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Wicker Man Grand Opening

Alton Towers

Wicker Man, the UK's first new wooden rollercoaster in 21 years, officially opened to the General Public with a Grand Opening ceremony on 24th March 2018.

Crowds wait expectantly for Wicker Man to open

Crowds wait expectantly for Wicker Man to open

Alton Towers originally planned to open Wicker Man on 17th March 2018, the first day of the new season. However, their plans were scuppered by a weather front known as "the mini Beast From the East", which brought snow and below zero temperatures to a distinctly un-Spring-like Staffordshire. This proved too cold for any of their major rides to run, so they were forced to put back Wicker Man's Grand Opening to the following weekend, with soft openings occuring a few days before.

The theme park gates opened around 9:30am on 24th March, and most guests headed down Towers Street and straight towards Wicker Man. They were greeted by some of The Boernen villagers, stilt walkers and fire jugglers. There was a bit of a delay before the ride itself opened, but within half an hour or so the first public trains were being sent around. The queue quickly built up to over 3½ hours.

The Boernen were present to welcome The Chosen

The Boernen were present to welcome The Chosen

The queue was slow going, with Wicker Man appearing to be having frequent issues. At one stage, more test trains were being sent around than trains of people - and these were only being half filled, with four rows near the back left empty on each train. Then, empty trains kept being stopped on the lift hill. With one train on the lift hill looking as though it was not going to budge, the announcement that nobody wanted to hear was made just before 12:30 ... the queueline was being evacuated. With most people having waited over two hours, there were a lot of disappointed faces, but staff were on hand to give out Priority Passes so guests could shortcut the queue on Wicker Man or another ride later in the day.

Wicker Man reopened just before 3pm, and managed to stay open for the rest of the day. There were still a few issues, with test trains being sent around at times and the rest of the trains only being partially loaded, but everybody who wanted a ride managed to get one (or two!)

The park closed at 6pm, and at 7:30pm the ride was still churning through people. Reactions were extremely positive - even despite the teething problems, guests were all very complementary and standing around raving about the ride. With flames leaping into the night sky from the giant Wicker Man statue, it seems that Alton Towers' gamble building a new wooden rollercoaster is going to pay off!

Photo Gallery

Crowds wait at Alton Towers' main entrance for the gates to open

Crowds wait at Alton Towers' main entrance for the gates to open

Queues of people filled the newly refurbished entrance plaza

Queues of people filled the newly refurbished entrance plaza

Waiting outside the Wicker Man entrance for the ride to open

Waiting outside the Wicker Man entrance for the ride to open

A first glance at the flaming Wicker Man statue

A first glance at the flaming Wicker Man statue

Boernen villagers look on

Boernen villagers look on

Some of the Boernen try to emulate modern theme park geek technology

Some of the Boernen try to replicate modern theme park geek technology

I got my photo taken ... with a stone???

I got my photo taken ... with a stone???

Performers were on hand to entertain the crowds

Performers were on hand to entertain the crowds

The queueline opens and the first guests pour in

The queueline opens and the first guests pour in

The queueline begins to fill up

The queueline begins to fill up

Queuing ready to experience Wicker Man

Queuing ready to experience Wicker Man

An empty train takes a test run through the Wicker Man

An empty train takes a test run through the Wicker Man

One of the first trains of people

One of the first trains of people

A partially loaded train reaches the top of the lift hill

A partially loaded train reaches the top of the lift hill

Yet another empty test train

Yet another empty test train

Channel 4 were in the park to film the occasion

Channel 4 were in the park to film the occasion

A rare fully loaded train emerges from the Wicker Man statue

A rare fully loaded train emerges from the Wicker Man statue

A train stopped on the lift hill

A train stopped on the lift hill

The queue time reached 3 hours

The queue time reached 3 hours

Another train stopped on the lift hill

Another train stopped on the lift hill

Wicker Man broke down, and the queueline was evacuated

Wicker Man broke down, and the queueline was evacuated

The rollercoaster falls silent

The rollercoaster falls silent

Guests in the queue were handed a Priority Pass to come back later

Guests in the queue were handed a Priority Pass to come back later

The Boernen were still hanging around, watching their ritual commence

The Boernen were still hanging around, watching their ritual commence

A performer entertains guests

A performer entertains guests

Did you know, Wicker Man features a lot of fire?

Did you know, Wicker Man features a lot of fire?

Stilt walkers

Stilt walkers

Some of the Boernen seem pretty tall

Some of the Boernen seem pretty tall

Up close with the Boernen

Up close with the Boernen

Fire dancer

Fire dancer

Waiting outside the entrance as Wicker Man reopens

Waiting outside the entrance as Wicker Man reopens

Wicker Man reopens!

Wicker Man reopens!

Four rows on each train were left empty for the rest of the day

Four rows on each train were left empty for the rest of the day

Riders burst through the heart of the Wicker Man

Riders burst through the heart of the Wicker Man

The Wicker Man Shop proved popular with riders exiting the coaster

The Wicker Man Shop proved popular with riders exiting the ride

People hung around watching the ride for the whole day

People hung around watching the ride for the whole day

More Boernen villagers

More Boernen villagers

One train ran empty the entire afternoon

One train ran empty the entire afternoon

Wicker Man's fire lit up the sky as darkness fell

Wicker Man's fire lit up the sky as darkness fell

Wicker Man kept running late into the evening

Wicker Man kept running late into the evening

The station looked spectacular in the dark

The station looked spectacular in the dark

The station at night

The station at night

Despite the teething problems, Wicker Man proved a hit on its official opening day

Despite the teething problems, Wicker Man proved a hit on its official opening day

Goodnight from Alton Towers

Goodnight from Alton Towers