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End of the line for Corkscrew

Park News
Monday, 10th November 2008 By Dan Ketteringham

After 28 years of thrilling guests young and old, Alton Towers' first roller coaster, Corkscrew, has closed.

The park was reopened for one extra day to see the ride off, and plenty of visitors made the effort to come along - despite it being extremely cold and wet for most of the day.

In addition to the Corkscrew being open, several other major rides were also in operation. Above the Towers Family Restaurant was an exhibition with many items relating to Corkscrew's history, such as photographs from the ride's testing period, its construction, as well as old maps, guide books, and merchandise.

Guests were able to purchase limited edition t-shirts and posters marking the end of the coaster's life - and everyone who rode it got a free certificate, in the style of the original versions given out in the 1980s. Guests were also able to walk inside the Corkscrew's ride area while it was in operation, allowing for some rare photographs to be taken before the ride disappears forever.

The 80s theme was continued around parts of the park, with music from the decade being played in both Ug Land and Towers Street throughout the day, as well as 80s -style entertainers keeping spirits up amidst the miserable weather.

Russell Barnes, Divisional Director of the Alton Towers resort, said: "There has been a huge upswell of warmth and emotional outpourings for the closure of the Corkscrew. Many people went on this ride as their first roller coaster. But it's just got to the point after 28 years of loyal service, it's just uneconomical now to keep it going."

The final members of the public to ride were lucky winners of a competition run earlier in the week. Barnes, who is leaving his current post in December to develop new ventures in the Merlin Group, was on hand to dispatch the final train just before 4pm.

As for the future of the soon-to-be vacant land where Corkscrew is, Barnes said: "We want to develop this part of the park and put something absolutely magnificent in for 2010.

"We're going to replace it with a world's first. I can't go into too much detail, because everyone's had to sign up to secrecy. But it will be in keeping with the rides at Alton Towers' renown for opening cutting-edge, brilliant roller coasters."

The Corkscrew was iconic, and for most people held very fond memories. However, it was also old and rough, and roller coaster technology has come a long way since 1980. If the replacement coaster, SW6, can make half as much of an impact to the park's legacy as the Corkscrew has, then it will have done very well indeed.

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