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John Wardley
John Richard Wardley

(1950-06-06) 6 June 1950 (age 73)
Occupation Attraction developer
Known for Chessington World of Adventures, Prof. Burp's Bubble Works, The Vampire, The Haunted House, Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, The Smiler

John Richard Wardley (born 6 June 1950) 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.


Wardley started his career as a stage manager at Windsor's Theatre Royal, then moved on to the film industry creating special effects, including several 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 with Tussauds was the development of animatronics for the 'Royalty and Empire' exhibition at Windsor, Berkshire.

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 and the Dragon River log flume. In 1990, Wardley collaborated with attraction developer 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 (now Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back) at Alton Towers, in 1992.

Continuing as a development director of the Tussauds Group, John produced roller coasters such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. He also produced several rides at Thorpe Park after its acquisition by Tussauds in 1998.

One of his other projects at this time was producing the Mystique show at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with leisure developer Geoffrey Thompson, which ran for nearly 20 years.

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.

Wardley went into semi-retirement after completing Air (now Galactica) at Alton Towers in 2002 some years after the Tussauds Group had been acquired by Charterhouse. However, Merlin Entertainments took over the company in May 2007 and invited Wardley back as a ride design consultant. He consulted for various rollercoaster projects, such as SAW - The Ride and The Swarm at Thorpe Park, TH13TEEN and The Smiler at Alton Towers, and Raptor at Gardaland.

On 22 January 2013, Wardley announced his retirement. In April 2013, he published an autobiography entitled Creating My Own Nemesis on Amazon, in print and as an audiobook. Despite retirement, he consulted on the design for Flug Der Dämonen at Heide Park in 2014 and the Wicker Man at Alton Towers in 2017. As of 2022, he remains a part-time consultant purely for attractions at Alton Towers.

Video games

  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 - consultation
  • NoLimits Coaster 2 - technical adviser

Publishing history

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

Attractions produced by John Wardley

Attractions developed by John Wardley
Yr Ride name Role Description
c.1975 Uncle Frankenstein's Scream Machine (Barry Island) Design Dark ride
c.1976 Wacky Gold Mine (Barry Island) Design Dark ride
1984 Royalty & Empire Consultancy Exhibition
1987 Dragon River Design Log flume
1987 Runaway Train Design Roller coaster
1987 The 5th Dimension Ride layout Dark Ride
1990 Prof. Burp's Bubble Works Development Water dark ride
1990 Vampire Development, ride layout Roller coaster
1992 Runaway Mine Train Development, ride layout Roller coaster
1992 The Haunted House Development Dark ride
1993 The Spirit of London Development Dark ride
1994 Nemesis Development, ride layout Roller coaster
1995 Dragon Khan Development, ride layout Roller coaster
1996 Megafobia Development, ride layout Roller coaster
1998 Oblivion Development Roller coaster
2000 Hex – The Legend of the Towers Development Dark ride
2002 Air Development, ride layout Roller coaster
2002 Colossus Development Roller coaster
2003 Nemesis Inferno Development, ride layout Roller coaster
2009 Saw - The Ride Consultancy Roller coaster
2010 Th13teen Consultancy, ride layout Roller coaster
2011 Raptor Consultancy Roller coaster
2012 The Swarm Consultancy, ride layout Roller coaster
2013 The Smiler Consultancy, ride layout Roller coaster
2014 Flug der Dämonen Consultancy Roller coaster
2018 Wicker Man Consultancy, ride layout Roller coaster
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