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 ageing 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 out of the poor thing. 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: The latest rollercoaster containing a world's first element. 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.
Other notable rides include:
- Corkscrew: One of Alton Towers 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, Queen of Speed: A hydraulic-launched rollercoaster. Very fast.
- 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 atomspheric soundtrack ever recorded for a theme park ride.