When it originally opened way back in 1994, Nemesis at Alton Towers was regarded as one of the best roller coasters in the world. It was an incredible combination of innovative ride type from an up-and-coming manufacturer, a short and punchy layout, an elaborate theme, unique landscaping, an eerie soundtrack, a deep backstory… I could go on. To many, Nemesis was up there as one of the best steel coasters in the world – right there, in a pit in the middle of rural Staffordshire.

Over the years, new thrill machines made their way to Alton Towers. The world’s first vertical drop. The world’s first flying coaster. The world’s first ‘psycoaster’. The world inversion record. The first coaster to fuse fire and wood (debatably).

An overview of Nemesis Reborn

Among these marketing managers’ dreams, Nemesis wasn’t the world’s first or only anything. But, it has remained a firm fan favourite for over 30 years. Because Nemesis has a short layout and can comfortably run two trains, it’s also a huge people eater – which means it rarely gets the same sort of waits as other rides. For many, that efficiency equals a lack in popularity – and for a time, maybe even senior park management was under that impression.

The four-and-a-half-hour queue on opening day suggests otherwise, however.

Over the past three decades, Nemesis has established itself as a major brand in the UK theme park scene. Comic books, merchandise, a soft drink, a sister coaster at Thorpe Park, a spin-off ride in the same park… even for many non-enthusiasts, Nemesis is recognised as a theme park icon.

So, when Alton Towers was faced with a decision – retrack Nemesis or rip it down for something new – they saw the light and chose the former.

Rebuilding the beast

Over the past 18 months, Alton Towers has undertaken a major project. In late 2022, they closed Nemesis, removed dozens of sections of tracks and supports that have stood in Forbidden Valley since 1994, and have painstakingly put it back together using new track from Swiss giants B&M. Gone is the old rust-coloured track, and in its place, black track with a red vein design now stands. Initially, this new style was met with uncertainty by many, who compared it to a fairground-like design. But, those initial skeptics have seemingly come around on seeing the complete package.

Because, if anyone thought that Nemesis wasn’t the complete package before, today, in 2024, it more than certainly is.

Folks, the new Nemesis, aka Nemesis Reborn, is nothing short of a triumph. Not just for Alton Towers, or even the British theme park scene – but the entire industry as a whole.

Nemesis Reborn swoops over the new central eye

An opening day to remember

On Saturday 16th March 2024, Nemesis Reborn opened to the public. If there was ever any doubt that Nemesis could still draw a crowd, the fact that park was fully booked for opening day several days in advance should put those thoughts to rest. Alton Towers even contacted those who had booked to warn them of just how busy it was going to be.

But, that didn’t keep loyal fans away. Some queued outside the gates – both at the main entrance and the side hotel entrance – from as early as 4am. Come 9am, with both queues thousands deep, the gates opened and the sprinting began.

There was no time to take in the changes made to Forbidden Valley – you snooze, you lose. Instead, fans piled into the queue beneath the renovated entrance, complete with the old-but-new Nemesis Reborn logo and slithery tentacles-cum-veins.

Now, whereas once the queue instantly turned right and into the pit, the queue line now turns left and winds up the hill, then snakes around beneath the lift hill and around several new props, including a gun that shoots at the passing coaster train and a shipping container (in true Merlin style) that’s been attacked by the Nemesis monster. The queue also offers incredible views of the loop and rest of the layout, providing unique angles rarely seen of this stunningly engineered ride.

The queue makes its way past the stall turn and down towards the entrance to the station. The new merge point for RAP and fast track is now at the final switchback of the original queue and gives you your final glimpses of the vertical loop before you disappear – literally – into the belly of the beast.

What was once industrial and rusty has now been completely transformed. The inside of the station is deep red like you’re just one of the many morsels of food this incredible alien has devoured. Ribs line the walls, flesh hangs from the ceiling and veins snake their way across every surface. As trains are despatched, the music pumps and the lights flash, setting the scene for what’s about to happen.

Unfortunately, the front-row queue is no more, so you have a one in eight chance of a front-row ride. That will undoubtedly upset many, as Nemesis provides a fabulous front-row experience, so it’ll be interesting to see what Alton Towers does to appease those keen to choose their seat.

An oldie but a goldie

Overall, the ride is almost identical to how it's been since the day it opened in 1994. It’s perhaps a little slower than it was by the time it closed in 2022, but the park is still making tweaks, and this slight sluggishness is likely to change as the ride warms up throughout the 2024 season. There’s also a slight rattle, particularly as the train makes the final turn into the break run, which is a new addition. It doesn’t detract much from the ride experience but hopefully becomes less noticeable over time.

And, much to everyone’s delight, Nemesis Reborn has retained that much-loved B&M roar, which can be heard from across the resort. Even when sat in Splash Landings the night before, I could hear the rush as the train made its way through the layout.

The downward helix on Nemesis Reborn

We’re about to enter mild spoiler territory now, so if you’re hoping to keep some surprises for when you see Nemesis Reborn in the flesh for yourself, now’s the time to stop reading. Alton Towers knows just how incredible their biggest addition to Nemesis Reborn is, and has done its best to keep it under wraps until guests lay their own eyes (hint hint) on the creature for themselves.

Now, the monster itself has its head turned slightly to the left. Gone are the eyes on stalks (one of which looks to have appeared in Forbidden Valley’s new merch store) which have been replaced by a massive, round, teeth-lined mouth, with an enormous eye in the centre. The eye is in fact a screen, with a moving, blinking eyeball that watches the train as it passes. It even becomes enraged as the train twists over the zero-g roll, and many of the teeth open and close. This brings a huge amount of new energy to the area and acts a centrepiece for this completely revitalised ride.

Nemesis is watching you

Alton Towers is back on the map

Dare I say it, but with Nemesis Reborn, Alton Towers is once again competing on a global scale. For the first time in a long time, Alton Towers has a ride that would comfortably fit in any theme park in the world. It’s a complete package and is exactly what fans were hoping to see when it was discovered that Nemesis would be retracked for the 2024 season.

Not only does Nemesis look incredible, but Forbidden Valley has also been given more than just a lick of paint. There’s now a Universal-quality entrance portal, a huge helicopter with spinning blades that brings fantastic kinetic energy, a new shop, a still-under-construction games arcade, and refurbished food offerings. Blade, the area's pirate ship attraction, has also received a much-needed lick of paint and looks the part.

The new entrance portal into Forbidden Valley

The only thing letting Forbidden Valley down now is the space left by Ripsaw and the Retro Squad (watch this space for 2025), and Galactica, which muddles the cohesion of the area with its modern and sleek space theme. Over the course of opening day there were also a few downtime issues and many riders lost out on the opportunity for a night ride – but these disappointments shouldn't mar an otherwise successful start to the 2024 season for Alton Towers.

Overall, Nemesis Reborn is exactly what the UK theme park industry needs, and is hopefully a sign of things to come. If this is Merlin’s first response to the news that Universal Studios Great Britain is on the horizon, then the next decade is one to watch closely.

If you’re a theme park fan, you’re going to want to make a trip to Alton Towers in 2024. Yes, Nemesis Reborn might just be the same ride it was in 1994, but it proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Goodbye Nemesis, hello Nemesis Reborn – one of the best roller coaster experiences in the world.