The Log Flume
In the Summer of 1980 the transformation of Alton Towers into an amusement park was already proving popular, but John Broome knew further investment was needed to keep guests coming back. For its second season, the park was ready to embark on its first large-scale engineering project - to create the longest flume ride in the world.
A five-and-a-half acre field to the East of the Ingestre Centre was transformed into a purpose-built reservoir to provide the ride's water supply, whist at the edge of the new lake a large turntable structure housed the white geometric station.
On opening, the ride went by the name of the Wild Water Flume and its 2600ft waterway meandered from the station into the woods at the outer limits of the Gardens, where guests could enjoy views of the Park Railway and Temple Lake whilst taking on three drops and two tunnels during the five-minute ride.
The flume was one of the first attractions in the park to have an on-ride photo and during the ride each log would stop briefly at the top of the last lift hill where one of the ride's attendants waited in a small cabin and would present a ticket to guests on the log to be exchanged for a photo taken during the final drop.
The Park Railway originally bordered the attraction on two sides, which meant access the ride was via a railway bridge over the tracks, but the popularity of the flume meant that by 1982 the Park Railway had been shortened to open up the ride area to the rest of the Ingestre Centre. By 1983 the ride had also started to transition to the more traditional name of The Log Flume.
In 1984 the Log Flume received some new guests as dinosaurs were added throughout the woodland section of the ride, having been displaced from Dinosaur Land which had closed the previous season to make way for the Black Hole. At the same time, a prehistoric family moved into the tunnel section of the ride.
The 90s saw further developments for the Log Flume, as the ride lost its classic white geometric station in 1994, when it was clad with a more rustic look in keeping with a logging theme. The Dinosaurs survived this re-imagining of the ride, but not for long as they too departed in time for the 1996 season and once again the woodlands of the Gardens became the main scenery of the ride.
The Flume: Unplugged
By the early 2000s, the Log Flume was starting to look rather tired and the wooden cladding was starting to look rather too rustic. It was time for a new look, and at the end of 2003 the ride closed, ready for a long overdue overhaul.
The culmination of this worked resulted in the 2004 opening of "The Flume: Unplugged". Gone was the wood, the logs and any memory of the dinosaurs; and in their place stood bathtubs, power-showers, and rubber ducks! In a sponsorship deal with Imperial Leather, the ride appeared with its new theme: "Bathtime With Attitude"!
The ride now sported a funky fresh new soundtrack as well as several new features, including a pair of power showers as the ride headed back to the station and what can only be described as the rubber duck from your nightmares living in the tunnel. The Flume lake also became home to a fleet of remote-controlled ducks to keep non-riders occupied whilst their friends went for a soaking.
Some expected the arrival of Mutiny Bay in 2008 to include a further redesign of this popular ride. However, this was not to materialise and instead the ride maintained an interesting contrast with its pirate neighbour. Initially the park even started referring the The Flume as being part of Katanga Canyon, though this only lasted for the first couple of seasons.
What happened next...
After 34 seasons of splashing and soaking, The Flume's final season was 2015. The ride closed on the 10th October, and initially it was believed this might be a cost saving measures at the end of a difficult season. However, rumours immediately started to circulate regarding the ride's future and over the closed season it was announced on the park's blog that the ride had indeed closed for good.
When the park opened in 2016 the site was fenced off and The Flume stood SBNO for the whole season. Behind the scenes, planning permission was being gained for the resort's next Secret Weapon - SW8. Part way through the season teaser posters for the new attraction also popped up around the fenced off site.
As the season drew to a close, demolition of the ride began in earnest in late November 2016, ready for the construction of Wicker Man. The construction of the new coaster totally transformed the former site of the flume, though the lower sections of the ride are built into the area of the former lake bed.
An auction in 2017 saw much of The Flume's paraphernalia sold off in aid of Merlin's Magic Wand, including most of the boats. However, some elements of the ride's theming remains in the park, such as the giant tap that once sat on the station. This was last seen as part of the theming for the Freakshow during the 2017 Scarefest.
The removal of The Flume saw the woodland section of the attraction turned back over to nature and whilst the flume itself was entirely removed a few telltale signs of the attraction can still be seen in the woods such as the occasional foundation.