“I guess we can officially say thirteen is an unlucky number, right?”
Alton Towers have made a reputation of bringing us unique and exciting experiences over the years; with the famous B&M invert Nemesis (which is renown as one of the best rollercoasters in the world), the terrifying ‘Worlds First’ Vertical drop coaster Oblivion, and the elegant ‘Worlds First’ Flying coaster AIR. It’s clear to say Alton Towers is a B&M prototype haven. Sure, there’s a catch to these ‘Secret Weapons’, they all deliver something brand new to the world of Rollercoaster’s, and deliver these ingeniously. However the one distinguishing factor between those Secret Weapons and (albeit, the awkwardly named) Th13teen, is that they’re undoubtedly fantastic rollercoasters.
Back in 2008 saw the demolition of one of Alton Towers’ most iconic Rollercoasters; Corkscrew. Being many people’s first experience of an inverting coaster, it was a sad sight to see; Alton Towers had a lot of pressure on their back at that moment, so choosing a worthy replacement was vital. Around that time, plans for a ‘mid-sized’ Intamin sit-down coaster emerged, and began to spark serious debate across the internet. Speculation of an Intamin Mega-Lite was the highlight discussion between enthusiasts; and while a plausible possibility it seemed everyone was setting their hopes a little too high. So in a bid to replace the ever so once popular and precious classic Corkscrew, Th13teen was the result. Being as Corkscrew was the bridge between light thrills like Runaway Mine Train and the big boys such as Oblivion, it seemed only right to build something of the same calibre. While Th13teen succeeds in providing that middle-ground; unfortunately it feels a bit too watered down for the experienced riders. Which is disappointing since Intamin are renowned for giving their coasters room to breathe and keeping them stripped down of anything that would hinder that.
Th13teen was sadly a marketing disaster, the adverts presented us with what could be the most terrifying experience since Oblivion, on numerous articles they stressed ‘Th13teen wouldn’t come without a strict age restriction’, and that it is ‘The scariest attraction ever’. That being said, Alton Towers without a doubt succeeded in sucking in the crowds, but unfortunately created divided opinions between riders. Keeping fans hopes high, Th13teen was the first ‘Secret Weapon‘ since AIR, and a Secret Weapon couldn’t be without its secret ingredient. Here we have the ‘Worlds First Psychoaster’, it seems as if The Towers are running out of ideas, because there seems to be nothing really ‘Psycho‘ about it.
As you approach Th13teens eerie landscape, you’re introduced to the grotty setting of ‘Dark Forest’. The queue line, whilst riddled with cattle pens, provides a chilling atmosphere due to its ambient soundtrack and creepy sound effects such as screams, creaking trees and a countdown. The concept behind Th13teen brings a lot of mystery, and is rather effective, especially if you’re going to single-ride. The visual theming is where Th13teen really shines, Alton Towers have done a brilliant job with the exterior of the station, and the natural scenery of Dark Forest gives it that Blair Witch style setting. As you enter the indoor part of the queue, things begin to get even more interesting; the passage is dark and claustrophobic leading to even the bravest of riders soiling their pants. This is not a family ride. Or is it?
John Wardley who is responsible for the twisted beautiful mess that is Nemesis, was also involved with Th13teen, unfortunately in comparison we are left meandering with one of the weakest layouts I’ve rode to date. As you crest the top of the 65 foot lift hill, the descent starts off nicely, however all potential air-time is murdered by a never ending pattern of trims, and then you slowly make your way through pointless twists, turns and wasted airtime hill until you reach the highlight moment of the attraction. While the outdoor section is lacklustre I do appreciate the smoothness and sense of speed (41mph for a ‘family’ coaster is pretty fast!). From here, you’re left in the dark to drop suddenly simulating that of a small drop tower, which gives a brief pop of air-time. This element whilst somewhat gimmicky is a worlds first, and I can’t help but appreciate that. You’re then brought to a backwards section which is a fairly nice touch I thought, but don’t be expecting Universals Revenge of The Mummy!
As a family coaster, Th13teen delivers a smooth and rather enjoyable experience, but on paper, it fails many aspects. For a park respected for its excellent consistency of rollercoasters, Th13teen is quite a disappointment, and it’s a shame. It will still manage to clock up a huge queue line, but is hardly worth a 30 minute wait unless you’re with younger guests, or just want a ride more on the tame side. One and three; unlucky for some, Th13teen.