or 610 mm narrow gauge)[39] 1953–1996
  • Paddling Pool 1963–1992
  • Peter Rabbit and Friends on Ice 1994–2005
  • Planetarium 1972–1987
  • Rowing Boats 1923–1996
  • Sea Lions 1957–1990
  • Space Boat 1983
  • Spider 1986–1991
  • Splash Cats 1966–1996
  • Splash Karts 2004–2007
  • Sun Liner Trains 1984–1986
  • Swan Boats 1987–2003
  • Tea Cup Ride 1986-2007
  • Thunderbirds 1982–1990
  • Towers Express 1974–1983
  • Tri-Star 1989–1992
  • Turbo Star 1984–1989
  • Tweenies Playground 2003–2005
  • Vintage Cars 1983–2005
  • Wobble World 2009-2015
  • 3D Cinema 1981–2004
  • 1001 Nights 1985–1994

Food facilities

  • Theme Park
    • Towers Street: Costa Coffee, Towers Street Hot Dogs, Towers Street Doughnuts, Treats, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • CBeebies Land: Little Explores Lunch Box, Big Fun Showtime Snack box
    • X-Sector: Just Chicken, Donut Factory, Rehydrator, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • The Towers: Burger Kitchen, Archway, Front Lawns, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • Dark Forest: Woodcutters Bar and Grill, Eastern Express, Tormented Treats, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • Forbidden Valley: Rollercoaster Restaurant, Costa Coffee, Nemices Donuts, Forbidden Valley Refresh, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • Gloomy Wood: Gloomy Wood Kiosk, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • Katanga Canyon: Explorers Pizza and Pasta Buffet, Coca Cola Freestyle
    • Mutiny Bay: Burger Kitchen, Costa Coffee, Welcome Inn, Eastern Express, Courtyard Hot Dogs/Wraps/Waffles, Mutiny Bay Doughnuts, Pirates Kiosk, Coca Cola Freestyle
  • Accommodation
    • Alton Towers Hotel: Secret Garden Restaurant, Costa Coffee, Dragons Bar, Captains Bar
    • Alton Towers Conference Centre: Algenon's Bar, Sir Algenon's Grill (Only open in peak times)
    • Splash Landings Hotel: Flambos Jambo, Ma Garrita's Bar, Costa Coffee, Burger Cove
    • Enchanted Village: Crooked Spoon
    • CBeebies Land Hotel: The Windmill Restaurant
    • Stargazing Pods: Stargazing Bar
  • Midway Attractions
    • Alton Towers Waterpark: The Cave, Ice Cream Shack
    • Tree Top Quest: The Crooked Teaspoon

Past food facilities

Alton Towers previously had leases with High Street outlets, which have since been replaced by in-house brands such as Explorers Pizza & Pasta, Just Chicken and Burger Kitchen.

  • McDonald's (1998-2007)
  • Burger King (2008-2012)
  • Pizza Hut (1998-2008)
  • KFC (1998-2011)
  • Fried Chicken Co. (2011-2018)
  • Forest Feasts (2010-2016)
  • Towers Street Bar and Grill (1985-2016)

Alton Towers Theme Park

The Alton Towers Theme Park is divided into areas: Towers Street, Mutiny Bay, Katanga Canyon, Gloomy Wood, Forbidden Valley, Dark Forest, The Gardens, The Towers, The World of David Walliams, X-Sector and CBeebies Land. The SkyRide cable car system travels between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley, and the Towers and takes in views of the gardens.

The park's maximum capacity at any one time is set at 28,000 guests.[40][41][42][43] According to the TEA attendance report, the park was estimated to have attracted 2,130,000 people in 2019, a 1.4% increase on 2018's figure of 2,100,000. This makes Alton Towers Britain's 2nd most visited theme park, after Legoland Windsor, and the 13th most visited theme park in Europe.

Timeline of park areas

Years areas opened
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Ingestre Centre Aqualand Katanga Canyon
Merrie England Mutiny Bay
Springfield Centre Fantasy World X-Sector
Talbot Centre Festival Park UG Land Dark Forest
Talbot Street Land of Make Believe Cred Street Cloud Cuckoo Land The World of David Walliams
Towers Street
Kiddies Kingdom Adventure Land
Storybook Land Old MacDonald's Farmyard CBeebies Land
Britannia Farm Safeway Farm Old MacDonald's Farmyard
Thunder Valley Forbidden Valley
Gloomy Wood

   Previous themed area

   Current themed area

Towers Street

Opened in 1986, Towers Street is the first area that visitors to the park encounter. Themed loosely as a town street, it leads to views of the gardens and the Towers across the lake in the distance. Along the pathway are the park's jumping frog fountains and a lawn where seasonal events take place. The first SkyRide station is located nearby, which is a 1048 m long cable car transport that opened in 1987, and was refurbished 2009. The monorail moves guests from the four on-site hotels and the water park to the theme park; it opened 1987 and was refurbished in 2008. In this area during the hour before the park's daily closure, departing guests are entertained by three people wearing police costumes, two of them riding Segway-like vehicles which play party music and the third standing with an old-fashioned megaphone that is unused, and a man riding a miniature ship while dressed as a sea captain.

Katanga Canyon

Themed as an African village; created in 1992 and incorporated existing rapids ride. Rides include the roller coaster Runaway Mine Train and Congo River Rapids. Both are well-established rides in the park whose ride tracks share a tunnel. Congo River Rapids is a river rapids ride that opened 1986, as The Grand Canyon Rapids, and was refurbished in 1992. A 735 m long wild river rapids ride down the Congo River that lasts six minutes. Runaway Mine Train is a steel sit down powered coaster that reaches a speed of 22 mph (36 km/h) on a 1000 ft long track (305 m) and height of 36 ft (11 m); height limit 90 cm. It was designed by John Wardley for Tussauds and manufactured by Mack Rides.

Gloomy Wood

Gloomy Wood serves as the area for the dark ride Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back!, originally The Haunted House. Opening in 1992, this was originally Europe's largest haunted dark ride, but was significantly altered with interactive laser guns in 2003. Each player's shooting score is recorded on a display in the ride car, as guests shoot targets around the ride.

In 2007, a themed footpath through the woods was added to the area, named Haunted Hollow. The pathway follows the route formerly used by the park's old scenic railway, linking from Mutiny Bay. Haunted Hollow includes tombstones, statues and other features, some of which interact with guests using sound effects.[44] In July 2015, Nitrogenie opened and replaced the old Waffles and Ices, a shop producing ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Gloomy Wood was suggested by the 2017 park map to be home to the new Wicker Man wooden coaster, opening 2018. However, the park later stated that the ride was in Mutiny Bay.

Forbidden Valley

Theming and signs in Forbidden Valley

Forbidden Valley is set in a 'post-apocalyptic' landscape, with standing stones and rustic structures populating the 'valley'. A SkyRide station also serves this area of the park.

The area's principal attraction is Nemesis, opened in 1994. Nemesis is a steel inverted coaster that reaches a speed of 50 mph (81 km) with four inversions, set in a rocky quarry over waterfalls. The ride is built down into excavated ground and was designed by Tussauds, primarily John Wardley. The attraction is themed as an alien creature inhabiting the quarry where the coaster is situated.

The Blade is a Huss Pirate Boat modified with a pendulum blade. It opened in 1980, and was relocated to the area in 1997 from Fantasy World. The Blade currently operates as the only flat ride in Forbidden Valley since the removal of Ripsaw. However, in October 2019, The Blade was dismantled to be 'Resharpened by the Phalanx' and has since been added back in its pit after a refurbishment.

Galactica is a B&M flying coaster, originally opening as Air in 2002. Air was loosely themed as a peaceful landscape, distanced from the 'apocalyptic' look of Nemesis. Air was redesigned as Galactica in 2016, adopting virtual reality headsets and a space travel theme. The VR headsets have since been removed due to feedback from customers.[45]

In May 2016, the 'Rollercoaster Restaurant' opened, offering a dining experience where guests have their food delivered by looping rails. The restaurant is open daily from 10am - 9:30pm; available to guests without theme park admission after the park has closed, except during Scarefest and Fireworks events.

Adventure Land

Adventure Land is a small family area featuring Spinball Whizzer;[46] based on a pinball machine in which the car is the ball whizzing around the machine. The ride originally had this name, until 2010 when it was known as Sonic Spinball until the name change back in 2016 when a contract ended with SEGA after six years. The ride is a Maurer Söhne spinning roller coaster, in which riders sit in cars that can spin on their base whilst travelling at speed around the track. Spinball Whizzer is now part of The Towers, alongside Cuckoo Cars Driving School, Hex and the Alton Towers Dungeon.

Adventure Land is named after the adventure play ground which previously sat on the site. The former play area was one of the attractions of a larger area called Kiddies Kingdom. In 1996, Kiddies Kingdom was split into Adventure Land and Storybook Land.[47]

X-Sector

View of Oblivion

X-Sector is themed as a secretive industrial complex, suggested to be subjecting park guests to experimental testing.

The area currently contains three thrill rides. The steel dive coaster Oblivion which opened in 1998 as "the world's first vertical drop rollercoaster", designed by Tussauds and manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. The cars are held over the edge of the drop for three seconds, before diving into a deep tunnel. The Smiler is a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster which opened in May 2013 and currently holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster at 14.[17] Enterprise is a standard HUSS Enterprise model which opened in 1984, spinning riders 360 degrees and giving the illusion of defying gravity. The area layout was partially altered in 2013 season to accommodate the opening of The Smiler.

Previous rides in X-Sector include The Black Hole, which was a Jet Star 2 coaster enclosed in a tent, where The Smiler is located today. Energizer (later renamed Boneshaker) was a swinging gondola flat ride. It was replaced by Submission in 2001, a "Chance Double Inverter" flat ride, which was itself removed in 2014.

Mutiny Bay

Mutiny Bay's pirates

Mutiny Bay is a pirate-themed family area, which opened in 2008.[48] the area was a retheme for Merrie England.

Attractions in Mutiny Bay include: Battle Galleons, an interactive "Splash Battle" boat ride, where guests sit in tracked boats while soaking other riders with water cannons. Also in the area is the rocking boat ride, Heave Ho. The park's original teacups ride was re-themed to become Marauders Mayhem, with the tea cup cars being redesigned as gunpowder barrels. The Flume was a Mack log flume ride that opened in 1981 and was rethemed in 2004 with a sponsorship from Imperial Leather alongside the bubbleworks at Chessington world of adventure. Upon opening, it was the longest flume ride in the world at 886 metres (2,907 ft).[48] Late in the 2015 season, the ride and the neighboring tavern closed and were removed in 2016 to make way for the Wicker Man roller coaster and the "Welcome Inn" bar which shares the coaster's theme.

In 2009, a Sea Life Centre named Sharkbait Reef opened in the location previously home to the 3-D Cinema. This includes "touch pools" for interacting with underwater species and a 10-metre (33 ft) underwater tunnel.[49]

The World of David Walliams

Driving School attraction in Cloud Cuckoo Land

The World of David Walliams opened in May 2021 and is aimed at younger children aged 7–11. It is based on the children’s books by David Walliams. Attractions include Gangsta Granny: The Ride, Raj's Bouncy Bottom Burp (the former Frog Hopper) and Royal Carousel (previously Galloper's Carousel). Another attraction, Cuckoo Cars Driving School allows children to drive miniature electric cars around a themed road layout, featuring visual jokes along the way.[50] A SkyRide station is located nearby Fountain Square, giving access to other areas of the park. The area has had various names over the years including "Cloud Cuckoo Land", "Cred Street" and "The Land of Make Believe", each had a similar a cartoon-inspired look, mainly featuring Toyland Tours. The area was first built as "Talbot Street" in 1981, becoming the park's first themed area, home to the Around The World in 80 Days and Doom & Sons dark rides.

In October 2019, it was announced that Cloud Cuckoo Land will be replaced by "The World of David Walliams" for the 2020 season, which will feature attractions based around Walliams' series of children's books.[51]

On May 29, 2020, it was announced that the opening of "The World of David Walliams" would be delayed from 2020 to the 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[52]


Another attraction, Flavio’s Fabulous Fandango was temporarily added to the land for opening. The land also features Raj’s Shop and various outdoor entertainment.

Dark Forest

The Dark Forest is themed as a supernatural woodland area; to coincide with the opening of TH13TEEN, a steel family coaster themed as a haunted crypt, that opened on 20 March 2010. Th13teen, features the "world's first freefall drop on a roller coaster" - an indoor, vertically dropping track element. The ride replaced the Corkscrew; the park's first roller coaster, which opened in 1980. Rita is a hydraulically launched steel sit-down coaster that reaches a top speed of 62 mph (100 km) that is now themed around an abandoned drag racer that is used to escape the Dark Forest.

The area was previously a cartoon prehistoric area named Ug Land, which opened in 1999, but was half-demolished to make way for Rita's construction in 2005. Rita used to be themed around drag racing but was changed with the opening of Th13teen and the Dark Forest. With the opening of Th13teen, the area was renamed as Dark Forest and further altered with a new colour scheme and entrance feature. Rita was also given a repainted control cabin and trains, shortening its name from "Rita - Queen of Speed".[53]

CBeebies Land

CBeebies Land is based on the BBC children's TV channel: CBeebies and opened on 24 May 2014. The area includes rides, shows and interactive experiences based on programmes from CBeebies, including In the Night Garden... and Postman Pat. Attractions in the area are: In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Postman Pat's Parcel Post, Get Set Go Treetop Adventure, Something Special Sensory Garden, Numtums Number Go-Around, Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters and Greendrops, Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic Factory, Mr Bloom's Allotment and Tree Fu Tom Training Camp. Shows at the Big Fun Show Time stage include: Mike the Knight, The ZingZillas and Nina and the Neurons.

In 2015, Octonauts Roller Coaster Adventure opened, it is an underwater themed children's roller coaster; built on the vacant site The Beastie roller coaster. CBeebies Land was further expanded in 2017 with the opening of the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride and The Furchester Hotel Live, and again in 2019 with the addition of Peter Rabbit Hippity Hop and Teletubbies Big Band Live Show. The Numtums Number Go-Around has since been rethemed to the Bugbie Go-Around.

The Towers

Main historic house

The Towers are the ruins of Alton Towers stately home and are the source of the park's name. They belonged to the Talbot family as a stately home until 1924 and largely designed by Augustus Pugin, also noted for his work on the Palace of Westminster.[54] The Towers are now in a state of disrepair following decades of neglect. The ruins are open to the public during most of the open season. However, some areas are closed off as part of a £1.1 million project in place to restore the oldest parts of the Towers. Key areas of The Towers include the banqueting hall, the chapel, conservatories, and Her Ladyship's Gardens.

Hex – The Legend of the Towers, a walk-through dark ride based within the ruins themselves, opened in 2000. The finale to the ride is a Vekoma Madhouse located away from the real Towers but themed as a secret vault. The storyline is based on a local legend about the chained oak tree, located in a nearby forest, and makes use of the history of the Towers. It draws its theme from the legend of the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury who was said to be cursed by a beggar woman to suffer death every time a branch falls from an old oak tree.

The Alton Towers Dungeon was added to the area in 2019. Since the openings of CBeebies Land and The World of David Walliams; Spinball Whizzer and Cloud Cuckoo Land have been part of the area.

During the park's Halloween 'Scarefest' event multiple scare mazes operate within the Towers themselves. For 2018's Scarefest event these were; Sub Species: the End Games, and Altonville Mine Tours.

The Gardens

Gardens created by the eccentric 15th Earl of Shrewsbury

Near the garden entrance is a cenotaph to the 15th Earl, a marble bust with an inscription reading "He made the desert smile". Landmarks include a Chinese Pagoda Fountain, The Swiss Cottage, Miniature 'Stonehenge', a Greek Choragic Monument, and orangeries.

Alton Towers Waterpark

Alton Towers Waterpark

The Alton Towers Waterpark, formerly known as Cariba Creek, opened alongside the Splash Landings Hotel in 2003. It is a large (with 7 pools and 10 water slides), part-indoor and part outdoor waterpark themed as a tropical Caribbean lagoon. The waterpark features several fast slides, a lazy river, a giant tipping bucket and many other water features. Also located there are two food and drink venues: Adventures Cave and Ice Cream Shack. Unlike Chessington Zoo at the also Merlin operated Chessington World of Adventures Resort, a separate ticket is needed for waterpark access as it is not included with the theme park entrance price.

Attractions include Lagoona Bay, which is the main tropical pool, with water cannons, geysers and waterfalls. The Little Leak is a paddling pool for young children with two small slides and interactive pipes to play with, while Wacky Waterworks Treehouse is a wooden 'treehouse' with water cannons, and other interactive features to squirt passing people with.

The largest ride in the Waterpark is the water coaster The Master Blaster, with uphill sections similar to the Master Blaster at Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool and Nucleus at Water World, Stoke-on-Trent. The Master Blaster is a high speed water flume that contains sharp turns, drops and dark sections, and has views of the entire indoor area of the waterpark.

Other rides include Rush & Rampage, twin racing slides where riders experience wide turns. This attraction requires rubber rings. Lazy River (Calypso Creek) is a slow-moving water circuit, taking riders underneath spraying water jets and tipping buckets of water. Rubber rings are available. The Tipping Bucket is a container filled with 1000 litres of water which regularly tips its contents over people standing below. Flash Floods are tiered outdoor pools with two slides leading to the middle pool and three leading to the bottom. Other swimming pools include Volcanic Springs, and indoor heated hot pool, and Bubbly Wubbly Pool, an outdoor heated pool and whirlpool.

The indoor section of the water park operates 12 months a year excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day, although it closes for winter maintenance for around 2 weeks each January.

Resort accommodation

The fountain at the entrance to Alton Towers Hotel

Alton Towers Hotel

The Alton Towers Hotel opened on 10 April 1996 and is themed to the eccentric fictional character Sir Algenon Alton and his travels. The rooms are decorated in a quirky English style with pictures of Sir Algenon's inventions. The hotel is four star and has 180 rooms. The hotel was the first phase in a plan to turn the theme park into a multi-day resort.

The Alton Towers Hotel is currently undergoing a long term phased refurbishment to theme each floor to a different setting. So far, the plan has produced the Moon Voyage Bedrooms and Arctic Explorer Bedrooms.

Splash Landings Hotel

The Splash Landings Hotel opened in 2003. The hotel has a relaxed Caribbean theme and is attached to the Alton Towers Waterpark. It is also four star and it has 216 rooms with a choice of six-room types, Family of 4 'Beachcomber' room, Family of 6 'Beachcomber' room, The Ice Age Suites, The Pirate Suites, Interconnected Family of 4 'Beachcomber' room and, Interconnected Family of 3 'Beachcomber' Room. The interconnected rooms are all on the ground floor and the family of 3 rooms are also disabled accessible. The rooms are numbered in the ranges of 1101 to 1159, 1201 to 1259, 1301 to 1359 and, 1401 to 1459, there are a few room numbers that are not used due to the shape of the hotel, these are 27, 29, 31, 33 and 35 on each floor.

Enchanted Village

The Enchanted Village is made up of 120 lodges and 5 secluded treehouses set in the fictional Enchanted Forest woodland. Situated next to the Alton Towers hotel, it features new recreational activities, such as various playgrounds for children and an archery range, which is available to use at no extra cost. The site is also home to "The Crooked Spoon" restaurant, and also an additional shop which sells alcohol and outdoor activity toys.

The Enchanted Village opened to the public on 18 April 2015.

Alton Towers have submitted planning application to expand the Enchanted Village in several phases. The application has been approved and if the plans go ahead, construction on the first phase will commence in 2018 with a scheduled opening of March 2019.[55]

CBeebies Land Hotel

The CBeebies Land Hotel opened on 8 July 2017, the hotel has a total of 76 themed rooms: 42 standard rooms (themed to the CBeebies Bugbies) and 34 premium rooms themed to CBeebies shows, such as Something Special and Swashbuckle. Room amenities include child-friendly features, such as steps up to the sink and children's toilet seats. The hotel features CBeebies-themed shows and entertainment, which run every day of the year, as well as the "Windmill Restaurant".[56]

Stargazing Pods

Although Alton Towers had previously gained the necessary permits to expand the Enchanted Village, these plans were eventually scrapped and reduced into a "pod"-style accommodation option. 102 individual pods were constructed, each sleeping up to four people.

The proposals have faced some critical views from the public, with many criticisms being raised over the capacity of bathroom facilities as well as how the resort will cope with the increased demand in food and beverages, as the Stargazing Pods will not have its own restaurant or bar facilities. The council even initially rejected the application citing lack of imagination and "magic", although the plans were granted permission the second time without making any notable improvements.

The Stargazing Pods opened on 12 April 2019.[57]

Recreation

Alton Towers Spa

Alton Towers Spa is part of the Alton Towers Hotel and opened in 2004. It includes relaxation and treatment rooms and an adults only swimming pool. Despite being inside the Alton Towers Hotel, non-hotel guests are able to use the Spa.

Extraordinary Golf

Opened in 2007, the Extraordinary Golf mini-golf attraction is themed to different rides and attractions at the park, some of which, are from the park's history. Extraordinary Golf is located to the west of the Splash Landings Hotel. Extraordinary Golf was refreshed for 2016 including the addition of a Galactica themed hole.

Tree Top Quest

Opened May 2015, the Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest is a high ropes course near the Enchanted Village. The attraction opened shortly after, and accompanies, the Enchanted Village development. There is also a low ropes course. Tree Top Quest did not open for the 2018 season or the start of the 2019 season due to budget cuts by parent company, Merlin Entertainments. It is expected to reopen on 13 July 2019.[58]

Future developments

Alton Towers is located in a Conservation Area, which puts restrictions on its permissible development, notably that no structures in the park should be built above tree line and if so should be disguised from external views of the park; this can be seen on the ride Rita, where the highest sections of track are camouflaged green.

Noise pollution is also a problem for the park due to the close proximity to the villages of Alton and Farley and the town of Cheadle. There have been several cases where Alton Towers have been taken to court over the noise levels emitted from the park and have been served noise abatement orders between 2004 and 2006.

Secret Weapon roller coasters

Alton Towers has a tradition of codenaming its new roller coaster developments as "Secret Weapon", or "SW", followed by a number. The name is associated with the park's inclination to promote its rides as holding "world first" or in some way "innovative" features and records. However the naming tradition actually began for unrelated reasons, since "Secret Weapon" was the working title of a roller coaster that was ultimately never commissioned.

SW1 was a pipeline roller coaster, planned to open in around 1992, on what later became the Nemesis site. It was provisionally titled the "Secret Weapon", with the intention of theming the ride as an ambiguous weapon testing facility.[59] John Wardley rode the Arrow Dynamics prototype of their pipeline coaster, but stated "it was very slow and rather boring",[60] as well as the requirement for such a high lift hill being unsuitable for the park's planning restrictions. After a second layout revision, labelled "SW2", the ride was scrapped and development on SW3 (Nemesis) began.[59][60] The code name subsequently became the standard preliminary name for major roller coaster projects at the park.[61]

The naming convention was briefly dropped while the Tussauds Group changed ownership under Dubai International Capital, before being continued by Merlin Entertainments beginning with the Thirteen rollercoaster in 2010.[62]

Events

Prior to the main open season, Alton Towers held the February Half-Term event which saw a selected ride offering opened for the week before the start of the main season in March, however the event was cancelled for 2016; with the exception of Sharkbait Reef which was open for Pirate and Princess Week held at the Resort hotels.

Concerts

Alton Towers has a history of hosting concerts since the 1960s. Concerts in recent years have included the Alton Towers Live event in 2011 and 2013. In 2010, there was an 80s concert for the 30th Anniversary featuring Rick Astley and Bananarama and also that year hosted a P!nk concert. In the past these concerts were often held in the car park at an additional fee, however more recently concerts have been held within the theme park. Artists that have performed there include Tina Turner and The Black Eyed Peas.

Oktoberfest

The "Alton Towers Oktoberfest" is a new event scheduled to take place in weekends during late September and early October 2020. It is based on the German festival of Oktoberfest held traditionally in Munich, Germany. The event will involve themed food and drink, entertainment and extended evening hours with selected rides open.[63]

Scarefest

Scarefest is the resort's largest annual event. It celebrates Halloween with a number of temporary scare maze attractions, scare zones, costumed characters and extended opening hours. Rides and areas are lit with coloured lighting at night, with most rides and attractions continuing to operate until 9pm. The Scarefest event has been running since 2007, although the park started celebrating Halloween with decoration several years before and has operated the Terror of the Towers scaremaze since 2002.[64][65] The scare mazes are upcharge attractions.

Timeline of Halloween scare mazes
Season(s)
active
2002200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017201820192020
1Terror in the Towers
3Terror of the Towers: Bloodfest Banquet *
2Room13
3The Field of 1000 Screams
4The Boilerhouse
9Terror of the Towers: What lies Within
4Carnival of Screams
3The Sanctuary
1The Haunting of Molly Crowe
5Sub Species: The End Games
5Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of The Skin Snatchers
3House of Monsters
2The Welcoming: Be Chosen
2Project 42
2The Attic: Terror of the Towers
2Darkest Depths
1Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard

   Previous Scarefest maze    Current Scarefest maze

*Terror of the Towers took in break in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Seasonal Scarefest attractions as of 2020

  • Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers, live action horror maze, set in the baron town of Altonville. A family of inbred hillbillies are outcast due to their hideous disfigurement and warped way of life. Through desperation they begin capturing townsfolk, before removing their skin and stitching it into their own in a hope that this may finally give them the beauty they so desire.
  • Darkest Depths - New for 2019. Board the infamous ghost ship 'The Mutiny' and journey into the darkest depths to earn your piece of eight. The treacherous Sirens will try to lure you into the ocean as you dodge the swords of the mutinous ghost pirates and come face to face with the sea's meanest legend of all ... the Kraken!
  • The Attic: Terror of the Towers - New for 2019. Return of the iconic maze with new storyline and route. Dare you venture up to The Attic in this live action maze where you'll discover the ghost of 'The Governess'! According to local legend, she tries to avenge the death of her charges by taking the spirits of the living as penance - will you be her next victim?

Past seasonal Scarefest attractions

  • Terror of the Towers. The first incarnation of this long-running annual scare maze was introduced in 2002, and was located in the Towers ruins themselves. Many scenes from the original maze are still used. Visitors walked through the long, winding corridors of the Towers, through themed scenes while being pursued by live actors. The finale featured a winding pathway around actors behind fences, who lunged towards visitors, accompanied with heavy strobe effects. For 2003 it was restructured and given the tagline and theme "Bloodfest Banquet".
  • "TH13TEEN: After Dark" has an enhanced queue line for Alton Towers' newest roller coaster, using fog and lighting effects as well as live actors. This attraction did not return for 2012.
  • Terror of the Towers – Bloodfest Banquet was a new version of the Terror of the Towers scare maze, running from 2003 to 2008.[66] It retained much of the original version, but featured new scenes that included scripted dialogue from the several characters, and a new storyline was added. The strobe maze finale was moved to another point in the maze and replaced by a new ending, in which visitors become trapped in a small room with cages on every side, as actors reach for them through the metal bars for almost a minute. Every year, Terror of the Towers kept changing slightly with revised scenes and new scares.[67] However, for the 2009 Scarefest event, Terror of the Towers was once again completely rethought, with the tagline "What Lies Within". The new incarnation drops the scripted scenes and characters; meaning it is similar to the original Terror of Towers of 2002. The whole layout for the maze was also reversed, with what was previously the entrance becoming the exit.
  • Room 13 was first introduced in 2006 and was located in the conference room of the Alton Towers Hotel.[68] It was only available to guests of the hotel, who were led around the maze as many live actors appeared to scare them. Room 13 had positive reviews and returned in 2007, but was replaced by The Boiler House in 2008.
  • Field of 1000 Screams was first introduced in the 2007 Scarefest event and was the first maze at Alton Towers not situated inside a pre-existing building.[69] The Field was located entirely outdoors in a moderately sized field of maize, which had to be planted especially for the event several months earlier. It purported to be a fictional village called Altonville that had become overrun by zombies. Visitors walked down a long pathway cut through the corn, and encountered characters and scares along the way, before the finale took place. The Field of 1000 Screams did not return for the 2010 event.
  • Haunted Hollow Live was first seen in 2007 and consisted of several sinister, costumed actors performing along the Haunted Hollow walkway in Gloomy Wood. The attraction was similar to Duel Live, which was introduced the year later. Haunted Hollow Live returned for the 2008 Scarefest event, but was cancelled for 2009.
  • Duel Live was first introduced in the 2008 Scarefest event. Throughout this period, the park's haunted house dark ride, Duel, became host to this attraction, which included live actors situated around the ride circuit. Duel was available to ride normally until 12 pm, when the laser guns and LED targets were switched and the actors took their positions. This was changed in 2009, when Duel Live took place throughout the whole day and many more actors than the previous year were present. Duel Live was aimed at the family audience, and included such features as new music playing throughout the ride (instead of the usual Duel theme music), as well as a butler or maid who would welcome you inside the house. The attraction was changed slightly for the 2010 season and featured the park's Scarefest mascots.
  • Skelvin's Haunted Adventure was a newer version of Duel Live, introduced in 2010, and took over Duel – The Haunted House Strikes Back! throughout Scarefest. As in previous years, the attraction included live actors situated at different points around the ride. The laser guns and LED targets were switched off during this time. The ride featured the Scarefest mascots, notably the character of "Skelvin".
  • The Boiler House was a scare maze first introduced in 2008, and was situated next to the Alton Towers Hotel. Originally, the scare maze was set in an abandoned industrial facility and featured live actors in make up. This was changed in 2009, when a new storyline was added. The scare maze later featured the fictional "Hamble Twins" serial killers hiding in the industrial building, and visitors have to escape them as they are chased through the scenes. Visitors queued outside, past a van labelled "Alton News 24", from which television screens play news reports on the activity of the serial killers. Guests then walk through a covered walkway, which hides the marquee that the maze is contained in from view. Once inside, a man appears and warns guests about the dangers of coming inside. The murderers then appear and kill him, before chasing visitors away. Each of the Twins are played by two actors wearing the same grotesque, latex mask. They appear at different points in the maze, creating the illusion that one character is in several places at once. Dim lighting and scent effects are heavily used. For the 2011 Scarefest, The Boiler House moved along with the Carnival of Screams to the X Sector, where they both shared the old Black Hole tent. After three years it did not return for the 2012 season.
  • Carnival of Screams was a scare maze that debuted for the 2010 Scarefest event. During its debut it shared the same temporary building as the Boiler House. John Wardley contributed to the development of Carnival of Screams, which was entered through a large clown face with horrific features. For 2011 it and the Boiler House were relocated to the X-Sector area. The maze is a mixture of humor and serious scares, and the music used is the former Toy Land Tours attraction theme music warped for dramatic effect. From 2012 onwards, the attraction was situated opposite the hospitality suite, with the exit inside the Goal Striker unit. In 2013 and its final incarnation, the maze gained a theatrical ending involving a knife thrower.
  • The Sanctuary was new for the 2012 Scarefest event and returned in 2013 and 2014. The attraction was set in a research facility operated by "The Ministry of Joy". Alton Towers released the following description at the time: "Lost your Smile? Then check yourself in for a refreshing check up at The Sanctuary. After being closed for new patients for almost 50 years The Sanctuary, The Ministry of Joy’s earliest establishment, is now holding important trials searching for 'Advocates' for its 2013 project." It was revealed to be part of marketing for The Smiler roller coaster, which opened in 2013.[70]
  • Scary Tales Scare Zone was a walk through scare zone that ran for the 2014 event. The attraction setting revolved around fairy tale stories that were rewritten in a nightmarish manner.
  • The Haunting of Molly Crowe, a multi-sensory maze set in the Towers ruins. The maze was based on the old and abandoned house of Molly Crowe, who was last seen engulfed in flames in the cellar of her house, emitting a scream of non-human origin. This ran for the 2015 event.
  • Nox:Infernus Scare Zone, a scare zone which ran for the 2015 event, set in the Dark Forest. The underworld rises again - Will you join the Cult or face the end of the world as we know it?
  • Dark Apocalypse Scare Zone, a scare zone which was first introduced for the 2015 event and returning in 2016. A deadly virus has spread across Forbidden Valley. The infected show signs of highly aggressive behavior and rapid physical decomposition. Phalanx control has quarantined the area however, a recent security breach has questioned their ability to contain the virus and keep society safe.
  • Terror of the Towers – What Lies Within, the signature maze situated inside the Towers themselves, first introduced in 2002. A new format was introduced in the 2009 Scarefest event, along with the new tagline "What Lies Within" replacing "Bloodfest Banquet". Visitors queue outside in Her Ladyship's Gardens, and the attraction itself starts in the derelict Conservatories. Batches of guests watch a short video showing two men exploring the Towers for ghosts. The video then cuts short, and guests enter the Towers to find the men. At certain points in the maze, the bodies of the two men are each seen hanging from a noose. Visitors become lost in the lengthy corridors and themed scenes in the Towers, with live actors pursuing them in every room. The finale to the attraction is a maze-like walkway that winds around actors in cages, with strobe effects.

Fireworks

For the final few days of the season, Alton Towers host firework shows, which have been running annually since the 1990s on the Great Lawns. The displays were considered disruptive by some local residents, which led to formal complaints - two of which decided to take the theme park to court regarding this issue. The court issued Alton Towers with a noise abatement order in October 2005 which restricted the theme park to three shows a year, previously five, with noise readings not exceeding 40 decibels outside the park.[71] In 2006, the display was rebranded as Electric Towers, but then discontinued. However, the fireworks and laser show was reinstated in 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the theme park and has returned to being an annual event.

Other events

During the closed season months Alton Towers holds regular Pirate & Princess Weekends. The event entails decorations, and themed activities for children in the Hotels and the waterpark. The theme park's Sharkbait Reef aquarium also opens for the event.

During December, the Santa's Sleepover event takes place. Both resort hotels are decorated for the event and a pantomime takes place. The Alton Towers Theme Park also opens for Christmas with a small number of rides open as well as a Santa's Grotto. The event is largely aimed at children. In 2015, the theme park permitted entry to non-hotel guests for the first time however the event reverted to hotel guests only in 2016. Festive Breaks continue from 27 December 2018 to 6 January 2019 with a similar lineup to the Santa's Sleepovers.

Since 2015 Alton Towers have opened the park for a Services Day; a day where a limited quantity of discounted tickets (fewer than on a usual season day) are sold to those who work in public services[72] such as the Police, NHS, Fire brigade, Prison service, Army, RAF, Royal Navy and other similar services. Services Day is usually held approximately two weeks prior to the start of the new season, which usually begins mid-March. Due to the success of the 2015, '16 and '17 Services Days, a two-day weekend of Services Days was planned for 3 and 4 March 2018, however this was postponed to 11 March due to weather conditions. Another two-day event took place on 16–17 March 2019. Services Days are open to holders of a Blue Light Card or a Defence Discount Service Card.[72] Services Days for 2020 and 2021 were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a further services' weekend is planned for 2022 which will include discounted hotel stays for the first time.

Incidents

The Smiler

In June 2015, sixteen people were injured on The Smiler ride, with two individuals requiring leg amputations. Merlin Entertainments originally released a press release blaming the crash on "human error."[73][74] The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) concluded the crash occurred because "Merlin failed to put in place systems that allowed their engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running".[75] During the subsequent court case, Merlin retracted their statement and pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety law. The company was fined £5 million, with the court citing a "catalogue of errors" with Merlin's operating procedure and training.[76][77] It is said that Merlin were blamed for rushing their employees and making them reduce down time as much as they possibly could.

In June 2017, Alton Towers estate owner Nick Leslau repeated the discredited claim that the crash was due to "a human error", but added that "Merlin has paid a massive price, but the performance of the business has been exemplary and the share price is now at an all-time high."[78]

Sky Ride

On 30 June 2004, due to a strong gust of wind, the Sky Ride cables became caught, jamming the ride. About 80 people were on the ride, and nine people had to be rescued by being abseiled down 200 foot (61 m) cables.[79]

On 28 October 2007, a fire broke out in the Forbidden Valley Skyride station due to a faulty Halogen light. It caused a power cut on the Monorail ride and also had destroyed the roof of the station. The forbidden valley section of the park was evacuated shortly after the fire.

On 21 July 2009, another fire broke out, this time in the Cloud Cuckoo Land station, due to a faulty vending machine. The fire completely gutted the entire building. While the park was closed, a new station was designed and built, ready for the 2010 season.

Runaway Mine Train

On 20 July 2006, when the train was entering the tunnel section of its course, two carriages uncoupled, with the front half of the train continuing up the slope while the rear half remained stuck in the tunnel. The front half failed to make it over the hill, rolled back and crashed into the rear half which had remained stuck in the tunnel. Six people were taken to hospital and 23 others were treated for cuts and bruises. Following the incident the Runaway Mine Train was closed for the rest of the season. The train was only returned to full length operation in June the following year.[80]

Court cases

In 2011, a couple from the local village of Farley won the rights to a full High Court trial on the amount of noise generated by the park. The couple have been in legal battles with the park since 2004, and previously secured a noise abatement order on the theme park which led to the "Don't look down" audio from the top of the Oblivion drop being removed, and Alton Towers having to limit the amount of annual fireworks displays to only three a year.[81]

Stephen and Suzanne Roper, who live only 100 yards from the park, say that their lives have been made a misery by the noise of the screams as well as fireworks displays and music. They launched their legal fight in 2002, but after years of wrangling, their claim for an injunction and damages was thrown out in January 2011. Judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom later overturned that decision, bringing the claim back. This now paves the way for a full court hearing. The Ropers will seek an injunction forcing the park owners to close or relocate some rides and an order forcing them to pay damages for noise suffered since 1998.[82]

See also

  • Incidents at European amusement parks
  • List of theme parks in the United Kingdom
  • Virtual Towers Online

References

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  2. "REGINA (HSE) v MERLIN ATTRACTIONS OPERATIONS LIMITED SENTENCING REMARKS" (PDF). September 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  4. "History of the Towers". Alton Towers Almanac. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  5. "Amusement and theme park attendance in UK 2017 | Statistic". Statista. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
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