Re-review: Alton Towers

Re-review: Alton Towers

Post by Eric Griswo » Thu, 25 May 1995 04:00:00

I recently revisited Alton Towers in England.  Last time I went, the
only thing I did was ride Nemesis.  This time, I managed to catch up
on everything else.  Here are my remarks.

Ratings are -3 to +5, 0 indicates a slightly favorable reaction.

Alton Towers
------------

Alton Towers is a huge, beautiful park with wandering paths.  The
hills, layout, and sheer beauty are reminiscent of the Busch
Williamsburg park.

Nemesis         S Inverted              B&M         1994
Rating: High +4

        Walt and Claude strike again!  Do these guys *always* have to
        be so perfect?  Even with my high expectations of Nemesis, the
        ride astounded me.

        Even if you are familiar with the B&M inverted layout, Nemesis
        is difficult to describe.  Nemesis combines B&M's engineering
        brillance with the *best* coaster theming ever developed,
        anywhere.  I've always thought that B&M's layouts and curving
        structures were very organic looking.  So did the people at
        Alton Towers as they and B&M developed a Bio-mechanical
        nightmare using a lot of influence from Giger and Ridley
        Scott.

        The theme is that a Alien-like monster, except this one is an
        eight-legged arachnid-shape, has been unearthed in a rock
        quarry.  It is perched halfway down the quarry, oozing red slime
        and ***.  Water is rushing from outside into the quarry,
        mixing with the slime, making a pool of ugly red liquid below.
        The articulated limbs contain overgrown claw/fingernail-like
        projections which twist in a grotesque fashion around the
        creature.  The queue line, track, and creature all twist
        around each other, making one big semiorganic twist of mechanics
        and biology.  The guests, when they are in line, are part of
        the theming.  At several spots in the queue, the train speeds
        by, blowing massive gusts of air on those in line.  If it
        weren't for the fence, one could easily be kicked in the face
        by the people in the train.  The station/creature is at a
        midpoint height-wise between the highest point and the lowest
        point of the ride.  The inside of the station is themed
        similar to the inside of a crashed spaceship.

        B&M have always had brilliant transitions between their
        elements.  In the case of Nemesis, I think that the
        transitions are far more fabulous than the elements. (And the
        elements are spectacular)

        The chainlift sends you out of the creature's mouth and up out
        of the quarry.  There is a turnaround, practically at ground
        level, back down into the quarry.  The first drop is
        unimpressive.  It is a series of two short hills that builds
        up enough speed to do a right-hand half-corkscrew.  After that
        comes the best part of the ride: a steeply diving 270 degree
        turn that first follows the queue line, then heads down a
        narrow canyon with rushing water and lots of rocks.  You pull
        out of the quarry and head straight at the creature/loading
        station.  At the VERY last minute, you do a heartline spin
        over the top of the station and head back up the other side of
        the quarry, passing the excavation camp and heading into a
        tight 180 degree turn.  Out of the turn, there is a dive deep
        into the quarry, almost to the red pond and through a vertical
        loop.  The loop exits into a tight tunnel under the queue,
        twists around, does another corkscrew, dives into another
        tunnel, then does a fast 180 into the brakes.

        Nemesis is a bit too short of a ride to get a +5, but still
        takes #2 on my steel list, just below Raptor.

Beastie         S Junior                Pinfari                 19??
Rating: ??

Big Apple       S Junior                Pinfari                 19??
Rating: ??
        I'm too big to ride either of these.

Black Hole      S Enclosed Twister      In-House                19??
Rating: 0
        The Black Hole very much resembles an enclosed Schwarzkopf
        Jumbo Jet, including the powered circular lift hill.  Also,
        Alton Towers went for the minimalist approach when it comes to
        the cheesey themeing, all of which is quite effective.  The
        first drop promises a wild ride, the second drop starts to
        make good on the promise, but right there, the ride ends.
        Essentially, The Black Hole is one-half of what could have
        been an excellent in-the-dark twister.

Corkscrew       S Corkscrew             Vekoma Intl. b.v.       1978
Rating: +1
        Essentially the same as the Vekoma Corkscrew running at
        Playland in Vancouver, it features good, relatively smooth
        tracking, some nice airtime, and a couple of tight turns.

New Beast       S Jumbo Jet             Schwarzkopf             19??
Rating: Low 0
        The New Beast is one of the slowest Jumbo Jets that I've ever
        been on; it just sort of tours around the course.  Still, I
        like the design and placement enough to keep it in the barely
        positive category.

Thunderlooper   S Shuttle               Schwarzkopf             1978/1990(RL)
Rating: +2
        Thunderlooper has a nice placement in the park near Nemesis,
        but seems to lack some of the spirit that other Schwarzkopf
        shuttles have.  The brakes when re-entering the station are on
        rather strong, but the lowness to the ground gives a great
        sensation of speed.  It's a good ride, but with Nemesis
        looming in the backround, it's difficult to stay with more
        than once or twice.
--
Eric Griswold