The Smiler is the latest addition of rollercoasters to the Alton Towers Resort, and just like several of it’s predecessors,  is a worlds first. Costing £18 million, the resorts most expensive rollercoaster is the worlds first “fourteen looping” coaster, turning riders upside down fourteen times during the ride. The Smiler also holds the crown for containing the most inversions on any rollercoaster in the world.

The Smiler FactFile

Location: X-Sector, the site formally occupied by “The Black Hole”
Opening Date: Friday 31st May 2013
Manufacturer: Gerstlauer
Max Height: 22.15m  (72.7 ft) x2
Station Size: 872 sq.m
Highest Drop: 30m
Track Length: 1,170m
Ride Time: 165 seconds
Passengers per train: 16 (4x rows of 4)
Minimum rider height: 1.4m
Investment: £18m


Other Details:

The ride has two standard chain lift hills, the second lift hill being vertical. Standing over the centre of the ride is a large robotic spider, dubbed “The Marmaliser”. The Marmaliser has five legs, each containing a “mind manipulating” element:

  • The Flasher – A set of bright lights are set to disorientate riders as they speed underneath.
  • The Giggler – Several canisters of “laughing gas” are positioned to ensure riders pass by in laughter.
  • The Hypnotiser – Multiple large rotating discs are sure to bend the minds of the riders below.
  • The Inoculator – Large needles positioned above the track are set to blast riders with a special joy serum.
  • The Tickler – Huge rotating brushes hanging above the ride will tickle a smile onto the riders faces.

The ride features thirteen visible inversions to guests who stand around and below the track. But before the ride train can navigate any of these twists and turns, it passes through a section dubbed “The Disorientator” , a series of flashing strobe lights followed by a heartline roll. This section is contained within the ride building, unseen by the public.

What is a Secret Weapon?

Since Alton Towers was acquired by The Tussauds Group (which would later become Merlin Entertainments) every new rollercoaster (excluding Runaway Mine Train, Sonic Spinball and Rita) have been designated Secret Weapon followed by a number as the project name. This came about due to early theme ideas for the ill-fated SW1 and SW2 concepts that would have had a military theme.

SW1 and SW2: Arrow Pipeline coasters which were cancelled late in development.
SW3: Nemesis – ‘The Worlds most intense rollercoaster experience.’
SW4: Oblivion – ‘The Worlds First vertical drop rollercoaster.’
SW5: Air – ‘The Worlds First new generation flying rollercoaster’
SW6: Th13teen – ‘The Worlds First vertical freefall drop rollercoaster’
SW7: The Smiler – ‘The Worlds First 14 looping rollercoaster’