Alton Towers is a theme park and resort located in Staffordshire, England. It attracts around 2.7 million visitors per year making it the most visited theme park in the United Kingdom. Alton Towers is also the 9th most visited theme park in Europe. It is based north of the village of Alton in Staffordshire (approximately 16 miles (26 km) east of Stoke-on-Trent), in the grounds of a semi-ruined gothic revival country house of the same name, the former seat of the Earls of Shrewsbury. The resort also includes two hotels; The Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings Hotel, The Alton Towers Waterpark ( Cariba Creek), Extraordinary Golf, Conference Centre and The Alton Towers Spa (Located in the Alton Towers Hotel). Alton Towers is the flagship attraction of Merlin Entertainments in the United Kingdom. The major attractions at Alton Towers include:
  • Nemesis , Europe's first inverted roller coaster.
  • Oblivion , the world's first vertical drop roller coaster.
  • Air , the world's first B&M flying roller coaster.
  • Rita , a launched roller coaster which accelerates to 96 km/h (60 mph) in approximately 2.2 seconds.
  • Th13teen , the world's first vertical free fall drop roller coaster.
The park's promotional music is In the Hall of the Mountain King, written by Edvard Grieg which has been used in TV promotions and around the park since the early 1990s.

History

Early history of the grounds
The estate dates back to before 1000 BC, when an iron age fort was built in the area, known as Bunbury Hill. In circa 700 AD, the estate became the site of a fortress for the Saxon king Ceolred of Mercia. A castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest, but the date of its erection is unknown. In the 12th century, the estate passed to Bertram de Verdun, as a reward for his work in the Crusades. In 1318, the estate passed by marriage to Thomas de Furnival, when he married Joan de Verdun. It passed again in 1406, to Sir John Talbot, when he married Maud, the eldest daughter of Lord Furnival. He became the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1442, a title that had been resurrected after being forfeited by the third earl in 1102. The old castle was destroyed during the English Civil War. The early Alton Towers was a hunting lodge, known as Alveton Lodge (or Alverton), which is the ancient name for Alton. It had three floors; one of the towers was from an earlier building, which is part of the present-day building. It was split into two properties, one of which was rented by a tenant. The other property was used by the Talbots as a summer residence, their main residence being at Heythrop in Oxfordshire. Charles Talbot, the 15th Earl, began improvements on the house and initiated the creation of the Gardens, at the turn of the 19th century. Through the early 19th century, 13,000 trees were planted in the grounds. In 1811, major work began on the house. Over the next ten years, several new rooms were built: a drawing room, dining room, chapel, library, long gallery, banqueting hall, conservatory and entrance hall were all added. As a result of the work done, the house doubled in size. The entire building was renovated in a Gothic style, and the foundations of the Flag Tower were also laid. The house was renamed to Alton Abbey, despite there not being any particular religious connection. Some of the architects that worked on the house were Thomas Allason, William Hollins and Thomas Hopper. In 1814 Charles and his wife moved into Alton permanently, and began the creation of extensive gardens. Prior to his work on the gardens, the land around Alton was farmland. Charles transformed the land into one of the largest gardens in Britain. Set in a valley that leads down to the River Churnet, a variety of features were created. A Pagoda fountain was built as an exact copy of the To Ho Pagoda in Canton, which used water from a spring at Ramshorn that passed through various lakes and pools. The Garden Conservatories, designed by Robert Abrahams were built of cast iron, and today are filled with various plants. A building known as the Swiss Cottage housed a Welsh harpist, and is now a restaurant. A building known as Stonehenge was constructed, and a copy of Lysicrates' Choragic Monument from Athens was built. Several gardens were planted, including a Dutch garden, located to the left of the conservatories, and a rock garden. Following the earl's death in 1827, his nephew John succeeded him, who completed the gardens and house. In 1831, the earl's principal residence in Heythrop burned down. Everything that was saved was moved to Alton, and the earl came to live there permanently. Augustus Pugin designed a new entrance hall, banqueting hall and various other rooms, extending the house further, and it was renamed to Alton Towers. The grounds were opened to the public at various times of the year from 1839. The 16th Earl died in 1852. He was succeeded briefly by his cousin, Bertram, who died at the age of 24. The house was finished by 1856, with no further alterations being made to the house again. Because there was no direct heir to the estate, Bertram left the earldom and the estate to a younger son of the Duke of Norfolk. Henry Chetwynd-Talbot, a distant cousin of the late earl, contested the will and a lawsuit was initiated to determine who would get ownership. After some time it was granted to Henry Chetwynd Talbot of Ingestre Hall, Staffordshire. The ownership of the contents of the house was never contested, and so everything in Alton Towers was auctioned, with 4000 lots being sold over a period of 29 days. The new earl gained his title in 1858, and the estate in 1860. To celebrate, the earl held a procession on 13 April 1860. Beginning in Uttoxeter, it stretched over a mile and in the end over 40,000 people were said to be in the grounds. The earl continued to open the grounds to the public throughout the year at certain times, to help raise money to refurbish parts of the house. During the 1890s, the 20th earl, Charles Talbot started the tradition of summer fetes at Alton. As well as the Gardens, people were attracted with fireworks displays, balloon festivals, clowns, and exhibitions of instruments of torture. In 1896, the earl and countess separated. The earl went to live at Ingestre, where he founded the Talbot Car Company in the 20th century, and the countess stayed at Alton. However, the house was left to decay because the earl did not pay much for the up keep, and the estate was neglected. In November 1918, the earl decided to sell the majority of the estate by auction, due to his absence. After the earl died in 1921, the countess continued to live in the estate for another two years. In 1924 the rest of the estate was sold to a group of local businessmen, who formed Alton Towers Limited. While the contents of the house was sold off, the grounds were restored and remained open to the public. Some of the rooms of the house were converted into cafés and toilets for public use. The house was requisitioned during World War II as an officer training unit and the gardens were closed until 1951, it is a common misconception that the army's time at the towers caused a lot of damage to the building. However despite some minor damage the army did not cause too much destruction to the towers complex, as much of the building was boarded up and unused in the war effort. It is now commonly understood that the majority of the decay was initiated by the Bagshaw family who sold the interior wood and plaster fixtures as well as the lead roofing allowing water to invade and rot the remaining fixtures. In the 1970s, concrete floors were added so that it could be opened to the public, and the building was listed as Grade II.

History of theme park
Alton Towers began its evolution into a theme park in 1980 with the installation of The Corkscrew rollercoaster, Pirate Ship and the Alpine Bob sled ride. A year later the Log Flume opened and in 1984 the park's second roller-coaster, The Black Hole opened. The themepark continued to be heavily invested in, year-on-year. The park was purchased by The Tussauds Group in 1990. In 2005, Alton Towers was bought by the investment group Dubai International Capital (DIC) when it purchased Tussauds for £800million. The Tussauds Group was bought by Merlin Entertainments in March 2007 for over £1billion from DIC, placing Alton Towers under their control. In July 2007, the resort and park was sold to Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury who now lease the park back to Merlin Entertainments to operate on a 35-year lease.

Monorail
The Von Roll monorail transports visitors from the further away car parks to the main entrance and ticket booths. The monorail system was acquired from Expo 86 which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was installed in 1987, a year after Towers Street, and was opened by Star Trek actor William Shatner. In 2008, Sarner, a UK based theme park design company, was commissioned to revamp the nine monorail trains. This included exterior decoration and new bench seating. Each train has a personalised soundtrack to fit with its own theme, such as 'pirates'. The monorail moves visitors from the Alton Towers Hotel, Splash Landings Hotel, Cariba Creek Waterpark and Extraordinary Golf to the Alton Towers Theme Park .

Skyride
The Skyride is a cable car system which visitors can use to travel between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley, and Cloud Cuckoo Land. The Skyride has operated since 1987 and replaced an earlier chairlift, which had opened in 1963. The central station in Forbidden Valley was burned on the evening of 28 October 2007, due to a faulty halogen lamp. The incident caused a power cut, which led to some guests being stranded on the park's monorail. Luckily, this incident was reported quickly by a Towers employee as to not cause as much massive damage, and the park says that the damage caused to the station was mainly cosmetic. The Skyride re-opened 19 April 2008 after major work had been carried out on the station's roof. At the end of 2008 season the original Skyride gondolas were replaced with smaller and more colourful gondolas. At approximately 22:30 on 21 July 2009, a fire broke out in the Cloud Cuckoo Land station. It remained closed for the rest of the 2009 season. The station has reopened in the 2010 season.

Theme park areas
The park is split into many themed areas, which are located in a horseshoe shape around The Towers ruins and 19th century gardens. Guests have the option of using the Skyride to navigate around the park; there are stations in proximity to Towers Street, Forbidden Valley, Dark Forest and Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Timeline of Theme park areas

Towers Street Opened in 1986, Towers Street is the first area that visitors to the park encounter. Themed loosely as a town street, it leads to views of the gardens and the Towers across the lake in the distance. Along the pathway are the park's famous jumping frog foutains and a lawn where seasonal events usually take place. The street contains several shops, including the Towers Trading Co., which sells official park merchandise. The first Skyride station is located nearby. A system to make a DVD of your trip called Alton Towers DVD is based in a building at the end of Towers Street. Also located in Towers Street is Corner Coffee, Annual Pass Office and Guest Services. Navigation:
  • Skyride (opened 1987; refurbished 2009)
  • Monorail (opened 1987; refurbished 2008)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Coca Cola Refill Station
  • Corner Coffee
  • The Towers Hot Dogs
  • The Towers Family Restaurant
  • Towers Trading
  • Alton Towers Resort DVD
Mutiny Bay Mutiny Bay is a pirate-themed land, which re-themed Merrie England in 2008, is aimed primarily at families. Attractions in Mutiny Bay include: Battle Galleons, a large interactive "Splash Battle" water ride where guests sit in pirate boats that travel through a water channel, while soaking other riders with water cannons; and a rocking boat ride, Heave Ho. The teacups ride was re-themed to become Marauders Mayhem, where rotating gunbarrels replaced the tea cups. The area also has a Burger King take-away and a live show, The Pirates of Sharkbait Reef. Since the opening of the area, many live actors roam around the area dressed as pirates. In 2009, a new Sea Life centre, Sharkbait Reef, opened in the location previously home to the 3-D Cinema. This includes designated "touch pools" where guests can interact with various underwater species and a 10-metre ocean tunnel. The attraction is one of the most heavily themed Sea Life centres to open worldwide. In April 2010, a live webcam was installed to allow internet users to watch one of the tanks, which can be accessed via the official website. Attractions:
  • Battle Galleons (opened 2008, replaces the Splash Karts)
  • Heave Ho (opened 2008)
  • Marauder's Mayhem (opened 2008, rethemed Teacups ride)
  • The Pirate of Sharkbait Reef Show (opened 2009)
  • Sharkbait Reef by SEA LIFE (opened 2009, replaces 3D Cinema, closed since 2004)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Pirate's Galley - Burger King
  • Courtyard Tavern and BBQ
  • Eastern Express
  • Mexican Cantina
  • Mutiny Bay Donuts
  • Mutiny Bay Hot Dogs
  • Mutiny Bay Shoppe
  • Pirates Pasty Co.
  • Ben & Jerry's
Previous names/themes:
  • Ingestre Centre
  • Aqualand
  • Merrie England
Katanga Canyon Themed as an African village; created in 1992 and incorporated existing rapids ride. Rides include the Runaway Mine Train a wild speeding mine train rollercoaster and the Congo River Rapids . Both are well-established rides in the park whose ride tracks share a tunnel. The area has a new 'Explorer's' restaurant for 2009, with a shared indoor seating area (£8.25 per head for all you can eat buffet). There is a shop located at the exits of the two rides called Katanga Cargo, hosting "ancient" tribal themed merchandise. Slightly outside the area (but still part of Katanga Canyon) is the popular 'Flume' ride, a log flume with boats themed as bath tubs and many ducks quacking around the station area. The Flume opened in 2004 after being re-themed from a traditional log flume ride. The ride is sponsored by the Imperial Leather toiletries company. The ride has two other attractions at the park based on it, the Master Blaster water slide and the Imperial Room at the hotel. Attractions:
  • Congo River Rapids (opened 1986; refurbished 1992)
  • Runaway Mine Train (opened 1992)
  • The Flume Unplugged (opened 1981; refurbished 2004)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Katanga Kabin
  • Explorers Pizza-Pasta Buffet Restaurant (Replaced KFC/Pizza Hut in 2009)
  • The Katanga Cargo Company
Previous names/themes:
  • Aqualand (Congo River Rapids/Grand Canyon Rapids only)
Gloomy Wood The Gloomy Wood is a small, haunted house themed area containing the ride Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back! . The ride was originally a spooky non-interactive ride named The Haunted House, but was upgraded in 2003 with laser-based plastic guns to shoot LED lights scattered around the rooms and monsters to deactivate some scares, with each player's score displayed on a digital display in the ride car to encourage competitive play. In 2007, an outdoor walk-through was added, named "Haunted Hollow". The pathway follows part of the route formerly used by the old scenic railway, linking from Mutiny Bay to Gloomy Wood. Haunted Hollow includes various tombstones, statues and other features, some of which interact with guests using sound effects. Attractions:
  • Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back! (opened 1992; refurbished in 2003)
  • Haunted Hollow (opened 2007)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Gloomy Wood Kiosk
  • Waffles and Ices
  • Spooks 'R' Us
Forbidden Valley Themed around a frightening post-apocalyptic landscape, with large rocks and rusty pieces of metal and machinery scattering the area and also waterfalls coloured red to look like blood. One of the major rides is Nemesis , an inverted roller coaster, based around the fictional tale of a giant ancient malevolent alien creature. Nemesis is consistently regarded as one of the greatest designed rollercoasters in the world in major, global rollercoaster polls. Also in the area, and continuing the apocalytic theme, are the Ripsaw and The Blade thrill rides. Ripsaw is a Huss Top Spin ride which opened in 1997 themed around a piece of shrapnel thrown from the alien creature's pit, while The Blade is an older Huss Pirate Boat themed around a pendulum blade. At the end of the valley is an "oasis", with calmer colours and plants, where the spectacular ride Air , the world's first B&M flying coaster, can be found. A Skyride station also services this area of the park. Attractions:
  • Air (opened 2002, originally sponsored by Cadbury's Heroes)
  • The Blade (opened 1980; relocated 1997 from Fantasy World before retheme to X-Sector)
  • Lava Lump (climbing wall)
  • Nemesis (opened 1994)
  • Ripsaw (opened 1997)
  • Skyride (opened 1987; damaged by fire 2007; refurbished 2009; damaged by fire 21 July 2009; Rebuilt for the 2010 season.)
  • The Edge: Video Arcade
Previous attractions:
  • Thunder Looper (closed 1996, replaced by Ripsaw in 1997)
  • The Beastie (relocated to Adventure Land in 1997)
  • The Beast (closed 1997, replaced by Air in 2002)
  • Dynamo (moved to Forbidden Valley in 2002, removed 2004 and sold on in 2005)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Forbidden Treats
  • Fresh Fish and Chips (Take-Away)
  • The Generator - Burger King
  • Nemices Donuts
  • Refresh@Ripsaw
  • Air Shop
Previous names/themes:
  • Thunder Valley
Dark Forest Dark Forest opened on 20 March 2010, replacing Ug Land which opened in 1999. The parks first major rollercoaster, Corkscrew, which inhabited Ug Land for almost twenty years, and on that site for nearly thirty years, was replaced by Thirteen, a multi-million pound project involving the world's first horizontal freefall rollercoaster and dubbed as the first ever psycoaster. The new ride for 2010 was unveiled as 'Thirteen' (often stylised as 'TH13TEEN') in late 2009, after much marketing hype over the development in that area. During construction, the rollercoaster was referred to as 'Secret Weapon 6' or SW6, following the tradition of the park's other main thrill coasters. Along with Thirteen's opening, the surrounding land was rethemed into a haunted crypt in a Dark Forest with refurbished outlets and game stalls. Rita was also altered, with new station and train designs to look 'engulfed' by the supernatural forest. Attractions:
  • Th13teen (Opened March 2010, Replaced Corkscrew)
  • Rita (Opened 2005, re-themed 2010)
Previous Attractions:
  • Bone Shaker (SBNO in 2004, removed 2005)
  • Corkscrew (closed 2008, re-placed by Th13teen in 2010)
  • Ug Swinger (moved to Cloud Cuckoo Land in 2009 as Twirling Toadstool)
Game stalls:
  • Galloping Gargoyles
  • Creeper's Challenge
Food, drink and shops:
  • Forest Feast
  • Tormented Treats
  • Rita Shop
  • Thirteen Shop
  • Woodcutter's Bar & Grill
Previous names/themes:
  • Talbot Centre
  • Festival Park
  • Ug Land
Cloud Cuckoo Land Cloud Cuckoo Land is aimed at the younger audience of Alton Towers, and is themed with bright colours incorporating oversized flowers and toadstools, as if in a fantasy garden. Among the attractions are a bouncy castle play area called Wobble World, regular shows in the Theatre, and a Wave Swinger ride called the Twirling Toadstools. There are several other rides in the area especially suitable for younger children: Frog Hopper, Galloper's Carousel and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory : The Ride , based on the Roald Dahl novel. The Peugeot Driving School gives children the opportunity to ride their own miniature car around a British style road network. After a fire which destroyed the previous Skyride station in this area took place last year, the Skyride was made nonoperational for the rest of 2009. A new building was built with a brighter appearance. The ride reopened at the start of 2010. Attractions:
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride (opened 2006, replaced Toyland Tours which in turn replaced the original boat ride Around the World in eighty days)
  • Frog Hopper (opened 1999)
  • Galloper's Carousel (opened 1991; refurbished 2009)
  • Peugeot 207 Driving School (opened 2006)
  • Wobble World indoor-play area (opened 2009)
  • Twirling Toadstool (opened 2009-originally located in Ug Land)
  • Cuckoo Theatre: The Wonderful World of Cloud Cuckoo Land (opened 2009)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Cuckoo Diner - Burger King
  • Caffe Express
  • Wobble World Cafe
  • Cuckoo Toys
Navigation:
  • Skyride (Opened 1988, refurbished 2009. The new station was opened in 2010.)
Previous names/themes:
  • Talbot Street (unknown date-1992)
  • Land of Make Believe (1993”“1997)
  • Cred Street (1997”“2008)
X-Sector X-Sector is themed as if it were a sinister futuristic government facility. The area contains the innovative Oblivion ride, the world's first roller coaster with a vertical (88.8°) drop. The extra-wide roller coaster cars are held suspended over the edge for a maximum of three seconds before dropping downwards into a large hole amid mist and sirens thrown a pitch-black tunnel, and then re-emerging into a heavily banked turn leading back into the station. Two thrill rides are located in the X Sector: Submission, which opened in 2001 and is a double swing inverter; Enterprise which has been at the park since 1984, originally located where the Dark Forest is today, and is a HUSS enterprise. A giant blue building, which once held the Black Hole roller coaster, lies disused to one side of the area. A game arcade next to Oblivion's gift shop and the 'Meltdown' restaurant, selling KFC fast food, can also be found here. Attractions:
  • Enterprise (opened 1984) (You must be at least 0.9m to ride)
  • Oblivion (opened 1998)
  • Submission (opened 2001)
Previous attractions:
  • Black Hole (closed 2005)
  • Energizer (relocated to former home in Ug Land 2001, until closure in 2004)
Food, drink and shops:
  • Meltdown - KFC (and Pizza Hut until 2009)
  • Rehydrator
  • X-Sell
Previous names/themes:
  • Springfield Centre
  • Fantasy World
Adventure Land Adventure Land is aimed at visitors between the ages of 5 and 11, and consists mainly of climbing frames, slides, swings and similar equipment. The main ride is the Sonic Spinball, based on the hit SEGA video game franchise Sonic the Hedgehog. It's a Maure Sohne spinning roller coaster, in which riders sit in seats that can spin on its base whilst travelling fast around the twisted track. There is one other attraction, 'Space Adventures' playground. The area also contains a food outlet. Beastie , a small kiddie roller coaster is standing but not operating (SBNO) in the area. Attractions:
  • The Beastie SBNO (opened 1983, Closed late 2010)
  • Sonic Spinball (opened 2004, rethemed 2010)
Food and drink:
  • Refresh @ Spinball
Previous names/themes:
  • Kiddies Kingdom
Storybook Land Storybook Land is the park's smallest area and only contains one attraction: the 'Squirrel Nutty Ride' where riders travel around the area in acorn-shaped, powered cars. Storybook Land was created in 1996 when Kiddies Kingdom was split into this area and Adventure Land. The area contains no food outlets. Attractions:
  • Squirrel Nutty Ride (opened 1996)
Previous names/themes
  • Kiddies Kingdom
Old MacDonald's Farmyard 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 re-themed boat ride. In 2003, the old barn that used to hold the farm animals before the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001, was converted to a play barn called Ribena Berry Bish Bash, that contains thousands of small foam balls that are propelled, raised, thrown, dropped and shot from air cannons, now called Berry Bish Bash. In 2007, a new themed playarea opened called There's Something in the Dungheap, especially for youngsters, with a maze, a playground and a picnic area. The main feature is a large pile of dung in which visitors can enter to find interactive insects crawling the floor, made possible by a projector and sensor. Attractions:
  • Berry Bish Bash (opened 2003, originally sponsored by Ribena)
  • Doodle Doo Derby (opened 1995)
  • There's Something in the Dung Heap (opened 2007)
  • Old MacDonald's Singing Barn (opened 1995)
  • Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride (opened 1995)
  • Riverbank Eye-Spy (opened 1999)
Previous names/themes:
  • Britannia Building Society Farm
  • Safeway Farm


Historic areas
The Gardens As an example of the mixed style of Humphry Repton's gardens, Alton Towers' garden was begun, circa 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'. 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. Near the garden entrance is a cenotaph of the 15th earl, a marble bust with an inscription reading "He made the desert smile". Landmarks include:
  • Chinese Pagoda Fountain
  • The Swiss Cottage
  • Miniature 'Stonehenge'
  • A Greek Choragic Monument
  • Orangeries
The Towers The Towers ruins are from what the park derives its name. They belonged to the Talbot family as a stately home. The ruins are open to the public during most of the open season. However, some areas are closed off as part of a £1.1 million project in place to restore the oldest parts of the Towers. Hex - The Legend of the Towers , a walk-through dark ride based within the ruins themselves, opened in 2000. The finale to the ride is a Vekoma Madhouse located away from the real Towers but themed as a secret vault. The storyline is based on Staffordshire's true legend about the chained oak tree, located in a nearby forest, and makes use of the history of the Towers. In addition, a temporary scare maze, Terror of the Towers, operates during the park's Halloween 'Scarefest' event and has done yearly since 2002. It takes guests through a tour of the ruins and uses live actors, lighting, mist and sound effects to add atmosphere. The attraction won the 2009 London Screamie Awards for 'Best Seasonal Attraction/Maze'. Key areas:
  • Hex - The Legend of the Towers (dark ride) (opened 2000)
  • Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within (seasonal attraction)
  • The Banqueting Hall
  • The Chapel
  • Conservatories
  • Her Ladyship's Gardens


Other facilities

Hotels
The resort features two hotels, The Splash Landings Hotel and The Alton Towers Hotel. The Splash Landings Hotel is a combination hotel and waterpark. Alton Towers Hotel The Alton Towers Hotel opened in 1996 and is themed to the eccentric fictional character Sir Algernon Alton. The rooms are decorated in a classically English style with pictures of Sir Algernon's inventions including the coasting roller adorning the walls. The hotel features the Secret Garden restaurant serving a buffet breakfast and àla carte dinner, there is also the Captain and Dragon bars, the latter having a Chinese theme along with the small event/conference rooms in the hotel. The bars and restaurant surround the "ship" centrepiece of the hotel featuring a hot air balloon shape and rotating propellers. The ship is also used as a stage for the evening entertainment. In March 2008, as part of the drive to promote the resort firmly as a family destination, a show based around the adventures of Sir Alegnon was introduced along with Pirate Bill's magic show. Splash Landings Hotel The Splash Landings Hotel is the newer of the two hotels, opening in 2003, it has a colourful exotic Caribbean theme and the main feature is the Cariba Creek Waterpark. The hotel features Flambo's Exotic Feast, a buffet restaurant with a wide selection of food including roast dinner and a chocolate fountain, also serving a buffet breakfast. Above Flambo's Feast is the Ma Garrita's Bar which features evening entertainment starring the Splash Landings character Ringo, the Lemur. Both the bar and restaurant have windows looking out over the indoor waterpark. The hotel rooms are in a wing to the side of the hotel and some rooms have views over the outdoor sections of the waterpark. The hotel also contains two shops, one selling general snacks, sweets and souvenirs and the other offering swimming costumes and other waterpark related sundries. There is also an arcade near Flambo's restaurant. In all the public elevators in the hotel, when they are in motion, the theme tune to Captain Pugwash is played, and stops as soon as the doors start opening.

Conference centre
Between the hotels sits the Alton Towers Conference Centre, Winner of meeting & Incentive Travel Magazine's Best UK Unusual Venue Award 2007. The Conference Centre opened shortly after the Splash Landings Hotel and is linked to both hotels via a walkway running from the side of the Alton Towers Hotel to the Conference Centre and through the Cariba Creek waterpark to the Splash Landings Hotel.

Waterpark (Cariba Creek)
The Alton Towers Waterpark, previously known as Cariba Creek, opened in 2003. It is a large, part indoor and part outdoor waterpark themed as a tropical lagoon. It is located within The Splash Landings Hotel and is available for both guests at the hotel and members of the public. The park features several fast slides, a lazy river, a giant tipping bucket and many other water features. Also located here is Quencher's bar, which was previously themed as a shipwreck until 2007 when it was extended.

Extraordinary Golf
In 2007, Alton Towers opened Extraordinary Golf, 2 nine hole themed crazy golf courses, located near The Splash Landings Hotel. Each of the holes have themes based on attractions within the themepark e.g. Nemesis. As with Cariba Creek, this facility is aimed at the general public as well as park and hotel guests. The standard price is £5 to play one 9 hole course or £6 to play all 18 holes.

Music
The music played at Alton Towers is a combination of commercial tracks, library music and commissioned music. The following composers have had their music played at the park: Graham Smart Ian Habgood David Buckley Crispin Merrell John Sanderson In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg is the theme park's theme tune used in adverts, and played throughout the park.

Past rides
A single-loop roller coaster called Thunder Looper, manufactured by Schwarzkopf was constructed in 1990 but was closed only 6 years later. The ride propelled guests in cars along a track, through a loop, up a steep hill and then let gravity pull the car back through the loop again and back into the station. It was removed mainly because Alton Towers only obtained a temporary planning agreement and later height restrictions placed on the park and problems with the high level of sound the ride produced made it certain permanent planning permission would not be granted. Thunder Looper stood in the area Thunder Valley, which is now Forbidden Valley. The large ditch in which the track was situated is now partially taken up by the Blade ride. The Black Hole featured a spiral lift and was contained entirely within a permanent tent structure that made some sections of the ride completely dark. This ride was closed in March 2005 and was sold and shipped out to an undisclosed theme park in Brazil in 2008. The sale was attributed to rising maintenance costs and new health and safety requirements requiring evacuation stairs on the spiral lift that could not be accommodated within the tent structure. As of June 2010 the tent structure which used to hold The Black Hole is still in place in its original location in the X-Sector area. In common with most major parks, there was also a miniature railway line. It ran through the forest, and was one of the first attractions built after World War II. It was a 2-foot (610 mm) gauge line equipped with Baguley locomotives, which although steam-outline in appearance were in fact powered by diesel engines. It closed in 1996, by which time this once-popular ride had been displaced by the Skyride cable-cars. It was gradually removed afterwards, and is now covered in part by the Haunted Hollow walk-through, some remnants of the railway can still be seen at various points in the forest.

List of past rides
  • Adventure Playground 1974-1993
  • Adventure Railway 1982-1992
  • Alpine Bob Sled 1980-1986
  • The Beast 1988-1991
  • Alton Mouse 1988-1991
  • Aquarium 1974-1994
  • Around The World In 80 Days 1981-1993
  • Astroglide 1979-1992
  • Barney's Playground 2000-2002
  • Black Hole 1984-2005
  • The Blue Ca
Original Areas Areas in 1984 Areas in 1986 Areas in 1992 Areas in 1994 Areas in 1995 Areas in 1997 Areas in 1998 Areas in 1999 Areas in 2002 Areas in 2008 Areas in 2009 Current Areas Kiddies Kingdom Adventure Land Talbot Street Land of Make Believe Cred Street Cloud Cuckoo Land Talbot Centre Festival Park UG Land Dark Forest Ingestre Centre Aqualand Katanga Canyon Thunder Valley Forbidden Valley Merrie England Mutiny Bay Gloomy Wood The Gardens Britannia Farm Safeway Farm Old MacDonalds Farmyard Storybook Land Towers Complex Towers Street Fantasy World X Sector

Media

9 photos

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 12 media and removed 2 media
    about 4 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • updated 4 digital references
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com