Sunday, 18 September 2011

Roller Coasters

One of the perks of my work is that I get taken to places for free and enjoy stuff that other people usually have to pay for – case in point: Alton Towers.

Having finished work early there, we had about an hour to dash about and go on a few rides before closing time.

Now, much to everyone’s surprise, I’ve never been to Alton Towers before and upon walking around it I was notably impressed. Not because I’ve never been to a theme park before (I’ve been to my fair share over here and abroad) but by the simple fact that there is so much greenery there.

You see, differing from the various concrete and steel monstrosities of a lot of other theme parks, Alton Towers was built on the grounds of a ‘semi-ruined gothic revival country house’ (not my words but the words of wikipedia!) and so is built around pre-existing gardens, forests, lakes and expanses of grass, not to mention the old country house structure itself.

The family outing potential here is huge as there is something for everyone – if you don't like the rides you can just explore the picturesque area to your hearts content.

But really, most people come here for the roller coasters, and Alton Towers, although holding no current records (cos I look up stuff like that), prides itself on having its fair share of ‘world first’ roller coasters.

Anyway, on that particular day we only had time to go on three of these rides: Thirteen, Air and Nemesis. What follows is a brief rundown of each.

First up was Thirteen, or using its frivolously hip correct spelling ‘Th13teen’.

The set-up was great: being described as a ‘psychoaster’, this ride was designed to scare you in unexpected ways.

*SPOILER WARNING! Skip to the paragraph after next if you don't want to know what happens in this ride!*

The ride starts off fairly standard – a seated coaster with banks and hills travelling through the forest area until the train comes to a complete stop inside a dark crypt. This is where the ‘worlds first’ element takes place, as the car suddenly drops, first a tiny amount and then a bigger five metre drop, all in pitch black. The ride then hurtles backwards through the darkness until it emerges back outside into the light.

The thrills of this ride came mostly from its surprise elements and not knowing what was going to come next but just as a roller coaster was fairly tame. Recommended if you are looking for something different.

Next up, we went on Air the ‘flying’ coaster, dubbed so as the ride takes place with you leaning forward in the prone position so as to get the full effect of the scenery whizzing past beneath you. Having taken the extra queuing time to have the privilege of sitting in the front-most carriage I can tell you it was well worth it.

Not only does the prone position offer a new experience of flying above the ground, when the ride corks you end up going headfirst backwards and upside-down. As far as roller coasters go, this is the closest you will get to the experience of flight and is thoroughly recommended.

Finally, we have Nemesis – an oldy, but a goody. Built back in 1994, despite its age Europe’s first inverted coaster is still a BEAST. There are corks and inversions aplenty and the ride uses its surroundings such as caves, trees and waterfalls to make the ride more dynamic. Oh, and did I mention all the water in the area is pink? Gnarly!

The ride can be a bit rattley at times due to its age and you do feel slightly dizzy stepping off of it but that's to be expected really after what it puts you through.

So all in all I would recommend Air the most of the three, followed my Nemesis. Just going on these rides has reignited my interest in extreme roller coasters and may now make it my mission to try and go on some of those world record holders.

13 Sep 2011

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