Alton Towers has succeeded in opening its new £15 million rollercoaster, Thirteen, in time for the start of the 2010 season.
Thirteen opened on its planned March 20 date, with hundreds of excited guests racing to be be amongst the first to ride it despite heavy rain throughout the opening day. The ride's debut brings to an end months of hype and anticipation, during which Alton Towers has billed Thirteen as "the scariest rollercoaster in the world".
Theme Park Tourist was on hand to ride Thirteen, and you can read our review here. Coaster fans hoping not to spoil the surprise should read no further than the spoiler warning below.
You can see images from the opening day of Alton Towers' 2010 season in our galleries.
Thirteen suffered from some minor technical problems on its first day, but was only out of operation for very short periods. For the rest of the time, it was able to process queues fairly quickly and wait times didn't exceed more than around 90 minutes following the morning peak. Three trains were in operation at all times, ensuring a high throughput of guests.
To accommodate Thirteen's horror theming, Alton Towers has updated the former Ug Land area. Now called the Dark Forest, it is otherwise similar in layout to Ug Land, retaining the previous area's shops and stalls. The Rita rollercoaster has also received a "light" update, bringing it into line with Thirteen's theme.
Also rethemed for 2010 is the Spinball Whizzer rollercoaster, which has been renamed as Sonic Spinball following a sponsorship deal with video game publisher Sega. The ride is identical to the previous iteration, with the exception of some new signage and repainted supports.
Alton Towers has finished renovating the Sky Ride, which provides much-needed transportation across the vast park grounds. The Cloud Cuckoo Land station was destroyed by fire in July last year, forcing the park to close the Sky Ride for the remainder of the 2009 season. In addition to rebuilding the station, Alton Towers has added new, multi-colored gondolas to the ride for 2010.
Do not scroll down any further if you do not wish to see spoilers on the Thirteen rollercoaster.
Spoiler warning: details of Thirteen at Alton Towers below
Following the initial lift hill, Thirteen enters a conventional rollercoaster section through the "Dark Forest" area. A steep first drop leads into a series of smaller hills and turns, before the ride enter its set-piece - a "world-first" vertical drop section.
The drop takes place inside a mock "crypt", with accompanying special effects and audio. After an initial drop of a few inches, the section of track holding the ride train drops to the ground below. Riders are then launched into a backwards section through a darkened tunnel, before finally being launched again back into the station.
You can find our full review of Thirteen here.