Inside Alton Towers (2018) - full transcript

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SCREAMING

Alton Towers,
the UK's most popular theme park.

I had a heart attack!
I had a heart attack!

Attracting millions of
visitors each year

on some of Britain's most
thrilling roller-coasters.

Rides designed to bring us
face-to-face with our deepest fears.

It feels like it's an inherent need

that I need to be scared
now and again.

Where we can put ourselves in peril,

safe in the knowledge
that we'll come to no harm.



One year, I came 52 times,
like, almost every weekend.

But in 2015,
something went very wrong.

In the last hour, two carriages on a
ride at Alton Towers have collided.

An air ambulance has just arrived.

What had happened was completely the
opposite of what we're here for.

After the accident,
visitor numbers dropped.

But now, three years on,

the park has decided it's time
to attract the public back...

..and they want to do that with
a new and even scarier ride.

For inspiration, they have turned
to the themes that also inspired

the '70s cult horror movie

The Wicker Man.

But will a ride based on wood,
fire and ancient rituals

be enough to bring back
the thrill-seekers?



Tucked away in the Staffordshire
woodland lies Alton Towers.

Once the estate of
the Earl of Shrewsbury,

it's now Britain's
biggest theme park...

..known for its innovative
roller-coasters.

SCREAMING

..to flight deck.
Transmitting flight plans.

Galactica, which takes you on a
virtual-reality trip into space.

We're on our way
to the launch portal.

Nemesis, Europe's first
inverted roller-coaster...

..and Oblivion, which drops you 60
metres into a hole in the ground.

It was a little scary,
but it was still really cool.

The roller-coasters are nestled

in the in the park's
18th-century gardens.

The man who holds it all
together is Ian Crabbe.

He's been the General Manager
for seven years,

but, like just about everyone
who works at Alton Towers,

his relationship with
the park goes further back.

I've been coming here since
my first visit with my father

in the late '50s. I was about nine.

At the top of this tower was a
telescope, if I remember rightly.

That was the view
I remember looking at.

It's the first time I fell
in love with Alton Towers.

Ian was there at the launch of
The Smiler ride in 2013.

It broke all the records
with its 14 loops.

But just two years after it opened,

one of its carriages,
full of people,

collided with an empty test train.

Oh, my God!

Screams of horror in the moments
after a carriage carrying 16 people

collided with another
empty carriage on the track.

The force of the impact
was the equivalent

to a family car crashing at 90mph.

The crash left two teenagers
needing leg amputations.

A total of 16 people were hurt,

with five of them suffering
life-changing injuries.

The impossible had happened, and...

..what had happened was completely

the opposite of what we're here for.

You know, and one can't
exaggerate that.

It's been... It's been absolutely
terrible for everybody,

and, you know, one has to
remember the...the victims.

For me, personally, traumatic in the
sense that, in my senior role,

I was responsible for
injuring people.

Following a criminal court case,
the park was found guilty of

catastrophic failure of health and
safety, and fined £5 million.

As a result, the park has had to
bring in new safety measures

and compensation claims for the
victims are still being assessed.

The accident had serious
repercussions for the park,

with an estimated quarter of their
visitors staying away.

On a business level, we were
heavily impacted.

And we can only reassure people
by people coming.

We can only reassure them by them
getting on the rides

and...and recognising
that we are safe.

Alton Towers is hoping to get the
visitors back

by launching a new
£16 million roller-coaster,

designed by Bradley Wynne.

I need to imagine that
I am Willy Wonka

and every attraction that we design
for Alton Towers Resort,

erm, is Willy Wonka on his lightest
day, on his darkest day,

on his craziest day.

Bradley's brainwave is to go retro,

with the first wooden roller-coaster
to be built in Britain

for over 20 years.

There's always a light-bulb moment
when you, erm, you kind of hit

the gold nugget of the concept.

Fire turned out to be that
golden nugget.

Bradley has designed a towering
effigy, almost 18 metres high,

that bursts into flames as the
trains hurtle through it.

Wood and fire. We knew that that
was really exciting.

And through the various
rounds of research,

we arrived at Wicker Man as the most
compelling story theme to go with.

The Wicker Man was made in 1973,

and it has become a
British film classic.

Based on an ancient ritual,
the locals in the film

burn the Wicker Man as
an offering to their God.

Bradley has created a similar
storyline for the ride

with fantasy characters
called Beornen.

You are being lured in
by the Beornen.

WHISPERING: ..the chosen one.

They're the people who've built the
Wicker Man. They're the people

who've worshipped him and they're
behind everything that's going on.

They believe that
by burning a deity,

a sculpture of the Wicker Man,
they can bring his spirit to life.

In order to do that, they need
participants in a ritual

and they need to offer you to him.

So, I sat in a darkened room and
I started to write down, erm,

a guest narrative. If I was
a guest walking through this,

this is what I'd see,
this is what I'd hear,

this is what I'd...smell.

"The air is electric
with spiritual energy.

"As you approach the woods,
you can sense you are straying

"into unknown territory.

"You can sense unseen eyes
watching you

"and the hairs on the back
of your neck start to tingle.

"As you approach the woods,
it's impossible to miss

"the huge wicker deity towering over
the surrounding trees.

"It draws you in with
its epic scale."

This is the biggest project
Bradley has ever taken on.

I've come from a ride-enthusiast
background and how I felt coming off

of theme-park rides, sharing it
with your family, creating

lifelong memories... I think there's
something really special in that.

Wooden coasters fell out
of favour in the 1970s,

when theme parks started
to up their thrills,

using complex steel structures.

Today, there are only eight
wooden coasters left in the UK.

The man responsible for
building this new ride

is senior project manager
Neil Walker.

Yeah! It's going to be
a family thrill ride.

It's going to be a really,
really good immersive experience.

To build the track, Neil has
brought in the world's leading

specialist firm from the USA,
under the leadership of Adam House.

They've been at the forefront of a
renaissance in the wooden coaster.

I always tell people a wooden
coaster is alive. I mean, truly,

wood breathes, you know. It swells
up when it's got...it's got water.

When it's really dry summer,
it'll shrink back down.

Built by hand with
7,500 tonnes of wood,

the track has an extra design
element for the thrill-seekers,

a triple-down drop, which
increases momentum and speed.

This is a kind of a
non-traditional first drop, OK.

So, what we've kind of done is, by
the time you get down to the bottom,

you'll be doing around 46mph.

You can imagine, this thing is just
going to be flying through here.

It might be good old-fashioned wood,

but Adam's team use
21st-century engineering,

twisting the track by 50 degrees,
to throw the riders around.

Here you can see, just next
to me, how much banking

is actually going on in any
particular section on the ride.

Finally, there's a zero-G bunny hop,
which creates a sense of

weightlessness as the train
travels through the heart

of the Wicker Man structure.

What we want to be is really close
to the structure here,

to get that sort of
head-choppy moment.

You've done your job in two ways.

One, if it's safe and nobody can
touch it, and two, if when you ride,

and everybody's like this
and then goes like this. Yeah.

We want to have guests come
off the ride, screaming and yelling

and looking terrified and,
hopefully, you'll want to get

back in line and go back
around the ride.

That's what we want. Overcome
your fear and ride it again.

The last wooden coaster built
in the UK was the Megafobia,

at the Oakwood Theme Park in
Wales.

It has a legendary status
amongst enthusiasts.

One fan who's ridden it more than
most is Mark Lewis.

This is a part of my life,
what I've done over the years.

I got a Megafobia tattoo on my arm.

It tells you a little bit about
when I actually rode.

Like, 1996, I rode it for
12 hours, and done 178 rides.

Believe it or not,
178 rides is actually the record

for the most rides on one day.

2010, I done the seven hours
and the 79 rides,

and then there's a big one, saying
I done 40 hours over five days.

Mark is a member of the
Roller Coaster Club
of Great Britain.

His club has been
actively campaigning

for a new wooden coaster since 1996.

Erm, this is quite interesting.
I had this sent to me.

Inside, it's got some
real nice pictures

of different wooden coasters.

Everybody has different hobbies.

Some people like football.
I can't stand it.

I've got to be honest,
I've got a passion for wood.

I just absolutely love
wooden coasters.

A real roller-coaster
is made of wood.

It's just the shake,
rattle and rolls.

A wooden coaster is alive.

You ride them in the morning
and it doesn't mean to say

it's going to be the same ride
in the afternoon.

This is my nephew. He's absolutely
petrified of roller-coasters.

That actual ride cost me a
cheesecake, cos he told me

if I could make him a cheesecake,
he'd come on with me.

Back in 1996, my son was born

and, unfortunately, for the first
couple of months of his life,

he was not very well.

That was the year Megafobia opened,
and it helped me out a lot

because sometimes being stuck in the
hospital all the time,

I was going down to
the park then, just to get

a bit of time for myself.

Not, like, shying away from my
responsibilities of being a dad,

but it was just nice sometimes to
think, "Oh, let's go down to
Oakwood

"for a couple of hours,
just to chill out," you know.

Your son's OK now, isn't he?

Yeah. He's a pain in the arse now.

I can't say that, really.
Yeah, he's...he's 22 now.

How excited are you about
Wicker Man?

I'm over the moon, to be honest with
you, because it's, you know,

it's a wooden coaster. It's,
you know, an adrenaline thing.

This is an important coaster,
as well, to be built in the UK,

because if...

It could either... It could either
make or break a park, really.

Alton Towers has been building
the basic structure

of The Wicker Man for 10 months...

..hiding it behind hoardings
with tiny viewing slots to
give park visitors

glimpses of the new ride.

So far, the effigy at
the centre of the ride

has been hidden under tarpaulins.

I don't think we've ever
built one theming feature

on a roller-coaster that
we've spent this much money on.

So, it's...it's a big deal and
we have to get it right.

Now, the tarps are coming off

and Bradley can see his creation
for the first time.

Oh, there we are.

So, he's double headed.
On this side,

he's got a ram's head,
that's looking down.

On the other side, it's got
a human kind of deity face,

looking up towards the sky.

That has lots of layers of story
to why it's doing that,

because the human face represents
you being lured in

with this promise of enlightenment,

and then the ram, looking down, is
the darker side of the story, once

you've been lured in and then things
turn a little bit more sinister.

There are now just four months
before the park reopens

and this new, multimillion-pound
wooden coaster

is unveiled to the public.

My hope is that
Wicker Man will deliver

a new set of experiences.
But for me,

it's deeper, it's really the...

You know, I am totally in love
with this business.

So, we have to get Wicker Man
absolutely right.

Today, the top brass of Alton Towers
are here to see the new ride

which will open in two months' time.

It's a £16 million investment
which they're banking on

to bring the crowds
flooding back in.

Project manager Neil has to get
its central feature,

the burning effigy, up and running.

How are you feeling?

Slightly nervous.

Someone else under pressure is the
ride's creator, Bradley.

It's the first time we've actually
seen it all fired up

since it's been installed.
It's a bit of a pivotal moment.

We've been waiting for a year and
half to see the effect

that we designed actually fired up
and working, literally fired up.

So, hopefully it goes well.

All the work we've done has
led up to this point.

If it doesn't look great,
we have three months,

under three months until we open.

If it doesn't look great, I'm not
really sure what our options are.

Just everybody keep within the
boundaries.

Obviously still a working site.

So, we're going to see the flame
effect, hopefully.

You can see now they're starting
to fire the smoke up.

FLAMES CRACKLE

Much of the Wicker Man's impact
is all about illusion.

The flames bursting from the
effigy's shoulders are real

but the effigy itself,
although it looks like wood,

is in fact steel and concrete.

And Bradley's fitted a hi-tech
extra,

video screens to give yet more
fiery illusions.

That's the first demo, I mean that's
going to blow our guests away.

I'm really pleased with that.

It simulates that the structure's
like a big bonfire that's on fire

and the flames are pouring up
out of the torso

which is what we wanted to do.

I think it's really cool.

The whole thing has been designed
so that the rider's as far away,

although you get the perception that
you're very close to it,

the reality is you're far away
from the flame.

So that at no time will any guests
be in close contact with the flame.

And where there's fire,
there's smoke.

But not real smoke.
It's another clever trick.

The smoke effect on the ride itself
is not even smoke,

it's actually water vapour
that you'll see.

So it is just about the illusion.

That £16 million investment
weighs heavily on Ian,

the park's General Manager.

It's quite a scary number, isn't it?
A lot of money in anybody's world.

You have to get off a coaster
thinking, wow,

you know, THAT really made
the difference to my heart beat,

you know, my emotions
and the way I feel.

And if it doesn't succeed
in that space, we've failed.

A really good measure of the success
of Wicker Man as an investment

will be this business coming back

to what it has been used to
in the past.

You know, more guests.

And that will be a key indicator
for me that the investment

has absolutely worked.

FLAMES ROAR

The Wicker Man is a 21st century
re-invention

of the popular wooden
roller-coasters of the 1920s.

SCREAMING

Blackpool Pleasure Beach takes pride
in having four vintage coasters.

Local tram conductor and coaster
enthusiast Peter Baker

is building his own ride on his
mum's kitchen table.

I'll just connect that back up
actually.

It'll be awesome when it's done.

Tell me, what's the thing you
like to do most?

Probably go to Alton Towers.

Thank you. Fares and passes, please.

I used Towers as a way of
escaping school.

It was just a case of everybody
picked on one person.

I was the person to be picked on.

It was a horrendous time and going
to Alton Towers

was my way of coping.

Towers was the home from home.

Is that illusion shattered with...
No. ..something like Smiler? No.

I went straight back and
straight on it. Yeah.

Prove the point that...
It's not, it's not the rides fault.

Are you excited about
Wicker Man?

It's a new ride,
it's going to be good,

it's finally Towers time
to have a woody.

The back-room staff of Alton Towers
are gearing up

for the press launch of Wicker Man.

The £4 million marketing campaign

is the responsibility
of PR Manager Lizzie Roberts.

I've only been in the role a few
weeks, so it's the first time

that I've ever done anything
like this.

We're quite a new team here.

I'm just ringing to give you
a heads up...

It's her team's job to sell the
controversial wood and fire

proposition of the ride
to the public.

But first they have to sell it
to the press.

You negotiated a double page
spread for this.

She's put a press package together

and her team are drumming up
coverage.

There's a lot of photos and stuff.
Yeah, it's coming through Sunday

at midnight, just wanted to
give you a heads up though...

We're all super excited, but,
you know, not quite sure

the level of interest and enquiries
that we're going to get.

Working closely alongside Lizzie...
Morning!

..is Senior Brand Manager Max Mayer.

I wrote my university dissertation
on Alton Towers,

I mean, it was always what I wanted
to do.

For me it is about making memories.

This is one of my fondest memories
as a kid.

Peter Rabbit On Ice.

Which is what I grew up with.

I remember coming in to the ice
show, seeing Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

dancing around on the ice.

Alton Towers, to me, is happiness.

The press and marketing team have
been keeping the fire and wood theme

a secret, but now's the time
to go public.

Today is important because it's the
first time we'll get reaction

from the press or the public.

I'm interested to see what they've
written, and what each of them,

the media's take on it.

Some of them might have picked up on
the Smiler, does that matter?

Erm...

..no, its expected that the, uh...

..the Smiler will be covered, uh...

..in some of the media.

Hello. Hi.
Hey, how's it going?

Oh, that looks good.

The latest tally from the PR agency
is that we've had about

110 pieces of coverage.

There was a really nice piece
there in the Daily Star.

We're also in the Express
and the Telegraph.

But not all the press is positive.

They're starting to pick up on some
individual comments on social media

and I think where people have
put things up about

oh, you know, wood and fire.

They've put some of those comments
together and

made it look like people are
worried.

But actually, this is not a
representative view,

it's not the overwhelming tone,
there's a real balance.

The good thing about social media
is there is always somebody

there to say, it's a theme park,
it's meant to be exciting, you know,

Alton Towers know what they're
doing.

So that's quite nice to see those
voices coming through as well.

People kind of going out
and batting for us on our behalf.

Now the news is out, will the
Wicker Man bring the visitors back

or scare them off?

The pressure is on to get the
Wicker Man ready for the new season.

The engineers have to
fit the carriages to the track.

Each one weighs over six tonnes
and costs as much as a new Bentley.

It's a precision task.

Project manager Neil watches over
this tricky manoeuvre.

Really exciting,
this point in the project.

This is a huge milestone about
getting the train on the track

for the first time.

It should just slot in very easily -
however, it's not.

It comes down to
a matter of millimetres.

I mean, it could be anything,
could be the timber's a bit swollen.

Hey, it's on!
LAUGHTER

It fits.
LAUGHTER

Course it fits! It fits!
LAUGHTER

The fact that I'm delivering
the first major roller-coaster

since the Smiler has happened
hasn't been lost on me.

People were devastated by
what happened.

I'd only been here 12 months,

but I was looking at people
who had been here over 30 years

that had built this park up, that
had put every one of these rides in

and they were absolutely devastated
by what had happened.

That somebody had come along to
their park for a really good day out

and gone home
with terrible injuries.

It's really affected everybody,
you know, something's happened here

and we want to make sure
that it's put right.

In the wake of the Smiler accident,
safety is at the forefront

of everyone's minds,
and with the carriages in place,

the rigorous testing begins.

The guys up the top,
they're doing the final walk round

to make sure there's
no foreign objects on the track.

They're starting to grease
the track.

Adam, the wooden roller-coaster
specialist,

loads the trains with test dummies.

Basically,
we'll come through with a hose

and fill all these dummies
with water.

It's adding 80-90 kilos
to each one.

The train will be tested
at least 500 times

with different configurations
of dummies

to ensure it runs correctly
under all weights.

Only then will the ride
get its safety certificate.

But first it has to
make it round the track.

This is it, moment of truth.
Nearly there.

RADIO: Are you clear? Are you clear?

RADIO: OK.

It's gone.

The whole team have come down
for this landmark occasion.

The train is hoisted to the top of
a 20-metre incline by chains.

When it's released it will be
propelled by its own weight,

gathering enough momentum
to complete the circuit.

That's the theory, anyway.

Is it just going to go
or are they stopping at the top?

I don't know actually, they might
stop - no, it's going, it's going.

WHOOSHING OF ROLLER-COASTER

CHEERING

APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER

WHOOPING

The Wicker Man has passed
its first trial run.

That was absolutely brilliant
that was, well done guys!

Well done!
CELEBRATORY CHATTER

That was awesome. Yeah.
That WAS awesome.

Did you do what I did
and imagine the effects

when it went through?
No, I didn't, actually!

Difference between Project Manager
and creative... Yeah.

I was thinking technically,
will it continue,

where's it going to slow down?

And you were watching the fireballs
go off, were you? Yeah.

That was a major milestone,
we have got it over the hill,

we know it goes round, it's done
exactly what we wanted it to do.

The Wicker Man may be designed
to look scary,

but it's billed as a family ride.

One family keen to make
the 400-mile round trip

just to have a go on the new ride
are the Fiddimores.

It's blowing your hair all around,
it's blowing my hair around as well.

You don't have any hair!
LAUGHTER

We go to theme parks as often as
we can, it allows you to really

get away from everyday life
and everyone has such a buzz.

We get to spend the whole day
together

and it always brings us
closer together.

The cracking thing about Vampire
is there's nothing underneath you,

your legs are hanging.

And you just feel like
you're flying.

I am a relatively normal person
who's trying to keep myself in

rather than trying to
let myself slip out.

LAUGHTER

Toby has many health conditions,
he has a heart condition,

he has atypical autism,
he has a spinal deformity.

He also has chronic fatigue
syndrome,

so when you add all those things
together it's quite challenging,

and it's really good for him
to be able to switch off,

and for us as well,
and go and do something fun.

I've never, ever felt unhappy
at a theme park,

because it's just so fun there.

It feels like I've done something,
like, substantial,

that I've accomplished something.

We don't know what's going to happen
in the future

and it's really important
to have these memories

for the family and for Toby.

It makes me feel really happy
and everyone's...

..less annoying.
LAUGHTER

When someone first told me about
the Wicker Man they told me it was

a huge new wooden roller-coaster
and they had fire on it.

And the children
can't wait to get on it.

It's spectacular,
it looks fantastic.

Hello, guys, do you want to come in?

Bradley's fire and flame creation

may have caught the imagination
of the enthusiasts...

..but now he has the tricky task
of persuading the Alton Towers staff

to immerse themselves
in the world he's created.

We have never done this before
on a ride.

I'm a bit nervous, actually.

Cos I don't know how these guys
are going to take it.

They've got a costume to wear,
they've got a character to play,

and they need to know their place
in the world of the Wicker Man

and that they are members of
the Beornen.

You guys are really special
because you are the Beornen.

The elders told of us of a day
when... They're dark and sinister.

..he would rise to give us freedom.

And basically they're trying to lure
people in from the outside world.

They worship one god,
and he is the Wicker Man.

Bradley takes the team outside
to train them to become Beornen.

Think like the Beornen.
This is where you live,

you're probably going to be
protective of it,

you're inviting these people in
from the outside world.

Just to start off,

we're just going to do a few
little games just to kind of...

get into the zone, shall we say?

He's brought along the in-house
acting troupe,

headed by Kieran,
to help them achieve his vision.

Shake your feet, shake your bum.

And let's jump up and down,
and run on the spot.

And reach up...

..and crouch down.

And reach up...

Hamstring curls - naw, I'm joking!
LAUGHTER

Let's say Wicker Man, yeah?
Same intensity, Wicker Man,

but nice and loud.

Wicker Man! Wicker Man!
Wicker Man!

Start walking around,
follow the person and stare at them.

It's got to be friendly...

..but there's a lot of suspicion.

EXCITED CHATTER AND LAUGHTER

Use old English words
like thy or thine.

Thine should sit down and pull down
the lap bar. Exactly.

I can't, I'm not doing that,
I can't.

Course you can. You can!

You can work on it, Molly.
I can't, I feel like a dick.

If you find a different word
that you say quite a lot,

change it slightly
and have fun with it. Cool.

Well done, folks,
that was good work. Well done!

An ancient ideology exists.

A beacon of hope
that can save us all...

I can see some fencing. Yeah.

..will summon a Chosen One...

To appeal to the thrillseekers,
Max has been working on a video

of the Beornen
that he hopes will go viral.

Is he wearing trainers?

He's wearing trainers
when he falls to his knees.

They've not done the final grading
or cut of it yet, so...

Today, he and Bradley are looking at
progress on the video.

OK, let's have a look then.

DRAMATIC MUSIC
We're building a place

where we can focus our energy.

I suppose my overall comment
would be,

who are we saying have produced
this video? Is it the Beornen?

They've actually produced
this video?

From the Beornen's point of view.

So, I guess my only watch-out
would be,

if they are this community of people
who are averse to modern technology,

then why would they have produced
a video file? Why would they produce

viral videos? Exactly.
Well, not just a viral video -

how would they have produced a
video, without the use of computers?

So, there's that concept of images

that are projected on to film
supernaturally,

straight from the mind.

And it's all very dreamlike
and nightmarish.

I'm wondering if we could just add
some more post-production effects

on to it to make it feel a little
more like that? More dreamy.

It's finding the right balance
about, if this is from their point

of view... It's finding the right
way of packaging that video, so...

..I like, the dreamlike sense
is exactly

where they were going with it,
so I agree. OK, good.

Our ancient saviour will summon
a chosen few from miles around.

With the finishing touches
completed, it is released

and soon picked up on.

One particular coaster fan
in Birmingham

has high expectations
of the new ride.

I want to feel immersed in this
area and that there's something else

going on that I'm not quite
aware of.

I want to feel creeped out.

Inspired by her love for
roller-coasters, Georgia Clarke

is training to be an engineer
so she can build them herself.

I initially found the details
about the Wicker Man

on this website called Tower Street.

Lots of enthusiasts there,
lots of speculation.

You can see the straight bits in the
track will hopefully mean air time.

It's when you get that feeling of
bouncing out your seat.

It's a good fun feeling,
it's my favourite feeling

on a roller-coaster.

Alton Towers is hugely important
for me.

It all started about ten years ago

when I lost a very close family
member, my parents separated

and everything just went crazy.

I fell into depression, I stopped
eating, I lost my appetite.

I would not leave my house,
I struggled to go to school

and the only consistent place
in my life was Alton Towers.

I felt I had found a place in my
life, somewhere I could be happy,

somewhere I could be me.

Why theme parks?

I guess the thrill, the excitement.

Pure joy, and there's always that
little bit of, "Am I scared"?

I like being scared.

Makes you feel more human.

Right, how far off are you from
being ready to let this go?

With visitor numbers still down,

Alton Towers needs to reach out
beyond the enthusiast community.

They're making a primetime TV ad.

Good morning!

Overseeing the shoot is Senior
Brand Manager Laura Gerrard.

One of my jobs today is basically
sorting out a load of boys

and making sure they're doing
what they're supposed to do.

But I've got three of them at home,

so it shouldn't be too much
of a problem.

Very good.

I always wanted to work here,
and I've been here eight years now.

It was my baby before I had babies,
you know,

it's been so special to me.

LAUGHTER

And looking forward to
going on the ride? Yeah.

LAUGHTER

Starring in the ad are a combination
of actors and enthusiastic staff.

I was one of the core members
of the team

that worked on the Smiler brand,

made it look really exciting
and made people

want to come and visit.

I found it really difficult to
accept that something like that

could have such a detrimental
effect on people's lives.

And that's something I've found
very hard to move on from

and I still think about it
and I still find it difficult.

And I hope with Wicker Man
it's going to be an opportunity

for us to start to rebuild
that trust with guests.

Great, it's a really nice framing.

But as they're setting up for the
final few shots, there's a problem.

It's all going wrong, bro.

I don't really want to talk about
it, if I'm really honest.

We are fucked
because their ride is fucked,

and the ride is not working.

Despite some teething troubles,
the new ride is up and running

and Laura gets her commercial
completed.

So, there was a few moments
in-between the edits when we

weren't quite sure if we had the
right shot selection and the right

moments of getting across how
exciting the ride is,

but I think I'm really pleased
with it.

The advert will be the cornerstone
of the campaign

to bring more visitors back when the
park reopens for the season.

I'm really pleased with how this
opening sequence has worked.

It's all come together really,
really well.

I'll talk you through the
schedule in a bit.

With nine days until the Wicker Man
ride opens,

Lizzie has invited journalists from
the national press

to review the ride.

It's my first big launch.

It's really exciting
and I think, uh...

The ride looks fantastic.

She's putting Bradley and Neil
under the spotlight.

We wanted to invite you to come up
and meet the team behind it.

So, we are very lucky to have
Bradley Wynne

and he is the creative mind
behind Wicker Man.

Neil Walker, he's overseen
the whole process of

bringing the Wicker Man to life.

It begins well.

So, what was the thinking behind it?

Alton Towers have wanted to put
a wooden roller-coaster

in for 20 odd years.

But soon Bradley faces some
tough questioning.

Let's talk about Smiler. That
happened, what, three years ago?

Aren't people going to say,
"Hang on a minute, you've built

"a roller-coaster with
wood and fire.

"Isn't that asking for trouble"?

We've had a lot of comments
saying,

"Wood and fire,
what could possibly go wrong"?

Just to address that head on,
wood and fire is a paradox

and that's the reason we have
chosen to do wood and fire.

Of course we've done it in
a completely safe way.

Tomorrow, Alton Towers opens
to the public.

Hiya, you all right? What's the
name?

But tonight is preview night,
and Marketing Manager Sian Alcock

needs a successful PR event to
kick off their launch.

Among the 270 VIPS are
YouTube vloggers,

soap stars and celebrities.

LAUGHTER

Feel the elements around you!

Wicker Man waits!

As guests experience the world of
the Beornen for the first time,

the press previews start to come in.

Alton Towers is preparing to open

its first new roller-coaster
in five years.

The ride's designed to be thrilling,

but safety has never been
in sharper focus.

Alton Towers admits that rebuilding
the public's confidence

will be crucial as the new season
gets under way.

TRACK RATTLES

DISTANT SCREAMS

It's really good, it was really
terrifying.

That was scary, she was screaming.
Yeah. A lot!

She was clutching onto me
for dear life.

Oh, terrifying but I braved it
in the end.

It was bloody sick, it was.

Scary!

It's been fun, it's been loud,
it has been amazing,

and it's been a huge relief.

So much so I could actually
cry, but I'm not going to.

In Gloucester, one devotee can't
wait for the opening day.

This is my shrine
to the theme park world.

Richard Jones hopes be the first in
the queue to ride Wicker Man

and add the ticket to his growing
collection of memorabilia.

My prize possession is my
Guinness World Record certificates.

We set the world record for
the most naked people

on a roller-coaster.

This was at Alton Towers.

And then another park down at
Southend turned round

and said to us, "Would you like
to do another world record?"

I'm a very big coaster enthusiast.
I've travelled around the world.

I've been to China, Dubai,
Germany, America, travelling around

just to go on the tallest, fastest,
longest coasters in the world.

The opening day for me is always
trying to be first on the ride.

For me, just getting on and saying
I was the first member of the public

on that ride, and with
Alton Towers I've had

Air when that opened,
Rita when it opened,

Th13teen, that was the other one,
Nemesis Sub-Terra.

So, there's a fair amount of rides I
was the first member of the public

on those coasters, so for me
to try and get the Wicker Man

and the first wooden roller-coaster
that's been built in 21 years,

that will be a dream come true.

It's the official opening day
of the park...

..and the Wicker Man.

Now the public get their chance to
ride it.

And Richard is right up there
at the front.

Here we go.

Go, go, go, go, go.

EXCITED CHATTER

Eventually made it!

He makes it to the queue for
the first train.

Absolutely stunning.

So, looking forward to it now,
just getting on.

Some of the other woody enthusiasts
also make sure of their place.

What's it like being back in
the park then?

Good. Feels like home!

I'm actually in the queue now
for the Wicker Man,

so, really looking forward to this,
like I said.

And there're some new,
younger faces.

It looks awesome.
It looks fast and really cool.

I'm a little bit scared
but a lot more excited.

The excitement isn't lost on Ian.

I mean look at it now, it's almost
rising up out of the...

..smoke.
HE LAUGHS

Course, can you imagine that as a
rider when you can't actually see

very far in front of you
adding to your excitement?

Just tremendous,
I mean look at this.

EXCITED CHATTER

SCREAMING

SCREAMING CONTINUES

It was sick.

How does it make you feel?

Extremely happy,
excited and full of energy!

OMG, it absolutely blew me away!

It was awesome!

It was really good but I did have
to close my eyes for a lot of it.

This is way better than doing
colouring at home!

It's good news for Bradley.

It's amazing, it's kind of gone from
that idea to suddenly a real thing

that I can be amongst the guests
experiencing.

I've yet to hear one bad comment
from guests

as they've got off the ride.

So, you couldn't get a better
compliment than that, it's amazing.

Yes, it's just a bit of a
dream really, really happy.

SCREAMING

But for Ian, it's going to take
a bit longer to judge the success

of the Wicker Man.

We've definitely got more
visitors coming in.

They want this kind of thrill,

they want this entertainment
and theatre.

And standing here today
is just absolutely fabulous.

It's a new chapter.

SCREAMING