Wardley ‘not giving up’ on wooden rollercoaster

John WardleyVeteran rollercoaster designer John Wardley has said that despite retirement he is “not giving up” on the idea of bringing a wooden rollercoaster to Alton Towers.

At a recent question and answer session with members of the European Coaster Club, he said that the key to bringing another such ride to the UK was how it could be marketed.

“I firmly believe that Alton Towers now has an incredibly talented marketing director in Justin Platt.

“He has a totally open mind about these things and I want to put him on some woodies so he himself can experience it.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that Candy Holland in the team in the studios could do a fantastic job.”

The 63-year-old also revealed how he was involved in the designing of a Wallace & Gromit-themed wooden rollercoaster for Alton Towers four years ago.

He said that there were “all sorts of ways” that theming could be added to a wooden rollercoaster, saying that Holland had previously conceived a ‘spooky horror circus’ ride.

“It all depends on the marketing people being able to prove to the board they can make it work, so we just all must keep our fingers crossed,” Wardley added.

‘Time wasted’ on world firsts

It was revealed by Wardley that he wanted to build a a stand-up rollercoaster for the Secret Weapon Seven (SW7) project which eventually became The Smiler.

Constructed by Swiss manufacturers Bolliger & Mallibard, it would feature a large drop entering an underground excavation and be based around the Katanga Canyon area of Alton Towers.

“Various people thought we were never going to get planning permission for it.

“So much time was wasted by people at Merlin’s head office wanting us to come up with the world’s first. We went up so many blind alleys,” he said.

The project was eventually scrapped in favour of the 14-inversion Smiler, which opened in May.