Alton Towers’ The Smiler was crowned the ultimate winner of the theme park’s exclusive ‘Whirled Cup’ competition earlier this month, after visitors voted in an online poll.
The competition, intended to help celebrate the summer football season, asked the park’s visitors to vote online as to which of the larger Alton Towers coasters were their favourite.
The Smiler had competition from long-standing signature classic Nemesis; stomach jerker Rita; daring Oblivion and heart-fluttering Air. However, the youngest of the main coasters was named the winner after it nabbed 52 percent of the votes. It was followed by Nemesis, which came in at a close second.
To commemorate the ride’s achievement, Alton Towers gave away free fast-track passes for the The Smiler to the first 100 people to quote the ride’s name at the theme park’s box office on Sunday July 13th, the day of the World Cup Final.
The Smiler was launched in May 2013 and has rapidly become one of Alton Towers’ most talked-about rides. It is renowned for being the world’s first 14-loop roller coaster and has so far been ridden by more than two million people, covering four million miles in the process.
Having cost £18 million to build, The Smiler is also twice the size of its older rival Nemesis and has a track three times the length of Oblivion. It is reported by critics and the public to be the most intense experience of the whole theme park, combining a series of mind-boggling psychological effects with plunging dives and climbing loops.
The Smiler was also proven to be the most thrilling ride of all at Alton Towers, when thrill engineer Brendan Walker from Thrill Laboratories led a series of thrill-identifying tests.
The tests were based on affected factors such as heart rates of riders; galvanic skin response and pleasure indicators. All of the park’s most popular adrenaline-based rides were ordered on an official ‘Thrill Scale’, which took into account both pleasure and arousal when determining the ultimate Thrill Rating of a ride.
The Smiler came out on top, with a Thrill Rating of 2279.33. It was again followed by Nemesis, which had a rating of 1278.81. Yet this was still significantly less than that of The Smiler’s.
Even a year after its opening and despite many breakdowns and setbacks, it is undeniable that The Smiler continues to be one of Alton Tower’s most creative, attention-grabbing and popular rides to date.