Alton Towers has submitted a planning application for its world's-first SW7 roller coaster, which is set to feature a huge number of inversions in its compact circuit.
The plans, submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, include a number of drawings of the new coaster. The ride's long-rumoured location on the site of the closed Black Hole attraction is confirmed, along with the target opening date of spring 2013.
The new coaster is set to be the most expensive attraction ever installed by Alton Towers, with its rumored £20 million budget topping the £15 million spent on installing Thirteen in 2010. The plans appear to confirm that it will be manufactured by Gerstlauer, who also constructed SAW - The Ride at sister park Thorpe Park.
A full breakdown of the plans for Alton Towers' new roller coaster for 2013 is given below, along with a number of images from the planning documents.
SW7 will be located in the futuristically-themed X-Sector area of Alton Towers, close to the existing Oblivion vertical-drop roller coaster. It will replace the vacant tent-style building that housed the Black Hole coaster prior to its closure in 2005, which has sat empty for a number of years (although it was used to house The Boiler House horror maze at the Scarefest 2011 Halloween events).
The attraction will cover a total area of around 1.5 acres, a relatively a small area for a major coaster. It will not replace any of the existing rides in X-Sector, with both Submission and Enterprise set to remain in place.
Ride type and manufacturer
The noise assessment in the planning application (which aims to reassure the authorities that the new ride will not disturb nearby residents) uses Thorpe Park's SAW - The Ride as a reference point. It states the SW7 will be of "the same type and manufacturer", providing near-confirmation that the new coaster will be a Gestlauer Euro-Fighter model. The drawings of the ride also bear a strong resemblance to existing Euro-Fighter coasters.
The coaster will be constructed using steel track, and will feature a compact layout that is consistent with other Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter deployments. Several other coaster types, such as Maurer Söhne's X-Car, might also be able to fit into a small footprint, but the statement in the noise assessment would appear to rule these out.
Reaching a maximum height of 22.15 metres (73 feet) above ground level, Alton Towers' new coaster will also dip below ground level at some points in order to gain extra height. It will feature a custom layout that appears to include at least 8 inversions, along with two lift sections (one of which is vertical).
It is not yet clear whether the ride will feature a launched section, although these have been included in existing Euro-Fighter coasters. The inversions appear to include a "cobra" roll and a "sea serpent" roll.
While much of the ride will take place outside, an indoor section housed in its 872 square meter station building could feature additional elements.
"World's first" element
Alton Towers has previously claimed that its new coaster will be the "only one of its kind in the world". It is not clear from the plans what elements might contribute to this claimed status, although speculation has begun among fans.
The majority of interest has focused on the ride's vertical section, with some suggesting that this could feature a vertical launch (providing a neat counterpoint to Oblivion's vertical drop). However, others have suggested that curves prior to the vertical section are too tight to support a vertical launch, and that a launch from the vertical section itself may not be practical.
SW7's theme is expected to be consistent with the surrounding X-Sector area, although Alton Towers has promised to submit detailed plans at a later date. The existing proposals do include some details of the styling of the attraction and its surroundings, confirming that the ride will be painted "black-grey" as shown in the image above. An "aged" look will be applied to the ride's station and queue line fencing.
The plans refer to a major theming element sitting at the heart of the ride, although little detail is given beyond the 15x15x15 metre dimensions and the fact that it is "not a building". The coaster itself appears to interact with theming element on at least 3 occasions.
Two other smaller theming elements with be located around the ride's circuit, although again the plans do not describe these in detail. The ride's station will also house some theming elements, with a maximum height of 11.3 metres. A shop and ride photo outlet will complete the experience.
Construction and opening date
Alton Towers is targeting a March 2013 opening date for its new roller coaster, which is likely to necessitate the start of construction during the second half of 2012. This will commence with the removal of the Black Hole tent and the laying of foundations for the ride's footers. The park is likely to be targeting the first of its 2013 season (expected to be March 23) as an opening date for SW7.
The existing Oblivion roller coaster is likely to provide a good view of the construction site, particularly when its trains pause at the top of its vertical drop - which directly faces the proposed site of the new coaster.
What do you think of the plans?
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