Corkscrew was installed in 1980 by John Broome, at the time becoming Alton Towers’ biggest ride and Europe’s first double ‘corkscrew coaster’.
The ride started with a slow climbing lift hill, painted green to camouflage it with the surrounding treetops – similar to the top of Rita’s hills.
Once at the top the red carriages turned around 180 degrees in a small dip, offering spectacular views across the Staffordshire Moorlands. After another drop and turn the carriages were descended through two consecutive corkscrews, turning riders upside down twice.
A flash for the on-ride photo and then several helixes and turns led the ride into the final brake run and back to the station.
Corkscrew was originally set to open in 1979 before being delayed to the following year. However, that didn’t stop it becoming an incredibly successful investment for Alton Towers and one which reinvigorated the UK amusement park industry. The ride’s opening saw Alton Towers shift from a pay per ride scheme to one which charged guests a single entry price which gave access to all of the park’s attractions.
For years it sat unthemed in Talbot Centre and Festival Park, until Ug Land opened in 1999. When it was re-themed, not much was done to the ride, however the cars were repainted, the queue was diverted and the surroundings were rethemed. In 2005 and because of Rita – Queen Of Speed opening right next to it, Corkscrew received a new paint job, but remained its classic yellow, and the queue lines were yet again moved to intertwine with Rita’s. The main change though was its entrance being moved to the far end of Ug Land where the Boneshaker had once stood.
In its later years the ride was quite rough, though this seemed to vary day by day, and indeed in its last days of operation it offered up some of the most gloriously smooth rides many of its riders had ever experienced upon it. Towards the end of 2008 it became apparent that the ride was coming to the end of its life and the park had taken the tough decision to remove the iconic ride that was what had originally put Alton Towers on the theme park map.
TH13TEEN (Secret Weapon 6) opened on Corkscrew’s former site in 2010, however the ride’s iconic corkscrews returned to the park, standing in the entrance plaza as a monument to a rollercoaster which played such a critical role in Alton Towers’ development.