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Where the magic never ends?
Alton Towers (Staffordshire)
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
Alton Towers (Staffordshire)
Advantages: Arguably the best rides in Britain, good balance between rides for kids and adults
Disadvantages: Quite expensive and difficult to get to on public transport.
Although I'd visited Alton Towers a few times as a kid, I'd never visited as an adult until a few days ago when I decided to take advantage of the discount price offer for May and pop down for the day.
A regular open dated ticket to the park currently costs £26 for adults and £18 for kids. There are also discounts available for seniors and disabled. However, it also costs £4 for parking, so keep that in mind if you plan on bringing your car.
Alton Towers is arguably the best theme park in Britain with some rides being so innovative that they have a worldwide reputation. It is fairly out the way, but well sign-posted and built around the ruins of the picturesque Alton Towers. Once you've parked your car you enter the park via a monorail which deposits you at the entrance turnstiles and ticket desks.
Once you've entered the park you'll find yourself in Towers Street where you'll find a large gift shop and a cash machine, should you need it. The other areas of the park are:
Old MacDonald's Farm
The resort also now includes a spa, a waterpark and a fun golf course.
Some themed areas have more emphasis on rides than on a set theme, while others are the opposite. The Gloomy Wood for example has a creepy old themed building and a path leading to it littered with gravestones and creepy crashed hearses but has little to offer in the way of attractions, whereas X Sector has extreme rides but little in the way of a theme.
Getting a map when you enter the park is a must as the park is large and can be disorientating. There are plenty of staff on hand that you can ask for directions if you do get lost, however.
The mix of attractions for both adults and kids is quite good and the majority of kids rides are located relatively near each other limiting the amount of walking that a child would need to do. However, if you want to try to ride all the main attractions you will need to use up a good bit of boot leather walking around.
Queuing times when I visited in May were relatively short. The longest I had to wait for a ride was about 40 minutes to ride Rita, but I was able to walk straight on a few of the rides and for most rides only waited for about 25 minutes. However, from the queue fencing layout I could imagine that queues in the middle of summer would be massive and you could expect to easily wait over an hour to ride some of the attractions.
The main attractions include:
Oblivion: a vertical rollercoaster located in X-Sector. I'll try my hand on most rollercoasters, but I'm ashamed to admit, I chickened out over this one. For an adrenaline junkie, this looks like an extreme experience!
Nemesis: This rollercoaster has been here a while, but still has a good reputation. I ran out of time to go on this one, too, unfortunately.
Air: This is a relatively new rollercoaster and you are positioned so you are lying on your stomach on it to give the impression of flying. Very cool!
Rita: Queen of Speed: A rollercoaster that accelerates to 100km/h in a matter of seconds.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: one for the kiddies, or the big kids at heart! A pleasant boatride threw the Wonka factory followed by a shot on the great glass elevator!
Hex: meant to be based on a legend concerning an Earl of Alton Towers, you'll be led through parts of the ruins in the dark and then disorientated on a brief ride at the end. Spooky and cool!
The Flume: sponsored by Imperial Leather, you'll be packed into a bathtube and sent down three dips. You'll be lucky if you stay dry!
The River Rapids: another wet ride where you are sent off in a rubber ring through choppy waters. Great fun for both kids and adults alike!
Duel: a ghost train with a difference! Here you get the chance to shoot back at the ghouls with a gun attached to your car and rack up some points!
Spinball Whizzer: Imagine a cross between a rollercoaster and some waltzers and you'll have a pretty good picture of this ride.
While you're busy having all this fun, you can also have a DVD made of yourself thanks to Your Day simply by wearing a wristband.
The park is clean and the staff are generally very friendly and helpful. There is plenty to do to fill your day, but it certainly isn't cheap. The value for money is better for adults than it is for kids as adults will have access to the innovative white-knuckle rides such as Rita, Oblivion and Nemesis, but for small children who are unable to or who don't want to ride the big attractions, there isn't a great deal for the money that you couldn't get at any other fairground.
Summary: One of Britain's best theme parks.
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