Lightwater Valley in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England, confirmed via guest inquiry that their star coaster, the 2.26 kilometer Ultimate, has been “decommissioned” with “no plans to reopen it.”
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Per a text correspondence from a public relations representative (screenshots of which are currently going viral on social media), Lightwater Valley has “changed to be a Family Adventure Park for the under 12’s and therefore, The Ultimate does not fit in with the new direction of the park.”
Lightwater Valley has been heavily rebranding themselves as an ”under 12’s” Adventure Family Park (phrasing that is implemented heavily on their website and marketing materials) since the park’s acquisition by Brighton Pier Group in June 2021. The Ultimate ceased operations along with the rest of Lightwater Valley in Spring 2020 due to the CoVid19 pandemic.
Lightwater Valley confirmed ahead of their 2021 operating season that The Ultimate would remained closed as the park evaluated the ride. While a management change leading to a shift in priorities is to be expected, fans of The Ultimate found the idea of Lightwater Valley retiring their signature, record-breaking ride difficult to imagine. Sure enough, after another off season of little development in the case, The Ultimate was removed from the park’s website ahead of the 2022 season, the coaster’s retirement seemingly imminent. With the season coming to a close, weary fans of the iconic ride now have a final confirmation.
The Ultimate was designed in-house with assistance from locally-based Big Country Motioneering, as well as British Rail. The 2.26km, 1.4-mile coaster opened in 1991 as the World’s Longest Coaster, a record it maintained until the opening of Nagashima Spa Land’s Steel Dragon 2000, which still holds the length record to this day. Lightwater Valley and several of its rides were immortalized in the original Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario, ”Katie’s World.” With The Ultimate’s closure now permanent, Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s The Big One is now the retroactively the Longest Coaster in Europe – over 25 years after its debut.
With all of Lightwater Valley’s major coasters now officially retired, the park is effectively off the radar for coaster enthusiasts looking for more than a couple quick kiddie credits. Following its removal in 2020, long-time favorite Raptor Attack (formerly Rat Ride) can still be enjoyed at Cotaland in Texas, though the ride’s unique queue and dark ride elements are lost forever. Movieland Park’s Brontojet and Legendia’s Devil’s Loop are still more past major coasters of Lightwater Valley that riders can experience today, but their greatest attraction is now only a memory.