Confirmed: Alton Towers to open CBeebies Land in May 2014By Nick Sim, Tuesday, October 15, 2013 17:06
Alton Towers has confirmed that it will convert the Old MacDonald's Farmyard into a themed area based on CBeebies characters for the 2014 season.
Operator Merlin Entertainments has struck a deal with BBC Worldwide to bring kids' favourites such as Postman Pat and In the Night Garden to the park. Covering 5 acres, the area will not feature any major new attractions but will instead boast rethemed versions of the existing Old MacDonald's Farmyard rides. Alton Towers has also promised that "hands-on learning experiences" will form a part of the updated land.
Planning consent had already been sought from the local council to overhaul Old MacDonald's Farmyard, but the BBC's involvement had not been confirmed until today. Attractions including The Dung Heap, Berry Bish Bash and Riverbank Eye-Spy are all currently closed to enable work to begin.
Berry Bish Bash will be extended to add a changing area, and much of the play equipment inside has been dismantled to enable retheming to begin. Riverbank Eye-Spy will have new themed characters installed along its route, with Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride receiving a similar treatment. The entrance to Old MacDonald's Singing Barn will be demolished, and the remainder rethemed. The Dung Heap will be removed altogether, to be replaced by low-level play equipment.
The Big Top that once housed Alton Towers' ice skating shows will be completely demolished. It will be replaced by a "Village Green" area, including a "performance area" and a new toilet block. Several "festival tents" will be located in the area, along with a large marquee. New shows based around CBeebies characters are likely to be hosted here.
Describing the deal, Merlin's Chief Development Officer Mark Fisher said: "The Alton Towers project is very exciting. Most importantly it is the first project in what we hope will be a very important long term relationship with BBC Worldwide. CBeebies is a perfect fit for Britain's number one theme park resort, and both BBC Worldwide and ourselves are excited by the chance to add a little extra Merlin 'magic' to some of the country’s best loved children’s characters. CBeebies Land will add a different and original element to the already fantastic offering we have for young families, making Alton Towers Resort the ideal destination for both day trips and short breaks."
Marcus Arthur, Managing Director UK at BBC Worldwide said: "CBeebies Land will be a fun and exciting way for children and adults to immerse themselves in and explore the CBeebies environment and to enjoy their favourite characters. BBC Worldwide is delighted to be working with Merlin, and this very special development at one of Britain’s best loved theme park resorts is a great beginning."
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