Duel. Time to say goodbye?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Wilko, 4th Jun 2017.

  1. Wilko

    Wilko Guest

    When I first started to regularly visit Alton Towers with my fiancée in 2014, Duel was a ride we enjoyed. It wasn't down to the quality of the ride (let's face it, it's never been fantastic) more for the fact it was an entertaining 5 minute experience when you just fancied a little rest from walking around all day and standing in queues. After riding Duel today I can't help but feel that it is now nothing more than an embarrassment to the park.

    So, what's wrong with Duel? In short, everything. Anyone recognise the following? ;

    1. Some of the LEDs don't work. No, scrap that, A LOT of the LEDs don't work. Some of these lights have been broken for a couple of years now and it doesn't appear that AT are interested in fixing them.
    2. The ride is full of constant stoppages. I can't remember the last time I was on the ride for the entire duration and didn't have to stop due to a 'technical fault' at some point.
    3. The props are awful. Whether it's the zombies, spiders or the 'snot men' stuck on the wall, they all look absolutely crap. No exceptions. Forgive me if I'm wrong but they look like they've been there since the mid 90's. I don't actually know what 75% of the things in there are meant to be.
    4. The lighting. It doesn't hide anything, and you can see all the mechanisms. At one stage you can clearly see a head swing above you on a metal bar. It's woeful.
    5. The guns stop working before you enter the final area. For some reason when you enter the final LED filled area your gun totally cuts out. Not really sure what the point of this is.

    Now you may think I'm just picking on Duel, however as a fan of haunted house attractions I can't help but feel it is miles below par. Even employees of the park talk openly about how terrible it is, and that is surely a cause for concern. I believe it is on Towers Loving Care's list to improve in the close season, however I don't think there's any way of salvaging anything from the ride. The best option may just be to gut the whole thing and start a fresh. Duel's ride area is absolutely huge and if Merlin were to consider ripping the whole Duel ride out and building a brand new, 21st century haunted house on the site I can't help but think this would be fantastic.

    Any thoughts on this?







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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  2. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Whilst I can't say I find constant technical stoppages an issue on Duel, I agree with most of your comments.

    The ride will see some TLC improvements very soon.

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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  3. themeparkfan

    themeparkfan TowersStreet Member

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    I was thinking about this the other day too. At present the ride is really lacking but lets be honest there is only 2 dark ride options on the park. I was looking at the new ninjago ride at legoland on Thursday the theming is great lots to do while queuing and new technology is impressive but I think we need to consider if 3d screens or animatronics is the way forward for the new version of duel . Any thoughts?

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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  4. Wilko

    Wilko Guest

    I had similar thoughts myself. I suggested something to my fiancée earlier, however it is a little farfetched...

    How about they build a brand new Duel in the current Charlie and the Chocolate Factory building and use the current Duel area as a new dark ride (possibly to fit in with SW8 and it's theming). The new Duel would be an entirely new experience (albeit along the same lines) and could be included as part of the Dark Forest to fit in with Th13teen.

    Like I said, very farfetched but intriguing I think.



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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  5. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    I think Alton Towers owe it to Duel/Haunted House to improve it.

    The idea of it becoming a screen based ride like Ninjago makes me feel quite unwell.

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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  6. themeparkfan

    themeparkfan TowersStreet Member

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    I know but will Merlin see it as a cheap option which needs less upkeep?

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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  7. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    Here is your problem. The ride has been in an awful state since around 1998. Before this, it actually worked. Duel/Haunted House has seen SO many poor quality or unprofessional changes from its original design over the years, or poor scenic & effects maintenance, each getting worse than the last. When it opened, it was far more impressive, theatrical and good fun than the embarrassing ghost train it is now.

    This is a ride that needed to be restored a long time ago. It wasn't it, and now it is too late- Merlin don't restore old rides.


    This is almost never to do with a fault, and is always to do with slow operations in the station, such as disabled guests boarding or general slowness, meaning an operator repeatedly pressing the time out (or whatever it is), because the transit is designed to constantly move.

    The ride actually has some of the best scenic design and prop design ever done in the UK. That sounds ludicrous to say doesn't it? Because I agree, it looks SO bad now.

    This is ALL to do with lighting, timing, maintenance and the terrible over-paints the sets & props have had over time. All either hiding the fantastic detail in darkness, or lighting it in bright spot-LED making everything look flat and lifeless.

    I know the ride well and have walked around it backstage - it is largely still amazing in person - but you never see or experience that now when riding.

    When it opened in 1992, this was the big aim. Especially the latter scenes, one of which got replaced in 2003. The most creative scenic artists & builders of the time were used on this project, and a huge amount of talent went into its design.

    Also the props themselves (those that are original) are HUGE, seriously big. Again this was all done to give the dramatic effect that the ride had originally. There is a reason that the ride needed the largest dark ride building in Europe when it first opened. But again, through flat over-painting and bad, flat lighting, you would never see it now. I agree, the props now seem obscure, undefined and random, mixed in with tatty halloween-style props too. What a waste of a great ride.


    The original lighting scheme (which was timed for every scene and had a lot more lighting-based trickery to hide, reveal and exaggerate at the right moments) has long since gone. It was poorly redone in Duel, but made far worse in recent years when the entire thing was hurredly replaced with LEDs bulbs.

    LEDs are absolutely not the right tools to be using to light this ride, I think it is a travesty. They plainly do not work on the original lighting circuits and illusions that are in there. The flying heads for example, have long since stopped working correctly. They relied on a special strobe mechanism and their original paint pigment to give the effect of flying towards you and then suddenly disappearing at the right time (with a rapid UV strobe to exaggerate their movement, not like the awful slow-flashing white strobes strewn throughout the ride now). Since only the UV pigment would react under the light, the mechanisms stayed invisible.

    But the scene now is laughable and is also missing a lot of its sound effects. Audio is half what makes a good dark ride! All the original sound design was removed too, any tracks that have been put back in are incorrectly timed and the speaker system sounds busted.

    All the animations also move too slow and probably need repair, like any engineering - the more you leave something without servicing, the more difficult it will be to ever work smoothly again.

    Anyone with any experience in theatre or the like will have an idea what I'm on about. The ride was designed to be theatrical, so if it's poorly timed and cheapened over & over, it will end up feeling total rubbish. The ride also used to be funny, scary and actually be entertaining. Well that's long since gone!

    However, to gut the attraction and turn it into Ghostbusters or something, you'd be demolishing the opportunity to make it a really excellent, fun haunted house again. You just cannot get the same level of vast detail and originality that the Haunted House had (and, to an extent, still has lurking in there) anymore in the UK, for a lot of reasons. I would say it needs a big refurbishment with new systems, reworked scenes and restored sets, but that isn't really going to happen unfortunately.
     
    Last edited: 4th Jun 2017
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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  8. Wilko

    Wilko Guest

    Fascinating insight, thank you. When you put it like that it makes the whole thing quite sad. Such a shame they've let a ride that required so much thought and skill go to waste.

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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  9. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    That's just half of it! Dark rides are great when they are new, but in the UK for some reason they have never been looked after. If you were watching a show that had a special effect, and you shone a big flashy light on to it showing up all the wires and tricks of how it's done, it would be rubbish right? And you wouldn't even get much a feel for what the effect was supposed to be.

    Then take away the audio (or make it sound thin and tinny), take away the detail, time it really slowly... You soon end up with a mess that isn't entertaining.

    It's hard to really get a sense of just how far the ride has fallen, without knowing how it was intended to be and then walking around seeing what remains. It always had a goofy edge, but if the ride opened now as it did in 1992, but making use of newer tech as well, I'm sure it would be very entertaining as a family dark ride. The laser guns were a 00's fad and could be done without in my opinion.

    So I really don't blame anyone for thinking its a load of rubbish. Ideally it would be shut immediately for repairs or an overhaul, because it's embarrassing, but in Merlin's mindset the ride is A) not broken at all, as long as the cars move, B) a building waiting to be reused.
     
    Last edited: 4th Jun 2017
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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  10. Plastic Person

    Plastic Person TowersStreet Member

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    I actually though the initial Duel refurbishment was reasonable, if ultimately short-sighted. But it has really turned into a total shambles of a ride. When you imagine the turnover in terms of management and maintenance, this sort of thing really does become impossible.
     
    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  11. MaxPower

    MaxPower TowersStreet Member

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    After seeing Merlins attempts at refurbishing Tomb Blaster, I have little to no hope of them doing a decent restoration of this attraction.

    i just hope it is a restoration rather than a replacement as some of the scenic design in that ride is quite stunning.

    It's unbelievable how much work needs to be done at the park right now. Things shouldn't of ever got to this stage with some rides SBNO and others in state of disrepair.
     
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    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  12. chilli2

    chilli2 TowersStreet Member

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    Duel on a / in a boat? the worlds first haunted house boat ride?

    As for the original haunted house, I can remember having to queue up for it as the queue line snaked its way through the trees, must have been sometime around the mid to early 1990's, all seems a little run down now
     
    Posted 4th Jun 2017
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  13. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    I think it will be closed next year as Hex was for TLC
     
    Posted 5th Jun 2017
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  14. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    But Hex wasn't closed for TLC, it was closed to save budget. Duel will probably remain open. (But I'm sure lots of people wouldnt mind it being shut in the meantime just to save on guest embarassment to be honest!)
     
    Last edited: 5th Jun 2017
    Posted 5th Jun 2017
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  15. nickhutson

    nickhutson TowersStreet Member

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    Apart from The Haunted River (Kings Dominion), Monster Mansion (Six Flags Over Georgia) and all Dungeon boat rides... And It's a Small World.

    We do need more horror based log flumes, I agree.
     
    Posted 5th Jun 2017
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  16. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Well, the Flume had got pretty scary with all the banging about in its final years ;)

    And that "evil duck" in the tunnel - cor, used to give me the hebegebees
     
    Posted 6th Jun 2017
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  17. Bunny Munro

    Bunny Munro TowersStreet Member

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    Could Cloud Cuckoo Land become the Haunted Harbour?
     
    Posted 6th Jun 2017
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  18. BenTechy66

    BenTechy66 TowersStreet Member

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    PLEASE not another dark theme!
     
    Posted 6th Jun 2017
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  19. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    Duel is in an abysmal state, it's almost at Tomb Blaster levels of awful. The problem is, what to do with it.

    Retiring the ride would be silly. For starters it's an all weather family attraction in a country where it rains an awful lot. It also has a great facade, Gloomy wood is an attractive little haunted area (albeit too small) that is pleasant to be in and looks great from the monorail and the shop and out door queue line are fine. I also love the indoor queue line and entrance and would like to see some TLC and restoration work in there. Closing Duel I feel is a bit extreme.

    It won't get overhauled. That would cost a fortune and wouldn't see a return on investment. How would you market an attraction, without a gimmick, that's had an expensive overhaul that can only really be seen once inside? I'm sure it could attract higher patronage and positive reviews but not enough to justify the cost.

    The best we can hope for is a damage limitation approach of some extensive TLC. But it needs A LOT of work, some scenes need a complete redesign, especially in the latter half of the ride.
     
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    Posted 6th Jun 2017
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  20. Skyscraper

    Skyscraper TowersStreet Member

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    When i rode it last week, the tunnel wasn't working. Has it not been working for long, and does anyone think it will get fixed?
     
    Posted 1st Jul 2017
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