The newest coaster at Alton Towers finally opened at the end of May following a string of delays and technical problems. After two weeks of operation the coaster is still suffering from late openings and many shut downs but the paying guests are certainly anxious to experience the Smiler as the queues have been very long indeed. So is the Smiler worth the lengthy wait?
If nothing else this coaster certainly looks the part! As you walk down to the ride you are greeted by a tangled mass of metal punctuated by striking bright yellow features. The Smiler has an incredible 14 inversions and looking at the ride it feels like you might be about to experience a giant tumble dryer! There is a loud soundtrack pumping away which becomes irritating after you have stood in the queue line for some time but at least the monotony of the wait is broken up by a great view of the ride with the structure all around you and the cars passing very close overhead. The centre of the structure looks like a giant spider or alien invader with lots of protruding black pipework and there is plenty of black plastic everywhere which appears to be something like roofing products! Overall the coaster looks dramatic and fits well into the X-Sector of the park.
The Ride Experience
The queue moves very slowly suggesting a less than impressive throughput but eventually you make it to the platform to board the ride. Here you will encounter the ride staff dressed in their amusing Smiler uniforms. Bright yellow cut-off dungarees are complimented by black and white striped socks and bother boots leaving them all looking like cartoon characters! You are despatched with a blaze of bright white lights and immediately take on a drop and inversion with strobe lights which has the rather funky effect of making the track ahead look like it is tilted sideways.
The first lift hill is followed by a serious of sharp turns, drops and inversions before you arrive at the foot of the second lift hill which is vertical. More twists and inversions follow and water is spurted into your face before you finally arrive back in the station. The ride is certainly great fun and not as disorientating as you would imagine but lacks really intense thrills. It is a Gertslauer construction like Saw the Ride at Thorpe and Speed No Limits at Oakwood but is much smoother than these rides apart from one section towards the end of the circuit which inflicts a rather unfortunate and painful jolt.
Overall the Smiler is a good but not a great ride which will appeal to many people but probably not serious thrill seekers and major coaster freaks. It is probably about as good as it could be given the small area into which the ride had to fit and the height limits Alton Towers must adhere to but it is yet another coaster which is not as good as Nemesis. Is it worth a three hour wait? No!
Article By Sally Stacey