UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Adam.W
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:44 pm

salamanderman wrote:
So, i think i may have found the actuall backstory to thirteen on altons website
So, the (presumably) same people who uncovered the chained oak have found another site while taking up the corkscrew. With a stroke of unluck, the workers uncovered a whole comunity of spectral wraiths trapped in the crypt to protect the forest
And now the wraiths are free
And the trees want revenge...

I found the actual backstory on their website:
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They also emphasize that there's excavation work going on, etc.
You can see this here
 
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saw-x-smile
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:27 am

Adam.W wrote:
salamanderman wrote:
So, i think i may have found the actuall backstory to thirteen on altons website
So, the (presumably) same people who uncovered the chained oak have found another site while taking up the corkscrew. With a stroke of unluck, the workers uncovered a whole comunity of spectral wraiths trapped in the crypt to protect the forest
And now the wraiths are free
And the trees want revenge...

I found the actual backstory on their website:
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They also emphasize that there's excavation work going on, etc.
You can see this here


It's good you screenshotted it because Alton Towers took it down
 
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Justin
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:49 pm

It is still there. It is one of three slider descriptions...

Th13teen

If you go down to the woods today you'd better not go alone... Dip and dive through the Dark Forest, enter the ancient crypt and face the horror that lies within.
The dark and mysterious TH13TEEN is the world’s first freefall drop rollercoaster.

Don't go alone...

When routine clearance work began on the edge of the forest, an ancient burial ground was uncovered and a previously dormant and mysterious group of creatures called The Wraith were unleashed into the Dark Forest.

The forest is growing an alarming rate and has become on overpowering force – so if you go down to the woods today, you’d better not go alone… 

As you travel into the excavation work, be careful… the structure is far from stable!

Interestingly, I never knew the freefall section was themed on the structure not being stable!  It makes sense now!
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jackf1tz
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:56 am

I always thought 13 had a decent backstory, but one is really like to see is Galactica, and how the hell that themes in to forbidden valley!
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This ride is perfectly safe. Everything has been designed for your comfort, and enjoyment.
 
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saw-x-smile
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:19 am

It's space. Apparently, that's enough now...
 
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Robert.W
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:41 pm

There is an actual backstory about it being something like 3000 years in the future and a new space travel port has opened in FV... its a bit loose though.
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Wumbamillo
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:35 pm

Backstories aren't meant to be conveyed to guests, they are written to create a theme that all the designers on a project work towards, to create an end result that is engaging and feels authentic to guests. Thirteen was never really "about" wraiths invading after an excavation, Nemesis isn't meant to be enjoyed in terms of a cult and a monster being discovered, and the Smiler is nothing to do with the "Ministry of Joy" stuff that was in all the early promotion.

Instead, all this theme and backstory is meant to do is conjure up images in your imagination and lend itself to the ride experience. The Smiler does this pretty well, it's deranged and energetic, with an obscure assault of lights and images which seems sinister yet you're being forced to grin in a mad industrial way. Everyone can enjoy this and get a sense for it, it isn't meant just for enthusiasts or people who read "the backstory". But the big shame is that the building is just an empty concrete structure and so a huge missed opportunity for what your imagination would've led you to think could be inside.

The most successful at this really was Nemesis where the standing stones and strange unidentifiable scrap structures feel like a cult hideout and the monster looks like a hideous half-alive carcass. You can't explain it but it conjures up guests anticipation and imagination, this is the point. John Wardley explained this too, that the backstory he and Alton Towers wrote was never actually meant to be told to guests or taken literally.

The Haunted House used to have lots of imagery and suggestion like this too, yet it didn't have a written down backstory, it was just intended as a surreal frightening experience that took you deeper into the strange places, behind this seemingly normal looking "house" on the outside.

The Swarm is an example of a ride that relies too much on a backstory. In the queue you are constantly shown boring videos trying to force a "story" on you, a story about an alien attack on a church at Thorpe Park which doesn't make sense as soon as you start thinking about it, and even if you do pay attention it adds no imagination or fun to the coaster anyway.

Backstories are sometimes a bit of fun for enthusiasts to write down, but they shouldn't be taken literally. Like Thirteen has  a very thinly-spread, minimal theme no matter what Alton Towers choose to write on their website to try "explain" it. The 'unstable structure' idea is just the sound of collapsing wood you hear when the track drops down. John Wardley also described the Nemesis one as "a load of rubbish" when reading it out loud.
 
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Justin
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:03 pm

First of all, Wumbamillo, welcome to the forum and thank you for such a good first post. Be sure to take a look around and post in the forums more often!

It is interesting to hear your views, but I must disagree with you on The Smiler which I believe has been designed with a theme in mind. The reason I say this is because of the strong marketing campaign The Smiler had. This included the 'Smile. Always' YouTube series, links with 'The Sanctuary' maze and the 'Ministry of Joy' tie-in for X-Sector to name just a few things. Looking at the mood boards, it is clear to see the theme and I believe some images from these are on display in The Rollercoaster Restuarant.  Unfortunately, the backstory has been lost more and more since 2015 and I do believe that normal guests do not understand the theme as well, which is a shame, although the industrial and sinister feel still remains. I've posted an extract from 'Bottletop' who worked on The Smiler too.

Bottletop:

Bottletop was commissioned by Alton Towers Resort to create video and animation for its new record breaking roller coaster ‘The Smiler’. With 14 inversions, more that any other roller coaster ride in the world, ‘The Smiler’ opened to rave reviews at Alton Towers Resort and cost a total of £18m to complete. Bottletop produced the video for the huge cylindrical LED screen on the central 5 legged spider-like structure dubbed ‘The Marmaliser’ in the centre of the ride itself. Twenty two minutes of original video and animation were produced by Bottletop which shows data being collected by the five legs of the ride (The Tickler, The Flasher, The Giggler, The Inoculator and The Hypnotiser). A mesmerising amalgam of optical illusions, face scanning, zoetrope effects, body scans and memories were composited into the final edit.


The project also included a queue line loop for LED screens to explain the purpose of the ride and to inform the audience of the impact of their impending experience through subliminal messaging and propaganda. Other video within the ride, including a halfway screen, warned of side effects and ‘twisted psychological effects to mess with your mind’ all adding to the overall experience which has met with outstanding feedback from visitors. In addition Bottletop created a spoof TV [color=#e31373][size=100]shopping channel to operate within the retail shop at Alton Towers Resort which advertises ‘The Smiler’ merchandise and branded items. This involved a green screen shoot and virtual studio with two presenters who were enhanced with various special effects in the final edit.[/size][/color]

While Nemesis may not attentionally have had a backstory originally, it worked in favour of the ride. Alton Towers have accepted this story as part of their heritage, especially looking at the 1990s tv advert and N:ST. Personally, I like a coaster/area to have a good backstory as it adds to the overall experience, although your points on Th13teen are valid as the theme is really weak. To me, Dark Forest needs to be reworked and a backstory needs to be created to focus more on the abandoned race circuit. I really like The Swarm too and I think more coasters/areas need to be like this personally. I just hope SW8 has a good backstory!
 
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Wumbamillo
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:30 pm

Justin wrote:
It is interesting to hear your views, but I must disagree with you on The Smiler which I believe has been designed with a theme in mind. The reason I say this is because of the strong marketing campaign The Smiler had. This included the 'Smile. Always' YouTube series, links with 'The Sanctuary' maze and the 'Ministry of Joy' tie-in for X-Sector to name just a few things. Looking at the mood boards, it is clear to see the theme and I believe some images from these are on display in The Rollercoaster Restuarant.  Unfortunately, the backstory has been lost more and more since 2015 and I do believe that normal guests do not understand the theme as well, which is a shame, although the industrial and sinister feel still remains.
 

Oh yes, The Smiler certainly has a great theme  that people can enjoy, but guests aren't supposed to be understand the backstory or know it. As a part time designer I see how concepts are created and a ride's theme design made. When a theme is created, there needs to be a written brief so that all the designers on a project can create towards that. If it wasn't a good written premise that leant itself to a good ride or a good atmosphere, then the end result would be a bit of a mess. I think this is the trouble with Thirteen - it had a good beginnings of an idea but then wasnt delivered. The "abandoned race track" idea is just something that was tied together afterwards to try and "make sense" of why there was a previously themed racecar ride next to a haunted forest themed coaster!

Sometimes enthusiasts, when they read things on the internet or watch videos, etc, can miss the point of what a backstory is. The Nemesis one was excellent because it gave a good, unique premise for the designers to create the look of the ride, the view points and the style of it. But the end result is what is intended for all riders to experience and to capture their imagination, not the backstory that was written for the design team to be able to create it.

The Smiler's promotional videos tied it into the Sanctuary just to create a PR build up and weren't really anything dependent on the finished ride. You could remove all references to Dr Kelman or the "Ministry" and the ride would still be just as effective for people to "get" the theme, because the style, colours, designs and energy of it works well. (..Until you enter the very empty building though!) Alton Towers putting signs up at the entrance to X Sector in an attempt to tie it in with the rest the area just missed the point of what makes a fun ride for most, it's like trying to explain something literally instead of letting guests' imaginations create the feeling for themselves in what they see, hear and ride.

If you actually have to go on the internet and watch some low-budget promo videos to 'get' the ride then it doesn't work and it shouldn't be that way. The Nemesis video is often taken too literally when it was made just to promote the ride in its first year. The Nemesis that guests walk down into the big quarry with the beastly ride all around them, and the weird cultish/alien atmosphere of the area - that is the real thing that was intended to be experienced, and the real 'story' behind it can be anything that your imagination conjures up, that's the idea. :)

Also putting the videos into the Nemesis Sub Terra queueline was just an easter egg for enthusiasts, I don't think it was done in a way that the public could be a part of or enjoy. I wouldn't call it accepting their heritage, the team that wrote the original Nemesis video would've been a different (external) team to that designed the ride, but both needed a 'backstory' to write to so that it added up.
 
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Justin
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:27 pm

Of course, I understand what you are saying; the average guest will not know the back story in detail and it is enthusiasts who will undoubtedly understand themes better, but this is due to the fact that they are more aware of the design process and marketing campaign behind the attraction. The Smiler is a prime example of the design process coming together with marketing though. The two went hand in hand, especially in the early years of the attraction.  As my extract from Bottletop shows, the "average" visitor should still be aware of some elements of the back story through the theming while the marketing added the guest's knowledge/experience of the ride. The Sanctuary and 2013's social media campaign, which included Miles Ceaders, achieved this well and became part of the rides DNA. Yes, this has been lost in some ways now, but it achieved what it set out to achieve! If I had my way, The Smiler's story would be explained more in the projection room.  The Swarm still pulls off its back story well though, but this helped by the well themed are and the narrative gained from those news broadcasts.

There is a place for imagination, but sometimes a good backstory helps. Take Rita for example, this allows guests to imagine what ever they want as there is no overall apparent theme!
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Wumbamillo
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:07 pm

the average guest will not know the back story in detail and it is enthusiasts who will undoubtedly understand themes better, but this is due to the fact that they are more aware of the design process and marketing campaign behind the attraction

But no member of the public is supposed to know anything going in, that's the idea. It's like a movie or a piece of music. You're meant to enjoy the experience and not be aware of the processes behind it. It's meant to be non literal. I'd actually say most enthusiasts misunderstand the design processes and marketing purposes (usually two very different things these days), because they read up on all these things which weren't intended to so literally be a part of the ride.

I think you mistook what I mean by imagination. Rita can't provoke anybody's imagination because there is almost no theme, there's no created effect or atmosphere beyond some simple decoration to give it a brand identity. It's just about getting on the ride after a queue and getting a rush, which is enjoyable in one way, but doesn't ever attempt to do more. (A missed opportunity I think and Im glad rides aren't designed as bland as this anymore!). But with Nemesis, or Oblivion (which was originally deliberately never explained who or what was the organisation behind Oblivion, to make it fun and mysterious), everything is there to tug on your imagination and build up to the ride ahead. For the public, as long as everything is working the way it was designed and looking good, it really works for everyone.

I don't think The Smiler should have anything explained to you in the projection room, I think it should have an actual experience in the indoor queue. There should be a dramatic build up, walking through an industrial set, down tunnels, audio and light effects, and a big build up to the ride itself. There's plenty of room to have done that, like Vampire at Chessington used to with the indoor walkthrough to its station, with the crypt (now gone), into the dark winding corridor, creepy sounds all around,  then the big station originally very detailed. No backstory, just really good theme and design that everybody remembers being taken in by (and at a time when there were no fan forums or internet!)

The Smiler's theme  could have materialed better is my point, but it's just as strong as when it first opened, I don't think anybody except enthusiasts truly took the Ministry of Joy promo videos that literally, they were intended as a bit of fun and hype to promote the theme on social media when the ride wasn't built yet. :)
 
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Justin
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:20 pm

It is not taking things literally therefore this label shouldn't apply. I think themes are what people enjoy and make of them. They are so diverse and The Smiler and Vampire are two good examples!

At the end of the day, if people interpret themes differently on what is provided by the resort or not the this is great and adds to what you say should be the rider's experience and imagination :)

A good debate :)
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BenBowser
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:24 pm

Cut to the chase- does a backstory make the ride more fun? No. Theme park attractions are there to excite you. Who cares if they make sense. 

Backstories are nonsense fodder for geeks to get het up about. Please everybody, just have fun. This isn't Shakespeare's Globe, this is Alton Towers.
 
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Justin
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Re: Alton Towers: The Lost Back Stories

Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:41 pm

Each to their own at the end of the day :)
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