The true heroes of Alton Towers are the people who hate rollercoasters but tackle The Smiler, Nemesis Reborn, Oblivion and the other big rides despite their utter terror. It's the mums and dads who want to be part of a magical trip to Alton Towers for the kids to remember forever, or maybe the teens who battle with their fear not to miss out on a day of rollercoaster thrills with their mates.

With these people in mind, we've produced a guide to Alton Towers' biggest rides for people who hate rollercoasters and are only at the theme park under sufferance or because they don't want to miss out. These are the people who prefer the queues to the rides, those for whom the Runaway Train is too much adrenaline.

These are the people who look pale and nauseous at the end of each one. The people who don't want to look cowardly in front of their mates or their kids. This guide is for these people who are the unsung heroes of Alton Towers, overcoming their fear and going far outside their comfort zone.

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Firstly, closing your eyes is not really an option on Alton Towers' rollercoasters. Like seasickness, it will only make things worse. So, hold on to your hats, this is how you survive the rides without losing your mind. Or your breakfast.

My kids love Alton Towers so we have been quite a few times. This is unfortunate as I find rollercoasters make me feel dizzy and ill and the biggest thrill I get is when the nausea goes away by which time we're queuing for another ride.

Nemesis Reborn

We were among the very first to ride Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers before it opened to the public
Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers

Nemesis has been remodelled and refurbished. The ride is just the same but its red and black paint job and a big glowing eye make it look a lot more intimidating than previously.

Before The Smiler came along, Nemesis was the most intense ride at Alton Towers. Do not wear loose-fitting slip-on shoes because they are likely to fall off, either injuring someone or plummeting into a no-go zone too close to the rollercoaster to ever be retrieved.

This one has two corkscrews, a vertical loop and a zero-g roll, supposedly creating an effect of weightlessness but I always feel like I'm being held in the tentacle of a giant squid and waved around

Those on the ride experience between three and four times the force of gravity. It only lasts 120 seconds but if you're not a fan, these will be two of the longest minutes of your life. Try not to go on too soon after a heavy meal.

The Smiler

The Smiler at Alton Towers
Smiler Times! The Smiler at Alton Towers

Arguably the most extreme ride at the Staffordshire theme park, The Smiler is a high-octane trip to an adrenaline wonderland but only if you're a rollercoaster fan. For those who look at the metal track looping and twisting and go pale with trepidation, this is a living hell. The weird discordant music only adds to the sense of foreboding and unease.

Our advice would be to get this one out of the way first if you're a rollercoastophobe. The Smiler is pretty extreme so few of the rides feel quite as bad afterwards. Closing your eyes is little help on this one. Because it moves around so violently, anticipating the movement and adjusting your weight accordingly may help you cope. A little bit. Maybe. But not really.

You breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to a stop. Then, with horror, you notice to your right a sign that says you're only half way into the ride. Then you get hauled up vertically for more

You can expect some nausea and dizziness if you're not used to rollercoasters. At the end of the ride you have to walk through a dark tunnel and there's a kind of psychedelic lightshow which is unhelpful.

Spinball Whizzer

Colleen and Wayne Rooney on Spinball Whizzer
Colleen and Wayne Rooney on Spinball Whizzer

It looks pretty tame compared to The Smiler or Nemesis Reborn, for example, but for my money, it's just as scary, if not more so. It doesn't go as fast but you feel really high up and the carriages are quite small.

Worst of all, however, is the fact that while whizzing up and down and left and right, you are also spinning around in the carriage. It is the unpredictability of the Spinball Whizzer ride which makes it so terrifying.

You are taken up to the top and then, without any warning, you suddenly spin out into space. There's no way of knowing which way the carriage will spin next. It's just as frightening as any of the big rides at Alton Towers.


Kerry Katona on Thirteen
Kerry Katona on Thirteen

This one is a bit like a ghost train. A ghost train with a twist. A ghost train that travels at a truly terrifying speed. Be warned though, this ride has a big shock in store for the unwary. It stops in the darkness and then comes the big surprise.

Brace yourself. Here comes a spoiler.

There are creaking and cracking noises then the carriages fall though the floor and your heart leaps into your mouth.

If that wasn't enough, this one has another sting in the tail. After the sickening surprise drop, just when you're trying to regain your senses, the ride shifts into reverse. Yes - in case you're wondering - at tremendous speed.


Rita's acceleration is terrifying
Rita's acceleration is terrifying

Hold on to your hats. This ride is like being in a drag car. The acceleration is astonishing. In 2.5 seconds, it hits more than 60mph. Faster than a boy racer in a souped-up Subaru Impreza. Rule number one is keep your head back against the headrest. Rule number two is keep your head back against the headrest and brace yourself. The recorded voice bellows: "YOU MUST ESCAPE."

But you can't escape, you're strapped in. It feels like being in a racing car. The air rushes from your body as the ride hurtles forward so get a big gulp of air before the ride starts and then just hold on tight.


Oblivion at Alton Towers offers a sheer drop into the abyss
Oblivion at Alton Towers offers a sheer drop into the abyss

If you yearn for the feeling of having all your internal organs driven by gravity into your windpipe then this is the ride for you. For rollercoastophobes, the best thing about Oblivion is that it only lasts about 25 seconds. These 25 seconds are pretty horrific though as you plunge down a terrifying 180ft (almost) vertical drop.

The conventional wisdom is to avoid looking down but simple self-preservation makes this difficult to achieve and you need your eyes open in order to brace yourself at the moment of truth when you drop into the void and your insides get all jumbled up.

On the plus side, it goes up quite high so you can gaze out over the Staffordshire countryside for a few seconds before the screaming starts. Enjoy.

Galactica (formerly known as Air)

Alton Towers' Galactica attraction
Alton Towers' Galactica attraction

During this ride you are held horizontally so you are looking down rather than forwards which is disorientating. Alton Towers seem to have got rid of the virtual reality headsets that went with this ride as I've not seen them the last few times we visited.

You might think that the virtual reality headsets would take you into another dimension and perhaps relieve the stress on your body of being catapulted through the sky.

If you are not a fan of rollercosters then the virtual reality headset might seem like a good idea. It could isolate you to a degree from the real world. That said, it is really disorientating. The knowledge that what you are seeing is not real adds to the anxiety for rollercoastophobes.

The Wicker Man

Coronation Street actress Lucy Fallon on Wicker Man
Coronation Street actress Lucy Fallon on Wicker Man

This is the latest rollercoaster to be built at Alton Towers and is, in a break with tradition, built out of timber.

For those nervous about the safety of rollercoasters, you might think that a ride that looks like it's built out of big match sticks and flattened baked-bean tins looks a bit nervewracking. And it is.

Furthermore, because it's made of wood, it makes quite a lot of noise which is pretty scary. It moves quickly but at least this one doesn't go upside down at any point. It makes quite a racket though.

Full marks to any rollercoastophobe who manages to complete all seven in one day. It is a mammoth achievement for a scaredy-cat. Especially if you're like me and your stomach turns at the thought of the Runaway Train ride and the way it lurches to the right at the end. You can count yourself a true Alton Towers rollercoaster hero.

Here are Alton Towers opening times. Good luck!