Alton Towers is a theme park located in Staffordshire
, England. It is often voted the most popular theme park in Britain, just above Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and is one of the country's leading attractions. Currently being run by Merlin Entertainments Ltd, the park caters for the family market, edging on thrills and more or less, fun. The park was escalated notability in the 1990s thanks to John Wardley, ride concept designer for Tussauds and now Merlin's creative consultant who revolutionised the British theme park industry from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, who developed part of the park through theatrical brilliance.
The estate was originally owned by the Talbot family (otherwise known as the family peerage, Earl of Shrewsbury) until the 1920s. The Talbot family themselves have their heritage sewn into one of the rides
, specifically the legendary curse on the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury.
Aside from the obvious rides, rollercoasters and attractions, Alton Towers have the wonderful ability to show off the aging but beautiful Towers complex complete with the utterly gorgeous gardens
. The Towers ruins themselves are Gothic and reflective of the 1800s, as well as notable for hauntings and strange sightings.
The park is noted for it's "World First" rollercoasters:
- Nemesis: Themed around an extraterrestrial who seeks sanctuary on Earth but humans found it, worshipped it and soon made a B&M multi-inverted suspended rollercoaster chaining the poor thing in place. Notable for being built below ground level for avoidance of height restriction and is one of the park's most popular rollercoasters. Opened in 1994.
- Oblivion: The world's first (not truly) vertical drop rollercoaster. Utilizes vertigo effectively, through theming around a secret research facility that are testing the physical and psychological aspects of a rider pushed to their limit. Opened in 1998.
- Air: The world's first "flying" rollercoaster prototype. Sits next to Nemesis and themed (nearly) around a oasis. Opened in 2002.
- Th13teen: Was unfortunately marketed as a thrill ride, "The Ultimate Rollercoaster", when it's meant for the family market. Themed around an unearthed crypt during the removal of the Corkscrew, alongside a dark forest, mysterious Wraiths and many other inconsistent aspects. Opened in 2010.
- The Smiler: The latest rollercoaster containing a world's first element, this time being the first coaster with fourteen loops. Also the last to be designed by John Wardley before his retirement. Like Oblivion, themed around a sinister research facility - this one designed to turn people into mindless grinning automatons. Opened in 2013.
Other notable rides include:
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride: One for the kiddies — a Disney-style two-part attraction (first half a gentle boat ride, second half a simulator) based on the Roald Dahl novel with its characters depicted through both CGI animation and animatronic figures designed in the style of Quentin Blake's illustrations. Opened April Fool's Day 2006 and currently the only theme park ride based on this novel.
- Corkscrew: One of Alton Towers's first rollercoasters and the crux to the park's opening success. Opened in 1981 and finally closed in 2008. Infamous for banging riders heads around.
- Rita (formerly Rita, Queen of Speed): A hydraulic-launched rollercoaster. Very fast. Originally themed around racing then, with the arrival of Th13teen, re-themed as a spooky abandoned ruin.
- Runaway Mine Train: A rollercoaster themed around an African mining village, popular with families.
- The Haunted House/Duel: Originally a dark ride through a terrifying haunted Victorian mansion, Duel received a 'makeover'for 2003 with zombies and laser guns, and now challenges riders to attain the highest score possible as they blast their way through a heck of a lot of semi-comical animatronics.
- Hex: A dark ride themed within the Towers ruins, based upon the legendary curse of the Talbot family. Also has what might be the most atmospheric soundtrack ever recorded for a theme park ride.
- Nemesis Sub-Terra: Companion ride to Nemesis with the premise that Nemesis has laid an egg that's being monitored in a containment facility, from which riders must escape (through a maze filled with strobe effects and actors jumping out at you) when the egg "hatches." Re-worked after opening to poor reviews.
- Spinball Whizzer/Sonic Spinball: Originally named Spinball Whizzer (a pun on the title "Pinball Wizard" awarded to the eponymous character in the rock opera Tommy by The Who, later repainted and themed (under license from Sega) around Sonic the Hedgehog. Each train consists of a single car with seats facing each other, that spins freely 360 degrees 'round through most of the ride.
Tropes used by Alton Towers include:
- Curse: The story behind Hex concerns one on the Talbot family, which will supposedly kill a member of the family every time a branch falls from the old tree, which the Earl later had chained up to prevent such an occurrence.
- Eldritch Abomination: Nemesis is described as one in its backstory.
- Haunted House: A dark ride present in the park was themed after and named The Haunted House. In 2003, it was remade into Duel.
- One Million BC: The theme for UG Land (now the Dark Forest).
- Title: The Adaptation: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride.