Th13teen – Alton Towers, UK

2010 Intamin Family Drop Coaster located at Alton Towers, Staffordshire UK.

In our opinion this 2010 addition to Alton Towers which famously became hyped to be something completely the opposite to what we actually received is by far one of the weaker additions to the UK’s most famous theme parks in the last decade! Even with the addition of the ‘surprise drop’ (not really a surprise anymore though is it?) this coaster still fails to deliver that WOW factor that a lot of the other rides in the park manage to achieve. The theme however? That’s a completely different matter entirely!

The themeing and back story which this ride received has been very well thought out in the developmental process and this is reflected in the attention to detail throughout both the queue line and in the station itself (that Tesla coil still makes us jump to this day, EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW IT’S COMING!!). It can also be said that this ride could likely be considered a great sequel to HEX due to the story lines almost amalgamating into one narrative overall. The demon of the Dark Forest and the curse on HEX could almost be argued as the same entity and this is something which has been debated by fellow enthusiasts since the rides opening. One of our favourite elements of the ride when it comes to themeing though has to be the roman numeral marker stones placed throughout the queue line which count up to thirteen as you make your way up to the station (bet you haven’t seen those have you?) and this is a great way to have your story line start from the minute you enter the queue in a very similar fashion to that of Wicker Man and the Beornen.

"A sequel to HEX - Legend of the Towers?!"

To give you an idea of what you can expect if you have yet to ride this coaster here’s a walk through of the ride from boarding to disembarking! You enter the train, pull down your lap bars and leave the station. You then turn a 180 degree corner before proceeding to climb a 66 ft booster wheel lift hill. You then plummet down a steep drop into a full 245 degree turn around before traversing  your way through the trees in the surrounding woodland banking, twisting and turning as you do so! Eventually after around 30 seconds of this you then proceed to climb a second booster wheel lift hill before turning and making your way into the show building. You then enter the show building rolling onto a drop platform, the train then grounds to a halt and a shutter door closes behind you plunging you into complete darkness. The sounds of cracking wood then echo around you. there’s a blast of air and a very slight drop, a split second later you drop the full 16 ft in complete pitch black before the lights come back up to reveal the demons of the dark forest encircling you! You are then thrown backwards into a mix of twisting turns and G-force fulled banking before exiting and coming parallel with the station building. The train then stops and waits whilst the switch track is operated before finally moving you forwards as you  make your way back into the station!

"If you go down to woods today, you better not go alone!"

Now don’t get us wrong, we still consider Th13teen to be a great fun ride and we still make our way over to the ‘Intamin Forest’ each time we visit to get at least one ride on this fun family coaster, however (and hear us out on this one) is a revised and much darker version of the story line needed long term as well as a full refurb and ride revision? The reason we say this is that as I’m sure you’re all aware during the ride’s marketing campaign the park marketed the ride as requiring you to sign a waver just to ride it due to the ride’s alleged intensity, however in reality what we actually got was a tame family drop coaster with a fantastic theme. Now consider the calibre of the park’s Halloween offerings when it comes to their scare mazes and then apply that level of intensity to a ‘re imagined’ Th13teen?! Now that would be a ride worth circuiting don’t you agree?! If Alton Towers were to revise Thirteen and re imagine it then the chances are you would end up with a ride of the same calibre as Wicker Man or Smiler!!

Overall this dark and ominous ride delivers a captivating experience throughout, however it still fails to meet the criteria of a true ‘thrill coaster’ in our opinion due to the lack of intensity overall! The great use of themeing, atmosphere created by the ride’s intriguing soundtrack and the inclusion of the drop (which was the world’s first element for SW6) make it a very fun experience, however not really a thrilling one! To this day there are still those who would argue otherwise, however being that this is our opinion we have to say that this ride still falls a little short for us overall not quite meeting our original expectations when we rode it for the first time!