Retro Squad: Marketing Alton Towers’ new rides

The Retro Squad, Alton Towers

Long after leaked images had circulated social media confirming their arrival, Alton Towers today formally announced its new fairground ride additions for the 2021 season.

Three rides – one less than the expected four that will be positioned at the Staffordshire park this season – were today formally unveiled in the form of a surprising marketing video.

The park used an 1980s retro vibe, christening the three rides, Mixtape, Roller Disco and Funk’n’Fly, collectively as ‘the Retro Squad’.

An 80s-themed video was completed with a synthesiser-laden take on Alton Towers’ adopted theme tune, In the Hall of the Mountain King.

The launch video was accompanied by a loose backstory that the rides were transformer-type characters originally headed for Alton Towers in 1980, but had somehow been diverted.

It was a surprising way of introducing relatively unremarkable rides that are well-known on the travelling fair scene.

The fact that the park even announced the rides at all is somewhat surprising, given both the leaks and the fact that they are intended to be crowd-absorbers amidst lingering social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19.

‘Fairground inspired’

Not only does Alton Towers acknowledge the ageing and technologically-dated nature of the rides, it actually plays into that fact in their retro theme.

Instead, Alton Towers has embraced the new rides rather than attempt to brush them under the carpet hoping they maintain rides-per-guest numbers – a key metric for managers.

They are described as “totally awesome and wickedly fairground-inspired pop-up rides” – there is no airbrushing here.

As well as 1.2-metre height restrictions, all of the rides also have their own logo.

They will of course be laughably out-of-theme with the surroundings of the areas of the park they inhabit, perhaps most so in the form of Roller Disco – the lively funfair-painted waltzer that is situated in the Dark Forest.

But the perhaps most importantly, the rides serve as an interesting – if not somewhat humorous – diversion.

After the past 12 months, many people will appreciate that.

The marketing material also encourages guests to ‘complete the set’, by saying that they are “one step closer to joining the Retro Squad” with each ride completed.

Who knows, the success of the rides’ impact might lead to a rethink on whether or not Alton Towers should host such rides on a longer basis, perhaps with a revolving line-up each season.