UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:50 pm

I must say I feel rather privileged to have experienced some of John Wardley's traditional theatrical work as it was meant to be, even if it is just two scenes in a small scare maze.

The only other examples I can be certain about are Professor Burp's Bubbleworks pre-2005 and Hex (even that was changed slightly after opening though).

It just great to see that he has not given up effects work completely. :D If only more of his classic dark rides were still around...
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:16 pm

"GOD" wrote:
In my “James Bond” days, when a scene needed to show something being blown-up, you built a set and you blew it up! Now a team of people sit at computer keyboards for a few months and type away. It’s not so much fun!

I think Mr Wardley makes a very valid point there. Having a set, animatronic, physical piece before your eyes is much more fun to design, create and the end product always looks visually pleasing, just look at the Haunted House pre Duel. I do agree with the James Bond films, what a great job that must have been, building a set and then getting to blow it up, all while you're getting paid at the same time! Where's the fun in sitting in front of a PC for months? You can hardly go "I blown up that set!", more of "I animated those few seconds of that explosion". I'd rather see a dark ride that uses physical pieces, big sets, something that really pleases you visually. I don't mind technology being used, but only when it will work well. As with Charlie it just didn't work at all. It makes me wonder if we will ever see a dark ride like the Haunted House again, it was such a work of art and is a shame that Alton had to ruin it.

Q14 was a good answer(and question) to, nice to see that James Paulding got John getting involved with something different, Carnival of Screams was a great maze, it wasn;t scary, but provided something different and unique. I hope they get Alton working on the Carnival of Screams or any other mazes in future as John did do a great job with it. :D
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:57 pm

again what brilliant answers!

Its a shame John cant be truley honest, and say what he thinks of Charlie, although you have to respect that at the end of the day he is still paid by alton/merlin.

I loved to hear he was so enthusiastic about the Circus of Screams, I hope hes back involved again this scarefest - perhaps as a more park ride roll too. Abit of enthusiasm and effort from God goes along way
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:59 pm

Well, in my opinion, the Haunted House's effects were mostly a bit naff and did not work properly/convincingly. These says this is particularly noticeable, though all of the failed animatronics have of course been removed by now. To be fair, this was 1990 and nothing much like it before has really been seen before in the UK, so it was much less important back then. Take it a look at Phantom Manor. It opened in the same year as the Haunted House, but the animatronics are much more advanced and well thought out.

Today animatronics are extremely advanced. Also, much more modern rides, such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, do still use big animatronics, as well as projection/simulation stuff.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:21 pm

12 and 13 left a little more to be desired, but 14 was really interesting, it'd be great to see him involved in mazes in the future. On the subject of animatronics, how many animatronics do we actually have in the UK that are anywhere near sophisticated? All of Duel's just pop up or have one movement...thinking about it, other than the Vampire organist what else is there?!
"Chris" wrote:
James Paulding (who has now left Alton Towers to work for Merlin Entertainments in the States).

James? :o
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:27 pm

The mummy and the giant snake in Tomb Bloaster pop into mind as moderately impressove animatronics that were built in recent years. I am sure there are lots out there, but we certainly don't see much of that type of effect engineering very often these days in the UK. :(

That is one reason why I love good foreign dark rides. Or maybe just the general awesomness of classics like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean... The UK was getting somewhere but they were quickly butchered in the early 00s.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:13 am

I'd love to go on Charlie with John and see what he really thinks/what could be done to improve it!
Was he involved with the infinitely better Toyland Tours?
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:45 am

"Stern John" wrote:
Was he involved with the infinitely better Toyland Tours?


Nothing seems to suggest he was, was most likely busy working on Nemmy. I believe it was a full-on Tussauds thing only but he could've had a bit of a contribution towards it.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:15 pm

I do find it quite amusing how John is obviously trying to be tactful when refereing to CATCF and other "less loved" rides. :P I'm sure I remember a few years ago, he was quoted as saying [something along the lines of] "Charlie, Rita and Spinball had nothing to do with me!" :lol:

It's understandable really. He can hardly slag off the work of the people who pay his wages! However, I think we get the gist ;)
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:55 pm

"Rowe""][quote=""Stern John" wrote:
Was he involved with the infinitely better Toyland Tours?


Nothing seems to suggest he was, was most likely busy working on Nemmy. I believe it was a full-on Tussauds thing only but he could've had a bit of a contribution towards it.[/quote]

Im quite sure Toyland Tours was his, cos its basically just Bubble Works with a slightly different theme. Back in those days he did Katanga Canyon, RMT, Haunted House, Nemesis and Toyland Tours. I'm 90% certain of that.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:16 pm

Q15

Starting off the penultimate day of questions is The its man:

What spark made your come out of semi-retirement and back into the industry?

I was asked to by the Merlin Board. And it was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

Q16

This next question is from Gax:

The enthusiast community within the last six or seven years has been consistently critical of Alton Towers for an apparent departure from the 'magic' of the 90's and early 2000's. Examples of this are the replacement of themed food outlets with generic versions (eg. Nemesis Nosh to Fresh Fish and Chips) and the transformation of the original Haunted House into Duel.
What would you say to these criticisms, and would you consider that the park has lost any of the 'magic' it once harboured?


Whatever might have happened after Tussauds sold the park (and I retired) and before Merlin Entertainments bought it has certainly been reversed by the Merlin Team. You must all have seen a big change for the better in the last few years, and it is all down to the Merlin influence. Nothing happens overnight, but the magic is definitely back!

Q17

And today's last question is from ElectricBill, a question about The Haunted House.

You have described the Haunted House in the past as a "laugh in the dark" attraction and something you were always keen to do. Did you think the finished product was how you had wanted it to turn out? Many scenes and effected failed or had to be changed very early n in the ride's lifetime. Would you say your vision for the ride suffered as a result of this or were the solutions carried out well enough to fix its problems? I am very interested in the past, and the Haunted House sticks out in terms of its history of alternations and changed effects. Were there particular reasons as to why there were so many changes, both before opening day and after, or simple bad luck?

The Haunted House was a very complicated project. On the one hand we needed a very high capacity ride (in the order of 1200 per hour plus) but on the other hand I wanted the ride experience to be event-based and intimate. I was under pressure to settle for a continuous endless transit system (like Disney’s Haunted Mansion) but that does not allow for pop-up or confrontational effects. I devised the transit system such that it would load in a continuous manner (and thereby deliver the capacity), but then the cars would peel-off and negotiate the track circuit on their own. If any of you have seen the control system of the Haunted House (or Duel, as it now is) you’ll know how complicated this is. Opening day was a nightmare, as the ride kept stopping and needed re-setting. Fortunately, Mack (the ride’s builders) got it sorted out very quickly and the ride operates very reliably to this day (….. and please remember, most of the time when the ride stops when you are in it, it is because they are loading disabled guests in the station and the whole ride has to be stopped for this to take place safely …. So the ride hasn’t broken down!)

The other problem was that the original design was quite scary and edgy. When I presented the designs to the development team, they were concerned that small children would be frightened by it, and that it should be a ride suitable for the whole family. My experience had taught me that kids are far more emotionally robust than adults give them credit for, but I was asked to tone-down the whole ride to be much cuter and family-friendly (hence, why the giant rat in the hand of the monster that looms up after the ballroom scene was replaced by a cup and saucer!). However, when the marketing team made the TV commercial for the ride, it was presented as the most terrifying ride in the world! So people were disappointed, and we had to retro fit some of the effects that had been originally planned. That’s why changes were made.

---

The last 3 questions will be revealed tomorrow at 8:00pm. :D
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:22 pm

Brilliant. Q17 is possibly the best yet. Absolutely fantastic question and answer :D
[size=90]For some things there is no rational explanation. There is no way out. There is no happy ending to this story. Welcome to the unknown. Welcome to eternal darkness.

Welcome to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Ride
 
[Archive]

Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:28 pm

I am extremely grateful for the team for sending that question in. It has helped me nicely and it is just great to hear John's thoughts on a ride that I am so interested in. Thank you very much. John Wardley, you are great! :mrgreen:

________

EDIT
Oli_Seven, the only original plans available at this time are some typed scripting notes for each scene and some of the original concept art. They are great to look and and tell a lot of the ride's original character and purpose. Unfortunately none of the really early plans such as the abandoned scenes or storyboard have been discovered/released yet as far as I know. They could be released in the future if they still exist. For more information visit this rather FABBO website. :)
Last edited by [Archive] on Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:32 pm

Great answer on the Haunted House.
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:34 pm

"Chris" wrote:
[However, when the marketing team made the TV commercial for the ride, it was presented as the most terrifying ride in the world!

Hmmmmm... what does that remind me of. :P
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:05 pm

Quality answer on the Haunted House. Real piece of Towers History there. Good Question Bill. Though I am dying to hear his opinion on Duel...
In the coat you wore to Alton Towers is still the way I see you now...
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:23 pm

Loving this guys! Thank you so much for who ever was involved with it! And of course, John (god ;))
Yeezus just rose again!
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:00 pm

Today is the final day of the John Wardley Interview here on TowersTimes. So let us get started on the last 3 questions!

Q18

Ritadz submitted this question:

When you first started the planning/concepts for Nemesis, did you ever imagine after 16 years it would still be regarded as one of the best rollercoasters in the world?

No, I certainly didn’t. But we didn’t have time to think too much about the future way back then! We wanted to build something special, and the local planners had forced us to think outside the box. I get too much credit for the creation of Nemesis. There was a big team of people working on it, and they deserve as much credit as I.

Q19

mattbailey asked:

Seeing as different coaster types seem to have popularity phases, what do you think is the next "big thing" in coaster design?

Merlin Studios are working on that …. And I’m honoured to be involved!

Q20

And our last question was one of the most popular questions was about Air. It was decided to combine a number of questions into one. Those who wanted to know about Air included: Rob, Stern John, Nightfall and others who I might have missed.

The pre-lift tunnel for Air has been a big debate amongst Alton Towers fans in recent years. Are there any plans to add anything to the tunnel? Many years ago it was rumoured that Air would have a military theme or was this rumour false? And finally, was the Oasis theme fountains and waterfalls cut before opening due to budget or creative reasons?

To understand the situation, put yourself in the shoes of Alton Towers management for a minute. When we originally designed Air, the tunnel had some decoration and a few effects in it. Then as the project neared opening day and the budget was getting tighter and tighter some cuts had to be made, and the tunnel decoration was one of those cuts.

Now, imagine a few years later you are faced with the decision of putting the effects back into the tunnel or spending the money on something else. Is the Air tunnel top of the list of priorities? No. The money can better be spent somewhere else. So it is! The same was true of the fountains and waterfalls.

The problem with developing innovative world’s first rides such as Air is that there are inevitably unknown elements which cannot be foreseen and budgeted-for. A contingency is built in to allow for this, and I think in general the rides at Alton Towers reflect their original designs and ethos very accurately indeed. I am proud ofthem all, and I’m not going to let an empty tunnel or non-existent fountain detract from this.

As for the military theme, I don’t know where this rumour has come. Right from the start, we decided that just as Nemesis was the “villain”, so Air would be the “hero”. It always had a clean-cut techno theme from its original conception.

---
And thats it, the 20 questions and answers have now all been revealed! You can now find a full list of the questions in the opening post.

Once again, a huge thank you for everyone who submitted questions. And apologies if your question didn't make the cut, the quality of all the questions was very high.

Also, another huge thank you to John Wardley from everyone on TowersTimes for taking the time to answer your questions!

And finally, I'll leave you with a message from John Wardley:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer some of your questions. May I wish you all a Happy Christmas, and look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at Alton Towers next year.
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:14 pm

Once again, i'd like to thank Chris, Towers Times and of course John Wardley himself for this opportunity to ask him these questions, and i'm surprised 3 of mine got asked.

He agreed to this interview, he didn't have to answer any questions, and i'd once gain like to thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
 
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Re: The John Wardley Interview - Answers

Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:28 pm

A big thank you to Chris and the team for getting this opportunity for us. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the questions and answers. It's been nice to learn a bit more about John's past works, his views and of course his involvement with Alton/Merlin.

Of course a massive thank you John Wardley for giving up your own time to answers these questions, it is much appreciated by myself, and I'm sure everyone else here on TTF. You are our GOD!

:D

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