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Secret Weapon coaster to debut at U.K.'s Alton Towers in 2013

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

England's Alton Towers is set to unleash the latest salvo in its arsenal of Secret Weapon roller coasters in March 2013 with the addition of a $29-million "world's first" ride aimed squarely at thrill-seekers.

PHOTOS: Secret Weapon 7 (SW7) coaster at Alton Towers

The United Kingdom theme park recently submitted plans to the local planning district that show a compact track layout with numerous inversions and several subterranean sections. Coaster fans have already converted the submitted plans into highly detailed concept art and animated videos.

Alton Park has released few details about the new coaster, codenamed Secret Weapon 7 or SW7 for short, other than to say the two minute and 45 second ride will feature an initial drop of 98 feet and cover more than 3,800 feet of track while topping 50 mph.

The custom track layout appears to feature at least eight inversions (with as many as 11, by some accounts), including a batwing, a cobra roll and back-to-back Imelmanns (named for the World War I pilot).

SW7 appears to include two lifts hills, an initial 73-foot-tall sloped incline and a mid-course 90-degree vertical lift that divides the ride in half.

The new ride will be located on the former site of the Black Hole indoor coaster in the futuristic X-Sector section of the park near the Oblivion vertical-drop coaster. 

SW7 is expected to adopt the sinister government facility theme of X-Sector with riveted metal panels, steel roller shutters and large stenciled lettering.

A mysterious 50-foot-square themed object sits at the center of the ride, which the coaster train passes through several times. Two smaller thematic elements are also located along the route.

The planning application mentions that SW7 will employ the same Gerstlauer EuroFighter coaster used on Thorpe Park's Saw coaster. 

The revelation has ignited debate within the online ride enthusiast community, with believers saying SW7 looks similar to the Takabisha EuroFighter found in Japan and doubters saying the new ride bears similarities to Universal Orlando's Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit built by Maurer Sohne. 

Alton Towers isn't commenting, allowing the endless speculation to build buzz for the highly anticipated ride.

Award-winning coaster designer John Wardley will once again be working on Alton Towers' latest Secret Weapon, having designed 2010's Thirteen (SW6), 2002's Air (SW5), 1998's Oblivion (SW4) and 1994's Nemesis (SW3). SW1 and SW2 are said to have been early iterations of SW3.

One lucky contest winner will sit on Alton Towers' design panel for the new SW7 ride.

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