Alton Towers’ Wicker Man ride burns brightly with VFX via AC-ET

Alton Towers Resort has turned up the heat for the new theme park season with its £16 million thrill attraction, the 'Wicker Man', featuring real fire and fire effects created using a ProLights AlphaPIX video system, plus various lighting, supplied by A.C. Entertainment Technologies (AC-ET)
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Alton Towers Resort's Wicker Man - Pic2

Wicker Man is the first wooden rollercoaster to be built in the UK for 21 years. Burning embers light the ride's path as it speeds towards a six-storey (17.55m) Wicker Man structure, which bursts into flames as the rollercoaster races through its chest three times.

To complement real flames on the structure and get flame-like effects even closer to the riders, the resort's Entertainments Technical Manager, Alex Tweedie approached longstanding technology vendor, A.C. Entertainment Technologies to assist with specifying and supplying a solution. After discussing the details of the project with Chris Beardwell from AC-ET's specialist Video sales division, projection was discounted as it would not be bright enough during daylight.

Beardwell recommended the ProLights AlphaPIX 6T LED display, featuring 5,500 nits brightness level to be effective in daylight, IP65 rating, and with the 6.6mm pitch option offering the best balance between a convincing fire effect and meeting the tight budget.

Based on the specification, Tweedie initially ordered 20 of the 640mm x 720mm modular panels, which were configured in various 'Tetris-like' clusters of different shapes and sizes around the Wicker Man structure - including overhead when the ride passes through its chest. The impact of the initial order led Alton Towers Resort to order another 20 panels for the ride.

AC-ET supplied the complete Video system, which also included two Novastar VX4S controllers linking the video panels to a Green Hippo Hippotizer V4 Amba media server running the flame effect content; all power and EtherCon Ethernet control cabling, which was assembled to specification and custom lengths by AC-ET's in-house Tourflex Cabling service; as well as a second Amba server to run content in the ride pre-show area.

Working alongside Beardwell, Peter Nesbitt in AC-ET's specialist Lighting sales division specified various luminaires to help create the right atmosphere for sales opportunities when passengers exited the Wicker Man ride through a gift shop featuring branded merchandise.

The lighting package included ProLights Eclipse HD LED Ellipsoidals, ProLights Accent 1Q LED washlights, City Theatrical Qolor FLEX RGBA LED light strips and ProLights Panorama IP Beam moving lights to provide effects during a media launch event.

Tweedie commented: "Everyone involved with the ride is really pleased with the technology solutions provided by A.C. The ProLights panels do a fantastic job of convincing visitors that the Wicker Man structure is really on fire. Along with the excellent lighting recommendations, A.C.'s product specialists have once again delivered a first class service which met our project needs perfectly."

www.ac-et.com

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