1. ITV Report

Beast from the East suspends opening of Alton Towers new roller coaster Wicker Man

Wicker Man is Alton Towers' first ever wooden roller coaster Credit: Alton Towers

Alton Towers has been forced to close all of its roller coasters today on the opening day of its new £16m ride Wicker Man.

It’s announced through its social media channels that although the rest of the theme park will be open from 10am-3pm, all of its major rides cannot operate because of the high winds and snow brought in by what’s been dubbed the ‘Beast from the East 2’.

The wooden centre piece erupts in flames as the roller coaster hurtles through its body Credit: Alton Towers

In a statement the park said it would be monitoring the situation closely, and offered visitors who had bought tickets today the chance to reschedule their visit for another date.

It said:

As we thought however, the weather forecast has not improved – with below zero temperatures, snow and high winds all still expected throughout the day – meaning we won’t be able to operate our rollercoasters today, including Wicker Man, our new thrill attraction.Today, we are opening CBeebies Land*, Mutiny Bay (Marauder’s Mayhem & Heave Ho!), Cloud Cuckoo Land (Driving School, Frog Hopper & Gallopers Carousel), HEX and Sharkbait Reef by SeaLife. We’ll continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and will post an update on ride openings for Sunday on our social media channels.

– Alton Towers statement

The Wicker Man roller coaster was unveiled to ITV Central earlier this month amid much fanfare that people would get to ride on it today.

It’s the first major new roller coaster at the park in five years, and also since the flagship Smiler ride crashed in 2015.

Alton Towers was fined £5 million for breaching health & safety laws, and a ride operator used an override system which led to two carriages crashing, leaving four park guests with serious injuries.