Those based in the UK will have undoubtedly have heard of Alton Towers and many of the popular Alton Towers rides, it’s the UK’s biggest theme park and has been around since the late 1950’s as a fairground before eventually evolving into what it is today. Over the years many great rides have come and gone for one reason or another, it may be lack of interest, age or something entirely different. We have decided to look back upon some of the great rides of years gone by…
Dinosaur Land 1980 – 1983
Most people probably won’t remember Dinosaur Land, it was one of the first attractions at the park and was removed to make way for the Black Hole. Some folks may remember the dinosaurs though, many were moved to the log flume area where they stood in the woods. As you can imagine, not that many photos exist and those that do are rather grainy.
The legendary Spaceboat, although you probably won’t remember it as it only lasted one season. The Spaceboat was located where the Katanga Canyon now sits and due to its late opening didn’t even make the park map, it was then removed at the end of the season and replaced by the Octopus. It is widely believed that the Spaceboat was the first victim of the ”tree high rule” that exists at Alton Towers. For those who don’t know, no rides can be above the tree-line, which is why so many of the roller coasters are built into the ground.
While the Spaceboat may not be remembered by many for its time at Alton Towers, it has since been to many different theme parks including Dreamland in Margate, Pleasure Island, Loudoun Castle and Lightwater Valley.
Magic Carpet 1984 – 1985
The Magic Carpet ride was very similar to the type of ride you see at fairgrounds, it lasted just two seasons, probably because it was very similar to the far more popular 1001 Nights which opened in 1985.
Alpine Bobsleigh 1980 – 1986
Located where Oblivion now stands, the Alpine Bobsleigh was simply two channels which riders could go down in a plastic sled. Unfortunately long queues, safety concerns and not being able to operate in the rain because people would slide down to fast meant the ride was closed after six seasons.
The Turbo Star stood roughly where Oblivion stands today, it had three arms connected at a single point of rotation and a total of 21 carriages. The cars would spin around each arm and also around the central arm in a classic fairground style.
Mississippi Showboat 1985 – 1991
From the outside you would think it was an old American paddle steamer, step inside however and it was moving floors, spinning tunnels and very strange mirrors. To make your way through the attraction you would have to travel around the decks and inside corridors, a jazz band would often play by the attraction. The Showboat closed down in 1991 but remained at the park for a few years after.
Alton Mouse 1988 – 1991
The Alton Mouse was painted bright orange and had a 530 meter track with enough dips and corners to make the ride worth queuing for. Unfortunately it was dogged with complaints, the ride was uncomfortable and the noise created meant complaints from the residents of Alton Village.
Gravitron 1990 – 1992
The Gravitron was a fairly popular ride, even though it only lasted three seasons. It was basically a gravity wheel which you see at fairgrounds, however this one didn’t tilt on its side, it just went around really fast and made you stick against the inside walls. The Gravitron is now at Pleasure Island Theme Park in Cleethorpes if you ever fancy a trip down memory lane.
Around The World In Eighty Day 1981 – 1993
Around the World In Eighty Days followed the adventures of Phileas Fogg around the world, the boat ride took you through many different countries and was fairly popular during its time. Starting in London you would visit places like New York, Egypt, Rio etc. In 1994 however, they changed the ride to the Toyland Tours which was basically a fun toy factory. The ride system itself still exists today as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Alton Towers Rides Of The 80’s And 90’s!
1001 Nights 1985 – 1994
One of the tallest rides to operate at Alton Towers, the magic carpet took passengers 85 feet up into the air and whisked them down in large vertical circles. Riding 1001 Nights gave you a great view of the surrounding park and it’s surprising it lasted so long given the ”tree line” rule that is in place. However, in 1994 its time came to and end after almost a decade in the park.
Thunder Looper 1990 – 1996
When the legendary Thunder Looper closed in 1996 it came a as a complete shock to most people. The reason for its closure came down to the “tree line” rule once again, the ride went above the tree line and was very noisy. It is actually believe that the noise caused the local cows to calve at the wrong time of year. Their were also fairly significant maintenance issues with cracks appearing frequently which meant the Thunder Loopers days were always numbered.
Haunted House 1992 – 2002
Opening in 1992, the Haunted House was your classic haunted house ride. From the front it looked like a normal size house but hidden behind the face of the house was an area the size of a football pitch. The ride would let you walk through the house before finally getting in a coffin-style cart and going to meet some of the strange occupants of the house. In 2002 the Haunted House closed down and was replaced by Duel.
Bone Shaker 1995 – 2003
First opened in 1995 as ‘Bone Shaker’, it was moved to X-Sector when that area first opened in 1998 and re-themed as ‘The Energizer’. When it first opened it was a real thrill ride but over the years it was tamed and lost popularity. The ride was also unreliable and so after less than a decade at the park, the ride was closed and replaced by Rita.
Black Hole 1984 – 2005
The Black Hole lasted over 20 years at Alton Towers and was by far one of the most popular Alton Towers rides of all time, it was very similar to ‘Beast’ but in the dark and loosely related to space. Because the ride was hidden from view, new riders had no idea what to expect from the ride, keeping the experience a secret until on the ride itself.
The Black Hole tent had originally been green and yellow, this is what the Black Hole looked like before being covered….
And what it looks like today after a make-over, located in a Swedish theme park called Furuvik and renamed Fuvurik’s Rocket.
Corkscrew 1980 – 2008
The most famous of all Alton Towers rides and Europe’s first double corkscrew! This classic ride remained almost unchanged through its entire life-span apart from a minor re-theme in 1999 when Ug Land was created. The ride is remembered for its classic yellow look (apart from the green part at the top to disguise it in the tree tops) which it kept until it was finally retired and removed in 2008. The double corkscrew part of the track however was kept by Alton Towers and has since been refurbished and turned into a piece of art at the front gates of the park.