Become a part of your very own, life sized game of pinball as you spin twist and turn in every direction imaginable on Spinball Whizzer!
- Min. Rider Height: 1.2m
- Max. Rider Height: 1.95m
- Ride Photography: Yes
- Fastrack: Yes
- Manufacturer: Maurer AG
- Ride Type: Spinning Coaster
- Opened: 27th March 2004
- Cost: £3.5 million
- Track Length: 470m
- Max. Track Height: 17m
- Max. Speed: Approx 61km/h
- Number of Cars: 8
- Passengers per Car: 4
- Capacity: 970 riders per hour
- Duration: 1 min 15 secs
Guests begin queuing through the entrance, situated in the ride’s main plaza which is themed to look like a giant pinball machine. As you pass through the queue line, there are various games installed to keep you entertained before your adventure begins.
Upon arriving in the station and depositing any loose articles, riders are sat in a four seater car in a pair of two, back to back with the second pair. Once secured in by a lap bar restraint, the car is dispatched and your dizzying adventure begins!
After a sharp right hand turn the car will ascend the lift hill at a rapid pace, presenting riders with a view of the entire track layout from high above the ground. Before your mind has managed to keep up with the pace of the lift hill, you will be dropped quickly to the right causing the ride car to begin spinning out of control! After rising back up and onto the first set of block breaks, a sharp left corner will lead into an earth bound plummet before riders are flung over a vertical horseshoe turn! This incredibly quick change in direction sends you dropping back down towards the ground and the first on ride photo camera before ascending another hill onto a second set of block breaks.
Riders are then greeted by a downwards S shaped hill which guides the ride cars into an overbanked turn, wrapping around the previously navigated horseshoe turn and dipping down towards the ground again. After ascending another upwards slope, riders are presented with the penultimate set of block breaks before descending down a dizzying spiral, passing over the queue line into a U-turn and onto the final set of block breaks. For the closing act, riders are dropped down a slight dip whilst also turning to the right by 180 degrees and back into the station. Whilst the ride experience has now come to an end, we doubt your head will agree!
It is notable that the directional spin of each ride car is determined by the shared weight of the riders, meaning each ride experience on Spinball Whizzer is unique! During a rainy spell, the ride cars will only accommodate three riders as opposed to four riders at which the ride operates normally. This combined with the wet, slippery track can produce some hilarious results and some incredible spinning! Guests can make use of the three person per car operating procedure in the wet weather by using the Single Rider Queue line, which can be much quicker than the normal queue line on many occasions.
Having first opened in 1996, in 2003, part of Adventure Land was transformed into a construction site as work commenced on the Resort’s latest rollercoaster. Gallopers Carousel, which had called the area home since 1997, was moved to Cred Street (now Cloud Cuckoo Land) to make way for the first major development in the area in 8 years.
The ride was completed in January 2004 and the extensive testing procedure began. It was later revealed to be named ‘Spinball Whizzer’, a spinning coaster designed by German manufacturer, Maurer Söhne and opened to the public on March 24th 2004.
When the Resort’s Long Term Development Plan was revealed in 2009, Spinball was marked as a potential ride to be relocated elsewhere in the park. No location or even hints were given however with regards to where Spinball could have ended up. After six years of operation as Spinball Whizzer, 2010 was about to bring a whole new life and perspective to the Resort’s resident spinning coaster.
Having previously had a deal with video game company Sega, for the use of Sonic the Hedgehog in Toyland Tours, the Resort struck a new deal for Sonic to become the focus of the spinning rollercoaster which saw the transformation of Spinball Whizzer into Sonic Spinball. The supports were repainted to a striking blue colour, resembling the video gaming world’s most iconic hedgehog. Each ride car was given a sticker of a character from the Sonic universe, and various sound effects and announcements were installed or changed. Theming additions were also made including a statue of Sonic himself located just outside the ride’s main plaza, as well as a room in the Alton Towers Hotel being themed to Sonic the Hedgehog. Initially due to end in 2013, the Sonic sponsorship was renewed for a further two years until the end of the 2015 season.
When the ride re-opened for the 2016 season all trace of the Sonic the Hedgehog theming had been removed and the ride had reverted to its original name of Spinball Whizzer. New music and announcements were added to the attraction to replace the Sonic themed ones which had been in place since 2010.