For many people, it was a complete and utter shock when it was announced that the Thunder Looper was leaving Alton Towers.
The answer was that due to strict planning restrictions placed on the park in the mid 1990's, which required that no structure should go above tree height, the ride had to be removed. Also, the ride's maintenance was becoming an issue, with cracks on both the track and the train having to be repaired more frequently. The ride was removed in 1996, and was replaced during the re-theming of the area. It was replaced by Ripsaw and Blade (the old Pirate ship, moved for the construction of the Oblivion).
Thunder Looper was installed in the park for the 1990 season, and opened up an entirely new area of the park for visitors. Thunder Valley, as it was called, was situated right on the very edge of the park, next to the car parks, and could be seen from the monorail, as visitors travelled to the park entrance. Even then, the ride was old.
It was originally built for the Kings Dominion park in the U.S.A., in 1977, and was Schwarzkopf's first Launched Shuttle Loop Coaster. The ride itself was quite simple. The track consisted of a long piece of flat track, with a large loop at one end. After the loop, and at the opposite end of the ride, was a very steep incline.
The train had simple lap bars, which worried many people, as the ride went upside-down. The train station was situated on the long flat track. The train would be launched from the station, and would accelerate from 0 - 60 mph in about two seconds. It would then go through the loop, and go up the incline which would be almost vertical. The train lost all its speed on the incline, then did it all again in reverse, before stopping again at the station.
Thunder Looper was still in action when Nemesis joined the line-up in 1994, but was removed in 1996 to make way for Ripsaw and Blade. Thunder Looper is probably the most missed ride in the park. It now resides in Hopi Hari park in Brazil.