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Saturday 26th October 2002

Alton Towers put on their 2002 fireworks spectacular, and of course we couldn't resist going to check it out!

For the first day, 26th October 2002, I headed up to the park with a group of friends, splitting from them at around 5:30pm to find and guard my space on the Restaurant Veranda in Towers Street. The sounds of Monster Mash, Ghostbusters and other halloween tunes to keep me entertained.

At around 6pm the (somewhat irritating) DJ from Signal Radio piped up providing the pre-show entertainment and crowd warm-up. As the hour went on the music from the station got louder and louder. Unfortunately the Towers Street Halloween music wasn't killed off until quite late and the mix of the two sounded awful.

The usual line of lights adorned the far side of the lake, further lights accompanied these, lots of various objects were sitting in the lake. The scaffhold towers had been assembled but with the notable lack of video screens this year, a variety of lights adorned the towers instead. Two small fenced off areas housed the "balloons" used in this years performance.

I was at the park a couple of days before the show and had been watching some of the effect testing later in the day, lights, water projections and a rather interesting strobe effect behind the Towers.

7pm arrived, the Signal One DJ went quiet, the Towers Street lighting went out and the show started. The voiceover boomed out and told us about the big bang and with the aid of water projections, fireballs, lights, music and of course fireworks, we were introduced to Fire, Earth, Water & Air. The story unfolded, the fragile balance between the elements was disturbed and a battle ensued. I won't spoil too much but air was the element who apparently tried to increase his status on Earth (doesn't take a genius to work out how).

As with previous years the fireworks are once again very impressive. The lack of video screens this year meant you were more focused on the lake area, which is where all the action takes place so this isn't a bad thing. The water projection seems a suitable enough method of telling the story and eliminates the distraction ("which to watch") of video screens. All the effects, new and old were used to great effect with impressive results this year. In my opinion the items such as the lasers had more purpose this year than last due to the effects nature of the show.

One aspect that did leave me disappointed though was the storyline, towards the start it was absolutely great, signs of a really dramatic story. Then it sort of dropped off completely. A massive battle between the elements ended with an (in effect)"ah well", and some nasty, tacky promotion for a certain new ride. Telling the story of Nemesis & Hex in 1994 & 2000 respectively, this worked great as these rides do have a story line - Air doesn't, and fitting it into the show was poorly done. An effective storyline could've been done without even mention of Air (the coaster, not the element).

All-in-all though, another excellent show from Alton Towers to end the season with a bang. The show will be found entertaining by all ages and if you're prepared to face the queues then you can ride Nemesis, and for the first year, Air, in the dark after the show. Don't forget also that Terror of the Towers is operating on fireworks nights and this is excellent entertainment as long as you're not of a nervous disposition. There's a lot of people there and queues are big, but with a little bit of planning you can still have a great day!

Chris Bennett