The Beast is another of Alton Towers’ iconic rollercoasters, being marketed as the largest rollercoaster in the UK when it opened back in the late 1980s.
The journey for 12 people began with a 14 metre spiral lift. Once at the top, riders only had a few seconds to look around before they dropped down the steep hill, with the first corner at the bottom of the drop exerting a massive 4G on riders, the same as Nemesis!
The car then proceeded around the rest of the 560 metre track, through many corners, turns and helixes. The actual ride was a Schwarzkopf Jetstar III and at one time was said to have the steepest drop in Britain.
In 1988 Alton Towers installed The Alton Beast in an area of the park which was located behind Talbot Street. The Alton Beast remained there for 4 years, the track painted green, before being relocated to Thunder Valley and renamed The New Beast in 1992 with the track now painted red.
It stood in Thunder Valley until the end of the 1997 season when it was removed to make space for Alton Towers’ next big rollercoaster which eventually arrived in 2002 – Air.
Its departure from Alton Towers didn’t mark the end of the ride’s life however, as it operated for some time as Space Mountain at Divertido in Mexico until the park’s closure in 2004. Most recently it has reappeared at Salitre Magico in Colombia, where it has operated as Tornado since 2010.
Were the Beast and the Black Hole the same ride?
The simply answer is no.
This misunderstanding comes from the fact the two rides are very similar in design, and at a casual glance it would be fair to assume they are identical, though they are not. The similarities came about because the two rides come from the same series of rides from Schwarzkopf, the Jetstar series.
The Black Hole, the older of the two, was also the smaller of the two models, being a Jetstar II. The Beast on the other hand was a Jetstar III, the main difference being a extra tier on the spiral lift hill, which made the ride taller than the earlier model and also allowed for an extra drop in the ride.
As the rides were similar models they shared many similar parts, such as the coaster trains, which were near identical. When the Beast arrived at Alton Towers it was second hand and came with no trains. It’s arrival also coincided with the upgrade of the Black Hole for 1988, and because of this the park decided to run the old Black Hole cars on the Beast and purchase brand new trains for the more high profile Black Hole.
If more proof were needed that the two rides were not the same the footprint taken up by the Beast was significantly larger then that of the Black Hole. This, combined with the addition height means that it would be impossible for the Beast to fit into the tent which contained the Black Hole for the duration of its life.
Was the Alton Beast the same ride as the New Beast?
There is a popular story that when the Alton Beast went back to the manufacturer to be refurbished into the New Beast it was in fact traded for another Jetstar III, which the factory had recently finished refurbishing.
Alton Towers staff who worked on both the Alton Beast and the New Beast know this not to be the case, as weld marks added to the Alton Beast during maintenance of the ride at the Towers were still present on the New Beast when it returned to the park in 1992.
The main changes to the ride were that it had received new trains as well as receiving a new and much brighter paint job.