Follow the mysterious Beornen on a rite of passage aboard the UK's first wooden rollercoaster to be built in 21 years ... have you been Chosen?
|Theme Park||Alton Towers|
|Park Area||Gloomy Wood|
|Manufacturer||Great Coasters International|
|Designer||Merlin Magic Making|
|Height Restriction||1.2 metres|
|Codename||Secret Weapon 8 (SW8)|
The Beornen are a secretive group who inhabit the woodlands surrounding Alton Towers. They have shunned modernity, choosing instead to practice ancient rituals worshipping the Earth and the natural world, selecting individuals to join The Chosen.
Wicker Man gives Alton Towers guests the chance to join the Chosen Ones aboard one of The Beornen's works trains and journey into the group's mysterious world. En-route their path is lit with burning embers, before they encounter a spectacular flaming Wicker Man effigy which bursts into flames as the works train hurtles through the heart of the blazing sculpture. Perhaps only then will riders learn the whole truth about The Beornen and their ceremonies.
The rollercoaster has been heavily marketed by Alton Towers as the world's first rollercoaster to combine fire and wood. While this may not be strictly true (Joris en de Draak at Efteling, Wodan at Europa Park and Apocalypse at Six Flags Magic Mountain are all wooden rollercoasters featuring fire effects), Wicker Man does feature fire and simulated fire effects as one of the most prominent features of the ride, with the spectacular Wicker Man effigy appearing to burn up in a blazing inferno as trains pass through.
What is undeniably true is that Wicker Man is the first wooden rollercoaster to be built in the UK in 21 years - the last was Megafobia at Oakwood, which was opened in 1996. Parks have argued that the General Public see wooden rollercoasters as old fashioned and potentially unsafe, so choosing to construct Wicker Man has been a big gamble for Alton Towers, although much welcomed by rollercoaster enthusiasts in the UK and internationally. If the ride is successful, could we see more wooden rollercoasters in the UK in the next few years? Let's hope so!
Before the ride name was officially announced, Wicker Man was known as Secret Weapon 8, or SW8 for short. Progress on construction was widely followed by the coaster community throughout the 2017 season as the coaster rose from the ground on the site of the old Flume ride. You can see how the rollercoaster came to be on the dedicated Theme Park James SW8 Construction page.
Wicker Man's backstory surrounds a mysterious group of woodland dwellers known as The Beornen who live in the woods near Alton Towers. The Beornen were first introduced to the public during Scarefest 2017, with The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze giving visitors the chance to partake in one of the group's ancient ceremonies conducted to select members of The Chosen. These chosen ones got the opportunity to explore The Beornen's village, before ultimately encountering a burning man overseen by a strange priest-like figure.
The Chosen can now climb aboard one of The Beornen's works trains and learn more about their private world, encountering the focus of The Beornen's worship - their huge fiery Wicker Man - up close.
Taking a 180 degree turn out of the station, the train enters the pre-show building where riders learn more about the ride they are about to experience. Following the preshow, the rollercoaster emerges into the daylight and doubles back on itself to engage on the lift. Part way up, the lift's gradient changes from 24 degrees to 12 degrees.
At the top of the lift, the train enters a sound tunnel before diving down the first drop and flying over a large airtime hill, then turning right and surfacing back into the open air. From here, it makes a left turn, aiming straight towards the Wicker Man effigy for riders' first close up encounter as they burst through the wooden edifice. Entering a long left turn, the train turns and races through the statue from the opposite direction. Continuing onward, it climbs uphill, then turns once more to descend back towards the Wicker Man for the final brush past its fiery limbs.
Taking a left then right turn, the train passes underneath the first drop and lifthill, before hitting the final brakes. Trundling left, it passes through the rollercoaster's maintenance building, then turns back to enter the station.