It is unusual to get to the end of a season without any hint of what Alton Towers are planning for the following year. But then 2021 was a truly unusual season and so ended with no word from the park regarding new additions for 2022.
As we’ve entered into the closed season some drips of information have started to emerge, however, it is also possible to speculate on a few areas that the park might focus on in 2022…
It has now been confirmed that Charlie and Lola’s Moonsquirters and Green Drops will not reopen after it closed last year due to pandemic restrictions. All the other affected attractions reopened as restrictions were eased. However, the indoor playground remained shuttered and part way through 2021 had its windows blacked out, so guests could no longer see inside.
By the start of the Christmas event, much of the theming on the attraction’s facade had been removed, along with the queueline and entrance canopy. Whilst work is therefore clearly happening there has been no word yet as to what might replace the attraction.
Tree Fu Tom Training Camp has also finished its run in the park and will be replaced for 2022. As soon as the season closed the Training Camp disappeared behind work walls and by the start of the Christmas event some areas of the playground had been cleared ready for development.
Early construction pictures have revealed that the Spell School, Twig’s Treetop Adventure and Tom’s Leafboard Challenge areas of the playground have been cleared of equipment. Whilst elements of Tree Fu Tom theming have been removed, the Boathouse and Ranch structures remain intact. It does therefore seem that some elements of the current playground will remain in the new attraction.
It is also worth mentioning that Mr Bloom’s Allotment is also currently themed to a programme that has not featured on the CBeebies TV channel for some time now. That said there has been no indication as to whether this show is up for replacement.
Swiss Cottage Repairs
The Swiss Cottage will be the latest building in the garden to receive attention. Though unlike some of the recent garden projects, this will be more modest in scale and aims to repair damage to the back of the building and make the structure watertight.
During the years when the Swiss Cottage operated as a restaurant a flat-roofed kitchen extension was built onto the back of the structure. It has been many years since the building was in regular use and by 2019 the roof of this extension had collapsed, which lead to the subsequent demolition of the entire modern section of the kitchen.
The current planning permission is for repair works to complete the process of removing that structure and return the back of the Swiss Cottage to its original state. This involves repairing windows, brick and stone work, as well as removing remaining remnants of the kitchens, such as extractor fans and electric boxes.
Whilst this work will secure the structure for years to come, there is no indication that the park are planning to return the building to regular use at any time soon.
Could we see some new flat rides come to the park next year, following the success of the Retro Squad and Flavio’s Fabulous Fandango in 2021? The temporary pop-up attractions bolstered the ride line-up during Covid restrictions but have proved popular throughout the season.
Over the years, the park’s flat ride line-up has dwindled with the removal of popular rides such as Ripsaw and Twirling Toadstool (and also Submission). Now there are four sites prepped for flat rides, it would seem like an ideal time for the park to invest in this much maligned area of their operation.
We already know that Flavio’s Fabulous Fandango has had its lease extended and is now part of the Christmas line-up. This is a promising sign that the park is including extra flat rides in their plans, so could 2022 see permanent additions? Or perhaps a return of the Retro Squad for a second season, as has been hinted by recent updates to the park’s website.
This year the park applied for planning permission to keep the ‘temporary’ stage on the front lawns during future seasons. This is a good indicator that there are plans to continue to invest in the event line-up.
It remains to be seen how this will manifest – be that through bigger and better versions of the park’s current events or brand new events. The park has previously held events during the lucrative Easter and Summer holidays, as well as February Half Term. Perhaps we could see another new event fit into one of these gaps in 2022.
What Sites are Available?
There are several sites around the park that are currently available for redevelopment. Here we take a look at some of the 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. We can expect 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.
2021 saw the end of The Submission Memorial Garden to make way for Mixtape. However, once the pop-up attraction leaves the former site of Submission, perhaps it will be time for the Ministry of Joy to add a new experiment and bolster the park’s dwindling flat ride line-up.
The Dark Forest is brimming with potential for future development, most notably on the former site of the Ug Swinger, which was home to Roller Disco during 2021 but will once again become vacant when the pop-up rides depart.
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 then 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 it is worth mentioning that the site that currently houses the Dark Forest Lockers was once 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 in 2015. Will this prime location now become home a new headliner for the park’s flat ride line-up.