In a surprise move, Alton Towers have revealed their intention to build a new indoor attraction on the former site of the Alton Mouse, behind The World of David Walliams.
Local residents have received an invitation to a public exhibition about the emerging proposals at the Alton Towers Hotel on Monday 19th September. In recent years, Merlin have held similar consultation exercises ahead of major developments at both Chessington and Thorpe Park, leading to speculation that we are about to discover the first information regarding SW9, the park’s next major addition.
The proposed site is alongside The Alton Towers Dungeon and is currently a backstage area. In the 1980s, however, it was a public area, with three coasters located in this corner of the park by the Flag Tower, earning it the nickname of Coaster Corner. Whilst the invitation only refers to ‘the former Mouse’ site, it is widely expected it will also include the much larger neighbouring site, where The Alton Beast once operated.
Little is known about the proposed addition, other than to expect an indoor attraction somewhere within the red outline on the plan above. However, as part of the proposal we should also expect some redevelopment to occur within the former Adventureland 4-11 site, which sits beyond the fence behind Flavio’s Fabulous Fandango, and is part of the park’s GDO area. If the park were to go ahead with the development, they would require planning permission for the main attraction, but are already permitted to build smaller structures within this GDO area.
It is speculated that the site could become home to SW9, or Secret Weapon 9, which will be the next addition to the park’s Secret Weapon programme; a naming convention that the park has used for major projects since the Nemesis site was first being developed. Indeed, the Coaster Corner site was one of the site’s proposed for a major development in the park’s last Long Term Development Plan, back in 2012.
Up until now, each Secret Weapon has been a rollercoaster, but this is not set in stone, leading to speculation that SW9 could in fact be a highly immersive dark ride or even some type of indoor water ride. Either way, if this is a Secret Weapon, we can expect the project to come with a high price tag, one of the defining features of the programme which makes each addition a headliner for the park.
Whatever the attraction type, we may find out more on the 19th, although it is by no means certain that the park will reveal too many details, but rather enough to give local residents a good idea about what will be built on the site and its impact on the local area. This is particularly important for this site, as one of the reasons the coasters were removed from this area in the 90s was due to the noise they generated, which is surprisingly close to Alton Village. An indoor attraction is likely to be a better fit for this part of the park, but whatever is added here, the noise levels are sure to receive a great deal of scrutiny.
Other considerations for the site include the close proximity to the Bunbury Hillfort scheduled monument, as well as the listed Flag Tower, which has been largely inaccessible to the public since Coaster corner was closed in 1991.
If the development does go ahead, not only would the addition bring a much-needed extra indoor attraction to the park, but would also represent the first true expansion of the park’s boundaries in over 30 years, re-opening a long abandoned corner of the park.
As you might expect, even the few details that have already been released have sparked an incredible amount of debate over on our forums, if you want to join in the discussion. And as ever, stick with us at TowersStreet as we bring you more news as we get it, both here and on our social channels.