The Smiler

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Hello Tom
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Context - went to AT for the first time in ~4 years today. Have always enjoyed theme parks and have done all the major UK ones several times and have been to Florida 4 times. My favourite thrill rides prior to today are Nemesis and the Incredible Hulk (oooo have they changed, find out soon!) I hadn't really been paying attention to The Smiler until a few weeks ago, although I knew of its existence, in preparation for today's trip. I then read thread this thread to give me an idea of what to expect. The impression I got was that it was an enjoyable ride, but fans felt a bit cheated as it wasn't up to their standards. With this in mind I expected it not to top Nemesis.

My first thoughts on seeing the thing - phwoar!  :shock: It looks incredible, especially with multiple cars darting about at the same time. The giant spider structure in the middle looked great and the yellow / black theme made it stand out and look particularly 'hazardous'. It was just a tangle mess of ride and, unlike other coasters which can be traced with a glance, it's hard to know the track without actually sitting down and carefully following the cars around. So straight off the bat, it's visually the best looking ride at AT.

The theme of the ride was similar to Nemesis and Oblivion: ominous and sinister. The music blasted out during the 40 minute queue over and over in the 'cattle pen' and I couldn't help but notice that the music didn't contain the insane screams of disturbing laughter I heard watching promo's etc on the internet. I guess over time it would get on everyone's nerves. I can appreciate why others find the theme music annoying over a prolonged period of time. It is quite oppressive and repetitive!

After quite a short wait inside we were shovelled into the carriage. Dear lord, the vommy smell of the head restraints! I wasn't sure if someone had been sick on them but they really did pong. Then we were off!

I can't exactly talk through the ride step by step as it was such a tangled mess - I was simply thrown upside down again and again. It was very impressive indeed and very thrilling. Everyone was screaming and shreiking with joy. My favourite parts were actually the 'hop' motions that gave me airtime.

I had heard that the ride was pretty rough so braced myself accordingly. It certainly wasn't as smooth as Nemesis but it certainly wasn't 'Corkscrew' bad! I did however notice a jerk at one section, which I recall others mentioning on here. Had this not been mentioned to me before, I still would have noticed it. Even the other passengers commented, albeit as the tiniest of side comments. Otherwise, I thought the 'roughness' of the rise was completely inline with the fact that it's a coaster. I'll come back to this later with a bit more venom...

By the end of it, everyone was laughing and stating how awesome it was, including me. Damn, this really is a serious thrill ride addition to AT. It was so good that I was actually a bit worried that Nemesis wouldn't live up to my rose tinted expectations!

On my second ride (at the front, for which I queued 0 mins), the man next to me, a stranger, commented that 'nothing else in the park can compete with it'. By the end of the day, the other four members of my group agreed that it's was better the Nemesis, mainly because it was longer and had much more bang for the buck. They did say though that if Nemesis was longer, it would just pip the Smiler. However, I was the only rider who went on Nemesis at the front whilst not in heavy rain (during the rain it was pretty unpleasant).

My verdict is simple: the Smiler is an absolute stonking ride. I'm very tempted to agree with my friends and say that it takes the crown, mainly due to its impressive duration. However, taking duration out of the equation, you can't beat the old 1994 classic. Regardless, I'm happy to accept its a ride of equal calibre. Well done AT, well done indeed!

Now, the aforementioned venom. Some of you lot have completely ruined this ride for yourselves. Somehow, during the months of waiting, you have got so caught up in every single tiny detail you have lost sight that the Smiler is something to enjoy. The ride exceeded my expectations, which had been based on the broad consensus opinion on here. Two points specifically worth raising:

- The queue was fine. It's a queue. At all times you were up close to the ride and got a great view. A very long wait in there would have been annoying, but that's because a very long wait is a very long wait. The indoor section was nothing worthy of detailed note, but nothing worthy of criticism either. It's just a small room with a few shapes on the walls. It's absolutely fine.

- It's a coaster and the theme does not trump the fact it's a coaster. Strip the theme, you still have the ride. There has been some seriously unworthy criticism over the theme. Why spend so much time analysing it? The ride looks jarring, the theme is somewhat ominous. It's fine. Enjoy the ride.

There are however two worthy criticisms:

- The roughness of the ride is completely acceptable, but that 'jerk' in the track is a let-down. For the record, I believe Saw to be acceptable, but that ride approaches the boundaries.

- The soundtrack might be oppressive after prolonged exposure.

The Smiler constantly keeps up the pace and gives a good thrilling experience. It practically makes half the other thrill rides in the park look insignificant - Oblivion, once one of the most impressive rides in the park, has almost been reduced to a non-event in its wake! The ride is a complete smash hit, everyone there loved it. As a result, some of the comments in here remind me of the internet joke of disliking girls because their elbows are 'too pointy'. On the bright side, by lowering my expectations, you made me enjoy the ride more than I expected. So thank you!
Last edited by Hello Tom on Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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This is a review of the Smiler at scare fest! :)
The queue line was extremely interesting and the strobe and 3d mapping was quite impressive. The station is very nice looking and the "Join us" and "you belong to the smiler" at the beginning and end of the ride is fantastic. The strobes and Smoke on the inside section are great and add to the inside inversion. The ride is very smooth and  had virtually no head banging whatsoever it was as smooth as anything! :)
The last two inversions do not hurt but are just a tiny bit rough. It is an amazing ride and I think the ride experience is definitely in the same quality as nemesis however nemesis is still a fantastic ride.  :)
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Brilliant coaster, so smooth, comfy seats, great indoor section, awesome vertical lift hill, you feel so dizzy when you come off though!!! :D :D :D
thanks to lewis97 for the signature
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Such a fun coaster, I'm not a fan of going upside down but this didn't feel as bad as other rollercoasters. The cars look really good going round the track.

I really enjoyed it after expecting a head banger, which this isn't. Would have gone on again but the long queues all day put me off.
Last edited by ukool on Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Went on the smiler this week as I was at AT for a few days.
First time going on it so i was very excited!
Apart from the effects not working (flasher etc) and also it braking down non stop, I didnt find it all that great.

Now dont get me wrong, it is a good ride, very smooth and fun, but I just felt like it lacked something. Maybe the effects give it that wow factor?

Personally I found watching it more impressive than the ride itself. It looks immense!! But once I finished riding it I walked off thinking 'that was fun' not 'oh my that was the best ting ever!!' It was just missing something that I cant quite put my finger on.

Still a good ride though. Maybe thats the problem - I think its a good ride and not a great one
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OK, I did the Smiler for the first time yesterday at ScareMazing. I did it 3 times in total (all 3 times were front row), twice during the day and one at night in the rain. I must say I was nervous about riding this just because I didn't want to be the one who came off dizzy and throwing up, but I was pleasantly surprised at how un-nauseous I felt when I came off. The ride itself is comfortable and quite enjoyable. I came off smiling. In the dark and in the rain it felt more extreme, it felt like the cars were literally just sliding along the tracks. It felt quicker than what it did during the day. The loops felt even more vigorous too. The ride itself in my opinion is fun, but it isn't as good as Nemesis
Last edited by Dom on Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Reviews from 30 and 31th October 2013

On my first visit to Alton Towers in two years, I managed to ride 'The Smiler' twice in two days, the second of which (today) I managed the second car of the day. I don't see any problems with jerks/ bumps in the track and the black cushion pads are very comfortable unlike rides like Rita were you're thrown all over the place.

Whilst 14 loops seemed extreme to me and the most I had rode on previously I think was 7 (Incredible Hulk Coaster, Universal, Florida) i thought it would lose its effect. But the slow and creepy lift hills with the hysterical laughing gives you (little) downtime and the ride remains intense but not nauseating. The loops are all very impressive and done at speeds that just fall short of Nemesis but are much more unique. Also, be prepared for a refreshing surprise at loops 10/11!! And the ride's terribly creepy soundtrack that cannot be better described then as a chorus if robot ducks quacking.

However, my main criticism is that the Marmaliser and it's 5 mind manipulation are very unused and you only feel the effects of the Flasher & Giggler. Adding at least 1 more noticeable on ride effect would make the ride much more psychologically impressive!!

Overall, the Smiler is like nothing I've ever ridden before and the early morning queues were well worth it. It is so impressive that, for me, it has ranked JOINT TOP with Nemesis, a ride 20 years old that still makes me dizzy and matches it on intensity and pure awesomeness.

I can happily say that I'm a smiling advocate.
Last edited by Benjy Alton Towers Kid on Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Having been at the park for the last 3 days and getting on the smiler 7 times, the more times I ride the less impressed I am.

The first time the queue time said 2 hours so we joined and prepared for the long wait. After about an hour it broke down for 5 mins which wasn't too bad, about 20 mins later the ride stopped operation and removed a train because of scheduled maintenance (that took 20 mins). Another 10 mins passed when the ride broke down again for another 20 mins. This meant that the fast track queue was huge, and because they had paid £10 each it meant that our queue didn't move for about another half an hour. By the time we got inside we had queued for a total time of 3 hours 45mins so our group was getting pretty angry. After 4 hours we finally got on in the front row. The front sort of made up for the 4 hour wait but it was going to have to be an amazing ride to make it worth while.

The inside bit of the ride was pretty good, a little short compared to saw, but still good. As we went down the first drop all I could notice was the pain in my shoulders from a sudden jolt in the track. As coasters go I much prefer air time and speed rather than inversions but the smiler was shaping up to be pretty good. We entered the vertical lift which seemed to be over in a flash compared to saw and then we entered the next segment. once again there was a sudden jolt which basically turned my shoulders to dust, that was quickly followed by another jolt. The pain in my shoulders distracted me from the most of the course.

My overall conclusion was that it was another let down. The other times I went on it it was via single rider where it took about 5 mins to get on where the ride seemed much better. the final time we queued for ended in a load of bearings falling from the vertical lift which I felt summed up the ride pretty well.  Rushed
Last edited by sw7nutter on Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In just 1 day I managed: 75 rides on stealth, 8 swarms, the dodgems and a tea cups. February half term was good.
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After getting corrected this week, I can say that in my opinion The Smiler is a fantastic ride.  Anyone saying it is rough clearly doesn't know the meaning of the phrase - raucous is more the right word!
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After waiting until november to ride Alton Towers' new meat eating attraction I have to eat some humble pie. I delibratley waited until a night time opening of Alton Towers to experience all the lights and big tv screens to feel the ride's full potential. Never been a fan of euro fighter coasters or Gerst as a manufacturer so I did not expect much. After the fireworks and lasers it felt like the time had come for me and the Smiler to introduce ourselves. Thunderlooper and Nemesis were this ride's key performance targets (no pressure then).

In Alton Towers terms this ride is up there with those two, especially at night time. The versatility of the lay out allowing riders to experience a variety of inversions was great.

I must stress this the ride as I have stated before the theming only realy comes alive at night. Please alton towers more night time openings and less early ride rubbish.

I am not going to give a blow by blow account of the lay out as there are countless reviews that tell you. I loved the ride despite the head shaking. Not the greatest coaster on earth but no other park has an attraction that comes alive at night.

There you have it.

Next year let's hope she stays in one piece and cements her płace as a great multi looper coaster. B&M cannot match the intensity in their floorless and sit down models as Intamin and Gerst can.
Last edited by deeve on Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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After riding The Smiler for the first time at the end of October, here's my review (copy and pasted from TowersStreet).

The Negatives...

Support Shaking
We all know that supports on roller coasters move. Although seeing The Smiler in person I was rather concerned about just how violently some supports are shaking. Particularly as you leave the shop one of the supports you see in front of you almost looks like it's swaying side to side as trains go around the track! That to me doesn't look normal. I've never seen supports move in such a way before.

Outdoor Queue line
Can we tell off whoever designed this monstrosity please? This for me is the second worst queue line on park (just after Rita). You have no idea where you are at any point of the queue and it seems to go on forever with it never seeming to come nearer the station building! All you see around you is people and the high fences and metal grating above you makes the experience very unpleasant. Add the many mini swimming pools around you and I've had enough with it.

There was the potential to build a great queue line for The Smiler. I just hope with SW8 and future rides there is some more thought put into queue line designs.

The positives...

Indoor Queue line
I do love the indoor queue line, it's very nicely done and brings a nice element to the experience before entering the station.

Going negative again, sorry.. the only problem I found was that one projector kept restarting itself every 5 minutes and the others were not aligned properly with the objects on the walls, which leads to the effects not being as visually interesting.

The ride itself
My verdict on The Smiler itself? Pretty amazing! I really enjoyed it on the whole.

I've never been on a Gerst ride before (the shame) so I didn't have any expectations of 'Gerst-ache' prior to riding it. Although I did experience a bit of shoulder battering through some of the inversions. I did leave the ride aching a bit, although honestly I've experienced far worse on older rides! It wasn't that much of a problem for me.

Other than that the ride is really fun. The inversions are dizzying and you have not a single moment to get a grasp of just where you are. The final two corkscrews (are they corkscrews? I'm terrible with knowing ride elements) feel amazing! I didn't find the ride intense however. Just fun. But I think that's the beauty of The Smiler, it's just generally a fun ride and you do leave with a smile on your face!

The next Nemesis? I would say no, at least not in the terms most people are thinking of it. I think both rides aren't meant to be compared as such. They are completely different and offer ride experiences that are both unique to themselves. I like both for different reason. Nemesis for its intensity, The Smiler for its insanity. If we're talking about The Smiler being 'the next Nemesis' in the way of a 'true' Secret Weapon and providing something that cannot be experienced elsewhere then I would say yes, it is the 2013 equivalent of Nemesis.

The Theme
I'm really in love with the theme of The Smiler and this is the first time since Merlin have taken over that I have believed Merlin Studios have created a very unique and interesting theme. It suits Alton Towers very well and it has restored my faith in Candy Holland and Co. developing original concepts.

There's no "since recent restoration" and "the discovery of" crap. It is The Smiler, it is there, deal with it. I just love that.

I like how The Smiler has seamlessly fitted within X Sector and it has finally brought life back to an area that has felt empty and cold for years. It has a coherent theme (well, as coherent as a roller coaster theme can get) which makes sense even if you do not know all the ins and outs.

I just love the soundtrack and visual material for The Smiler. It's far better than Th13teen's and almost hits the top of my list of the best music and visual material the park has to offer. Merlin Studios, Alton Towers, BottleTop and IMA Score should all be proud of the music, visual materials and branding for The Smiler. I hope the partnership with BottleTop and IMA Score stays as both have done a brilliant job with The Smiler. It proves that people with original creativity do still exist out there! 
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Excellent Ride, I had a fantastic few days, and got to experience it 3 times, I loved the ride and made sure I didn't know anything about it before I rode...I have not been so apprehensive about a ride since Rita when that was Brand New when I was only 8-9, so yeah it really was imposing. I am amazed at how scary and imposing such a 'small' coaster it actually is, when you have 300/400ft rides in the world, this is by far more intimidating.
The Queue Line is yes...interesting...but I love being that close to the ride, no other ride gets you so close to the attraction and the LED screens can entertain for a long while, and although the queue is far too windy, I think that's the idea, and in my opinion I like it...Alton didn't oversell Fastrack (clever charging £10 for Fastrack each) which ensured the Queue continued to flow.
The ride itself is just wow, it does give you a slight headache for about a minuet but great fun, and I wouldn't change it, its now one of my favorite rides, not my favorite ride but very close.

Night Time is amazing, I love the fact that the LED Screen lights up the area and makes the ride so very big!
Last edited by jackgcse on Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I went on Friday for the fireworks. A total of 6 rides in a day with one being in the dark. I can honestly say single rider queues a god send on this ride. waited no longer then 5-10 minutes all day. My verdict has got to be it's my favorite ride. From start to finish it's a fun ride that feels fast and wild with a ton of force, enough to feel it but it's still comfortable. As for it being rough, I think I had the bad train once wich kept clanging the way round but still wasn't at all rough. The padded shoulders really help with this. In some way more comfortable than nemesis. The restraints are smaller leaving you room to move and look to your sides.

Anonther factor that made it the best coaster I have ever ridden is the fact that each ride feels different and each ride gives you a massive adrenaline rush. Each ride induced me into hysterical laughter and after 4 goes, one after the other in the space of around 45mins. There was no sign of nausea or headaches (bear in mind I get frequent migranes). The quirky theme and generally the whole experience itself amazing. At last Nemesis has been topped with the beast that is,
Poop. Always
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Everyone is saying its taking Nemmy's crown. Yeah, I get it is a great ride, but I would rather ride Nemesis than the smiler anyday!!!
Last edited by henry.buxton.44 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
thanks to lewis97 for the signature
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I've been on the Smiler 7 times now, once in the dark.
And I can honestly say that it is the best ride I have ever been on, it has given me some amazing memories with some of the most important people in my life. And although we aren't together anymore, The Smiler will always be mine and The Smiler Man's ride. I went on it the first six times with him, and I'll never forget it. The whole experience altogether is just unbelievable and if he's reading this, thank you Z, for introducing me to The Smiler, I'll never forget about us on it and the times we had.
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I've been on the Smiler a few times. I haven't waited in a long queue for it since I was looking after my cousin who has a disability ride access pass. This system works well for this ride, as although the theming is great, the queueline is dark, quite noisy and also quite disorientating. It would be quite annoying standing in there for a particularly long time, especially with young children or people who are sensitive to environments like that.

The ride itself is very good; it is fast, exciting, not too short and quite smooth too. It isn't the most reliable and has had a few incidents in the past. Out of the seven instances I have been on it, it has broken down whilst I was waiting three times. It takes quite a long time to get back running from my experiences. It isn't my favourite ride personally, but it is fun and worth a ride if the queue isn't ridiculously long.
Last edited by RedStar98 on Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Smiler is one of the best rides at AT. It's not my favourite, but it's still a great ride. The queue is awful though, seems to go on forever, it's very uncomfortable, and theres loads of puddles everywhere. However the indoor section is very well themed. Onto the ride, it's great! It's quite a long ride, which is good, is fast, exciting and all around a great ride!
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