What we learned from Wardley and Varney Q&A

Nick VarneyDuring the recent celebrations for the Nemesis rollercoaster’s 21st anniversary, John Wardley and Nick Varney took questions from theme park enthusiasts.

The ride’s designer and the Merlin Entertainments chief executive – then a marketer for Alton Towers – revealed a number of interesting facts.

The Q&A session was the culmination of a celebratory event for Nemesis, which included presentations and a cake-cutting ceremony.

Below we take a look at some of the most interesting points raised in Wardley and Varney’s responses to questions.

  • Nemesis’ track is entirely original, dispelling years of unfounded rumours of sectional replacement.
  • A wooden rollercoaster at a Merlin park is “not off the agenda” according to Varney, but he highlighted how they remain difficult to market.
  • Following the 2017 major addition at Alton Towers, the next big ride will come in 2020.
  • Wardley believes that retrofitting rear-facing seats onto rollercoasters is a “mark of desperation” and that such things are “gimmicks”.
  • Overall, The Swarm is seen as a disappointment and Merlin are unlikely to be build another winged rollercoaster.
  • Varney is extremely critical of the Paramount London project and does not think it will happen.
  • Filling rollercoaster track with sand – to reduce the noise of the ride’s trains – adds around £250,000 to the overall cost.
  • Varney said he can’t imagine circumstances under which Nemesis would ever be removed from Alton Towers.

6 comments

  1. John P says:

    I’m surprised Merlin ended up with 3 wing coasters if they’re not seen as successful. Flug Der Damonen at Heide Park came after The Swarm, so it’s a curious comment.

    Sticking with Heide Park, it was clear during my visit that the wooden coaster, Colossos, the only woodie Merlin has, was at least as popular as any other ride in the park, despite being the oldest major ride there. Surely that should send a message to Merlin about the popularity of wooden coasters?

    • Editor says:

      They want a new ride to bring people in. Their position is that while woodies would be popular with the people in the park, they wouldn’t actually make anyone visit especially or raise attendances.

      • Paul says:

        I am surprised that they don’t believe a woodie would make people want to visit, I would say that a new wooden coaster on a park that doesn’t have one is a big draw.

        And a wooden coaster wouldn’t need that much marketing as they are so rarely built in this country that the word would spread pretty fast.

  2. Dave says:

    Really interesting comment from John about seats being made to face backwards. Completely agree, and I suppose it ties in with Varney suggesting it has been a disappointment.

    With regards to the woodie. In this country we’re not exactly overwhelmed with choice for wooden coasters in terms of them being modern and dynamic rides. Are the people that answer these surveys aware of the likes of Wodan and Outlaw Run (as examples)?

    I bet if you showed everyone walking into the resort a video of either of those two and said “would you come here specifically to ride this”, I would bet at least 90% of those in the target audience would say yes.

  3. Steven says:

    I’m really surprised that they will not be building another wing coaster i would of thought that it would be a great ride at Alton Towers!