Alton Towers roller coaster crash hits operator’s profits

The operator of Staffordshire-based theme park, Alton Towers, has announced that its profits will take a hit as a result of the serious roller coaster crash at the park in June this year, the BBC has reported.

Park owner Merlin Entertainments announced yesterday that its profits could suffer by as much as £47 million following the accident. The temporary closure of the park and the adverse effect that the crash had on trade at the beginning of the important summer visitor season were offered as the main reasons behind the forecast. Profits for the company’s theme parks division for the year are now forecast to be between £40 and £50 million, compared to the £87 million that it achieved last year.

The crash also impacted on Merlin’s other sites, with advertising suspended and some rides temporarily closed. Fallout from the crash could continue to impact on the business into 2016.

The incident took place on the Smiler roller coaster on June 2. Sixteen people were injured when their car collided with an empty car that had stopped on the track. Several of the victims suffered serious injuries, with 17-year-old Leah Washington’s leg injury requiring amputation. There were several other leg injuries, and one rider suffered a punctured lung.

All 16 of the victims will receive compensation, with initial payments having been made last month.

Chief executive, Nick Varney, said: ‘The accident at Alton Towers in June was a devastating event, for which we have accepted responsibility and are deeply sorry.

‘We have been humbled by the grace and fortitude of those who were injured, and their families, and will continue to do whatever we can to support them.’ He added that reclaiming its position as the UK’s number 1 theme park could take Alton Towers 12 to 18 months.

According to Merlin, additional safety protocols have been introduced to prevent a similar accident from happening in future.

Alton Towers dares visitors to ride The Smiler

Alton Towers, a theme park located between Leek and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, UK, is preparing to launch its new white-knuckle ride, perversely called The Smiler, for the coming season.

Built at a cost of £18 million, the new roller coaster-type ride will be expected to bring something new to attract thrill seekers, and with a record-breaking 14 loops, it is unlikely to disappoint. Add to that The Smiler’s drops of 98 feet that it navigates at speeds of up to 52 miles per hour, for a nerve testing two-minute and forty-five second duration, and it should provide enough motion to disorientate even the most hardened theme park fan.

But it is not only the ride’s stomach-churning manoeuvres that are likely to leave its passengers shaken but satisfied. Part of its massive budget was spent on fees to psychologists and scientists with the intention of creating a thrill ride that instils psychological as well as physical fear. One of The Smiler’s creators, Katherine Duckworth, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘This ride will put not just your body but also your mind through its paces. There are five different mind effects, which are all designed to mess with your head. You shoot towards giant syringes, spinning hypnotic wheels, and flashing lights, among other things.’

John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers, added, ‘The Smiler is set to be one of the most thrilling rides in the world. To heighten the feeling of excitement we needed a ride with a variety of mental cues. The Smiler will be different from other traditional roller coasters, in that it will combine intense physical effects along with unique mental elements.’

The Smiler opens at Alton Towers later this month.

New £18m rollercoaster planned for Alton Towers

Alton Towers, a theme park based in Staffordshire, UK, is planning to build its biggest ride yet at a cost of £18m.

The new rollercoaster is claimed to be the first of its kind, and promises thrills for adrenalin junkies. It currently has the codename SW7 (Secret Weapon 7), and although its construction is yet to begin, it is expected to be ready for the opening of Alton Tower’s new season in March next year.

SW7 claims several impressive statistics, including a highest drop of 98 feet, a maximum speed of 52 mph and a duration of 2 minutes and 45 seconds, which is longer than any of the theme park’s current rides. The park’s owners also claim a ‘world’s first’ feature for the new ride, but are refusing to reveal any more details of it at this point in time. They did however say that The Sanctuary, a new attraction that has already opened at the park, offers curious guests a taste of what is to come.

Alton Towers head of consumer marketing, Katherine Duckworth, was reported in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘Details of the new ride coming to the theme park in 2013 are still a closely-guarded secret but we know that people are hugely excited about its arrival and want a hint of what is to come. The Sanctuary is set to make Scarefest more terrifying than ever, and give our guests the chance to experience a preview of our new ride before it opens to the public in March.’

Alton Towers’ existing thrill rides include Nemesis and Rita, Queen of Speed.

Theme Parks Gear Up For Battle Of The Big Rides

With the school summer holidays just weeks away, the UK’s major theme parks are vying to attract their share of the crowds by promoting their latest big rides and dusting off the old favourites.

Weather permitting, 2012 could be a record year for UK park operators, with the promise of a massive influx of additional overseas tourists, drawn by the London Olympic Games, to potentially swell their visitor numbers.

Thorpe Park is best placed geographically to benefit from any Olympic spin-off, being situated just south of London, near Chertsey, Surrey. No surprise then that it has launched a major new ride this year to help draw in the visitors.

Claiming to be the UK’s first winged roller coaster, The Swarm boasts that riders will have nothing above or below them but air. Adrenalin junkies will travel at speeds up to 92 mph, pulling up to 4.5G’s of force, through five inversions and a 127-foot inverted drop. Just for good measure, the 2,543-foot long ride includes an extreme near miss experience.

Not to be outdone, Alton Towers, which is situated between the towns of Leek and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, has also launched a major new ride. Nemesis Sub-Terra is based on the park’s original Nemesis ride that was popular from its opening in 1994, only this time the action takes place under ground, and in the dark. The result, claims Alton Towers, is a psychologically and physically thrilling experience.

Visitors to Alton Towers looking for a less testing attraction can find it in Sharkbait Reef, a pirate-themed aquarium tunnel that is also new for 2012.

With its seaside location as an added attraction, Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, Lancashire, never fails to draw big crowds. Also in its armoury is the Big One, a long-time favourite and still claiming to be the UK’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, peaking at 235 feet high, and with incline speeds of 87mph. It is also one of the longest roller coasters, with a track length of over a mile.

So the rides are ready and waiting to test the bold and the brave, and the theme park operators will be keeping their fingers crossed that their roller coaster investments will bring them more ups than downs this summer.


Alton Towers new ride ‘too scary’ for under-12s

Alton towers will be opening a new ride that’s been named ‘too scary’ for those under the age of 12 by the British Board of Film Classification.

The ride, Nemesis Sub-Terra, as a result younger visitors to the park will not be able to experience this ride when it opens for the Easter holidays this weekend.

The BBFC were invited to experience the new ride by Alton Towers following feedback from the testing panel, this will be the first time they have classified a theme park ride.

Murray Perkins of the BBFC concluded that Nemesis Sub-Terra contained ‘some intense moments, in some respects comparable with scary scenes which may be experienced in horror or science fiction films at ’12A’/’12’.’

He said that as a result, the BBFC recommended Alton Towers should classify the experience in the ’12A’ category, which allows for ‘moderate physical and psychological threat, provided that the disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained.’

The rid is completely in the dark, but what actually happens to you during the experience is being kept quiet until it officially opens on March 24.

It has been described as ‘neither a ride, performance nor a maze’.

Publicity has called the ride ‘unlike anything the world has seen before – a psychologically and physically thrilling experience, taking place in a dark, intense underground setting and based around the back-story of the original Nemesis attraction, launched in 1994.’

Mr Perkins said: ‘We are seeing a real blur of the old boundaries of visual content and physical experience in both 3D and 4D cinema, and at theme parks.

‘After experiencing the attraction first-hand, based on 100 years of experience and line with British public opinion, we would recommend that Alton Towers Resort classify the new Nemesis Sub-Terra a 12A.’

Katherine Duckworth of Alton Towers said: ‘The classification advice from the BBFC is important to ensure the well-being of our guests.’

She added: ‘We are aware the enforcement’s that will now be implemented will mean that many of our younger visitors are unable to experience Nemesis Sub-Terra, which we are obviously concerned about.

‘However, the Alton Towers Resort prides itself on offering a variety of rides for all ages and we hope that those under the age of 12 will continue to enjoy our other attractions.’