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Corkscrew

Alton Towers

Alton Towers' iconic double-inversion corkscrew rollercoaster...

Theme ParkAlton Towers
Park AreaUg Land
TypeRollercoaster
AudienceThrillseekers
Opened4 April 1980
Closed2 November 2008 (end of season)
9 November 2008 (final ride event) (replaced by Th13teen)
ManufacturerVekoma
ModelMK-1200 Corkscrew with Bayerncurve
Height75 ft
Length2400 ft
Inversions2
Max Speed40 mph
DesignerArrow Dynamics
Duration1¾ minutes
The iconic corkscrew

The iconic corkscrew

As one of the first coasters in the UK to "go upside-down", Corkscrew became one of the most iconic and well known rollercoasters in the country in the 1980s.

The ride was a Vekoma rollercoaster with two corkscrew inversions, hence the name. It has been widely credited with cementing Alton Towers as a theme park into the minds of the Great British Public, and was responsible for doubling attendance at the attraction from 500,000 in 1979 to over 1 million in 1980. Legend has it that it caused hours of traffic tailbacks as cars of eager visitors travelled from miles around to try and get a ride on opening day.

By today's standards the ride was fairly simple, but in 1980 few people in the UK had experienced anything like it. Corkscrew began with a slow crawl to the top of the 75 foot tall lift hill, the sound of its whirring lift motor echoing around the area. After turning 180°, the train would accelerate down the first drop and over an airtime hill, before negotiating another 180° turn to line up with the double corkscrews. Guests would be flipped upside down twice within three seconds. Following the inversions, there was another 180° turn (apart from flipping over, it used to feel like you were spending most of your time turning 180°!), some trim brakes followed by another airtime hill and a large helix. A couple more 180° turns brought the train into the final brakes and back into the station.

Unfortunately by the mid 2000s Corkscrew was looking increasingly dated next to Alton Towers' more modern rollercoasters, and it was becoming rough and uncomfortable to ride. The rollercoaster was closed at the end of the 2008 season, with a special event held the next week to mark the final "official" ride.

Corkscrew played a substantial role in creating the Alton Towers we know today, and indeed in the formation of the UK theme park industry. It may have been rough and become a little unloved towards the end of its life, but many riders have a twinge of sadness as they remember the distinctive sound of the lift motor or the rumble as the train made its way around. After Corkscrew was removed, the iconic double corkscrew was retained and reinstalled at the entrance to the theme park as a tribute and memorial to the historic ride.

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