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Place Category: Theme Parks
- Alton Towers
- History of Alton Towers
- Top 10 Rides at Alton Towers
- Cloud Cuckoo Land
- Website Links
- Attractions at the Alton Towers Resort
- CBeebies Land
- Food and Drink
- Alton Towers Tickets
- Travelling to Alton Towers Resort
- Attractions Near Me Offers
Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire is the UK’s most popular theme park. It offers a great variety of rides and attractions including record-breaking roller coasters like The Smiler and Thirteen. Alton Towers also caters for younger guests with the worlds first CBeebies Land.
History of Alton Towers
The Formation of Alton Towers Limited
In 1924 part of the Alton Towers estate and house were sold to a group of local businessmen, who formed Alton Towers Limited. Although the contents of the house were sold off, the grounds were restored and remained open to the public. Parts of the house were converted into cafes and toilets for public use. During World War II, Alton Towers was requisitioned by the War Office as an officer training unit. The gardens remained closed to the public until 1951.
Alton Towers Model Railway
In the 1950s parts of the grounds were partially reopened to the public by the Alton Towers Limited company. A model railway was opened in the chapel entrance in 1957. Taking almost three years to build, the 500 metres of track encompassed a circuit covering more than 74 square metres. The model featured rivers and lakes which used approximately 100 gallons of water. The railway had 35 locomotives which hauled more than 200 items of rolling stock. Visitors were required to pay a separate admission charge to view the attraction. Marketing literature often claimed the model layout was “the largest of its kind in the world”. When the chapel was restored in 1993 the railway was removed and sold at auction.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the grounds were redeveloped as a visitor attraction. Attractions included a chairlift, a boating lake and a small fair behind the ruins of the main house. The house itself was listed as Grade II and concrete floors were installed so that it could be opened to the public.
Millionaire property developer John Broome married the daughter of the majority shareholder Denis Bagshaw in 1973. John Broome bought the controlling stake in Alton Towers and over the next few years, he laid the foundation for the modern theme park by developing areas of the grounds in progressive stages and installing a selection of permanent rides.
Evolution into a Major Theme Park
Alton Towers began its evolution into a major theme park in 1980, when the park installed The Corkscrew rollercoaster, The Pirate Ship and the Alpine Bobsled ride. Talbot Street, the park’s first permanent themed area opened in 1981, on the site of the old fairground behind the Towers. Also during this period, the Log Flume was constructed near to the boating lake. Alton Towers second roller-coaster, The Black Hole was installed in 1984. Throughout the next decade, more attractions, themed areas and rides were added to Alton Towers.
The Tussauds Group
In 1990, Alton Towers was purchased by The Tussauds Group. The change of ownership heralded an era of intense development. A range of large attractions and new themed areas were added to the park. New attractions included The Haunted House (1992) and Toyland Tours (1994). Major Thrill rides were also added during this period. These new rides designed by the legendary John Wardley included Nemesis (1994), Oblivion (1998) and Air (2002). This was the period when Alton Towers Secret Weapon programme started. The hotel complex was also added in 1996.
We recommend this book for anyone who would like to learn more about To learn more about John Wardley. The autobiography of the man who designed Alton Towers big rides, and brought the Theme Park to Britain:
Alton Towers was acquired by the investment group Dubai International Capital (DIC) in 2005, when it purchased the Tussauds Group for £800 million. Merlin Entertainments then bought The Tussauds Group in March 2007 for over £1 billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control. In July 2007, the resort and park were sold to Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury, who now lease the park back to Merlin Entertainments to operate on a 35-year lease.
For anyone interested in finding out more about the history of Alton Towers, we recommend this book:
Top 10 Rides at Alton Towers
1 – Nemesis
Often rated amongst the top roller coasters in the world, Nemesis is an inverted roller coaster located in the Forbidden Valley section of the theme park. Costing £10 million the roller coaster officially opened to the public on 19 March 1994. Ride designer John Wardley came up with the concept and layout of the ride.
Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), Nemesis features a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Constrained by the tree-level height limit imposed on the park the ride is only 43 foot tall. A ride layout was developed which was exciting for both riders and non-riders. A perfect example of this is the final inversion which was built at spectators eye level.
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2 – Oblivion
Located next to The Smiler in the x-sector section of the park is Oblivion. When Oblivion opened in March 1998 it was the world’s first dive coaster. The ride was heavily marketed with guests able to purchase its own brand of deodorant and related goodies. Each train has a capacity of 16 riders with guests seated in 2 rows of 8. The seats in the rear row are raised in order to ensure that everyone has a great view.
The ride has a simple layout with the main element being a 150-foot drop at 89.5 degrees. The roller coaster train ascends 60 feet at a 45-degree angle in order to build tension. Open reaching the top of the lift hill the track levels out, with the train slowly travelling around a curve on a chain system unique to Oblivion. The train reaches the top of the drop where it is briefly held by a holding chain, giving the rider a clear view of whats ahead. Once released the train drops into the tunnel quickly emerging onto a high banked turn and makes its way back to the station.
When the ride first opened a voice saying “don’t look down” was played at the top of the drop. Sadly in 2004, this sound effect was removed due to sound restrictions on the park. The words “Don’t look down” have now been painted on the floor of the guest observation area where the ride enters the ground. The words are clearly visible to riders when the train is hanging over the edge of the drop.
With a maximum speed of 68 mph, at the time of writing Oblivion is the third fastest roller coaster in the UK, behind Stealth at Thorpe Park and The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
3 – Galactica
One of Alton Towers latest additions is Galactica. The former Air roller coaster has been fitted with virtual reality headsets to add a whole new dimension to the ride experience. Riders are blasted through an advanced space travel portal to another dimension. The ride combines the experience of a flying roller coaster with cutting-edge Virtual Reality. Now you can become a space tourist through this unique combination of physically flying coupled with the breathtakingly emotional journey of travelling through space.
4 – The Smiler
Featuring 14 inversions, including one hidden underground The Smiler holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster. In order to help build excitement guests queue underneath the ride with the roller coaster trains racing around above them.
One of the main features of the ride is the large spider-like structure that serves as a centre point for the roller coaster. Called ‘The Marmaliser,’ it has 5 legs, each with a distinct function to manipulate riders into “smiling”. The Marmaliser is equipped with a wraparound screen, which displays graphics and videos relating to the theme of the ride. The roller coaster intertwines within the structure causing greater interaction with riders to enhance the experience.
The Smiler has two lift hills, one of which is vertical. Sadly The Smiler is most well known for a tragic accident that occurred on 2nd June 2015 when two of the ride’s trains collided leaving five riders seriously injured.
5 – Thirteen
Another world first in roller coaster design was Thirteen. This ride is the world’s first vertical freefall drop roller coaster, on which both the track and train freefall approximately five metres in darkness.
6 – Rita
Rita (formerly known as Rita: Queen of Speed) is an Intamin accelerator coaster located in the Dark Forest area of Alton Towers. Open since 2005, it accelerates to 61.1 mph in 2.5 seconds. The ride is loosely based on drag racing, though this partly changed with the retheming of “Ug Land” into the “Dark Forest” in 2010. It now stands as an abandoned drag racer that is used as the escape cart to escape the Dark Forest. Riders must be over 1.4 m (55 in) tall to ride. In 2006 a similar coaster opened at Thorpe Park, called Stealth.
7 – Spinball Whizzer
Spinball Whizzer opened in 2004. The ride featured a loose pinball machine theme and was a pun on the song “Pinball Wizard” by The Who which explains why people often mistakenly refer to it as Spinball Wizard. In 2010, Spinball Whizzer was renamed Sonic Spinball as part of a partnership with Sega. The roller coaster was given a red and blue track repaint, new decoys, signage and audio. It has now returned to its original name of Spinball Whizzer. As the roller coaster trains make their way around the track they spin freely adding to the excitement of the ride.
8 – Congo River Rapids
Board your 8 man raft and take on the wild and raging waters of the Congo River Rapids. This ride is great fun and offers lots of guest interaction. Each passenger is sat facing each other and it is totally random as to who will get wet. The Grand Canyon Rapids (as it was originally known), was built for the 1986 season. The ride occupies 12 acres of space previously used as car parks. In order to create the channel that forms the ride over 40,000 tonnes of earth and rock were excavated. It even required the installation of its own electricity substation, and the creation of a 1.3 million gallon reservoir to store the water. Great care was even taken during construction not to disturb the existing trees in the area.
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9 – Runaway Mine Train
The Runaway Mine Train is one of the best themed rides at Alton Towers. This was one of the first rides to be designed with the helping hand of John Wardley, designer of Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. It may be made of steel, but most of the track that is visible is hidden by wooden trestle, giving it a completely new look and feel. After queuing, you join the train which holds 46 passengers at a time. You will notice at this point that there is no lift hill due to the ride being powered throughout. This gives the ride operator control over the speed the train travels, but this doesn’t stop the train from going pretty fast at some stages.
Most guests find the most thrilling part of the ride is a very quick entry into the tunnel which is shared with the Congo River Rapids. High throughput, and a relatively short ride time means that you will be treated to two laps around the track, the second being much faster in the first third of the track.
10 – Hex
Hex tells the story of the Chained Oak Tree, a local legend based on the towers themselves. Following a number of updates and refurbishments Hex is one of the most highly rated dark rides in Europe.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Cloud Cuckoo Land is another section of the park suitable for younger children. Rides and Attractions in this section of the park include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride, Driving School, Twirling Toadstool and the Frog Hopper. Wobble World is a children’s indoor play area.
Attractions at the Alton Towers Resort
At Alton Towers resort you will find a wide range of Attractions in addition to the famous Theme Park.
At the Tree Top Quest, you can speed down zipwires, walk over rope bridges and swing through the enchanted forest! Extraordinary Golf is a fun mini-golf for all the family with holes based on some of the rides and attractions from within the theme park. Splash Landings is a large indoor water park at Alton Towers resort. A highlight of the water park is the Master Blaster Water Coaster which takes you around the whole Waterpark at breath-taking speed. This amazing water slide will have you screaming with fun!
Little ones can meet their favourite characters from children’s television at the worlds first CBeebies Land. Attractions in this section of the park include Postman Pat’s Parcel Post and In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride. A recent addition is the Octonauts Roller coaster Adventure a roller coaster designed specifically for your little one!
Mr Bloom’s Allotment offers hands-on fun. Guests venture down the garden path to Mr Bloom’s Allotment. Mr Bloom is on holiday and he has left his neighbour Mr Blossom in charge who requires the help of willing Tiddlers!
Food and Drink
Whatever your tastes, there is something to suit every palette at Alton Towers Resort. The Theme Park offers a variety of cuisines for you to experience. Sit down for Hunter’s Chicken or Feta Salad in Woodcutter’s Bar & Grill or enjoy unlimited pizza and pasta in Explorer’s Pizza Pasta Buffet. With a wealth of food and drink locations throughout the park, you’re never too far away from somewhere to sit down and refuel.
One of the latest additions is the Roller Coaster Restaurant which is more about the entertainment value rather than the actual food. If you are into Roller Coasters then this is a must visit if you are lucky enough to get a table.
Alton Towers Tickets
Purchase your tickets in advance to save time queing at the entrance to the park and also saving on the full price admission. You can buy your tickets in advance from the following providers:
Travelling to Alton Towers Resort
Alton Towers is located in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside. There are a number of ways to get to Alton Towers. If you are travelling by car, Alton Towers Resort is between the M1 and the M6. When driving to any of Alton Towers Resorts Attractions use the postcode ST10 4DB. Please follow the signs for the final part of your journey, as your Sat Nav may attempt to take you down a local farm track, especially if you’re coming down the B5417.
Please drive with care when you’re in the area. There are many walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and the roads can be very narrow in places.
Travelling by Train
The nearest train station to Alton Towers is Uttoxeter, which is accessible from a large number of UK train stations including London, Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne, where trains depart every hour. See Train Genius websites for details. From Uttoxeter, the remainder of the journey can be made by taxi or bus (there is one daily bus service which takes approximately 40 minutes). Visitors also catch trains to Alton Towers via Stoke-on-Trent (four bus departures daily) and Nottingham and Derby (both one bus service daily).
There are lots of places to stay in the Peak District. Alton Towers is surrounded by beautiful countryside. The theme park offers on-site accomodation. If you only planning on visiting the park for one day and would like to explore some of the other attractions in the area then take a look at some of the wonderful self-catering cottages available from Snaptrip.
Attractions Near Me OffersAlton Towers was last modified: November 13th, 2017 by
- Alton Towers
Alton Towers was last modified: November 13th, 2017 by
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Once a year the Sun Newspaper run a token collection scheme for free Alton Towers tickets. If you know what date you want to visit you can often purchase unwanted tickets on eBay at much lower prices than you would pay on the gate. Click this link to view current offers: Cheap Alton Towers Tickets on eBay
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