Few people could claim to be a pioneer of this wonderful industry, but John Wardley could quite easily. With irrepressible enthusiasm, he has devised both entire parks and individual attractions enjoyed by millions.
After swerving a career in the family printing business and learning the ropes in the entertainment industry, he worked on a number of British-made films, devising special effects for numerous pictures including the James Bond series.
When asked to work on Alien, he opted to turn down the job and instead headed to Wales, completing a number of projects at Barry Island Pleasure Park including Uncle Frankenstein’s Scream Machine and the Wacky Gold Mine.
Working with The Tussauds Group, John oversaw the conversion of Chessington Zoo into Chessington Worlds of Adventure in 1987, one of the UK’s first true theme parks.
Alton Towers was acquired in 1990 and has arguably been most influenced by John’s work, with his input on Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, Th13teen and Hex.
Now retired, he has largely stepped back from working in the industry but he was tempted back (through a bizarre series of events) to work on the highly acclaimed Wicker Man ride at Alton Towers in 2018.
To find out more about John’s work in the industry, we would very much recommend his autobiography Creating My Own Nemesis. You can buy the paperback at Joyland Books or download the audiobook at Audible.