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John Richard Wardley (born 6 June 1950 in Harrow, Greater London) is a British developer for theme parks in the UK and Europe: an innovator of special effects, dark rides and roller coasters in the themed attraction industry.

John Wardley
John Richard Wardley

(1950-06-06) 6 June 1950 (age 69)
NationalityBritish citizen
OccupationAttraction designer
Known forChessington World of Adventures, Prof. Burp's Bubble Works, The Vampire, The Haunted House, Nemesis, Oblivion, Air



Wardley started his career as a stage manager at Windsor's Theatre Royal, then moved on to the film industry creating special effects. This included effect designs for five of the James Bond movies. He was later hired by the Tussauds Group due to his experience in designing animated figures and rides for amusement parks. His first project was the creation of the animated show "60 Glorious Years" for Tussauds' Royalty and Empire'ñ exhibition at Windsor. This led him to meet Elizabeth II.

After this he was employed by the Tussauds Group to transform the declining Chessington Zoo in London to become the Chessington World of Adventures theme park. There, Wardley oversaw the production of attractions including The Vampire suspended coaster, constructed by Arrow Dynamics and Dragon River (now "Tiger Rock") log flume. In 1990, Wardley collaborated with influential attraction designer Keith Sparks to produce the popular Prof. Burp's Bubble Works dark ride at Chessington World of Adventures, which ran for 15 years. Following this, he worked again with Sparks to produce a second large dark ride, The Haunted House at Alton Towers, in 1992.

Working for the Tussauds Group, John went on to produce famous attractions such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air (now "Galactica") roller coasters. He also produced several of the developments at Thorpe Park from its acquisition by Tussauds in 1998.

One of his other accomplishments was creating a magic show called Mystique at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with leisure developer Geoffrey Thompson, which ran for nearly 20 years.[citation needed]

Wardley also worked with Chris Sawyer and Frontier Developments for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, a game about amusement park management. His name is also a secret cheat code in the game - when visitor's title is named after him all height restrictions are removed, alluding to the severe height restrictions that his most well-known work at Alton Towers was required to comply with.[citation needed]

From 2000 to 2007, when the Tussauds Group was owned by Charterhouse and DIC, Wardley went into semi-retirement. However, in May 2007 Merlin Entertainments took over the company and he was asked to become actively involved in the group's theme park developments. He was employed as a technical design consultant for rollercoaster projects, such as SAW - The Ride at Thorpe Park, TH13TEEN at Alton Towers, Raptor at Gardaland, The Swarm at Thorpe Park and The Smiler at Alton Towers.

On 22 January 2013, Wardley announced his retirement.[1] In April 2013 he published an autobiography entitled Creating My Own Nemesis, in print and as an audiobook.

Video gamesEdit

Publishing historyEdit

  • Creating My Own Nemesis - print edition (April 2013) - author
  • Creating My Own Nemesis - audiobook (December 2017) - author & narrator

Attractions designed by John WardleyEdit

Significant rides designed by John Wardley
Yr Ride name Role Description
c.1975 Uncle Frankenstein's Scream Machine (Barry Island) Production Dark ride
c.1978 Wacky Gold Mine (Barry Island) Production Dark ride
1984 Royalty & Empire Consultancy Exhibition
1987 Dragon River Design Log flume
1987 Runaway Train Design Roller coaster
1987 The 5th Dimension Design (ride system) Dark Ride
1990 Prof. Burp's Bubble Works Production Water dark ride
1990 The Vampire Design Roller coaster
1992 Runaway Mine Train Design Roller coaster
1992 The Haunted House Production Dark ride
1993 The Spirit of London Consultancy Dark ride
1994 Nemesis Design Roller coaster
1995 Dragon Khan Design Roller coaster
1996 Megafobia Design Roller coaster
1998 Oblivion Design Roller coaster
2000 Hex – The Legend of the Towers Consultancy Dark ride
2002 Air Design Roller coaster
2002 Colossus Consultancy Roller coaster
2009 Saw - The Ride Consultancy Roller coaster
2010 Th13teen Consultancy Roller coaster
2011 Raptor Consultancy Roller coaster
2012 The Swarm Consultancy Roller coaster
2013 The Smiler Consultancy Roller coaster
2014 Flug der Dämonen Consultancy Roller coaster
2018 Wicker Man Consultancy Roller coaster

Further readingEdit


External linksEdit