TPJThemeParkJames

SW8 Construction

Alton Towers' 2018 Wooden Coaster

SW8 - Secret Weapon 8 - is Alton Towers' new wooden rollercoaster, built on the old log flume site and due to open for the 2018 season.

Theme ParkAlton Towers
Park AreaGloomy Wood
Ride TypeWooden Rollercoaster
ManufacturerGreat Coasters International
DesignerMerlin Magic Making
Height Restriction1.2m (TBC)
SW8 Advertising

SW8 Advertising

Secret Weapon 8 will be the park's first wooden rollercoaster when it opens at Alton Towers in 2018, and is being manufactured by Great Coasters International (GCI).

Rumours suggest the ride will have a Wicker Man theme, and rollercoaster's track will pass between the legs of a large Wicker Man statue.

Planning for the ride began in 2014, with several areas of the park considered as possible sites. Early on, the rollercoaster was due to be part of Forbidden Valley, built on the car parks near to Air. By March 2015, a location on the site of The Blade was being considered, with the track reaching over to part of the old Nemesis extended queueline. However, ultimately The Flume site was chosen after it was decided that the log flume had reached the end of its serviceable life.

Several options for rollercoasters were considered and passed through focus groups, before the teams at Merlin and Alton Towers settled on a wooden rollercoaster. Proposals from manufacturers such as The Gravity Group (Cú Chulainn, Tayto Park) were evaluated before settling on the design from Great Coasters International (Wodan, Europa Park).

Much of the coaster's construction is taking place during the 2017 season, so visitors to the park are able to watch progress as the wood rises into the sky. If everything remains on schedule, the first train should be sent around the track sometime in December 2017.

4 November 2017

Alton Towers' fireworks weekend provided the final opportunity before the closed season to take a look through the fences at the SW8 construction site.

The Katanga Canyon pathway was open for the entire weekend, but the real treat for rollercoaster enthusiasts was after the fireworks shows each evening when the service road was opened up, giving us all our first chance to walk underneath the Secret Weapon 8 lift hill and really get up close with the new wooden coaster.

Photos

New path

A final chance to walk down the new path this season and look through the windows in the fence

The Welcoming

Aerial view over The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze from the Sky Ride

Sky Ride

View of SW8 from the Sky Ride

Banked turn and queueline

Banked turn and queueline

Track

Track

Service Road

Fencing and green netting has been put down both sides of the service road underneath the airtime tunnel

Track exiting the maintenance building at night

Track exiting the maintenance building at night

Inside the maintenance shed

Inside the maintenance shed

Lift hill

Lift hill

Brake run passing underneath the lift hill

Brake run passing underneath the lift hill

Underneath the lift hill

Underneath the lift hill

The wood: close up

The wood: close up

A nighttime view over SW8

A nighttime view over SW8

Airtime hill

Airtime hill

Crowds walking along the service road

Crowds walking along the service road

Lift hill

Lift hill

Between the lift and the airtime hill

Between the lift and the airtime hill

Bottom of the first drop passing underneath the lift hill

Bottom of the first drop passing underneath the lift hill

Up close with Alton Towers' new wooden rollercoaster

Up close with Alton Towers' new wooden rollercoaster

Wood ready to go into place

Wood ready to go into place

The kiosk building wrapped up against the chilly night air

The kiosk building wrapped up against the chilly night air

Beside the track

Beside the track

Bottom of the first drop

Bottom of the first drop

Track bed built up ready for the steel running rails

Track bed built up ready for the steel running rails

Public access underneath the sound tunnel

Public access underneath the sound tunnel

What is inside box 10?

What is inside box 10?

29 October 2017

The Katanga Canyon path is now being opened from around 4:30pm for the rest of Scarefest, offering a new set of views across the site and the first opportunities to get up close to SW8's maintenance buildings. The path is also expected to be open next weekend during the evenings of the Fireworks event.

Photos

A view down the site

A view down the site

Switching direction

Switching direction

Top of the lift hill

Top of the lift hill

Airtime hill

Airtime hill

Airtime hill, with supports in place for the sound tunnel

Airtime hill, with supports in place for the sound tunnel

Looking through the airtime hill

Looking through the airtime hill

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

Pathway past the kiosk building

Pathway past the kiosk building

Layers of lamination being built up for the track bed

Layers of lamination being built up for the track bed

The queueline will go underneath the rollercoaster

The queueline will go underneath the rollercoaster

Queueline being built

Queueline being built

Around 95% of the paths are now in place

Around 95% of the paths are now in place

Queueline path

Queueline path

Queueline fencing being put into place

Queueline fencing being put into place

Track passing through the theming element

Track passing through the theming element

The theming element under cover ... could this be the Wicker Man?

The theming element under cover ... could this be the Wicker Man?

Close up of what look like horns

Close up of what look like horns

A glimpse under the covers

A glimpse under the covers

What is this spike?

What is this spike?

The SW8 logo can be seen on the side of the theming element

The SW8 logo can be seen on the side of the theming element

Track entering the theming element

Track entering the theming element

The lift hill, featuring the bent bit near the bottom of the picture

The lift hill, featuring the bent bit near the bottom of the picture

Lift hill

Lift hill

Top of the lift hill

Top of the lift hill

Track bed being built up

Track bed being built up

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

The track runs through the legs of the ... wicker man?

The track runs through the legs of the ... wicker man?

The Katanga Canyon path which has been closed all season is reopening on Scarefest and Fireworks evenings

The Katanga Canyon path which has been closed all season is reopening on Scarefest and Fireworks evenings

The track between the maintenance and station buildings

The track leaving the maintenance building

The track leaving the maintenance building

The track leaving the maintenance building

Maintenance building

Maintenance building

Track emerging from the maintenance building

Track emerging from the maintenance building

A view between the legs of the giant theming structure

A view between the legs of the giant theming structure

Theming structure

Theming structure

The Katanga Canyon path passes beside the maintenance building

The Katanga Canyon path passes beside the maintenance building

Up close with the maintenance building

Up close with the maintenance building

Path going underneath the lift hill and first drop

Path going underneath the lift hill and first drop

Path underneath the lift hill

Path underneath the lift hill

Top of the lift hill transitioning into the first drop

Top of the lift hill transitioning into the first drop

The lift hill and first drop as seen from Katanga Canyon and the Rapids

The lift hill and first drop as seen from Katanga Canyon and the Rapids

Banking on the first drop

Banking on the first drop

Banked turn

Banked turn

A view from the Rapids

A view from the Rapids

What is inside box 26?

What is inside box 26?

Remains of old paving from the days of The Flume

Remains of old paving from the days of The Flume

Safety First

Safety First

The Katanga Canyon path into Mutiny Bay

The Katanga Canyon path into Mutiny Bay

The moon rises over Secret Weapon 8

The moon rises over Secret Weapon 8

An animated SW8 logo is being projected onto The Towers during Scarefest

An animated SW8 logo is being projected onto The Towers during Scarefest

14 October 2017

Lots of builders on site today, spread across the site working on various parts of the track. New signs have been put up around the boundary fences, revealing the SW8 logo which looks like a burning man. Could this be another clue to the true purpose of the large theming element, now shielded from view underneath hessian sack material?

The queueline paths and fences are progressing next to the bottom turn around, which follows the circle footprint of The Flume's old station. In an early version of the plans for SW8 there was to be a restaurant in the middle, although this was ultimately not progressed.

Elsewhere on the park Scarefest has begun, featuring The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze which acts as a preview to the backstory of SW8. The maze features a group of woodland dwellers who shy away from modern technology. The group have invited outsiders to participate in a strange ritual, with the opportunity to "be chosen" ... whether or not that is something good or bad is only revealed to those brave enough to enter the maze and find out for themselves.

Photos

The bottom of the site, with track visible entering the large theming element

The bottom of the site, with track visible entering the large theming element

Turn around

Turn around

Queue line under contruction next to the bottom turn around

Queue line under contruction next to the bottom turn around

The Flume turn around

The Flume turn around

Supports

Supports

The first airtime hill and criss-crossing track

The first airtime hill and criss-crossing track

The track, with the station building in the background

The track, with the station building in the background

Track and supports

Track and supports

Kiosk building under construction

Kiosk building under construction

Top of the lift

Top of the lift

Working on the track

Working on the track

The top of the lift hill

The top of the lift hill

Working underneath the top of the lift hill

Working underneath the top of the lift hill

Airtime hill with sound tunnel support structure

Airtime hill with sound tunnel support structure

Airtime hill

Airtime hill

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

Working on construction

Working on construction

Carpenter

Carpenter

Looking towards the theming structure

Looking towards the theming structure

Station building in the background

Station building in the background

Queueline

Queueline

More queueline

More queueline

New signs revealing the SW8 burning man logo

New signs revealing the SW8 burning man logo

The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze is open for Scarefest

The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze is open for Scarefest

The scare maze opens late afternoon, but is best experienced after dark

The scare maze opens late afternoon, but is best experienced after dark

The Welcoming: Be Chosen is housed inside the Courtyard in Mutiny Bay

The Welcoming: Be Chosen is housed inside the Courtyard in Mutiny Bay

30 September 2017

30 September 2017 Construction Update

A huge amount of trackwork is now in place, and the ride's layout is clearly visible. Layers of wood are being built up, which will eventually be topped with the rollercoaster's metal running rails.

The station and maintenance buildings have been cladded in dark grey and are now partially obstructed from view by parts of the track. The major theming element has doubled in height and is has been covered over to hide whatever work is going on to it at this point, although there are some grey wooden-like spikes protruding from the top of the structure.

Across from the main construction site, The Welcoming: Be Chosen scare maze is being built within the Mutiny Bay Courtyard ready for Scarefest. The maze is somehow linked to SW8, possibly in a similar way that The Sanctuary maze related to The Smiler backstory at Scarefest in 2012.

More:   30 September Construction Update Video

Photos

First drop

First drop

Working at the top of the lift hill

Working at the top of the lift hill

First drop

Another view of the spiralling first drop

Looking down the site from next to the lift hill

Looking down the site from next to the lift hill

Top part of the lift hill

Top part of the lift hill

Airtime hill

Airtime hill

Station and maintenance buildings

Station and maintenance buildings

Track in place

Track in place

Criss-crossing track

Criss-crossing track

Bottom part of the site

Bottom part of the site

Top of the theming element

Top of the theming element

Theming element shrouded from view

Theming element shrouded from view

View from the Mutiny Bay side

View from the Mutiny Bay side

Lift hill

Lift hill

Mysterious symbols have appeared on the fences

Mysterious symbols have appeared on the fences

The Welcoming: Be Chosen under construction

The Welcoming: Be Chosen under construction

9 July 2017

9 July 2017 Construction Update

There have been massive changes on the site over the last four weeks. Most notably, the framework of the wooden lift hill now dominates the skyline. It was topped of on Friday, and has German, American and British flags flying from the top. This is clearly visible from several places around the park, including Mutiny Bay and the Congo River Rapids queueline.

A large metal structure has also been erected down on the lower half of the site, which many believe to be the bottom of a giant Wicker Man statue which the ride will eventually pass underneath. Indeed, the track sections under its "legs" are already being constructed. It will be interesting to see how much more of this gets built before an announcement/confirmation of the ride theme is made.

The station and maintenance buildings are also looking much more complete. These now both have the majority of their roofs in place.

More:   9 July Construction Update Video

Photos

Lift Hill

The lift hill

Flags

Flags fly from the top of the lift hill

Lift hill

The lift hill towers over the site

Profile lift

The lift hill in profile

Down the site

Looking down the site from the top

Base

Base of the lift hill

Roof

Station and Maintenance building roofs

Lower half

Lower half of the site

Turn

The turn and 'Wicker Man' framework

Wicker Man

Close-up of the 'Wicker Man' framework

Wicker Man

Another close-up of the 'Wicker Man' framework

Framework and lift hill

Metal framework with the lift hill in the background

Lift hill

Lift hill

Congo River Rapids view

View from the Congo River Rapids queueline

Sky ride view

View over the site from the Sky Ride

Site from the sky ride

Another view from the Sky Ride

3 June 2017

3 June 2017 Construction Update

Construction on the SW8 site has been progressing nicely over the last month. It is now much clearer from looking at the site where certain sections of the track layout will be, and there is a preliminary scattering track supports visible.

However, the most obvious change is over at the station building. The framework for the building has gone vertical and the station, together with the maintenance building is starting to take shape.

More:   3 June Construction Update Video

Photos

SW8 Construction Site

The SW8 construction site

SW8 Construction site from the Sky Ride

SW8 Construction site from the Sky Ride

Lift hill turn around

Turnaround at the top of the lift hill

Lift hill turnaround

Top of the lift hill looking smooth

First drop

Top of the first drop

View from the top of the site

View from the top of the site

Station Building under construction

Station Building under construction

SW8 workman

Weekend working

SW8 station supports

Supports emerging from the station

SW8 Station

Station, with a show building in front - the train will pass through this to reach the bottom of the lift

Deep Excavation

Deep Excavation

SW8 Site

SW8 Site

SW8 site

Bottom of the site

Corner

A corner near the bottom of the site

Bottom half of the SW8 site

Bottom half of the SW8 site

29 April 2017

29 April 2017 Construction Update

The former home of The Flume is now very much a building site. All that remains of the old log flume is the station building and some of the concrete supports in the surrounding woodland. Extensive groundworks have taken place, and construction of the new coaster's main building has started.

The usual path between Mutiny Bay and Katanga Canyon has been closed for the 2017 season to allow easy access to the site for construction traffic. In its place at a cost of £100k, the backstage path between the two areas, only usually open on Fireworks nights, has been opened with a short length of new path which skirts the southern side of the SW8 site.

More:   29 April Construction Update Video

Photos

SW8 Construction Banner

Signs advertising SW8 have gone up on fences around the construction area

Station building construction

Construction of the main building housing the station and preshow has begun

Turnaround

Turnaround at the top of the lift hill

Lift hill

The top of the lift hill

New Path

New path linking Gloomy Wood and Mutiny Bay, with windows offering views over the construction site

Remains of The Flume

Remains of The Flume in the surrounding woodland

The Flume concrete supports

Concrete supports from The Flume can still be seen

Flume entrance

The former Flume ride entrance area

Old building

One of the old buildings near The Flume currently remains

Congo River Rapids station

Congo River Rapids station in the distance

Mutiny Bay

The Mutiny Bay side of the construction site

Station Building

The main station building under construction

SW8 Construction Site overview

Overview of the SW8 construction site

Mutiny Bay

Mutiny Bay begins to look a lot different