Willy Wonka takes you on a boat tour through his world-famous chocolate factory before you board the great glass elevator for a trip of a lifetime...
|Theme Park||Alton Towers|
|Park Area||Cloud Cuckoo Land|
|Opened||1 April 2006 (replaced Toyland Tours)|
|Closed||November 2015 (replaced by Alton Towers Dungeon)|
|Manufacturer||Mack Rides (boat ride)|
Rexroth Bosch Group (elevator)
Alton Towers’ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a ride based on Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book of the same name. The ride took guests on a boat trip down a river of chocolate, past scenes styled after the famous illustrations by Quentin Blake.
During the journey, Willy Wonka himself provided narration as riders encountered familiar sights and characters including Oompa Loompas, Violet Beauregarde as she turned into a giant blueberry, and Veruca Salt in the nut room where she was found being taught a lesson by Wonka’s band of resident squirrels.
At the end of the boat tour, riders walked through the giant television room, then on into the Great Glass Elevator. The elevator flew around more of the chocolate factory, before crashing through the roof and soaring into the sky … then returned back to the ground with a bump.
Prior to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the ride building had been home to the Toyland Tours boat ride. Much of the boat ride was reused, although the original water channel was shortened to make room for the Great Glass Elevator portion of the ride. The elevators combined a motion simulator platform with projection screens to give a 360 enveloping animated experience.
The ride opened to much fanfare in 2006, with Alton Towers boasting about spending millions of pounds on the very latest in military simulator technology for the elevators (of which there were actually two, to provide sufficient capacity).
Unfortunately, the reality was the ride had suffered from substantial budget cuts. Whereas Toyland Tours had been packed with colourful animatronics, much of the boat ride took guests past static models and, at times, completely empty areas. To fill the gaps, the experience relied too heavily on TV screens and digital effects. The ride shop was never built, meaning riders exited the Great Glass Elevator into a large empty space.
While the elevator section provided a novel and fun experience, overall Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wasn’t particularly re-ridable. After the first few seasons, the large outdoor queueline was seldom used, nor was the second elevator really needed. Following the 2015 season it was announced that Charlie would be closed for 2016 for maintenance as part of the “Towers Loving Care” programme. TLC apparently involved doing nothing, and the weeds started to grow up through the ride’s entrance plaza and little “love” appeared to be being given to the attraction. Finally, as the 2018 season drew to a close it became clear that the former Charlie site was to become home to the Alton Towers Dungeon opening for 2019.
After Toyland Tours closed part way through the 2005 season, transformation of the ride into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory began. Hoardings invited visitors to return in 2006 to explore Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
Construction hoardings around the old Toyland Tours site
Visitors were invited to return in 2006 to see the new ride
The old Toyland Tours elephant was removed
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sat in a corner of Cloud Cuckoo Land
The ride entrance
Unfortunately the theming wasn't quite tall enough to hide the whole ride building
Charlie attracted long queues during the early years
Boat boarding area
A boat in the station ready to depart
Entering the Chocolate Room
The Inventing Room
The waterfall would switch off just before boats passed underneath it
The Nut Room
The squirrels and their nut supply
The boat ride section of Charlie suffered from large empty areas
The Television Room
The Great Glass Elevator takes riders for an extended tour of the factory
The Mint ... where coins are made of mint!