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The Smiler in the dark

Alton Towers is approaching one of its busiest weekends of the year - the Ultimate Fireworks event - with its £18 million roller coaster The Smiler still out of action.

The Smiler has been closed since an incident on November 2, which saw riders injured when small plastic guide wheels fell from its second, vertical lift hill and struck them. The park has not provided an update on when the ride might reopen, or if it will simply cut its losses and keep it closed until the start of the 2014 season.

A spokesman for Alton Towers said: "All of the rides and attractions are expected to meet extremely high standards, technologically, mechanically and in terms of the end experience and therefore, despite the fact that the ride could have continued to operate safely, we chose to close it immediately to enable us to begin a full investigation."

"We are of course very sorry for any disappointment the ride's temporary closure is causing, but the health and safety of all of our visitors is our absolute priority."

With other rides, including Rita, suffering downtime in the last few days the park has been handing out free tickets to some guests to return during the 2014 season, when it will hope to have put a difficult 2013 behind it.

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