Hi guys. Even since John Broome turned Alton Towers into a pay-one-price theme park back in the 1980s, the park has had themed areas to some degree. This arguably hit its peak during the 1990s, when Tussauds under Pearson built iconic areas like Katanga Canyon and Gloomy Wood, as well as supplementing their major coasters with areas like Forbidden Valley and X-Sector. However, there seems to have been less of an emphasis on the park’s themed areas in recent years (I’d certainly say within the last few years, and to a lesser degree, I’d say the emphasis seemed to drop post-2000), so my question to you today is; is Alton Towers as a park moving away from themed areas, and focusing more on immersing guests in individual rides? To be honest, I think there’s arguments both for and against this theory, and I’ll go through some of the personal arguments I can think of for both sides of the coin. For Recent major ride investments have often not been made to fit into existing areas, with areas either being rethemed to fit the ride or the ride just being put in to coexist alongside the area. Out of the major coasters the park has built since 2000, the only one that I’d say fully fitted into the area it was built within without necessitating an area retheme was The Smiler. In terms of the others in the big 7 built post-2000, they’ve either necessitated area rethemes (Thirteen) or been built within an area they don’t entirely fit with and been made to exist as their own entity (Air, Rita, and to a lesser extent Wicker Man). Some more minor investments have also not been made with themed areas in mind. For example, the Alton Towers Dungeon was previously part of Cloud Cuckoo Land, but was officially made part of The Towers in 2019 due to the Dungeons not fitting the CCL theme. Galactica was not made to fit in with Forbidden Valley when the retheme happened in 2016, even if Air was never really FV-themed to begin with. With the opening of TWODW, Cuckoo Cars Driving School has been left entirely on its own, without a themed area to be within (although to be fair, this will probably become part of TWODW before too long). Ditto with Spinball Whizzer following the opening of CBeebies Land (although in fairness, Adventure Land wasn’t much of an area to begin with). Leading on from this, there are quite a few areas with only one attraction in them and not much else; the park has a fair few standalone attractions that aren’t really part of a full area, and some where you can’t even really pinpoint an area of the park for them to be in. Gloomy Wood only has Duel (although I guess you could make an argument for Haunted Hollow). Adventure Land only has Spinball Whizzer. Cloud Cuckoo Land only has Cuckoo Cars Driving School (although in fairness, I’d imagine this could become part of TWODW within time). You could arguably make an argument for Hex being standalone, even though it does utilise The Towers and is intended to be more of a “heritage” attraction. Even though it’s technically listed as part of Mutiny Bay, I’d even go as far as to say that Wicker Man feels like somewhat of a standalone attraction, with its theme and the whole “territory of the Beornen” not really extending much beyond its immediate ride area, and it doesn’t really have a sense of being part of any particular area of the park. Although in fairness, neither did The Flume, and The Flume arguably jarred with Mutiny Bay/Katanga Canyon far more than Wicker Man in theming terms. The park now does the map based on thrill level categories as opposed to themed areas. This would imply that the park is focusing more on individual ride experiences as opposed to out and out area themes. Against The park are still investing in cohesive themed areas; even this year, The World of David Walliams is opening as a full, cohesive themed area. CBeebies Land is also not that old, having only opened in 2014, and that’s definitely a clear-cut themed area. They did also do cohesive, clear-cut areas like Mutiny Bay, Cloud Cuckoo Land and Dark Forest early on in the Merlin era. Even though the rides are not split by area on the map anymore, the areas are still referenced, albeit very subtly. There are many parts of the park that still carry a uniform, fully-themed vibe; X-Sector, for instance, feels like a cohesive area, and so does Katanga Canyon. I could probably name plenty of others, too. You could argue that the park was never focused around fully themed areas in the way that some others are to begin with. For instance, as much as I cite Wicker Man as feeling like a standalone attraction, The Flume was equally as much of a standalone attraction during both its log themed spell and its bath time themed spell, arguably more so than Wicker Man is today. Also, although I cite Spinball Whizzer as a standalone attraction, Adventure Land was never much of a themed area to begin with, even in the early days when it was a giant playground. Even though Air arguably clashed with Forbidden Valley somewhat, its predecessor The Beast wasn’t particularly Forbidden Valley-themed, either. Neither was Thunder Looper, from what I can tell. So, in conclusion, I’m undecided as to whether Alton Towers is moving away from themed areas or not. There’s numerous arguments both for and against this theory, in my mind, but one thing I should clarify is that I don’t think the park moving away from themed areas is necessarily a bad thing. If it means that the park are able to immerse guests more strongly into individual attractions, in the vein of Wicker Man, then I’m certainly not complaining! But what are your thoughts? Do you think Alton Towers is moving away from themed areas? Do you like the path they’re taking in this regard?