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The Smiler at Alton Towers

Key information

Our rating:
5

User rating:
Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (530 votes)

Park:

Land:
X-Sector

Type:
Roller coaster

Opening Date:
May 31, 2013
(Confirmed)

Alton Towers' new roller coaster for 2013 is the most expensive attraction ever installed by the park, with its £18 million budget topping the £15 million spent on installing Thirteen in 2010.

The Smiler is located in the futuristically-themed X-Sector area of Alton Towers, close to the existing Oblivion vertical-drop roller coaster. It replaces the vacant tent-style building that housed the Black Hole coaster prior to its closure in 2005, which had sat empty for a number of years.

Reaching a maximum height of 22.15 metres (73 feet) above ground level, Alton Towers' new coaster also dips below ground level at some points in order to gain extra height. It features a custom layout that boasts a record-breaking 14 inversions, along with two lift sections.

More information about The Smiler:

Monday, February 10, 2014 13:09

Roller coaster manufacturers are constantly looking to pack more and more inversions into their rides' circuits. Let's take a look at the 5 "loopiest" roller coasters in the world.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 09:00
A look at the 10 very best theme park rides and attractions that the UK has to offer.
Monday, December 23, 2013 13:04

A host of new theme park rides were opened in 2013. But which were the very best?

Sunday, December 22, 2013 17:22

The tallest, longest, fastest, steepest and loopiest roller coasters around.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 09:00

A look at the 10 very best roller coasters that the UK's theme parks have to offer.

Upcoming refurbishments, rehabs and closures

We are not aware of any scheduled refurbishment periods for The Smiler. Do you know of any upcoming "rehabs" that we're missing? If so - please contact us so that we can keep the list up-to-date.

Photos of The Smiler

Reviews of The Smiler:

'Ministry of queues'
Submitted by Emporium
on Sunday, March 01, 2015 11:56

Although the smilar has a great reputation in the uk, i was really dissapointed when riding it... the overall theming was ok and i love the giant spider. but i thought it lacked a storyline and the ride station was very bland and weak. i thought the ride itselft and lasted a good amount of time and the first bit was a neat addition. the marmaliser was a bit of a let down as only the 'innoculator' had an effect and that only boeasted water sprayed in your face. i liked the mini scare-maze at the end and the shop had some cool merch. but the main let down was the queue. the queue for smiler ranges from 5mins(if ur lucky) to 45mins(weekend)to 100mins(school-holidays) and then to 180mins(scarefest). I thought was queues were just a joke and the queue time on the entrance was not accurate at all it said the queue was 110mins but it actually was 180mins!! ridiculous amount of time to queue. overall im not fussed about the smiler, do nemmie insted! :-)

3
Visit 09/10/13 - A Ride That Needs Correcting
Submitted by Pete Lee
on Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:03

After a season of much downtime (often 'planned', check the Alton Towers website before visiting!) I have at last ridden The Smiler and to honest I'm still not entirely sure what I think about it.

First off, reliability is still clearly quite a considerable issue. I had about 7 or 8 goes on it with wait times varying between 5 mins and 30 mins. It was no problem really seeing as it was a quiet day but I would honestly guess I spent more of that time waiting for a closed ride to reopen rather than waiting for the open ride to process the people standing in front of me. The thing was continuously going down for between 5 to 15 minutes, at busier times I imagine the queue times will not be pretty.

The ride invites you to 'get corrected' by riding through the record breaking 14 inversions with some optical illusion type effects to enhance this theme. I don't know if it is deliberate but the queue line itself seems like the first optical illusion as when people are streaming through it without having to queue it feels like it is some sort of mirror maze, very disorientating, but just a painful cattlepen when it's busy. It's a shame the mesh has gone over the whole thing, I bet the views of the ride soaring overhead were stunning originally. The indoor queue with projection mapping effects is a neat touch and keep the wait interesting, although all the projectors on the right hand side are about half inch out, spoiling the effect and showing a concerning little movement in the building maybe? I love the score which sounds stunning throughout the queue. Up into the rather bland station and ready to board...

By pure chance all of my rides were in either the front a back rows, you do not get to choose. I'm told the ride start is supposed to be accompanied by a blast of smoke, but all I ever got was a bright light in my eyes. Why do we find such simple little effects so hard to maintain? So we are off with little fanfare into a drop and the first inversion which should be dark but isn't as the building seems to be coming away from the ground letting in a swathe of light. The front row gives a neat trick of not being able to tell which way up you are once you've levelled out but it doesn't work at all in the back. The direct comparison has to be with the Saw (Thorpe Park) indoor section and this is a bit of a non event. It's a shame there isn't more of it and more of a shame that what is there isn't properly dark and doesn't just look like a dank dull space. A missed opportunity.

Up the standard lift hill and the main event begins. What I was expecting was a sequence of inversions that felt shoehorned together to meet the magic number, but it is better than that. A lot lot better. The sequence flows really well and the inversions all feel natural. It is incredibly disorientating and even with my knowledge of what was going to happen I still had trouble identifying what I was doing at any given point. Then the half way brake run, which offers a much needed rest, before more of the same on the other side of the vertical hill. As a ride, I loved it. It is relentless and goes on and on without becoming overwhelming or dull. By far the highlights for me are the two final corkscrews, the airtime hills and the dive loops, some beautiful manoeuvres. But it is far from being perfect...

There are two points on the track that are very unpleasant to get through, the lesser being the exit of the first corkscrew with a nasty jolt and the greater being a deep thud that slams through you in the cobra roll. They wouldn't be acceptable in an old ride, they certainly shouldn't be in a brand new one and knowing the one towards the end is coming is always in the back of your mind. They also exacerbate the other huge issue, and that is the restraints. On a ride like this even on sections of good track the tight transitions are always going to cause your head and upper body to shift about, what you don't need then is a big slab of useless hard plastic an inch away from your face and torso. The result is obvious, and should have been to the fool who decided not to go with lap bars. My wife hit the side of her head so hard the back of her earring pushed into the side of her neck cutting her, she also has sore visibly red shoulders, I just have some tenderness to my neck. The other problem with the restraints is whatever they have made them from stinks, a vile musty damp smell that you can't escape on the ride and gets in your clothes to follow you round for the rest of the day too. Rough and unnecessary.

My other problem is with what should be a massive strength from the effort that has gone into it, and that is the theme. The marmaliser structure (big spider thing straddling the track), the tricks in the station entrance and exit, the strong brand and logo. But what is the story? Why are we there? Why are we riding? The story has a middle, where you are on the ride and being marmalised, it has an end where you now belong to The Smiler, but it doesn't have a beginning so the rest of it doesn't mean much. There needs to be a point to the whole thing, as it is it has a style more than a theme even if it is a good one.

It's a good ride which could and should have been a lot lot better with a bit of thought. It is like it is trying to sabotage itself and not give the amazing experience it surely could with the many things it has going for it. At the same time I somehow loved it but struggled to actually enjoy it.

4
A top ride
Submitted by Mat Art
on Sunday, September 22, 2013 23:01

The Smiler has started its life with a lot of down time. It's first season has been very unpredictable with maintenance being under taken or que lines being evacuated half way through the day. Hopefully 2014 will be a better year and problems will be ironed out. I suspect a lot of work will be done during closed season. My best advice is to get to The Smiler first, it is worth the que wait if the ride does close later in the day. Hopefully this won't be an issue in 2014.

The ride is a spectacle to watch and you get some great views in the que line as the trains race past your head. The indoor part of the que is quite an experience before you reach the clinical white station. Throughout the Smiler theme is overkill but this is not a bad thing. It all adds to a rich, involved experience. You can play The Smiler game on your smart phone, tablet or computer and scan images in the que to unlock further elements.

The ride is a record breaking 14 inversions and one that lasts a considerable time. It has a great bit of air time and the G force is fairly strong in places. You might feel slightly dizzy coming off the ride and it is little wonder with all the inversions. When leaving The Smiler, the exit is made to confuse you with an optical illusion that may make you feel more dizzy than you are.

I'm sure the ride will make the grumpiest person smile and want to ride it again.

I did feel the second half of the ride a little bumpy but not in an uncomfortable way. I do wonder if this will get worse with age and become similar to Saw The Ride.

Alton Towers now has a great addition to it ride portfolio, a thrilling compact extravaganza that will keep you smiling. Top ten excitement but doesn't beat Nemesis in my opinion. Lots of merchandise to take home and a two separate photos combined in the on ride photo.

Thrill seekers now have more reason to visit the park. This isn't a family ride but teenage thrill seeker will test themselves on The Smiler.

5
Smile. Sometimes.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified)
on Thursday, September 05, 2013 18:49

The Smiler. "The world's first 14 looping coaster". It sure does do a helluva lot of looping, that's for sure.

What did I think to it? I was fortunate enough to be on the first public train on The Smiler. I'd be lying if I didn't say I overly-enjoyed myself on the first run. The dispatch for this ride is rather prompt, especially if they're utilising all 5 trains. The indoor section of the ride (for me) is by far the best start to a roller-coaster, I've ever had the luxury to ride. The heartline certainly does flip you 'head over heels' - so to speak. The first half of the ride is rather pleasurable, featuring 6 (if you exclude the indoor heartline), which, in all fairness, generate satisfactory thrill. As the train halts for the V-lift, it's (again) rather prompt in connecting to the lift mechanism and commencing the lift. If you're lucky the trains will duel; which noticeably increases ride enjoyment. All of the following inversions are fantastic - the sea serpent being the highlight. Not to mention 'The Inoculator' - the only effect that actually has an "effect". Overall a very pleasurable experience, with no real roughness (even though some are hell-bent on claiming there is).

For me, the ride itself is a bit dissapointing. This (in itself) probably stems from the fact that it's not very 'gimmicky' and brings nothing new to the table. However, it is certainly a world class attraction, with the sum of inversions - which I applaud Merlin; and the Development team (at Alton Towers) who don't get enough recognition for new rides as they should do. Out of 5, I'd give The Smiler 4. The ride's aesthetics are appalling but amazing at the same time. The spectacle of the ride's size is jaw-dropping, but the pit in which it homes itself to, is... well... less than jaw-dropping and more eye-brow-raising.

Never-the-less, a brilliant addition to the line up. As for the theme; I couldn't have thought of a better one myself.

Tom.

4
The Smiler is Simply Amazing
Submitted by Michael Mander
on Sunday, September 01, 2013 17:44

It's up there with the nations best rides, and it's gained a place in my heart as my new favourite roller-coaster.
Despite the off-putting queues, the queue-line is well themed with some great close-up (sometimes scarily so) views of the track.
The ride itself is a fast-paced, exciting adrenaline rush. Sitting on the front row is simply amazing, sitting on the back row is less exciting, but still an incredible experience. As promised, the ride puts a smile on your face.
Surprisingly, I was not dizzy or sick after the 14-loops. It took me two rides to appreciate the marmalisation effects (they whizz by), but all in all the inversion diversity and constantly changing speed makes for an exciting ride. The theming adds a whole new dimension which makes this ride unbeatable.

5

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