Being inspired by some blogs I have been reading I thought I would tell you about the post exam trip to Alton Towers I took with my kjæreste. Not only did we both need to blow off some steam, the trip had another purpose too, on the 10th of this month (June) we will have been together for 2 years so this was my gift to him as I paid for his entrance ticket.
Now for the boring stuff, Alton towers is part of the Merlin Entertainments group and claims to be “The UK’s leading short break resort” and comprises a theme park, water park, spa, and themed hotels. The towers themselves were built in the 8th century, they were being restored last time I was there (Nearly 10 years ago) and contained the most wonderful gardens I have ever seen. The theme park is located between the M1 and the M6 in Alton, Staffordshire. Drivers are advised to follow the diversion signs for the last leg of the journey if using the B5417 instead of relying on satellite navigation. If using satellite navigation the post code is ST10 4DB. The parks opening times vary, as do the rides available if you are going out of season. Generally the park is open from 10:00 – 17:30. The price of tickets also varies, from £46.20 if you get the tickets at the gate on the day however if you book online you do get discounts up to %25. Car parking is an extra £6, £10 more for express car parking, and I remember the food onsite is rather expensive too making it a very expensive day out.
Now here are some money saving tips,
- I saw some people taking pictures of themselves on the rides with their camera phone instead of purchasing them if you want to be a bit cheeky. The ride photos cost £8 each or 2 for £12 with an additional charge of £2 per digitalised print if you want to download one online. Unfortunately you can not have digital prints without purchasing a ride photo first, I fail to understand why as making a digital image must be a cheaper, easier, and more convenient alternative to carrying a ride photo with you all day.
- A small locker will set you back £5 for the day, I can only assume a large locker, which I’m told is big enough to fit a cool box in, will cost more but I forgot to check. If you are in a large party, or any number of people for that matter, it may be best to take a cool box picnic with you.
- Fast track tickets are ridiculously expensive, if you don’t mind riding the big rides without your friends or family I strongly suggest you use the single riders ques. It can reduce an hour long queue to 20 minutes.
- If you don’t get to see all you wanted to see on the day you can get park tickets from guest services for the next day for just under £5, if you can’t return the next day but want to come back before the season ends you can get a ticket for £15. I am quite sure however this will not include any special events.
- Look for special offers for half price ticket entry or book in advance online. You’ll get a discount for a single ticket or a group discount if your party is big enough. I know that there was a promotion running this year on the side of brand named cereal boxes which meant children could take an adult with them for free. I managed to get mine for free through Avios (which used to be airmiles, which is now crap for airmiles but still pretty good for days out)
- A small time saving tip for this summer, the park closes at 17:30 but if you are in a queue for a ride the staff will allow you to go on that ride before you leave. The smiler is likely to have massive ques all summer. My partner and I queued for just over 2.5 hours for it and we joined the queue at 16:30. Yes we did enjoy the ride, yes I had a little trouble walking in a straight line when I got off.
Over all I really enjoyed the day. The weather was pretty good for it and as the children were still in school I wasn’t surrounded by little scoundrels. The queues for the rides still averaged about an hour, we went on Nemesis first (still my favorite in the park) followed by Nemesis Sub Terra, Congo River Rapids (we got very wet, thankfully we had waterproof rain coats on so we only looked like we had wet ourselves), Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back, Thirteen, Rita, and finally The Smiler. I must give credit to the staff who were excellent, the staff for Nemesis Sub Terra really made the ride worth riding and an extra special mention goes out to the attendant freaking people out during the long queue for The Smiler. I believe his name was Tim and he is pictured below, he really made the long queue bearable and I like to pretend that they all wear the uniform after work to party in until their next shift.
The bad things I could point to, and I had to really be picky, is the fact that the park seemed like it needed a lot of maintenance carried out. Some of the signs and lights were not working and it would have helped the queue times pass a little quicker if the monitors and speakers in the ride queues actually worked. For the cost of entry I am very surprised that the maintenance of the park seems to have slipped so much. I am also startled that there are not more recycling points near the bins. I only found one for cans and none for paper. we had a food from the burger kitchen near Nemesis and all of the packaging, mostly paper, could have been recycled.
In all I would recommend going to Alton towers and I have made plans to go back in a few years time to go on the attractions that we missed, Air for example was closed for most of the day. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, dress in layers, and try not to take any valuable and loose articles with you if you can. If you want to leave your bags with the ride attendants whilst you are on the rides you can but they will not accept any responsability for them. Having said that I have never had a problem leaving my bag whilst on the rides.
Here are some of the very few pictures I took throughout the day
Feel free to comment with your favorite theme park ride in the UK and the rest of the world alongside your favorite theme park in the UK and the rest of the world.