I was at Alton Towers last week again. Yeah I know I love that place. Thursday was spent with friends and was a great time. We did the usual way of queueing for all the rides and enjoyed the conversation (and the Yorkshire pudding wraps).
We only managed about seven rides as it was really busy. Most of the day the queues were above 1 hour for most of the rides although the Smiler did get up to 110 minutes at one point.
That night I spent the evening in the hotel. Just me alone. I was in room 101. I will never go in a room so close to reception ever again. Whilst I accepted that there would be noise from the patio until about 11:15 when they turned the heaters off I didn’t then expect a member of staff to rearrange the furniture in the upstairs lounge at 3am.
Anyone who knows the TV programme Room 101 will shudder at the thought of staying in it. It’s the room into which you put all the bad things of society.
The lake in the middle is quite nice though. I had a view over this from my room (as opposed to every previous visit where I’ve had a view of carparks).
In all honesty though – I’ve never had a great experience at the Alton Towers hotels. If I were reviewing the stay as a whole I’d say the hotels are a bit of a cop out. The so called themed decor in some of the rooms is minimal – mine was simply a border, carpet and light fittings. Very little extra was done to make it an explorer room – and above and beyond what a standard Holiday Inn does there’s not much for kids to do at night. You need to entertain them yourselves.
Now I know I didn’t pay extra for a luxury room – this time it’s only the basic room – but still… I will say though that it’s very comfortable compared to a Travel Lodge or Holiday Inn room.
Breakfast the next day was at 7:30 ready for me to walk up to the park gates.
I was one of the first up there at about quarter to nine, and at just after nine o’clock they let us into the park. With no early ride time at the moment due to social distancing everyone is getting let in at 9. This gave me plenty of time to collect my Platinum pass!
Unbelievably on day two I hardly took any photos! Then again, I’ve got more than enough photos of rides from different angles and it certainly wasn’t great light for photos with a typical British grey sky sitting above.
I’m a bit miffed by some of the current Fastpass lines too, whilst Smiler, Oblivion, Rita and Th13teen have decent queue jump facilities; the batching points for Nemesis, and most specifically Galactica are far too early down the queue line and after you’re batched you still have 5 minutes of queue time ahead for Nemesis, and 15-20 minutes of queue time ahead. Hardly Fastpass – considering it’s a £105 upgrade!
This September is my next trip and I’ll be doing it the normal way then. No fast-pass. The park tends to quieten down in September, plus whilst fastpass has its benefits for maximum ride I do find I lose a lot of the experience of the place as I feel like I need to maximise my pass. When I do it the slow way I’ll sit in for dinner rather than grabbing it on the fly.
So I’ll say farewell to Alton Towers until September.
Remember the 1980’s advert? Yeah we rewrote it back in the 80’s at school! You know what this means though – yeah my first Alton Towers trip of the new season! A day with all the niceties at my favourite place.
The day was grey. I arrived just after 9 and parked in the premium parking. £12 with my Merlin Card is so worth it to be right by the entrance rather than down at the bottom by the hotels.
We joined the pre-queue queue, which now extends down towards the carpark.
Once we were given the go-ahead we went through the temperature checking and security tents which are now outside the main gates and then were made to wait until they opened the gates proper at 9:30, by which time the queue was really building up.
Once in the park sadly the early ride time isn’t happening at the moment and so all rides open at 10 but it does give me chance to grab my Platinum Fastpass, have a nice walk round and grab a coffee.
So my first ride was my favourite – Wicker Man. I did 3 in a row.
Then – breaking my trend – I went to RITA next – 5 on that; and whilst nearby I got a couple of rides in on Thir13en too. I’m not a massive fan of that one to be honest – I find it a bit boring. So I went back to RITA and rode the twice again.
By 11:30 I was on 12 rides and I headed to Smiler. I did 10 rides down at X Sector – alternating between Smiler and Oblivion because of the one way system operating. I finished the first session at about 1:15 on 22 rides total.
By this point the sky was looking very grey so I headed to the chicken place for dinner. They do a veggie burger. It wasn’t great to be fair and I think I’ll stick with Woodcutters in future.
The next hour was spent watching the rain from under a canopy as what can only be described as the end of the world came down. A few rumbles of thunder accompanied it and the rides did stop briefly whilst the thunder passed.
I then headed back to Dark Forest and took a skyride in the rain across to Forbidden Valley.
I was at this point very pleased I chose to wear my leather jeans! The waterproofing in them from when I used to wear them on my motorbike was still working well and my legs were dry. The Wicker Man coat is also surprisingly still waterproof, although the seams did start giving in after about an hour is deluge.
So down at Forbidden Valley I did 1 Galactica ride and 5 Nemesis. This took me up to 28. Two of the Nemesis rides were in the rain (they closed Galactica when it rained) and riding Nemesis was hurting with the rain in my face so I decided to have a coffee and doughnut. Bad call!
The rain eased and I had a skyride back over to Dark Forest and walked the rest of the way to X-Sector for another few Smiler rides.
This was the point at which I realised the doughnut was a bad call. On my final ride of Smiler I tasted the doughnut 14 times. I decided to abort inverted rides and had another Oblivion ride. Taking me up to 30.
The final two rides of the day were back over in the Dark Forest where RITA dried me out nicely.
On and yes there were ducks. This one was a knobhead.
A good run home too. The reason I love the fast-pass and premium parking combo is that I can leave the park before JCB turns out and causes a huge queue up to the A50.
I pre-booked this back in August before all the craziness started with the plan of having another trip to my second home.
When we went to level 3 I was really anxious about going, after all it said avoid unnecessary travel; however I’d paid for my add-ons and was set to lose money, so I thought with the right amount of caution, and a good social distancing and masking regime it would be satisfactory.
Alton Towers is really beautiful in the Autumn, and it certainly is one of my favourite times of year.
Sadly Nemesis is closed for long term repairs and Th13teen didn’t open at all, and we did have a temporary closure on Galactica at one point; but I managed Smiler twice, Rita twice, Galactica twice, Wicker Man twice, Oblivion & Spinball once each, Enterprise, and The Blade once each.
It wasn’t massively busy, and rain at about noon certainly cleared the lightweights out.
You are all probably very well aware that I love Alton Towers. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and I often travel every few weeks (season pass… aaah).
Unfortunately on this visit I misjudged the school holidays and Gaz and I ended up in a theme park full of brats! (admittedly, most of them are actually totally fine, but there’s always the odd few who make you want to get stabby).
Yesterday’s particular brat was quite merrily walking down the side of the queue line of Nemesis to join her mates who were about half way down. I stopped them passing me and explained that if they wanted to join their friends then their friends would have to come back to them.
Explaining the concept of queue jumping to someone in their teens should NOT be something anyone in England should have to do. Indeed, had I tried such a trick when I was that age I would have been fetching my head from the other side of the park as I’d have had it knocked off, and we’d have certainly been on our way home 10 minutes later (not a warning, I was brought up to understand right and wrong and punishment DID once include turning round and going home).
We won’t go in July again; next year our last trip will be mid June. I don’t relish 30 to 45 minute queues; although they are more enjoyable with friends. Especially a “Wollercoaster Fwiend” like Gaz.