Alton Towers has a lot of history, and with that comes a huge number of hidden secrets and easter eggs.
Here are a few that you can try to spot on your next visit!
The Smiler Hidden Secrets
1. World’s 1st
As you go through the entrance to the Smiler’s queue, have a look up at the CCTV cameras surrounding the entrance. There are 14 of them, representing all 14 inversions. The Smiler holds the world record for the most inversions of any roller coaster in the world.
2. The Unfinished Smiler
Next time you’re queueing for the Smiler, just before you head upstairs to the station, look up!
You’ll see some paint rollers and brushes hanging from the ceiling.
This is an Easter egg hidden by the builders as a nod to the troubled and late opening of the Smiler.
Construction was hampered by the bad weather over the winter, meaning work was being done to finish and test the ride right up to the last minute before it eventually debuted on 31 May 2013 after being pushed back several times from its planned opening in early March.
The third Smiler Easter egg is the concrete footer which was accidentally built in the wrong place!
It’s still there today, but sat unused.
You can spot this by keeping your eyes peeled during the first half of the ride.
4. Another oops…
Another hidden Smiler secret for you is at the exit to the Shop. Just before you head out of the doors, look down at the ground – the flooring that you walk over is actually a pane of glass, which should give you a view down in to the Smiler’s indoor section of track.
The problem is, it’s too dark in the indoor section to actually see anything through the glass, and also the glass is often too dirty to see through, or covered up by a mat! You’d need to get down on your hands and knees and look through the glass to see anything – Just another oversight from when the Smiler was built.
5. Staffordshire Knot
The Staffordshire Knot is a traditional symbol of the county of Staffordshire.
As you leave the Smiler Shop, if you look at the ride to your left, you’ll see the track has been built to form the shape of the knot as a nod to the local area.
Hidden Secrets in the queues
6. That, thing… In the Oblivion queue
What is that strange looking laser thing half way through the Oblivion queue?
Well, it’s actually the projector from the planetarium attraction which closed in the 80s.
Quite a few things are recycled when old attractions close, and often re-appear around the park later on, especially at Halloween.
7. The queue is an uphill struggle
Have you ever noticed that Oblivion’s queue spirals up a hill?
Well that hill is actually made from the earth that was dug out to form the enormous hole that Oblivion dives in to.
8. Wicker Man queue
If you look at Wicker Man’s queue from above, the first part of the queue line spells the letters WM.
9. Rita’s posters
If you have a look at the posters on the fence next to Rita’s launch, you’ll see some references to the ride’s previous name, ‘Queen of Speed’.
Hidden secrets around the park
10. The first coaster
The purple track above the entrance plaza isn’t just a cool decoration, it’s some of the actual track from Alton Towers’ first rollercoaster, Corkscrew.
When the ride was closed and dismantled in 2008 to make way for Th13teen, the iconic double corkscrew track was saved and is now displayed above the entrance.
11. The hundreds of rocks around the park
Have you ever noticed that Alton Towers has a lot of rocks and boulders lining the paths?
Well here’s why!
Due to local planning restrictions, Alton Towers aren’t allowed to build anything above the tree line, which makes building rollercoasters tricky.
As a way around this, many of the rides are dug in to man-made pits in the ground. Oblivion has its underground tunnel, and the Smiler is in a huge pit.
Nemesis was the first to have this, which is the reason it is so unique.
Before Nemesis was built, the land it sits on today was just a field. The builders used TNT to blast the massive crater in to the ground where the rollercoaster now sits, and the rocks they dug out now line the River Rapids and many of the paths around the park.
These height restrictions are also the reason why the highest sections of track on Galactica and Rita are painted dark green, to help them blend in to the background if seen from outside the park boundaries.
12. The Welcome Inn
There is a bar located opposite the entrance to the Wicker Man called the Welcome Inn.
This is actually a play on words / throwback to the Scarefest horror maze that set the backstory for Wicker Man, The Welcoming.
The maze sat in the same location as the Welcome Inn sits today.
13. Fewer cliché “It’s all going wrong!” references since 2015
It’s a bit of a theme park cliché – if a ride has a storyline, it’s often based on the riders going on some sort of adventure, which quickly takes a bad turn and becomes “out of control” in some way.
When it opened, the Smiler promised to “marmalise your body and mind“.
In the queue, announcements played telling guests they were about to embark on a “correctional procedure“, and each time the ride left the station, “Time to get corrected” played, along with “Half way corrected” mid-way through the ride.
All references to “correction” and “marmalisation” were removed following the horrible accident in 2015, and the sinister theme was toned-down a lot when it re-opened.
Oblivion also saw a few changes following the accident, including the removal of several iconic quotes suggesting you might not make it back alive when riding.
“There is no happy ending to this story” and “Welcome to eternal darkness” can no longer be heard as the riders climb the lift hill.
In another example of this – the story line behind the fairly new attraction at the time, Nemesis Sub-Terra, was also based on an adventure that malfunctions and goes horribly wrong, ending in all the riders rushing to escape the ride.
This attraction was closed following the Smiler accident and never re-opened as the park moved away from such dark and ‘scary’ themes.
14. “The worlds first vertical drop rollercoaster” isn’t actually vertical
Oblivion’s record breaking vertical drop is 87°, 3° shy of actually being vertical!
If you stand next to the “vertical drop” you’ll see it’s not vertical. Get the spirit level app open on your phone if you don’t believe it!
15. The Chained Oak from Hex actually exists
If you’ve been on “Hex – The Legend of the Towers” you will have heard the story of the chained oak.
Well this story is actually based on a local legend about the Earl of Shrewsbury, who really did live at Alton Towers, and the Oak Tree actually exists less than a mile away. It’s even chained up!
Thanks for reading!
Do you have any other Alton Towers hidden secrets to share?
Let me know in the comments below!