Theme Park Insanity

Why do we absolutely love The Smiler at Alton Towers?

You Belong to the Smiler!
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Why do we absolutely love The Smiler at Alton Towers?!

The Smiler which is possibly one of the most infamous coasters in the UK became a worldwide sensation when it first opened it’s gates to the general public back on 31/05/2013, however this world record breaking masterpiece would soon come to have it’s reputation irrevocably tarnished after what has become known as possibly the worst roller coaster related accident to have occurred in recent times!

On the 2nd of June 2015 The Smiler was involved in what has been described by all who witnessed it as a “horror crash” when 2 trains collided on the track after the ride was over ridden and put back into operation following the ride shutting down due to an error being detected relating to a stationary train which had stalled on the track following a whole mixture of human errors! The ride was then over ridden by the maintenance team and the rest as they say is history!.

"Half Way Corrected!"

Putting all of this aside however the ride managed to recover it’s popularity and despite the devastation caused to the park’s reputation which followed Alton Towers officially managed to get back on an even keel in 2018 with the introduction of SW8 (Wicker Man)!

But why do we absolutely love this ride? What in our personal opinion gives The Smiler the edge against the other coasters at the park? Well, to discover this we must first take a closer look at what this ride offers all of those who choose to ride, and that’s an experience!!  

The concept of the Smiler was first introduced to the world in the form of a LIVE action scare maze known as ‘The Sanctuary’ at the park’s ever popular Halloween spectacular Scarefest in 2012! The Sanctuary ran for 2 years and ended it’s run in 2014, however this fantastic maze really helped give those who were brave enough to enter a first taste of what they could expect from SW7’s theme when the ride opened in 2013!

This is a tact which has been used by the park in later seasons as well to help hype SW8 aka. Wicker Man in the form of the LIVE action Horror Maze – ‘The Welcoming’! In our opinion this is a great way to set the premise for the attraction and it also helps to build suspense around what you can expect from their new addition when it eventually opens the following season!

Now let’s discuss the theme! The premise of this ride is that you are entering a secret government facility known only as ‘The Ministry of Joy’ to submit for a newly conceived mind altering concept known as ‘marmelisation’ in which the mind is altered into a permanent altered state of sheer joy! As ever with all themes of this type however things are not always as they quite appear and this ground breaking procedure has now gone wrong causing irreversible insanity to all those who go through the process!

"Join Us!!!"

Through the use of a mixture of fantastic and very well designed themeing, a huge central set piece known as ‘The Marmeliser’ and extensive lighting and sound effects this brilliant and very original themed is brought to life and really helps to immerse you into the world the park have set out to achieve!

The ride itself however is truly something else! As we all know the ride features 14 inversions in total, however the first of them is well hidden within the station building structure and happens 2 seconds after you are dispatched throwing you into a corkscrew directly beneath where the ride’s gift shop is located! After this you are halted and you are treated to your first taste of the marmelisation process! You then climb the first lift hill and descend into a mind boggling labyrinth of steel track and inversions going through a total of 6 inversions before halting at the bottom of the second lift hill! At this point you are advised you are ‘Half Way Corrected’ and this proceeds to be followed by a chorus of manic laughter! You then proceed to climb up the ride’s second lift which is 90 degrees vertical and are then thrust back into the labyrinth of track going through the final 7 inversions one after the other before entering the brake run and entering back into the station!

Sheer Unadulterated Insanity!!

It is well worth noting at this point that throughout the entirety of the experience you are constantly subject to some fantastic G-Force fuelled insanity, a sheer sense of joy and exhilaration and go through 2 moments of mind blowing ejector airtime as you navigate 2 fantastic airtime hills, one each per section of the ride!

The Smiler isn’t only an engineering feat of pure genius, however it also delivers one of the most unique roller coaster experiences you are likely to find anywhere in the world today! This helps to deliver one of the best ride experiences you are likely to have on resort and as such we can completely understand 100% why queue times can get to the lengths that they do!

It has also been great to see in recent times that despite the rides troubled history it’s popularity has returned making it a constant crowd pleaser every time!

So what do we think the future will hold for one of Alton Towers’ most iconic rides? Well, it’s clear that given it’s performance and popularity in recent years that The Smiler has cemented itself once more as one of the park’s headline attractions getting queue times of between 60 – 90 minutes on a regular basis! These only increase further at times of year such as Scarefest and Fireworks when riders and park goers can treat themselves to a night time ride which really gives for an entirely different experience altogether!

In our opinion if either of the secret weapons (the ride’s code names in the development stages) in X-Sector were to be removed in favour of future development it would be highly likely that Oblivion would be the first to leave due to queue times regularly only being between 5 and 10 minutes at the very most!

We will however in future blog posts be sharing our views on where we think SW9 is likely to be located and as such we strongly recommend you stay tuned in the coming months!

"You Belong to The Smiler!"

Overall we find it fair to say that The Smiler despite it’s reputation really helped to put Alton Towers back on the map when it opened back in 2013 and still remains to this day as one of the most loved and most sort after attractions to ride when visiting the park! For these reasons and the ones stated above we absolute love being marmelised and will continue to subject ourselves to this procedure in every future visit! The main question however is this! Will you ‘Join Us!’?

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