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Monday 3rd June 2002

June 1st 2002 saw the opening of Alton Towers' brand new ice show, Webmaster: An Adventure on Ice. Alton Towers Almanac went to check it out.

After 6 years of Peter Rabbit & Friends on Ice the new show is a radical change from the cute and cuddly to the modern and hi-tech. The show still maintains its family appeal however. Webmaster is an up-to-date story which follows a young computer genius and his new friend, Webmaster, as they travel through the world wide web to battle and evil virus.

Along with the new show came a brand new venue. Following the Spooktacular at the end of the 2001 season the old big top was pulled down to make way for the new. Construction didn't start until the 2002 season had begun, presumably the park were focusing on getting air and the rest of the park ready for opening day.

The new big top features a shaped ice rink (approx. 25m x 18m), all seating located at the front of the ice (for a better view than the previous venue which also had seating at the sides) and less support columns which severely blocked the view in the old big top. All welcome changes.

As you enter the show the hi-tech image is immediately obvious, a large screen upon which images are projected dominates the back-left of the stage and a computer workstation with several monitors is located towards the right. Various messages such as 'ENTER PASSWORD' are flashing on the display as you enter.

The advertised storyline is that a young computer genius and his new friend, Webmaster, travel through the world wide web to battle an evil virus which threatens to kill all imagination and reduce the world to a dull monotone existance. And that is about it as far as the storyline goes, it is very loose but this does mean that the show is easy to follow, including younger guests. Afterall this is a 25 minute themepark show, not a 4 hour theatre performance.

It is however an ice show, and an excellent one at that. This is where much of the focus is, on the skating. And some superb skating it was. Numerous impressive stunts were performed without error as they danced, skated and jumped around the ice. If you've seen a previous performance at the park then you'll know the standard of the skating, if you haven't I recommend you check out Webmaster!

The acting throughout the show was also executed well. One thing we did notice however that some of the miming, particularly in Webmaster's case wasn't brilliant. The mis-match between the mouth motions and the recording was clearly noticable. Hopefully this is something that will improve over time as the cast get used to the show and lines.

The show advertised as featuring several illusions co-ordinated by top magician, Wayne Dobson. However we only noticed the one on June 3rd and it was pretty obvious how it was done, nevertheless the effect was impressive.

And whilst on the subject of effect we'll move onto two of the things that can make give the show a final special touch (or ruin it!) - music and lighting. And with Webmaster they certainly do give the show a big special touch. The music is very immersive and atmospheric, sucking you into the show. And the lighting setup is also very impressive, producing both wild, colourful and high-energy scenes along with more subtle, calmer scenes. Along with the lighting there are the projected images, pyrotechnics and numerous other stage effects.

Overall, Webmaster: An Adventure on Ice is an impressive show, hosted in a nice venue, with some excellent skating and peforming backed up by a magnificent soundtrack. Well worth going to see if you can fit it into your day.

Webmaster: An Adventure on Ice is currently showing 3-4 times a day, with the performance lasting around 25 minutes.

Chris Bennett