Alton Towers’ newest addition, The Smiler, has been given the ultimate thrill rating in a new official ‘Thrill Scale’ generated by engineer Brendan Walker.
The Thrill Scale is designed to order roller coasters and attractions depending on the level of thrill they can be expected to give to their riders, as based on a number of objective factors. The scale has been developed by Brendan Walker of Thrill Laboratories, who carried out tests at Alton Towers Resort, recording measurements such as riders’ heart rates; galvanic skin response and pleasure indication.
The levels of both ‘pleasure’ and ‘arousal’ are taken into account when compiling the data to reach an overall thrill factor for each ride. 2013 newcomer The Smiler has been placed at the top of the scale with a thrill rating of 2279.33, and has been made the benchmark against which all other roller coasters will be measured.
Behind The Smiler is the park’s longstanding resident, Nemesis, which has a score of 1278.81 – just 56% of The Smiler’s. After that is Th13rteen, with 558.19 (24% The Smiler) and Air with 516.93 (23%). Last in the park’s top five is Oblivion, with 476.56 (21% of The Smiler’s score).
The concluding report of the study explained that while some rides are designed to provide a single moment of extreme thrill (like Oblivion), others give riders a more wide-ranging experience of both pleasure and arousal. Researchers from New Scientist magazine provided evidence that The Smiler provides the ultimate thrill by combining both mental and physical stimulation, influenced by the final design of the ride.
The Thrill Scale is the first time in the resort’s history that visitors will be able to get a clear indication of what kind of experience they can expect from each ride.
If pushed to become an industry standard by which all attractions are measured and graded, the scale could indeed change the way amusement parks market their rides.