THE long wait has finally ended as Alton Towers announced the name of its new ride at the same time as revealing its opening could be delayed by two months.
The popular resort has revealed its new £18 million rollercoaster will be named The Smiler, but has said it could now be opened in May rather than March 16 as it had originally hoped.
The delay has been put down to many factors, including the bad weather with heavy rain and the cold temperatures and snow. The ride is expected to create around 200 jobs.
To keep the nation guessing over the ride, the resort organised an elaborate stunt which saw hundreds of sheep across the county emblazoned with a strange symbol, later identified as the logo for The Smiler.
This seemingly mysterious discovery caused bewilderment among residents in Perthshire, North Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Exeter, Melton Mowbray and South Wales and resulted in several pieces of national news coverage.
Last week a group of farmers, who were recruited by the resort, branded their flocks of sheep using black livestock aerosol marker and a stencil of The Smiler symbol. Pictures of the painted sheep were leaked on Twitter after being posted by the farmers involved and bewildered members of the public.
The pictures soon went viral as many people re-tweeted the posts and sharing their own theories on what the symbol could mean.
Katherine Duckworth, of Alton Towers, said: “We wanted to create some mystery around the name of our new world first rollercoaster, The Smiler. We’ve managed to baffle the nation and hopefully made a few people smile.
“The Smiler will be our biggest and most thrilling attraction the resort has ever seen and we can’t wait for guests to join us in May and experience it for themselves.”
The Smiler is being constructed near to the Oblivion rollercoaster in the Sector area of the theme park and Alton Towers bosses said it is an all-knowing controlling force that will make riders compliant until they become a smiling advocate.
The ride, which is the resort’s biggest ever investment, will feature a track the length of 10 football fields, gut-wrenching 30-metre drops and hurtling speeds of up to 85km per hour.
It will replace the Black Hole which was decommissioned in 2005. The Smiler was given planning permission from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in March last year but its identity was kept under wraps until now, with the code-name Secret Weapon 7.
More information on The Smiler is available at www.altontowers.com/thesmiler