Skyride provides transportation across the valley in a colourful gondola between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and Cloud Cuckoo Land, allowing guests to take the weight off their feet whilst also enjoying magnificent views of the gardens below.
Towers Street – Forbidden Valley
The Skyride station at Towers Street can be found at the bottom left, when approaching from the park entrance, along the path to Mutiny Bay. Guests may be a queue before climbing aboard a gondola, but the queue is constantly moving with gondolas continuously entering and leaving the station.
As the gondola departs from the station its doors will lock shut, before beginning the ascent and journey across the theme park. Guests will firstly be taken directly over Mutiny Bay’s courtyard, before continuing on across the park over the site of Secret Weapon 8 – the Resort’s first wooden rollercoaster opening in 2018. As guests continue their journey they’ll be taken across the estate’s gardens, with plenty of magnificent views to be had of the lakes and landscaping below.
There may be a slight jolt as the gondola makes its way into Forbidden Valley’s station, before the gondola is brought down to a slower speed. Once safely in the station, a member of staff will open the doors, and allow guests to head off and enjoy some of the resort’s most thrilling attractions.
Forbidden Valley – Cloud Cuckoo Land
Forbidden Valley’s Skyride station can be found at the area’s entrance pathway, with the building also housing toilets on its ground level. Guests may once again face a short queue before climbing aboard Skyride, but the queue is constantly moving with gondolas continuously entering and leaving the station.
Upon leaving station to begin their journey, guests are immediately taken above the gardens, with this journey arguably offering the better views of the valley below as well as spending much longer over one of the most tranquil areas of the resort. As the gondola clears the surrounding trees, guests will be taken alongside Rita as they make their way over Dark Forest. After travelling the length of Rita’s launch track, the gondola will descend into the Cloud Cuckoo Land station, which is situated just outside the entrance to Dark Forest, just past Rita’s final turn.
There may be a slight jolt as the gondola makes its way into the station, before it is brought down to a slower speed to allow for disembarking. Once safely in the station, a member of staff will open the gondola’s doors, allowing guests to head off and enjoy the rest of their day.
The Skyride was originally installed in 1987, though Alton Towers had Cable Cars many years prior to this. The 1960s system followed the same route as the Skyride but only travelled from Towers Street to the area where Forbidden Valley is today. The old system was quite limited, with a maximum capacity of 4 people per car, as the gondolas & cable were not as strong as the system used today.
Due to the increasing popularity of the park and the upcoming development of Forbidden Valley, it was decided that the introduction of a more modernised cable car system was necessary. The new gondolas were designed and manufactured by Poma, whilst the Engineering was implemented by Sir Robert McAlpine. Not only did Alton choose to upgrade the system, the decision was made to extend the cable to Cloud Cuckoo Land, with the addition of a third station conveniently located close to the Towers.
The new system consisted of a fleet of much larger gondolas; each one able to carry up to twelve people at once as well as wheelchairs and push chairs, making the ride much more accessible. For many years the tinted brown gondolas were part of one of the iconic skylines of the Towers as they floated serenely over the gardens.
Other than occasional wind based issues (due to the ride’s high altitude) the Skyride operated largely without issue for almost twenty years. However during the 2007 Scarefest a fire broke out in the Forbidden Valley station, gutting the roof and damaging the workings of the ride. While the damage was repairable, it meant the ride closing for a six month period for work to be carried out, before eventually re-opening midway through the 2008 season.
By this stage the gondolas were showing their age, and in fact several had already been decommissioned reducing the ride’s capacity. It was therefore decided to replace the fleet for the 2009 season with the multi-coloured cars used today.
After just a few months of operation with its new gondolas, calamity struck the Skyride on the night of 21st July 2009 as a second fire in less than two years tore through the Cloud Cuckoo Land station entirely devastating the building. Over the following closed season, the station was redesigned and rebuilt ready to reopen for the 2010 season.