Has the world got you down? Are you looking to turn that frown upside down?
Well, why not try The Smiler, a coaster developed by the Ministry of Joy, a secretive organisation now believed to be behind the various experiments in X-Sector.
The World's First 14 Inversion Rollercoaster will have you smiling in no time.
Ministry of Joy
The Ministry of Joy was introduced to the park as part of the backstory for The Smiler. First appearing in The Sanctuary during Scarefest 2012, this secretive medical enterprise's sole mission is to bring happiness to the nation through social compliance.
Headed by the sinister Doctor Kelmen, the MoJ's latest experiment is Alton Towers' 14-looping coaster, complete with all the equipment needed for Marmalisation.
Marmalisation and The Marmaliser
The Smiler is designed for Marmalisation; a process intended to instil a sense of social compliance through constant smiling, previously tested in the facility known as The Sanctuary.
The Marmaliser itself is a spider-like structure that stands tall as the centrepiece of The Smiler, and the passing trains with its riders are subjected to a number of Marmalising effects that are triggered on each leg. These legs are:
The Inoculator, offering a jab of happiness as you pass by Stage One of the Marmalisation process
The Tickler, aiming to tickle you until you can't resist smiling
The Flasher, blinding you as you hurtle underneath this giant flashing device
The Giggler, infusing riders with an infectious, intoxicating laughing gas
The Hypnotiser, with the power to disorientate, mesmerize and disrupt your self-awareness
Based on the previous experiments run at The Sanctuary, the new method of Marmalisation represents a modern approach to ensuring a constant smile (with a lot less mutilation!).
Opening in 2013, The Smiler was the seventh in the series of coaster projects known as the park's Secret Weapons, following in the footsteps of Nemesis or the neighbouring Oblivion. Codenamed SW7, the coaster was built on the former site of Black Hole in the X Sector, fitting a surprising amount of coaster into quite a compact site, with a track around twice the length of the older ride.
The Black Hole site had been largely unused for many years after the coaster closed in 2006, though the ride's tent still filled the quarry and was used for the final time in 2011 for two of the mazes during that year's Scarefest. Shortly after the event, a planning application was submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in December 2011, for the park's ambitious new coaster.
Over the following 17th months the site was cleared of its exisiting coaster and The Smiler rose over X-sector. TowersStreet followed construction throughout, and you can relive the coaster's development in our complete SW7 Construction Archive.
The ride's original planning visuals, released in January 2012, did not indicate of the number of inversions, nor that the ride would be a record-breaker. The secret was kept until May 9th 2013 when the world was finally told - The Smiler would have 14 inversions and would be a world-record holder!
Originally expected to open in March, construction on The Smiler was delayed several times, and opening was eventually slated for May 2013. The park set an opening date of May 23rd 2013, but it was announced only the day before on May 22nd that due to teething problems, the ride would not be available as planned. The Smiler finally opened to the public on May 31st 2013.
June 2nd 2015 Incident
On June 2nd 2015, four people sustained serious leg injuries after two trains on The Smiler collided. The incident occurred on the "batwing" element of the ride and involved one full train and one empty train that had stalled on the track prior to the event. The incident garnered significant media coverage, and is the worst in Alton Towers' history. Following a five-day park-wide closure, which allowed the Health and Safety Executive to visit the crash site and carry out on-site testing of the ride, the park re-opened with The Smiler unavailable to all guests and with all of its obvious branding removed.
Following completion of investigations and changes made to operating procedures, The Smiler reopened on 19th March 2016. The majority of the ride's theming was restored, although some minor changes were made, including removal of the video showing comical fictitious medical effects to riders and also the removal of references to riders being 'corrected'.