The Life & Times
In 1981 the park opened its first full themed area with the addition of Talbot Street, transporting guests back to Victorian times. And what Victorian Street would be complete without the addition of a friendly local undertaker, such as Doom & Sons.
Doom & Sons was the park's first haunted house, which invited guests to explore a foreboding funeral parlour, where not all the residents were completely at rest. The walk-through attraction was aimed at slightly older guests and was conceived by Keith Sparks and associates, who would later also be instrumental in the creation of The Haunted House.
The funeral parlour occupied a corner of the Around the World in 80 Days building and was accessed through a neighbouring plaza. As guests approached the austere edifce Mr Doom himself would welcome them, making the undertaker one of the first costumed characters who appeared in the park.
The attraction itself was quite small and involved walking through a number of scenes where guests would interact with the surroundings, triggering scares by opening doors and alike. Guests would visit various rooms in the funeral parlour, including a haunted library and music room as well as the chapel of rest. The main cast of characters was made up of skeletons, though various members of the parlour's staff also make memorable appearances, culminating in a performance by a revenant organist.
What happened next...
When Tussauds took over the park, they wanted to add a new headline attraction to mark the start of the park's new era - this would be The Haunted House, which opened in 1992. The new attraction was aimed more squarely at the family market and shied away from some of the more mature scares found in Doom & Sons. Also, as a tracked ride, it had a much higher throughput than the older walk-through, which could struggle with larger volumes of guests.
For one glorious season in 1992 Alton Towers had double the haunts as Doom & Son continued to operate alongside The Haunted House but the writing was already on the wall. Mr Doom closed up his funeral parlour for the final time ahead of Talbot Street's transformation into The Land of Make Believe in 1993.
Many mourned the loss of the more scary Doom & Sons but it would be nearly 20 years before Alton Towers attempted another full-time horror attraction with the ill-fated addition of Nemesis: Sub-Terra.
But the story didn't end there... In 1993 Doom & Sons spent much of the season SBNO before the attraction was demolished and incorporated into Toyland Tours. The area once occupied by the funeral parlour became part of the Teddy Town and Party Room scenes, and later would become the off-load and Mike Teevee scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Whilst the main funeral parlour facade was demolished and replaced during the development of Toyland Tours, the brick facade of the attraction's exit was retained behind a more cheerful pink render. In 2005 the old Doom & Sons brickwork was revealed once more during the construction of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. During the construction the rest of the old facades (for both Toyland Tours and Around the World in 80 Days) were completely demolished but the remains of Doom & Sons were saved from the wrecking ball and incorporated into one of the internal walls for the new ride.
During backstage tours of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory the remains of Doom & Sons could still be found in a backstage corridor between the boat charging station and the great glass elevators, including a bricked up arch that once formed the attraction's exit. However, it remains to be seen if these remnants of the past will survive the attraction's reinvention as The Alton Towers Dungeon.
For those wanting a taste of what Doom & Sons might have been like, certain aesthetics from the defunct attraction are shared with parts of Duel, especially around the gloomy garden scene. Here the gothic arches and backlit windows are strikingly similar to the backdrops found in the old funeral parlour, and the garden is even home to an undertaker, who you could be forgiven for mistaking for Mr Doom himself.