Alton Towers have teamed up with researchers from the New Scientist to create the “marmalising” new rollercoaster, The Smiler.
Commissioned by Alton Towers and put together by researchers from the New Scientist publication, The Thrill Report sets out the importance of using mental and physical cues on roller-coasters so that riders can experience a greater sense of excitement. In fact, the an optimum ‘Thrill-Factor’ is rather like a play, and can be divided into five ‘acts’, creating a narrative for the rider:
- Exposition – the set up through a ride’s branding and theming
- Rising action – builds anticipation from the queue to the slow climb of a rollercoaster
- Climax or crisis – the moment of terror
- Falling action – turning the terror of an anticipated drop into the catharsis of a smoother curve.
- Denouement – time to reflect on the ride with friends and get a photo
The report edited by New Scientist editor, Jeremy Webb says, “All the experiences we use to generate thrill – whether a scary film, bungee jump or roller-coaster – involve an element of fear. This ancient emotion is triggered by either a physical stimulus, such as pain or being thrown around, or a mental one, most commonly the anticipation of danger such as the rising action on a roller-coaster. Roller-coaster designers believe that by pulling both our mental and physical strings, it is possible to create the best possible thrill.”
The Smiler, set to open in May 2013, uses the findings from the Thrill Report to “marmalise” the mids of riders to add to the physical thrills. The rollercoaster not only has plunging 30-metre drops, speeds of up to 85km per hour and extreme turns, but The Smiler also uses psychological effects; riders will be subjected to five mind manipulating effects to masximise their thrills:
- The Inoculator (A jab of happiness as you pass by stage one of the Marmalisation process)
- The Tickler (Aims to tickle you until you cant resist smiling)
- The Flasher (A giant flashing device, blinding you as you hurtle underneath the leg)
- The Giggler (Infectious, intoxicating laughing gas)
- The Hypnotiser (Has the power to disorientate, mesmerize and disrupt your self-awareness)
John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers Resort, said, “We know people get a thrill when they ride roller-coasters, but in order to heighten that feeling of excitement we needed to design a roller-coaster that also incorporates a variety of mental cues. The Smiler will be different from other traditional coasters in that it will combine intense physical effects to put the body through its paces, along with the unique mental elements to mess with the mind. After riding the coaster they will have experienced full mind and body marmalisation.”