Alton Towers Resort has today re-opened its theme park, six days after the ‘dreadful incident’ which occurred on The Smiler last Tuesday.
A number of changes have taken place around the park, with the most obvious being the closure of X-Sector to allow for the investigations to continue, and Sonic Spinball being out of operation so that new safety protocols can be implemented on the ride. As guests made their way towards the main entrance on the monorail the first noticeable change was the removal of the audio which usually plays in the trains as you approach the entrance plaza. At this time, it is not known if or when this will be replaced. Nemesis, Air, Rita and Th13teen were all operating with two trains, with a train not being dispatched until the previous train had reached a complete stop on the end brake run, or in the case of Air, the previous train had arrived in the station (meaning that although Air was only operating two trains, it remained using dual station operation). The Towers Ruins have been closed to guests, which also means that the exit to Hex has been re-routed to the path it uses during Scarefest therefore ensuring guests are directed away from the Towers themselves. Staff across the park appeared to be handling things very well, making sure that all the guests enjoyed their day. Those entering the park today were also given free tickets to return on any day up until November 5th.
Across the resort all merchandise relating to The Smiler has been removed from sale with the only evidence remaining being The Smiler branded vinyls in Towers Trading indicating where the merchandise formerly resided, the space below is now occupied by Oblivion products. Over at the Alton Towers Hotel, The Smiler bedroom has been removed from sale and the two signs indicating the parking spaces for the room have been removed. All references to the ‘Big 6’ promotion have been removed from the park, indicating that the initiative has been discontinued. Family Scarefest posters were still on display around the park, however the more thrill orientated graphics, which heavily featured The Smiler, have been replaced – could this indicate a more family orientated Scarefest in light of recent events?
Throughout the closure of the theme park, the Resort’s accommodation and secondary attractions have remained open. Those guests who decided to visit the resort despite the closure of the theme park were given complimentary access to the Waterpark, Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest, and Extraordinary Golf, alongside an enhanced programme of entertainment running from 10am each day. Staff at the accommodation and secondary attractions went out of their way to ensure that all those staying had a fantastic stay.
Today has also seen the sad confirmation that one of the riders on the front row at the time of the incident, Leah Washington, has had to have her left leg amputated above the knee. The three other people on the front row are still being treated for what are described as ‘serious’ injuries, whilst one other person is also receiving hospital treatment.
Merlin entertainments have this evening issued the following statement:
“Since the accident of last Tuesday we have done our best to provide appropriate communication and support to those involved and to their families. We absolutely recognise what a difficult time this is for everyone, especially those who have been so seriously injured, and we have tried to do this in a way that is both sensitive and appropriate.
Over the course of the weekend we have written again to all of the 16 people involved or to their families. These letters were all hand delivered by Alton Towers representatives. Irrespective of the outcome of the current investigations into the causes of the accident, in these letters we have accepted full responsibility to those who had been injured in the accident and confirmed that we will ensure that compensation will be provided to them. We have recommended each of the injured guests or their families instruct a lawyer and submit a claim for compensation which we will ensure is dealt with swiftly and sensitively.
In addition we have engaged the services of Health and Case Management Ltd (HCML) – a leading firm of specialist independent rehabilitation providers – to provide all of those involved with the best support for their individual needs whether from the NHS or by providing additional support and services. HCML have already made contact with some of those affected in order to progress this.
Nick Varney, CEO Merlin Entertainments said: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Leah and all our thoughts are with her and her family. We cannot undo the events of last week but everyone in the company and at Alton Towers is determined to do all we can to provide appropriate support to those who were injured and their families.
Our thoughts continue to be with all those injured and affected by the incident on The Smiler last week. TowersTimes will continue to update you with the latest on developments from the Resort.
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