Alton Towers Resort, often shortened to Alton Towers, is a theme park resort located in Staffordshire, England. It is near the village of Alton, in the parishes of Denstone and Farley. The resort, which is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group, incorporates a theme park, water park, mini golf and hotel complex. Originally a private estate, Alton Towers grounds opened to the public in 1860 to raise funds for the estate. In the late 20th century it was transformed into a theme park and opened a number of new rides from 1980 onwards. In 2016 it was the second most visited theme park in the UK after Legoland Windsor.
The park operates seven major roller coasters; Galactica, Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita, Thirteen, The Smiler and Wicker Man. The first hotel accommodation opened in 1996 as the Alton Towers Hotel. The Alton Towers Waterpark and a Caribbean-themed Splash Landings Hotel were added in 2003. The Enchanted Village opened in 2015, and a new hotel based on the CBeebies brand opened in July 2017. The complex also includes conference facilities, a crazy golf course and a high ropes course.
The theme park is open from mid-March to early November, whilst many of its hotels and amenities are open year-round. Special events are hosted throughout the year, including [[Alton towers Scarefest]] (the park's Halloween event), and a season-ending fireworks display held on the last two days of the season.
Alton Towers first began to be open to the public on a regular basis following the opening of Alton railway station. Money raised from railway excursions was paid to the Earl and helped to maintain the upkeep of the grounds.
In 1924 a group of local businessmen formed Alton Towers Ltd and began to restore the gardens as a tourist attraction. In the 1950s this included the operation of a fairground, and by the 1970s included a boating lake and chairlift.
After millionaire property developer John Broome married the daughter of majority shareholder Denis Bagshaw in 1973, he bought out the controlling stake in Alton Towers. Over the next few years he laid the foundation for the modern theme park by installing various permanent rides and developing areas of the grounds in progressive stages. In the 1980s Broome opened a succession of rides and roller coasters around the park, including Corkscrew, Pirate Ship (now The Blade), Alpine Bobsleigh, The Flume and The Black Hole. The pirate ship is the only one of the original thrill rides still operating at the park as Corkscrew was removed to make way for Th13teen, the Black hole was removed to be replaced by The Smiler and the Flume was replaced by the park's latest coaster Wicker Man (roller coaster).
Broome sold Alton Towers to The Tussauds Group, then a division of Pearson plc, in 1990, after encountering financial troubles in attempting to develop the former Battersea Power Station into a similar theme park. The change of ownership brought an era of major redevelopment and promotion, involving the opening of large themed areas and new attractions, such as Runaway Mine Train (1992), The Haunted House (1992), Toyland Tours (1994) and Nemesis (1994). Later, Oblivion (1998) and Air (2002, now Galactica) saw the park sustain its reputation for major roller coasters, both marketed as 'World First' rides. Tussauds' park development team from 1990 to 2002 included well-known attraction producer John Wardley, among experienced others.
The Tussauds Group was sold to venture capitalist firm Charterhouse in 1998, then to Dubai International Capital (DIC) for £800 million in 2005. The Tussauds Group was then bought by Merlin Entertainments in March 2007 for over £1billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control.
In May 2007, The Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group for US$1.9 billion and merged it into Merlin Entertainments with management by Merlin. Dubai International Capital also gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.
On 17 July 2007, Alton Towers was sold to private investor Nick Leslau's investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement. Merlin continues to operate the site under a renewable 35-year lease.
|Galactica||2002 (2016)||Steel / VR / flying||Operational||1.4 m||Bolliger & Mabillard||Forbidden Valley||The world's first Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster, formerly known as "Air". Now a virtual reality coaster.||Air|
|Operational||1.4 m||Bolliger & Mabillard||Forbidden Valley||Europe's first inverted roller coaster.||N/A|
|Oblivion||1998||Steel dive||Operational||1.4 m||Bolliger & Mabillard||X-Sector||The world's first dive coaster.||Alpine Bobsleigh|
|Operational||1.4 m||Intamin||Dark Forest||A launched roller coaster.||N/A|
|Runaway Mine Train||1992||Steel
|Operational||0.9 m||Mack Rides||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
||Operational||0.9 m||Zamperla||CBeebies Land||A coaster designed for young children and families. Themed to an underwater adventure.||Beastie|
|Operational||1.2 m||Maurer Söhne||Adventure Land||A spinning coaster themed to a game of pinball
|TH13TEEN||2010||Steel Family Drop||Operational||1.2 m||Intamin||Dark Forest||Featuring the world's first "vertical free-fall drop" element on a roller coaster.||Corkscrew|
|The Smiler||2013||Steel Infinity||Operational||1.4 m||Gerstlauer||X-Sector||Holds world record for most inversions on a roller coaster (14).||Black Hole|
|Wicker Man||2018||Wooden||Operational||1.2 m||Great Coasters International||Mutiny Bay||The first wooden roller coaster to open in the UK since Megafobia. The ride interacts with a flaming wicker man feature.||The Flume|
|Name||Height||Length||Top speed||Max vert.
|Galactica**||65 ft (20 m)||2,760 ft (840 m)||46.6 mph (75.0 km/h)||40°||2||3||28 (7 rows of 4)||John Wardley|
|Nemesis*||42 ft (13 m)||2,349 ft (716 m)||50 mph (80 km/h)||40°||4||2||32 (8 rows of 4)||John Wardley|
|Oblivion*||65 ft (20 m)||1,223 ft (373 m)||68 mph (109 km/h)||87°*||0||7||16 (2 rows of 8)||John Wardley|
|Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure||21.3 ft (6.5 m)||469.2 ft (143.0 m)||28 mph||0||1||14 (7 rows of 2)|
|Rita||68.8 ft (21.0 m)||2,099.8 ft (640.0 m)||61.1 mph (98.3 km/h)||53°||0||2||20 (10 rows of 2)||Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH|
|Runaway Mine Train||36 ft (11 m)||1,000 ft (300 m)||22.4 mph (36.0 km/h)||29°||0||1||46 (23 rows of 2)||John Wardley|
|Spinball Whizzer||55.8 ft (17.0 m)||1,476.4 ft (450.0 m)||39 mph (63 km/h)||80°||0||8||4 (2 rows of 2, back to back)||Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH|
|The Smiler**||72 ft (22 m)||3,838.6 ft (1,170.0 m)||52.8 mph (85.0 km/h)||50°||14**||4||16 (4 rows of 4)||Merlin Magic Making|
|TH13TEEN*||65.6 ft (20.0 m)||2,480.3 ft (756.0 m)||41.6 mph (66.9 km/h)||70°||0||3||20 (10 rows of 2)||Merlin Magic Making|
|Wicker Man**||72 ft (22 m)||2,028 ft (618 m)||44 mph (71 km/h)||40°||0||3||24 (12 rows of 2)||Merlin Magic Making|
|The Blade||Swinging ship||Operational||1997
|Forbidden Valley||Huss Rides||A zero gravity swinging ship, themed to resemble a piece of discarded shrapnel thrown from Nemesis's pit.
Was themed as a traditional pirate ship attraction between 1980-1996.
|Battle Galleons||Splash Battle||Operational||2008||Mutiny Bay||Mack Rides||A Splash Battle ride, allowing riders to shoot at other ride boats and guests on land with mounted water guns.||Splash Kart Challenge|
|Congo River Rapids||Rapids ride||Operational||1986||Katanga Canyon||Intamin||An rapids ride around the perimeter of Katanga Canyon, interacting with the Runaway Mine Train throughout its layout. Refurbished 1992.||N/A|
|Gloomy Wood||Mack Rides||A dark ride through a haunted house. Rides are equipped with laser guns to shoot the scenery and gain points.||The Haunted House|
|Hex - The Legend
of the Towers
Madhouse dark ride combination
|Operational||2000||The Towers||Vekoma||A walkthrough attraction based on the legend of the chained oak. Concludes with a Madhouse attraction in the ride's Vault area.||N/A|
|Nemesis: Sub-Terra||Drop tower and walkthrough attraction||SBNO||2012||Forbidden Valley||ABC rides||Not been in operation since June 2015, still standing. Was at one point planned to be moved to Legoland Windsor to be used in its haunted house before they decided on a Vekoma Madhouse||Dynamo|
|Twirling Toadstool||Chair Swing||1984||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Zierer||Currently closed for the 2017 and 2018 season.||Bouncing Bugs|
|Cuckoo Cars Driving School||Driving Attraction||2006||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Peugeot||A children's car driving attraction.||Vintage Cars|
|Frog Hopper||Mini drop tower||1999||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Zamperla||A mini drop tower for children.||N/A|
|Galloper's Carousel||Carousel||1991||Cloud Cuckoo Land||Bertazzon||A children's merry-go-round ride.||N/A|
|Heave Ho||Rock 'n' Tug||2008||Mutiny Bay||Zamperla||A rocking and swinging boat ride.||N/A|
|Tea Cups Ride||1986||Mutiny Bay||Mack Rides||A tea cups ride re-themed to resemble barrels of gunpowder. Rethemed in 2008.||Tea Cups Ride|
|Sharkbait Reef||Sea Life Centre||2009||Mutiny Bay||Merlin Entertainments Studios||Aquarium themed as a shipwreck.||3D Cinema|
|In the Night Garden
Magical Boat Ride
|Boat ride||2014||CBeebies Land||Mack Rides||Boat ride taking in sights of In The Night Garden. Rethemed Riverbank Eye Spy.||Riverbank Eye Spy|
|Get Set Go
|Powered monorail ride||2014||CBeebies Land||Premier Rides||Riders travel through the tree tops in their own vehicle above CBeebies Land.||Squirrel Nutty Ride|
|Convoy Ride||2014||CBeebies Land||MSI||An interactive car ride based on the CBeebies programme Postman Pat.||Old Macdonalds Tractor Ride|
|Numtums Number Go-Around||Carousel style attraction||2014||CBeebies Land||A carousel style attraction featuring the Numtums.||Doodle Doo Derby|
|Charlie & Lola's Moonsquirters & Greendrops||Walkthrough||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An indoor interactive attraction based on the CBeebies programme Charlie and Lola.||Donkeys|
|Justin's House: Pie-O-Matic Factory||Playhouse||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An interactive indoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Justin's House.||Berry Bish Bash play area|
|Nina's Science Lab||Activity Centre||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An indoor educational science attraction based on the CBeebies programme Nina and the Neurons.||Education Centre|
|Mr Bloom's Allotment||Show||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An indoor show and attraction based on the CBeebies programme Mr Bloom's Nursery.||Animal paddock|
|Something Special Sensory Garden||Sensory Trail||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An outdoor sensory garden based on the CBeebies programme Something Special.||Bookworm attraction|
|Tree Fu Tom Training Camp||Play Area||2014||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||An outdoor play area based on the CBeebies programme Tree Fu Tom.||Dung Heap play area|
|Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride||Spinning flat ride||2017||CBeebies Land||Garmendale Engineering||A spinning flat ride themed to CBeebies programme Go Jetters. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017.||N/A|
|The Furchester Hotel Live||Show||2017||CBeebies Land||Merlin Ent. Studios||A show based on the CBeebies programme The Furchester Hotel. One of two additions to CBeebies Land for 2017.||N/A|
|Haunted Hollow||Walkthrough||2007||Gloomy Wood||Tussauds Studios||Themed 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.
|Monorail||Monorail||1987||Links entrance plaza to car park and hotels||Von Roll Habegger||Monorail 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 Ride||Cable car||1987||Stations at Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and the Towers||Poma||Cable 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.|
|The Gardens||English landscape garden||1860||Gardens||Landscaped gardens located within the valley with lakes, water features and architectural landmarks. Features include:
|The Towers ruins||Ruins||1970s||The Towers||The ruins were made safe and opened to the public in the 1970s. Utilised during Scarefest for scare mazes.|
Alton Towers previously had leases with High Street outlets, which have since been replaced by in-house brands such as Explorers Pizza & Pasta, Fried Chicken Co. and Burger Kitchen.
|Corkscrew||1980||2008||Display feature at theme park entrance (decommissioned)|
|Black Hole||1983||2005||Furuvik Zoo, Sweden since 2011|
|Thunder Looper||1990||1996||Hopi Hari, Brazil since 1999|
|The Beast||1988||1997||Salitre Magico, Colombia since 2010|
|The Beastie||1983||2010||Closed during 2011 and 2012 then removed.|
|Alton Mouse||1988||1991||Idlewild and Soak Zone, Pennsylvania, United States since 1993|
|4 Man Bob Coaster||1985||1991||Last operated at Loudon Castle, Scotland, UK in 2011|
|Mini Apple Coaster||1982||1997||Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, England, UK since 1998|
|Around The World in 80 Days||1981||1993|
|Doom & Sons||1981||1991|
|The Haunted House||1992||2002
(Unrelated to Sharkbait Reef aquarium)
|1995||2003, closed until 2004|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride||2006||2015|
|Ice Age: The 4D Experience||2012||2016|
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, Cloud Cuckoo Land, X-Sector and CBeebies Land. The SkyRide cable car system travels between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley, and Cloud Cuckoo Land and takes in views of the gardens.
The park's maximum capacity at any one time is set at 28,000 guests. According to the TEA attendance report, the park was estimated to have attracted 1,980,000 people in 2016, a 2.9% increase on 2015's figure of 1,925,000. This makes Alton Towers Britain's 2nd most visited theme park after Legoland Windsor and the 13th most visited theme park in Europe. The launch of the Thirteen rollercoaster saw the theme park attract 3 million admissions in the 2010 season, a number equalled only by the launch of Nemesis in 1994.
Annual park attendance figures are not released by the park itself, so the figures listed here are sourced from various estimates from organisations such as the Themed Entertainment Association. Due to conflicting figures from various sources, some of the figures listed here are not sourced from the TEA.
|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|
|Kiddies Kingdom||Adventure Land (Now part of the Towers|
|Storybook Land||CBeebies Land|
|Britannia Farm||Safeway Farm||Old MacDonalds Farmyard|
|Thunder Valley||Forbidden Valley|
Exterior of Duel
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 three 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.
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 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. 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.
The area's principle 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 a malevolent alien creature inhabiting the quarry.
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.
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 headsets are optional for riders.
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 is a small family area featuring Spinball Whizzer; 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. In 2017, the area was merged with the Towers making Spinball whizzer the second attraction in the area alongside [Hex: the legend of the towers]
X-Sector is themed as a secretive industrial complex, suggested to be subjecting park guests to experimental tests.
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. 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 partly 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 is a pirate-themed family area, which opened in 2008. the area was a retheme for Merry 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 m. Towards the end of the 2015 season, the ride and the neighboring Tavern closed and was removed in 2016, to make way for the Wicker Man - a Great Coasters International wooden roller coaster and the Welcome Inn (a small pub based on the ride's scare maze the Welcoming) that opened in march
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 underwater tunnel.
Cloud Cuckoo Land is aimed at younger children, featuring bright colours and fantasy decor. Attractions include Frog Hopper and Galloper's Carousel. Cuckoo Cars Driving School allows children to drive miniature electric cars around a themed road layout, featuring visual jokes along the way. A SkyRide station is located nearby Fountain Square, giving access to other areas of the park.
Other attractions in the area are currently SBNO, including an indoor bouncy castle play area called Wobble World and Twirling Toadstool. Previous attractions include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride, which closed at the end of 2015, and Ice Age: 4D Experience, which closed at the end of 2016, however the film is now on show at nearby Drayton Manor Theme Park.
The area was previously known as "Cred Street" and "The Land of Make Believe", with a cartoon-inspired look, mainly featuring Toyland Tours. Prior to this, it 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.
The Dark Forest opened in March 2010, themed as a supernatural woodland area. TH13TEEN, a steel family coaster themed as a haunted crypt, opened in 2010. It 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).
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. With the opening of Thirteen, 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". Speakers also play a theme tune based on the Teddy bears picnic as Thirteen's advertising slogan was "If you go down to the woods today you better not go alone"
CBeebies Land is based on the BBC children's TV channel: CBeebies. It is the newest area of the Theme Park 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, Nina's Science Lab, 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.
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. 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.
During the park's Halloween 'Scarefest' event multiple scare mazes operate within the Towers themselves. For 2016's Scarefest event these were; Terror of the Towers, Sub Species: the End Games and the new for 2016 maze called Altonville Mine Tours. It's also the area that Spinball whizzer, a Maurer-Sohne spinning coaster, now falls under.
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.
The Alton Towers Waterpark, formerly known as Cariba Creek, opened alongside the Splash Landings Hotel in 2003. It is a large,[clarification needed] 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 Water Park, 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 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.
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.
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.
On 27 July 2016, Alton Towers announced the addition of a 76-room extension to the Alton Towers Hotel themed to CBeebies characters. The hotel was constructed with 42 standard rooms themed to the CBeebies Bugbies and another 34 premium rooms themed to different 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". The hotel opened on 8 July 2017.
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.
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.
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. The Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest will not be open for the 2018 season.
In July 2009, the Alton Towers Resort outlined a 10-year development plan for the park (2010–2019), the aim being to increase visitor numbers, in particular multi-day guests. The plan showed an option for a third hotel or new accommodation of some sort over the coming years. This was later revealed to be a log cabin development, The Enchanted Village. The plan also highlighted areas for development, as well as suggesting the possibility of a new park entrance nearer to the hotels, which could act as a second entrance or replacement to the existing one in Towers Street.
In August 2015, Alton Towers submitted a planning application for the construction of a third hotel next to the Alton Towers Spa. Although the plans are an altered version of the originally submitted extension to the Alton Towers Hotel, the plans indicate that the development is an entirely separate hotel. The plans show four floors, including a new restaurant, bar, entertainment area, and sunken garden landscaping. This was later confirmed to be the new CBeebies Land Hotel in July 2016.
In April 2016, Alton Towers submitted a screening opinion request to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. The request came attached with a layout of a roller coaster to be situated on the site of The Flume, with a new Smokehouse restaurant occupying the old station building of the ride. Furthermore, banners were erected around the site advertising 'SW8', and a ground breaking new ride experience. The Smokehouse restaurant was removed from later SW8 plans. Since then, the ride has been named the Wicker Man and is set to open in Spring 2018.
Two new attractions have been added to CBeebies Land for the 2017 season, Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride is a small family flat ride and the Furchester Hotel Live Show is a new actor led interactive indoor experience next to the new ride. Both attractions opened with the rest of the park on 25 March 2017.
In 2016, Alton Towers began promoting its park maintenance online, under the banner "Towers Loving Care". The features typically include scenic paintwork, relaying pathways, changing light bulbs and changes to park audio.
The 2015-2016 winter season included paintwork for Nemesis, painting over the original scenic rust effect from the track supports, but restoring colour and detail to the station exterior. Signs and some scenery were also added to the Dark Forest area, around a scaffold tunnel under Rita. In 2016, Hex re-opened with extensive repairs to its lighting and effects under the "TLC" name; also with a new sound system, although the quality of the new sound system was contested by visitors. The TLC page announced that it would be carrying out similar repairs to Duel the following season.
The project is co-ordinated in-house by Alton Towers Resort as a means of securing budget for essential aesthetic maintenance, to circumvent the lack of dedicated budget delivered by parent company Merlin Entertainments. The resort launched a Twitter and Facebook account which frequently showcases images of what occurrences are taking place under the project.
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. John Wardley rode the Arrow Dynamics prototype of their pipeline coaster, but stated "it was very slow and rather boring", 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. The code name subsequently became the standard preliminary name for major roller coaster projects at the park.
The convention was briefly dropped while the park (and its parent company the Tussauds Group) was owned by Dubai International Capital, before being continued by the Merlin Group.
The "Secret Weapon" rides are:
|Code Name||Ride||Opened||Operating Status|
|SW1 & SW2||Projects withdrawn||N/A||N/A|
|SW5||Air (now "Galactica")||2002||Operating|
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.
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.
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.
|1||Terror in the Towers|
|6||Terror Of The Towers: Bloodfest Banquet|
|3||Field of a 1000 Screams|
|9||Terror Of The Towers: What lies Within|
|4||Carnival of Screams|
|2||TH13TEEN: After Dark|
|1||Scary Tales: Scare Zone|
|1||The Haunting of Molly Crowe|
|1||Nox Infernus: Scare Zone|
|2||Dark Apocalypse: Scare Zone|
|3||Sub Species: The End Games|
|2||Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of The Skin Snatchers|
|2||House of Monsters|
|2||Freak Show: Scare Zone|
|1||The Welcoming: Be Chosen|
Previous Scarefest attraction Current Scarefest attraction
For the last days of the season, Alton Towers host firework Shows, these 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 local residents 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. 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.
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 has reverted to hotel guests only in 2016.
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 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, however this was postponed to 11 March due to weather conditions. Services Days are open to holders of a Blue Light Card or a Defence Discount Service Card.
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". However, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) concluded the crash was foreseeable, stating that "Merlin failed to put in place systems that allowed their engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running". During the subsequent court case, Merlin retracted their statement and pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety law. The company was fined £5Million, with the court citing a "catalogue of errors" with Merlin's operating procedure and training.
In June 2017, Alton Towers estate owner Nick Leslau incorrectly repeated 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."
Alton Towers is set in a Conservation Area, which puts a restriction on the height of any ride or building development in the park. It has been agreed with the local council that no buildings should be built above the tree line and if so should be disguised to fit the landscape; this can be seen on the ride Rita, where part of the track is camouflaged to fit in with the trees.
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 in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
On 3 May 2012 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 a legal battle with the park for nearly a decade, and during this period succeeded in a noise abatement order on the theme park which led to the 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.
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 from 1998 to the present.
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