United Kingdom (Abbreviation: AT)
Merlin Entertainment Group
Park News - (11/26/15) Following along with the leaked results from a couple of months back, Alton Towers has confirmed that the crash on The Smiler coaster was caused by humor error, " culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed." As the rest of the ride was determined to be safe and sound, and that the safety system did what it was supposed to do by shutting down the ride until it was over-riden by human error, it was also announced that The Smiler will reopen in 2016. When it does reopen however, it will include new safety measures in place, better monitoring of the track, and a new safety procedure that will not allow a manual override to take place unless authorized by a senior staff member. In the meantime, there are also several reports out there about how the park/resort is likely to cut up to 190 salaried jobs soon to make up for the financial loses they've experienced this year following the Smiler accident.
(11/12/15) For the first time ever Alton Towers will be open for the Christmas holiday season this year. The park will be open from 10am to 5pm on Dec. 12-13 and 18-23. Guests can experience the Elves Emporium, a new 10 minute experience where they can meet Santa and his Elves. Select rides and attractions will be open these days, but the list includes CBeebies Land, Adventure Land, Cloud Cuckoo Land and Mutiny Bay. Guests will be treated to free car parking.
(10/19/15) A full review of Alton Tower's Scarefest 2015 event has been posted to ThemeParks-UK.
(9/29/15) I'm told that Alton Towers has announced that for the first time the park will be open with a selection of rides and attractions over the Christmas holiday in December. So far the open attractions list includes: CBeebies Land, Sonic Spinball, Mutiny Bay, Cloud Cookoo Land.
(9/23/15) I'm told that testing on The Smiler at Alton Towers has been ongoing, moving from just one train at a time awhile ago to now running up to three at once. Meanwhile a new evacuation platform is also said to have begun construction under the batwing element, which I would take as a sure sign that the park will be keeping the ride.
(9/16/15) According to ThemeParks-UK, Alton towers ScareFest event will feature 2 new mazes, 2 new scare zones and an "extreme escape experience" this year. Look for, "The Haunting of Molly Crowe, Sub Species: The End Games, Nox Infernus, Dark Apocalypse and Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within". Follow the link for more details.
(8/13/15) According to this article, Alton Towers is planning to expand the number of hotel rooms they offer on-site at the Alton Towers Hotel by adding 74 new rooms, a new restaurant and parking. It didn't give a timeline for when they would complete the work however.
2016 - Unknown - (10/26/15) So what is Alton Towers up to for 2016? Looks like they've launched a teaser website already that says, "In 2016 the future is here...prepare for a new flight". With that and in mind and the requested changes said to be on the way to the park's AIR coaster (B&M Flyer), I'm guessing they'll try to re-launch AIR as a new experience somehow in 2016.
(8/6/15) I'm told that Alton Towers has submitted plans to enhance their AIR coaster's station and queue by adding a pre-show area, photo kiosk and various new themeing elements to the area around the coaster.
2017 - SW8 Coaster / Future Expansions - Rumor - (7/15/15) According to a trusted source, a wood coaster was in the works for 2017... but not from Intamin. The problem is, our source also confirmed that whatever Alton Tower had in the works for 2017 has likely been put on hold at this point... and may never come to be as they deal with the fallout from The Smiler accident. We'll just have to wait and see.
(5/2/15) According to the latest rumor sent my way about Alton Tower’s SW8 project, our source backs up that it will be an wooden coaster, but also claims that it may be a “launched” coaster as well, though they insist that RMC is not involved in this project as well. Very interesting…
(4/29/15) Is Alton Towers preparing to build a new wooden coaster? According to ThemeParks-UK, the park has submitted documents to the planning authority for a new attraction that would feature "timber truss construction set within a wooden backdrop and foreground". The plans also mention that the ride would have a maximum height of 14.5m above existing ground levels, and one of more of the high points in the ride would be enclosed within a "sound tunnel" to keep the noise levels down. Looks like SW8 is planned to open in 2017 if all goes well.
(3/31/15) The latest buzz says Alton Tower's next big coaster is expected to open around either 2016 or 2017. Many still believe it will go into the Forbidden Valley area, possibly behind Air on the site of a current parking lot.
(10/9/14) According to a Screamscape reader, Ripsaw at Alton Towers will be taken down and moved across the park to reopen in the X-Sector in 2015 on the former Submission spot. The fast food building next to Ripsaw is said to have already been gutted and is ready for demolition as well. This would open up this entire side of the Forbidden Valley (from Air down along the valley edge) for future new developments.
Future Plans - (7/14/15) According to one rumor sent in, which I caution you to only take as a rumor at this point, and nothing factual, Alton Tower's future plans may have included a two-ride project from Intamin, starting with a new wooden coaster that could open as early as 2017 and to be followed by a new flume ride on the site of Mutiny Bay.
At this point however, plans or no plans, given the state of things following The Smiler accident, I'd say any and all plans could be on hold at this point, or even cancelled, while they put their entire operations under review.
The Smiler Accident Reports -
(11/26/15) Following along with the leaked results from a couple of months back, Alton Towers has confirmed that the crash on The Smiler coaster was caused by humor error, " culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed." As the rest of the ride was determined to be safe and sound, and that the safety system did what it was supposed to do by shutting down the ride until it was over-riden by human error, it was also announced that The Smiler will reopen in 2016. When it does reopen however, it will include new safety measures in place, better monitoring of the track, and a new safety procedure that will not allow a manual override to take place unless authorized by a senior staff member. In the meantime, there are also several reports out there about how the park/resort is likely to cut up to 190 salaried jobs soon to make up for the financial loses they've experienced this year following the Smiler accident.
(8/25/15) As I expected to be the case, an article from a UK news source seems to confirm that the accident earlier this summer on The Smiler at Alton Towers was caused by human error. They say that the safety systems were working correctly when the ride stopped the car with passengers on the lift hill when it detected the empty car stalled on the tracks. A park engineer put the ride into an overide mode and restarted it, causing the collision.
(6/27/15) More horrible news has come from the fallout of the Smiler coaster crash this afternoon, as the local news reports that a second rider involved in The Smiler crash has been forced to have a leg amputated. This one has been identified as Vicky Balch, who was forced to have one leg amputated just below the knee following a series of seven unsuccessful surgeries so far that attempted to save it.
She is the second of the four riders from the front row to have a leg amputated, while the other two (male) victims have suffered from shattered kneecaps for one and the other from a fractured leg and collapsed lung.
(6/9/15) This news article at BT.com has confirmed that 17-year old Leah Washington was the most seriously injured of the four victims and had to have her left leg amputated just above the knee.
(6/6/15) According to a press release from Merlin Entertainment, they are "enhancing our safety standards by issuing an additional set of safety protocols and proceedures" to the chain of parks "multi-car rollercoasters" effective immediately. While they put these new procedures into effect, several of the chains coasters will be closed: The Smiler at Alton Towers and Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park remain closed until further notice while they take the corrective steps to ensure that another accident like the one at Alton Towers on The Smiler can never take place again. Nothing was wrong with Saw: The Ride, it was just a similar style ride from the same manufacture.
Two more coaster will be closed for the time being from Chessington World of Adventures: Dragon's Fury and Rattlesnake.
(6/4/15) Alton Towers theme park remains closed today and says they will stay closed until they determine the cause of the accident on The Smiler on Tuesday. While the latest batch of news articles do not say why the accident happened, a few more details have been uncovered.
According to the report on The Telegraph, the park’s management is said to be considering “scrapping” the troubled coaster following the incident.
The Smiler has been suffering from some severe issues on both the day of the crash as well as the day before. The coaster had been reported as opening and closing several times throughout the day before the crash took place shortly after 2pm, and was in the process of reopening from one of these shut-downs at the time of the incident, which is why the empty test train was sent out onto the tracks.
According to an interview with one of the riders (Vanisha Singh) who was on the second row of the train at the time of the accident, the ill-fated car did indeed get stopped near the top of the first lift hill before the lift was restarted, sending the train down the hill and into the stalled empty train. “We finally went up and were kept at the top for ten or fifteen minutes chatting, joking that we were the guinea pigs. Then we plummeted down and smashed into the test car after doing a couple of loops.”
She also described the scene on board the train following the impact as something out of a horror movie, with “blood all over the floor because it was pouring out of their legs in the carriage and dropping down”.
The names of two of the four seriously injured passengers were released, a Joe Pugh who is thought to have broken both legs, who was riding next to his new girlfriend, Leah Washington who is said to have far more serious injuries. The other two unnamed passengers were described as an 18 year old girl and a 27 year old man. Unfortunately, the article in The Telegraph also reports that one of the injured is thought to have “lost a leg” due to the accident as well.
This is just horrifying to read, and my thoughts and well wishes go out to the riders as well as everyone involved in this tragedy from the park as well.
(6/3/15) Alton Towers will be closed today, following yesterday's accident on The Smiler coaster, and from the sound of things, The Smiler will be closed until further notice. According to the reports I've been able to read, four riders were taken to local hospitals for treatment (2 teenage boys, 2 teenage girls), all with serious leg injuries from the impact. I wish them well and a speedy recovery.
As for the cause of the accident... it still isn't entirely clear and an official statement has not been made. I normally wouldn't even speculate or spread rumors about just what might have happened, but there are a couple of weird rumors going around the web from those who claim to have seen the accident. Again... these are unverified reports so far, but according to some reports the train of riders did come to a stop on a lift hill when the coaster's safety system detected a blocking violation (the stalled train) ahead. they claim shortly after it stopped, the lift was started again and sent over the top, despite cries from afar about the stalled train again. This rumor falls in with the second rumor making the rounds, claiming that the ride was put in or left in "Maintenance Mode" which allowed for the override to the blocking system.
Since all coasters do have these safety blocking systems in place to prevent exactly this kind of accident, this story does sounds like it has a possible thread of truth to it, in which case the investigation may determine that 'human error' would be to blame. Again... that is just the early word going around, and nothing is official until the investigation releases their official report. For now, lets just hope everyone gets well and can walk away from this horrible accident.
(6/2/15) Four riders are reported as being seriously hurt after a fully loaded (16 riders) roller coaster train on The Smiler crashed into an empty train that had stalled out on the track. Apparently the ride went down for some kind of issue and the crew sent out the empty car first, and followed it with the one loaded with guests, unaware that the empty train had stalled or valleyed somewhere on the course. Normally all coasters have a series of sensors and blocking zones to prevent this kind of thing from happening, so somewhere in the system, the automated safety blocks failed.
Given what we know so far, I'd expect The Smiler to remain closed for the next several weeks, if not months, to allow for a proper investigation and resolution. You can read the official report from the BBC here.