The Original Alton Towers Haunted House Website


When the UK theme park Alton Towers invested millions of pounds in their ground-breaking Haunted House, a new era of dark rides was born. The spectacular attraction amazed and spellbound theme park enthusiasts and dark ride fans for many years, with its breath-taking illusions and state-of-the-art technology. The original concept was retired in 2002 to make way for the interactive zombie blaster, Duel. However, the Haunted House left a lasting impression on some of those intrepid riders who braved the Poltergeist Room and were scared witless by the Grand Hallway's grinning demon. Michael P Eley was one of those riders. Through the pages of this book he will guide you back into the darkness, offering behind-the-scenes insights into the making of creator John Wardley's 'laff in the dark' attraction, as well as serving up a brief history of dark rides and haunted houses.



 Gloomy Wood and the Haunted House within were the brain child of the themetastic ride designer John Wardley. He believed that there was a need to create an ultimate dark ride which would exceed anything seen in the UK and Europe before. Alton Towers and the Tussauds Group gave him the platform and opportunity to develop his creativity and ideas further.

Planning 1990 - 1991

John Wardley prepared detailed plans and conceptual ideas during this time period. He considered the needs of the public and the park and tried to come up with a happy medium. After showing his plans to the Alton Towers board and receiving the go ahead and most importantly a budget he proceeded to put his plans and thoughts forward to someone who had further knowledge about staging dark ride attractions - that person was Keith Sparks of Sparks Creative Services.

John gathered his plans and ideas and called upon the collective opinions of Sparks Creative Services. Ideas were discussed and thrashed out at several meetings, where ideas were designed and redesigned until at last the final plans were set. The ride went through many changes whilst on the drawing board. 

Gloomy Wood was to become a self sufficient area between Katanga Canyon and Thunder Valley, with an attached walk-through shop, called 'Something Sinister'; a food kiosk aptly named 'Wicked Things'; originally planned to be an open sided games station alas this idea was redesigned and the food kiosk was developed. Gloomy wood also had its own toilets and phone station.. One of the original plans showed the toilets under the house which would be accessed from beneath the tower near the shop.


The final design was much more than the original concept John Wardley had planned for. Wardley, Sparks Creative Services, Rex Studios, Mike Blackmans Scenic Construction Company and many others craftsmen created a monster of a ride. Based upon gothic architecture and Hammer Horror, and the ride awoke like Frankenstein's Monster on the 31st March 1992


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