As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Alton Towers. The coasters and rides there are, quite simply, fantastic!
But a quick glance at an Alton Towers fan website such as Towers Times will tell you that many fans are unhappy. The park has got lax in its ways. Nemesis, the world’s most intense roller coaster, has been slowly decaying in its hole, and now isn’t anything like as good as it was 10 years ago when it opened. (It’s still one of the best rides on the planet, though!) Oblivion, the world’s first vertical drop roller coaster (stunning ride!) has had to be seriously changed because of a lawsuit from residents of Alton complaining about the noise. (Apparently, the voice at the top of the drop that says “Don’t look down” – an integral part of the ride – was too loud. Alton Towers have removed it, and now just advise riders to scream as loud as they can!)
For the last 2 months half the park has been closed off, for no apparent reason. Cred Street, the area for little people, has been fenced-off. Ug Land, home to the park’s first roller coaster – the Corkscrew – has been completely closed off to guests. Understandably, fans haven’t been happy.
But to every cloud there is a silver lining. Or, in this case, a golden lining. Alton Towers has officialy announced that they are building a new roller coaster for the 2005 season. Codenamed RITA (don’t ask), it will be a launched roller coaster with a loop and heartline-roll – basically, you get blasted out of the station at 65mph, get flipped over a couple of times, get off, and do it again. The actual specifications of the ride are top secret, but from what people on Towers Times have found out, this seems a fairly good assumption. Alton Towers have launched a promotional website, Ride RITA (I said don’t ask), and have been heavily promoting the ride at events like the fireworks.
But is that all there is to it? It seems that over the winter closed season, Alton Towers will be getting rid of the Black Hole. One of the oldest rides in the park, predating Nemesis by almost a decade, many people are up in arms at Alton Towers’ attempt to get rid of what they see as an old friend. Apparently, the tent won’t be going, just the ride. Nothing will go in the tent next year. But what about 2006? A stunning new dark ride, on the scale of Disney’s Space Mountains or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coasters? I hope so!
It seems that Alton Towers have always codenamed their big new roller coasters as SWs (Secret Weapons) – air, for example, was SW5. The last new coaster, Spinball Whizzer, wasn’t an SW because it wasn’t considered big enough, it wasn’t a trademark ride. But RITA is a European first. Why is she (oh dear….) not a Secret Weapon? Could this be a very elaborate, very expensive, smokescreen? Could Alton Towers be distracting people’s attention from what they’re doing in the Black Hole tent? Many people, me included, think so.
Let’s hope and see! If you want to keep up to date on what’s happening with RITA, the Black Hole, and other Alton Towers news, I really recommend you have a look at Towers Times and its forums.