If you’re a thrill seeker or an adrenalin addict Alton Towers Resort is the place for you. With a fascinating history behind it, the Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. Inspired by Disneyland, the modern park has been a home of fun, entertainment, and adventure for almost 200 years.
It’s more than a theme park – it’s a place to create new memories with your family and friends. Here’s 22 fun facts about Alton Towers to help you understand its past and the present:
1. Its history goes far beyond being just a theme park!
The Earls of Shrewsbury occupied the castle from 1412 when Lady Ankarat de Verdun married Sir John Talbot.
It was the 15th Earl, Charles Talbot, who tamed the landscape surrounding the Towers.
Charles ensured that every detail and plan was original, and only consulted artists to avoid imitation.
2. It was owned by the same family for five centuries.
The Talbots were the owners and residents for over 500 years between 1412 and 1924.
3. The home’s gardens became public attractions.
The gardens were first opened to the public in 1860 and thirty years later, garden fetes were attended by 30,000 people.
4. It all got sold on in the 1920s.
The Shrewsburys sold the house and the remaining land in 1924 to a consortium of local businessmen.
The main shareholder was William Bagshaw who was an estate agent from Uttoxeter. After he died it was taken over by his two sons, Denis and Anthony.
5. The gardens got big makeovers.
In 1924 the House and Gardens form Alton Towers Ltd. The gardens were restored and attracted crowds throughout the twenties and thirties.
6. It even helped during wartime.
At the beginning of World War II, the house was requisitioned as an officer cadet training camp.\
7. In fact, it was war office property for a while!
The house and grounds remained under the control of the war office until 1951.
The gardens reopened in 1952. The house now had tea rooms which operated in the once-grand Banqueting Hall and traveling funfair rides.
8. Things started moving in the 70s.
In 1973 John Broome entered the scene when he married the daughter of Denis and became involved with the family business. Shortly after he was able to buy a majority stake in Alton Towers.
Broome had the vision to transform the historic estate into a brand new leisure attraction.
9. The theme park really started coming to life in the 70s and 80s.
The 1970s were a progressive stage in the development of Alton Towers with many of the rides and areas that we see today.
The Corkscrew rollercoaster was opened in 1980.
In the 1980s there was a massive site development introducing the Pirate Ship, Log Flume, Black Hole, Enterprise, Congo River Rapids, Vintage Car Ride, Tea Cups, Skyride, and Monorail. Many of these rides still exist on the site today.10. A big takeover in the 90s moved the resort in a whole new direction.
In 1990 Alton Towers were acquired by the Tussauds Group.
In the 1990s there were even more investments and developments, with rides such as the Runaway Mine Train, Haunted House, Energizer, and Ripsaw. Major rides such as Nemesis (1994) and Oblivion (1998) were also installed during this time.
11. They even started taking guests by the mid-90s!
The first Alton Towers Hotel opened in March 1996.
12. Further takeovers occurred.
In more recent years, Nick Leslau, Chairman of Prestbury Investments, purchased the property to become the official owner of Alton Towers.
Alton Towers Resort is part of the Merlin Entertainments family.
13. It’s a record-holder!
It’s the largest theme park in the UK, spanning on 910 acres of land.
Alton Towers Resort is home to over 40 rides and attractions, for guests of all ages.
14. There’s a ‘top ten’.
Ten main rollercoasters are the stars of the show, designed to thrill and delight anyone brave enough to ride.
15. However, it’s also a hit with younger kids.
With 20 attractions aimed at young children and families, Alton Towers is the only place in the UK where you can meet some of CBeebies’ best-loved characters.
16. There are plenty of different zones.
The Alton Towers Theme Park is divided into areas: Adventure Land, Towers Street, Mutiny Bay, Katanga Canyon, Gloomy Wood, Forbidden Valley, Dark Forest, The Gardens, The Towers Complex, The World of David Walliams, X-Sector, Cloud Cuckoo Land and CBeebies Land.
17. A weird way to travel!
The Skyride enables visitors to travel between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley, and The Towers Complex in a colorful cable car gondola.
18. Almost two decades strong!
The Spinball Whizzer, a custom-designed spinning coaster is the centerpiece of Adventure Land since 2004.
19. Some of the rides cost a lot of money to raise.
Thi3teen is one of the most expensive Alton Towers rides, costing around £15 million. It was the world’s first vertical free-fall drop roller coaster and features a 5-meter drop in total darkness.
20. Ever been on the Smiler?
The Smiler rollercoaster in the X-sector area of the Staffordshire theme park was the biggest investment for a ride at the resort, costing £18 million to build. It has the following features:
• Ride time: 165 seconds
• Passengers per ride train: 16
• Minimum rider height: 1.4m
• Location: X Sector
• Highest drop: 30m
• Maximum speed: approx. 85 km/h
• Track length: 1,170m
21. 4D made a splash here in the early 2010s.
Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs – was a 4-D Experience opened in 2012. Guests experience such effects as smells, foam “snow”, water sprays, air blowers, “leg ticklers” and moving seats to complement the on-screen action.
22. That’s a lot of guests!
Around 3 million people visit Alton Tower each year.
FAQs about Alton Towers
Can you visit Alton Towers and not go on rides?
Yes - there’s plenty to see here without going on rides, but you can expect to pay the same rates.
Does Alton Towers ever close in bad weather?
No! It’s open no matter the weather, however, some rides may close temporarily.
Can you bring alcohol into Alton Towers?
You can’t bring your own alcohol into Alton Towers, but you are welcome to bring your own food and drink otherwise.
Do you know any fun facts about Alton Towers? Share them in the comments below!