Veteran ride designer John Wardley to retire

John WardleyJohn Wardley – the man who masterminded some of Britain’s most famous rollercoasters – is to retire, according to an American theme park fansite.

The Season Pass Podcast, who have confirmed Wardley as a guest for later in the year, stated that Alton Towers’ new rollercoaster The Smiler will be “his last ever attraction”.

He is best remembered for the development of Alton Towers’ pioneering trio of rollercoasters Nemesis, Oblivion and Air between 1994 and 2002, during the park’s Tussauds-owned era.

Known for his mild manner, he appeared on children’s television programme Blue Peter several times explaining his creations.

In recent years, he headed into semi-retirement but continued to work for park operators Merlin Entertainments when they took over the Tussauds Group in 2007.

Pioneering rides

His recent role was formally described as ‘ride consultant’, but he continued to design track layouts for world-first rollercoasters as well as a varying level of input into themed elements of attractions.

He appeared on Blue Peter showcasing Air in 2002

He appeared on Blue Peter showcasing Air in 2002

The 62-year-old designed the custom layouts of the Saw and Swarm rides at Thorpe Park and Alton Towers’ latest rollercoasters Thirteen and finally the forthcoming Smiler.

He began his long career in theatre and film, developing props and special effects for five of the James Bond films.

But it is the Nemesis ride of which he remains most fond, as he explained in an interview with The Guardian newspaper last year.

He said: “I was the first person round Nemesis. It was pretty scary, but it’s a privilege to know that, since its opening in 1994, 50 million people have ridden it.”

“What we’re doing in twisted steel is what a scriptwriter does with words. We’re entertainers – in the business of creating thrills and mystery.”