Attractions industry news

20 Mar 2018

Inspiration behind Alton Towers' The Wicker Man revealed

Following the launch of Alton Towers' new Wicker Man ride last week, Bradley Wynne, the man behind the daring fire-infused new attraction, has revealed the inspiration behind the wooden rollercoaster.

Wynne, who is creative lead at Merlin Magic Making (MMM) said the new ride used its local surroundings, including the village of Alton for inspiration in its design.

"We‘ve literally taken inspiration from Alton village and drawn on local legend to make it feel like part of the Alton environment, to make it ownable by Alton. It’s at home here,” said Wynne speaking to Attractions Management.

"Combining wood and fire, the Wicker Man monopolises on the wood material of the coaster."

Great Coasters International created the ride, which cost £16m (US$21.6m, €18m) to create and is the first such ride to combine wood and fire according to Merlin.

“A number of elements came together to make it what it is," said Wynne.

“We started to come up with themes that made the most of wood as a material. We put out a number of concepts for market testing. One of them was the most compelling thing we’ve ever market researched – the fusion of wood and fire.

"We thought it was interesting that people love the combination of wood and fire so we began to think about how we could do that in a safe way. That was the challenge - how to set a wooden coaster on fire and for it to be safe.”

The Wicker Man is the first wooden coaster to open in the UK in 20 years. Plans for the ride – called 'Secret Weapon 8' – were first submitted in June 2016, showing the 2,028 ft-long (618m) wooden coaster replacing the park’s flume ride. The coaster features a blazing wicker man, that stands at nearly 60ft-tall (18.2m) and bursts into flames three times through the course of the ride. It is based on local legend and pagan rituals, with riders ‘chosen’ by the wicker man to be ‘immortalised’ in fire in a celebratory rite of passage.

Immersive experience firm Holovis created the pre-show and queue line, which featured extensive theming and elaborate projection mapping. Picsolve supplied the photo-capture solution. The ride opens to the public on 24 March.

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