Alton Towers is a popular theme park and resort in England. It is located on the grounds of an old estate in Staffordshire. Alton Towers is the second-most-popular theme park in England, attracting more than 3 million visitors in 2008.
The actual site of Alton Towers was once home to a fort for a Saxon king. Later, a castle was built, but after it was destroyed in the English Civil War a hunting lodge, named Alton Towers, was constructed. This was later turned into a private home in the early 1800s with extensive, elaborate gardens that included some 13,000 trees. In the last few years of the century the earl who lived there opened the estate to the public to raise money, bringing in balloons, clowns and other entertainment. But the estate gradually fell to ruin after the early died in 1921 and a group of business opened the grounds as a park.
Alton Towers Theme Park
Alton Towers, the theme park, was opened in 1980 with several roller coasters and other rides. The first and most famous coaster was The Corkscrew, which was closed in September 2008. Today the park, which covers 500 acres, is run by Merlin Entertainment and has a total of 29 rides, including seven roller coasters and five water rides.
Layout of Park
The park is divided into themed areas, or "lands," much like Disneyland. Among them are Old MacDonald's Farmyard, aimed at younger visitors; the X-Sector, with thrill rides targeting older visitors; and Ug Land, which has a prehistoric feel to it. The newest area is Sharkbait Reef, a giant aquarium that is home to more than 200 fish and includes a walk-through tunnel in which visitors can see fish swimming on all sides of them, even over their heads.
Alton Towers also is home to two hotels. The Splash Landings Hotel, which opened in 2003, also has a water park known as Cariba Creek. The Alton Towers Hotel opened in 1996.
Alton Towers is now operated by Merlin Entertainment, which also operates Legoland theme parks.
Alton Towers' Sharkbait Reef was built shortly after Legoland California's Sealife Aquarium. Both are similar in that they are aquariums with lots of interactive displays and attractions for children.