Saturday, February 24, 2024

Alton Towers Announces Psychological Effects as Key Components of “The Smiler,” New Coaster for 2013

885724_10151497473066201_1909505505_oAlton, UK — Alton Towers Resort has announced  that its new 2013 roller-coaster, The Smiler, is going to ‘marmalise’ the minds of riders to give them a thrill like no other.  Not only will the ride involve plunging 30-metre drops, hurtling speeds of up to 85km per hour and extreme turns, but The Smiler will feature twisted psychological effects to mess with riders’ mind.

The combined physical and mental assault is rationalized by a new report from researchers at New Scientist magazine revealing that mental anticipation is a key-contributor for ensuring an extraordinary thrill experience.

Existing roller-coasters at the UK’s leading theme park already put the body through its paces. Now, The Smiler will play with the mind by blurring the lines between illusion and reality. Riders will be subjected to five mind manipulations including jabbing needles, blinding lights and optical illusions, to maximize the fear factor.

The Smiler’s 5 Mind Manipulations:
• 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)

The Thrill Report, commissioned by Alton Towers Resort and compiled by researchers from New Scientist, details the importance of using mental and physical cues on roller-coasters so riders can experience a greater sense of excitement.

The report has found that the ultimate ‘Thrill-Factor’ is composed of five ‘acts’ similar to the set-up of a play. This is because thrilling experiences work best when constructed as stories or narratives.

  • Exposition explains the set-up: a ride’s branding and its look and feel do this.
  • Rising action increases the user’s anticipation of discomfort. Queuing is part of this “act”, and the slow climb of the roller-coaster
  • Climax or crisis essentially the moment of terror, a precipitous drop or jerk, supplying both physical and mental cues for fear
  • Falling action involves turning terror into release, catharsis or pleasure. After a precipitous drop, roller coasters often follow smoother curves that are more enjoyable than the drop.
  • Denouement a period of reflection, a time to compare notes with friends, get a photo of ourselves on the ride, and maybe claim we weren’t scared at all.

“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 report edited by New Scientist editor, Jeremy Webb says.

John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers Resort, commented:  “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.”

The Smiler will be Alton Towers Resort’s biggest ever investment and will feature a track the length of ten football fields, 30-metre drops and speeds of up to 85km per hour. The Smiler is an all controlling force committed to ensuring you smile. Always.

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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