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The Smiler Behind The Scenes

Alton Towers

In 2015 we took a trip up to Alton Towers to try out some of their V.I.P experience’s on offer. Alton Towers offers a variety of experiences for all ages, from a Sealife aquarium tours to Lift hill walks and Behind scenes tours on some on the UK’s most iconic rides and this was an offer we couldn’t refuse!

We went past the initial entrance point and went into the belly of the beast. We walked down the side of where the pre-lift hill brake run sits (with ha ha ha’s on the wall), unclipped from the safety rail and climbed down the stairs to the safety of a nice appealing concrete floor! We wandered around the section (whilst having a cheeky touch of the greasy greasy track). Being close to the track was brilliant and at one point you can just about get to a point where you can see the station itself. 

And of course, The favourite part of the tour, actually seeing the glass floor properly! Since it doesn’t work the other way round it was nice to see! At this point we started to head back and I assumed we were done, however… we took a right turn and ended up outside it the Staffordshire knot pit. This was incredible to see and get up close and personal to the smiler logo on the floor! 

This section was probably my favourite part of the tour, it’s amazing how impressive everything is from a perspective you never see. After this, we headed back through the mystery door and found another mystery door, a floating mystery door that apparently leads to the baggage claim. There used to be stairs there however apparently staff kept accidentally opening the door and ending up in the pit! And does it still open? Of course, it does! Not… The door is now welded shut never to be opened again.

Before we headed up we had a quick look at the chain lift for the first lift hill and then it was time to hook ourselves back up and exit where we originally came in. We were going to get a tour of the second lift hill however due to the testing regime of most of the rides at towers they are tested after the park shuts and unfortunately there was no time.

In conclusion, the VIP experiences are a great added feature to the park and well worth the amount paid.

The host at the entrance suggested for me to go have a ride via single rider and allowed me to experience a fairly familiar view to the area, something that would soon disappear when I took the steps to areas.

After my ride I headed back to the entrance to chat to the host and we spent a good 10 - 15 minutes chatting about rides and all little things that many guests wouldn’t care about and shown to me how passionate the staff in the parks are for all things theme parks!

I was eventually greeted by another staff member in charge of all the safety procedures required for allowing the general public to take the trip to the top and in deed the underbelly of the ride (and i mean that literally!)

As we were chatting a silence was heard around the area, no more rides going round, no more public in the area, no more HAHAHA HAHAHA. A very unfamiliar sound for those not allowed to be in the park 20 minutes after ride close. It was time… time to head into the station and get kitted up!

We walked round the back (down the staff only gate to the left of the gift shop) and headed to the back of the station (with a very nice look of the maintenance shed). The staff were very happy with me taking as many photos as possible and the ride host I met initially was very keen to show me things that i wouldn’t normally see such as sensors on the cars etc. you know? Geeky stuff.

We got into the station and i started to dress into my conveniently themed, Yellow hat, yellow harness and were introduced to the two staff members leading me to the top. Both were extremely friendly and we were all willing to have a laugh as long as we were being safe.

We walked back out the back doors and ascended the walkway that leads to about 1/5th up the lift hill and started our ascent. One thing that became apparent very quickly… A lot of stairs! sadly didn't count them but i can exclusively tell you there was more than 10 and less than 1,000!

We made it to the top all panting and glad we reached the top. It took me a few seconds to look up but my, what… a… view! The views from the top were astounding, especially on the lovely sunny day that we had. We had a very rare view of Alton Towers from seeing the top of Towers Street to admiring the towers and not to mention the amazing view of the twisted behemoth that is The Smiler. (I must add, I’m not a huge fan of The Smiler as a ride but as a mechanical structure its mighty impressive!)

After chatting to the staff about silly rumours and interesting facts we decided to head down and visit the underbelly of the ride, that being the initial under the station building fly through, the way down was much easier than going up but after going up rather hesitantly but as I was going down I could relax more and admire it in further detail.