2010s: Theme park moments of the decade

The Swarm, Thorpe Park

The 2010s have been a decade of artistic and technical innovation at UK theme parks, but we have also seen the bizarre and the tragic.

From new ride and area launches, to devastating accidents and park closures, here we take a look back at the most memorable moments of the past ten years.

Loudon Castle closes

The decade’s first theme park casualty was when Loudoun Castle theme park in Scotland announced that it was closing down.

A number of the rides were moved to Lightwater Valley as part of their new Skeleton Cove area.

Thirteen and the Dark Forest, Alton Towers

Thirteen was launched as the world’s first vertical freefall drop rollercoaster in 2010.

It returned Alton Towers’ visitation to the 3 million-plus mark, and its launch coincided with the opening of the supernatural Dark Forest area.

Wild Mouse removed

The first of Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s iconic wooden rides to be removed during the modern era, the Wild Mouse succumbed at the end of the 2017 season.

Built in the 1950s, it was one of Britain’s most forceful and unique rollercoasters.

The Swarm, Thorpe Park

Another dramatic ride launch from Merlin Entertainments, The Swarm had an excellent pre-launch promotional campaign, as the mysterious ‘LC12’.

A new island was created at Thorpe Park, which recreated the scene of a major incident.

Upturned emergency vehicles, crashed aircraft and a damaged historical church serving as the rollercoaster’s station.

The Smiler accident, Alton Towers

For all the wrong reasons, 2015’s Smiler rollercoaster crash is probably the biggest theme park story from the decade.

Five people were seriously injured when two trains collided. Alton Towers operators Merlin were fined in excess of £5 million after admitting liability.

Camelot closes

In 2012 and after some preceding rumours of struggles, Camelot theme park in Lancashire finally closed its doors.

The park has since become a magnet for ‘urban exploration’, vandalism, graffiti, drone footage and numerous ‘eerie abandoned theme park’ newspaper articles.

Wicker Man, Alton Towers

Wicker Man, Alton Towers

Wicker Man became the first wooden rollercoaster to open in the UK for some 22 years when it was unveiled by Alton Towers in March 2018.

Its dramatic wood and fire theme captured the public and media’s imagination.

Pleasure Island closes

Pleasure Island, Cleethorpes

The third theme park casualty came when Pleasure Island announced that it was to close at the end of the 2016 season.

The Cleethorpes park held two auctions the following year to sell off pieces of the park, notably the props from the Tinkaboo Factory dark ride.

Tsunami rollercoaster derails

Arguably more serious than the Smiler accident, the Tsunami rollercoaster completely derailed in 2016. Fortunately no one suffered life-threatening injuries.

It later emerged that inspection personnel were not appropriately qualified, and flawed welding work was approved.

Man walks through Oblivion tunnel

In May 2012, a man managed to access Alton Towers’ Oblivion rolleroaster’s underground tunnel, walk through it, and emerge on the other side.

He was not injured but was arrested for causing a public nuisance.