Ever since Roald Dahl published Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, readers’ imaginations have been captured by his ideas about chocolate and futuristic chocolate factories.
It was only a matter of time after its publication until the book was adapted into a film. The original book was also finely illustrated by Joseph Schindelman. The movie was made in 1971 under the baton of director Mel Stuart, starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Audiences around the world loved it, especially children.
Thirty-four years later, a remake of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made by Tim Burton starring his friend and frequent collaborator Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka. After the release of this movie, the story of Charlie and the surreal chocolate factory was even more famous than before.
Sometime before the release of the 2005 film, an old ride in the Alton Towers theme park was closed and converted into a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme ride, to be opened at the same time as the movie premiered in the UK. However, this schedule was not met and the redesign of the ride was completed in 2006, the following year. More precisely the ride is located in the area inside Alton Towers named “Cloud Cuckoo Land”.
The park itself has been there, in Staffordshire, England, since 1981, during which time this ride has taken a few different forms. Before its transformation to a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme ride, it had already lived two previous lives. Originally it was built with an Around the World in 80 Days theme as a water dark ride. For a couple of minutes inside the dark tunnel, the ride took you to three continents, visiting one country and two metropolises: Egypt, Paris, and Las Vegas. The first transformation of the ride was done in 1994, replacing the old Around the World in 80 Days theme with “Toyland Tours”. At this time the area around the ride was known as “The Land of Make Believe”.
The Chocolate ride, as it was sometimes referred to, is split into three parts. In a way combining the beginning and the ending of the story with few intermissions. At the beginning, as you enter the factory, you are welcomed by Willie Wonka who introduces himself and also all of the characters that you will be meeting along the ride. Then through a sweet chocolatey smelling tunnel before entering a boat. The first part starts here, the pink boat ride along the river of chocolate when all of the children are still inside the factory.
The ride passes the scene of Augustus Gloop being sucked by the pipe, Violet Beauregarde turned into a blueberry and Veruca Salt getting what she “Just Desserted” from the resident squirrels. While waiting to board the next part of the ride the crowd watches some uniquely fun adverts about Wonka chocolates. After a couple of those the giant TV comes to life and you realize you are actually inside of it. The last part is the “Elevator Ride”, the super crazy every direction no problem glass elevator. You fly all over the factory, it’s stairs, boiler rooms, through doors, ceilings and inside a big tank of chocolate. The end of the ride as you’ve guessed it is flying over the top of the factory and into the sky, the button Willie Wonka always wanted to press.
As of 2015 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” ride has been closed. The reason is unsuccessful license renewal with the Roald Dahl Foundation and there are no signs or any news about a reopening. As sad as it sounds, it just might be time for another transformation.