As another long time lurker and even longer time visitor from the early 80s, I've decided to brave the gauntlet of those with their tongues firmly inserted into Alton's dark forest and vent my world-first, unique and groundbreaking disappointment. This disappointment is so mindblowing and extreme that it carries an age restriction of 16-58, may only be read once per day and for a fee of £1 (via paypal to meanwhilethis,this,[email protected]
) offers access to an onsite pscho-therapist to help you recover. I've not suddenly formed this disappointment after seeing one video, but like many, I've had it since the very beginning. Don't worry though, as I'm going to crawl right back under my minimally rethemed with vines Thunder Rock once I've finished. Never to be seen again. Unless I ride this attraction on opening day, love it and want to come back and tell everyone how sorry I am, that is.
Despite Alton Towers desperately trying to convince us otherwise, this ride appears to be nothing more than the impromptu and accidental love child of The Frog Hopper and Runaway Mine Train, conceived following half a can of cider during an emotional school prom, discarded to fend for itself in woodland once reserved for duelling schwarzkopfs and cross-valley woodies and unearthed during excavations for a tombstone marking the departure of the marketing director following not so much shooting themselves in the foot, but blowing off all four limbs after climbing inside an unexploded world war II bomb and promptly being left lying in the mud, swallowing the occasional passing slug in order to survive - minus the fun of either.
From the moment the plans were revealed, anyone with even an ounce of objectivity, balance, genuine experience of what makes a great rollercoaster (this is after all, a rollercoaster and not a flat ride or dark ride) and awareness of the history of Alton's rollercoasters could see that this wasn't going to do anything other than completely fail to live up to Rita or Spinball Whizzer, let alone Air, Oblivion, Nemesis, Thunder Looper, Runaway Mine Train, Black Hole etc. Plus it would cost £15m and possibly be the only non kiddie ride for the last and next five years.
Intamin megalites have taken the coaster world by storm and are just one example of a coaster type that would have provided a decent length coaster element in a dramatic setting, prior to the 'secret' (which most people worked out within 30 seconds of looking at the plans) element and backwards return to the station. Airtime hills in the woods, the train flying through caped wraiths and a lot more would have been the minimum that was due. Instead, we get a go-gator style short and dull layout that appears to have used the most sophisticated computer design in order to take every last bit of fun and excitement out of the layout. Remove Maverick-style first drop - tick. Flatten airtime hills - tick. Use a rather nasty and cheap looking track - tick. No triple bunnyhop ending - tick. Keep speed down - tick. Waste the woodland that can only be used once - tick.
The idea of combining a drop tower and rollercoster was a great one and the theme fits in well with the Towers, but they've ended up with something that just doesn't quite seem to have the appeal or excitement of either. A dark ride with a drop tower section into a large pit separately on park would have worked well and given them a new attraction to market in a couple of years' time. Meanwhile, enthusiasts and the 'general public' (some of us are both, you know) could have been enjoying a rollercoaster that Corkscrew was worthy of being wiped out for.
If all that weren't bad enough, this ride looks almost certain to be used by parks all over the world as an example of how not to market a new attraction. It's all hype, hype, hype, for free, free, free, by constant dripping of nonsense and rubbish for the media to report on days when Cheryl Cole's happily married or Jordan and Peter Andre are speaking respectfully to each other. If it were marketed for what it actually is - a middle of the road family coaster with a short, sharp track drop in the middle, visitors would have looked forward to it as such and probably been pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the track drop. Instead, it was dubbed 'SW6' - instantly implying it's going rival Nemesis or Oblivion, had the word 'Psycoaster' (awful, awful term) and all the drivel about age restrictions, legal waivers, one ride per day and my favourite - 'it's like every ride you've ever dreamed of in one'. Excuse me? Every ride I've ever dreamed of in one? So I'm going to experience Superman, The Voyage, Spiderman, Nemesis, Katun, Gwazi, Manta, Apocalypse and Space Mountain am I? Evidently not. What anyone who's bought into this hype (actually, let's call it trhype - a new term for totally over the top marketing) will experience however is the dullest, dumbed down, shortened, flattenned, slowed coaster section with the shortest possible drop with what may turn out to be the highest amount of downtime. Or perhaps the feeling you'd get after chasing a stunning blonde around all night, finally getting her home to reveal breasts made of poundland balloons, a wig that falls off to reveal she's John Sargeant and an unholy trinity of dull coaster, short drop and even shorter reverse section right where her beautiful dark forest should be. Oblivion's marketing was met with a certain amount of criticism at the time for being so short, but it backed it up with a 180ft plunge into a smoky tunnel. Thirteen backs it up with a short, dull layout and a 6ft drop. Also, what's with the numbers in the name? How am I supposed to prounounce it? Ththirteenteen? Thonethreeteen? We'll let thast one slip though.
Then to allow that awful GMTV footage to go out three days before opening, without any effects at all, let alone any of the effects that everyone seems to be expecting in the secret section (I wouldn't be getting your hopes up), borders on insanity. For those who say you should ride it before judging it. No. Not at all. A good ride, marketed well, makes you want to ride it. I remember seeing footage of Corkscrew, Black Hole, Thunder Looper, Nemesis, Oblivion, Air and Rita and being excited by it and looking forward more than anything to riding it. With this, I'm not and you know what? It's because it's an overtrhyped, dumbed down rollercoaster with a tiny drop in it that might be good. That's where it begins and where it ends. Anyone who criticises a single person on here for 'being negative', 'throwing toys out of a pram' or offering an opinion before riding it - stop making excuses and let people say what they really think without being criticised for not being all nice and smily and fluffy and agreeing with everything Alton says. It's been said that this thread is now depressing to read with people's genuine feelings about the ride. Perhaps then, you can understand how a lot of people have felt about Th13teen every step of the way.
Aside from the initial reception for Oblivion, people didn't form this opinion about Corkscrew, Black Hole, Thunder Looper, Runaway Mine Train, Haunted House and Nemesis, yet many seem to have for this ride. I wonder why that might be? It's not their fault that they're able to objectively see that this ride's design and marketing is writing cheques that the cold, hard face of its reality simply can't cash.