A theme park gift under $10? Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
We got to the park (after Cyd [a lady friend that came with us] had negotiated the awful country roads and hills that take you to the park) at about 9am. The roads were clear and we didn’t get held up anywhere. We would have got there sooner, but Jim (a mate of mine that was with us was kinda weighing the car down as we struggled up the steep hills that make oblivion seem like a horizontal ride!) Like a legend, I'd booked us all some discounted tickets to get in so we got £5 off each ticket to get in!
At this point Jim was over-excited and nearly burst a blood vessel informing the rest of us that Nemesis had to be the first ride that we went on so we headed over to the Forbidden Valley to ride one of the best coasters in the world! Cyd was kinda hoping she was a bit to short to go on, but as luck would have it, she was more than tall enough and I proceeded to carry her down the queue line. We waited for the front seat because Craig (the other person that was with us) had never been to a theme park in his life, poor guy! We got straight on and as normal for nemesis we came off unable to walk in a straight line! Jim then excitedly ran over to Air so we followed him. (We're still not sure whether he wanted to go on the ride, or just get some food over at the vending machine that is cunningly placed halfway down the queue line for people like him that don’t stop eating!)
We (actually Jim), decided we were hungry, so we went to get breakfast and ate whilst taking a leisurely stroll over to X-Sector (home of the scariest ride in the park - Oblivion.) I’ve always had a bit of a phobia about this ride for some unknown, pathetic reason, but as I didn't want to lose face I went on it. Ended up going on it about 5 times that day, quality ride!
The black hole was the obvious choice to go on next as it is right next to oblivion and the queue was non-existent! Cyd and I rode in the same seat whilst Jim and Craig got to know each other a little bit better on the car in front! (You are seated one behind the other on that ride with two people in each car.)
We went over to UG land and rode corkscrew, which I managed to get hurt on again as my head slammed into the harnesses whilst I was busy concentrating on blowing a whistle that I had won on a football game. (It was my fault and I don’t recommend whistle blowing whilst riding corkscrew. I did get someone whistling back at me though!)
We then went onto the tamest kid’s ride in the world - the UG swinger. Basically, it's a large swing that goes round in a circle. We came off of it feeling ill! No problems on Nemesis, Air, Oblivion or even the corkscrew, but one kiddie ride and we were all screwed! We then went to get some lunch (because although we were ill, Jim’s stomach had been taken over by terrorists and they were demanding food!) There is a variety of fast food joints around the park, as well as some proper sit down restaurants. The fast food restaurants are all fairly standard prices, but for the other restaurants you are looking at paying a bit more! All the food is good quality and there is a wide variety around the park.
We made our way over to the Spinball Whizzer, the newest addition at Alton Towers but, being the new ride, there was quite a long queue for it. We found that if you get into the queue line about a minute before the advertised ride closure time, then you will get on. It saves wasting an hour queuing during the day.
We headed back to Air, and decided to queue for the front row. As they were about to close one of the stations (there are two), the upstanding employees of the towers stopped anyone coming down to the gate after us. It resulted in us having our very own private ride and feeling like a bunch of muppets as we went round on our own, whilst there was a large queue of people waiting to go on the next one! We got some strange looks off of people. Cyd was highly embarrassed, but Jim and Craig and I were loving it!
Throughout the day, we made it on to all the rides loads of times, and made good use of the cable cars that go around the park, (we would have been knackered otherwise!) We headed over to Duel “the haunted house that strikes back” (woooo), and like the kids that we are, went round shooting everything in sight. The idea of Duel is to shoot all of the targets (lights) with your laser gun and the scores get recorded for each person. Cyd stayed outside, she’s not a big fan of haunted houses, but I think it was the thought of Jim sitting behind her that was scarier! I got a better score than everyone else on the ride and walked round feeling like a real man for the rest of the day!
At around 5pm when the rides were starting to close, we headed over to the Spinball Whizzer before leaving for the day. The newest ride at Alton Towers is set around a giant pinball machine and the cars are supposedly the ball that is being hit around. The overall theming of the ride is really well done. The queue lines have different machines to play on whilst you are waiting and they manage to kill the time quite well. When you eventually get to the station, you board the car whilst it is still in motion, and, (because they were trying to impress their manager), we all had to shout woo hoo, as we left to go up the lift hill. At times appearances can be very deceiving and this was one of those times. The ride may look fairly tame, but I found it to be more dis-orientating than Nemesis and (if I’m honest,) scarier than Oblivion! The cars spin round 360° as you are going round the track at speeds of up to 40mph, and it makes for a very enjoyable ride!
We decided to call it a day, and made our way to the exit of the park. Car parking at Alton Towers costs £3 per car. You can collect tokens at a number of pay points around the park, and as you drive out, put a token into the slots on the barriers. However, if you are with either an Alton Towers or Tussauds season pass holder, then parking is free, as long as they are in the same car as you. Just get them to show their pass at the barriers, and the attendant will let you out for nothing, how nice!
We had decided a couple of weeks in advance to stay at one of the Travel Inns in Uttoxeter, which is about 5miles away from Alton Towers. The rooms here cost from £45 - £50 ($70 - $80), and you can have up to 2 adults in each room. The Travel Inn and Travelodge (two separate companies), are basically the same but the cost of them both differ depending on the time of year. You get TV, en-suite bathroom and the usual commodities that you would get at any basic hotel. There are a number of B&B’s around Alton and Uttoxeter, and they are all quite good value for money. Most of the time its personal preference that decides where you stay and I personally prefer the Travel Inn.
As you are only allowed two adults in each room, it posed a bit of a problem as there were 4 of us and we couldn’t afford more than the one room. Cyd and I checked in, and Jim and Craig followed up in true SAS style maneuvering, about 5mins later to stay in the same room! It ended up that there was a double bed and a sofa bed, so Jim slept on the floor (what a hero), and the beds were left for Cyd Craig and me. There are a few stores down the road and Cyd and I decided to go and get some food. We nearly ended up back at Alton Towers as (like a fool), I was on the phone and Cyd felt like taking all of the wrong turnings to get back to the hotel, good work!We nearly got caught with all four of us in the room, when, at about 9pm, some one knocked on the door. We all hid (quite convincingly), and Cyd answered the door to some guy politely informing us that we had been idiots and left the key in the door! We managed to get to sleep, (Craig with his foot hanging out of the window, for some unknown reason), and have a well-earned rest ready for the next day’s excitement.
Cyd’s brother came down to join us for the second day, and whilst she went to the nearby Tesco’s (superstore) to pick him up, we packed ready to go. You have to be out of your rooms by midday if you are leaving which didn’t prove too much of a problem as we were going back to Alton Towers for the day. Cyd made it back from Tesco’s without getting lost (amazing), and we shot up to the Towers straight away.
Season pass holders (like myself) are allowed to go into the park half an hour before everyone else, to get some extra ride time. I wasn’t cruel enough to leave the others though, so at half past 9 we rushed in like excited school children to show Cyd’s brother, Ben, Alton Towers.
The day was basically the same as the day before, and we made it on to all of the rides without any problems. We did manage to get Cyd onto the Haunted House (scary stuff), and she was able to hide successfully from all of the scary ghosts between Ben and me. (The ride photo was a classic!)
I took my camera on to the runaway mine train, and was able to get some quite good photo’s of us all looking suitably sick as we got hurled round a stupidly angled left hand turn! (Cyd, if you are reading this, you left hand is the one that you don’t write with!!)
Oblivion broke down when we were nearly at the top of the lift hill, and some guy in full climbing gear came and told us that we would all have to get off of the ride and climb back down to the station! I felt the need to point and laugh at this statement and we were more than happy to wait until they fixed the ride camera! (I was quite scared (bless) and I think I managed to cut the blood circulation of from Cyd’s hand at this point as I gripped it fairly hard!)
We waited until the end of the day before going back on Spinball Whizzer again because the queue was once again around an hour long all day. The ride was due to close at 5pm, so we sprinted over to it (nearly killing ourselves), and made it into the queue line. We were then told that because it was busy, it was open for another half hour and we didn’t need to run – thanks (would have been nice to know before Jim had a heart attack!)
We then decided to try and beat the traffic and head off, so we walked back to the car park. There is a free monorail service that takes you to and from the car park, but at the end of the day, there is normally quite a long queue for it, so we ended up walking. It ends up being about a 15min walk.
If you are planning a trip to Alton Towers, check the official website (www.altontowers.com) for details of peak and off-peak days, as there is quite a big price difference and a lot busier during peak times, which means that you may only get on two or three rides.
If you are able to go for a couple of days, then I would advise it, just so that you don’t have to rush around and try and get on everything in one day.
Definitely recommend AT for a short break and we all had a great time. However, for health and safety reasons, avoid watching any Disney films (especially Finding Nemo) before you go! (You’ll end up talking about nothing else other than surfer turtles, and vegetarian sharks! Dude!
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