For just over a decade, guests could travel back in time to the land where fun began and take part in the Thunder Rock Rally down in Ug Land.
This was area of the park that started Alton Towers’ transformation into the theme park we see today back when the Corkscrew was added in 1980. Back then the area was known as the Talbot Centre and besides the coaster there were few attractions, mainly aimed at children.
The area quickly became one of the ‘thrill’ areas of the park with the addition of several flat rides some of which can still be found in the park today, such as Enterprise or Twirling Toadstool (known then as the Wave Swinger). During this period from 1984 the area was known as Festival Park, and it remained one of the more fast paced areas of the park until in 1999 when it was re-themed into Ug Land.
The central attraction of Ug Land was the suitably aged Corkscrew, the lumbering beast that had been at the park from the very beginning. The coaster was surrounded by a good selection of other stone age attractions such as Dino Dancer, Ug Swinger and Ug Bugs, alongside the area’s only entirely new attraction, the pay per play Soakasaurus.
For any cavefolk wanting to take a little time out from the boneshaking fun, they could get a great range of food from the kiosks at Bronto Bites and Swee-T-Rex shop, or win a prize on one of Ug Land’s many sideshows, including classics such as the Dino Derby, Ug Mobiles or the Rock Shot with its insanely catchy theme tune. Of course Ug Land would not have been complete without the unique entertainment of the Ug Family with their Ug Fire Brigade, who could often be found performing amongst the jumping fountains which surrounded the tree house at the centre of the area.
Like a fossil, Ug Land only changed a little over its early years, with the arrival of the Boneshaker in replacement of the Dino Dancer, Sweet-T-Rex changing from a shop into a kiosk and the Ug Family show making way for a Shooting Gallery. However overall the area’s caveman charms remained in its full glory until late 2004.
In September 2004 almost everything was removed from the area in preparation for a major new ride and a revamp to the theme. Come April 2005 Ug Land featuring the Thunder Rock Rally opened dominated by Rita – Queen Of Speed, an Intamin Accelerator coaster that launched from 0 to 100kph in 2.5 seconds! Of course no rally would be complete without a suitably racy soundtrack, provided by Thunder Rock Radio who blasted out well known hits across the area through loud hailers.
The arrival of Rita saw the departure many of Ug Land’s original features, such as the area’s tree house with jumping fountains along with Boneshaker (which had actually closed in 2003). Several other attractions were moved to accommodate the new ride, including most of the area’s theming, Ug Swinger, Cave Games and Ug Mobiles which lost most of its unique theming when it returned as Rita Racers in 2006. Two of Ug Land’s attractions even moved to new areas of the park with Ug Bugs moving to Cred Street and Lava Lump going to Forbidden Valley.
Much like the dinosaurs, with colossal rearrangement that was caused by the arrival of the high speed meteorite that is Rita, Ug Land’s days were numbered, so it only came a moderate surprise when at the end of the 2008 season the ride that originally put Alton Towers on the theme park map, the legendry Corkscrew rollercoaster closed. After 28 years of service the ride left the park leaving a gaping hole that would be filled in 2010 by the park’s next big project, codenamed Secret Weapon 6.
The 2009 season opened with Ug Land looking like a shadow of its former self. The Ug Swinger had moved to the new Cloud Cuckoo Land, leaving Rita and Soakasaurus as the only attractions still operating in area after the closure of Corkscrew. That said, 2009 did see some interesting developments for Ug Land, with a new Pie and Mash kiosk coming to Bronto Bites and the construction of SW6 throughout the season, creating something of an attraction in itself.
With the opening of SW6, which had now been revealed as TH13TEEN, in 2010 the entire area was rethemed to become Dark Forest, with mysterious forces taking over what had formerly been Ug Land.