Full plans have today been submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for Secret Weapon 8 at Alton Towers Resort marking the first step in the process of bringing a long awaited wooden rollercoaster to the theme park for the 2018 season.

The submitted application requests permission for “Demolition of existing structures and the installation of a new rollercoaster, construction of associated buildings, landscaping and groundworks” with the application specifying that the main structure and layout of The Flume will be removed however many of the concrete footers will remain in place to minimise the impact on the surrounding woodland.

Believed to be manufactured by GCI, the new wooden rollercoaster’s track will occupy the majority of the existing developed site, however will avoid the protected woodland area. The proposed track layout will see a main station situated to the north east area of Mutiny Bay from where it will take guests up a 10 metre high lift hill with a 24 degree incline, using a ‘silent’ magnetic lift system to minimise noise, before setting off on a layout which includes a turn just behind the Congo River Rapids in Katanga Canyon, and encompasses most of the former Flume site. Plans confirm that the track will be constructed of dark stained timber elements, which will mainly be Southern Pine, with the rails comprising of 6 timber strips, laid one on top of another, with a solid steel rail guider on top to help guide the steel wheeled train. Although there is currently no indication of the precise type of train the ride will use, plans for the interior of the station suggest a double batching system similar to that used on Th13teen, with 12 rows of airgates, with each row able to hold up to 4 guests. This would suggest a possible capacity of 24 guests per train.

To complement the main track layout, two themed features will be located around the ride area, each constructed using timber materials to ensure they complement the woodland surroundings, therefore minimising any external visual impact. Each of these features will be designed to ‘assist’ the ride experience, with the highest being 16 metres above ground level. One feature will be designed to sit by the main entrance of the new ride which plans show will be located by the former Flume station. Guests will pass underneath this feature as they make their way into the queue and towards the main station. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the plans is the indication that there will be a 140 second pre-show just prior to the main station, however there is no indication as to exactly what this pre-show will entail. Plans also show that the Resort plan to use the Flume’s old queue to accommodate any overflow on peak days. As is common with many major rides at the Resort, the queue is planned to house a food and beverage kiosk part way along its route. Alongside the theming features the course of the coaster will also include a number of tunnels which will serve the dual purpose of both adding to the ride experience, but also helping to reduce any possible noise impact with one of these tunnels appearing to be just after the initial lift hill.

The submitted plans also detail a number of new buildings to complement the new ride, including a ride station, maintenance building, shop, and games unit. Most of these buildings will comprise of a single storey, with the exception of the station and maintenance buildings which will include a basement level to help assist with the maintenance of the ride. All of these units will be designed to complement the existing theming in the area with the upper sections constructed using horizontal, dark timber with an aged and weathered effect, whilst the lower sections will see the buildings clad in either a grass and earth effect, or sandstone effect. The roof of each building will feature artificial thatch and distressed metal sheeting, could these choices of materials suggest a theme for the ride more in-keeping with the African theme of Katanga Canyon as opposed to the pirate theme of Mutiny Bay?

If this latest application is successful, it is anticipated that construction could begin as soon as September 2016 with an anticipated completion date of December 2017, a schedule which would suggest a target opening date of the start of the 2018 season.

This latest planning application marks the first official step in the process of bringing the next Secret Weapon to the Resort and follows on from a screening request submitted earlier this year which gave the very first insights into what we can expect to see from SW8. Rumours had been circulating regarding the possible use of the site of The Flume for a major new attraction since the popular water ride was closed prior to the end of the 2015 season, rumours which were further fuelled by the official announcement at the end of February 2016 that The Flume was to be retired. It wasn’t until March 16th that it was officially confirmed that the site would indeed be the home of SW8 with the AltonTLC Twitter account posting a photo of the teaser signs which currently surround the site. They also follow an Environmental Screening Application submitted in April 2015 by the Resort for a proposed new attraction for Forbidden Valley. However, due to a number of factors, these plans were later dismissed by the Resort in favour of the plans for SW8 on The Flume site. It has already been confirmed that, if plans are approved, this latest addition to the Secret Weapon Cannon will open in 2018, making it the latest addition to the Resort’s series of signature rides which started with Nemesis, and was last added to in 2013 with the opening of The Smiler.

What are your thoughts on these latest plans for SW8? Are you pleased to see the Resort finally install the long anticipated wooden rollercoaster? Make sure you have your say over on the Attraction Source Forum. TowersTimes will be sure to bring you all the latest developments on these exciting plans as they happen.

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