Do you dare? The record-breaking 14-loop roller coaster with top speed of 53mph 'designed to mess with your head'
- The £18million 'Smiler' has more loops than any other ride
- It also uses psychological tricks to instil fear in the rider
- It opens later this month at Staffordshire's Alton Towers
By SAM WEBB
The Staffordshire attraction's Smiler will open later this month and was designed with the help of psychology experts and scientific researchers to push thrill-seekers to their limits.
As well as plunging drops of up to 98ft and maximum speeds of 53mph, the roller coaster's psychological effects will 'blur the line between illusion and reality', according to designers.
Dizzying: The Smiler is the world's first 14-loop rollercoaster - setting a new Guinness World Record for the most inversions. The new ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire sends thrillseekers off at top speeds of 53mph and well as plunging them by up to 98ft
Alton Tower's £18million record-breaking ride, which includes plunging 30 metre drops, is the biggest in the theme park's history
It has entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the most loops, beating the 10-loop Colossus in Thorpe Park, Surrey, and another 10-loop ride in China.
Katherine Duckworth, one of the team who came up with the concept for the ride, said: 'This ride will put not just your body but also your mind through its paces.
'We want people to get off the ride and not know what is real.
'There are five different mind effects, which are all designed to mess with your head. You shoot towards giant syringes, spinning hypnotic wheels, and flashing lights, among other things.'
The ride blasts towards huge needles and what looks like a drive-through car wash but, of course, the threat they present is only in the mind.
Fear factory: The ride also uses psychological techniques to disorient thrill-seekers
'There is more track per square metre than any other ride in the world,' adds Katherine.
'It is twice the size of Nemesis and each ride lasts two minutes and 45 seconds. This is a very big roller coaster ride. When you get off, you wont know what is real.'
Researchers from New Scientist magazine were involved in Smiler's design. They found anticipation is a key factor in ensuring a thrill and that they worked best when presented as stories or narratives.
New Scientist editor Jeremy Webb said: 'All the experiences we use to generate thrill involve an element of fear.
Unmatched: Tom Ibison, Guinness World Record adjudicator, and Katherine Duckworth, head of Consumer Marketing at Alton Towers
'The emotion is triggered by either something physical, such as pain, or a mental one - most commonly the anticipation of danger.
'Thrill is a combination of fear and the euphoria we experience after everything has ended.
'It is like a good play or horror movie when the excitement builds and your heart starts pumping and then everything is OK at the end.
John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers, said: 'The Smiler is set to be one of the most thrilling rides in the world.
'To heighten the feeling of excitement we needed a ride with a variety of mental cues.
'The Smiler will be different from other traditional rollercoasters in that it will combine intense physical effects along with unique mental elements.'