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The Game Begins – launching The Curse at Alton Manor



When the UK’s largest theme park approaches you to collaborate on a new ride launch, you jump at the chance – and that’s exactly what we did when Alton Towers Resort asked us to create a PR and social media campaign to launch its brand new dark ride, The Curse at Alton Manor.

Smoking Gun was tasked to bring to life the journey from the closure of the ride formally known as Duel, through a seven-month, spine-tingling, storytelling experience up to the new ride opening. 

We needed to create a campaign which would spook and excite, while still keeping in mind the attraction’s younger audience of 7 – 10 years – as well as the Resort’s superfans and wider visitors.  

Everything we did had to be in-keeping with the Alton Towers Resort brand platform, by making the audience tremble with excitement through spectacular content, media headlines and first-time activations.


We executed the campaign to make each announcement work hard across a number of platforms…

  1. House Repossessed 

The mysterious closure of Duel was announced in repossession notices. We used this to drive intrigue, starting the launch journey with Victorian-themed aged boxes from the ‘repossessed building’ sent to key media, alongside social media posts which gave different clues to the new ride, depending on which platform it was viewed on.

  1. The Game Begins 

Continuing to build anticipation as the ride name was officially announced, mutilated jack-in-the-boxes were sent from Emily to the same key media. 

To grow interest amongst enthusiasts and youngsters, we created the world’s first giant and immersive haunted dolls’ house which popped up in London during February half term.

During this period, we also hit fans on TikTok by putting out a video of the dolls’ house, including all the clues and jump scare hidden within it, and asked content creators in the ride’s key demographic to duet with it.

  1. Here She Comes 

As anticipation peaked in the week leading up to the launch, we revealed two key scenes, driving fans wild with excitement. We developed an exclusive feature with ITV Central, allowing them to film selected scenes in the ride.

The launch culminated with Emily ‘possessing’ the Resort’s social channels the night before the ride opened to the public . 

For opening weekend, a bespoke Snapchat lens design kept young fans entertained, keeping The Curse at Alton Manor front of mind with this key demographic. 

  1. Haunting Season 

To maintain momentum in the weeks following the launch, we ingeniously used a ‘superfan’ case study to keep the ride front of mind.


20,000 experienced the ride...

in the first 24-hours of opening, smashing projections


quality media hits including 80 fanatical reviews. National interest included The Daily Mirror, MailOnline, The Sun, LadBible and The Independent 

1.8 million

reach across social media platforms


engagements across social media and influencer content – plus 360,000 video views. The Resort trended on Twitter as the new ride name was revealed.

2 million

of the bespoke Snapchat lens created by Smoking Gun

Award winner

Winner of 4 peer-judged industry accolades for outstanding experiential stunt

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