Thirteen (roller coaster)

Last updated

Thirteen-Alton towers.jpg
Entrance to Thirteen
Alton Towers
Location Alton Towers
Park section Dark Forest
Coordinates 52°59′05″N1°53′26″W / 52.984701°N 1.890421°W / 52.984701; -1.890421 Coordinates: 52°59′05″N1°53′26″W / 52.984701°N 1.890421°W / 52.984701; -1.890421
Opening date20 March 2010
Cost£15,000,000 [1]
Replaced Corkscrew
General statistics
Type Steel
Manufacturer Intamin
ModelMulti Dimension Coaster
Lift/launch system Drive tire lift hill
Height65.6 ft (20.0 m)
Drop60 ft (18 m)
Length2,480 ft (760 m)
Speed42 mph (68 km/h)
Inversions 0
Capacity1,400 riders per hour
G-force 3.2
Restraint StyleLap bar
Height restriction47.3–77.2 [2]  in (120–196 cm)
Trains3 trains with 5 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 20 riders per train.
AltonTowersFastTrack.svg Fastrack available
Pictures of TH13TEEN at RCDB

Thirteen (officially stylised as TH13TEEN) is a steel roller coaster at Alton Towers in England. The ride was constructed by Intamin and opened on 20 March 2010. It is the world's first vertical freefall drop roller coaster, on which the track and train freefall approximately five metres in darkness. [3] The ride replaced and is built on the former site of the Corkscrew, which resided at Alton Towers for 28 years between 1980 and 2008. [4]


Development history

Thirteen under construction in October 2009 Secret Weapon 6 - construction phase.jpg
Thirteen under construction in October 2009

Alton Towers first revealed their plans for the ride in October 2008 when it was announced that Corkscrew would be removed. Planning permission was initially delayed due to concerns about an Iron Age hill fort in its vicinity. [5] However, in March 2009, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council accepted planning permission for the ride (with conditions) and groundwork construction commenced about three months later. During the planning stages and construction, the ride was codenamed Secret Weapon 6. [6]

John Wardley, a ride consultant for Merlin Entertainments, spoke about the development of Thirteen in an interview shortly after the ride's opening. The initial idea for the secret element originated from a previous rollercoaster plan that he designed for Alton Towers, in which a piece of track tilted back and forth during the ride. The ride, if it had been built, would have been similar to Winjas Fear and Force at Phantasialand, Germany. [7]

The ageing Corkscrew roller coaster was removed ahead of the new ride's development. The coaster model was decided as an Intamin family coaster, chosen for the lightweight trains to perform the vertical drop element.

The concept and theme was designed by Merlin Magic Making (MMM). The Alton Towers marketing team made an effort to keep the "world's first" element secret so that the surprise feature would not be revealed until the ride was opened. In 2008, concept art showing possible themes for the new ride were leaked online but only appeared briefly after they were deleted at Alton Towers' command. [8]

In a press statement that was released several months after construction started, the ride was promoted as a 'psychoaster' and was said to create a level of psychological fear. [9] [10] [11]

Some of Thirteen's theming Thirteen theming 1.jpg
Some of Thirteen's theming

Various phrases and slogans were used to promote the ride. In August, a banner was erected next to the construction site on 8 October reading: "Ride into the Unknown". Alton Towers released a new marketing campaign later inviting readers to "Ride the Demon of the Dark Forest" and "Surrender in March 2010". [12] However, neither of these campaigns expressly revealed the name of the new ride. The attraction's name was officially announced as Thirteen on 11 December 2009 through a press release. The ride's main slogan was used after: "If you go down to the woods today, you'd better not go alone."

During the park's 2009 Scarefest, hooded wraiths were seen roaming around the Ug Land area in the build-up to the new ride. Warning signs were put up explaining their appearance was linked to "next year's new ride".

The resort has also used viral marketing through social-networking websites to promote the ride. Alton Towers released many online and television teaser videos in the run up to the opening of the ride. These included a video of a truck supposedly delivering the "secret weapon", and three promotional blipverts which featured a possessed girl walking in a forest. The full adverts were released before opening day, with a pre-watershed and post-watershed version. The advertisement to be shown after 9 pm included the same girl seen in previous videos being entangled by moving branches as she whispered: "If you go down to the woods today, you'd better not go alone... 13". The advert also uses a short but 'darker' version of the Alton Towers theme music (Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King).


An early press release initially stated that thirteen - deemed to be the scariest rollercoaster ever created (with a world's first element) would require a signed waiver of liability just to ride. They also said there would be an age restriction of 16–55 years old allowed on. This however was only a marketing ploy and there were no age limits or other restrictions put in place, aside from the height restrictions: riders must be over 1.2 metres and under 1.96 metres to ride. [13]

On 22 July 2010, Alton Towers announced on their Facebook page that Thirteen would be closed on Friday 13 August 2010, because of superstitious reasons. Morwenna Angove, Head of Marketing at the Resort, stated: "Our research has revealed that Britons are a seriously superstitious bunch, and as our latest ride is named after the unluckiest of numbers, we've taken the decision to close that ride on Friday 13 to reassure our visitors." [14] It was later revealed that the ride was to be renamed 'Fourteen' (stylized as FOU13TEEN) throughout Friday 13 August 2010 instead of closing. New limited merchandise was available during the day featuring the 'Fourteen' name. Most signage to the ride was temporarily changed to feature the new name.

Ride experience

One of the ride's trains exiting the station Thirteen train 1.jpg
One of the ride's trains exiting the station

The ride starts with a sharp, unbanked left turn out of the station into a 60-foot (18 m) lift hill up to the main drop, which sends the train speeding into woodland at up to 41 mph. [15] Thirteen's track layout performs many airtime hills (limited by the many trim brakes on the layout) and banked turns, before entering a second lift hill which leads into a dark crypt where the surprise element takes place. Sections of the outdoor track have been fitted with speed-reducing devices due to early problems with the ride entering its second lift hill too quickly.

The entry door is closed behind the train as it comes to a halt and the sound of creaking wood is heard. Suddenly, the lights go out and the train jolts, before the track and train freefall drop around 5 metres.[ citation needed ] A wraith figure is illuminated in front of the train and compressed air blasts towards riders. The train is propelled backwards out of the crypt, drops in height and proceeds into a disorienting backwards helix.

The train emerges from the darkness and stops behind a transfer track, which switches the path of the train back towards the station before the train is propelled forwards and arrives at the offload platform. [16]

'World's First' element

Since the project was announced in late 2008, the ride was confirmed to join the growing line of world first rides at Alton Towers. It was confirmed that the well-kept 'secret weapon' element would take place in the showroom section, a building next to the station. It was revealed on 17 March 2010, that the ride is the "world's first free-fall drop roller coaster". This was shown on GMTV, on a special feature about Thirteen and also had an on-ride video of some of the first riders. [17] A view of the ride was also shown on Central Tonight, and shows the freefall section in brighter lighting than GMTV had shown earlier on in the day. [18] This surprise sequence consists of a horizontal section of track, on which the train stops, which freefalls downwards, making Thirteen the world's first vertical free-fall roller coaster. [19]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alton Towers</span> British Theme Park

Alton Towers Resort is a theme park and resort complex in Staffordshire, England, near the village of Alton. The park is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group and incorporates a theme park, water park, spa, mini golf and hotel complex.

Roller coaster inversion Roller coaster element

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingda Ka</span> Roller coaster

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Intamin</span> Swiss design and manufacturing company

Intamin Amusement Rides is a design and manufacturing company in Schaan, Liechtenstein. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The Intamin brand name is a syllabic abbreviation for "international amusement installations". The company has offices throughout the world, including three in Europe, three in Asia, and two in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spinning roller coaster</span> Type of roller coaster

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Rita (roller coaster) Steel launched roller coaster

Rita, formerly known as Rita: Queen of Speed, is a launched roller coaster located in the Dark Forest section of Alton Towers amusement park in Staffordshire Moorlands, England. Designed by Intamin, the Accelerator Coaster model opened to the public on 1 April 2005. It features an acceleration from 0 to 98.3 km/h (61.1 mph) in 2.5 seconds. The ride is loosely-themed to a drag racing concept, which partly changed when the section of the park transformed from "Ug Land" into the "Dark Forest" in 2010, when the ride TH13TEEN was added into that section. It is now themed as an abandoned drag racer that is used as the escape cart to escape the Dark Forest.

Nemesis (roller coaster) Steel inverted roller coaster

Nemesis is an inverted roller coaster located at the Alton Towers theme park in England. It opened to the public on March 19, 1994. The ride was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard and designed by Werner Stengel, in collaboration with attraction developer John Wardley. It is located in the Forbidden Valley area of the park, adjacent to Galactica and The Blade attractions.

Colossus (Thorpe Park) Steel multi-inversion roller coaster

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Galactica (roller coaster) Steel flying roller coaster

Galactica is a flying roller coaster located in the Forbidden Valley area of Alton Towers amusement park in Staffordshire, England and is the first flying coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. Guests ride in a prone position and experience the feeling of flight by "flying" close to the ground, under footpaths, and narrowly past trees and rocks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spinball Whizzer</span> Steel spinning roller coaster

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Corkscrew (Alton Towers) Defunct roller coaster

Corkscrew was a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers theme park, near Alton in the English shire county of Staffordshire, United Kingdom. Corkscrew was manufactured for Alton Towers by Dutch company Vekoma, engineered by Werner Stengel of German Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH. The coaster was located in the Ug Land area, formerly called Talbot Centre. It was the theme park's oldest ride and is considered the greatest factor in promoting the new theme park to the British public. It was one of the first double-inverting coasters in England, and it was well received publicly in the 1980s.

<i>Nemesis Inferno</i> Steel inverted roller coaster

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Black Hole (roller coaster) Defunct roller coaster

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Wicker Man (roller coaster) Wooden roller coaster

Wicker Man is a wooden roller coaster at Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. Manufactured by Great Coasters International, the £16-million ride opened to the public on 20 March 2018 following a three-day weather delay. It set several milestones among wooden coasters including the first to be built in the UK in 22 years and the first to incorporate fire. Initially codenamed "Secret Weapon 8", a traditional naming scheme for major upcoming projects at Alton Towers, its official name was revealed in January 2018.

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  6. Planning Permission, 13 March 2009, retrieved 14 December 2009
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  8. Leaked concept art, 11 July 2008, archived from the original on 5 March 2009, retrieved 22 April 2010
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