Alton Towers

To any British person, if you ask them to name a theme park in the United Kingdom, the answer is likely to be “Alton Towers”. It is considered something of a rite of passage. You have not really been in Britain, or lived in Britain, or had fun in Britain until you have visited Alton Towers and gone on the rides there. It simply holds a place in the firmament of British action culture that is unequalled by any other theme park. That said, it is actually not the most visited theme park in Britain – this title is held by Blackpool’s pleasure beach – however, Blackpool comes as something of a package, whereas Alton Towers is a stand-alone attraction in the village of Alton is Staffordshire.

Alton Towers has consistently set new standards in the world of pleasure park rides, with many of the rides in the park holding records for being the first of their kind. There is no publicity like breaking or setting a record, and Alton Towers has understood and exploited this fact like no other theme park. Its rides, its reputation, and its setting in the grounds of a classic country house, have drawn people to Alton Towers since its opening as a theme park in 1980. As it approaches its thirtieth year in business, Alton Towers continues to attract customers from all over Britain, Europe and the world beyond.

Vertical drops seem to be all the rage now for the roller coaster aficionado, but the first roller coaster ever to feature a vertical drop, Oblivion, is housed right here in Alton Towers. Opinions on this ride are often along the lines of “often copied, never bettered”. The first ever inverted roller coaster in Europe, Nemesis is also an Alton Towers development.

Alton TowersThe world’s first “flying” roller coaster, designed by Bolliger and Mallard, is also here. Known as “Air”, it simulates the experience of flight while remaining attached to the coaster, giving a unique experience to the thrill seekers who take the chance to go on it. Finally, the launched roller coaster, which takes as its central selling point the thrill of big acceleration rather than high speed and death-defying curves, is represented at Alton Towers by Rita – Queen of Speed. Due to its motor system, Rita can accelerate from 0-60 in an amazing 2.5 seconds. The amazing experience of going from a complete standstill to high speed with barely any point in between is one that the thrill seeker has been coming back for time and again since the ride opened in 2005.

More firsts are planned for Alton Towers in the coming years, with 2010 set to see a new roller coaster costing L12million (approximately $17million) which will again push back the barriers of what has been done before.

Another big selling point for Alton Towers is the “YourDay” DVD system, which uses a system of RFID electronically-tagged wristbands to film the experiences of visitors for a DVD souvenir allowing them to relive their day at Alton Towers whenever they want.