Alton Towers has issued a statement following the cancellation of the preview weekend for its Thirteen rollercoaster, blaming technical problems and bad weather for putting work on the ride behind schedule.
The event was cancelled on Friday, just one week before it was due to take place. The cancellation sparked fears that Thirteen may not be ready for its planning opening date, March 20 - and Alton Towers' statement suggests that the park faces a major challenge to get the ride open on time.
In the statement, the park points to "minor technical difficulties during testing" and the unusually harsh winter weather as the reasons behind the delay. Access to the Thirteen site (which attendees were due to tour during the preview event) remains off-limits to the public, with "an enormous amount of work" still to be completed. This includes work on retheming nearby Rita, and converting the Ug Land area of the park to a Dark Forest theme.
The full statement (courtesy of Towers Times) reads:
"We took the decision to run the Preview Weekend, the first of its kind for the Resort, some months ago recognizing that some of you would welcome the opportunity to experience the TH13TEEN, have a behind-the-scenes tour and learn about how the ride was conceived and marketed. An event of this nature takes a huge amount of organisation and planning particularly as we wanted to make it as special and as unique as the ride itself. As those of you who have received the email are aware, TH13TEEN is an incredibly sophisticated ride and we have experienced some minor technical difficulties during testing. What we have also experienced is some incredibly bad weather over the first few weeks of the year meaning that an enormous amount of work still has to be completed in the TH13TEEN ride area as well as Ug Land which is being rethemed which is why we cannot allow access to the ride area, Ug Land or indeed Rita.
I understand your disappointment and frustration at the weekend being cancelled but we have made this incredibly difficult decision because we could not guarantee the access and the experience that you would expect from Alton Towers Resort. I also understand some of you are rightly annoyed at the short notice which has come about because I had hoped that we would be able to show you some elements if not all - it has become clear over the last 24 hours that this would not be possible.
Once again, please accept my apologies for the cancellation which is totally unavoidable as I now hope you will appreciate. We will be back in touch with those of you who had a reservation for the weekend regarding 'An evening with John Wardley and TH13TEEN' soon".