Smiler will 'marmalise'

Alton Towers reveals new coaster, The Smiler, will combine mental and physical fear factors to 'marmalise' riders.

New for 2013: The Smiler

The Smiler at Alton TowersAlton Towers have announced that its new 2013 roller coaster, The Smiler, is going to ‘marmalise’ the minds of riders to give them a thrill like no other. Not only will the new ride involve plunging 30-metre drops, hurtling speeds of up to 85km per hour and extreme turns, but The Smiler will also feature twisted psychological effects to mess with rider's minds.

The combined physical and mental assault is rationalised by a new report from researchers at New Scientist magazine revealing that mental anticipation is a key-contributor for ensuring an extraordinary thrill experience.

Existing roller-coasters at the UK’s leading theme park already put the body through its paces. Now, The Smiler will play with the mind by blurring the lines between illusion and reality. Riders will be subjected to five mind manipulations including jabbing needles, blinding lights and optical illusions, to maximise the fear factor. 

The Smiler’s 5 Mind Manipulations:

  • The Inoculator - A jab of happiness as you pass by stage one of the Marmalisation process
  • The Tickler - Aims to tickle you until you cant resist smiling
  • The Flasher - A giant flashing device, blinding you as you hurtle underneath the leg
  • The Giggler - Infectious, intoxicating laughing gas
  • The Hypnotiser - Has the power to disorientate, mesmerize and disrupt your self-awareness

The Thrill Report, commissioned by Alton Towers and compiled by researchers from New Scientist, details the importance of using mental and physical cues on roller-coasters so riders can experience a greater sense of excitement.

The report has found that the ultimate ‘Thrill-Factor’ is composed of five ‘acts’ similar to the set-up of a play. This is because thrilling experiences work best when constructed as stories or narratives.

  • Exposition explains the set-up: a ride’s branding and its look and feel do this.
  • Rising action increases the user's anticipation of discomfort. Queuing is part of this "act", and the slow climb of the roller-coaster.
  • Climax or crisis essentially the moment of terror, a precipitous drop or jerk, supplying both physical and mental cues for fear.
  • Falling action involves turning terror into release, catharsis or pleasure. After a precipitous drop, roller coasters often follow smoother curves that are more enjoyable than the drop.
  • Denouement a period of reflection, a time to compare notes with friends, get a photo of ourselves on the ride, and maybe claim we weren’t scared at all.

The report edited by New Scientist editor, Jeremy Webb says:

All the experiences we use to generate thrill – whether a scary film, bungee jump or roller-coaster - involve an element of fear. This ancient emotion is triggered by either a physical stimulus, such as pain or being thrown around, or a mental one, most commonly the anticipation of danger such as the rising action on a roller-coaster. Roller-coaster designers believe that by pulling both our mental and physical strings, it is possible to create the best possible thrill.
John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers, commented:
We know people get a thrill when they ride roller-coasters, but in order to heighten that feeling of excitement we needed to design a roller-coaster that also incorporates a variety of mental cues.  The Smiler will be different from other traditional coasters in that it will combine intense physical effects to put the body through its paces, along with the unique mental elements to mess with the mind. After riding the coaster they will have experienced full mind and body marmalisation.
The Smiler will be Alton Towers’ biggest ever investment and will feature a track the length of ten football fields, 30-metre drops and speeds of up to 85km per hour. The Smiler is an all controlling force committed to ensuring you smile. Always.

The Smiler opens in May 2013.
 

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