In 2007, Alton Towers went ‘Dung-Ho’ with the opening of an adventure playground for younger children themed around the peculiarly British, and eternally fascinating, topic of ‘dung’. Interactive play areas included a Spider ‘Springy Cobweb Climbing zone’, a ‘Creepy Crawly Basharound’, Toxic Bog ‘Toadstool Boingupons’ and a Mushroom maze! Kids could also join in the Bug Chorus in the Soil Albug Hall, zip along on a silken zip wire, spring across a bog and even become a conductor in the trash can symphony, while parents watched from the trunk of a beanstalk.
The Dung Heap was set to take up the old paddocks by the Riverbank Eye-Spy, though currently it was more like a mud heap by the first bend. From the Riverbank Eye-Spy bridge you could see over the duck pond to the middle of the construction site. The site stretched all the way to the other end of the farm alongside the big top, near the windmill.
Old MacDonald had a Dung Heap – E-I-E-I-O – and on that Dung Heap he had a Digger! E-I-E-I-O with a… umm… well a digger noise really. But what’s that over there? Behind a pile of dirt we could see one of the old animal shelters which used to sit in the paddock which was now becoming home to the Dung Heap. A crane was also on-site, lifting into place the first piece of the playground – the Dung Heap had gone vertical!
Just three days later and the framework for the first structure on the site was up. The building was quite a dominant feature, pictured below sticking out above the sheep paddock on the Riverbank Eye-Spy. It was also visible over the duck pond in the middle of the Riverbank Eye-Spy. Meanwhile, in the middle of the site, we could get an overview of what the playground would be like in a few months’ time, with it now possible to see the far edges of the attraction, giving an idea of the size. Peeking though the Riverbank Eye-Spy fence, we could also see some of the construction rubbish waiting to be taken away.
As the 2007 season begun, this was the best time to get construction shots of the Dung heap from Riverbank Eye Spy. The Springy Cob-Web Climbing Zone was now up. Beyond could be seen a play area, which looked to be aimed at younger kids, complete with a small slide and balance beams. In front of the climbing frame was the new Silken Zip Wire, running almost the entire length of the playground. By the entrance of the Dung Heap the structure seen in earlier shots had now begun to be themed – looking like a giant ant hill, this appeared to be Soil Albug Hall.
With the season underway, the Resort had begun advertising the new play area. As the piles of earth started to subside, the old animal houses started to emerge once again. The central climbing frame looked to be completed, but there still seemed to be two smaller frame which weren’t yet finished. Fencing had started to go up to separate off the different areas. Work had forged on with the Soil Albug Hall, with flies now buzzing around its roof – the structure just needed painting now. However, with lots of work still to be done around the site, it didn’t look like it would be completed for the 28th…
The sun rose over the Dung Heap on its opening day, but was it finished? Rather disappointingly, inside the ‘Soil Albug Hall’ there was no sign of the ‘Bug Chorus’ or the ‘trash can symphony’, only an interactive bug mat (which at this early stage wasn’t so interactive). The Mushroom Maze was looking more akin to a queue line than an attraction in its own right, and the central viewing plaza was clearly unfinished, with the old Adventure Land benches in situ, not really fitting in with anything around them. However, the play equipment itself was all in place and open to the public, including the Cobweb Capers climbing frame.