I had a fabulous time with my friends at Alton Towers Theme Park in the UK last weekend. The adrenaline rush and the screams of the people, mainly my own if I’m being honest, are still fresh in my head and ringing in my ears. It was an exhilarating day for a first time visit to Alton Towers.
It is a well-known fact that the UK weather forecast can be quite unpredictable. Make sure you come prepared with waterproof overalls and plenty of water. Lockers are provided prior to getting on every ride. If you do travel with kids, buggies are provided by the information and help desk at the theme park. Free refills are available at concession stands if you buy their tumblers of soda. There is no age limit for kids to get on the rides but height restrictions do apply. Some rides provide wheelchair access so as to let everyone join in the fun.
We were the first at the ticket counter on a Sunday at 9 in the morning. Although we travelled just before the offiicial opening of the Alton Towers Halloween Scarefest, there was still a long waiting time for most of the popular rides. For some of them, we had to wait as long as 45mins! Many people who were there that day had yearly passes and priority tickets.
Our first stop was a ride known as The Smiler. Since this was our first rollercoaster of the day, The Smiler set the bar high on how good the rest of the rides would be. We made sure we didn’t have our breakfast yet as we knew we were in for some stomach-churning, vertigo-inducing and impressive G-force rides.
The next ride was The Oblivion. The Oblivion consists of a vertical 90 feet drop. The best part was never knowing when it would end as you actually go underground for about a third of the ride’s duration. It was an absolutely terrifying, but must-try, sensation.
Thirteen is one of the latest additions to the Alton Towers thrill rides. It has a impressive surprise in the middle of the ride, which I shall not divulge here! It would be such a shame to take that surprise away from any of you planning to go there! Just mark my words, it is well worth the long queue!
Rita is also known as the “Queen of Speed”. It propels you from 0 to 60 miles per hour in an impressive 2.5 seconds. This is something that you would normally only get to experience in a high end sports car. The ride alone is over so quick that you are left wanting more. Unfortunately, this would mean another 30 to 45 minutes waiting time. With so many more rides to get through, I had to leave my second ride on Rita for another day.
Before getting on, I was advised to take off my glasses. It was for good reason, I later found out! Air is an aerial inversion ride where the passenger is suspended in a face-down position. The ride flies by so close to the ground that you feel like you can reach out and touch it. Of course, this is not at all advisable at the speed this roller coaster reaches!
These were the more popular rides at Alton Towers so we planned our route to get to these before the crowds began trickling in by the afternoon. Our absolutely amazing day was spoiled because we had a wet spell of rain. Walking from one ride to the next then became miserable and all the ride seats were filled with little puddles of water that made sitting in them very awkward. We took shelter in one of the many food stalls dotted around the theme park and dug into some donuts, ice cream, waffles, crepes etc.
Having finished with most of the thrill rides in the park, we decided to try our hand at some fun carnival games to win stuffed animals. However, £20 later, we decided that enough was enough. Despite the kind game officials helping us by giving extra attempts and tokens, we still didn’t manage to win any prizes.
The winds started to pick up again in the early evening and we were unable to take the Skyride cable car. This made our walk back to the entrance a very long journey. We found out from other regular customers of Alton Towers that, although most of them stay very close to the theme park, they do not stay in the hotels. Most of them stay in caravans and mobile homes as they would travel from all around UK just to come here for the weekend. My friends and I stayed in a little bed and breakfast place about an hour away. It was the most conveniently located hotel halfway between the airport and the theme park. I wish we could have stayed for an extra day. Going once or twice on the rides is never enough. We did manage to have a go on some of the other less popular attractions. Their shorter waiting times meant that we could quickly get on and off in between the waiting times for the main attractions.
As with all theme parks, make sure you plan your trip during the year when there are no school holidays. This will cut down waiting times for the rides in half. There is always the option of getting fast track tickets and priority lane bookings if you are willing to spend a little extra. Alternatively, another time saving option is to take the single passenger queue. This may mean you don’t get to hear your family or friends scream with excitement. But, you wait a much shorter time to still have a great ride with a stranger beside you. Who knows? Maybe you could make one more friend to add to your social network. This queue is always quick and will ensure you can have repeated rides with shorter queueing times.
Some of you who have researched Alton Towers beforehand may have noticed that I did not visit the Alton Towers Waterpark. This would definitely be something I look forward to going to next summer 2015! Happy travels!
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