Alton Towers 08-06-24

In my younger days Alton used to be a yearly visit for me but this was only my second visit in almost 20 years. I went with my goddaughter for a fun day out and had a surprisingly good time.

I was diagnosed with long covid last year which means that I get a lot more tired very quickly so to counteract this I splurged and bought us both the unlimited fasttrack. This meant we could take the day at a more leisurely pace and also not need to stand in long queues for an extended period of time which would have shortened my day considerably. In terms of cost against number of rides I couldnt call it value for money, but for giving me the freedom to take breaks and sit without feeling like I was wasting time was priceless. it also meant my goddaughter could take repeat rides while I sat and recovered!

Lets start with the negatives:

Three rides were down; Sub Terra, The Rapids, and Hex. This may not sound like much but it left very little for adults to do unless it was a coaster. The park badly needs more adult friendly flat rides or other experiences so to have three of these missing was a big loss. Really, the only other adult / family orientated rides left that wasn't a coaster was the Blade - a Huss Pirate Ship, and the Curse of Alton Manor dark ride. The sky ride wasn't scheduled to open this year but that means a lot of walking. In the day I walked 8 1/2 miles; further than I've managed since last September but also explains why I hit a wall of exhaustion in the late afternoon. (For context - until the diagnosis I was a regular half marathon runner)

Also, the £10 parking charge really annoys me. In the past, I have challenged Alton on this and their excuse was that it encourages visitors to come by more environmentally friendly means. The park is in the middle of the English countryside with a very limited bus service and the nearest rail station being 10 miles away. So whereas it is possible to get there by public transport, it wouldn't even come close to being able to cope with the number of people who attend on a regular basis.

The Positives:

The park looks stunning. It’s a glorious setting with the ruined house and extensive gardens, but it really did look pristine. It was clean and well maintained; this visit was the first in decades where I spent some time in the gardens and they were very well cared for. Operations were generally good throughout the day with the staff being friendly and efficient. I cant comment on the queues given that I had the fast track but it looked like they were at a reasonable level all day.

The Rides

Nemesis Reborn: We rode this twice, 1 time in the front row. It was great to see what has been done with this ride; justifiably the rebuild means that the ride will continue for many years to come. It’s a tremendous piece of coaster design using the terrain and the trenches built superbly to enhance the feeling of speed. There was a definite vibration in the second row which surprised me but less noticeable in the front car; however it remains one of the best coasters in the UK. The rebuild has reestablished this rides popularity and had one of the longest queues all day.

Galactica: By a few weeks the first B and M flyer to open. Queued 3 hours for this when it opened in 2002, today 10 minutes even without the fast track today at the time we went on. It uses the terrain well and gives a good sensation of flying. For some reason I find this ride fun but also a bit nauseating. 1 and done.

The Curse Of Alton Manor: Recently revamped and a definite improvement over Duel which preceded it. Now closer in spirit to the original Haunted House which opened in 1992.

Wicker Man 2X. A medium sized wooden coaster but feels surprisingly fast. Tremendous fun with excellent theming and atmospheric pre-show. Alton hit on a winner with this one, not wildly startling for families but thrilling enough to satisfy the thrill seekers.

Smiler: 2X. Completely disorientating but great fun. My goddaughter managed repeat rides but I could only manage 2 with a long break inbetween. 14 inversions treads a fine line between being great fun and too much but the front seat was a blast. It was a little rough in places but remains a unique experience. We were grateful for the fast track – at only 16 per carriage the standby queue moves very slowly.

Oblivion 1X : The original Dive Machine. It used to scare the life out of me but now vertical or beyond drops are so commonplace I can now ride it easily. It remains good fun, the view from the top over the countryside is stunning and remains well designed for spectators as well as riders. Its one ride which is fun to watch as everyone has a reaction as they drop; very few remain passive.

Gangster Granny: 1X. based on the book by David Walliams (UK comedian, author, actor – came very close to being cancelled due to leaked comments made backstage at Britains Got Talent which would have been problematic for the Alton marketing team). In this dark ride you help Gran steal the queens crown jewels. It was fine, not worth waiting a long time for unless you have children; they will love it. By UK dark ride standards it was pretty well done but not even close to the Disney / Universal standard.

RITA – an Intamin launch coaster -0-60 in 2.5 seconds then through a figure of 8 course. The plus point is that the launch is fun and it retains speed throughout its short duration. The negative it can be very rough and painful. We found it less so this time compared with the last visit but chose not to ride again because we felt we’d got away with it.

Runaway Mine Train; An excellent family ride, shame the rapids weren’t working as the interaction with these is usually a high point.

Thirteen / Spinball Whizzer. A maximum height limit of 196cm / 195cm respectively meant I couldn’t ride these as I was comfortably over the height board.

The rest of the day was spent ambling through the towers, eating lunch and for me finding benches whilst waiting! By the time we had our second Nemesis ride at the end of the day I knew my body could take no more. Exhaustion had taken over and I had been thrown upside down enough. But a front seat Nemesis ride was a great way to finish before a reviving coffee. Overall, there are still a few teething problems at the Towers in terms of ride availability, the reinstatement of the skyride hopefully next year will make a huge difference in getting round the park, but overall this felt the park has taken a huge step in the right direction. There is already a new flat ride being constructed in Forbidden Valley, hopefully it will be the start of more. It may be a few years before I return to the Towers, but today was a good day.

Last edited by tallguy,

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