UK theme parks from another point of view!

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Sam
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:33 am

Black Hole, though not at the expense of SW7.

The station was so magical.

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smudge.
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:17 am

BigAl wrote:
smudge. wrote:
...for instance, how ever much you look after an old car - it still looks old.

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Sorry? ;)


Yup - still looks old....  ;)

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djtruefitt

Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:06 pm

Sam wrote:
Black Hole, though not at the expense of SW7.

The station was so magical.

Image


And X Sector themed coats!!!!
 
CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:07 pm

It's small things like those themed coats which made the park so special years ago.

Black Hole station was amazing, but it never really fitted with X-Sector.
 
[Archive]

Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:12 am

You really call that a themed coat?

Does anybody possess photographs or memories of what the Black Hole looked like before it was integrated into X Sector? Obviously that glorious steampunk design work was not there when the ride opened in the 80s; Alton Towers was little more than a countryside amusement park at the time and I doubt they had the money/motivation to create that. I assume the change happened at the same time the tent was turned blue (as in, when Oblivion opened).

Also worth noting, that Jules Verne style would have fitted into the area extremely well, if X Sector had a steampunk theme as was originally planned...
 
CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:49 pm

[Archive] wrote:
You really call that a themed coat?

Does anybody possess photographs or memories of what the Black Hole looked like before it was integrated into X Sector? Obviously that glorious steampunk design work was not there when the ride opened in the 80s; Alton Towers was little more than a countryside amusement park at the time and I doubt they had the money/motivation to create that. I assume the change happened at the same time the tent was turned blue (as in, when Oblivion opened).

Also worth noting, that Jules Verne style would have fitted into the area extremely well, if X Sector had a steampunk theme as was originally planned...


You can say what you like about Alton Towers theming efforts in the 1980s, but you can be sure as hell it wasn't down to money issues.

John Broome was minted, and more money was poured into the park during the 80s than any decade since. His investments were massive - the Entrance, Towers Street, Monorail, car parks, Skyride, Corkscrew, Black Hole, Rapids, Log Flume, toilets, food kiosks, and countless flat rides. Not to mention the entertainments budget. There was no pressure to theme anything because there was no other competition until Chessington came about at the latter end of the decade.

You say it was 'little more' than a countryside amusement park at the time, but you are making that assumption by comparing the rides at the park from then by today's standards. It was still the UK's biggest and best, only it was a leisure park and not a theme park.

I believe the theming was added to Black Hole's station in 1996, and this is what formed the basis of the original plans drawn up for X-Sector. However, due to cost considerations and the fact the Black Hole theming was hidden away inside they decided they did not need to continue such a theme across the whole area.

I also think the eventual theme they chose for Oblivion made it easier to market it towards the intended target audience, which would have been harder with a Jules Verne style theme. Then again, a vertical drop would sell itself no matter what theme you apply.

:)
 
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:10 pm

You say it was 'little more' than a countryside amusement park at the time, but you are making that assumption by comparing the rides at the park from then by today's standards. It was still the UK's biggest and best, only it was a leisure park and not a theme park.
I am talking in relation to the world. Yes, it was England's biggest and best, but in 1984 there were no theme parks in England. So there was no intention of the Black Hole ever being "well-themed" at all, just a few props would have sufficed. I imagine it was all very humble and nice really, no pressure to satisfy enthusiasts with mountains of theming or tremendous G forces, just a nice exciting day out.

Basically we agree on every point...

Very interesting to know which hole was themed first. You must be right about the changes happening in '96; the Black Hole music plays in the Alton Towers Hotel which opened that year and they both parallel each others themes. There's still a place for that kind of theme at Alton Towers, when Black Hole was closed it left a kind of void. Oh well, I have my memories!
Last edited by [Archive] on Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:32 pm

[Archive] wrote:


Very interesting to know which hole was themed first. You must be right about the changes happening in '96; the Black Hole music plays in the Alton Towers Hotel which opened that year and they both parallel each others themes. There's still a place for that kind of theme at Alton Towers, when Black Hole was closed it left a kind of void. Oh well, I have my memories!


Yes, the theme of the Black Hole station was practically the same as the lift in the Alton Towers Hotel, with the rusty, oxidized metal panels and portholes.

It's also worth noting how similar Stoybook Land is with The Secret Garden Restaurant, which both opened in 1996.

Clearly they used the same theming architects for both the hotel and park projects that year. All things which make the park the special place it is.

:)
 
djtruefitt

Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:11 pm

[Archive] wrote:
You really call that a themed coat?


Well its more themed than the current coats :P
 
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Shockadelica
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:44 pm

[Archive] wrote:
So there was no intention of the Black Hole ever being "well-themed" at all, just a few props would have sufficed. I imagine it was all very humble and nice really, no pressure to satisfy enthusiasts with mountains of theming or tremendous G forces, just a nice exciting day out.


The Black Hole themeing was pretty impressive for its time.  The asteroids and spacemen in the spiral lift filled the space nicely and the rest of the ride was absolutely pitch black bar a few red strip lights that seemed to be attached to the track to give you a 'very' vague clue to where you were heading next.  The idea was that it was a Black Hole, so after the spacemen and asteroids (presumably being sucked into the Black Hole as you were about to be), it was right that you had nothing but pitch black.  There were a few flashing lights too, but they never detracted from the feeling of pitch black infinity.
The station was pretty 'futuristic', very dark and dark blue as I recall.

The first retheme in '88 added a longer queueing area before the station which improved on the themeing even more; it was akin to walking down a corridor on the US Enterprise or whatever SciFi space station you could think of.

The second retheme of '96 was even more impressive.  Unfortunately, the inside of the ride seemed to be made to compliment the fog that filled the dome and while it was awesome initially.  Once the fog went, the lights inside lit up too much of the ride and spoilt the whole idea of why it was called The Black Hole.  It was like riding a coaster in a warehouse.  I always missed the original concept of it being pitch black during the fast part of the ride.

I imagine it was all very humble and nice really, no pressure to satisfy enthusiasts with mountains of theming or tremendous G forces, just a nice exciting day out.


You're kidding me!

80s AT seemed absolutely intent on pushing each ride as the 'Longest (Log Flume), 'Steepest drop' (The Beast, according to their hype at the time), and 'Excess of 3G' (Corkscrew and Black Hole) type of spiel.
And as CoasterCrazyChris has pointed out, the 80s investments were huge!  I wonder how much it would all amount to in today's money.  Certainly the first 8 years of operation had more investment than any other period since.
In terms of themeing, the rides were built to compliment the landscape, so there was no pressure to theme them any more than necessary because it was money that didn't need to be spent.  Unless of course you look at Talbot Street, in particular Doom & Sons and Around The World In 80 Days.  The Black Hole, as mentioned, had reasonably impressive themeing, and look at the architecture behind Towers Street and the Monorail/Skyride stations.  All pretty strong, solid, well designed buildings.

If you'd visited in the 80s, you'd know that the park was regarded much more highly than it is even now, and most certainly wasn't 'little more than a countryside amusement park at the time'.
And they had competition.  Blackpool Pleasure Beach was their main competitor and there was a lot of rivalry there.  They also had Drayton Manor Park in the same county, and in the mid-80s, even West Midland Safari Park began to up its game on the ride front.  Also, don't forget that in 87, The American Adventure opened too and for it's first three years of operation, looked like it could possibly overtake AT as the UK's number one park (seriously, it did, then went downhill very fast).
So AT had to make more effort than you're maybe assuming.

And the thing is, no generation of AT's management has felt any pressure to satisfy enthusiasts.  Their number one priority is appealing to the 2.5million-ish casual visitors that make up 99% of their custom.

But back to the subject in hand The Black Hole circa 1985 would be my choice to bring back.  As if you hadn't guessed that already  :D
For the third time that day, his flaps fell off.
 
[Archive]

Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:59 am

A fascinating insight into somebody who actually visited during that period, thank you.

Can I point out that at not point I was trying to belittle Alton Towers in the 80s or criticise the Black Hole for not being themed well enough? I was simply trying to understand the park's ethos during that era which I know little about. The way I take it, the Black Hole was placed in total darkness and loosely themed because it was another way to make a ride more exciting, thinking outside the box. And it worked really well; it was my favourite ride when I rode it in its 20th year.

I'm sure the thousands of visitors to the Alton Towers Gardens in the early 20th century thought they were impressively themed as well. And they were not wrong in thinking that at all; you had had Japanese, Roman and Gothic architecture all in the same valley. But people's visions have moved on since then. Personally I still love the gardens, my favourite part of Alton Towers.

However, if John Broome had intended Alton Towers to be England's Disneyland there would have been a totally different ride. But nobody had thought on that scale yet.
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EDIT
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Well, I'm wrong again! But I still believe that the UK hadn't worked out how to properly emulate Disney yet, parks were using quite old fashioned techniques but at least they were pushing borders locally.
Last edited by [Archive] on Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:31 pm

My goodness.....£18 million worth of investment in the mid 80s?!

That would be an absolute fortune in today's money.

:)
 
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BigAl
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:33 pm

Imagine seeing that sort of investment in today's figures? PLEASE, MERLIN!!! :P
 
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Tue May 08, 2012 8:26 pm

That was long term over 8 years I think ;)
Don't get tooooo excited :P
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CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Tue May 08, 2012 8:48 pm

Rollermad wrote:
That was long term over 8 years I think ;)
Don't get tooooo excited :P


Even for 8 years that's a lot.

You could build three SW's for that in today's money...and still have a bit to spare.

So we're talking about nearly £50 million quid!  :shock:

:)
Last edited by CoasterCrazyChris on Tue May 08, 2012 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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garyh
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Wed May 09, 2012 1:55 am

Yup, a lot of money in todays terms, given what Merlin rake in each year from all their attractions, and how little gets ploughed back into the parks, it gives you an idea of how much money is actually going to their shareholders!

Anyway, back to the convo - id also bring back the Black Hole - loved that ride, and the G forces on some of the turns was epic!  And yeah id bring it back at the expense of SW7 which lets face it - its just another Eurofighter!  Black hole was unique - glad I was privilidged to have been there on the day it closed down and riding it.
 
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Wed May 09, 2012 1:54 pm

Even though it isn't a ride, I'd love to see the return of the Cadburys House where Cloud Cukoo Land is today. It was an awesome little store, even if it did only have a limited range of chocolate! :P

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:(
 
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Wed May 09, 2012 7:00 pm

Is there a reason why both the Chocolate House and Mini Apple coaster were removed?

Neither were directly replaced, so it seemed to be yet another pointless move.
 
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BigAl
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Wed May 09, 2012 7:06 pm

The chocolate house was where the Twirling Toadstool is today. I'm not sure why they didn't replace the Mini Apple coaster, but back then they could rely on the Beastie too. Now the Beastie is sbno and Alton Towers is now left without a young children's starter coaster. :(
 
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garyh
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Re: If You could bring back one past ride?

Thu May 10, 2012 3:22 pm

Cadbury house removed cos:

a) Contract changed to Nestle
b) Promoted people eating chocolate which in turn made people fat which in turn lead to people blaming Alton for getting fat which in turn led to lawsuits and bad press*


(* b is made up, its not actually true, but given the way things are in this day and age, its a possibility lol)
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