Did you know Alton Towers has a ‘tree top’ rule for building roller coasters?

"We quickly realised that we couldn’t go up and we needed to be creative due to the planning restrictions."

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 16th June 2021

A short TikTok video has racked up over a million views this week, and it’s letting people into one of Alton Towers’ best-kept secrets: The Staffordshire-based theme park has a ‘tree top’ rule.

If you’re unsure of what that rule actually means at first glance, then you’re definitely not the only one. Judging by the rising number of views, it doesn’t appear to have been something on the radar of many thrill-seekers until it was brought to our attention thanks to Theme Park Faulk on TikTok.

The short clip posted to the video sharing platform briefly explains the rule specifically applies to the designing and building process of roller coasters.

Some of the theme park’s largest and most popular rides have had to take the rule into account over the years, and it’s one that requires consultation when any new attractions are built.

“Did you know that Alton Towers can’t build any attractions that are taller than the tree height?” the video explains.


“This is why rides such as Oblivion and Nemesis are built into the ground.”

Explaining why this is the case and what the reasoning is behind the rule, Theme Park Faulk then goes on to say that it’s so “local residents are unable to see track from the roller coasters”.


It sort of makes sense really, doesn’t it?

The rule has been confirmed as true by the designer of some of the park’s most famous roller coasters.

Speaking to Birmingham Live back in 2015 about the build process for Nemesis – which was completed and opened in 1994 – John Wardley explained his vision of what a theme park should be like, and how that led to him revamping and re-theming existing areas within the Alton Towers grounds for “big thrill” rides in an attempt to make it world famous.


But when phase one of the planning was complete, John encountered a new challenge: “We were instructed to keep everything below the height of the existing tree levels to keep in with the surroundings.

“We quickly realised that we couldn’t go up [and] we needed to be creative due to the planning restrictions, so we built down instead.”

Nemesis was the first roller coaster in the world to suspended riders underneath the track / Credit: Alton Towers

When a huge hole had been dug into the ground, that’s when John designed Nemesis – a rollercoaster that suspended riders underneath the track, rather than riding on top.

It was the first roller coaster in the world to do so, and now many others have followed.

The so-called ‘tree top’ rule is required to be adhered to each time Alton Towers adds a new ride to the attraction, but it isn’t one that’s been widely welcomed by theme park fans over the years.


A poll on the Attraction Source Forum all the way back in 2008 revealed 39% of voters were unsatisfied with the restrictions and felt the rule would hold the park back from its UK competitors.

35% were on board.

What’s your take on it all?

Featured Image – Alton Towers