I wrote yesterday about our trip to CBeebies land, so by now, you’ve probably already worked out that this weekend we took our first visit to Alton Towers post-covid. This was, in fact, our first visit to any larger national-scale venue since the coronavirus restrictions started to lift, so I thought I would write a quick post about how the experience was. We travelled as a group of seven this time: our gang of four, plus my sister, niece and nephew.
Our temperatures were taken by the Alton Towers staff at the entrance to the park before we were allowed to go in, and we were told we had to wear masks for most of the day (including when we were on the rides and rollercoasters). However, this didn’t apply to the children, as they were all under the age of 11. There were also social distance markers everywhere and hand sanitizing stations everywhere you went too: there was a sanitizer dispenser at the entrance to every ride. Where the paths were narrow one way systems were put in place, and there were clear signs telling pedestrians to stay to one side on the walkways too.
HOWEVER – you can’t control people, and Alton Towers weren’t really trying to. Whilst we were careful to keep to the markers in the queues, other families were huddled together in a pre-covid way, and whilst we were asked to put our masks on when we got on the rides, there was no instruction to do so in the queues, when you were much closer to other people, so most people simply didn’t. I know this is a contentious issue, but personally, I would have liked to have seen a little more mask-wearing around the park (from the visitors, not from the staff who were all wearing their masks all day!)
Much of our time in the park was spent in CBeebies land (you can read all about that here) but outside of this land, we started our Alton Towers adventure by taking the SkyRide around the whole park: I would really recommend this. The kids loved it, it was a great way to get our bearings and see an overview of everything too. The park is just too big to tackle in one day, so at least they saw everything this way! We also had a look at the (outside) of the new David Walliams area, which didn’t open until 2 days after our visit, sadly, but the kids are all itching to go back, then we took to the Cloud Cuckoo Driving School.
From here was walked back down to Mutiny Bay (stopping for lunch at the Burger Kitchen en route) so that the kids could ride the Battle Galleons, which was their favourite and my least favourite ride of the day – I was soaked to the bone! In this area we also went on Heave Ho! and the Marauders Mayhem rides (except Boy5 who has to sit this one out as he didn’t make the height limit)
The park was surprisingly busy and the queue times were longer than for any of our other trips: Only my nephew and myself were interested in the big rollercoasters but neither of us fancied the long queues, so I ended up buying us a fast pass for the Wicker Man; then a kind couple gave us their fast passes too, as the chap was too tall to ride (big thank you to them!) meaning that we got to ride twice in a row, but this was the only ‘big ride’ we tackled. It was brilliant – fast, bone-rattling fun, and despite the fact that it didn’t have any loops it still felt incredibly intense. I’m no roller coaster expert, but I would definitely recommend giving this one a shot!
It rained for almost the whole day, but it didn’t have too much of an impact on our fun – we just bundled up with ponchos and raincoats on. You can buy ponchos in the park, but we picked them up from the local Poundland (2 for £1) which saved us significantly, and which I would recommend. And Alton Towers offer a rainy day guarantee, so if it rains for more than an hour consecutively during the day of your visit, you can return on another day for free. This means that I can’t complain too much about the rain, as we will use this as an opportunity to take the boys back again to see the new David Walliams area and ride the Gangsta Granny ride later in the year!
The main take-home from the whole day out is that the kids had a brilliant day! Would it have been nice to get on a few more rides? Absolutely! Would it have been an easier day if it hadn’t rained almost non-stop? Definitely! But that’s the chance you take with the British weather. And we all had so much fun chatting, laughing, spending time together, watching the cousins play, that even the time we spent queuing didn’t feel like wasted time.
Do I think that Alton Towers is good value? I do actually: more so than Legoland (which the kids love!) because it’s so much bigger and offers more rides and space. I don’t like that all of the Merlin resorts offer so many extras to try and charge you for, such as the side shows to win toys everywhere, or that you have to pay for any fast passes. I much prefer the Disney model where the admission is slightly higher, but that everything else (such as fast passes) is included. And being asked to pay £6 to get out of the car park makes me choke every time! But I do think Alton Towers is one of the best resorts in the UK: I love the theming of the hotels, the feel of the park, and I really love their waterpark too. We’ll definitely be going back again!