Alton Towers

From Academic Kids

Alton Towers is Britain's best known theme park. It is based north of the village of Alton in Staffordshire, on the site of an old mansion by the same name.


History of gardens

Missing image
Alton Towers in 1880

As an example of the Mixed Style of Humphrey Repton's gardens, Alton Towers' garden was begun, ca. 1814 by the eccentric 15th Earl of Shrewsbury, of whom J. C. Loudon (who was consulted on design features of which there were many) relates that he consulted every artist, only to avoid 'whatever an artist might recommend'. Loudon's published criticism remains history's wittiest pan of preposterous garden design since Alexander Pope.

Alton Towers grew into a collection of gardens: a Swiss Cottage, a Stonehenge, a Dutch garden, a Pagoda Fountain, said to be based on the To Ho pagoda in Canton, Lysicrates' Choragic Monument from Athens (a feature in English gardens since the 1760s), domed glasshouses (originally gilded), even a fairly large Matterhorn as a backing to one of England's earliest Alpine gardens.

The first garden gnomes were introduced at Alton Towers, in punishment for which the rides and slides of the modern Theme Park add to the eccentricity of a nobleman's fancy whose parkland, 'the work of a morbid imagination, joined to the command of unlimited resourses' (according to Loudon) is now also occupied by a hundred acres (400,000 m²) of 'sensational rides and attractions'.

Modern theme park

Alton Towers was purchased by The Tussauds Group in 1990. In 2005 It was brought up when the DIC investment group purchased The Tussauds Group. Today it is notable for its extreme rides, including Nemesis, a rollercoaster in which people hang with their legs dangling down (or up as the case may be), and Oblivion, the world's first vertical drop rollercoaster. The oldest rollercoaster at the site is Corkscrew, a ride with two inversions which many riders find uncomfortable due to its rough track. Billed as the first of its kind, Air is a rollercoaster, unusual in that finders find themselves suspended horizontally facing down, as though flying. This is known as a flying roller coaster. Inside the towers is the ride Hex, a surreal attraction which is based on a myth surrounding the towers and their history.

The latest attraction at Alton Towers is Rita: Queen of Speed, a ride themed around racing. It opened on 1 April 2005.

Guests can stay at one of two hotels on the site. Doing this also gives them access to a newly built water park.

Rumours are rife that a so-called "Project Dolphin" is being planned for the park...which will represent a massive investment in Alton Towers (where this money is being invested and when is anybodies guess though)

Park Guide

The park is split into several themed areas.

Forbidden Valley

Forbidden Valley is home to two of the park's biggest rollercoasters, Nemesis and Air.

Gloomy Wood

The gloomy wood is a small area home to the haunted house ride, which was recently modified to allow riders to shoot targets using laser guns, receiving a score at the end.

Katanga Canyon

Katanga Canyon is home to a river rapids ride and a runaway minetrain (powererd rollercoaster), which meet in a tunnel.

Merrie England

An area themed around vintage England. Rides include spinning tea cups, a 3D cinema, and a flume ride, where riders float along the lake in bath tubs. Also in the area is several gaming sideshows, such as hoop-tossing and basketball hoops, in which prizes can be won. Several food outlets provide food, with the Courtyard Tavern also serving alcohol, as the park's only pub.

Old MacDonalds Farm

Themed around a traditional farm, this area contains a small petting zoo as well as a few rides for younger visitors, which include Doodle Doo Derby, a farm-themed carousel, and Riverbank Eye Spy, a recently rethemed boat ride.

Storybook Land

The storybook land, next to Towers Street, is designed for younger visitors. Rides include Squirrel Nutty's Ride, a track-based ride which includes story-telling elements, and Spinball Whizzer, a pinball themed spinning rollercoaster.

The Gardens

The gardens fill the valley between the Forbidden Kingdom and the Towers. The skyride bridges the valley, but there are some steep paths which go down into the valley. Crossing the valley using these paths takes up to 30 minutes and requires good shoes, but can be worthwhile and pleasant. Dotted around the gardens are various ancient follies, including a pagoda fountain.

The Towers

The towers are what gives the park its name, and is an ancient mansion house in which the family who owned the estate lived. Visitors can wander around a limited area of the towers, which also features a spooky maze during the Halloween period. Added for the 2000 season was Hex - the Legend of the Towers, an indoor swing ride which made use of the history of the towers, in particularly the legend of a curse which stated that whenever a branch from a specific tree fell, a member of the Earl's family would die.

Towers Street

Towers Street is the first area that visitors to the park encounter, themed as a town street, which leads to views of the gardens and the tower. The street contains several shops, including the Towers Trading Co., which sells official park merchandise. Also in the area is the skyrail station, which visitors can use to reach other areas of the park.

Ug Land

Themed around a comic-book style dinosaur land, Ug Land, previously called Festival Park, contains some of the oldest rides of the park. Corkscrew is a corkscrew rollercoaster containing two consecutive corkscrew elements. Dating back to 1980, the ride is now seriously rattly, and riders are advised to keep their head held firmly back against the headrest.

Other rides in the area include Ug Swinger, and the new ride for 2005, Rita: Queen of Speed, a ride themed around Drag racing. It opened on 1 April 2005 and is an Accelerator (or Launched) coaster, made by the company, Intamin.


A futuristically-themed area, X-Sector contains the park's innovative Oblivion ride, a rollercoaster in which riders are said to experience a 90 degree drop (actually 87.5 degrees). The extra-wide roller coaster cars are held danging over the edge for a few seconds before plunging downwards into a big hole amid mist, and then re-emerging into a heavily banked turn leading back into the station.

Also in the area are the Enterprise and Submission thrill rides, and the Black Hole rollercoaster, which features a sprial lift and is entirely indoors, in the dark. This ride closed for the 2005 season however, and is currently standing but not operating. The park is looking for a buyer for the ride.

Facts and Figures

  • The monorail is from Expo 86 which was held in Vancouver British Columbia.

Related Links

External links

Template:British theme parksde:Alton Towers


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