Alton Towers: John Wardley ‘thrilled’ with wood ride

John Wardley at Alton Towers

John Wardley, the man behind some of Alton Towers’ most famous rides, has said he is “thrilled” the park is finally getting a wooden rollercoaster.

The park confirmed that the new ride’s name as Wicker Man on Monday, and describes it as the world’s first “fusing fire and wood”.

Wardley, who is now a semi-retired consultant, said that he had been trying to convince the park’s owners to build a wooden ride for some time.

“I’m thrilled that Alton Towers is about to get a wooden rollercoaster, and I’m sure the Wicker Man will be a great ride,” he told Ride Rater.

“I have been trying to persuade Merlin Entertainments to build one for nearly 20 years, and once the Wicker Man opens they might wish they had done this a few years earlier.”

Layout changes

Despite Wardley moving away from the forefront of Alton Towers’ new rides in recent years, he has remained an advisor to Merlin.

He has had significant input into the Wicker Man six months into the Great Coasters International (GCI) ride’s design.

“I was very impressed with the basic layout, the choice of manufacturer, and the theming concept,” Wardley said.

“I did have some reservations about the profile of the ride, and in particular the first two drops, which lacked major thrill.

“I suggested a significant change to these which has been implemented.”

Wicker Man rollercoaster Alton Towers
Wicker Man will be the first wooden rollercoaster opened in the UK for 22 years

Wardley said it was too late into the project to make any further alterations to the ride’s layout, but praised the Merlin team’s efforts.

“The team has done a great job, and I look forward to riding it in the very near future.

“I am sure the Wicker Man will be a huge success, and a major milestone in Alton Towers history.”

The ride is expected to open when Alton Towers begins its 2018 season on 17 March.