The Smiler - Alton Towers Resort

Alton Towers Review 4.75/5 (4)

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Alton Towers Review

We like to visit Alton Towers at least once every couple of years. It had been a while since our last visit and with two free tickets courtesy of The Sun newspaper Superdays promotion we decided it was time to pay the park a visit again.

It was an exciting time for us to visit the theme park because our eldest son had just reached the height of 1.4 metres meaning that he was now tall enough to ride the big roller coasters that Alton Towers has to offer.

 

Alton Towers Review

Having visited Alton Towers a number of times previously we had a good idea of the size of the park. Alton Towers is spread out over 3.7km meaning lots of walking between the different sections of the park. We knew from past experience that in order to take advantage of all the rides and attractions we would need to spend more than one day there. We initially priced up the Alton Towers on-site hotels but with five people in our party, this option was too expensive. We then decided to look at self-catering options and we found a lovely cottage in the nearby town of Ashbourne that accommodated five people through Snaptrip.

As is normally the case I was looking to get the best value for money for our trip to Alton Towers. We got two free tickets for Friday Saturday 29th September courtesy of The Sun Superdays promotion. I purchased the additional three tickets that we required using our Tesco Clubcard points. From previous visits, I knew that we would then be able to purchase tickets to visit the theme park again on Saturday 30th September 2017 once in the park.

 

Transportation to Alton Towers Theme Park Entrance

On the first day of our visit, we arrived at 10.00am and our plan was to head straight for CBeebies Land which is not far from the entrance to the Theme Park. At Alton Towers like a lot of the Merlin Theme Parks, you have the option of priority parking (currently priced at £16 per car) which allows you to park right at the theme park entrance. If you decide not to use priority parking then you are directed to one of the many large carparks which are quite a long walk from the Theme Park itself (currently priced at £6 per car). Be sure to make a note of the carpark you are parked in. Due to the distance from the theme park, you board a monorail which transports you from the car park (and also the on-site hotels) if you are staying in one of them to the Theme Park entrance. The monorail ride is a good fun experience as it travels above the theme park giving you a taste of whats in store. The negative of this is that at peak times ie. park opening and park closing the queues for the monorail can get quite long. Once at the Theme Park entrance it didn’t take us long to get through the turnstiles thanks to our pre-purchased tickets.

 

Alton Towers Parent Switch Pass

Once inside the park before heading to CBeebies Land we called in at Guest Services and picked up a parent switch pass. We waited a short time to get this but it is worth waiting for as it saves you a lot of time waiting in line during the course of the day. We also picked up a two-day photopass (costing £40) which allowed us to get digital photos of all the rides we went on during our two-day visit.

 

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

Immediately upon entering CBeebies Land, you witness the excellent quality theming. Within this section of the theme park, our children (aged 5 and 7) enjoyed riding a wide selection of rides. The highlights for our children were the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride. On this ride, the children had their very own controls, allowing them to guide their Vroomster up and down. They also enjoyed the recently added Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure.

Alton Towers - Spinball Whizzer
Alton Towers – Spinball Whizzer

 

Spinball Whizzer

After spending the majority of the morning in CBeebies Land, we headed to the adjacent section of the park X-Sector. On our way to this next section, we stopped to ride Spinball Whizzer which is located between CBeebies Land and X-Sector. One of the unique features of Spinball Whizzer is that the different weight distribution in each car affects the way that the car spins, giving you a different ride every time.

 

X-Sector

In the X-Sector my wife and eldest son rode the Enterprise, and then I rode The Smiler with my sister in law. We also wanted to ride Oblivion but the ride appeared to be experiencing some issues and had a 30 minute wait time. We got some chicken nuggets and chips for lunch at ‘The Fried Chicken Co’. The food was typical of what you would expect at a Theme Park.

 

Alton Towers - Hex
Alton Towers – Hex

 

Hex and Cloud Cookoo Land

After lunch, we all rode Hex (located within the towers themselves). It is a ride suitable for all the family and our youngest som found it really exciting. I would recommend that you sit this one out if you suffer from any form of motion sickness, but if not it is well worth experiencing. I won’t spoil the surprise if it is not a ride you have been on before. Next, the children ride their own battery powered cars around a mock-up street scene at Cuckoo Cars Driving School. Also in the Cloud Cookoo Land section of the Theme Park, they rode The Frog Hopper (a children’s size drop tower).

 

 

 

The Dark Forest

We were surprised to discover that the park was closing at 4.00pm so we felt it was time to do some more of the major rides. We headed to The Dark Forest section of the theme park where we took it in turns to ride Rita and Thirteen. Rita is the ultimate rollercoaster for speed freaks. From a standing start, you are catapulted from 0 to 100km/ph in just two and a half seconds. With our eldest son (7 years old) just surpassing 1.4 metres tall he took the opportunity to enjoy both of these major rides for the first time. He particularly enjoyed the thrilling speed of Rita. The dark and mysterious TH13TEEN is the world’s first vertical freefall drop rollercoaster.

 

Alton Towers - Skyride
Alton Towers – Skyride

Forbidden Valley

It is quite a long walk to the ‘Forbidden Valley’ section of the theme park so in order to save both time and our legs we caught the Skyride. The large gondolas travel high across the valley providing fantastic aerial views of the Theme Park, and the magnificent gardens below. Upon reaching Forbidden Valley we only had enough time for us all to ride ‘The Blade’ and the fantastic Nemesis Roller Coaster. The Blade is just a regular pirate ship ride. Despite being built over 20 years ago, Nemesis is still regarded as one of the best rollercoasters in the world. When it first opening, it was Europe’s first ever inverted rollercoaster. The theming of the ride is awesome with 250 tonnes of thrilling, twisting and turning coaster, including an underground tunnel.

 

Next Day Theme Park Passes

Following our ride on Nemesis, it was almost 4.00pm and the park was due to close so we captured the Skyride back to the Theme Park entrance. Before exiting the Theme Park we went to the Towers Street Resort Box office where we exchanged our theme park tickets for next day theme park passes at £10 per person (£50 in total).

 

Alton Towers - CBeebies Land Hotel
Alton Towers – CBeebies Land Hotel

Alton Towers Hotel

We didn’t expect the theme park to close so early and we had made a reservation at the Roller Coaster Restaurant at 6.15pm. In order to fill in some time we went and had a coffee at the Alton Towers Hotel. We also had a walk around the lake and took a look at the new CBeebies Land hotel. Click here to book a stay at one of the Alton Towers on-site resort hotels.

 

Roller coaster Restaurant

Our full review of The Rollercoaster Restaurant is coming soon.

 

Day 2 at Alton Towers

The Theme Park was much busier when we visited for our second day on Saturday 30th September. We had to wait a while to catch the monorail from the car park to the theme park. The main plan for our second day was to ensure that we got to ride Galactica, Oblivion and some of the other rides and attractions we hadn’t experienced on our first day. Once we were inside the theme park we headed straight for ‘Forbidden Valley’ where Galactica is located. The Skyride didn’t open until 11.00am so we took the Haunted Hollow footpath which leads directly to the Forbidden Valley.

 

Alton Towers - Galactica portal
Alton Towers – Galactica portal

Galactica

We met up with our friends in The Forbidden Valley section of the Theme Park. We broke up into smaller groups and took it in turns to ride Galactica. You get to choose whether or not to wear the virtual reality headset. I did the Virtual Reality version of the ride and I can honestly say that I thought it was excellent. The video is really good and in perfect synchronisation with the physical ride. Our Seven-year-old son rode without the headset and he loved riding the original Air version of the ride. Whilst we rode Galactica, the other members of our party (including the younger ones) enjoyed Blade, a swinging pirate ship ride.

 

Gloomy Wood

Following Galactica, we rode Nemesis a number of times before heading to Gloomy Wood where we rode Duel. This ride is based on a Haunted House that strikes back. The storyline is that a legion of zombies have been drawn to the home of the controversial genetic surgeon, Dr Nicholas Roodyn. Ghosts, demons, ghouls and dark creatures await you. Battle against your family and friends to see who is the most fearless of them all. Following our ride on Duel we headed into Katanga Canyon.

 

Alton Towers Secret Weapons
Alton Towers Secret Weapons

Katanga Canyon

Katanga Canyon is where Alton Towers latest ride Secret Weapon 8 is located. The ride was in the final stages of construction when we visited but is due to be completed at the start of the 2018 season. The first thing that we did in this section of the Theme Park was to sit down for some lunch at Explorers Pizza and Pasta Buffet. We felt thyat this was very reasonable at £12.95 per adult for unlimited pizza, pasta, salad and soft drinks. Fresh pizzas were been made available constantly with a wide selection to choose from. This has to be one of the best places to eat in the entire theme park. Following lunch we rode The Runaway Mine Train and Congo River Rapids. The great thing with Congo River Rapids at Alton Towers is that you rarely get wet.

 

The Smiler

Following our time in Katanga Canyon, we headed to X-Sector to ride Oblivion and The Smiler. The queue for the Oblivion was much shorter today but we still ended up waiting a long time because someone decided to get their mobile phone out at the top of the lift hill. With all of the new safety rules in place at Alton Towers, they immediately stopped the ride and would not restart it until the mobile phone had been confiscated from the offender and safely brought back down to the ride station. The Smiler was running really well with two cars on the track both topping the lift hills at exactly the same time.

 

Missing Attractions

There are no rides suitable for the children in the X-Sector section of the park so we split into two groups with one group taking the children to Cloud Cookoo Land whilst the other group went to the Dark Forest to ride Rita and Thirteen. The children enjoyed Cuckoo Cars Driving School and The Frog Hopper. It was disappointing to see that Alton Towers have lost the licence for the Ice Age 4D movie but it was good to hear that the twirling toadstool is only closed for refurbishment and will be back next season. Hopefully, once Secret Weapon 8 has been completed they will introduce a new family-friendly ride in the building that previously housed Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

 

Final Rides

We finished our day with some final rides on Rita and Thirteen before the park closed at 5.00pm. On the previous day when the theme park closed we still managed to catch the Skyride back to the park entrance but today it was closed and we had to walk. Following our way back to the theme park entrance we encountered the longest queue we had seen all day to catch the monorail back to the carpark. Rather than wait in the long queue I walked back and collected the car and picked up the rest of the family form the pick-up point which is located behind the monorail station. It takes around 15 minutes to walk from the Theme park entrance back to the carpark.

 

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Alton Towers Review Summary

We really enjoyed our two days at Alton Towers and would highly recommend it especially on days when the park is less crowded and the queues are light. The children still enjoy looking at the park map and telling their friends how much they enjoyed their visit to Alton Towers. Due to the scale of the park, it is well worth planning your visit in advance.

 

Tips for Visiting Alton Towers

Purchase your tickets in advance or use a voucher such as Tesco Clubcard as this saves you money at the gates and avoids any queues to buy your tickets. If visiting with young children ensure that you pick up a parent switch card from guest services. In order to experience all of the rides and attractions at a more leisurely pace, we would recommend allowing 2 days for your visit. We spent two days in the park when the crowds were relatively low and we still didn’t have time to visit the rides and attractions in the Mutiny Bay section of the park. At the time of writing, you can pick up passes to visit the theme park again on the following day for only £10 per person.

 

Plan Ahead

Thanks to the internet it is easy to plan ahead. I would recommend viewing the Alton Towers Park Map online. You can also view the Ride Height Restrictions. Alton Towers offers a good mixture of rides and attractions to entertain all of the family. Use the map and other information available on Alton Towers website to get an idea of which rides and attractions you would like to do. This information will help you to establish which sections of the theme park you need to visit. Bear in mind that the different sections are very spread out with lots of walking between each one. It is worth making use of the Skyride as this can avoid lots of walking on hilly and uneven pathways. Ensure that you wear comfortable shoes suitable for lots of walking.

 

Alton Towers Tickets

Purchase your tickets in advance to save time queuing at the entrance to the park and also saving on the full price admission. You can buy your tickets in advance from the following providers:

365 Tickets
Attractiontix

 

Tips for Visiting Alton Towers

Don’t dive straight in and buy fast pass tickets but if you find that the queues are too long then you can always go back and get them if necessary. The different sections of the park are quite spread out so your family may need to split up at times, so ensure that your mobile phones are fully charged to help when meeting back up. We found that the photo pass was a great option at £40 for 2 full days. This allowed us to get a digital copy of our photos after every ride. If you are visiting with younger children then ensure that you pick up a parent switch card from guest services as you enter the park. The parent switch allows one parent to enjoy the major rides whilst the other takes the children on some of the family-friendly rides. When you swap over the person using the parent switch does not have to stand in the queue. The theming and attention to detail at Alton Towers is probably the best of all the Theme Parks in the UK.

We visited Alton Towers on Friday Saturday 29th September and Saturday 30th September 2017.

 

More Reviews

If you enjoyed reading this Alton Towers Review then you may also be interested in these reviews of other UK theme parks and attractions.

 

Alton Towers Resort

At Alton Towers resort you will find a wide range of Attractions in addition to the famous Theme Park.
At the Tree Top Quest, you can speed down zip-wires, walk over rope bridges and swing through the enchanted forest! Extraordinary Golf is a fun mini-golf for all the family with holes based on some of the rides and attractions from within the theme park. Splash Landings is a large indoor waterpark at Alton Towers Resort. A highlight of the water park is the Master Blaster Water Coaster which takes you around the whole Waterpark at breath-taking speed. This amazing water slide will have you screaming with fun!

 

Website Links

Attractions Near Me – Alton Towers
Attractions Near Me – Alton Towers Waterpark
Alton Towers Park Map
Ride Height Restrictions
Attractions Near Me – Merlin Entertainments

 

Travelling to Alton Towers Resort

Alton Towers is located in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside. There are a number of ways to get to Alton Towers. If you are travelling by car, Alton Towers Resort is between the M1 and the M6. When driving to any of Alton Towers Resorts Attractions use the postcode ST10 4DB. Please follow the signs for the final part of your journey, as your Sat Nav may attempt to take you down a local farm track, especially if you’re coming down the B5417.

Please drive with care when you’re in the area. There are many walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and the roads can be very narrow in places.

 

Travelling by Train

The nearest train station to Alton Towers is Uttoxeter, which is accessible from a large number of UK train stations including London, Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne, where trains depart every hour. See Train Genius websites for details. From Uttoxeter, the remainder of the journey can be made by taxi or bus (there is one daily bus service which takes approximately 40 minutes). Visitors also catch trains to Alton Towers via Stoke-on-Trent (four bus departures daily) and Nottingham and Derby (both one bus service daily).

 

Nearby Accommodation

There are lots of places to stay in the Peak District. Alton Towers is surrounded by beautiful countryside. The theme park offers on-site accommodation. If you only planning on visiting the park for one day and would like to explore some of the other attractions in the area then take a look at some of the wonderful self-catering cottages available from Snaptrip.

 

Website Links

Alton Towers Themepark
Alton Towers Waterpark Official Website
Alton Towers Waterpark Map
Alton Towers is owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments

 

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Alton Towers Review was last modified: November 4th, 2017 by Dan

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