Haunted Attraction Planned!
Wood and the Haunted House within were the brain child of the
themetastic ride designer John Wardley. He believed that there
was a need to create and ultimate dark ride which would exceed
anything seen in the UK and Europe before. Alton Towers and
the Tussauds Group gave him the platform and opportunity to
develop his creativity and ideas further.
1990 - 1991
John Wardley prepared detailed plans and conceptual ideas during
this time period. He considered the needs of the public and
the park and tried to come up with a happy medium. After showing
his plans to the Alton Towers board and receiving the go ahead
and most importantly a budget he proceeded to put his plans
and thoughts forward to someone who had further knowledge about
staging dark ride attractions - that person was Keith Sparks
of Sparks Creative Services.
gathered his plans and ideas and called upon the collective
opinions of Sparks Creative Services. Ideas were discussed and
thrashed out at several meetings where ideas were designed and
redesigned until at last the final plans were set. The ride
went through many different changes whilst on the drawing board;
initially John Wardley had no intention of creating a graveyard;
instead he favored a watery swamp with its own watery sound
effects. Thankfully at a later meeting the swamp area was rejected
and the swamp didn't get taken forward to the final draft, and
Gloomy Wood cemetery arose from the ground. The cemetery and
its gravestones with poetic dark humor grew to become one of
the best themed external queue areas at Alton.
Wood was to become a self sufficient area between Katanga Canyon
and Thunder Valley, with an attached walk-through shop, called
'Something Sinister'; a food kiosk aptly named 'Wicked Things';
originally planned to be an open sided games station alas this
idea was redesigned and the food kiosk was developed. Gloomy
wood also had its own toilets and phone station.. One of the
original plans showed the toilets under the house facade which
would be accessed from under the tower near the shop.
final design was much more than the original concept John Wardley
had planned for. Wardley and Sparks Creative Services created
a monster of a ride. Based upon gothic architecture and Hammer
horror, and the ride awoke like Frankenstein's Monster on the
31st March 1992.
construction of the Haunted House took just under 18 months
and was introduced to the park for the 1992 season. The ride
area is equal to that of two football pitches and most of this
is covered by a warehouse-style building that is cleverly disguised
by the frontage of the abandoned gothic house.
house is built using a combination of steel, timber, brick and
concrete block work which is covered with a sand and cement
render finished in an aged stonework effect.
vast ride transit system was developed and produced by a German
company called Mack rides. They designed the cars and the complex
fin track system, which allows the car to speed up and slow
down depending upon the fin contact between car and rails. The
cars have an onboard computer system that communicate between
the ride station control room, other cars and blocks that were
connected to the fin track. Each car reportedly cost Alton Towers
eighteen thousand pounds, of which there were 34, so this was
a dark ride with a high budget and even higher expectations.
construction went well and things ran to time, with the ride
being promoted for the new 1992 season.
in a dell surrounded by skeletal trees the lonely house stood
in a state of decay. Just waiting....
opened in March 1992 by such celebrities as Philip Schofield
and Michaela Strachan, the Haunted House and the Runaway Mine
Train were met with great approval from the paying public and
was promoted by Alton as a flagship rides for the park..
during the 1992 season the ride was inspected and it was thought
that the effects were relying too much on blacklighting and
the effects were not haunting enough. Some areas were given
paint jobs and UV paint was recovered using tungsten paint and
UV lights were replaced using tungsten lighting and gels. Such
scenes to get this change included the giant and giants fingers,
the hall of spiders and the sinister garden.
Trommel had falling masonry added to the opening of the tunnel.The
Giant sequence had a new paint job, plus the window of the giants
face was glazed and relit. The grabbing fingers were also repainted
but by June of 1992 their fate had been sealed and new masks
were commissioned to change the fingers into demons. The hall
of spiders was ordered to be repainted this also included the
large spider effect. Also some additional lighting was added.
It was thought that the large spider wasn't hidden well enough
and some columns were also created to to block the effect from
being seen when the carriage first entered the spider area.
The ghost corridor was a major concern at this particular time
and a lot of work was needed to get the ghost to reset and release
in time for the next car. By the end of the year, after a lot
of hard work to save the ghost corridor it was decided that
the effect just wasn't reliable and the whole corridor was to
be rethemed and Electric Bill and his skeleton friends where
installed. This also included adding new sounds and lights.
screaming room was also in need of change and that included
new heads and the repositioning of the Tiger monster who originated
from the haunted house swamp. The tiger effect was causing problems
in its original position and needed a new home. It was then
moved to the screaming room where it resides to this day. A
new effect was added to the areas created by the relocation
of the tiger monster this effect was the Ghoul teacher or better
known as the screaming witch. Another effect to disappear within
the first year was that of the mythical swamp creature. Removed
due to mechanical failure.
the years effects came and went and scenes changed, some people
thought for the better others the worse.
the haunted house and the runaway train rides had cost Alton
Towers over 6.5 million pounds to bring to life. The Haunted
House became a firm favorite with park employees and guests
alike. However, over the years the ride became worn and integral
effects failed, causing the rider numbers to diminish and a
revamp was ordered for the 2003 season. In 2003 the interactive
Duel ride was opened and with the new title came the strapline,'The
Haunted House Strikes back'.
Zombies were the new residents at the house and with them came
the laser guns.