Secret Weapon 9 aka. SW9 and the future of Galactica (formerly Air)!
In this brand new article we will attempt to share our thoughts surrounding Secret Weapon 9 and the could well affect the resort’s B&M Flying Coaster Galactica!
Galactica originally opened at Alton Towers as Air (code name SW5) back on 16/03/2002 and was another world’s first by the park and legendary ride designer John Wardley!
The Park at the time wanted to introduce a brand new headline coaster which would debut in the park’s ‘Forbidden Valley’ area of the park and would feature a unique twist yet to be seen on any coaster worldwide at the time of concept!
This instantly therefore got the enthusiast community of the time abuzz with speculation as everyone competed to try and be the first to guess what the park had in store for this revolutionary coaster!
Things went as far as enthusiasts visiting the park trying to get a ‘first look’ at the trains for this brand new coaster just so they could be the first to be able to say they had had a exclusive look at what you could expect when this brand new ride opened!
In early 2002 all was revealed and people began to run wild with excitement as they prepared themselves to ride the world’s first ever flying B&M coaster which was set to open to the premise of flying through the ‘air’ around the valley giving riders their first taste of free flight which only birds had the privilege of knowing up until that point!
Although the new addition was originally set to be heavily themed an oasis with waterfalls, paradise-esque themeing and water features aplenty this sadly never came to be.
Even the sponsorship’s logo – Cadburys Heroes which was set to feature on the floor of the departure tunnel didn’t manage to make the cut either.
This was apparently down to production cost and costs involved with developing the coaster’s revolutionary flying technology.
This therefore meant that upon opening the entire ride was void of it’s originally conceptualised themeing and elements.
In late 2015 however, everything was about to change as Alton Towers officially teased big changes for the 2016 season!
After much speculation over the closed season about what this could mean for the ride the time eventually came came!
An official announcement was made by the park that the ride was receiving a complete overhaul including an intergalactic re-theme!
The overhaul came with a completely brand new score composed by industry leading German themed music producer IMAScore and included the introduction of VR.
This would immerse riders into the world of space flight taking them on a galactic journey which would see them soaring through distant galaxies!
After 2 seasons however and constant complaints stating that the VR was not operating as designed and with the addition of unbearable queue times owing to the ride’s through put the park took the difficult decision to remove the VR altogether in time for the 2019 season.
The ride’s new score and theme would however remain for the foreseeable future!
This therefore throws into question what the future of this secret weapon will be? Will it remain at the park and face the prospect of yet a further retheme in the coming years? Or will it be removed in favour of the addition of Secret Weapon 9?!
Only time will tell, however the fact that the park have taken the decision to resurface the overflow car park does therefore throw into question whether they have bigger plans afoot for both Forbidden Valley and the car park adjacent to Galactica?!
With this being the case we’re starting to wonder whether an expansion to the park in the form of a new area would infact be a possibility and if so where?
Could a potential new area or expansion be located where the Galactica car park is now?
If this was the case then the ride’s removal would be a possibility.
Another possibility however would be a further re-theme to fit in with the new area!
Another possible prediction for Secret Weapon 9 takes us to the opposite side of the park over in ‘The Dark Forest’!
The reason we say this is due to the fact (controversial opinion alert) that we feel Rita is nearing the end of it’s life at the park!
Now consider the theme of the ride, the fact that it doesn’t really fit in with the current area and the fact that this ride isn’t actually a secret weapon.
This would make it the ideal candidate for removal in favour of the next major investment!
Although the through put of the ride is rather good and even though Rita still manages to gain a consistent queue to this day, we just don’t see Rita being a long term investment for the park!
Considering the recent tree removal and land clearing below Rita and Th13teen (Have you noticed this?!) and the some of the questions posed on a recent guest survey, does this potentially point to The Dark Forest being the site for Secret Weapon 9?
It’s definitely true that this entire area could do with an overhaul and the addition of some extra rides, however would this include Secret Weapon 9?
In our personal opinion we see these as the two most likely possibilities for Secret Weapon 9, however we could well be completely wrong.
There are a few other sites which would still work for the park’s next major coaster, however no other sites really offer the same level of potential posed by the above two when it comes to a large scale investment such as a Secret Weapon.
Now with regards to coaster type it is very difficult to say, however it remains an unavoidable fact that the entire UK enthusiast community is hankering for an RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction)!
Alton Towers doesn’t really seem like the right park for this to happen at however, and this is down to the heavy planning restrictions the park continues to face!
Other ride types we see most likely to fulfil the brief would be an Intamin Blitz Coaster (to replace Rita), an S&S Axis coaster (which would make it a world’s first) or an RMC Raptor coaster (single rail coaster similar to the likes of Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso)!
All of the above would fit perfectly as terrain style coasters which seem the most suitable due to the hefty planning restrictions in place at the resort.
Future at Alton Towers?!
At the end of the day only time will really tell what the next major investment by the park will be when it comes to the next secret weapon.
It’s always difficult to predict what the park’s next move will be, however you can definitely rest assured that we will likely see something in the way of an announcement in the next 2 – 3 years at the latest.
This particular time frame would fall in line with the usual time frame between major investments, however you do have to factor in the recent pandemic as well as this will almost certainly set the next investment back slightly.
We do however believe that the park may well already have everything (including ride type and concept) ready to roll for their next major planning application.
We therefore think it’s highly likely we will see this submitted in the next year or so and with this the details made public!
Overall, we definitely feel that although there are several different possibilities circulating at present regarding where SW9 could go, the likelihood is that Galactica’s days at the park will still be numbered.
We can therefore still sadly see this classic Secret Weapon leaving permanently in the next 5 to 10 years at the very latest!
We do still however hope we’re wrong!
If you never got the chance to experience the VR then here shared from Towers Times and South Parks Media's Official YouTube channel is the full VR video which accompanied the ride between 2016 - 2018!