WICKER MAN at Alton Towers in 2018

Alton Towers has confirmed that Secret Weapon 8 will be a new wooden roller coaster called WICKER MAN and is set to open in Spring 2018.

The ground-breaking new ride development is a world class wooden roller coaster built by Great Coasters International.

It will incorporate a giant flaming Wicker Man standing six-stories high. The wooden track will race through the flaming structure three times. It's the UK’s first new wooden roller coaster in 21 years.

The layout for the attraction includes a station towards the top of Mutiny Bay with the track passing through a pre-show, up a silent lift hill, followed by a series of turns and changes in elevation, and multiple tunnels with special effects. 

During the last Alton Towers Scarefest a backstory for WICKER MAN was first introduced in The Welcoming: Be Chosen, a live action scare maze:

"A mysterious group who worship the woods and the animals that live therein like Gods have been disturbed. Every year they host a festival to celebrate their own interpretation of Halloween - the crossing of the worlds of the living and the dead. For the first time they have allowed outsiders to celebrate with them. But what part will you (‘the outsiders’) play in this ritual? Is this really an initiation?"

Since then further teasers have been released.

23rd November 2017:

"In the woods surrounding Alton Towers a mysterious group have emerged."They’ve come to escape the outside world and reconnect with nature. Cut off from modernity, they’re striving to forge a simpler way of life. Living and working together, the group have become single minded in their pursuit. They developed their own language and belief system. They’re working towards something … something big. As the sun’s warmth gives life to the earth, so they believe that their efforts can bring change. Delivering them from modern society to a simpler, brighter future.

6th December 2017:

"The Beornen have marked the woods at Alton Towers as their own."Onlookers sense the excitement rippling through the trees as the winter air buzzes with nervous energy. In a clearing, a mountainous hand built structure is taking shape. Looming over the woods, its incandescent glow ominous yet mesmerising. Only the chosen few may enter. Be chosen.

3rd January 2018:

"The Beornen structure is now complete, towering above the treeline. Although dormant, an ominous drum beat can be heard from within, echoing through the woods of Alton. Ignite your senses and join the chosen few.The awakening is nigh, unearthing 8-1-18. Be Chosen"

It is specified that a 10m 'silent’ magnetic lift hill at a 24° incline will guide the roller coaster to the first and highest drop. The structure will be formed from dark stained timber elements, predominately made up of Southern Yellow Pine. The rails will be formed from a combination of timber and steel. The build-up will comprise six timber strips fixed on top of one another, with a solid steel rail guider fixed on the top of the strips. The trains will have steel wheels that will be guided by the steel and timber construction.

The new ride development will include a maintenance and station building, shop, games unit and food kiosk, which will have a combined maximum of 1,223sqm interior floorspace. It is proposed to build a new board walk linking the entrance to the proposed new buildings. The buildings will have thatched effect roof tiles and the upper portions of the buildings will be clad in aged, horizontal timbers, while the lower portions will be clad in a combination of grass and earth or sandstone effects.

In addition, two themed features are proposed to be incorporated into the ride, the first a maximum height of up to 14.6m and the second a maximum height of up to 16m. Reference sound measurement data has been provided by the ride manufacturer, which was taken from similar roller coaster constructions located in the US. These are the Kentucky Rumbler at Beech Bend ParkWildcat at Hersheypark and Ozark Wildcat at Celebration City

The plans also state that the theme park expects the new ride to bring in an additional 120,000 visitors annually along with a 5% increase in traffic. If the planning application is successful construction may begin in September 2016 for completion in December 2017, with the ride opening for the 2018 season.

The ride, previously known as SW8, follows a long line of Secret Weapon projects including SW3 (Nemesis), SW4 (Oblivion), SW5 (Air), SW6 (Thirteen) and SW7 (The Smiler).

Previous plans for a wooden roller coaster at the park have included a cross-valley ride between Dark Forest and Forbidden Valley.