The Smiler is located at Alton Towers Resort in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside. The Smiler is the world’s first and only 14-loop roller coaster. When viewed from off the ride, The Smilers batwing element resembles the Smiler logo. The roller coaster’s twisting track combines the world-beating 14 inversions with a speed of 85kph.
The Smiler at Alton Towers Resort
The Smiler features a World Record-Breaking 14 inversions. The thrilling ride is split into two halves, the first half immediately starts with a heartline roll (inversion 1) before the train ascends a regular chain lift hill. Upon reaching the top of the lift hill, the train drops into a 180-degree right turn before banking into a downward corkscrew (inversion 2). The train navigates its way through two consecutive dive loops (inversions 3 & 4) before travelling over a trimmed airtime hill into the ride’s largest element, a Batwing, which consists of a dive loop and a sidewinder (inversions 5 and 6). The Batwing is closely followed by another corkscrew (inversion 7) before reaching the midway point of the ride.
Vertical Lift Hill
The second half of the ride commences with a vertical lift-hill, which both helps to save on space and increases the thrill level. At the top of the lift hill, riders are presented with a lovely view of the Towers themselves and the rest of the Theme Park. The train descends, 180-degrees to the left, banking into a downward corkscrew (inversion 8). Riders then navigate through a sea serpent roll (inversions 9 & 10), followed by a short drop into an airtime hill. Following the airtime hill, the train dives into a cobra roll (inversions 11 & 12) before twisting through a double corkscrew (inversions 13 & 14), turning left into the final brake run.
The Smiler Statistics
Top Speed – 85km/h 52mph
Original Cost – £18m
Est Cost Today – £22m
Length – 3838ft 11700m
Height – 98ft 30m
Manufacturer – Gerstlauer
Type – Steel Infinity Coaster
Lift/Launch – Chain Lift and Vertical Chain Lift Hill
Inversions – 14
G-Force – 4.5
Trains – 4
Passengers per Train – 16
Ride Duration – 2m 45s
Theme Park – Alton Towers Resort
Year Opened – 2013
Inversions – Heartline Roll, Corkscrew x5, Dive Loop x3, Sidewinder, Roll Over, Cobra Roll, Double Corkscrew
The Smiler Jigsaw Puzzle
Try our fun Jigsaw challenge. Visit the Attractions Near Me Puzzle Page for more fun activities and jigsaws.
If you enjoyed this jigsaw puzzle then either visit the Attractions Near Me Puzzle Page for more fun activities and jigsaws or select another Alton Towers Resort jigsaw from the list below.
Vertical Lift Hill
As with a number of rides manufactured by Gerstlauer, The Smiler features a vertical lift hill. Alton Towers choose to add this in because they already knew that on Saw-The Ride the lift is quite a weird experience, as you climb to the top lying on your back. There was no need to put in any beyond vertical EuroFighter-style drop immediately after the vertical lift-hill because just across the way in X Sector, Oblivion already features a similar vertical drop. The vertical lift gives riders a nice breather midway through the ride, and maybe if The Smiler didn’t have it the ride may feel very relentless. Other UK rides featuring a vertical lift hill include Rage at Adventure Island, Speed:No Limits at Oakwood Theme Park in Wales and Saw-The Ride at Thorpe Park Resort.
The basic story of the ride is that The Smiler is a correctional device, which will “marmalise” your mind and turn you into a smiling advocate, with a huge twisted grin on your face. In order to achieve this, a key feature of The Smiler is the large spider-like structure that serves as a centrepoint for the coaster track. Called ‘The Marmaliser,’ it has 5 legs, each with a distinct function to manipulate riders into “smiling”.
The Inoculator gives you a jab of happiness as you pass Stage 1 of Marmilisation. The Tickler aims to tickle you until you can’t resist smiling. The Flasher produces flashing lights, blinding you as you travel under the leg. The Giggler releases infectious, intoxicating laughing gas and The Hypnotiser has the power to disorientate, mesmerize and disrupt your self-awareness. The Marmaliser is also equipped with a wraparound screen, which displays graphics and video 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 Accident
On the 2nd of June 2015, The Smiler hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It was a very windy day, so windy in fact that the Alton Towers Skyride had to be closed. The Smiler continued to operate but with the wind reaching speeds of 46mph, the ride operations should have stopped as guidelines stated that it should not operate in winds in excess of 34mph. shortly after 1.00 pm an operator of the ride became aware of an illuminated warning light on the ride’s control panel, which indicates a fault. The operator immediately removed guests from the ride and called for help from the theme park’s engineers. Whilst waiting for the engineers to arrive, with the ride shut down, one of the operators decided that it was an ideal time to transfer a fifth train onto the track. The ride had been operating with four trains as it often did, however, the ride operators had been instructed to add a fifth train to help cope with the high volume of guests at the theme park that day. The ride is split into 5 block sections meaning that it can safely operate with five trains without issue.
A Breakdown in Communication
Whilst the fifth train was being added, ride operators sent an empty test train around the track to check that the ride was working normally. The empty train failed to make it up an incline and another warning system was activated on the ride. The electrical engineers arrived to help fix the problem. However, there was a huge breakdown in communication and they were not told by colleagues that a fifth train had been added to the track. The engineers successfully got the empty train working again and the process to restart the ride began.
A Stalled Train on the Track
whilst staff prepared to allow guests back onto the ride, another empty train, which the operators were not aware of was sent around the track for further testing. This test train failed to make the loop and rolled back down coming to a standstill in a valley in the track. The ride was then handed back to an operator who allowed passengers to board and dispatched the train full of passengers around the track, completely unaware that the empty test carriage had stalled on the track. As the train full of passengers climbed the first lift-hill, the ride’s computer system correctly identified that a section of the track ahead was already occupied and immediately stopped the train full of passengers on the lift hill and activated the rides alert system. One engineer, still not aware that five trains were now on the track, identified the positions of four trains, unfortunately, he did not see the fifth stalled empty train.
Keen to get the ride operational once again and believing that the ride was safe, the engineer simultaneously pressed a button with a colleague which overrode the computer system allowing the train full of passengers to continue making its way up the first lift hill. This resulted in the train full of passengers moving ahead with operators unaware it was heading towards the empty train. The train full of passengers hit the stationary train causing devastating injuries to those on board.
A number of lessons have been learned from the accident. The investigation concluded that the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed. The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself. Following the accident, Alton Towers and other Theme Parks operated by Merlin Entertainments have all introduced a number of new safety measures across all their multi-car rollercoasters.
Additional Safety Procedures
The Smiler reopened on March 19th 2016, 9 months after the accident after additional safety procedures were added, including an enhanced safety process requiring a senior member of staff being in attendance to authorise any manual overrides. The technical improvements include multiple additional CCTV cameras and additional manual reset buttons around the track which require staff to physically inspect each individual section of the track in person to verify it is clear before authorisation can be given to restart the ride.
Alton Towers Secret Weapons
The roller coasters at Alton Towers Resort often claim the title of World’s First Elements. Alton Towers Resort often give as little away as they can when building these new rides, giving them Secret Weapon codenames. As the construction of the ride progresses marketing campaigns are launched giving thrill-seekers little insights into what is to come, this always leads to lots of speculation on Social Media. During construction, The Smiler was referred to as Secret Weapon 7.
Alton Towers Secret Weapons Timeline
Secret Weapon 1: 1991 – Arrow Pipeline Rollercoaster (Never Built)
Secret Weapon 2: 1992 – Arrow Pipeline Rollercoaster (Never Built)
Secret Weapon 3: 1994 – Nemesis in Forbidden Valley
Secret Weapon 4: 1998 – Oblivion in X-Sector
Secret Weapon 5: 2002 – Galactica in Forbidden Valley (originally named AIR)
Secret Weapon 6: 2009 – Th13teen in Dark Forest
Secret Weapon 7: 2013 – The Smiler in X-Sector
Secret Weapon 8: 2016 – The Wicker Man
UK Roller Coaster Rides
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Alton Towers Roller Coasters
There are seven thrilling roller coasters on offer at Alton Towers.
Wicker Man is the UK’s first new wooden coaster built in over 20 years, a globally unique experience that will reconnect riders with the primal essence of rollercoasters. Wicker Man was also the first to incorporate fire.
Galactica is a flying roller coaster located in the Forbidden Valley area of the Theme Park. The £12m thrill ride was the first-ever flying coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) and features a dual-platform loading station, permitting three trains to operate simultaneously.
One of the best roller coasters here in the UK, Nemesis is an angry alien creature trying to rip its way out of the ground. It was Europe’s first inverted roller coaster and features a truly thrilling storyline.
Oblivion was the world’s first vertical drop roller coaster featuring a 180ft drop at 87-degrees. As each car reaches the drop it is held by a holding chain for a maximum of five seconds, giving the rider a clear view of the long drop, before a brake is released allowing the car to drop into the tunnel. Each car features two rows, with the back row being slightly raised in order to give passengers a clear view of what lies ahead.
Rita starts with the train racing forward from the station area, accelerating from 0 to 98.3 km/h (61.1 mph) in 2.5 seconds. The ride negotiates high-speed corners and air-time hills. It was the first hydraulic Launch roller coaster of its kind in the whole of Europe.
The Smiler is the world’s first and only 14 loop roller coaster. When viewed from off the ride, The Smilers batwing element resembles the Smiler logo. The roller coaster’s twisting track combines the world-beating 14 loops with a speed of 85kph.
The £15m Th13teen ride was the world’s first vertical freefall drop roller coaster, on which the track and train freefall in darkness.
Attractions at the Alton Towers Resort
In addition to the famous Theme Park, you will also find a wide range of other Attractions at Alton Towers Resort.
Alton Towers Resort Tickets
Purchase your tickets in advance to save time queuing at the entrance to the park and also save on the full-price admission. View our Alton Towers Resort Special Offers Page for the best discounts on your Tickets and Accommodation.
You can buy your tickets in advance direct from Alton Towers Official Website.
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. Search for your train tickets using Raileasy. 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 accommodation. 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.
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