I design rollercoasters – here’s why the fastest or tallest rides aren’t the best

THE DESIGNER of Nemesis has revealed why most roller coasters aren’t nearly as exciting as they say they are.

Theme parks around the world now claim to have the biggest, fastest, or scariest rides, but designing them for records isn’t the way to go.

Nemesis will be redesigned before reopening after next year


Nemesis will be redesigned before reopening after next yearCredit: PA

So says John Wardley, who is responsible for the design of the Alton Towers classics Oblivion, Air and Nemesis, which closed on November 6th.

The ride is set to reopen in 2024 after an overhaul, with John and co considering how to breathe new life into the ride in the meantime.

They won’t be bending the tracks in hopes of chasing new records, however, as experience is far more important to John.

He told Sun Online Travel: “It was the approach we originally took – we didn’t want to build a roller coaster, we wanted to build a mind-blowing attraction that would challenge visitors to Alton Towers – dare it or dare it.” not to experience it.

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“It’s an adventure and I’ve always tried to create an adventure.

“Usually people build roller coasters by taking a flat piece of land. They look at the record books and calculate which is the tallest roller coaster in the world and throw a load of steel in the air hoping to break that record.

“That’s not really what entertainment and escapism is about.

“Superlatives are all well and good, as is place in the record books, but they’re not necessarily the starting point.

“My first goal was to build an exciting adventure that would test the limits of what people dare, and I succeeded very well in that.”

The main way John’s coasters deviate from the norm is that they start out strong but don’t always take the rider on a journey.

He claims that his rides always give people memories of an experience and not just a fast ride.

He continued, “On a traditional roller coaster, you’re really just interacting with a load of steel and maybe the sky above you.

“Nemesis is all about an incredible journey through rock and water and an amazing series of twists and turns and reversals.

“It’s an adventure journey. Okay, this journey only lasts less than a few minutes, but even so, I don’t think anyone who has ridden it themselves has forgotten the journey they took.”

John believes the secret to a great roller coaster is to end on a swing rather than wasting the biggest and most exciting part of the ride at the beginning.

He thinks trips all too often fizzle out rather than providing a truly exciting experience throughout the journey.

He said: “A poorly designed roller coaster doesn’t really follow the pattern of what show business is all about.

“Show business is all about leaving the best for the last – the grand finale.

“Basically a roller coaster, because it starts very high and has a lot of energy, but fizzles out and becomes more and more tame towards the end of the ride as it gets closer to the ground.

“With Nemesis, I designed it so that the station wasn’t at the very bottom of the ride but was halfway up, which allowed us to do a barrel roll at the end of the ride just before you get into the station.”

The barrel roll isn’t just for roller coaster riders, but for those who aren’t brave enough to ride it.

John said: “The double benefit of this is for those who don’t choose to take the ride – they can stand and watch it and actually be on the same level as those who are taking the ride backwards and they can make eye contact .

“Most of the roller coasters are behind a big, tall fence. When you’re not driving it, you kind of stare at it in the distance and think, obviously, that’s not for me.

“With Nemesis, even if you don’t want to drive it, you can be in the thick of it and get pretty close to the people who are driving it.

“That’s what this last hidden valley scroll is all about. Drivers don’t see it coming and guests who aren’t going to ride can line up so they’re literally feet away from people who can stand upside down and make eye contact.”

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John Wardley designed the Alton Towers rides Oblivion, Air and Nemesis


John Wardley designed the Alton Towers rides Oblivion, Air and NemesisCredit: Alamy

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/20434855/rollercoasters-fastest-tallest-rides-t/ I design rollercoasters – here’s why the fastest or tallest rides aren’t the best


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