Theme Park Apprentice - Redemption Challenge

Edited: August 8, 2015, 11:55 AM

Redemption Challenge: From the Ashes…

Competitors, welcome to the redemption round. In this challenge, those of you who have been eliminated from the game are being given a second chance to prove you have what it takes to become the next Theme Park Apprentice. The idea of the redemption challenge is to improve on past mistakes, but since all challenges are independent this season you will instead be completing a challenge about a park that has made mistakes in the past.


Alton Towers has been welcoming guests for over 150 years, and sits as the “King” of UK theme parks, pushing global rollercoaster trends with its “secret weapons” - The first successful Flying coaster, and the first ever Vertical drop and vertical free fall drop coasters call Alton Towers home as well as the coaster with the most vertical inversions in the world.

In its long history it has seen fires, financial disasters, lawsuits with neighbours, and even a witch's curse. Despite all of this is has pushed theme park and roller coaster design not just in the UK, but globally as well.

Sadly earlier this year an incident resulted in the park hitting headlines for all the wrong reasons. Several guests were seriously injured on “The Smiler”; In addition to the much more important injuries, the financial impact of this event is estimated to be as much as £47 Million.

Merlin are never one to let someone else control the headlines for long… For the purpose of this challenge, presume Merlin have chosen to move on from the past they have decided to remove The Smiler and replace it with a new attraction.

The Challenge:

Merlin’s management do not mind what you replace The Smiler with, as long a the new attraction will get the media telling the right story - that Alton Towers is “Britain’s Greatest Escape”. Your new attraction can be a roller coaster (like the previous secret weapons) or you may choose any other type of attraction.

To be absolutely clear, this is not a roller coaster challenge. You may choose a roller coaster to meet the challenge, but you are not required to.

But just designing a new ride for the biggest park in the land, run by a company with near limitless resources would be too easy, right? Perhaps, but you have to remember that Alton Towers has a rather unique problem… Its neighbours.

Alton Towers has a few neighbours who are very vocal opponents of the theme park. You can count on them to oppose any development you plan - in order for your plan to succeed you must keep them, and the existing conservation area rules in mind.

This means anything you design must follow these rules:

The Proposal:

Your proposal for this challenge should be approximately 5 pages, and include:


The Deadline

All proposals must be submitted by midnight on Saturday, August 15th. Late proposals will not be accepted for this challenge.

Additional Notes

If you are currently in the competition, you do not need to submit an entry for this challenge. However, you are welcome to submit one for a critique if desired. You will not receive any bonus points for your submission.

If you are an eliminated competitor and you wish to return to this season of the competition, you must compete in this challenge. If you do not wish to return to this season, you do not need to compete in this challenge. Declining this challenge will not affect eligibility for future seasons of Theme Park Apprentice.

The winner of this challenge will return to the competition. All other competitors will be permanently eliminated from this season of Theme Park Apprentice. In the event that only a single competitor submits an entry for this challenge, the judges will determine whether or not that entry is sufficient to allow re-entry into the competition.

Replies (16)

August 9, 2015, 1:00 PM

Please let me know everyone if you have any questions, I hope some who haven't been eliminated choose to give this one a whirl too.

Edited: August 9, 2015, 1:29 PM

With the statement, "run by a company with near limitless resources" did you imply that there is a large budget for the new attraction, or none at all?

In regards to the tree gap, is it necessary, if replacing The Smiler or another minor attraction, would we be required to also replace the trees in that area? What specific dimensions would qualify as a "tree gap"? Is it possible to possibly plant trees within or above the ride to adhere to this rule? And isn't basically the entire park a tree gap? Would it make a significant difference if a minor expansion is made?

For a news story, is it necessary to break some type of record, or make a novel type of ride or attraction?

Also, have the judges decided whether the redeemed competitor will return with cumulative points matching the lowest scoring competitor or the addition of 15 points per missed round? I think the former wouldn't necessarily be fair, considering the fact that some of the contestants may have used real life passes.

Thank you and I look forward to competing in this challenge!

Edited: August 9, 2015, 2:56 PM

>>>>With the statement, "run by a company with near limitless resources" did you imply that there is a large budget for the new attraction, or none at all

Basically, money is no object, and the budget is limitless. Merlin have a lot of resources, and (for the purposes of this challenge) are willing to spend anything in order to "change the story" away from the disaster that happened.

>>>>In regards to the tree gap, is it necessary, if replacing The Smiler or another minor attraction, would we be required to also replace the trees in that area? What specific dimensions would qualify as a "tree gap"? Is it possible to possibly plant trees within or above the ride to adhere to this rule? And isn't basically the entire park a tree gap? Would it make a significant difference if a minor expansion is made?

Basically, when I wrote that I was thinking of big ugly show buildings. The neigbours aren't going to accept being able to see one of those.

You will probably have to remove trees, and you shouldn't be dinged for doing so... but you shouldn't have anything visible from outside the park.

To help give you an idea about what I'm looking for, I think a visual aid is in order

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So at the bottom of the picture area, you've got the forbidden forest and Talbot street, and the maonor, the oldest parts of the park... But on almost all sides, you'll see that they're surrounded by Dense tall trees (The exception is the lawn area towards the lake and the main entrance)

If you look to the right, where Air and Oblivion are (Marked by the "Air" mark) you'll see that that is very intergrated with the forest, not a huge clearing area, but then when you get to the Hotel carpark area there is a large clearing, but again, well surrounded by trees.

Ideally, if you're going to do a new area, you should be following the example around Air and Nemesis... If its unavoidable however, you're going to need to make sure you've got the dense forest surrounding the area so you can't see into your clearing area from a distance.

>>>For a news story, is it necessary to break some type of record, or make a novel type of ride or attraction?

Its not required, no.

If we take for example, TH13TEEN. TH13TEEN did have a world first element - it has a vertical drop integrated into the rollercoaster.

However, that element was secret, and was not in the marketing for the ride until just before opening (and then just a run through on local news/breakfast news - not in the advertisements) - it was supposed to be an unexpected surprise and my understanding is to this day you'll hear the crowd groan if you ruin the surprise for first time riders in the queue.

The marketing material instead built on building it a reputation as a "psycho-coaster", a psychological experience. This is a ride so terrifying that you'd only ever be allowed to ride it once, and counsellors would be on hand to deal with riders afterwards.

Saw at Sister park Thorpe Park is more or less a conventional Eurofighter coaster, but pairing it with the Saw Franchise made that a story in its own right - Its a franchise that definitely is not family friendly.

If you have a conventional ride (or other experience) and can deploy it in a way that will attract attention - with the right IP, or theming, or something else, that is just as valid as a new ride, or a world record breaker.

I'll leave the points to AJ, as he's the points expert.

Edited: August 11, 2015, 3:23 PM

For the points question, since a competitor did use their real life pass we will go with a flat point value for each round missed. While the exact value has not been determined, it will be in the 15-20 point range. The idea is to give enough points that you remain competitive in the event of an elimination based on cumulative points, but not enough to put you ahead of the competitors who have survived through all the rounds. We will take a look at the previous scores and have an exact number soon.

EDIT: After looking at the numbers it appears that the average scores in challenges varied between 16.7 and 17.2. Since the goal is to allow you to remain competitive but not put you ahead of anyone who survived, we will go with 17 points per missed round. This should allow you to reenter the game with 50-60 points depending on your pre-elimination performance.

Edited: August 15, 2015, 6:11 AM

(You may start noticing I have posted image links in my proposal. Please count the images in the links as my pictures. Just wanted to explain what the links were, as I think I need to include images of sorts to step up my game!)

Whatever happened to the Smiler?

When it opened two years ago, it seemed glorious. The fourteen inversions were a world record, and the ride itself was terrific.

Flash forward two years.

The Smiler now stands, but it’s not operating. When a fatal crash two months ago brutally injured many people, Merlin knew it was time to slay the beast, and permantly close the ride before someone could die on the attraction.

Flash forward another six months.

Merlin Entertainment is about to announce the replacement for the Smiler, a partnership with B&M to bring the second wing coaster in the United Kingdom in hopes of making just as enjoyable of an experience as the Smiler, without the safety issues.

Therefore, we bring you…


(Above is the attraction’s logo)

The new state of the art roller coaster will be located in the land X-Factor, and replace the space formally occupied by the Smiler, and also take up some of the backwoods behind the former Smiler.

. About 3,500 feet long
. Height: 62 feet
. Drop: 140 feet
. 5 inversions
. Speed: Up to about 60 MPH
. Duration: About 2 minutes and 30 seconds


The entrance is fairly basic. A large brass colored building thirty feet high serves as the entrance. It is covered with large gears and cogs, and on the roof, a large chimney which blows a large gust of steam every ten minutes. Above the gates in which people enter the ride, the logo and ride name are shown. You can enter from the standby entrance, or the Fast Track entrance.


The queue line is also lightly themed. The lines wind through a large, tall room like this one:

Like that, but with much more gears and cogs, keeping with the heavy steampunk theme. Fast-paced music plays to pass the time for people waiting in both lines.

LOADING DOCK: The loading dock looks like a steampunk-ish hangar, sort of like this one:

The actual loading dock is much smaller, but along the lines of that in terms of design.


The vehicles are similar to the ones on other wing coasters around the globe, but brass and black colored, similar to the track colors on the ride. Each vehicle can seat 24 people, 6 rows with 4 people in each row.


The car takes an unbanked left turn nearly at ground level before beginning the climb up the 62 foot tall lift hill. Once at the top, we immediately plummet down 140 feet into a 78 foot deep, pitch black trench.

Once inside the trench, we go through a heartline roll followed by a 90 degree banked turn, before skyrocketing upwards an 125 foot overbanked turn (the majority of it climbs out of the trench, and in reality is only about 50 feet above ground level.).

Then, we go through a double corkscrew before falling into another 50 foot deep tunnel. The tunnel has gears and cogs running on its sides. We do a full twist before rocketing back to the surface and going through a half-loop and half-twist and another 40 foot drop which sends the cars near ground level.

The rest of the ride consists on smooth banked turns and airtime hills before hitting the final brake run, and reentering the station.

Riders disembark, and continue their day at the best theme park in the United Kingdom, Alton Towers!


If the ride proves itself a success without bad safety records, all of X-Factor will be re-themed to match the theme of the roller coaster. Oblivion, Enterprise, and Fried Chicken Co will all potentially receive overhauls to match the theme and make a new land called Steampunk Landing. But that’s the far future, and for now, the land will stay as is.


Now billed as Secret Weapon Eight, the marketing department has cooked up some ideas to promote the new attraction.

Sometimes through the average day, a large 1800's style blimp will fly around the park with the new attractions name on it in order to captivate

Plenty of rado and television ads will help market the attraction, telling thousands of people about the new ride, and explaining the fact that this is Great Britans second wing coaster, and the ride has a 140 foot vertical drop.


The Smiler, despite being a great ride, was loaded with safety issues, and hurt the reputation of Alton Towers. With Steam, not only does Alton Tower’s superb coaster collection get another amazing addition, but the new ride will finally get the media telling the true story: Alton Towers is truly “Britain’s Great Escape”.

(Author's Notes:)
. Okay, maybe my ride experience descriptions are a little iffy... but in truth, like most of the competitors in Challenge 4, I'm not a roller coaster engineer. But I did try to make this presentation understandable for the judges.

.I have started to use image links in my presentations, in order to make my descriptions a little better and to show people that I actually listen to judges advice (in particular, image link suggestions were Chad's).

.As always, thank you for taking the time and effort to read this proposal, and may we all laugh on how hilariously terrible that Batman and Robin film is..

August 11, 2015, 4:47 PM


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We interrupt Theme Park Apprentice to bring you a bulletin from Alton News Services. Earth is under attack! Intelligences greater than Man’s have selected us for extermination. Sources in Staffordshire Moorlands report otherworldly sights and sounds crossing the tree canopy. Terrible abominations begin to emerge. Mankind’s lone chance for salvation lies with something known only as “Secret Weapon 8.”

The sole clue authorities have released is that this weapon, codename RIFT, is to be the world’s first cantilevered roller coaster. RIFT is also a world’s last: The thrilling conclusion to Alton Towers’ Nemesis Trilogy!

In Nemesis (1994), digging at Alton Towers awoke the Nemesis, an ancient creature from another dimension. In its terrible rampage, the beast could not be killed, only contained. Nemesis was imprisoned within twisted steel, and a roller coaster legend was born.

In Nemesis: Sub-Terra (2012), the Phalanx organization arose in Nemesis’ wake. Determined to study and protect, Phalanx uncovered a nest of alien eggs deep beneath the Earth’s surface. To prevent future catastrophe, these eggs were destroyed – but at a great cost.

Now, in 2015, Phalanx officials have learned that the so-called “Nemesis” monster was simply an advance scout, the mere tip of the iceberg in what shall soon become all-out war! Located deep within the forests of Forbidden Valley, a rift has opened in space and time – a terrifying portal to an alien dimension, home to creatures the human mind could never fathom. An army of otherworldly monsters amasses at the rift’s gate, ready to invade and tear our universe asunder. Human counter resistance has one last, desperate hope: To trespass into the aliens’ realm and destroy the rift from within. The soldier: You. The time: Today.

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John Wardley is proud to announce RIFT, a first-of-its-kind coaster experience which fuses Alton Towers’ renowned steel horrors with immersive storytelling. Guests are recruited as frontline soldiers in humanity’s battle for survival against impossible odds and incredible thrills. RIFT is an indoor coaster manufactured by Bollinger & Mabillard, featuring a unique cantilevered design never before utilized.

Those who dare wander the Forbidden Valley will discover evidence of unearthly activity in the forest to the south. Strange blast marks darken the trees, emanating from a single point like some sort of Tunguska Event. Tire tracks lead into the wood, past hastily-erected government signage (“Danger,” “Do Not Cross”). A facility comes into view, jeeps before it. A makeshift industrial container, grey and oppressive, with plastic hazmat tunnels and decontamination chambers. Known as the Phalanx Containment Unit, it sits 20 meters high, just below the treetops.

Recruits follow cold metal hallways deeper into the complex. A faint mist hangs in the air, as blinking kliegs give off an unsettling aura. The lengthy, spinal tunnels suggest tension, as if terror could emerge at any moment.

Answers slowly come as recruits enter a hastily-erected laboratory. Bubbling, eerie jars full of liquid sit at center amidst gruesome medical equipment. Within the jars are deceased alien specimens, mere larvae of the Nemesis species. These are wretched creatures, an ungodly fusion of crab, octopus, hornet, and goodness only knows what else. Sharpie scribbled on tape across the jars read “Recovered from RIFT perimeter.” Computer readouts identify them as “Omnimorphs.”

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Guest pulse continuously through an armory. The room is darkened so that a preshow film may air. It begins with amateur camcorder video, watermarked as “Property of Phalanx.” This found footage is familiar from RIFT’s ad campaign. In it, campers in the woods witness the formation of the rift, a glowing electrical tear in the very air itself. As tiny shadows (the now-dead larvae) descend, the video cuts out in static. In its place appears General Broome, Phalanx coordinator. He briefs recruits:

This facility is erected over the rift, which leads to a dimension called “Otherwhere,” birthplace of Nemesis. Tiny camera probes are shown passing through the rift, which swiftly disintegrates them. But before it can, they record hundreds of Nemesis monsters – Omnimorphs – dwarfing a forbidding landscape. Broome hypothesizes that this eldritch army shall soon cross over. To prevent this, the rift must be sealed. Bio-readouts scanning the rift suggest that it is kept open by an Alpha Nemesis, the Hive Mind. “Destroy the Hive Mind, destroy the rift, save mankind.”

The cantilevered roller coaster ( link ) is a tricky concept. In essence, it is a roller coaster on two tracks simultaneously. A vehicle is connected to both tracks at once by a support arm; each track affects the car differently. The bottom track propels it forward via gravity, like in a traditional coaster. The upper track is connected to the car’s support arm, and can independently alter the car’s pitch, yaw and height.

What this all boils down to is a ride with the freedom of movement seen on Indiana Jones Adventure or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but without the need for costly hydraulics. All movement is analog. Imagine Amazing Spider-Man with roller coaster elements added, a true next-gen hybrid!

This system is designed for heavily-themed attractions. Tracks are hidden underneath a slot, which lends unpredictability. As a pure coaster, RIFT is by no means the most intense – at best it matches TH13TEEN – but the addition of thematic elements make for a “psycho-coaster” in the best Alton Towers tradition.

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Passage through the rift’s bio-electric forcefield is only possible in specialized hoverships, capable of carrying three rows of four recruits each. These hoverships sit via mechanical arm roughly 1.5 meters from the ground. Onboard speakers provide accompanying soundtrack.

Recruits board the hoverships in a docking bay repurposed from a vintage missile silo. Cast members in hazmat suits oversee the operation. They keep in character, barking orders and wishing riders luck on their mission.

Prep complete, the fully-manned hovership glides around a corner, where it approaches…the rift. A massive metallic chamber encases this anomaly, a brilliant projection effect. The hovership rises up a ramp straight towards the rift – the traditional coaster chain lift hill. The rift’s flashes grow more erratic as the ship nears; it passes through as the facility’s lights go wild, then die.

At this point, riders would expect a roller coaster. Rather, RIFT begins as a dark ride, set within a cave on the outskirts of Otherwhere. A slight slope propels the hovership downwards through an EMV ride experience…

Cave rocks reveal the enormous membraned eyeball of an Omnimorph creature! The ship careens in response, but it is too late! Attack commences, as mostly-unseen behemoths outside the mountain pummel it. Boulders tumble. Flashes of light reveal the bizarre appendages – massive claws and tentacles. Lighting and hovership motion make these static set pieces seem alive.

At last the hovership breaks through a cavern wall to behold the vast wasteland of Otherwhere…

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Alien rock formations dominate a barren expanse beset by cosmic winds. A plasma storm creates the occasional lightning bolt – which in turn illuminates the Omnimorph monsters on the horizon. This amazing scenario occurs inside of a massive warehouse (the first of two). Projections on the outer walls, and a great many other special effects, create the scene.

And it is in this setting where RIFT lets loose as a roller coaster! The hovership topples down a sheer granite slope. It zooms along the inhuman terrain, through arches and over chasms. Think Aliens meets Big Thunder! For a coaster, the experience is all very standard thus far. RIFT is still building, and it won’t reveal its full capabilities until the climax.

Directed by Broome over the speakers, the hovership tentatively enters what can only be called an enormous termite mound. This is the lair of the Hive Mind, made of biomechanical secretions. The hovership slows on a brake run inside of a musky chamber. Headlights come on and illuminate dozens upon dozens of Omnimorph eggs. Slowly, too slowly, the ship eases left. More eggs appear, some moving…hatching. The final eggs are empty.

A hatchling lunges! The hovership evades through a slime-filled corridor. Here the capabilities of cantilevered design are more fully explored: The ship pitches and yaws wildly as it dodges one snarling hatchling after another. Man-sized baby Omnimorphs keep on coming! They only ease off as the hovership reaches a glowing inner sanctuary. But this is no time for relief, as the reason for the hatchlings’ absence is too terrifying for words…

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The unspeakable Hive Mind regards these human trespassers with condescension. Telepathic waves compel the hovership upwards along a second lift hill straight towards the Hive Mind. Throughout this lift, the ship pitches wildly from side to side, struggling under the leviathan’s power. Over the speaker, Broome demands all weapons activated. Red buttons flash on the dash. Energy beams fire, and in an effects-filled showpiece the Hive Mind is destroyed!

An automated countdown begins: “Warning. You now have 30 seconds before total rift closure.”

The hovership launches out into the canyons of Otherwhere – the second major warehouse interior, and the moment where RIFT goes for broke! Once again it is a roller coaster, now mixed with EMV elements. For riders, this has become a desperate race against time to reach the collapsing rift. The whole of Otherwhere descends into madness, plasma bursts, as the legion of monumental Omnimorphs closes in overhead (projections). The hovership wends through perilously tight passageways. In RIFT’s signature moments, the ship even dodges obstructions ahead with lateral movements no other roller coaster is capable of. It leans to the right around a toppled minaret; it dives under a land bridge.

A final straightaway rushes towards the clenching rift, projected onto a huge wall. “Five…four…three…” With seconds the hovership escapes through an unseen hole in the wall, back to the Phalanx facility. The ship drops, banks, and comes to a rest as it returns to the loading bay. Broome congratulates recruits for saving mankind, but warns they can never tell anyone of the dark secrets they have learned.

Riders exit through decontamination chambers spewing steam, exhilarated as RIFT’s rousing soundtrack sends them out.

MANUFACTURER – Bollinger & Mabillard
HEIGHT - 18 m
DROP – 20 m
LENGTH - 900 m
SPEED - 62 km/h

Alton Towers’ marketing team is encouraged to treat RIFT as Orson Welles treated War of the Worlds. Adverts on the telly play as news stories about alien invasion. The found footage video featured in the preshow is central to this campaign.

In the park, a publicity stunt allows guests to sign Death Insurance before riding. This is a classic William Castle gimmick given new life. During the Scarefest event in October, performers dressed as Omnimorph hatchlings terrorize the Forbidden Valley.

RIFT brings a new “World’s First” to Alton Towers, and strengthens the park’s already-impressive approach to storytelling and theming. With moderate ride intensity and an enjoyably edgy setting, RIFT is sure to appeal to budding coaster enthusiasts ready to graduate from Alton Towers’ family rides. Now that’s a reason to smile!

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Edited: August 15, 2015, 11:59 PM

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The Final Defense
Coming to Alton Towers' Forbidden Valley in 2016

Alton, England 1457. Rebels are storming the countryside, and their insidious forces are advancing directly toward the strong Alton Castle. Without the support of cannons or significant fortifications, defenders of the castle are forced to fight with longbow weaponry, a recent advancement as a result of the Hundred Years War.

With the number of rebels surging higher than ever, the protectors of the castle are recruiting any able-bodied loyal that can equip a bow. Will you join them and become a member of the final defense, protecting the castle from impending seizure by the treacherous rebels? If so, the fate of the land rests in your noble hands.

Historical Significance

This tale of Alton Castle depicted in The Final Defense is loosely based off of the true story of Rochester Castle, a strategic military stronghold that protected invaders from the southeast coast of England. On 17 April 1264, a rebel army led by Gilbert De Clare attempted a siege of the castle. The rebels managed to capture the outer enclosure, but their forces were halted when news that the defenders’ reinforcements from Henry III and Prince Edward were approaching.

Some sections of the Alton Castle story of the ride is fictionalized. For instance, the castle itself was not specifically designed to withstand siege attacks, so the “bastion” element is only suggested in the tale. Also, based on the time period of the Rochester Castle siege, English longbows had not yet been invented. However, without regard to a few elements, the adaptation remains correct to the original event.

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Mockup of Alton Castle

The Queue

The Alton Towers adaptation of Alton Castle houses the entire dark ride. The ride itself is located in the formerly forested area near the Forbidden Valley. The front of the castle includes a metal reinforced gate, which remains closed due to the threat of “invaders”. The outside queue is set off by roping and runs along the right side of the castle, which leads to the loyalist entrance, located on the far right and back end of the castle.

The entrance to the interior section of the queue exhibits a medieval theme with high, automatically-lit torches. The interior queue also has a short blocked off corridor (of three meters) that displays a dungeon cell to the visitors. The cell is occupied, with a treacherous animatronic rebel muttering spiteful statements about the defenders of Alton Castle. Such thematic elements visually set up the setting for the ride, yet do not fully reveal the ride’s main story. The loading center features an animatronic of the lead characters of the defense, encouraging the guests to join him in the effort. He also advises the guests of safety procedures prior to boarding.

ALEX2 photo Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.45.38 PM.png

Mockup of animatronic Alexander of Alton, lead character of the defense

Ride Experience

The loading station is set up with a single line of cars, referred to as longbow stations. The guests enter from the south side, and the departing guests leave from the north side. The longbow stations leave at 7 second intervals (controlled by the ride operator) following the boarding. Each maximum capacity is 2 people per longbow station. Children of a height under 1 meter are required to ride with a responsible adult. The longbow stations are designed for the trackless system of the ride. The exterior of the stations is plastic (light for maneuverability) resembling a stone wall, and on the side is a quiver of arrows.The seating is of black leather, comfortable for all guests.

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Mockup of one of the Longbow Stations

Each longbow station has two longbows. The longbows are placed on the ground surface, but is stable yet internally mounted on a spherical shape. This allows the rider(s) to tilt the bow in all directions, thus accessing them to easy maneuverability of their weapon. For instance, a right-handed rider would grasp the bow’s grip with their left hand and hold a small thick string (suspended in a small area of the bow) with their right fingers (and vice-versa for left-handed riders). To project an arrow, the rider would release the string and move their fingers away slightly. The string itself is relatively small, and since it moves slowly, and accidental interactions with the rider’s fingers would be harmless. Once the arrow is fired and the string returns to its original position, the riders have the opportunity to shoot again. The firing of the arrows is depicted on Ultra-D screens from Stream TV, which provide interactive 3D riding capabilities without the use of the trademark glasses.

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Mockup of the longbow used by riders

After loading, riders approach the training center of the castle, and the background is depicted on the screen. They approach Alexander of Alton, a lead character depicted in the queue.

“Greetings again, loyal follower. I am known as the young Alexander of Alton. I’m glad you have wisely decided to join our righteous cause. Before we face the invaders, we must prepare for battle. Listen closely, as I instruct you.”

Alex explains and demonstrates how to use the bow. He then encourages them to practice shooting at a dummy. As the targeted bow faces the screen, a light laser-stimulated small black target mark is placed so that the riders know which direction they are shooting at. Shortly after the rider fires an arrow by releasing the string, the arrow appears on the screen, flying away in the direction of their shooting target. If the rider attempts to friendly fire, no arrow appears.

“Very good.” Alex says, regardless of their amount of practice. “Let us carry on to defeat the rebels.”

Scene 1

The ride moves into a gradual incline. The surrounding walls are stone and lit by the occasional torch. The sound of men shouting commands along with a light anticipatory music can be heard throughout all the castle corridors. After 8 seconds, the riders emerge at one of the (interior) turrets of the castle, later joined by Alex and other soldiers on the far sides. On the turret, actual stone flooring is used as a physical formation. Behind is the screen. From there, they have a clear view of the wall of the turret, the fellow soldiers, and the invaders approaching. The riders shoot at the rebels from below. After being directly hit, a rebel falls to his or her feet.

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Close Mockup of soldiers approaching; The cursor on the screen is the location at which the riders are pointing their arrows, helping to direct their aim.

After 20 seconds of shooting, Alex says, “Fair aim. We must move forward.”

Scene 2

The riders return to another corridor, with no incline this time. After 5 seconds of anticipatory music, they emerge at the next turret. There would again be invaders coming in the distance, but this time ropes would appear with four-pronged hooks on the turret walls.

Alex quickly says, “Hurry. Shoot at the ropes to stop them from scaling the castle walls!”

Riders shoot at the ropes, and upon hitting them with arrows, the ropes snap. If the riders cannot shoot the ropes, the men scaling the wall would be partially visible and then Alex would accurately shoot at the ropes, snapping them and sending the scalers down. Then, an extremely large rope appears, but this particular rope is actually unbreakable via arrow. An enormous rebel soldier emerges on the turret and attacks Alex, sending him to the ground. He slowly approaches the riders. After 3 accurate shots or 1 accurate shot after 5 seconds, the large rebel soldier falls.

Alex looks up, groaning in pain. “I will recover. You must defeat the final wave of rebels, but make haste!”

Scene 3

The riders return to the corridor passageways, and move down this time. After about 12 seconds of descent, they emerge at the final turret. At this battleground, there are the most invaders from a distance and scalers. After 30 seconds of shooting, the wave subsides and no more scaling ropes appear. The loyal soldiers begin to cheer. The ride is taken back on a leveled area though a short corridor. Finally, the riders are greeted at an inner room of the castle. The screen imitates depth of image. Alex appears from a crowd of pleased defenders. “Excellent fighting, loyal soldier. The King’s army is approaching for reinforcements, which should scatter the remaining rebels. I humbly thank you for your demonstration of wit and skill, true defending hero of Alton Castle.”

The riders would leave turn through a castle corridor, where they can view their scores (10 points per rebel) before approaching at the loading station. The guests would leave via the north exit, allowing the waiting guests to board from the south entrance. The entire duration of the ride is approximately 4 minutes.

Conservation Limitations

The peak of the castle itself does not exceed the treetop height mandated by the conservation regulations. The castle is built in a leveled land depression 3 meters (10ft.) into the ground. From the base to its highest turret, the castle is 20 meters (65 feet) high. However, the castle utilizes forced perspective (also used in Disneyland CA) where the foundation is purposely larger and the turrets smaller, to imply the visualization of a greater height. However, because of the depression, this sets the castle at 5 meters (16 feet) below the tree requirement, which should keep it well disguised in dense foliage at a standing distance.

Trees are to be removed for the construction. However, the castle has many tall trees planted in the close vicinity. Also, at the center of the turrets (and away from the guests view), dwarf trees and bushes are to be planted, which would also partially camouflage the structure even from the aerial view. As an additional treat for guests exiting the ride, they have the option to be escorted up to the real turrets to see the trees and small gardens planted at the top, while also admiring views of the park.

The fact that The Final Defense is a dark ride, entirely enclosed within the castle, ensures the fact that noise levels from the ride is kept to a minimum and should not disturb residents outside of the park grounds.

The Final Defense is strategically located at the Forbidden Valley, surrounded by trees and by no means obstructing or damaging any cultural heritage sites.

The Final Defense: Park History and Marketing

A devastating crash on the Smiler led to infamy on the behalf of Alton Towers. It was once known as the premier theme park of England, Alton Towers, owned by Merlin Entertainment, the second largest themed entertainment company in the world. Under the direction and guidance of CEO Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainment is determined to set a record of safe yet entertaining amusement for all visitors. This revival operation is now introducing its most powerful asset - the long-awaited Secret Weapon 8.

One of the openly publicized features of Secret Weapon 8, The Final Defense, is the fact that the ride was an interactive, defense type game with an integrated storyline. The secretive component involves the use of longbows with the virtual weaponry. Such elements have never been used in any previous dark ride, which would give The Final Defense distinction by the press.

Marketing techniques include the use of online advertisements for internet users of Alton’s surrounding region to give publicity to the local visitors. Such digital advertisements would consist of high quality graphics of invaders surrounding the castle. Banners could integrate interactive taglines (linked to the Alton Towers website) such as “Join the Defense.”

Such digital art could also be integrated in the form of banners and posters at surrounding public areas, local events, and international airports.

Marketing for this ride is especially important, especially considering the amount of public anticipation for Alton Tower’s Secret Weapon 8. Advertisements could increase the number of local guests, as well as draw in international visitors that would come to experience the thrilling ride but also have the golden opportunity to explore all the entertaining aspects of Alton Towers.


The Final Defense is a thrilling ride of a historical basis that sets guests perfectly in the medieval time period. A perfect combination of history and interactivity, Secret Weapon 8, The Final Defense, is the perfect addition to the Alton Towers theme park.

August 15, 2015, 11:59 PM

Area 51
Coming Soon to the X Sector of Alton Towers

Alton Towers has just hit hard times thanks to the injuries brought on by the Smiler. The Minister of Joy (MJ) has decided to tear down the coaster and put up… a building. It is what is on the inside that will put Alton Towers back on top. Area 51 is Secret Weapon #8 and will have the most inversions in any roller coaster in the world and Premier Rides first stand-up coaster. This coaster will have a whooping 18 inversions that guests will be experiencing. This coaster is not for the faint of heart and is made for the older crowd who want the most thrilling experience ever. The roller coaster is on the site of the now closed Smiler. What is great about the coaster being all inside is that the sound would not travel anywhere but inside the building. The track would be dug down into the ground to have more space for the track. This ride is diffently not for the young ones below fifty-four inches tall or afraid of going fast. There are lockers by the exit of the ride so people can put bags and other loose objects away. The building has different signs painted on the buildings saying “Personal Only” or “Stay Away!” There is one inviting sign though at the front of the building stating “New Recruits Welcome.”

The backstory is that the MJ has acquired extraterrestrial items that came from Area 51. He decided that this would be the best place for the new Area 51. As guests wind their way through the queue, they will see different artifacts brought to Alton Towers including the Ark of the Covenant and pieces of UFOs. Cast members then lead groups of fifty guests into the debriefing room to learn of their new positions. A screen is displayed and one of the MJ’s second hand men, Mr. Y, debriefs the guests on the current state of Area 51.

He states that the MJ needs new people to be workers inside of the mysterious Area 51 warehouse. There has been a sighting of more aliens than usual around Area 51. As he is telling our guests about the aliens, the video feed is interrupted by the leader of the aliens named Bok. He tells everyone that the aliens are on their way to destroy any and everything in Area 51 to erase anything about aliens. He says to take cover and let them destroy the premise or else. The video feed of Mr. Y is brought back onto the screen and he lets us know that he has a plan. He tells us to not hide from the alien attack but let them know we are still here and ready for them. He tells them to let the aliens chase you guys and when you get to the back door, set the alien alarm that would send the aliens back to their world (something that MJ himself created in a case of something like this.) He sends the guests to the entrance to the actual vault entrance and also to the loading dock.

The vehicles can seat four people in each row, for a total of thirty-two people total. The guests pull down on the over the shoulder restraints and use a seat belt to remain firmly in. The vehicles themselves are black with yellow (in memory of the Smiler) and red highlights. After the harnesses are checked, they pull up to a door that is closed. You hear the voice of Mr. Y on the speakers on the vehicles. He says that aliens are using a beam of light to suck anything and everything into the vault, so be ready to start our plan. He counts down on to 1 and then you are launched from 0-130 mph in 3.0 seconds. You are launched with linear induction motors. The doors that were closed fling open as the guests are launched into the first inversion, interlocking loops. As guests enter the vault, they experience a light show like no other. There are different colors coming from UFOs in the building as they attack the different artifacts and then notice you. The guests enter two sidewinders before experiencing a twenty foot drop before an inclined loop.

The light show travels behind and in front of you as you go through a cutback and a butterfly. The guests go through some twists and turns before entering another launch sequence, again with linear induction motors, into a vertical loop and a zero-g roll. Guests are then thrown into not one, not two, not even three, but four corkscrews! After a few small dips, one more piece of track, with the help of yet another piece of linear induction motors, sends guests into a batwing, a dive loop and another sidewinder. Before nearing the end, you encounter a Norwegian loop, an interlocking corkscrew, and a final vertical loop before you make it to the back door. Starting now, this is where you can finally catch your breath as things calm down. You hear on the speakers the voice of Mr. Y saying that you did a good job and that all of the aliens disappeared. He then says that now MJ might now calm down.

You reach the unloading dock where you disembark and come up to television sets, displaying photos from the camera, which is at the first launching section, for people to by in the Area 51 themed shop called Classified Gifts. Make sure to get a shirt that says “I have been in Area 51!” Guests would then walk outside to their locker to get their belongings to continue their day at Alton Towers.

For marketing, television commercials tell people that there is only one place to visit Area 51 and it is at Alton Towers. The tagline for the ride would be “It is not classified for you!” There would be cast members dressed up as recruiters for and walk through the X Sector of the park, asking people to hurry and volunteer now. For the younger kids who would not be able to ride would be given a special map at the park entrance detailing them on their junior mission for MJ. He would assign the younger ones to look around X Sector for items that went missing from Area 51 like pieces of UFOs or alien cloths and find them. When you found it, take a picture of it and when you find all eight missing artifacts, take it to the mission kiosk either inside the Classified Gifts gift shop or the stand alone kiosk across from the entrance of the ride. Show they all eight pictures and you will be awarded a button calling you a Junior Agent and you will also receive alien antennas to wear. Also, Alton Towers will partner with Fenwick and Harvey Nichols stores across England with a photo both with special photo backgrounds that show aliens or UFOs or even artifacts. At the bottom of each picture when printed, it would say, “The only place to see this for real is at Area 51 in Alton Towers!” It would cost 35 pence for the photo (50 cents in America.) There would also be a stunt show called Agents vs. Aliens. It would take place in an outdoor theater right next to Oblivion, not too far from Area 51. It would be a stunt show of protecting Area 51 against more aliens. It would just be another fun thing to do at Alton Towers.

So come to check out Area 51 at Alton Towers, Britain’s Greatest Escape!

Thank you for reading my post and hope you enjoyed it. Have a great day

August 16, 2015, 6:00 AM

First of all, let me commend ALL of you for sticking with this and submitting proposals for the Redemption Round. I can't say that I was totally in agreement with Chad's choice of words when he described it as "from the ashes". That made it look like you had crashed and burned, and I don't think any of you did that by any stretch of the imagination. I have judged many of these competitions and competed in many more, and I have seen proposals that did just that- crashed and burned. That did not happen with any of you in TPA7, especially in this round.

Every time you write a proposal, you learn from it. Every time you read a critique and you disagree with something that is less than complimentary, it hurts a bit, but I hope you know that we write what we do, complimentary and constructively critical, because it is how we feel, and we all want you to do the best you can do. AJ, Chad, Blake and I all see things differently, visualize your proposals differently, bring different life experiences to this process and write completely differently, but we all have one thing in common- we want to judge you fairly, honestly, compliment whenever possible and point out where we know that you can do better. We all have benefited from our successes and failures in TPA over the years, and sometimes we learn more from our failures, our faux pas than we do from our successes.

For whoever is readmitted to the competition, take this opportunity and use it, learn from what you did to win readmission and learn from what happened to get you eliminated in the first place. For those of you where this is the end of the line for TPA7, get ready for TPA8, 9, etc. Keep writing. Keep writing proposals, and we'll keep critiquing them to help you learn what will give you the title of TPA champion. I'm still learning, still writing. I believe I have mentioned that I am still working on my final proposal from TPA6.1, my park called "Americana 1900", a proposal that lost to Blake Meredith's remarkable "Disney's Realms of Imagination". I am still rewriting it, fine tuning it, sending ideas to some people for their critiques and fixing what needs to be fixed. I'm doing it because it helps me, it helps me to improve my writing, stimulate my imagination, but mostly because it makes me happy to create something that wasn't there before. Maybe someday I'll post it somewhere, and all of you can critique it, good and bad, and give me more things to work on , to improve, and to have fun with.

Now it is time for me to stop philosophizing and get to what you really want to hear from me.

Tyler Harris Steam

I need to look at your proposal in two ways: 1) The professionalism of the presentation, and 2) the qualities of the proposal.

The professionalism was good, but frankly not your best work. I attempted to use the links for the pictures, and one of the links did not work. The others were good images and added to the quality of the presentation, but it was awkward to have to find them in that way. Frankly, you might have been better to do more "painting with words" so that we could have seen in our minds the images that we had to go looking for, a process that took us away from your proposal and made it feel disjointed. The writing itself was clear and concise, and I didn't notice any glaring grammar or spelling issues. AJ might disagree with me, but I didn't mind the fact that you were very basic in your description of the actual ride experience. I think it was easy to follow the experience.

The qualities of the proposal is a bit harder to judge. Alton Towers has had a major disaster with Smiler and I wonder if replacing it with another high-tech thrilling coaster would be a good idea. The public might be skeptical of taking a chance on another death-defying coaster on the site of Smiler; on the other hand, they might be hungry for another coaster experience and will be willing to take a chance on it, thinking that lightning won't strike twice. A wing coaster that spends so much time underground? That is a truly unique concept. The theming of the coaster to the Steampunk concept it a good choice, so good in fact that I did a proposal for a past TPA where I had to retheme Scream, a coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and I rethemed it using a steampunk theme and renamed it Steam. Great minds? Maybe.

Your use of a blimp to advertise Steam would be a good idea, but not at Alton Towers. People would already be there- you're preaching to the congregation already in the pews. Use the blimp in other locations, major cities, etc. and have it decorated as a proper steampunk blimp. Go big! Your looking down the road at retheming the entire area was well conceived.

One thing I did notice- the Smiler accident was not a fatal accident. Four people were injured, two seriously, but it was not fatal. Don't make it a fatal accident- Alton Towers has enough problems!

Karina Bhattacharya The Final Defense

This proposal was much, much better than your previous proposals. You obviously took Blake's suggestions to heart. Several things impressed me: 1) the research you did into the history of Alton Towers, Rochester Castle, the longbow, etc. You found excellent subject matter and created a plausible, interesting, engaging story line that visitors to this historic site would want to take part in, not just observe; 2) you seemed very aware of the limitations that the park put onto your proposal, and you worked with them in a plausible, professional fashion; 3) your use of a unique system of "shooting" the enemy was innovative without being unrealistic; 4) I think that your decision to create a totally different type of attraction from the now-notorious Smiler was a good one. I suspect that replacing a cursed coaster with another coaster could backfire on Alton Towers. Replacing it with something totally different (and totally safe) is a good way to let people forget about Smiler, so that when they do introduce another coaster there has been a "buffer period" in between. 5) your artwork is a definite plus in your proposal. There was no way to find images to adequately describe your ride vehicles or the firing mechanism, but the pictures you must have created yourself showed perfectly how they would look and work.

Now a few picky things. 1.Your having events down to the second might be needed in space flight, but when you're dealing with theme park visitors boarding ride vehicles there is going to be problems, and your carefully calculated times for launching each ride vehicle would go out the window. Frankly, I don't think that, at this preliminary proposal level, the to-the-second timeline is needed. Leave that up to the engineering geeks (I almost said like AJ, but I wouldn't do that in here- that would be unprofessional ;+) 2) The quiver of arrows on the side of the ride vehicle was confusing and (I believe) unnecessary. The arrows being shot are "virtual arrows", right? I can see someone trying to grab an actual arrow from the quiver and trying to shoot it from the firing string- and doing nothing but breaking the prop arrow off from the ride vehicle. 3) I have never been to Alton Towers, even though my wife is descended from the Talbot family who first built them how many centuries ago. I was confused when you talked about Alton Castle and Alton Towers, and at first I thought they were the same thing and that you were going to put this ride into the original towers. After rereading it and finding a map of Alton Towers I saw that the Towers and the Forbidden Valley are two different things.

This was a far superior proposal to most of your work in the past, and that is exactly what you needed to do to be "reborn". Your strengths are your artwork and your organization and attention to detail. This proposal showed that you are getting a good grasp on the need for good story telling when appropriate. Cut out the unnecessary details, emphasize the necessary ones, keep your proposal flowing smoothly and capitalize on your artistic strengths and I would expect you to have continued success.

Brett Angwin Area 51

I was really glad to see that you submitted for the Redemption Challenge! The more you write, the more you try, the more challenges you have to deal with and solve the better you get at it. I don't know how many times in here we've heard the phrase "Go big or go home." You certainly went big with Area 51!

I wonder if you went too big for the situation. 18 inversions? I love stand-up coasters- I'm still in mourning that Cedar Point converted Mantis into Rougarou, where you sit down and get your ears boxed by the restraints. I love inversions. But 18? I think you're approaching if not passing the human body's ability to survive such a ride intact. If it was possible, it would be one of those Alton Towers things where you were only allowed to ride it once, but it would not be a gimmick. It would be a court order or a mandate from the Ministry of Health. Another reason I question this choice of attraction, and that is the entire Smiler debacle would have happened on this very site. I can almost hear the comments on social media: "Area 51...on the site of 'Smiler'...except it's in Space- where no one can hear you scream- for help."

As far as your written proposal goes, I thought it was very well written, clear and concise, and it gave an easy-to-follow layout of the entire ride experience. The light show would be a perfect addition to the ride except for the fact that you would be going so fast and would be getting inverted so many times that you might not be able to see much of it or appreciate it. Your proposal was complete in that you also made provisions for advertising promotions both inside and outside the park, and I appreciated that you also provided something for guest either too young, too small or two scared to ride Area 51.

The lack of images didn't really bother me. You were descriptive enough of the attraction that, while they would have been a good addition to the proposal, they would not have been critical to my being able to understand it or appreciate its qualities. If Area 51 was truly possible to construct and- more importantly- to survive, it would be an absolutely incredible experience.

Douglas Hindley Rift

Douglas, you never cease to amaze me with your incredible imagination, depth of knowledge and graphic abilities. Rift would be the perfect replacement for Smiler, a coaster that is not really a coaster, a dark ride the morphs into a coaster seamlessly, a visual sensory overload that would leave riders unwilling to even get out of their ride vehicles because they would want to experience it again and again. I had never heard of the cantilevered coaster concept before, and I hope that someday I get to experience it. It is the ideal ride technology for this, the perfect dark ride/coaster fusion.

I have read it several times, each time looking for something to complain about, and could not find anything. I was going to say that there should be some sort of shooting mechanism for the riders to shoot at the hatchlings and Hive Mind, but I think that riders would be so engrossed at looking at everything around them that they wouldn't even want to be bothered having to shoot at anything. There is too much to look at.

If anyone from Merlin is out there, read this and make it happen. If anyone knows anyone at Merlin, send this to them. They should read this and make it happen.

You just created the next ride level after the "E" ticket. I'll jump to "G" for Great! There is no way I could give this remarkable experience an "F"!!!

August 16, 2015, 11:38 AM

Wow! All I can say is that all of you guys have really upped the ante and brought your 'A' game this round! Good stuff! Thank you all for your diligence and commitement to TPA 7! While all of your entries were fantastic, only one will be allowed back into the competition! Kudos to all of you who have stuck with it. Your dedication and creativity is both appreciated and enjoyed by, not just the judges, but many others as well! Without further ado, here's my critiques:

STEAM (Tyler Harris):


1.) I like the themeing on this coaster. Having a steampunk inspired attraction at Alton Towers seems like a good choice, seeing as how most steampunk is highly Victorian in architecture, fashion, and general aesthetics. A steampunk style attraction at England's premier park seems like a no brainer.
2.) I also like the choice of a wing coaster. Even though there are many around the world, they are still distinct and unique enough to provide excitement whenever a new one opens around the world (I used a wing coaster in TPA 6.1)
3.)I'm glad that you chose to include the color palette in your challenge. It's key in determining an attractions feel and aesthetic within the park. I think you've made a good choice going with the brass undertones as it can blend in fairly seemlessly both into the park and the forest surrounding the park.
4.) The coaster itself seems exciting and enjoyable. No doubt the dark/underground portions would be thrilling and add an element of surprise and re-rideability.


1.) Though heavy theming isn't necessary for coasters, I think adding a little more story or flair to the queue and attraction as a whole would have been nice (though your pictures indeed show that what you would have would be fantastic).
2.) Though I generally like your coaster layout, I'm having a tough time imagining how some of the elements would be accomplished without causing some serious issues for riders. For example, you say that riders plummet 140 ft into a trench and then into a heartline roll before entering the 90-degree banked turn. Having riders take a heartline roll at those speeds without any way to reduce the speed is asking for trouble! Remember, the Smiler is being removed because of these types of concerns. We're suppose to fix these problems not create more! Perhaps it was just a simple oversight on your part but it's something I can't necessarily overlook.
3.) While I like your long term goal of turning X-Factor into a new, highly themed Steampunk area, that wasn't part of the challenge. It's great to thing of the long term, but the focus should have been on the short term in regards to this single attraction.
4.) A large part of this challenge was the promotion aspect of the attraction. Unfortunately, I don't think you've created a unique or captivating promotion campaign for the attraction. The idea of having and 19th century dirigible float above Alton Towers is theme appropriate but you're suppose to get visitors to the park with the promotion, not entice guests who are already at the park. Furthermore, this could be a detriment to the neighborhood, and would probably anger some neighbors who don't want to see an old blimp floating around everyday.
5.) I know you included links to pictures, but should you make it through the redemption challenge, make sure you learn how to embed the pictures straight into the proposal. Still, some pictures are better than no pictures.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately you've got a solid coaster with some nice theming elements. You've ensured that you stayed within the limits of the challenge guidelines and rules and have created a solid replacement for The Smiler. The lack of a solid promotion strategy is hindering the proposal, but overall a solid entry and one you should builld on if you end up going forward.

THE FINAL DEFENSE (Karina Bhattacharya):

1.) You've got a fantastic theme and fantastic ride story. I think a historically aware, exciting ride through a real castle siege is something that is a great fit for Alton Towers, especially considering its storied history and England's history in general.
2.) Before you posted pictures, I was a little concerned with how the bows would work and operate. With your pictures, you've done a great job showing exactly how the system will work. What was initially a 'con' for me turned out to be a 'pro' based on your fantastic renderings of the bow mechinism.
3.) You've taken a great lesson from some WED/WDI lessons here by having your attraction take place all 'inside' of the castle walls. It helps keep theming coherent and cohesive and is one of those factors which separates top-knotch dark rides from the rest of the pack (consider, for example, how the effect of the Haunted Mansion would be greatly diminished if we didn't actually believe we were going through a 'real' haunted house. The exterior queue plays this trick on its audience, convincing them that the whole ride indeed takes place in the house the guests see outside).
4.) I'm glad you chose to go with a family friendly dark ride, as it would hopefully erase some of the bad memories the public has of The Smiler.


1.) The first thing that stood out to me was the rider capacity for this ride. 2 riders per vehicle leaving at 7 seconds apart makes for an abysmal rider-per-hour rate of 510 riders an hour. As this will be one of Alton Towers premier attractions (and one which doesn't have a height restriction), this would cause wait times to skyrocket. Perhaps utilizing a ride system similar to Toy Story: Midway Mania would have helps (if you don't know, they use 4 passenger vehicles with the riders backs to each other, effectively doulbing the capacity of each vehicle from two to four.)
2.) The one thing that stuck out in my mind regarding the attraction was that there wasn't enough! Three scenes is simply not enough to warrant the long lines that the attraction is sure to receive! This is a great attraction idea and I think that by only having three scenes you're taking what is a great attraction and essentially turning it into a negative attraction. Guests will come out saying, “That's it?”, when they should come out saying, “Wow! Let's do that again!”. It's the prime difference between something like Wonder Mountains Guardian and Toy Story: Midway Mania or Knott's new Voyage to the Iron Reef. One is a great concept with a short and ill-executed ride experience; the other are generic ideas (shooter ride) given new life through fantastic theming and extended ride experiences.
3.) Piggy-backing on my disatisfaction with only three ride scenes, I think it would have been great to add one or two different scenes to the ride than simply the battlements or turrets. Perhaps the invaders could have made their way into the gate and you are forced to retreat to the ground level and help the civilians holed up in their homes? Or maybe they break through and are heading for the kings quarters and you must retreat to defend the king. These are just some ideas I had when reading through the proposal.
4.) While your promotion and advertising is certainly modern, it's not necessarily what I would call 'viral' or innovative. This is perhaps the toughest part of the challenge and I admire your understanding of the importance of social media and internet advertising. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything distinctly unique about your marketing campaing. Remember, part of the challenge is to create a unique media 'hype'—and that just doesn't happen when utilizing marketing techniques which pretty much par for the course for any company in the world at this point.

Final Thoughts:

A fantastic ride concept, blending history, excitement, and thrills which are theme appropriate for all ages. Unfortunately it's bogged down by its terribly low rider capacity and short duration. Lastly, there was no plan to push out the bad press and bring in good press leading up to and even after the attraction's initial debut. It's still a wonderful proposal (perhaps your best so far) and is far from being a bad attraction, but in context of the game and the challenge specifically, it has some lingering issues before becoming the crowd-pleaser it surely should be.

AREA 51 (Brett Angwin):


1.) First of all, fantastic theming, story, and overall desing execution. For a roller coaster, this is one of the most in depth and thorough themeing jobs I've ever seen. Not only have you kept everything cohesive, but you've managed to integrate a relatively plausible story into the ride. Great idea.
2.) Opting for an indoor coaster (especially one of this magnitude and ambition) is a good choice, even if some of the logistics may be off. It keeps everything in one space and keeps the guests guessing as to what's coming next.
3.) Your promotion campaign seems to be pretty solid. The idea that you have figured out a way to get little ones involed is great as well.
4.) By keeping your coaster inside, you've ensured that none of the screams or surprise factor would be ruined from the outside world.


1.) Firstly, part of the challenge was to erase the bad memory of The Smiler from the public's minds. While the coaster is ambitious and fantastically realized, I think you missed the mark with one of the challenges stated goals. You're essentially making The Smiler 2.0, and while it may not have the same name, it's got the same color palette and even goes for MORE inversions than the original version of the smiler.
2.) 0-130 in 3 secs is insane. Especially considering we are going directly into 18 inversions. It's great to dream big, but this is, frankly, too much for most people to handle. As I said to Karina last week in her unofficial submission, when desiging coasters which travel at high speeds, you need to consider the effect inversions, loops, banks, and pretty much all other factors have on a riders body. The majority of the riding public simply wouldn't find this enjoyable, and you may even run into some of the same issues which caused The Smiler to close in the first place.
3.) While I think Area 51 is an interesting concept, Area 51 is a distinct site, located in Nevada, USA. Your story of relocating Area 51 to Alton Towers, while innovative, is somewhat clunky (For example, why wouldn't the UK government simply build their own facility and call it Area 52? Why would they let Americans relocate and operate their own alien research on their own soil? ). This is a minor concern because, after all, how many people are going to be considering plot holes and story structure in a theme park attraction? It is something that sticks out to me as a writer and fan of good themed design, however.
4.) This would have to be the largest indoor coaster ever built and though you made a good decision to enclose the attraction, it still doesn't solve the problem of having large, ugly show buildings in the neighborhood. Yes, you've kept the screams out but you've brought urban decay in and it may not go so well with the neighborhood.

Final Thoughts:

Area 51 is an ambitious and exciting coaster with a lot going for it. The storyline is great for a coaster and the indoor elements would certainly make for a fantastic ride experience. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much to erase the damage done by The Smiler, opting to not only match The Smiler's 14 inversion, but to actually top it by another four. While the publicity campaign to promote the ride is engaging, it's only going to re-enforce the notion that Alton Towers has serious safety issues with a major attraction.

Again, I want to thank you all for your continued support and dedication to TPA 7. Whoever proceeds forward, I wish you the best of luck! Who knows? Maybe you'll just end up being the next Theme Park Apprentice?

I'll go ahead and critique Douglas' entry as well, even though it's an un-official submission:

RIFT (Douglas Hindley):


1.) First of all, congratulations on what may be one of the most cohesive and awe-inspiring queues in all of themed design. Everything you've described is perfect and fits the mantra of, “show don't tell,” aptly. You've done a great job setting the stage for the attraction and what's waiting inside by preying on what Tony Baxter calls Mental Real Estate—those areas in our minds which house cultural ideas and signifiers. By setting up the queue as a warzone full of government activity you've already alerted the audience to what they already know—there's got to be some type of crazy alien or monster activity going on.
2.) Your queue and pre-show really set the stage for the action to come and put the guests in an uncomfortable mood (perfect for what they are about to experience).
3.) I have never heard of Cantilevered coasters before, but my word do they need to happen ASAP! This is by far one of the most unique ride systems I've ever seen and is something I hope we see soon! You're utilization of the ride system and your focus on theming and plot elements ensure that this type of system would see its capabilities pushed to its fullest! This is a dark ride vehicle through-and-through, with the added benefit of the speed and maneuverability of a coaster to boot!
4.) The ride experience sounds fantastic and the way you describe it is perfect. The line “Big thunder Mountain meets Aliens” is a perfect description.
5.) You have a great climax to a great ride!
6.) You really got the concept of the marketing campaign nailed down. The found footage would be a fantastic way to generate interest, as well as the Orson Welles-esque TV Spot. Good job on understanding the unique approach needed for the marketing of this attraction.


1.) To be honest, it's hard to find flaws with this proposal but there were a couple of things which stood out to me. Firstly, this would NOT be suitable for young children. Though the height requirement would deter many young kids from riding, I could even see some 10-12 year old children being frightened of this ride. While you've done a great job giving the indications that this is not for the faint of heart with the queue and pre-show, perhaps some signs or cast member interaction with younger guests would be beneficial
2.) Not really a 'con' per-se, but I noticed you have a heavy Lovecraft influence going on throughout the ride. I don't think Lovecraft has entered public domain quite yet, so you may be opening yourself up to some licensing and IP issues here.

Final Thoughts:

A fantastic attraction that not only acknowledges the parks already existent storylines, but expands and improves upon said storyline. You've got a top-knotch attraction here and one that would not only appeal to local guest, but would surely entice many international guests (such as myself) to check-out the one-of-a-kind attraction at Alton Towers even if I had no intention of visitng the Towers before. You've essentially created a Disney/Universal quality attraction using an entirely unique ride system! If Merlin could pull this off, it may be their first step in really getting on equal footing with the big two (Universal and Disney)!

August 16, 2015, 2:08 PM

Official Submissions

Tyler, Karina, and Brett, thank you for sticking with the competition and submitting an entry in this challenge. This was a very difficult challenge and you all did a great job. This is also a hard one to judge as all three of you have such different proposals. I would love to let all three of you rejoin the competition, but unfortunately only one can achieve redemption. Even if you do not get redeemed this time, I encourage you to continue following the competition and to try again next time.

Tyler (Steam): First off, be sure you know your facts. Smiler did not have a fatal crash, it had a serious accident which left two riders with life-altering injuries and seriously injured three others. Moving on, Steam is a great fit for the X-Sector (not X-Factor) and will fill the hole left in the park's lineup by Smiler's demise. The statistics sound about right for a B&M Wing Coaster and sound more impressive than those of Swarm. Your queue sounds well themed and very steampunk, a great setup for the ride. Given that Alton Towers is the most popular park in the United Kingdom, going with 6 car trains instead of more common 7 or 8 car trains is an interesting choice. The ride itself begins well, with a great first drop and an intense beginning. I like the use of tunnels and trenches to get around the park's height restrictions and enhance the feeling of a wing coaster. The entire layout sounds like a lot of fun and I'm sure this would be an enjoyable ride. Your marketing approach is interesting and unique, but flying a blimp around the park doesn't really seem effective. Presumably guests already know about the ride when they get to the park, so the blimp would be better utilized elsewhere (perhaps flown around London or other major cities). While your marketing definitely gives a reason to ride, it doesn't have the outrageous factor Merlin is known for.

You have designed a great roller coaster in a great environment and I am sure it would be an excellent thrill ride. However, your coaster lacks the extra dimension that Merlin (especially Alton Towers) has become known for. The Secret Weapons are known for introducing things that have never been done before and having some type of backstory, but your ride doesn't really do either of these. From your proposal, I didn't really pick up any type of story and, while the ride is certainly unique for a Wing Coaster, most of the tricks sound similar to what Nemesis does. It's not a bad ride by any means, but as a successor to the Smiler I could see a number of guests being underwhelmed. Put this at a Six Flags park and it would be a top attraction, but at Alton Towers it just doesn't stand out from the crowd.

Karina (The Final Defense): A medieval theme is a good fit for Alton Towers and allows a lot to play with when it comes to dark rides. Basing the storyline of your attraction off of a real historical event is also a smart strategy, especially when England has so much history. The queue for your attraction is great, though I wish you had incorporated the Towers (an authentic castle within the park) in some form. That said, it is understandable why you didn't. Your ride vehicles fit the theme and have an interesting gun system that could be difficult to use but is perfect for this attraction. However, seating only two people per car is going to lead to capacity issues, especially since 7 seconds is going to be a very difficult dispatch interval to achieve...most dark rides use 15-20 seconds. Beginning your ride with a practice scene will help with the likely difficulty of your shooting system and is a good choice. The following scenes are all good and have a nice progression of difficulty. I do like the fact that some targets take more than one hit to kill, but I'm curious how points will be assigned in that case. My main concerns with this attraction are that it seems to be really short for a 4 minute ride and that stopping for 30+ seconds at each scene will absolutely murder capacity. I'm not sure how many longbow stations are in each car or are in a scene at once, but if using vehicles similar to Toy Story Midway Mania (which would have two stations connected), you're looking at under 500 riders per hour. As for the length, with four scenes this seems like about a 2 minute ride, which is very short for a dark ride. For the marketing side, advertising that this is an interactive attraction is smart. However, don't make it sound like a ride...make it sound like guests are actually defending a castle during a siege. You also need something a little more creative than just digital advertisements...a traveling longbow competition with a prize of a free ticket to Alton Towers would be an excellent publicity stunt.

Replacing Smiler, a very intense roller coaster, with a family-friendly dark ride is a risky proposition. However, I think you have pulled it off well. Your dark ride is a great concept, it just needs more substance to be something guests would travel for. The Secret Weapons are always groundbreaking attractions that introduce something that hasn't been seen in the industry before. Your attraction does that with the unique shooting system, but unfortunately you've got issues with the length and the capacity. Fix these, and you've got an excellent interactive dark ride that is right at home in Alton Towers.

Brett (Area 51): Before Smiler, Alton Towers had an enclosed coaster called Black Hole that stood on the spot. I don't know a whole lot about that ride or how popular it was, but if it was a crowd pleaser a new indoor coaster is a great start. Continuing the Ministry of Joy story is risky given how closely it is associated with Smiler, but if done correctly it could work. Nobody currently makes stand-up coasters, so creating a new one is sure to be interesting. However, it may be safer to go with B&M for this ride as they are pretty much the authority on the coaster type. 18 inversions is possible but crazy, and I definitely see this being too intense for the average rider. That one ride per day limit proposed for Thirteen should probably be applied here. The queue for your attraction is good and the preshow is decent. I like that you've given your coaster a story even if it does remind me a bit of Flight of Fear. When it gets to the ride, however, I have serious issues. A 0-130 MPH launch in 3 seconds is insane, especially on a stand-up coaster, and LIM motors are not capable of that type of acceleration. Kingda Ka takes 3.5 seconds to reach 128 MPH and that is a very strong launch using hydraulics. Launching directly into a loop is also a recipe for disaster as the g-force at that speed would likely break rider's legs (and make them unconscious). I do like the theming during the ride, but it is just far too intense and would absolutely be dangerous without a g-suit and some very good bracing. Tone the launch speed down to 50-60 MPH and cut the inversions in half, however, and you'd have a very solid coaster. Your marketing approach is decent, though again it would be better to stage some type of publicity stunt (perhaps have a real alien abduction) for the attraction.

I see what you are going for, and the concept is a very good one. However, I just feel you went too extreme for this challenge and created an unrideable coaster. There are limits to what the human body can handle and this is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to roller coaster design. You can make a ride as fast as desired, as long as desired, as tall as desired, as twisted as desired, but only up to the point that g-forces remain safe. Unfortunately, whether intentionally or not, I think you've pitched the real life euthanasia coaster. Keep the theming and keep the story, but replace the coaster with a launched version of Riddler's Revenge, and you'd have a real winner.

Unofficial Submission

Douglas (Rift): I always think of Alton Towers as having extremely creative attractions that are ultimately a bit overhyped. You've definitely got the creative part, but I don't think it would be possible to overhype this one. I love your decision to tie your ride into the existing storyline behind the Nemesis attractions as this is something familiar to park visitors. The queue for your attraction is outstanding and would likely put any first-time rider on edge. The preshow for your attraction sets up the story nicely and is very fitting for this attraction. Your ride system concept is very interesting and would definitely make this a one-of-a-kind attraction. I don't think B&M is the right choice for manufacturer, however, and think you need to go with one of the more experimental manufacturers. The opening scene of your attraction is a great start and having a fake-out will provoke reactions from riders. Anyone who was not already nervous certainly will be at this point. The dark ride portion of your attraction sounds exciting, but it would be helpful to mix in a few animatronics with all the static props. Once the roller coaster begins, you've got a great family coaster in a very haunting environment, dramatically increasing the thrill level. This sounds very much like what Thirteen should have been. Once the Omnimorphs begin attacking everyone will be freaking out and the motion of the vehicle is perfect for this sequence. It would be nice to build up the destruction of the hive mind a bit more, however, as it does seem fairly sudden. The last roller coaster section may not be the most extreme ride ever built, but just due to the motion of the vehicle it should provide a very thrilling experience to rival the nearby Nemesis. Your method of promoting the attraction is great and is sure to catch the public's attention. Death Insurance also sounds like just the type of publicity stunt Merlin would attempt to pull.

It's a shame that there is no benefit to you in this challenge because your proposal is brilliant. You have created an attraction that will attract attention from not just the UK but from all over Europe and possibly beyond. While I have not personally visited Alton Towers, if I were given the choice to visit any single theme park anywhere in the world that is the one I would pick. An attraction like this would get me there even faster. I cannot think of any significant negatives of your attraction and I firmly believe this would be one of the top 10 attractions in the world (and probably the best not located at a Disney/Universal park). With proposals of this quality, I'm curious what you could have possibly done to get locked away in Theme Park Prison. Sneak a selfie stick through the metal detectors, perhaps?

Edited: August 16, 2015, 3:05 PM

James -
Actually, I considered that problem with the physical arrows too. They're actually plastic and stuck together and to the cars, so people couldn't use them. I only included them because it seemed somewhat appropriate to include a quiver in an archery ride.
Yes, Alton Castle and Alton Towers are two different things. I believe that there is an Alton Castle that was built before the Towers, and my ride is a replication of this (but the story isn't).
Blake and AJ -
I noticed the capacity issues with this ride too, and I was thinking that there would be 2 cars at each station at a time, which would hopefully improve that problem somewhat.
As for the length of the ride, I didn't want to make it longer because I felt that the riders would be spending at least 20 seconds at each station, with the training session, the castle intervals within each scene, and the final resolution scene at the end. Realistically, I actually think the ride would last around 2-3 minutes. I understand what you mean by the need for a variety of scenes - I tried to do that with the different objectives (shooting from a distance, shooting scalers, and fighting the warrior), but obviously that wasn't enough.
I wasn't completely aware that we needed a completely innovative marketing strategy. He mentioned that we needed to propose some marketing strategies to bring up the hype, but I did not anticipate that we needed to think of something completely new for this.
Anyways, I hope that somewhat cleared things up despite the fact that it won't affect the judging. Thank you to all the judges (including Chad) for spending the time to read through and critique my proposal!

Edited: August 16, 2015, 3:52 PM

Thanks everyone for throwing their hat in for this challenge. It has some unique issues that for me make it a more interesting challenge. I can honestly say I liked em all... Thats true even where my comments might seem a little negative. All of these would be worthy additions.


Tyler - Steam

Its good you’re showing us how you’ve improved, it proves you’re listening.

You’ve got a good wing coaster, there’s no doubt about that, but I think its missing something… If this challenge was just build a coaster, you’d have a solid entry.

But an important part of this challenge is to “Change the story” away from the slider, and on this part and only this part, I think it falls short. 5 Inversions is asking to be measured against what was there before... Your Signature element - the vertical drop - I’m not sure how valuable it is on a wing coaster, but even presuming it has an effect, I don’t think it plays well to excite people when Oblivion is just across the path.

One thing I will say however is I did like the idea of Retheming X-Factor to be Steampunky. I think if there’s one thing Tomorrowland proves is that whilst Sci Fi is certainly a worthy theming choice, its just a matter of time before it looks dated, whereas a “Retrofuture” (as a version of Fantasy) is forever. I think if you’d focused more on the Retheme and made that the “story” - come up with some reason why it has to retheme to it… Maybe when testing Secret Weapon 8 it caused some sort of catasrophie that created a field where a lot of eletronics don’t work (Oddly hand held devices are small enough not to be effected), and then you’re onto a winner.

The Blimp is a good idea, but not over the park - its a fair way from anywhere, and you’ve already got those people. Stick it over a nearby city or transport link instead.

Douglas - Rift

Your entry feels very Merlin… I like the idea of building into the “Nemesis” mythology.

I think a Cantilever coaster is an amazing concept, opening up a new type of experience and is perfec for a “Psychocoaster” experience… It allows so much immersion in the world created. It does perhaps limit the elements you can use trackwise, but this type of experience doesn’t need such cheap thrills.

Your marketing is also perfect. “Death Insurance” strikes me as very “Th13teen”, and I think fits in with the brand well.

The only thing I’m worried about is the visual footprint of a large show building, I’d like to have had some reassurance on what you’ll be doing to lessen that impact.


Karina - Final Defence

Good to see a non-coaster entry.

I like the idea of working in local history. Not sure about adding a new castle, but getting past that you’ve got an excellent themed dark ride. Using Longbows is a great touch.

Your story is very compelling, and I think this would be an excellent addition to the Alton Towers lineup. Going for a family ride, rather than a thrill ride will avoid comparison with the Smiler, and help change that story. However, I would have not used the “secret weapon” branding for this, as that has been reserved for coasters in the past… Fans of the park expecting something similar when they hear SW8 will likely be disapointed.

I’m glad you’ve addressed the conservation question, and you’ve done so thorughly and very well.

A very good entry and I can see a lot of improvement in your entries. I hate “blaster” rides, but I like the idea of this one. Your Artwork is amazing btw.

Brett - Area 51

Brett, I think your idea could have used a little more time in the oven, because you’ve got a kernel of an idea here that is brilliant - this minister of joy character.

I think if you’d developed this a bit more I think you would have hit more corners of the challenge. Make him an evil “KIlljoy” figure, and now you’ve got perhaps a new reason why the smiler was removed - The Minister of Joy hates smiles…. He’s instead dictated to the park they build something so scary, so frightening that you will break down in tears… I’ve forgotten about the accident, I’m now angry at the minister of joy for removing the ride.

I’m not entire sure how the MJ works into the Area 51 theme, why does the MJ have these artifacts? Surely thats the MoD’s remit? I know its part of the way the smiler was themed.. But I think theres more that can be done.

You’ve got some good in park marketing ideas… Its not clasifed for you I think is okay. Getting people to Volunteer now is certainly very Merlin-ish, and its great you’ve not left the kids out too.

I think you’ve got some good ideas, but I’m just not sure how well they work together.

August 16, 2015, 4:13 PM


Thank you again for those of you who participated in this challenge. All of you had great entries for what was a very difficult challenge. However, only one of you can win the prize of redemption. Now, here are the scores:

1st: Karina Bhattacharya - 32.5 points
2nd: Tie...Brett Angwin & Tyler Harris - 15 points

Congratulations, Karina! As the winner of the redemption challenge, you are eligible to return to the competition by submitting a proposal in Challenge 5, currently in progress. You will receive 17 points for each challenge you did not participate in, bringing your cumulative score to 60.4 points. However, remember that you are not immune. Should you come in last place in Challenge 5 or any future challenge, or should your cumulative score drop to last place in a double elimination challenge, you will once again be eliminated from the competition.

Brett & Tyler, unfortunately your shot at the title for Theme Park Apprentice 7 has come to an end. I would like to thank you both for playing and I hope you have enjoyed the experience. Feel free to continue playing as an unofficial competitor in order to improve your skills, and I hope that both of you will consider returning for future seasons. Both of you have a lot of potential and some great ideas, you just need to refine them in order to consistently submit outstanding proposals.

Douglas, you received a score of 37.5 points in this challenge. Had this been a regular challenge, you would likely have been the winner. Thank you for taking the time to submit an outstanding entry and I look forward to seeing more from you in the upcoming challenges.

For any further discussion of this challenge, please use the Chatter thread as this thread will not be regularly monitored beyond this point.

August 16, 2015, 4:27 PM

Thank you for the opportunity to compete. Can not wait until next time!

August 16, 2015, 4:56 PM

Glad to hear you say that, Brett! You're a good sport and a good competitor, and I know you and Tyler will bring lots of great things to future TPA competitions.

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