Theme Park Insanity

Is Alton Towers Dungeon a fitting replacement for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what will the future hold for the resort’s newest up-charge attraction?!

Alton Towers Dungeon sign
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Is The Alton Towers Dungeon a fitting replacement for the former Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride?!

It was on the 15th of November 2015 that Toyland Tours’ successor would see it’s last day of operation and with it the end of yet another beloved attraction in what had become quite the spot for resort famed attractions over the years since Doom and Sons had first opened it’s doors to the public back in 1981, however what would follow would be such a stark contrast to it’s predecessor it would leave many questioning whether the park had made the right move in adding it to the resort in the first place!

Fast forward to 2019 and finally after what had been 4 years of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride standing SBNO a brand new attraction was about to open it’s doors (or should we say bowels) to the gore hungry public for the very first time! Enter Alton Towers Dungeon – the newest addition to Merlin Entertainment’s already very popular historical based horror experiences which most notably included locations in the likes of London (their flagship attraction), York and Edinburgh to name but a few!

The Alton Towers Dungeon had risen, and like a corpse hungry for it’s next meal it was ready to devour all of those who dared to enter through it’s gates in a feeding frenzy of horror and humour set to bring a brand new experience to the Towers satisfying all who had spent years calling for the resort to add an all year round Scare attraction to their roster!

Dare you enter Traitor?!

Mixing live actors with darkly themed sets and the latest in special effects Alton Towers Dungeon delivers a series of 5 actor lead shows and a boat ride (the former Charlie boat ride re-themed) which will fully immerse willing participants into Alton and the surrounding area’s darkest history breathing new life into some long forgotten infamous characters and some brand new ones to boot! The resort’s newest addition certainly caters well when it comes to the thrill market, however that being said was it really the correct move for the park overall? It’s really a question of relevance versus public demand and considering that the park’s primary attractions seem to revolve around fairly dark themes we certainly feel that this new attraction fits well into the resort’s retrospective feel.

The other question to consider however is ‘does this attraction have a future with the resort and what additions (if any) could be made to keep it current and fresh?’. Well in the case of new additions there is to our knowledge space still available which could potentially be utilised to include new shows and when you consider that the ‘lift’ no longer features within the building it does make us wonder if this space is still unused? Now, we’re not entirely familiar with the full internal layout of the building(s) in question, however safe it to say that when you consider the size of the burger kitchen next to the attraction and the ease of including this as a potential expansion in the future it would make sense for the space this catering outlet  occupies to be re-purposed and redesigned to incorporate additional  future shows and a potential ‘Dungeon Tavern’ which is a feature now common within most other locations such as Blackpool (being the first), London and York to say the least!

The other factor to consider is running costs and the overall cost of employing live actors throughout the resort’s annual season to specifically work in that area of the park only as opposed to being multi skilled and versatile enough to be able to operate within other areas of the park when needed. These additional costs of course have to be covered and this throws into light why The Alton Towers Dungeon has been added to the park as an up-charge attraction as opposed to not being included in the price of admission. Up-charges however are not always the most sensible option in the way of new additions and when it comes to guests having to pay an additional fee to experience it on top of what will have likely already been quite a costly admission in the first place we therefore feel that this could be the deciding factor in decreasing popularity  in the years to come.

"Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh you can't catch me ...."

Now, let’s look at what the additional fee of £5.00 per person (when booked online or £7.50 pp on the day) will get you!

It’s fair to say that if you’re looking for a fright then you will have most certainly come to the right place! The Alton Towers Dungeon certainly does house some of what we consider to be the more intense additions to the franchise in the way of shows as a whole! There are of course your standard 3 staple shows – The Judge (Bishop of Stafford), The Plague Doctor and our personal favourite – The Torturer, however there are some others (including Dick Turpin and a certain local witch) which will be sure to give you one heck of a jump when you’re experiencing them for the first time (our favourite being Molly Leigh – The Witch of Burslem)! It really is fair to say that you will be immersed from the minute you enter this fantastic attraction until the minute you exit after a very fitting and spine chilling finale! Even the ride staff are LIVE actors which really does  help to maintain the overall immersion of this attraction throughout!

The highlight however for us comes from the re-theme of the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory boat ride which has undergone a radical transformation to become the now infamous and very eerie ‘Black River’ boat ride! On this chilling ride experience you will be sentenced to travel down The Black River  after being found ‘GUILTY!!’ by the Bishop of Stafford due to your consorting with traitors to undo the town of Alton with your ‘ill will’!! The Black River boat ride delivers jump scares right from the minute you enter the first turn until you finally disembark at the other end using a mixture of animatronics, projection mapping and lighting and sound effects to maintain the illusion you are travelling down a long forgotten sewerage system towards Alton Castle “deep beneath the towers”!! Overall this fantastic ride makes the dungeon worth the visit alone, however if you want something a little more terrifying then Molly Leigh will certainly do the ‘trick’  as she will ensure you’re left with plenty of nightmares to occupy your mind for weeks to come! “Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, you can’t catch me?!” Believe us when we say this, SHE MOST CERTAINLY CAN, AND WILL!!

"Give em a fair trial and HANG THEM HIGH!!"

So given what this new attraction offers and what you get for the small up-charge you pay we personally think that this new dungeon is definitely worth every penny, however the small problem the attraction now faces is this – It’s bang slap next door to the park’s brand new for 2020 ‘World of David Walliams’ which couldn’t contrast this attraction’s dark and ominous theme  anymore if it tried! With the dungeon on one side and a whimsical and downright wacky new area on the other it’s fastly become debatable as to whether the dungeon now faces a long term future with the park? The only reason we say this is due to the large footprint the dungeon occupies and the versatile nature of the attraction in question to be converted into a brand new dark ride for the Walliams area! It’s definitely fair to say that the boat ride within the dungeon and it’s surrounding building could quite easily undergo a further transformation in the years to come which could see it included as an expansion to the World of David Walliams, however would this be a move the park would make? We really hope not, however there are also those who would welcome this and therefore it’s really hard to determine exactly what will happen if the World of David Walliams and Gangsta Granny: The Ride are big hits with families visiting the resort in the years to come!

New for 2020 - Gangsta Granny: The Ride!

At the end of the day only time will tell if The Alton Towers Dungeon will prove a long term success and as mentioned previously we really hope that it is as we have a real soft spot for this attraction and the Dungeons brand as a whole, however we can also appreciate why this new addition may not have been to everybody’s tastes and that’s why we think that this new addition could well see the ‘chop’ in the years to come. That being said if this does sadly become the case we will definitely sleep soundly in the knowledge that we at least got to experience this fantastic addition for ourselves prior to it’s departure from the resort!

If you have yet to experience The Alton Towers Dungeon for yourself however, then our main question to you is this – WHY?!! Not only is this attraction thrilling, creepy and darkly entertaining however it is also downright hilarious as well and will be sure to leaving you laughing a lot more than it will screaming for sure! Therefore, when the park eventually re-opens and we can all get back to normal get down there, pay the up-charge and and give this a try for yourself! You won’t be disappointed TRAITOR!!

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