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The Smiler

The Smiler is a Gerstlauer Infinity roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. With 14 inversions, The Smiler holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster.

The roller coaster suffered a series of setbacks and ride incidents – including one that occurred during its preview event – that delayed its official opening and resulted in high number of temporary closures. The Smiler eventually opened to the public on 31 May 2013, two months after the ride's originally planned debut.

History Of The Ride

Plans to build The Smiler were submitted to local authorities in December 2011. Permission was granted on 15 March 2012 following a Staffordshire Moorlands Council meeting, despite some local opposition to its construction.

Gerstlauer, a German manufacturing company, was hired to build the roller coaster. Less than a month after obtaining permission, Alton Towers launched a website announcing a new ride – codenamed Secret Weapon 7 (SW7) – for the 2013 season. Its codename followed a similar format used for other roller coasters during their teaser campaigns, such as SW4 for Oblivion and SW6 for Thirteen.

In June 2012, a trademark filed by Merlin Entertainments hinted that the new ride would be named The Smiler. On 17 October 2012, a number of facts about the coaster were revealed to the public including its maximum speed, track length, ride time, passengers per train and ride cost. Despite the release, Alton Towers did not announce or confirm the name for the ride


Initially, The Smiler was expected to make its public debut in March 2013 for the park's opening day, but due to construction delays, the date was pushed back to 23 May 2013. The date had to be pushed back further after technical issues were encountered during testing and a ride incident occurred during its preview event that stranded riders on the lift hill. Following the incident on 22 May 2013, Alton Towers explained on their website that The Smiler would not open on the originally scheduled date due to "unforeseen teething problems." The ride's delayed opening initially caused controversy as many had booked advance tickets and stays at the Alton Towers Hotel in order to be among the first to ride the coaster. However, Alton Towers later announced it would allow those who had made advanced bookings to change their tickets and hotel reservations free of charge. The Smiler eventually opened on 31 May 2013.

Ride Information

  • Location: Alton Towers
  • Park Section: X-Sector
  • Opened: 31 March 2013
  • Cost: 18 Million


General Statistics

  • Type: Steel
  • Manufacturer: Gerstlauer
  • Designer: 
    • John Wardley (track layout)
    • Ben Dowson (creative lead)
  • Lift/launch system: 2 Chain lift systems
  • Height: 72ft (22m)
  • Drop: 30m (98ft)
  • Length: 1,170m (3,840ft)
  • Speed: 52.8mph (85.0km/h)
  • Inversions: 14
  • Duration: 2:45
  • Capacity: 1,000 riders per hour
  • G-force: 4.5
  • Height restriction: 140cm (4ft 7in)
  • Trains: 5 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 16 riders per train.





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