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Towers above it's opposition!
Alton Towers (Staffordshire)
Member Name: Flibble
Alton Towers (Staffordshire)
Date: 17/09/01, updated on 17/09/01 (190 review reads)
Advantages: Good layout, Grear rides, Very neat and tidy
Disadvantages: A bit pricey for refreshments
So once you arrive, what can you expect? Alton Towers tries (very well) to have something for everyone. After you park your car you take a ride on a monorail to the actual theme park itself. The ride on the monorail is really quite good in itself. It only lasts five minutes, but as the train snakes its way around the track you can see some of the rides that you can go on, as well as listen to a voice over providing helpful information such as opening/closing times and admission charges as well as details about which rides may be closed that day for repairs.
Once you arrive at the park you’re met with the first (and not last) queue – the one to get admission to the grounds. Luckily for us we had already bought our tickets from the hotel that we were staying at, meaning that we could go through a ‘pre-paid’ entrance. Tickets cost around £20 per adult per day (although if you return the next day, you can get a ticket for £10 per adult, which isn’t too bad really).
Our first stop was to the information centre. Here you can find out about the rides that are closed that day, as well as help for people with special needs – wheelchairs could be borrowed from here for example. We wanted a map to the park though and so with this in hand we headed off to go to our first ride.
Alton Towers is set in huge grounds with a lake at the centre of it all, even walking to the rides was pleasant enough in itself for me – the good weather we had certainly helped this and within no time at all we were at the part of the park that interested us the most.
Alton Towers is divided into different ‘zones’ and each zone has a certain theme to it. There are eleven zones – these are
As I already mentioned, each zone has a different theme to it, and Forbidden Valley is designed to resemble something you might expect to see in an ‘apocalyptic future’. My attempt at a description is really all that good is it? There are loads of rocks and burnt out vehicles lying about the place and it certainly works very well. The main rides in this zone are:
Sky ride station
Sadly Nemesis wasn’t operating when we visited. I have been on this ride before though and it really is fantastic. Unlike most roller coasters where you are sat in a little car, here you are left in a seat that hangs from the track. In other words the track is above you rather than below. Throwing in the usual twists and turns and a few loops for good measure, this ride is fast and furious and certainly gets your heart pounding as you experience the type of G-force and weightlessness that many fighter pilots endure. Needless to say, my favourite ride and a real pity it wasn’t working that day.
What theme park would be complete without a swinging pirate ship? Alton Towers uses ‘The blade’ as a means of providing this old theme park favourite. Pretty much what you’d expect really, you back and forth and feel like you’re about to drop out! This may amaze you, but I hate rides like this, I much prefer the fat and furious roller coasters to the ‘hanging upside down for ages’ type of rise, so erm, I gave this one a miss, and er, the queue was too long! (That’s my excuse anyway!)
Ripsaw is another variation on ‘The blade’. The ride consists of a single row of seats suspended over a lagoon and supported by two arms at either side. These arms are used to raise and lower the riders at alternate angles and generally throw them about. A very popular ride when we were there meant that the queue was too
long for me to have a go, which is a shame, as I was really looking forward to it, erm, yeah, those queues eh? All right, I admit it, I bottled out of going on, OK, happy now – Flibble is a big wimp!
Situated throughout the park is a sky ride. This is a cable car system that lets you get about the park much quicker than walking from place to place and each zone has a station that you can use to get on board the cable cars. The cars are always regular and you’re never kept waiting too long to get a ride.
Like all the other zones there is an abundance of refreshment stands where you can buy a drink or a snack. The prices were a bit steep, but that didn’t really surprise me to be honest as they often are in places like this.
Taking the cable car we went to the next zone -
This is a relatively small zone with only one real attraction, the haunted house. Sad to say but a real let down for me – I’ve found episodes of Emmerdale more terrifying than this and we more laughed at the feebleness of it all more than anything else. The queue was really small here and I think you’d have felt a bit cheated if you’d waited a long time for this. Take my advice and avoid it!
Katanga canyon is based on an old goldmine scenario, which means a ‘runaway’ mine train was here. For such an old ride the queue was very long, showing that sometimes the old ones are the best. Unlike most roller coasters where you only do one lap of the ride here you go round twice, so it was good in that respect and a pretty cool ride with plenty of sharp turns and sudden drops. Worth the wait I think!
The other ride here is the Congo River Rapids. This is one of those rides where you sit in a huge rubber ring and are whisked along a flowing river. Needless to say you either emerge bone-dry or soaking wet. Luckily for
me I came out OK, but Susan was drenched – I tried not to laugh, but well I couldn’t help it! Another long queue for this but we had a good cooling down and both enjoyed it.
Merrie England features two ‘attractions’ one is your typical log flume ride (very good) and the other is a 3D theatre. I’ve seen a few 3D films before and this was by far the worst. The effects just didn’t work at all and the films themselves looked very dated. I noticed that quite a few people walked out of the film halfway through and I don’t blame them, a real let down I’m afraid. Merrie England does boast quite a few decent shops though and we picked up some souvenirs for family and friends. As well as the typical mugs and T-shirts you could buy things that were linked to the rides, such as pencil cases for Nemesis etc. The prices were pretty reasonable, but remember that these places are all about making cash, so be prepared to pay.
There are also quite a few restaurants here, although the style of food was all the same – i.e. burgers and chips. We found one place though that sold Baked potatoes with various fillings and whilst the quality was good the prices were a bit steep.
No real rides here save for a few fairground attraction stalls. You can win toys from different games and that’s about it really. Towers Street is the main entrance to the park.
Now Alton Towers is targeted to all ages and Kiddies Kingdom is no exception. Not having any kids meant that we didn’t really go to this section. There’s certainly plenty to keep little ones amused here though with mini-roller coasters and bouncy castles as well as ball pools etc. There is also a theatre where the children’s TV character Barney puts on a show a few times a day. You can also buy Ba
rney merchandise from the many shops here. It’s a great little zone for youngsters and the children I saw here certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Perhaps the newest zone at Alton Towers, X-Sector was previously called ‘Fantasy Land’. This zone features the more ‘white-knuckle’ type of rides. First up is ‘Oblivion’. A very short, but very scary ride. Basically you go up a steep incline, then drop about 80 foot at over 60mph whilst contending with over 4G’s. Scary? – Yes, Brilliant? – You’d better believe it. The queue was enormous, but worth every minute of it. In a novel feature here there are digital cameras positioned at various points on the ride, letting you buy a photograph of you coming down the ride. The photos cost around £5 (pricey in my opinion) but, well, you might as well eh? You can also have the photos’ put onto a T-shirt or key ring. A nice souvenir then.
The other main ride here was ‘Submission’. This is a variation on the ‘Pirate ship’ style ride with cars that swing up, down around and invert on themselves. The fact that some poor bloke had to be driven away by medics after coming off the ride kind of put me off this one!
We also have ‘Black Hole’ which is a roller coaster that’s in total darkness, meaning you have no idea what to expect next. It was over very quickly though and I was a little disappointed by it all. It tries to copy ‘Space Mountain’ in Disney World and kind of fails. Worth a go if there is a small queue though.
The fourth ride here is called ‘Enterprise’ and is one of those ‘strapped in whilst standing up and being spun around rides. Not really my thing, but again was very popular with other people.
X-Sector has numerous branded restaurants here including a KFC and Pizza hut, so it could be
a good place to stop for lunch. One of the best features here though was the ‘virtual ticket’ station. You could reserve your turn on the more popular rides and so avoid the lengthy queues – a very good idea.
Our next stop was the Towers. This only has one ride – ‘Hex’. Set inside a decaying mansion, you are told a story about an ancient curse etc. etc. (bit of a Blair Witch rip-off I thought). I won’t tell the story as it spoils the atmosphere of the ride, but after all the hype I felt a little let down. Throughout the day the queues for this were small though, so you don’t have to wait too long.
No rides here, just somewhere to buy more refreshments and get those souvenirs
Ug land is set in a pre-historic world with a couple of decent roller coasters and shops too. Other rides included a couple of mini rides for children and a ride called the bone-shaker (another pirate ship type ride). Ug land was very busy though and the queues were quite big too. The roller coaster here is called ‘The Corkscrew’, you can also get photos taken on this ride too and it was a very good, if short ride. There is also a Sky Ride station here too.
A very pleasant stroll through the gardens can get you to most areas of the park with beautiful lawns and flowers everywhere. Often overlooked by many, take a walk through if you fancy a bit of piece from all the noise and queues. Alternatively have a go on the boating lake here too.
Alton Towers Hotel
Many people would previously have stayed at nearby hotels and B&B’s when visiting the Towers, to capitalise on this there is a new built in the grounds of the park now. The hotel offers different themes rooms based on sponsors, such as Cadbury for instance or coca-cola. We didn
’t stay here though as it was a bit too pricey for us, nice to be in if you’ve got the cash then.
Alton Towers is a theme park that has existed for many years and is always adapting to keep up with the latest trends and technology. That’s the great thing about here, give it a year and go back again – chances are you’ll find something new to try out as well as go back on some old favourites too. The price of entry wasn’t too bad when you consider the amount of rides you can go on and the time you can spend there. Everywhere in the park was very clean and tidy and the different zones were well sign posted throughout, meaning you never really found yourself lost.
I just felt that the price of things such as food and drink as well as souvenirs was a bit pricey, especially for families who might have children to pay for too. I’d highly recommend a visit to Alton towers though as there really is something for everyone and you can have a great day out. I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters myself for instance, but I certainly enjoyed all the rides I went on.
The park is quite easy to find (just follow all the other cars) and you can back with some good memories of a fun day out – we certainly did!
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