* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm writing this with matchsticks holding my eyes open, and cotton wool wrapped around every inch of my body.
Well, ok, that's all an exaggeration, but it's pretty close - after a weekend away at Alton Towers, I'm still recovering from the amount of screaming, shouting, walking, Minion winning, and pizza eating I've done - and that's just the start!
I want this review to give people a good idea of the resort, but also a series of handy tips, so that when you visit, your stay can be as pleasant as ours was! Handy tips are highlighted in bold - enjoy!
Where is Alton Towers? Is it easy to get to?
Let's start at the beginning - Alton Towers is a theme park, part of the Merlin group, which is situated in Alton, Staffordshire. Getting here is pretty easy from any direction - it's situated between the M1 and M6. If you're travelling by car, their postcode works well in a sat nav, although they do ask on the website that you follow the signs once you get close - I think this is to prevent people from driving through Alton village, which is where the Garmin took us!
By train, the nearest stations are Stoke-On-Trent, Derby or Uttoxeter.The website, again, gives information on buses from the station to the resort.
We travelled by car from Eastbourne, setting off at 5.30am, and we arrived just after 10am, with a stop off for breakfast. It's a long journey, but it quickly passes if you fall asleep on your friend!
Where can I park? How do I get in?
Hold your breath, this next section is a stinging, eye watering, fact filled section that cannot be avoided. We'll start with car parking...
Alton Towers has a large car park, split into alphabetical sections. They're those funny double spaces, where you drive forward if you're the leading car, and then the one behind follows you in and pretty much parks in your boot. It's a good idea, fits more cars in, and when there are wardens (which there usually are at Alton Towers) it's a smooth process, so no driving around searching for a space. However, when we arrived, there wasn't a hi-vis jacket in sight, so off we tootled around the car park nearest the hotel, for some time. There were tiny cars taking up the entire space, and other cars hanging out the back because the car in front hadn't gone far enough forward. With our big truck, we had to disregard some spaces - but we eventually found one, and we all piled out the car and into the (rather cold) air.
If you want a space nearer the entrance of the park, get there early. People start arriving at 9am or even earlier...
We first went to the hotel - we stayed at Splash Landings (which is spoken about later in the review) but we checked in easily, got our keys, but left our bags in the car until our rooms were available later that day. We nipped to the toilet, won our first Minion of the day (!) on a claw machine, and then headed for the Monorail to take us to the park!
Here is where you get the first taste of how your day will go - the dreaded queueing. Bear in mind, the Monorail runs to and from the park, sits 6 in a cabin (always awkward, sitting opposite a family you don't know) and is a fairly swift journey. So how the queue manages to wrap it's way around the car park is beyond me - so we manned up and walked the 15min walk to the park instead. Most people take this option now. It's actually less then 15min but I think they tell you that just in case... On the plus side, if you do wait for the Monorail, there are toilets in the queue. Considerate of Alton Towers, and quite necessary, I'm guessing!
Once you get off the Monorail (or walk around the corner, if you chose that option) you start getting an idea of the theme of Alton Towers. Everything is big, bright and clean. You see the big purple gates the hold the entrance terminals, and the ever-impressive double loop from the original Corkscrew ride, which has been painted purple to match the rest of the area. More toilets are available, plus vending machines and cash machines, and of course, the kiosks for buying, collecting and ordering tickets!
There are queues for people that have purchased tickets online, and queues for people paying on the gate - and by 9.15am, these queues are insanely busy, so be prepared to wait. Luckily, we got our tickets sorted in the hotel, so no queueing for us!
Deep breath - ticket prices. Buy your ticket online, over a week in advance, and an adult racks up at £36.90, children £32.40, family tickets (up to 6 people, only 2 adults, and price per person) £31.95, seniors £18.45 and children under 4 free.
Leave it between 2 and 6 days in advance, and it moves up to adults £44.28, children £38.88, family tickets (per person again) £38.44, seniors £22.14 and children under 4 free.
Less then 24 hours before your visit, or paying on the day and your looking at adults £49.20, children £43.20, family tickets (per person again) £42.60, seniors £24.60 and children under 4 free.
Phew! Alton Towers has always been expensive, and each year, they seem to increase their price. The amount of people they get through the door is phenomenal, and they must rake it in on door prices alone. But the cost doesn't stop there!!!
When you see the queues, you may be thinking, how on earth am I going to manage to get on any rides. And it's the correct thought process - queue times at ANY theme park are ridiculous, but Alton Towers may top it, especially on their new ride, The Smiler, with queue times reaching 3 hours whilst we were there...
So Alton Towers do FastTrack. You can buy these online, before you go, or on the gate, or even around the park. And they don't come cheap. If you wanted a FastTrack for every ride, then you would want the Platinum Package - which is a cool £92 per person. This does give you unlimited FastTrack, on all of the rides, including their bigger, thrill seeker ones - but I recommend this for those that perhaps can stomach going on The Smiler or Nemesis multiple times - otherwise, you're wasting your money.
There's a Gold Package (£52) which is pretty much the same, but only 1 go on each ride, and a Silver Package (£22) which gives you FastTrack on Air, Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita and Thirteen - Alton Towers most popular rides. Silver doesn't include The Smiler and you only get to use it once. If you solely want to skip The Smiler queue, then it's a one off FastTrack of £10 per person.
Get me on the rides!!!
OK, so we're through the gate, we're armed with our FastTrack cards, and we make a beeline for any ride we can. You enter the park and go pretty much into the X Sector, so we started there.
First stop, Enterprise - a sit down, spin around, innocent looking rocket ride, which uses the force to keep you and your partner locked in your seat which you whizz, not spectacularly fast, upside down. It's ok, but we come off looking a bit grey. Maybe it wasnt' the best one to choose first, but it's done and out the way - a snoozey 5/10 for me.
Next, we're using our FastTrack (we went for Gold) and waving goodbye to the losers in the hour long queue for Oblivion. The fast lane takes us right to the front of the queue, and we're sat down within five minutes. Worth it. We're strapped into the orange seats, which clamp us down securely, and the two row, eight across carriage is ready to go. There's a slight delay where they send a worker in a hard hat up the track, but then we're ascending! We choose a silly pose for the photograph, which fails miserably as we drop into the black hole in front of us. It's over faster then we queued, but it's the best in my eyes - a breath taking 9/10.
Nemesis is another FastTrack ride, and worth every minute - the rollercoaster whizzes round with such force, that you debate whether you need to be clipped in or not. With lots of fast loops, and a fair few drops, it's not for the faint hearted, but we love it. I especially love the whole idea that Alton Towers created, with their own alien monster thing, so it's not just a ride, but a whole story. Shame the water no longer runs red on the ride, but it's still a great experience - 8/10 for this one. I should interject here that they also have a second Nemesis ride, which is one of those walk through ones, with a jumpy ending. I've never been on it and never will, I'm far too much of a scaredy cat, but I've heard it's very good, although once you know what's coming, it loses its touch slightly.
I've lost track of which ride we went on next - but keep reading, for my evaluation on the rest...
Air is one of those rides that you think you will either love or hate. I remember the first time I rode it, coming off and saying "never again" I was that queasy. But with a push from the boys, on I went - and I'm glad I did. Air is the first rollercoaster which takes you round essentially laid down - so facing the floor. It's a manoeuvre to get into the seats, which have extra chest harnesses and locks for your feet, which close as you pull the shoulder covers down. Then, the floor drops away, and your tipped straight forward, into "superman" position, and away you go. '''It's worth noting that this ride is so much better if you queue for the front row. It increases your waiting time, and there are signs which warn you of an extra hours wait if the queue goes past a certain point, but it's worth it if you have the patience.''' It's a great ride for jokey pictures with your arm outstretched, off to save the world like WonderWoman, and it flips you all around until you're quite disorientated. It's just long enough too, and a brilliant all rounder. '''8/10 *It's also worth noting that you need to fit in the seats to go on the ride - and they have a chair outside the entrance so you can test. We saw a rather large lady attempting to be wedged in the seat. Credit to the staff, they really did try. But she wasn't allowed on - and she'd been queueing for an hour...*'''
Duel was a more than interesting experience for me - who has a phobia of ghost trains. But this one has a twist - you have a laser gun, and have to aim for the green and yellow, rather little, lights on the wall. This is whilst zombies, spiders, vampires and werewolves jump out at you, and a whole host of scary screams go off around you. I will confess, I hid and cried my way around the ride, but I shoot my gun from under my hat and racked up an ok 5800 points. This was compared to my boyfriend, who was in the 38000 mark... But then again, I'm not very good at aiming, even if I were looking. For me, it would be a scary 3/10 - but because I have my phobia, I asked my boyfriend, and he rates it at 7/10 - could be scarier (god forbid) and sometimes the guns don't really work.
Next up, Ripsaw - on our first day, this was out of order (the problem with all theme parks), but the second day, my boyfriend and his brother hopped on it. It's the only ride I didn't go on, because it really does knock me sick. The ride is a giant swing, which then tips you upside down and over the top, lowering you dangerously close, but not quite close enough, to multiple jets of water. Cue lots of screams from girls not wanting to get wet. It's a fun ride, I do enjoy it, but I always come off worse for wear and it's just not worth it. But if you can stomach it, then it's a good 6/10.
Rita is a brilliant ride. Fast, a good length, and good amount of drops and tilts - it's a fantastic all-rounder. I used to love the theming - Rita was Queen of Speed, a race car that whizzed off at high speed. Since then, it's been re-branded, so now, it's a fast moving whatever-they-want-to-call-it, rushing away from danger. A voice over tells you to keep your head back, and that you "must escape", before shouting go, go, go, and away you do indeed go. It takes your breath away, quite literally, and I love it. It feels like someone is throwing daggers in your face if you go on in the rain... One of my favourites! A super fast 9/10.
'''Th13teen" is a newer ride for Alton Towers. It's in the Dark Forest sector (the whole park is split into sectors, so it's great to find everything - especially if you use the map they give you at reception) and the advert was a spooky tale about not going into the forest alone. It's a good rollercoaster, with a fair few drops - they're not too high, because you're only held in by a lap bar for this one - and then an awesome, one of a kind surprise. I won't ruin it, in case you haven't been on it, as it is better when it's a surprise, but even if you do know what the surprise is, it's still very good! It's brilliantly themed - even the area for queueing is spooky and dark, with a good jumpy bit to boot. '''For overall experience, 8/10.'''
'''Sonic Spinball''' has to be the most baffling long queue in the entire park. With waiting times of over an hour, it's debatable whether it is actually worth it - but believe me, it really is. You get in a four-person carriage, two facing forward, two backwards, and ping your way around the track, jolting around corners, and spinning round and round. It's brilliant fun! The entire structure shakes, the ride is fast and doesn't let up, and you come off feeling like every bone has been shaken to within an inch of its life, but it's fantastic! The long queues are a let down - even last thing in the day, we stood and waited for nearly an hour - and wet weather means that only 3 people are allowed in the carts instead of 4, but other than this, it's a good little ride. '''A whizzy 7/10.'''
'''The Smiler''' is Alton Towers newest rollercoaster, with staggeringly impressive numbers to back it up - including 14 loops, which is the most any rollercoaster has ever had. It's also worth noting that it's a long ride - nearly 3 minutes in length - so it's worth that little extra waiting. '''This is where a FastTrack pays off, and spending £10 per person is worth it.''' We cut our queueing time from 2 hours, to 2 minutes, by whizzing through the fast lane and getting straight on the ride. To get to the loading bay, you pass by swirls, spirals, and what can only be described as a mixture of smurfs and oompa-loompas singing a very irritating, crazy song, then you're greeted by staff who are dressed as oompa-loompa style people (complete with stripey black and yellow tights), sieved through yellow gates, and placed in your seat. As you set off, bright white lights come on, giving you an even bigger sense of the theme - which is a "correctional centre for people, to make them smile", and you're off. And my favourite part of this entire ride? Straight out the blocks, you encounter your first loop. It's in the dark, you don't know it's coming, and it's awesome! Now, 14 loops might sound a bit sick enducing, but there are two points in this ride which give you a "time out" - the first, you reach TV screens which tell you you're half way, and show a heart rate (I think mine would be racing a bit more than the one onscreen by this point...), and the second, which is when you're climbing vertically upwards. This is, for me, the worst bit. It's uncomfortable, you can't see the top, and you feel like you could slide out of your seat at any moment. But the rest is brilliant - it disorientates, makes you scream, makes you laugh and definately makes you smile. The "innoculator" (a giant flashing screen in the centre of the ride) is pointless when you're on the ride - I didn't see it any time we went on, and kept my eyes open all the way round - and only once did the "laughing gas" actually squirt us. But other than this, it's fantasticly flawless. Even getting off the ride, and entering the shop, your senses are filled with wonder and special visual effects. It's a brilliant ride, and even my in-laws went on and loved it. '''Queues are expected to be long, as it was only built last year, so do be patient if you don't want a fast pass.''' I can't praise this ride enough! '''My absolute favourite - 10/10.'''
Phew, that's a lot of rides! And they don't finish there - we got wet on '''The Flume''', slightly damp on the '''Congo River Rapids''', bored to tears on '''Charlie and The Chocolate Factory''' (all the promise, none of the results...), and even tried out the old Squirrel Nutkin ride, which is now part of '''CBeebies Land''' which is perfect and interactive for young children. There's also the '''Runaway Mine Train''' with the classic "choo-choo" and squirting each other on the pirate ships was a laugh as well. There's also the '''Ice Age 4D''' which is great, but we didn't feel like doing it this weekend.
'''Is it lunch time?'''
Fast food is in abundance in Alton Towers - there's a range of hot dogs, burgers, chips, pizza, and donuts to suit ever taste bud. There are restaurants, including the Pizza Buffet, which is where we chose to go both days - where you help yourself to a good selection of pizza, pasta and salad, and get a drink, for just over £10 per adult. It's carb filled junk to keep you going all day and well into the evening.
Alton Towers no longer has branded franchises - for example, Burger King has been replaced by Alton Towers own Burger Kitchen. The food is equally as good, although at peak times, service can be poor, and queues can go out the door. '''It may be worth eating a little earlier, or waiting until later in the day to avoid the rush.'''
There are also vendors and shops throughout the park for sweets, drinks and snacks in between.
'''Can I win a prize?'''
We came home from Alton Towers with 2 new friends - Minions! They're still a big craze, and you can win these, along with other creatures and critters, on various games, including basketball shooters, plate smashers and things like that. '''They're cheap, to some extent, but quite addictive, and quite difficult. On some stalls, you get two balls, and you have to get both in the bucket to win.''' It certainly takes skill, and Winion, our large Minion friend, must have cost over £100 by the time we won him, with the whole family (six of us) all trying to get him.
There are more easy games, such as claw grabbers, but they're often fixed to never give a prize, so choose carefully.
We also played a four person game of air hockey, which was really good too, and a great twist on the original - and I won the first game! Hooray!
'''At the end of the day...'''
At the end of a long day, flopping into bed in the '''Splash Landings''' hotel was top of my list. But not before a drink in the adjoining '''Alton Towers Resort''' hotel, whilst watching the live band and singers. The stage is excellent, shaped like a ship, and the band were brilliant. I can't comment on the price of the drinks, as I didn't buy any myself, but there seemed to be a good selection, as we all got what we wanted. There is entertainment in both hotels, but we chose to go across the bridge to the other hotel to Splash Landings, simply because of the live band.
Splash Landings was a lovely hotel, and the rooms were comfortable, tidy and enough for what we needed. Each room can sleep four (the basic rooms anyway) with a double bed and a set of bunk beds. and ensuite bathroom, with toilet, sink, bath and over the top shower. There's tea and coffee making facilities, and a biscuit (hooray!), magazines with crayons for the kids, and bath and shower gel in fun character shapes as well. There's also a hairdryer, television (which works like a computer, and was great fun to use) and a token bible (of course!). '''Because we only used the hotel to sleep, I am not going to go into much detail.'''
We didn't use the swimming facilities, although they looked amazing, with slides, and indoor and outdoor pool, simply because of the rather poor opening hours - the pool is closed by the time you return back from the park, and opens just as you leave for the park the next morning. Similarly, the spa, in the other hotel, was a facility we didn't explore. I guess these would be used if you were staying for a long weekend, or even more.
Breakfast was lovely, but busy. We went during "red zone time" at 8.30am - apparently, there busiest time. They say for a quiet breakfast, getting there at 7.15am is better. There was a full english cooked breakfast range, with a variety of eggs, sausages, bacon, beans and tomatoes, plus hash browns, toast, fruit, cereals, pancakes, muffins, waffles, porridge, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit juice and milk. Phew.
Checking in and out of the hotel is simple, and we were in the park and raring to go after a good nights sleep!
'''Anything else we need to know?'''
Alton Towers has some great gardens, and a lovely history, so if you get tired of screaming, take time out here.
It's a lot of walking, so wear sensible shoes and be prepared to have tired feet - you will definately cover some ground!
They have different themed events all year round - we visited during ScareFest, so the park was decked out in pumpkins, scarecrows, ghosts and ghouls. They also bring in '''The Mazes''' which are jumpy, night time adventures, not for the faint hearted, and therefore, not for me, so again I can't comment, but I've heard they're fab. They also have fireworks in November, which are amazing.
If you love Alton Towers, and want to experience it over and over, you can buy Merlin Annual Passes, which get you in to here, and other Merlin attractions, including the London Dungeons and Madame Tussauds. Worth considering.
'''The final word.'''
Alton Towers has and always will be cemented in my heart as a favourite (but don't tell Blackpool Pleasure Beach that!). It's a world in itself, with so much to do and so much to see, that it's a different adventure every time.
It's tough if you're on a diet like me, you kind of have to forgo it for the weekend, as there aren't many healthy options, but that's ok - it's a theme park after all.
The queues are to be expected, and the FastTrack tickets eliminate these as best they can, if you can afford to shell out for the Platinum or Gold passes.
You can buy souvenirs and momentos of your day, which are also expensive, but definately worth it if you get the perfect picture on a ride. They do photos, fridge magnets, and even snow globes and phone covers now! You also get a code, so you can access them online for up to 28 days after you get home.
'''It's an expensive day out, but a memorable one. The rides are top notch, and there's something for everybody, which some other theme parks lack. And because it's ever-expanding, it means it will never get old. It's clean, it's tidy, and it's well kept, the staff are friendly and nice, and it never feels crowded because it's such a large place. Finally, it's easy to get to, so it's easy to return whenever we want.'''
A fantastic 10/10. Well done Alton Towers!
===In the beginning===
When I was about ten, my family decided to go and visit relatives down in Manchester. A few bouts of car sickness later and I was fascinated with the surroundings. The trips down became a yearly thing that we all looked forward to partly because my great aunt was brilliant fun and partly because we'd always work in a trip to Alton Towers. The first couple of times I didn't actually go on any of the rides through being far too scared. Then I finally went on a smallish ride at a dinky little Scottish theme park and convinced myself that the "drop" I experienced on that thing was just about as high as the drop on the scariest ride in the park. Next time we went, my Mum and my Brother took great delight in my absolute terror as we chugged and clanked our way up the tracks of "Oblivion" I even got away with as much swearing as you've ever heard a 14 year old (at least 12 years ago that is). I was so utterly wrong about the drop being the same, but it did mean that I'd just cracked the worst ride in the park and therefore it'd be silly not to do the rest. And that's how my love affair with Alton towers began. The park is huge, so this review will be a long one.
For those of you who don't know, Alton towers is one of the biggest and most popular theme parks in the UK. They've earned that title through having some of the biggest thrill rides and constantly keeping up with the times by trying out new things. People who would enjoy the place the most would be thrill seekers, hands down. Children come next as there's a fair amount to keep the kiddies entertained here too. If you don't have kids and you don't like roller coasters then you'd more than likely be wasting your time and money coming here.
The park is huge and is built on the grounds (800 acres worth) around a listed 19th century gothic mansion which is partly in ruins and in recent years has been partly roped into helping provide chills for the visitors. One of the tamer rides "Hex" is built into the mansion, and at Halloween the park opens up scare mazes through the mansions with a couple of different creepy themes. You'll also find luscious gardens in a valley in the middle of the park, but if you are there for the rides, you probably won't get much time to explore these. I've been about 10 times now and I've still not been into the gardens. One day!!
As well as the theme park there are also two theme hotels that you can stay in. Splash landings hotel is a water park and hotel while the normal Alton Towers hotel has theme rooms based on some of the rides but you'll find yourself paying through the nose for most of the rooms in either. One other perk of staying at the hotels is that you get entry to the park before everyone else meaning you can get to the busy rides first and therefore to the front of the queue. This is also true if you are going to a concert in Alton Towers (I once went to see Pink at Alton Towers). As I'm not rich, I've never visited either of the hotels, instead I've just went with nearby hotels.
Alton Towers regularly do deals with newspapers to collect vouchers and get in for free or half price. If you are planning a trip, it would probably be worth being prepared well in advance so you can look out for some of these deals as it could really save you a tonne. Entry to the park is just under £35 for adults and £30 for children and could even be more if you go in peak periods. Family tickets can save your dosh coming in at £65 but none of these ticket prices include "fast track" tickets which enable you to get on rides quicker. If there's a big group of you going, these deals could really save you a tonne.
If you buy your park tickets along with a hotel booking via their website it can sometimes work out cheaper too, with two days in the park for 1 adult costing us only £40 last time we went.
As well as that, you can generally save a bit of money by going to the park two days in a row. When the park is at its busiest, you really need two days to make sure you get on everything you wanted to. When it's quiet you can simply take advantage and ride everything to your hearts content. Usually your second day has a more than 50% discount but you can get even more if you go for your first day and keep your parking ticket as they usually have an offer for £10 tickets if you come back the next day. What I'm saying is, keep your eyes open for deals otherwise the price can sting a little.
Unlike some other places, however, the ticket price will give you access to all the rides all day for free. The only extras you'll pay for are things like food, drinks, souvenirs and carnival style games that are dotted about the place.
Alton Towers is about a half hour drive from Stoke-on-trent which has no shortage of cheap hotels (some nicer than others for the price). It's in the middle of the English country side but is fairly well sign posted even from Stoke so you shouldn't have too much trouble getting there. There's a local bus service from Stoke that takes you straight to the park for fairly cheap but I don't know the ins and outs of it, but at least now you know it exists if you wish to look into it! It really depends on how far you're travelling and what you're comfy doing to get here. Up till this year, I'd always gotten a deal with my local coach company who would bus everyone down to the park overnight for a couple of days with bed and breakfast in stoke. This year, now that my gorgeous Fiancé has me into a real sleep pattern and my distaste for people has steadily grown, I decided I'd pack all my friends into the car and drive myself. My trusty sat-nav got me most of the way though I'd suggest looking for the signs for the car park when you get a bit closer. As the park is so huge, my sat-nav was just trying to get me to the post code which is actually the mansion inside the park. The car parks are quite a bit away from that so my sat-nav was going mental at me for not turning into the staff entrance.
The post code that will get you most of the way there is ST10 4DB though even the Alton Towers website asks you not to put it on the "shortest route" setting or you'll drive headfirst into a farm!
No matter how you spin it, there's a lot of walking and standing involved in a day at the towers. You can take quick shortcuts across the park via the Sky Ride stations around the park, but sometimes it's just as quick to walk thanks to the queues. Wheelchair access is fairly good with most of the paths being smooth though there are one or two steep hills you might worry about. Getting into the park can either be done by walking from the huge car park or heading towards the monorail station. I prefer to do it that way. You can buy tickets on the entrance or pick up pre ordered tickets there too. If you also pick up a parking ticket at the start of the day it'll save you waiting in line at the end of the day.
===For the kids===
People with kids will have to keep their wits about them here. If you have taught your kids how not to be spoiled little brats, you'll be fine. If you've got a tot who chucks a tantrum any time it sees something fuzzy, you may wish to bring a blanket to put over their heads till the calm down (well it works for budgies and dogs!).
For really young kids there's a story book themed area to the right when you walk in. You'll be greeted by a giant tree reading a story book and kicking about will be various statues of story book characters. There's also the Squirrel Nutty ride which is a little pedal car that takes you and your kid through the "tree tops" (all constructed of plastic) if your little legs can pedal. I don't see slightly older kids taking well to the quaintness of the area, but that's fine, there is more. If you're an adult you'll probably find this area reduces you to tears of boredom after about two minutes. We don't ever go in any more as we don't have any kids with us when we go.
If you travel to your left at the bottom of the main Plaza you'll enter the Pirate Themed area of the park called Mutiny Bay. This area has a really fun adventure playground for the kids and even some boats that can float around and shoot people with water cannons. This area also has a lot of carnival games like hook the duck and basketball which can all be avoided if you wish, as well as a good old fashioned teacups-esque ride with a pirate themed twist. You can even get dressed up like a pirate and have your photos taken or watch a live show in the little courtyard in this area. Recently they added Sharkbait Reef which is a little aquarium full of weird and wonderful sea life. I rather enjoyed my little wander around it and your kids probably will too. Walk a little further and you'll also find the log flumes at the far end of this area. The Flumes when we went were looking a bit run down and dirty. I've never really enjoyed them as you get absolutely soaked on them but some people love them. There's a bit of a drop so kids with a weaker stomach might not do too well on them.
As well as all the fun you can have in this area, I'd say without a doubt, this area is where you'll find the best selection of food in the park. From freshly made donuts to Mexican food (both of which I'd really recommend) and kebabs, back to British all of the food in this area smells fantastic and tastes great and it's not even too expensive. If you are on a tight budget you can obviously bring a packed lunch, but I'd definitely say some of the food here is worth your money.
===Katanga Canyon and Gloomy Wood===
Continue in this direction and you'll find Katanga Canyon which is an area with River Rapids and a Run-Away Train that the kids will love (the adults will probably really enjoy these rides too) and then a little further on in Gloomy Wood you'll find one attraction called Duel which is a haunted house with laser tag built into the trains (it used to just be a haunted house, then kids got bored with that kind of thing so they added the shooter aspect to it). All three of the rides are quite tame but also quite enjoyable. They also offer a seat for five minutes and if you want you can just chill out while the carts go round the tracks. Hardly the most thrilling, but quite nice after a long day of walking around. If you don't like the idea of handing your kids a laser tag gun, then avoid Duel but it's really rather cheesy inside so you'd be hard pushed to find it anything other than a bit of fun.
===Cloud Cuckoo Land===
As well as all of this, there's more fun to be had just behind the gothic mansion in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Head towards the house and go through the arches, you'll see "Hex" to the right hand side which bar being a little creepy (most kids won't be too scared) is completely suitable for children. It's also rather dull and totally skip-able if you don't want to waste your time on smaller rides. It's quite good for a seat if you're tired, but that's about it. Go straight ahead and you'll find a Charlie and the Chocolate factory ride which is great for kids though I found it a bit sickening due to a certain part in an elevator with a video screen on the floor (it's not actually scary at all, I just hate elevators in any context) and a little Alton Towers version of Disney's "small world" tunnel-of-weird-puppets-and-a-boat ride which is great fun for the kids but a little bizarre for adults.
===For the Thrill Seekers===
If you have managed to ditch your kids or like me you haven't taken the time to impregnate someone yet (One day Allan will carry my child I swear it) then you'll probably be here just for the Big Scary Awesome Roller coasters and rides. And who would blame you?? Not me! Firstly let me advise that you should really bring clothes with zip pockets, if you wear glasses, consider contacts for the day so you can see what's going on while on the ride. So, hold on to your hats and I'll take you through what you can expect!
Currently home to four rides, the X-sector is a sort of futuristic government facility under lock down, though the theme isn't played on too heavily anymore. The two smallest rides there are The Enterprise and Submission are rides that you could probably see at bigger travelling carnivals as their main attractions but are still quite a lot of fun.
Until Recently everything in the X-sector paled in comparison to Oblivion which was the worlds first vertical drop rollercoaster opening in 1998 which basically dangles you over the edge of a straight down drop and then lets you fall face first into a gaping hole in the ground. You can pretty much see the whole park from the top and according to a lot of the advertising at the time, on the drop you feel more G-force than an astronaut blasting off into space. (4.5 G's is the official measurement from Oblivion; 3.5 G's is typical for a shuttle blast off, though re-entry can be as extreme as 5.5 G's) I'd say it's the only ride in the park that still scares the absolute pants off of me and to this day is still the only one that people I've been with will refuse to go on. I find the experience entirely terrifying due to my fear of heights which this ride plays on heavily by making the climb really slow and then slowly turning you round to meet the drop before locking the cart above it. I've been on it about 8 times, but the last time I went on, I managed to pass out and ever since have decided to give it a miss. If you're a thrill seeker, this is definitely for you.
Opening in 2013, The Smiler is Alton's newest ride and is breaks records being the first ride in the world to contain 14 loops in the track. The ride is a little bit crazy and is split into two parts by a vertical climb in the middle and employs things like strobe lights, and sprays of water to really give you that little bit extra confusion while you're tumbling around it. I'd not say it looks terrifying (if you ignore that vertical climb) and overall it's a very fun ride. At the moment you'll find yourself queuing for a long time before you are able to get on it so while it's the newest attraction I'd recommend heading straight there first thing. If you don't you'll have a three hour wait ahead of you. This ride will also make you hit 4.5G's but the fact you're going round loops and tumbling in all directions means it doesn't feel like it hits you in the stomach the way Oblivion does. This ride really just leaves you smiling with only a few hundred swear words hurled out on the 30 meter vertical climb. I love it.
===The Forbidden Valley===
The Forbidden valley is to the far left hand side of the park and is themed around an alien invasion. Everything here is rusted, sharp and burnt out, some items have what looks to be muscle and sinew growing all over it and there are rivers of "blood" flowing around the place. It's quite a cool area and it holds another couple of the big rides!
This has been the main ride in the area since 1994 pulling an impressive 4 G's and was the first ever Inverted roller coaster in Europe which basically means rather than sitting on the tracks like a train, it dangles you below the track so your feet are free to swing around. The back-story was that an alien is supposed to be chasing you but it's not really played on at any point. It's a very comfy ride and you'll be put through 4 loops. It feels quite fast, though isn't the fastest in the park, but it's a great feel good ride that I'd imagine most people will be able to handle with ease. The only thing I would say is make sure you're wearing tight shoes or take them off and put them in the lockers before you go on this one as it could make your feet come flying off with some of the sharp turns.
Is a newer ride in the area which is all underground. This ride plays on the back-story from the nemesis as you get a tour through a military facility defending earth from aliens and doing scientific research. While you're being shown around something goes terribly wrong, and aliens escape, the lights go out and the carts plunge 20ft straight down. This ride terrifies me simply because it's a "drop tower" ride that plays into my fear of elevators (yes, I know, I'm crazy).
This was the world's first "flying" rollercoaster. Similar to Nemesis in that it's inverted however just before the carts pull out of the station, your seat goes from hanging vertically to hanging horizontally. Your new position is somewhat like superman, hence the "flying" part. You'll still be thrown round a few loops like you're peter pan on speed, but it's not entirely uncomfortable. In fact it's probably the comfiest ride in the park due to the padding that you are suspended in. Allan freaked out a little as he didn't feel like he was very safe in it, but I really don't know why. The G's aren't packing any punches on this one coming in at 3.2G's but the experience of "flying" makes it a really enjoyable ride. Due to the fact you are really close to the tracks they can squeeze you through a few tighter spaces than usual, so there are also a few thrills from speeding by hillsides and various other bits of the park and queues very close up. Great stuff
This is one of my favourite rides to watch as it's controlled by a person in a booth so it's a little different each time. You're in a long carriage set between two arms. The carriage spins round so you'll be doing forward rolls, meanwhile the arms also swing you round in huge circles. To add an element of fun, the whole ride is over a pond with giant fountains that operate at the whim of the controller. The carriage can also lock in any position so sometimes you'll find yourself being spun round upside down, other times you'll find yourself coming face to face with the fountains. If you're really unlucky you'll even get put face first into them. The G's aren't too terrible coming in at 2.3 but all of the spinning and hanging upside down is enough to really mess with your head. It's great fun and I absolutely love the ride. On cold days, you're less likely to get wet too.
This is the tamest ride in the area being a rocking boat ride. It lets you experience zero gravity momentarily and if you sit as far back at either side as you can, you'll get a much better experience as you'll drop further each time The Blade swings. Even though it's the tamest ride (and therefore completely suitable for kids) it does give me that horrible feeling in my stomach that you get when you go over dips in the car or indeed when you're on a swing and looking straight down. I don't enjoy it a lot, but it's an easy ride to get on and keeps the adrenaline flowing.
===The Dark Forrest===
This is an area that's been through extensive changes recently with the addition of a newer ride. This area used to be cave-man themed and was called Ugg land, since then, the dinosaurs have been removed and everything has been gothed up with a much darker feel to the place. You'll find two fantastic rides in this area.
Originally dubbed Rita: Queen of Speed Rita was based on drag racing. The original advertising for this ride featured a carriage full of Drag Queens being shot round the track. Now it's gothed up a bit and more themed towards escaping the evil within The Dark Forrest as quickly as you can. Either way, it pulls the most G's in the park at 4.7G's and all within the first second or two of the ride. You'll be shot off from standing still to 62mph in 2.5 seconds and my, what a rush. It's like taking the gut wrenching feeling you get from Oblivion, making it stronger and then telling it to do nice things to you. This one really tickles your brain in all the right places with the rest of the ride being fairly easy going as your carts go round the track in an effort to slow down! One of the best rides in the park.
This ride is great at building up a bit of fear. It's almost like a haunted house but with a rollercoaster at the end of it. The ride pulls out 3.2 G's and 20 meter drops to give you a tonne of thrills before pulling in to a dark and gloomy tower where some very scary things happen. I don't want to ruin the surprises for you so you'll just have to get in there to experience it, but it's definitely up there with the best rides despite not pulling too many G's out on you.
===And on its own===
Last of the bigish rides is Sonic Pinball (originally the spinball whizzer) based around (you guessed it) a game of Pinball with Sonic the hedgehog branding all over it. Your cart spins around as it goes round the track and it's gravity that decides so every ride will be different. This ride is all on its lonesome between the story book area and the X-Sector and is never usually too busy. It pulls 3G's and is classed as a family rollercoaster so as such it's not the wildest in the park, but it's still worth a pop if you have time. I'd not feel particularly bad if you miss out on it though.
===Shop till you realise you can Drop===
Every ride ends with a trip through a souvenir shop and most have a photo taken while on the ride. If you want you can ask to pick up anything you buy at the main shop at the end of the day, although the photos are really the only thing you'd need to buy in the gift shops as the main shop stocks all the items from all the shops over the park. It's also a great thing to be able to tell the kids to help them forget about all the cool things in the shops. If you want to treat them to something at the end of the day, the shop will have everything and comes with the added benefit of being so packed that the kids might not notice or remember what they've asked for all day. Result.
This is the major downside of the park, especially if you go at a peak time of year or for one of the main events like Scare Fest. Queue times for all the good rides are usually between 1 to 2 hours with the newest ride that year peaking at 3 hours. The queues are a nightmare especially if you're having an adrenaline crash. If you are sensible plan to go at a time when the schools aren't off and there's not a big event on. There's also a very specific way to get round the park that could save you a tonne of Queue time.
Firstly you have to go straight to the newest ride (if it's a roller coaster). If not you'll get stuck in a giant queue instead of a slightly long queue. Right now you need to hit the Smiler first. After that you're best to go get Thirteen done and then Rita. Rita gets more people round quicker but the queue will only get bigger for Thirteen the longer you wait. Once you're done with those two make your way to The Forbidden valley and do everything there. Oblivion no longer has massive waiting times all the time, mostly because people are so scared of it so, if you are close, jump on it. If not, come back to it when you feel ready. The Forbidden valley is quietest first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but you'll be sacrificing getting on the newest ride if you let queues build up. Mostly though, you really should always try and hit the park for two days running to make sure you have enough time to get on everything you want to do.
One other downside of the park is that occasionally the rides have to shut down. On our most recent visit, the first day was fine but the second day, nearly every ride we queued for broke down before we got to the front. At that point you can either walk all the way out of the queue or wait and see if it'll come back on. It's a total gamble and sometimes you'll win, sometimes you'll lose. Our second day left us having not been on a rollercoaster till 5pm after having been there from 9.30am. It was horrific. The only saving grace is that when the rides shut down completely, if you are smart enough to find a staff member, they'll generally give you a sneaky fast track ticket (which gets you pretty much to the front of the queue once the ride is back on).
As such, we waited 2 hours for Smiler before it broke down and closed, stuck it out in the 13 queue which broke down three times before we got to the front of the queue, got onto Rita, went to go to Hex which promptly broke down and we left for a scare maze we had tickets booked for. After that, because it was scare fest and the park was open late, we went to Smiler. In the dark. And got right to the front within 5 minutes. Oh. My. God. So, the rides might break down, but sometimes it'll be worth it.
===Food and Drink===
As mentioned before most of the food and drink is in Mutiny Bay but there are little stalls and restaurants dotted throughout the park. One thing they do which is quite good value is a refillable cup for about a fiver. You can fill this up for free for the rest of the day at any of the refill stations over the park. If you're sharing one with someone it's even better value and if you're walking, you'll probably want to keep hydrated. As well as this you can get a hot drinks refill cup for £7 that'll get you free tea coffee or hot chocolate for your day. Always a good idea!
===A good plan: Hints and tips===
So, that's what you'll find in Alton Towers. Here's a quick run down of some hints and tips for your visit:
Go for at least two days
Go during a quiet period if you can
Look out for vouchers and ticket discounts
Get your parking ticket at the start of the day
Wear tight shoes
Wear Jackets with zip pockets
Wear contacts instead of glasses if you can
Get juice refill cups
Go to the newest ride first then the dark forest, then forbidden valley.
Ask for fast tracks if the rides shut
Pick up souvenirs in the main shop at the end of the day.
Hotel guests get in early, same if you're seeing a concert.
The place is huge and is probably the best theme park the UK has to offer. Admittedly, it's a total nightmare when it's busy so I'd heavily recommend avoiding the main events and peak periods if you can. When the park is quiet, however, it's heavenly. You can usually get on most rides within half an hour if you time your visit right. Tickets are a little expensive but it really is a trip you probably won't forget if you enjoy roller coasters. I really do love the place, but I'll have to take a star off for the queue times, rides breaking down etc. Mostly everyone will enjoy the place and if you've never been, you need to sort that! Just make sure you plan well!
Having been to this place many times over the years I can honestly say i've had my fair share of the Merlin Pass offer. It's around £100 to get one, and you can come back all year as much as you like. You even get discounts on food in the park and if you upgrade to the next level you even get priority parking for free.
The park has a wide variety of rides for all ages, but for the adults there are very few thrill coasters. You have Rita and Air but 13 and the rapids are only small rides which aren't really that big. There's a lot of stuff for the kids like the Ice Age cinema, the teacups, miniature swinging ship and theres even a charlie and the chocolate factory ride which is split into three separate mini rides which include a river log ride, a movie and a ride in the glass elevator. This ride is the longest in the park and takes 10-15 minutes.
Be aware that prices in the park are massively inflated and they even had a cheap made in china ice age toy for £40. It was filled with polystyrene balls and of poor quality, no bigger than a foot high and a foot wide.
There are plenty of toilets dotted about the park and most have double entrances and exits to make them easier to access when approaching from either direction.
The food in the park is not great, it's all fast food. There is a Halal meat counter called Eastern Express but I was disgusted to find this was Halal, as it is not marked on any signs other than in Arabic which I can't read, so i'm going to knock a star off for this alone. It's disgraceful that they aren't honest and Alton Towers allows this!!
The staff operating the sky ride are completely incompetent. They ask to stop the ride (which makes the thing swing about wildly and causes the journey time to increase) to pretty much everyone even if they don't need it, and the ride stops regularly for no obvious or good reason, it honestly would be a lot quicker to simply walk across the park at a very slow pace. I'm not even exaggerating!
Overall it's an OK place, I don't particularly enjoy it myself as a grown man but theres a lot of stuff there for younger people, and primary school children will particularly enjoy it.
We spent two days in the park during September 2012 and had a fantastic time. We have been a few times but several years ago and although some things have stayed the same there were also new rides too. The park is mainly designed for thrill seekers although there are a few rides for youngsters too but probably not worth the entrance fee if you don't like rollercoasters and adrenaline rides.
We live closer to Thorpe Park but wanted to experience the rides that you can only find at Alton Towers and by comparing the too overall I would say Thorpe Park and Alton Towers are pretty much on par with each other with regards to the rollercoasters on offer. The rollercoasters are brilliant at Alton Towers and my favourite ride of all times is Thirteen, this ride is brilliant with a whole new concept compared to the usually standard rollercoasters. Rita, Nemisis and Air are also brilliant.
The park is very spread out and does take you a long time to get to each area of the park, although there is the sky ride this only helps getting back and forth to two of the main areas, you definitely need two whole days to get around the whole park and on all the rides, especially when its busy.
I have to say I was very disappointed with the water rides, I would have thought that the amount of effort that goes into designing and building new roller-coaster could also be put into new water rides. The log flume is now very tame and needs updating and the river rapids were extremely disappointing, more a gentle ride than rapids!
Other rides include Hex, mine train, Duel as well as other fun but tame rides.
we also went on the new Nemesis sub terror ride and I was thoroughly disappointed by this, we had to queue for ages due to the ride being new and after just over an hour we reached the front of the queue, ready to be terrified.... unfortunately the whole experience lasted no more than 5 minutes and just left me wondering where the rest of the experience was. It was not scary at all and compared to the Saw Live at Thorpe Park it was completely tame.
However overall I was very impressed with the new rides and expansion of the park and just hope it continues quickly so I can go back and try out the new rides.
Overall a great park but could do with some updating, and I would suggest only going with Children once they have reached the appropriate height to get on all or most of the rides otherwise you will find you have wasted a lot of money.
Alton Towers is a theme park based in Staffordshire and in the past few years has expanded to include a hotel and a Waterpark.
Upon arrival at Alton Towersyou are directed to one of many car parks, it is advisable to make note of where you have parked as it gets very busy. You can then walk to the main entrance or take the monorail, there is sometimes a queue for the monorail but it fills quickly so you don't have to wait too long.
When you arrive at the entrance you need to purchase your ticket, this gives you access to the park, all rides and any live shows you want to watch. The cost of the ticket is £45 for an adult or £36 for a child, discounts are given if you book in advance online. There is also an option to buy a season ticket for around £90 per year if you expect to visit a few times.
Once you are in the park there are lots of rides to choose from, there are thrill rides such as Oblivion (holding you facing down then plumiting the roller coaster into Oblivion), Air (a roller coaster where you can lie down), Rita (queen of speed - prepare to go very fast). There are also family rides such as the River Rapids (prepare to get wet) and the haunted house (with laser guns to compete against your fellow rides). There are plenty of rides for children as well and also a play area.
There are often queues for the adult rides which when compared to Disney I think Alton Towers could improve, Alton Towers just feels as though you are queuing up and down where as I find Disney keep you entertained whilst queuing. They do offer fast pass tickets which allow you to queue jump (but these cost £10 for 3 rides), there is also a single rider queue for some rides where empty seats are filled up by people riding on their own which is a good idea.
If you are hungry whilst at Alton Towers there is plenty to choose from, including a large Burger King. Although as at most attraction parks the prices are inflated, so take a picnic if it's a nice day.
As always my day at Alton Towers was very enjoyable; however, having visited several times throughout my life it seems that everything is becoming based around charging customers. A few years ago you could obtain fast pass tickets for free (now £10 for 3 rides) and you could park for free (now £6 per car), and I was a little disappointed that it has now become a rather expensive day out if you have a family.
Alton Towers is one of Britain's best known theme parks, situated in the countryside of Staffordshire near Uttoxeter and Stoke on Trent.
Now, if you're not sure how to get here, it can be quite tricky. The best way to do it if you're not sure is to head to Uttoxeter and then follow the clear signs to Alton Towers. It's probably best to get a map as well. Towns you will go through after Uttoxeter are Denstone and the village of Alton. If you are a new driver (like me) the roads are incredibly steep and windy. There are also busses running from Stoke for guests and staff.
The park is huge, it takes about half an hour to walk from one end to the other! At Alton Towers, there is not only a theme park, but multiple conference facilities for business corporate events, a selection of luxury and family friendly hotels and the water park Splash Landings along with restaurants, bars and of course the theme park.
At Halloween and other special occasions, they run themed events such as the Halloween Scarefest.
--The Theme Park--
There are SO many rides, for the fearless and the uncertain. Here's a little summary of some of the main ones in the order we went round.
This is a newer ride, involving a sharp drop and a "scary" theme. You sit down and are held in your seat by a bar which makes the adrenaline rush more intense when you drop. There is a surprise halfway round which I won't disclose.
Rita Queen of Speed
0-60 in 3 seconds or something ridiculous, this is a real adrenaline ride. Make sure to keep your head back in the seat like I didn't as it can really put stress on your neck!!
This is one of the most popular rides, for a reason. One of the older rollercoasters on the park, the track squeaks horrendously as you climb then you are taken round in loops and upside downs (which I am not fond of!) and a minute or so later, its all over. The queues weren't too bad last time we went but I can remember the queues being an hour long the first time I visited!
Bath Tub Ride
I can't remember the name of this one but it's sponsored by a soap company. This is very cold and very wet, with a larger splash depending on how heavy the people at the front are!!
You sit in a large ring and bob round the "river" with people from the side paying £1 a go to spray you with water - I got hit in the face!
This is a unique rollercoaster in that you are horizontal to the ground, to imitate a feeling of flying. Quite a gentle coaster for your first rollercoaster! I used to be scared of rollercoasters but I loved this one when I was 12!!
I went on Oblivion for the first time last time I visited the park and you get a gorgeous view from the top of the countryside then you are plunged into a dark hole! This is quite an old coaster as well so don't be alarmed if they take you off the ride (as they did with us!) for regular checks. My new favourite ride!!
This is a psychological ride, as it seems like you are spinning round and round when in fact you are swaying gently from side to side.
This ride tells the story of the curse which Alton Towers was built around and is a good one for the kids especially!
You are held upside down while jets spurt water at you! I was lucky enough not to get *too* wet on this one but everyone else got soaked!! I wouldn't advise this if you have just eaten!
The Runaway Mine Train
This ride made me laugh a lot, if only because of the guy who was running it having to repeat the words "Choo choo" a million times over in a very VERY sarcastic tone of voice. A fun gentler rollercoaster for the kids (oh and the big kids like me!)
While you are on the rides, there are places to store luggage and coats. I wouldn't recommend taking anything too valuable that you wouldn't want to lose. Don't have your phone or anything important in your pocket on the upside down rides or the water rides!
--Pricing and Availability--
You can buy tickets on the door but it is probably recommended to book in advance to avoid all the ticket queues. You can buy online from their website at www.altontowers.com. I find the ticket prices pretty extortionate for a day out at £43.50 for an adult on the door. You can get 40% discount by booking online at a slightly more reasonable £26.10. Pay £19.10 per person if you go as a family. Child tickets are priced at £20 online, though on the door both of these are more expensive.
It is then a matter of printing tickets online. I guess I'm lucky as my other half works at Alton Towers so when we went on a day out with two of our friends we all got in for free and we didn't have to queue for tickets!!
There are a few extra costs involved in your day out. Food and drink is priced at the kind of prices you would expect at an attraction. £8 for a burger at a sit down restaurant or £4 for a Burger King, then £5 for a Panini which is what I had.
The car park is extortionate at £6 for a car parking space for the day which would make me feel ripped off if I had paid full ticket price, so it really is a day out for a special occasion.
--Food and Drink--
There are a number of food and drink outlets around the park. You can get a refillable drink for £5 for the day which is good value if you are sharing! We shared this between four of us so it cost £1.25 for fizzy drinks all day (would have been good to have some water too but can't complain at the price!)
I had a Panini with my boyfriend's staff discount and it came to £3.50 so it would be £4.50 at full price. There was a Mexican outlet, many burger outlets, a fried chicken place and a few mini restaurants as well as many kiosks offering snacks and drinks.
One thing I would say is that there are limited options for healthy food which I was really craving on the day so take a picnic if you are uncertain of spending a lot on junk food!
--The Car park--
The main car park is some distance from the actual park, but there is a cable car which takes you across the park called the Skyride.
A great day out for friends or family, but recommended for a treat as the prices are so high!
There are three top theme parks competing for top theme park in the UK. That's Alton towers, Thorpe park and drayton manor But in my opinion Alton towers takes the trophy. It is by far the largest park of the three, the one with the most rides, the most green space and unlike Thorpe park (situated near Heathrow) it's in a nice place in the English countryside.
Upon entry to Alton you will see a lake and a the castle that got the park it's name. Its clear that the effort has not only been made to make the scariest, biggest and fastest rollercoasters (which, lets be honest is what everyone comes for) but also to create a beatiful park that even the older population like to visit. There is a large valley within the park of winding paths that descend into the woods to an oriental themed area. Because it's in a valley you can hardly hear the screams on either side of it. It's actually peaceful inside a theme park.
But anyway the rollercoasters. Everyoneones heard of Nemesis (if you havn't its one of the first and main attractions of Alton towers). Because of a limit in the local areas there is a height restriction on all rollercoasters. The only options are build low or build down. Nemesis is a rollercoaster built through a maze of tunnels dug into the ground with streams of blood runnin through them. The theme part of this park has had no conrners cut. Money has been poured into every detail of the park. Other rides include oblivion (vertical drop coaster), Air (lying down coaster) which s the comfiest rollercoaster i have ever riden and many more.
The only downsides of the park i would say is that the prices for food or indeed anything inside the park are very expensive but you can't avoid that if your going to a theme park. Also i did not find the staff particually friendly. I don't expect them to chat to me but a smile wouldn't hurt every now and again.
I have been to Alton Towers about 7 times in my life time. I am 19 years old and live in Leicestershire so Alton Towers is only an hour away for me. I am a big fan of Alton Towers and in my review I will explain why. It is great for children, teenagers and adults and there's something for everyone. The park is very big but there is a a skyride that run regularly that can take you from one side of the park to another.
Where it is.
Alton Towers is situated in Staffordshire and is signposted from the motorways. The village of Alton which the park is named after is a really nice little village. There are some great pubs which serve great pub food and there are a few bed and breakfasts if you want a cheaper alternative to staying in the Alton Tower hotels.
I have been coming to Alton Towers since I was about 5 and have fond memories of it when I was young. I remember the children's part of the park was great - it put on shows and had lots of kids rides. It's changed a bit since I was a kid but it's still fantastic. There are rides such as the frog hopper and the twirling toadstool. There is also the Charlie and the chocolate ride which is fantastic and definitely worth going on. It's based on Roald Dahl's book and is very similar to the films too. There is a really good indoor play area called Wobble World. Berry Bish Bash is also a popular attraction where you shoot foam balls at each other.
1.4 is the average height on which you can ride the bigger rides. Nemesis and Oblivion are two of the older rides and they are two of my favourites too. Nemesis is located in the Forbidden Valley part of the park and is a roller coaster where your feet dangle out the bottom. Oblivion is located in X-sector and involves a very steep sudden drop into a black hole. Rita is also a great ride and is the fastest roller coaster in the park. Thirteen is one of the newer rides which is definitely worth going on and is really scary. I wont tell you what happens as it will ruin the surprise that the ride has. These are some of the most popular rides but there is also lots of other rides including water rides and old classics such as the runaway train. The bigger rides are very thrilling and are great for adrenaline junkies.
Places to eat.
There are loads of great places to eat in the park and they're not too expensive either. They are located all throughout the park are great for big meals and quick snacks. There are eat in restaurants such as woodcutter bar and grill, mexican cantina and fresh fish and chips. Quick treats are also available such as Nemices donuts and pirates pancakes.
What else is there to do.
The great thing about Alton Tower is it's not just about the rides. There is so much to do. There are beautiful gardens that you can walk around in and relax. There are live shows such as the pirates of mutiny bay: curse of the red skull. The Towers are what the park is named after and have a great historical story to them. One of the rides Hex tells the story of the towers and ends with a ride at the end.
Hotels and Waterpark.
Alton Towers has two hotels - the Alton Towers Hotel and the Splash Landings Hotel. In the middle of both of the hotels is the Alton Towers water park. The Alton Towers hotel has themed rooms which are great for birthdays or just standard rooms which are spacious, have everything you need and are decorated brilliantly. Splash landings hotel is Carribean themed and has a nice tropical feeling to it. Both hotels are great and you can either walk to the park or get the monorail. The waterpark is fantastic and definitely worth a visit.
There are lots of great things about Alton Towers. The rides gives you a great thrill and there is such a variety of different ones. There is so much to do and you are guaranteed to have a great day out. Alton Towers is a great family day out and it's also a great day with your mates or with your boyfriend too.
Alton Tower's can get very busy which means QUEUES. You can buy queue jumps but these are quite expensive. On a busy day you can end up queueing into the park, queueing for tickets and then queueing all day for rides which is not ideal. But it's a popular theme park and this is to be expected.
I would definitely recommend alton towers - it's an amazing theme park and a great day out!
I'm a huge theme park enthusiast. I have visited every major UK theme park as well as theme parks in the USA, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, etc. Alton Towers was always on my 'to go to' list. Their TV adverts really attracted me and I researched the park massively before I visited with my family in 2008. Admittedly, I was quite young back then but I do remember the day clearly.
I will skip out all the family rides, for I do not bother myself with them, and review the thrill rides.
Air was the first ride that I went on. We ran through the park to get there and managed to take our place in the queue perhaps 10 or 15 minutes after opening time? The queue was already 40 minutes long and I remember saying to my mum 'wow, the queues are going to be huge in an hour's time'. For starters, the queue was not 40 minutes long, it was at least an hour. I was very much excited to go on this ride and I just found the whole thing underwhelming. As you move into your 'flying' position, the seats hoist you up. However, my seat had a light on it which kept flashing and three times my seat had to be readjusted before I was ready to ride. This made me feel very uneasy, as if there was a problem with my seat, so maybe that's why I didn't enjoy the ride. However, it does have a strong point in that its seat positioning is very unique, so I appreciate that Air does offer riders a unique rollercoaster experience. 3/5
Nemesis was another ride I was really looking forward to going on. The queues by this point were quite ridiculous and everything was so slow moving. The ride itself boasts 81 km/h speeds, which just didn't feel very fast at all. The ride is very similar to Nemesis Inferno in Thorpe Park. The scenery around the ride is lovely, it has a sort of 'underground' feeling. The ride itself just wasn't very enjoyable to me. I wanted a bigger thrill. 2/5
Oblivion was next. In all honesty, I don't quite know what happened to me during the queue for this ride, but I just became so ridiculous petrified. I was only 13 at the time but I'd always been very resilient to rollercoasters. In the queue, TV screens show a man constantly telling you that if you ride, you will fall to your death, so maybe that had something to do with my pathetic attitude. I think I was just too worried about this ride to enjoy queueing. The ride itself was not that scary at all really, but the concept of being vertically plunged 60 metres into a smokey black pit just scared me silly! If you want to ride this then do, don't be too scared, because it is not worth worrying over it like I did! If anything it is quite boring, very simple and over very quickly. 2/5
Rita was the final ride I went on. I rode it twice, once with each parents. I'd never been on a ride which shot off at the beginning before, so this was a new experience for me. After riding Stealth at Thorpe Park (0-80mph) and more recently Top Thrill Dragster in Cedar Point (0-120mph), Rita's 0-60mph doesn't seem all that impressive, but at the time I remember finding it so so so fun. You definitely get that 'wow!' moment as you shoot off; your hair/head flies backwards and you definitely skip a heart beat. The fact that I rode this ride more than once shows how much I enjoyed it. Honestly it's really fun. 4/5
As previously said, the queues for this day were just ridiculous. There were so many rides (Ripsaw, Submission, Hex) which I wanted to ride but just didn't get a chance to. Such a shame. If you manage to go on a day which is emptier then I'm sure it makes all the difference!
I have only visited Alton Towers once properly as the first time a couple of years back it was extremely busy to the extent that it would of taken an average of 2 hours to get on any of the major rides however this was a bad decision on my part for visiting during peak times.
The second proper visit was an opposite scenario as the park was generally quite empty, as there was only 4 of us at the time we managed to get on the rides within 10-15 minutes at the most and managed to see and experience pretty much everything that was on offer.
The park is very large and is spread across different sections and takes a lot of walking to get from one area to another however there is cable cars throughout which allows quicker travel between the amusements.
There are quite a few major thrill rides which include the newest addition to the park "Thirteen" which consists of a roller-coaster design which travels through pitch black darkness and travels backwards. Also one that literally takes your breath away is "Oblivion" as you clime to the ultimate vertical drop just remember to take in as much air as possible before you crawl over the edge!!!
Other attractions include "Rita" which is one of the UK's fastest roller coasters which reaches speeds of 0-100 mph in 2.5 seconds, The feeling is unreal!!!!
And another classic ride which must be experienced is "Air" as you are strapped in to feel like your flying as your taken on your quest around Forbidden Valley!
Alton Towers really is a great family day out, or even just a good crack with your mates.. Tickets are priced fairly for the scale of the park, I think it was roughly £30 each for adults which is around average for a day out a theme park anyway!
So next time you fancy a day at theme park go for Alton Towers!
I have just visited Alton towers for like the 10th time. It's a great day out and if you love theme parks it's a must. I would say it's more suited for 10 years plus as you have height restrictions on the rides. Try to avoid going during weekends and school holidays as it will increase your queue times. We went on a Monday and the maximum queue time was 15 minutes for the log flume. Queue's on the big rollercoaster rides we practically minutes. Definitely try to plan your visit during the off peak times of the year.
The must rides include Air, Oblivion, Nemesis, Rita and the newest ride Thirteen. It was my first time on thirteen and you will not be disappointed, you will get a pleasant surprise shall we say.
If you pay on the day at the park it's quite expensive. Some tips to getting in cheaper are to collect buy one get one free vouchers from places such as Tesco and also food wrappers. Also I'm sure you can exchange your Tesco vouchers for rewards and get Alton towers tickets at a reduced cost. In the sun newspaper you can collect tokens for free entry but this is restricted for certain dates which you cannot choose exactly. A lot of these free entrance tickets are for sale on eBay. What I did was buy a set of 2 for £20. This is still cheaper than BOGOF so you're a winner. Tickets can be cheaper depending on the dates you choose. But it's a good idea to have a look so you can grab yourself a possible bargain.
One last thing...be aware that car parking on site is £6 for the day. I get angry at this as I think you have paid enough to get into the park and still they want to make extra money out of you. I'm afraid you will have to pay as it's the only car park available close to the park.
What a great day out this is. I reluctantly went with my two daughters and one of their friends; my husband is too much of a wimp!! We had a great day, I amazed my two girls, I'm secretly a bit of a wild chick at heart! Anyway I loved it.
Nemesis is my favourite ride, I went on it twice and we didn't have to queue for very long. We went on Rip Saw, Rita, the Flume, Thirteen, Oblivion, well actually I didn't quite make it on to Oblivion but only because they closed it for technical repairs just as I was being dragged forcefully into the queue. I have to say that even watching that ride made me queasy! My youngest daughter and her friend went on it; they queued for about an hour but said it was worth it.
Although it can be quite pricey, £40 each, there are lots of offers and vouchers available on-line so we managed to get two for one. Seriously, I would never pay the full entry fee. I was very pleasantly surprised by the choice of food available in the park, and more so by the price. A few years ago they had some grotty café which used to serve greasy slop and would cost you a fortune. Two of us ate in Burger King and the other two ate in KFC and it only cost £20. It is not really the sort of place you want to be carting a picnic round with you all day so I thought this was very reasonable.
Alton Towers is a theme park based in Staffordshire, and offers rides and activities for the entire family. Most people associate Alton Towers with rollercoasters and high-speed rides, but they also have other activities which are suitable for the younger visitor, such as live shows, music, a waterpark and rides specifically for children.
The theme park is usually open between certain dates (usually March to November), as it's pretty miserable and probably slightly dangerous to go in the bad weather. Obviously, being based in Britain you're still likely to get showers in the summer months, which can interfere with some of the rides and make your day a bit miserable waiting in queues in the rain, but if it's only showers it's usually not so bad. It's well worth checking the weather forecast before you go though, because if you're taking kids there's not many places to shelter so you'll have a lot of moaning. Of course, if you're not bothered about getting a bit damp, the queues may be slightly shorter on showery days as people decide at last minute to give it a miss.
In general, my experience of Alton Towers has always been a good one, and I've always come home shattered from the rides and walking round all day. The rides are quite spread out so you need to be quite mobile to be comfortable walking round the park and standing in queues. Lots of people complain about the queues and I think it puts some people off going, but in general as long as you accept that you're going to have to wait, you can pick the rides with the shortest queue and come back to others. Also, if you're not taking kids, it makes sense to go out of peak season so not during the school holidays and generally not at weekends. (also look out for the week before kids break up for summer because they have lots of school trips here).
Alton Towers has some famous rides such as Rita (nought to sixty in a couple of seconds), Oblivion (huge drop) and Air (you're almost lying down and the ride takes you round facing head first). There are new ones being unveiled every now and then, but often these are closed in the initial stages, or there are huge queues, so I always wait a while before attempting to try them.
There's a mixture of food and drink options at Alton Towers, ranging from your standard burger bars to an all you can eat buffet (is this really a good idea when facing thrill seeking rides?!). The prices vary so it's worth shopping round a bit before deciding what to have, but in general you can get affordable food here. It helps that you don't really feel too hungry knowing that you'll be on fast rides straight afterwards, although a good trick is to eat and then pick the longest queue to let your food digest!
Lots of places do offers on Alton Towers tickets, which is the best way to purchase them as they can be expensive otherwise. I think full price they're about £35, but if you look out for deals in newspapers or use your Tesco clubcard vouchers, you can make a saving on this. I've never paid full price for a ticket as I've either used offers, or gone as a group which also works out cheaper.
I absolutely LOVE rides. My boyfriend thinks I'm crazy as I will ride ANYTHING. Unfortunately, I am a 19 year old student in Barnsley, so my choice of theme parks is limiting, and so far, Alton Towers is one of the furthest away parks I can get to.
I first visited Alton Towers when I was 16. I went on a school trip in June. Even though it was term time, on a school day, the park was packed. We queued 1 hour to actually get in the park, then each ride queue was 1 or 2 hours in length. I only got to ride the Log Flume, Nemesis and Oblivion. Sadly, I saw the day as a wasted day as £40 for 3 rides is a genuine rip off. However, I did want to go again and so when my friends asked if I fancied it, I jumped at the chance. We went April 2010, just after the opening of Th13rteen, the newest roller coaster. Fortunately, we had 2 4 1 tickets and so it was only half price entry, but again, it was almost an hour queuing to get in. When we did get in, the queues, although not up to 2 hours long, were 1 hour minimum again, so we opted for the best rides. We managed to ride Oblivion, the Rapids, Air, Nemesis and Rita. We spent 1 hour queueing for Rita for it to break down, so, being near the front, we decided to wait until it was fixed. This took 45 mins, so we had to wait 2 hours for a minute long ride.
After these two visits, I found myself thinking, is Alton Towers REALLY worth the time??
This year, I managed to get some 2 4 1 tickets again, and this time we went really early on in the year. In fact, we went the day after it opened for the season. This time, there were no queues for entry, we got straight in the park. The longest ride queue was 25 minutes. We managed to ride ALL of the rides, some even more than once. This experience made me think again about how much Alton Towers was worth.
The park itself is HUGE. It takes around 30minutes to walk from one side to the other. Fortunately, there is a lift in the form of the SkyRide which transports you from one side to the other in 5 minutes. Although the food, tickets and souvenirs are heavily overpriced, if you get 2 4 1 vouchers, take your own packed lunch, and go at a less crowded time of the year, you are hardly likely to go wrong.
There are lots of rides which are available for thrill seekers, as well as lots for children, although there is a lot of space available to make other rides less thrilling for those who can't handle the rollercoasters, for example, dodgems or waltzers. There is a LOT of unused space which would be perfect for rides like this.
The one bad thing I will say about Alton Towers, being an overweight girl, is that it does nothing for overweight people. I know people will have opinions about this, but firstly, there is hardly anywhere healthy to eat, the majority of stalls being chip shops, sweet shops, and snack shops. The Jacket Potato shop was a huge distance from where my friends were eating. Secondly, the rides are not built to accomodate overweight people. Most of my friends are size 10 and 12, but I'm not, and a lot of people aren't either. One of my friends is a size 16 on bottom and I am larger and we couldn't fit in Air. We had to go the special "fat chairs" which was hugely embarrassing.
Other than this, if you have the money and choose the right time to go, it is a excellent day out for most people.
last year, i visited Alton Towers about 10 times yet i never got bored of it.
It is suitable for all ages as there are thrilling rides but also childrens rides. most of the big rides have a 1.4m height restriction and they take this very seriously.
*What Is There For Children*
For young children there is a 'land' called adventure land which contains a small dragon rollercoaster which is in the top left hand corner of the and when you enter through the plastic trees and is also next to a playground.
Right next to this is spinball whizzer, one of the busy rides as it only fits 4 in a cart (3 if its raining). This is not for small children as it has a 1.4m height restriction.
There is a squirrel ride where the track is connected to the trees surrounding the land, it fits three in a cart and there is a nice view from up there so it is also a nice relaxing ride which doesnt go to fast. unfortunately, we spent about 15 minutes looking for the entrance to this ride because it is hidden between two 'treehouses'.
Next to adventure land there is Old Macdonalds Farm which contains a tractor ride where your child can sit in the front of the car and they will feel like they are driving. It also has a round-a-bout ride which has about 30 animal seats on and you can ride a pig,cow,sheep etc etc.
In that area is a boat ride where you can sit and try to spot the animals( which are fake!) as you are going round. there is a button pad at the front of the boat which has lots of buttons on which make different animal noises, fun, but really annoying!
There is a ball crawl area where you and lots of other people can play ball shooting, this may be dangerous for young children but if they are about 10+ they will probably enjoy it. It contains 3 floors of which all have blasters where you put sponge balls in aim at other people. like i said, not the best for small children.
as you exit spinball whizzer. walk forward, turn right , and walk towards where you came in to get to Spinball Whizzer. Next, turn right and at the bottom of that path there are some toilets, if you do not wish to go toilet, turn left then turn right and walk up that little path. When you get to the end of that path, turn right, and you will see the entrance to the X Sector.
The X Sector isnt for young children, It contains Oblivion, Submission and Enterprise. In this area, there are food shops, shop shops and arcades which are great for money wasting!
Oblivion is a thrilling ride where you are dropper into a tunner... but facing down. I have never experienced this as I was to scared to go on it.
Submission is a very sickly ride which sends you upside down multiple times and at one point, hangs you upside down for about 10 seconds. Really Good. I enjoyed it.
Enterprise is a fairess wheel where you stay in the same position all the way round, so in other words, you go upside down ALOT. Abit sickly, and dont panic, you arent meant to be strapped in. Two of you go in one pod at a time so it is perfectly safe.
Further up the park (which has LOTS of hills) is Cred Street, which has swings, which are fun, although i didnt feel safe as there is only a metal chain to hold you in.
Next to that is the Peugeot Driving School, which has a 1.4m maximum height restriction, which is free, but you will have to pay for the drivers license if you would like your child to have a souvenier.
There is a very enjoyable Willy Wonka ride which has a small movie clip at the beginning, then you get onto a boat which holds 9 people, this takes you on a tour around the factory, then there is an elevator ride at the end, but i will not ruin the suprise for you.
There is a ball crawl there, which is suitable for small children, and a seating area for lunch breaks. I warn you now, there is shops around that area which contain chocolate, toys etc etc.
As you come out the ball crawl, you turn left and infront of you will be a small drop tower called the frog hopper, i am not completely sure what the height restriction is for this, but I recommend only letting children 5+ on as it jerks alot.
Once you exit the frog hopper, you turn right and there will be a carousel which is just a classic one with horses but im sure children will enjoy it
Mutiny Bay is another land which has a theme of pirates. There is a ride, called battle galleons, which is pirate ships where you can squirt each other. DO NOT GO ON IT IF IT IS COLD, perfect for those hot summer days though and very enjoyable.
when you exit the ride, you walk left and walk until you can turn left again, then you enter throught castle like doors and there is a seating area where there is a pirate show every hour or so, enjoyable for children and it gives adults a chance to sit down and rest.
So you enter throught the main entrance of the park and you walk down until you reach a big patch of grass and you turn left, you will walk past the cablecar station (which is now shut due to a fire) and you will find yourself walking towards some prison bars, when you reach them, turn left and this will bring you to the main part of mutiny bay.
In this area, there are some waltesers( which go extremely fast if you spin the wheel hard enough, so may make you feel sick) called maraufers mayhem and a pirate ship type ride for children which is called Heave Ho!, once again, this is a very sicky ride so would be careful about what you eat before going on it.
That is all the rides around there, the rest of it is just stalls, arcades and various statues and food shops.
After you have looked around here, and exited the oppostie end of where you came in, there is a sea life center which is free and is a nice, relaxing walk around. this lasts about 30 mins- 1 hour.
Katanga Canyon contains the Congo River Rapids, which i am happy to say, you dont get drenched just a bit wet if it is winter, as for the summer, i suggest rain coats. It is a long trek up to the loading area and extremey hilly.As you enter the ride, you stand on a moving circle platform, so you have to get on the boat whilst it is moving, i recommend holding on to your children and helping them on, but you should have a member of staff there to help.During the ride, you will enter a dark tunnel which may frighten little children, especially as the runaway mine train enters the same tunnel so the noise may startle them. At the end of the ride there is a waterfall which is on both the left and the right, if you are lucky you will not get wet but it is likely you will.
When you exit the rapids, you will come through a gift shop. When you are finished in there, come out the doors, and turn right , there will be game stalls and places to eat, but across from the food shops is the runaway train. This contains a dark tunnel which you go through twice and the first time you go through this there is a flashing light, do not be startled by it, it is just the camera. It is extremely fast on some parts, and tilts alot. Not suitable for small children in my view.The ride goes round twice unless you go on just before the park is about to close when
it may go round 3 ,maybe 4, times.
As you exit this, you come out in, yet, another shop. come out the shop, turn right and make your way, past the runaway train, towards the long walk down to Duel.
You will walk past a fake graveyard and will come out in a clearing which brings you to a waffle shop. Turn left when you reach the clearing and there will be a zombie, with a laser gun, poking out a coffin. walk towards the big gates, the railing next to that is the queue for Duel. This ride is constantly moving, so the queue is also constantly moving. I do not recommend this to young children as you have to walk through a scary mansion to get to the ride. I will not ruin the ride for you, but i will say it gets really dark at times, has scary noises constantly and also has parts that will make you jump.
The gloomy wood is only dark when you go throught it at night, but there is alot of spooky noises and odd paths, there is also a lake with no barrier so be cautious of your children near that. The Woods can be entered either next to Battle Galleons( next to the whole body dryers, £2 for about 5 minutes) or across from Duel ( you exit out a shop, turn left and walk towards the big gates)
Forbidden Valley is full of thrill rides, no childrens rides her. You get here by exiting Duel through the shop, turning and walking left, then turning left down an EXTREMELY long path. You will come out another clearing which is near an arcade.
In this area is Nemesis, Air and a pirate ship.
Nemesis is an extremely fast ride and DEFINETELY not for people who dont like going upside down. Your legs are dangling down so if you have slippy shoes on, take them off.
Air is also a fast ride, but really good. You are lying down facing the floor and you feel relaxed. At one point in the ride, you turn round, so you are facing the sky. Not for people who get sick easily.
The pirate ship, in my view, is on of the worst rides there. I felt i was going to fall out; that is just me. Im sure it is perfectly safe.
There are alot of shops around this area; most is food and arcade.
Ahhhh, the gardens. BEWARE! you are likely to get lost in there, it is a LOVELY walk round but very tiring. Beautiful for a relaxing stroll and you cant hear any of the rides. I have to say, Alton Towers is not an ordinary theme park, it is strangely relaxing.
* UG Land*
As you come into UG land, but are not officially in there, there is a ride called HEX. Very dark, very scary, Not suitable for young children who get scared easily. Also, there is a small ride in there that may make you feel sick.
UG Land has only one ride, Rita, Queen Of Speed, definetely my favourite ride. You go from 0-100mph in 2.5seconds (WOAAAAAH!). This ride is usually extremely busy so be aware you may have to queue for an hour or so if you wish to ride.
I have one tip for you, sit up straight, keep your head back AT ALL TIMES, and hold on tight!
Around here are, once again, Toy stalls and Food shops.
You enter the towers by walking towards UG land. As you walk up the path, keep an eye out for the arch in the wall ,on the right hand side, which is the entrance to the towers.
The Towers are a lovely walk around(except from at halloween when they become ' THE TERROR TOWERS') the house that was originally there, everything is old, a bit cold and at some points a bit dark but it is perfectly fine for children, there are also the small gardens.
Family of 3: £81
Family of 4: £108
Family of 5: £135
Family of 6: £162
I hope this helped :)
Alton Towers, the UK's greatest theme park.