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  1. I could attempt to write a funny, light-hearted retro trip report about my childhood visits to Dreamland in Margate, UK. They were fun times that were intertwined with Alton Towers being the UK's number one park, whilst this little park just existed - like it had for oh-so-many years - as London's little escape place. Kiss me Quick hats, awful hen nights (pre-marital last-resort expressions of freedom) and pure fun at a resort that -these days - is blessed equally with golden sands and no visitors. They all go to Brighton - which has a fun amusement park on a pier. Margate died when Dreamland died. Or was taken over by a greedy so and so who felt that there was more money to be made for him in buying up that land and making it a simply fabulous place for peeps to live. He failed. It died. I won't bore you with what's gone on since, but this is what it was in the mid 80s. When it was the UK's number three park - behind Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and itself... I have a strong opinion about where it's going, but if you care, you already know... Enjoy. Enjoy. x
  2. Cheers fella. The sad thing for me is that the park has both gained and lost a lot since 1994. Endless chasing of 'world's firsts' in an attempt to grab headlines on the cheap has resulted in just that - world's firsts that are forgotten within 6 months. Yet, they lost touch with the very thing that created what is arguably one of the best rides on the planet - Nemesis. It wasn't about a world's first -it was simply an attempt to bring an already-existing ride to the park, within their limitations. I've been to many parks across the world and Alton really is one of the most unique an beautiful. The Smiler really is great, though no Nemesis. It's like Fahrenheight twice - and it's surprisingly large. I just wish they would take advantage of that unique scenery and do something truly great again. They really can, but they have to ditch this 'world's first' [read world's worst] mentality...
  3. If there's one thing you can bet your beautifully-designed-pyramid-laden-King/Queen [God save her and all that]-free-dollar bill on - it's that when when push comes to shove in an ever-changing world, us British types will always back you lot up. We've proven to be loyal friends - and we hardly ever burn the White House down. But when it comes down to whether or not The Smiler should have had a launch instead of a second lift hill or is indeed two coasters joined together, then the very same values of freedom of speech, democracy and all-too-familiar nah-nah-nah-'how dare you say this', 'but, we iz like not havin car park coasterz' rear their all-too democratic heads. How dare both of us countries have freedom of speech, a certain parent/far-more successful child rivalry and a mutual respect that encompasses everything anyone of us could ever say to each other on a geek forum? Enough of that - let us talk about The Smiler. It starts with a left-turn drop straight out of the station into a heartline roll that is strangely smooth and fluent, yet lacks the surprise and fun of SAW. A brief pause at the base of lift hill one accompanied by piped laugher that's a little too loud for comfort and you're swiftly on your way up a lift hill that feels far higher than an Alton Towers ride should be, that offers what is quite simply the most breathtakingly beautiful view - albeit a brief one. Then, you're upside down. Then again, again, again, again (maybe again and maybe again), through a little hill, a batwing that feels a little slower than it should be (great hang-time, awful wait time should it ever stall for a fourth time on this element), another corkscrew and into a break run. Moving forward, you pause at the base of a vertical lift hill. It's at this point you realise that the ride is a lot more intense than you'd expected (not Intimdator 305 intense - but just far more intense than you'd expect). It wasn't altogether comfortable and before you know it, you're travelling up a vertical lift hill. Whilst you can't but feel that a launch would have worked better (think Cheetah Hunt on Steroids), there's a part of you that is grateful for this interlude. You might think back on how wank Black Hole now seems, but you might just (like me) move your head backwards and look on poor Oblivion - now a mere support ride and enjoy the break, whilst also thinking that something far better could and should have been placed here (think Anubis's launch). Before you can think 'don't look down', a far more intense second half grabs you, drags you through three inversions and into a hard airtime hill that raises riders' hair, but fails to raise stomachs, then you're down into the pit into the cobra roll and - oh fook - you realise that Gerstlauer still haven't got it right. The exit and the following corkscrew are awful - neither thrilling nor fun. Just not nice. Then there's a final heartline thing and back to the station. In summary - and I'm going to be hated for saying this. It really is two coasters stitched together. However - and somehow - it works. Whilst I would have preferred a launch in the place of the second lift hill - the breather really does add something. You can't truly get it until you ride it. It's an intense ride. It's very disorientating. It's freaky queuing just feet below a ride doing multiple inversions at 50+mph. But like many other rides - such as Dragon's Fury at Chessington - when you place and judge it in the park it was designed to live in, it really works. It's fun too, though it's one of those rides where the front row seat offers a more intense, smoother ride. It's no Nemesis. But let's face it - Nemesis - a ride that's still considered the finest B&M after nearly 20 years, is always going to take some beating. In short: great, fun, intense, disorientating. In long: Marmaliser isn't even noticed whilst riding. Launch instead of second lift hill would have worked, uncomfortable finale. Here are a few pics... Thanks. Keep Smiling!
  4. [Apologies if in this is in the wrong thread - please move if need be!] Wow! Just got back from a brilliant day at Alton Towers and thought I'd write up a trip report. I'm a pretty slow typer, so apologies if anything's changed since I got back. We were initialy going to go to Thorpe Park, but that place is just too family-based (even though the new Thunder River Rapids look great - apart from that kid losing their ear), so we went to the nation's favourite thrill park instead. To celebrate having recently turned 15 (I know - I'm really old now!) my cousin, his friend and I took a coach trip to Alton Towers from Penzance, Cornwall. After leaving Penzance at midnight, we eventually arrived at Alton Towers around 9am. We were all really excited about trying out the exciting new addition for 1987 - the Kodak Skyride - all £6m worth! I know you're all dying to hear about the new ride, so I won't wait any longer. The Kodak Skyride is a great new addition. It's basically an extended version of the old Cable Car that now travels over the Gardens to Festival Park. All I can say is wow! It's like a million miles high and passes right over the Pagoda Fountain on it's way to Talbot Street. Great views and really scary! Next is the UK's best coaster - Corkscrew. This ride has to be ridden to be understood. It's so fast that if you don't zip up your orange 80s ski jacket, it'll very gently flap about! I've heard that it reaches speeds of nearly 35mph and if you don't like spoilers then look away for the next sentence. It turns you upside down - TWICE! The airtime on the first drop is amazing and the themeing is phenomenal - it's themed as the world's first unthemed Vekoma Corkscrew and it's done really well - I was knocked out by the unthemed theme. The ride could benefit from some brakes on the first drop - everyone loves them right? Maybe one day they'll replace it with a kiddie coaster that does just that. Next was 1001 Nights. This is one of my favourite rides on the park although it's restraints are a tad too tight (hey - I hope to have a wife and family sometime!), it has great views and makes me really look forward to the day when Alton Towers build even taller rides - hey, maybe one day they'll add one of those Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop rides *prays*. Next was Doom and Sons the scary 2 minute walk through thingy with actual skeletons, followed by Around the World in 80 days. It was a bit like It's a Small World, but not crap and it's a ride with actual character. I really hope they don't one day make it even better and theme it around a toy factory, then destroy it by spending £9m on the world's worst dark ride. Nah, that'll never happen. Enterprise, Waveswinger and the Dragon Rollercoaster were great fun, but I didn't have the courage to ride the Spider. Next stop was 4 man Bob a very intense coaster in Talbot Street that sets future technology by ensuring that the cars have to be pushed by hand in order to reach the station. This is gonna really take hold, I swear! Now it was time to walk over to Fantasy Land to ride the park's main attraction, Black Hole. This huge ride never fails to deliver and everyone says it has a vertical drop. I don't believe that as - a vertical drop? - that'll never be possible, but it was really scary and apart from suffering a minor skull fracture on the front of the ride in the brakes, I loved it. Maybe one day in the future they'll replace it with a ride that goes upside down like three times. Now that would be a world-beater! Turbo Star is by far the most intense ride on the park and I had to sit down and have a can of Quatro afer - or was it 'New Coke'? I can't quite remember. Next was Pirate Ship. This is my favourite ride at Alton Towers and unlike anything anywhere else (apart from that new one at Chessington Zoo). It's like a big ship that swings back and forth but goes like really high. Everyone says you can fall out of it and quite frankly I believe them - I felt my arse lift a bit, so I can well believe all that. I didn't ride the Cine 2000 as that's just so far into the future as to not matter. We then went over to ride Sonic Spinball, but instead were greeted by a member of staff telling us it wouldn't open until 2004. We did the Cookie Mountain, Amazing Maze and Fireman's Pole instead. There was something about the Fireman's pole I loved, can't quite put my finger on it though. After doing some shopping in the diverse Towers Street and marvelling at the new Medical Centre and Car Park, we rode the Log Flume. Great ride and apparantly it's the world's longest. Something's missing though - it could really be improved by a retheme, something that suits it's woodland theme. I just hope no-one screws it up by making the boats red bath tubs or something awful like that! Next was the Grand Canyon Rapids. So much better than that boring family-based Thorpe Park's version. It even has a grass theme this year. Truly the best-themed ride in the UK. Now it was time for the biggies, so we headed over to the path that leads through Katanga Canyon and Gloomy Wood to Forbidden Valley. Upon arrival, none of them had even been built - shame on Alton. Eventually we found the path, only to discover that the park ended at the entrance to the rapids and that we'd need to come back five years later for Katanga and seven years later for some ride where instead of making it high, they're going to build it below ground and have the coaster travel below the track. Sounds awful - no-one will ever like that sort of ride. Apparantly it's going to be called SW3, or so some guy with a full head of hair told us, called John? What was SW1, or SW2? Who cares, we've got the Kodak Skyride and the Swan Boats. Anyway, we then went back via the new Monorail, (see - I hid that from you!) which was awesome! Here are some photos, taken on my brand new Kodak Star 110 camera! 1001 Nights Black Hole More Black Hole Onride Black Hole The brilliant new Black Hole stage Corkscrew Two loops! Lift Hill Corkscrew Corkscrew The new Skyride! Turbo Star My friend on the Log Flume The Pagoda Fountain from the new Skyride! Skyride over the gardens By the lake Log Flume More Log Flume ]Fantasy World The scary Turbo Star 1001 Nights Grand Canyon Rapids Themeing! Enterprise 4 Man Bob More 4 man bob The themeing on the rapids is amazing! Log Flume More Log Flume Onride photo on the Log Flume Mississippi Showboat Pirate Ship More Pirate Ship Kodak Skyride More Kodak Skyride Even more skyride The Swanboat ride Talbot Street More Fantasy World The scary Waveswinger! Thanks for reading, hope to see some of you in 26 years.
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