It is looking like a busy few seasons coming up at Alton Towers, from a retrack for Nemesis, through to the exciting new plans for Project Horizon on the old ‘Coaster Corner’ site. Let’s take a look at what we know about the projects the park have lined up…
The big news for the 2024 season is the return of Nemesis after a year-long absence, which has seen the majority of the ride retracked along with a striking new black paint job, complete with vein decals.
In 2022, the park revealed plans to retrack Nemesis to extend the coaster’s life long into the future. They submitted plans to Staffordshire Moorlands to receive a certificate of lawfulness for the work. The certification, which was passed on 23rd March 2021, is an agreement from the council that the work is classed maintenance of the existing structure, rather than a new development, and so will not need full planning permission.
The plans have seen the entire track replaced from the top of the lift hill right through to the break run, but there are no significant changes to the coaster’s design, beyond strengthening and extending some of the ride’s foundations in the most intense parts of the course. The only significant variation from the existing structure will be that the supports will be now filled with sand, which was not a practice commonly used when the ride was originally built, but is now standard.
Whilst the structure of the ride will be the same when it reopens, we now know that the theme for the ride will have a revamp when it relaunches, with much closer ties to the Phalanx storyline, which has been a prominent feature of Forbidden Valley since Sub-Terra opened in 2012. In practice, this means that the rusty, post-apocalyptic look of Forbidden Valley is giving way to a much more striking red and black aesthetic.
Nemesis closed at the end of the 2022 season on Sunday 6th November and is due to reopen in time for the ride’s 30th birthday in 2024. In keeping with the ride’s adopted story, the closure and subsequent work has been announced as being by order of the Phalanx, the mysterious militia first introduced in the Nemesis Comic and later featured heavily in the plot of Nemesis:Sub-Terra.
One thing we do not yet know is what the ride will be called when it reopens. In February 2023, Merlin registered a trademark for Nemesis: Reborn. It is not yet clear, however, whether this will be a new permanent name for the ride or if this trademark might just be used for the coaster’s relaunch period.
Forbidden Valley Refresh
All eyes will be on Forbidden Valley in the 2024 season when Nemesis reawakens in its pit. And beyond the ride itself, the park have plans to spruce up much of the valley ready for the new season.
We have already seen changes occurring in and around the Nemesis pit, with the coaster’s theming and support buildings receiving fresh paint jobs, including the photo booth and the iconic Mushroom Tours Bus. Towards the end of the season, we also started to see alien tendrils taking over the surround area, including around the ride’s entrance structure.
And the changes aren’t restricted to the immediate area around Nemesis. The park have submitted planning permission for two further projects in Forbidden Valley.
They are proposing demolishing the existing building of The Edge Games and replacing it with a new purpose-built arcade unit. The current building is one of the oldest in the park, having been added back when the area was Thunder Valley in the early 90s and whilst it might look like a permanent building, it is actually a pair of very well disguised Portakabins. The ‘temporary’ building has therefore done very well to last 30 years, but it is great to see the park investing in new permanent infrastructure. The new building will be around twice the height of the current unit, which will allow the park greater diversity in the arcade units that can operate in the building.
The park are also going to extend the former Refresh@Ripsaw café and reopen it as a new merchandise shop for Forbidden Valley. Whilst the new shop will arrive just in time to become home to the new lines of Nemesis merch that we can expect next season, its location suggests it will also be the retail location for merch themed to all the rides in Forbidden Valley, which has been missing a permanent shop since the Galactica Store closed during the pandemic. Similarly to The Edge, the existing unit is actually a temporary structure, made up of four shipping containers. The proposed plan will see two of those containers removed and replaced by a slightly larger and more impressive structure.
One mystery that remains, however, is what we can expect to occupy the former Ripsaw site neighbouring the new shop, now we know that Funk’n’Fly has departed the park.
Retro Squad Retire
At the end of the 2023 season, the park announced that the Retro Squad had completed their mission at the park and after three seasons the temporary pop-up attractions would depart the park for good.
We therefore know that the Retro Squad rides have now departed. But what we don’t know is what will replace them. The park have yet to confirm their future plans for the former Retro Squad sites, but it is hoped that there is a plan to reintroduce some permanent well-themed flat rides into the park’s permanent line-up.
What Sites are Available?
There are several sites around the park that are currently available for redevelopment. Here we take a look at some sites where we can expect to see new attractions built in the coming years.
The World of David Walliams
Most of the buildings on one side of the area are no longer open to the public, from the shuttered 4D Cinema and Toy Shop at one end through to the old Nickelodeon building at the other. Will the area to expand over the coming years to incorporate these unused spaces? And not forgetting the Driving School, which is likely to be rethemed in the near future.
The arrival of Project Horizon in the area behind the 4D Cinema, means there is also potential for The Alton Towers Dungeon to be redeveloped in the coming years, which could return the popular family boat ride to the regular ride line-up.
2021 saw the end of The Submission Memorial Garden to make way for the Retro Squad. However, the former site of Submission is now vacant again, so perhaps it is time for the Ministry of Joy to add a new experiment and bolster the park’s dwindling flat ride line-up.
The Enterprise also departed the park at the end of 2022 and is now also vacant and ready for a new ride to be added in that location.
The Dark Forest is brimming with potential for future development, most notably on the former site of the Ug Swinger, which was more recently home to Roller Disco.
When the area was Festival Park in the 90s, the area around Th13teen’s entrance played host to several other rides, including The Beastie and Enterprise, so there is potential for more than one attraction in this under-used area. Perhaps the park could re-visit plans for the Robo-Arms that were considered as part of the Dark Forest development.
Equally, the site that currently houses the Dark Forest Lockers was once the site of the Magic Carpet and later The Spider. Whilst the site itself is compact, the queues for these attractions once ran through the neighbouring woodland, with some evidence of the site’s past still visible today.
Funk’n’Fly took over the site left vacant by the removal of Ripsaw, but has now departed.
Will this prime location once again become home to a new headliner for the park’s flat ride line-up?
Even with the new attractions added to the land in 2022, there is still room for new additions in CBeebies Land, such as the shuttered Nina’s Science Lab, which is a prime site for redevelopment.
Next door, in Adventure Land, there is also the long abandoned Refresh@Spinall site, which site in an area which could be re-used as part of either of the neighbouring lands.