Alton Towers

8th May 2010

My last visit to Alton Towers three years ago was a frustrating experience due to lengthy queues all over the park. Today was, if anything, worse. I'm not fond of starting trip reports with a rant, but in this case I'm afraid I really have no choice. The park sometimes nicknamed Awful Towers simply does not have enough attractions to support the number of guests that visit the park.

The weather today was cold and overcast with scattered rain showers, which almost certainly led to a lighter attendance than might otherwise have been present. Nevertheless every single major ride in the park had a wait time exceeding an hour throughout the day, with many stretching well past that. The ride operations staff were working as efficiently as anything I've ever seen, with the notable exception of the painfully slow crew on Oblivion, and their attitude was top notch. Be that as it may, if the wait times get to be this length in the low season the park is unlikely to be any fun at all in July and August. We purchased paid line jumping tickets to allow us to get on Air, Nemesis, Oblivion, and Rita, adding an additional £14 to the already expensive admission fee. It was only with these that we managed seven attractions over the course of the day.

Alton Towers

The first thing one sees upon arrival at the park is the tailback to get into the car park, which began today some four miles away from the resort itself. Three quarters of an hour later when we'd finally found a parking space we walked the half mile or so to the ticketing area. This space has been spruced up this year with the corkscrew element from the now-retired coaster of the same name, sporting shiny blue paint which makes it look better than the ride ever did in regular operation. The Vekoma information plate is attached to a display board nearby along with an explanation for the uninitiated about the history of the ride.

Our primary interest in the park today was the new coaster, Th13teen (#1492). Despite what the advertising might have you believe the new attraction is first and foremost a family coaster. It does however feature a world-first element, namely a section of track which is dropped vertically by about fifteen feet. This drop is without question the highlight of the ride, especially considering that the train reverses out from this point into a completely dark tunnel. Overall the experience is a brilliant one, marred only by ride length. Say what you like, in my opinion the outdoor section before the vertical drop is simply too short. Two magnetic trim brakes burn off some speed that would have been far more effectively utilised by another hill. The ride actually improved for us with a second lap, though the ridiculous queue length precluded any chance of a third try.

We finished off the day with a trip on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory dark ride. Three years ago I gave this ride a one word review, odd, which really does summarise things rather nicely. The only addition I'd make is that it does not improve on a second sitting.