When we were up at Alton Towers Resort for the build up and launch of the Wicker Man ride, there was a filmmaker called Euan following around staff and filming everything that happened. It was part of a documentary for Channel 4 called ‘Inside Alton Towers’. Filmed over several months, the documentary follows the team at the Staffordshire theme park as they complete construction of Wicker Man. The project team reveal how the ride was designed, constructed and tested to make sure it is completely safe and delivers a ride thrilling enough to stand alongside Alton Towers’ other iconic roller coasters.

What does Inside Alton Towers cover?

The documentary covers the final months of the project, and shows the launch, and the weather issues that hampered the official opening day. It’s not the first time Alton Towers have opened their doors to documentary crews. There was ‘Themes, Dreams and Scream Machines’ in 1992, ‘Magic Factory’ in 1998 and ‘Park Life’ in 2002. This is the first time in over 15 years that they’ve officially let a crew in to cover a candid, behind the scenes look of the launch of a ride. I loved all of these past films, and they really got me hooked into the world of theme parks. When I was younger we didn’t go to Alton Towers all that much, so seeing it on TV, and following geeky sites like Rideas, gave me a fix of developments there.

Watch the final months of the Wicker Man launch on Inside Alton Towers
Watch the final months of the Wicker Man launch on Inside Alton Towers

“My hope is that Wicker Man will deliver a new set of experiences. You have to get off a coaster thinking ‘wow’ that really made the difference to my heartbeat, my emotions and the way I feel. But for me, Wicker Man’s importance is personal and runs much deeper. I am totally in love with this business and we have to get Wicker Man absolutely right. If it doesn’t deliver, in giving the guests the right experience to bring them back wanting more, we’ve failed. There’s a lot at stake and there’s no turning back.” – Divisional Director of Alton Towers Resort, Ian Crabbe told the Filmmakers.

So – when is Inside Alton Towers on TV?

It’s on Channel 4 on Thursday 23rd August at 9pm – so set your Sky boxes, Virgin Tivo or Freeview / Freesat devices.

I’m sure it will be on All 4 afterwards too. The documentary has been made for Channel 4 by Films of Record, one of the UK’s longest established television production companies who specialise in making popular factual programmes for all the major broadcasters. The director is Michael Ogden, whose previous credits include ‘The Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago’ for BBC2, and ‘Class of ’92: Still out of their league’ for BBC1. The full synopisis by Channel 4 is below –

For nearly 40 years, Alton Towers has attracted visitors to some of Britain’s most thrilling roller coasters. But in June 2015 something went very wrong. Two carriages collided on one of the park’s most popular rides, injuring 16 people, five of them seriously, This one-off documentary goes behind the scenes as the UK’s biggest theme park attempts to win back visitors with the launch of their multi-million pound new roller coaster, Wicker Man • the first new ride at the park since The Smiler crash. The film meets the roller-coaster junkies keen to try the new ride; and with exclusive access to the theme park follows the team at Alton Towers as they battle with the challenge of building a wooden structure that appears to burst into flames. Can the theme park sell the new ride to the public, a sceptical media, and, get Wicker Man ready for its big launch?

I honestly can’t wait to see Inside Alton Towers, and you never know, you might see my ugly mug in the back of a shot!

In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend digging out the old documentaries on YouTube – they give a great retrospective on days gone by at Alton Towers Resort. Also – keep an eye on Alton Towers Social Media in the run up to the documentary.

Did you watch ‘Themes, Dreams and Scream Machines’,’Magic Factory’ or ‘Park Life’ when they were first on TV? Drop a comment below!

Header image by Attraction Images

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