The Smiler

steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, United Kingdom

The Smiler is a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. It has 14 inversions. The Smiler holds the world record for the roller coaster with the most inversions. The riders must be 140 centimetres (55 in) tall to ride the smiler. The top speed is about 53 mph (85 km/h).[1] Riders experience about the same G-Force as a drag car driver (about 4.5 Gs).[1] The Smiler had multiple delays before opening to the public including unforseen teething problems on the 23rd which delayed the opening by another 8 days. The Smiler finally opened to the public on the 31 May 2013.[2] The ride's trains are arranged in 4 individual ride cars in which seat four people, leading to a capacity of 16 riders per train. Five trains can run on the track at once, leading to a capacity of 1,000 riders per hour. On June 2nd 2015, an accident occurred where 5 people were seriously injured when the train crashed into a stalled test train in the batwing element..[3] After rigorous safety checks, the ride reopened in March 2016, and is still operating to this day with no further problems. It is perfectly safe today.

The Smiler
The Smiler trains dueling
Alton Towers
LocationAlton Towers
Park sectionX-Sector
Coordinates52°59′14″N 1°53′43″W / 52.98722°N 1.89528°W / 52.98722; -1.89528
StatusOperating
Opening date31 May 2013 (2013-05-31)
Cost£18,000,000
ReplacedThe Black Hole
General statistics
TypeSteel
ManufacturerGerstlauer
ModelInfinity Coaster
Track layoutInfinity Coaster 1170
Lift/launch system2 Chain lift systems, 2nd is vertical.
Drop98.4 ft (30.0 m)
Length3,838.6 ft (1,170.0 m)
Speed52.8 mph (85.0 km/h)
Inversions14
Duration2:45
G-force4.5
Height restriction140 cm (4 ft 7 in)
Trains4 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 16 riders per train.
Fastrack available
The Smiler at RCDB
Pictures of The Smiler at RCDB

Advertising change

On 11 April 2012 a mini-site was launched so visitors could check the building progress of the ride. During this time, the ride was codenamed “SW7”, like other roller coasters at Alton Towers were.

During September of that year, there was subliminal advertising on the Alton Towers website and stencil art of The Smiler logo around the park.

In early 2013, the logo was projected on various buildings including Big Ben, ticket barriers at Leeds railway station and even spray painted on flocks of sheep in Leicestershire, Devon and Perthshire. On 21 January 2013 the name was revealed to be “The Smiler”. In February a free mobile app was released, where you could “control” the Smiler. This is now deleted.

Starting in early April, Alton Towers released a mini series showing the ride’s backstory.

Opening change

The ride had a troubled opening. It was meant to first open in March 2013, but it was delayed because of issues with the lift hill. Because of this, the ride’s opening date was changed to the 23rd May 2013. Later, it was changed again to the 31st May 2013. This made people angry because they had booked to stay at the Alton Towers Hotel to be the first to ride the roller coaster. However, Alton Towers let those change their date of booking for free.

Incidents change

On 2 June 2015, a very serious accident happened. An empty train collided with a full train.

The staff running the ride that day decided to add another train. They decided to test the extra train to see if it was working properly. On one of the inversions, the train valleyed (got stuck) on the track. Shortly after this, a full train was sent around. A safety precaution stops a train from going up a lifthill when another train hasn’t completed a section.

This happened, and the train stopped at the top of the lifthill. The staff thought it was an issue so they overrided it and let the train go as normal. Seconds later the full train collided full speed with the empty train, requiring two people needing amputation and a few other people were hurt.

Because of this, Merlin Entertainments, the owners of the park were fined £7.5 million.

References change

  1. 1.0 1.1 Martin Fricker (15 May 2013). "Alton Towers' The Smiler tested: Thrill-seeking reporter tries £18million 14-loop rollercoaster". The Mirror. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  2. "Unveiled: The record-breaking 14-loop rollercoaster that combines speed and psychology to terrify riders". Daily Mail. 10 May 2013.
  3. "The Smiler". Mirror Online. MGN Limited. Retrieved 27 May 2016.