The attraction opened in April 2006 and followed the well-known book by Roald Dahl, with the theming based on the illustrations of Quentin Blake. The attraction included a boat ride around the factory, following the fates of Verruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teevee, before guests got to step into the Great Glass Elevator!
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Manufacturer: Mack Rides
Ride Type: Water Dark Ride
Cost: £8 million
Duration: 10 mins
Capacity per boat: 9
Capacity per hour: 1000
Opening Year: 2006 (1st April)
Closing Year: 2015 (8th November)
The smell of chocolate caressed guests’ senses as they entered the factory and watched a short animated video of Willy Wonka welcoming them to his factory. After being introduced to the characters they would meet during their tour, guests made their way to the loading bay to climb aboard the boat on the chocolate river.
Guests traveled through various areas styled to Quentin Blake’s illustrations, such as Augustus Gloop being sucked up the pipe, Violet Beauregarde turning into a blueberry, not forgetting the legendary Oompa Loompas and Verruca Salt being removed by the squirrels for being a “bad nut”. Shortly before reaching the disembarking point guests entered the TV room which looked in on the shrinking room, where they witnessed Mike Teevee being shrunk.
Guests were then directed by Mr Wonka through into one of two Great Glass Elevators, and congratulated for making it so far through the factory. Guests were advised by Mr Wonka to hold on tight to the handrails that were positioned around the room, before he asked Charlie to press any button he wanted to. When the lift sprang to life, guests would venture into unexplored areas of the factory. The floor moved and shaked with the twists and turns of the lift, as the elevator ascended the stairs, before landing in a huge vat of chocolate. Mr Wonka then pressed a button he had always wanted to try, causing the elevator to rocket towards the sky and smash through the roof, before plummeting back to Earth, where the ride began. The clever use of CGI that surrounded the lift made this an enjoyable climax to the attraction.
Guests would then exit the elevator and walk down a short corridor before emerging back outside in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
In 1981, the attraction initially opened as Around the World in Eighty Days, which followed the adventures of Phileas Fogg and his trip around the world. The boat ride took guests through exciting scenes, with each one set in a different country or city, including Holland, the UK, Burma, Egypt and the USA just to name but a few.
This ride was popular in its time, however as Talbot Street became The Land of Make Believe for the 1994 season, the ride was rethemed to Toyland Tours. The ‘Around the World’ scenes became that of a toy factory, but still followed the same route as its previous incarnation. The same ride system remained for its 2006 retheme into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride, although there was the notable addition of two Great Glass Elevator simulators which provided the attraction with a new finale.
The attraction last operated during the 2015 season, since remaining SBNO with all indicators pointing to its permanent closure.