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Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Client: Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Cost: £70,000

Dung Heap Play Area is a Tower-ing Success


The world-famous Alton Towers theme park has installed some popular alternatives to its formidable selection of hair-raising rides by working in partnership with West Yorkshire-based children’s play specialist, Sutcliffe Play.

Alton Towers has unveiled a new £450,000 children’s play area – affectionately entitled ‘There’s Something in the Dung Heap’ – to enhance the popular Old MacDonald’s Farm area of the Staffordshire theme park.

The Dung Heap contains around £70,000 worth of play equipment manufactured or supplied by Sutcliffe Play.

Sutcliffe Play was commissioned by Scott Desborough, London-based project manager for Tussaud Studios, which makes wax figures for Madame Tussauds, and also manages projects for other parts of the Merlin Entertainments Group empire – including Alton Towers.


“The Dung Heap has met with a really positive response,” said Scott. “Alton Towers is dedicated to ensuring that new rides and attractions are specifically designed to exceed customer expectations. Within the brief, a customer satisfaction score is included and it is our objective to ensure this is met and exceeded. Recent feedback suggests we’re performing extremely well!”

Design and Build

The new play area is split into four different sections aimed at different heights and age groups. These are connected by a central plaza in which parents can relax and take the weight off their feet while youngsters enjoy themselves.

The four areas begin with the underground Soil Albug Hall, which has flies buzzing around this entrance to the Dung Heap! Nearby is Mr Mushroom’s Magic Maze, which sits just outside the Soil Albug Hall.

Equipment supplied by Sutcliffe Play features prominently in The Toxic Bog, which is aimed at toddlers aged 3-6, and in the Cobweb Capers area, designed for youngsters aged around 6-10.

“It’s a really nice area. The parents seem to like it as much as the children because they can sit and eat, or drink coffee, and leave the kids to it,” said Mr Desborough. “It’s like a little refuge from the rest of the park, which can often be quite manic in places!”

The Cobweb Capers area includes a spider’s Springy Cobweb Climbing Zone; alternatively, children can test their airborne agility going across a silken zip wire. For this area Sutcliffe Play installed two 1.8m cone climbers, plus a 25m cableway, and a 4m high space net.

The Toxic Bog is ideal for children who love to slip, slide, bounce, or balance. It features a bunch of Teetering Toadstool Boingupons, as well as Jumping Gerberas and a slide into the bog itself. It is also home to the Wobbly Walk rotating beam!

Equipment manufactured by Sutcliffe Play for this area comprises two 1.4m square trampolines built into the ground; two sets of curvy seats; and a 3m rotating beam which forms the Wobbly Walk!

Sutcliffe Play also supplied and installed the toadstool-shaped stepping pods, with their brightly coloured spots. And, acting in its role as the sole UK distributor for German playground equipment firm Kaiser & Kuhne, Sutcliffe Play supplied a double-width slide on a timber structure.

Playground Equipment:

“Alton Towers is constantly evolving, and each year we invest in a new attraction or area of the Park. On this occasion, we wanted to increase our product offering for families with younger children,” said Scott.

“As part of the same project we also added a walk through a wooded area, which appeals to the children and can be themed for events such as Halloween.”

Scott had never previously worked with Sutcliffe Play, but was impressed by the firm’s willingness and ability to tailor its equipment to meet Alton Towers’ specific requirements.

Another major consideration surrounding the Dung Heap project was to create a playground that would blend in harmoniously with its surroundings.

“We use a range of consultants to ensure that any new builds are sympathetic with the natural environment, even down to the type of foliage used to compliment the backdrop of the attraction,” said Scott.

“Everything has to be considered in some depth, but Sutcliffe Play helped us to create an area which is deliberately intended to encourage the children to use their imagination without going over the top in making things look unnecessarily wild and wonderful. Meanwhile the parents know their kids can only go in and out of one gate, so it’s all self-contained!”

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