Guests who aren’t keen to trek between the car parks and theme park entrance can climb aboard the Monorail! As well as getting to save your legs for the rest of the day, the journey also provides views of the theme park’s attractions.
With stations at both the main car parks and theme park entrance, guests can board the Monorail at either end. The queuelines begin at ground level before ascending a number of slopes which take guests up to the platform. Guests are required to wait at the end of the queueline until a train has entered and stopped in the station. The doors will then slide open and guests will be directed to climb aboard. Once all guests are safely in their seats the doors close and the journey begins. For the duration of the journey an audio track is played into the carriages, which also informs guests of things such as the Resort’s seasonal events.
When travelling from the car parks to the theme park entrance, the first part of the journey takes you over the car parks themselves, before entering Forbidden Valley. Here the Monorail travels over the tracks of Galactica and Nemesis, as well as providing views of the rest of the area’s attractions.
After passing the Monorail’s maintenance area, guests are transported through Gloomy Wood, which provides a good view of Duel – The Haunted House Strikes Back. The next area on the journey is Katanga Canyon, where the Congo River Rapids flow beneath two sections of the Monorail’s route and the Runaway Mine Train can be seen off to the right.
The final portion of the journey sees guests travel over the coach car parks, before turning around above the theme park entrance plaza and entering the Towers Street station. Once the train has come to a stop, the doors, on the opposite side to which you entered, open, with guests exiting the station on the side of the entrance plaza that’s opposite the turnstiles.
The return journey from the theme park entrance to the car parks is pretty much the same but in reverse, with the two directions of track side-by-side for almost the entirety of the route.
All of the Monorail’s trains have been given a unique theme, with the following trains currently in operation:
- Splash Landings – Take a relaxed trip to Alton Towers on this totally tropical train. Why let the Caribbean vibe end at the doors of Splash Landings Hotel, when you can take it all the way to the park entrance?
- Mutiny Bay – Climb aboard Captain Black’s fine vessel and sail into the park in style. While the Pirates of Mutiny Bay may have set sail for new waters, Captain Black still has a few pearls of wisdom to impart about the Resort.
- Explorer – Let Alton Towers’ very own explorer, Sir Algenon, guide you through some of the wondrous jewels the resort has to offer. Sir Algenon’s certainly the man to ask, having filled Alton Towers Hotel with many of the gems from his own private collection.
- Moo-norail – For a slightly more sedate ride, why not jump onto Gertrude, the park’s very own people moo-ver. Don’t worry, she’s recently won best in show, so feel free to milk her for information about the resort.
- Celebration – Crack out your balloons and streamers and enter the resort in style on this veritable conga line of a train. After all the excitement never ends at Alton Towers, so why not start the party as soon as you get out of your car?
- Jelly Bean Train – For the sweetest journey into the park, why not hop on board this veritable sweetshop on wheels. Meanwhile on your journey you’ll receive a veritable pick and mix of information about the resort and its attractions.
- Strawberry Train – You’ve heard of going to hell in a hand basket, well now you can travel to fun in a fruit basket. This train is packed full of natural goodness and whilst at Wimbledon it’s the balls that fly back and forth, at Alton Towers it’s the Strawberries zooming back and forth from the car parks.
- The Fish Bowl – Climb aboard your very own roving aquarium. Whilst Sharkbait Reef gives the ultimate underwater experience, this train, bubbling with information about the park’s latest attraction, let’s you take a glimpse from inside a fish bowl.
The Monorail was installed in 1987, a year after Towers Street was constructed. The car parks were originally located just outside the main entrance, where Towers Street is today, but the new car park built in 1986 was almost a mile away. In the season before the Monorail opened, guests therefore had the choice of taking a free bus or walking the distance.
During the height of the visitor season, each of the 40m-long trains may have to carry up to 4800 people per hour along the site’s 3.2km of monorail track. Each of the trains, was originally imported from Canada, and powered by eight 12.3kW electric motors.
Up until 2001, the system was controlled by analogue converters which had been reliable for a long time, but nothing lasts forever and they were starting to suffer breakdowns. In 2002 the old analogue converter was replaced with the latest digital drive technology (ABB’s DCS 500), which gave the Monorail more accurate torque and speed control, offering better reliability. In fact, Oblivion uses the same ABB-manufactured system!
During the 2008 season the Monorail said good bye to the grey trains it had operated with since its opening. One by one, the entire fleet was rethemed around different aspects of Alton Towers Resort, introducing much more colour to the Park’s transportation system. In the years since then, the following trains have been removed from service:
- Daisy Train – It was a bug’s life aboard this fresh and friendly train, as guests were introduced to the resort from an insect’s point of view. It turned out it wasn’t just humans that enjoy Alton Towers, with this train always buzzing with excitement!