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Alton Towers Discussion Thread


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Hey,

 

Just some thoughts and photos from myself about Galactica:

 

I visited Alton this past Saturday, mainly to give Galactica a try. The day started out very rainy but we made our way over to the ride and stood by the entrance until it opened. The whole area and plaza is very similar to how it used to be when the ride was known as Air. The Galactica logo has been created in bricks in the plaza and is a nice call back idea to the ride name "AIR" also being embedded into the ground when Air originally opened back in 2002, (now let's just hope Alton don't build a corner of a coffee shop seating area over it this time around!).

 

The new Galactica sign lights up and looks very striking and should look brilliant during the Scarefest and Firework events. The new soundtrack also gets blasted around the queue line and the area and is very reminiscent of Helix (I guess it would do having been composed by the same guys). I've embedded a clip below.

 

 

Half way through the queue comes a photo building which is actually pretty unique. Due to the fact there is no point in taking an onride photo of people all wearing VR headsets, the on-ride photo cameras have been removed and this new photo kiosk building built in the queue line. When you enter there are six acrylic bubbles on the left hand side. You stick your head in them and look directly at a screen which takes your photo and prints out a ticket for you to scan after the ride. The photos are made up to look like you are wearing a spacesuit. It's a nice effect overall.

 

After the photo op, the queue splits to either the left and over a bridge or to the right and straight on. Each way takes you into the station ready to board your flight. The front queue line option has been entirely removed considering that it is entirely pointless now.

 

As many people have stated, the whole boarding procedure is pretty laborious. Each row of the train had its own dedicated ride operative and the process seemed to go like so:

 

- Train arrives back in station and tilts to seated position

- Guests sit headset ontop of storage pouch

- Operative wipes headset and places each securely in their pouch and velcros it shut

- Restraints are unlocked and rides disembark

- New riders board and operative checks restraints and locks them

- Operative opens headset pouch and re-wipes each headset then tells rider to place it on their head

- Rider adjusts tightening strap and focusing dial to suit themselves

- Operative recalibrates each headset by asking rider to look straight ahead and then starting calibration

- Train is raised into flying position and departs

 

Staff were getting pretty quick with the whole procedure but it does take time and has impacted throughput.

 

The headsets are pretty heavy but you get used to them. The focusing dial helps but doesn't seem to go far enough (well not for me). Audio was great on my first ride, second was left side only and third was very quiet and could hardly hear anything. One great thing about the headsets is that it really does block all excess light out and really takes you away from reality. With your headset on and fully adjusted you sit there feeling quite alone staring at a rather large Galactica logo and what feels like a giant very black room.

 

Ok, so, the ride experience, once the trains start moving, the room opens up and you find yourself in a quite elaborate space station corridor moving forward. Quite a lot is going on and it's nice to be able to look around and see things either side rather than just infront of you. As you engage the lift you get the best part of the whole VR experience in my mind. Such a lot goes on and it's hard to decide where to look next. It's quite a strange sensation. This is the part that Alton is calling the launch. At the top of the lift you exit the portal and you are in deep space flying around the planets. As the fly to lie inversion arrives you are portalled (new word!) to a fire planet to witness the birth of a new star apparently. This part is where you are lying on your back. Due to this the headset does wobble quite a lot. After you are portalled again to an ice planet that crumbles away infront of you. Near the end of the circuit something happens that seems to take you offcourse and you are told you are landing and head through an emergency portal to land back on your original spaceship.

 

I enjoyed trying a VR coaster but it does have some issues. The two biggest personally are the resolution is not quite good enough to give you that feeling of escapism and secondly you do see the edges of the scenes a lot more than you should. Just turning your head slightly you notice them and it was very noticeable on the barrelroll as the headset video could not keep up with the physical motion and showed me the edges a lot.

 

One thing I was highly impressed by is that it did not make me feel queasy or ill in the slightest. No problem at all. I'm not too sure what others will make of it but this was my experience.

 

Overall, I think it's a nice update to Air and gives it a bit more rerideability and I think the public will love it. I did notice however that it does not feel like you are riding a rollercoaster anymore. It's like a glorified simulator. It has lost it's sense of height when you are at the top of the lift and there is no real sense of speed. It's very hard to explain and I think just needs to be tried out to understand.

 

Anyway, some photos and a short video I took:

 

 

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The old Air Shop is now home to the Rollercoaster Restaurant opening in May

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This is the spaceship you take a flight on

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A Galactinaut ready for their flight

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These are two of the small panels between each pair of seats. Apologies for the bluriness but I didn't have long the snap the photo and failed. As far as I could tell, this panel shows the operatives the current battery level, bluetooth connectivity status, allows them to calibrate the headset and to enable such features as captions and subtitles which is a great addition!)

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Galactica soaring through space

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Weird seeing people climbing the lifthill

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Wheeee!

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Launching!

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The new entrance logo

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The test seat

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New covering on the bridge heading to the left hand station

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The newly enclosed station.

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Neil, that LAUNCHING! shot is a-mazing! Beautiful timing, lighting...everything!

 

And nice to see some surroundings around it all, too.

The Coaster Restaurant entry looks impressive, as well.

 

Thanks for all the great photos and observations of what's what!

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Hi everyone!

 

I'm travelling to Europe for the first time this summer, landing in Heathrow and then country hopping for a couple weeks. I'd like to squeeze in a trip to Alton Towers or Thorpe Park at the beginning of my trip. Ideally Alton Towers since it's been a dream of mine to visit that park ever since Nemesis opened. Looking online, it seems like going from Heathrow to Alton is a huge trek unless you rent a car -and I'd like to avoid having to rent a car during my trip unless I absolutely have to.

 

Any tips on getting to Alton Towers from London/Heathrow Airport? Do you recommend that I stay overnight in Alton and then head back to London the next day? I really only have a day to visit the park, so it'll be a quickie.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Honestly, I don't think Alton is possible if you've only got a day and don't want to hire a car. The park is practically impossible to get to using public transport with only one bus in the morning that takes an hour to get there.

 

If you really want to do without hiring a car, you'll need to get to Stoke-On-Trent station, then get on the bus from the stop over the road.

Check here for the time the bus leaves Stoke and the return times: http://www.firstgroup.com/potteries/more/alton-towers/stoke-station

 

Not to mention that train fares in this country are obscene, with a return journey from Heathrow to Stoke-on-Trent costing over £200!

 

Renting a car is definitely the better option, it's only a 3 hour drive to Alton from Heathrow. Renting a car for a day can be as cheap as £50 + fuel, so it's certainly cheaper as well!

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Hi everyone!

 

I'm travelling to Europe for the first time this summer, landing in Heathrow and then country hopping for a couple weeks. I'd like to squeeze in a trip to Alton Towers or Thorpe Park at the beginning of my trip. Ideally Alton Towers since it's been a dream of mine to visit that park ever since Nemesis opened. Looking online, it seems like going from Heathrow to Alton is a huge trek unless you rent a car -and I'd like to avoid having to rent a car during my trip unless I absolutely have to.

 

Any tips on getting to Alton Towers from London/Heathrow Airport? Do you recommend that I stay overnight in Alton and then head back to London the next day? I really only have a day to visit the park, so it'll be a quickie.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

 

Get the train to Uttoxeter, there is a bus stop just outside the train station. There you can get a bus to Alton Towers, It doesn't take too long on the bus from there (20-30 minutes) and I think they are quite regular. Have only been once on public transport but that is how I did it. If there are no buses then there is also a taxi rank outside the station. I think it is most likely the same case from Stoke-On_Trent train station.

Hope that helps.

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Alton Towers is a real bitch to get to on public transport. The bus services from either Stoke-on-Trent or Uttoxeter railway stations are seriously infrequent (there's only four per day from Uttoxeter) so unless you plan your journey meticulously you'd be looking at taxi journeys.

 

The train journey needn't be as expensive as Dar suggests. By booking in advance on the right trains you can get a return from London Euston (reachable on the tube from Heathrow in an hour) to Stoke-on-Trent for as little as £18.

 

A return journey in one day might just be possible. Have you booked your flight to Heathrow yet? If so, what time does it arrive? Are you staying in London for a while before you go to the continent or are you flying straight out after Alton Towers?

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I went from London to Alton Towers and back to Heathrow in a day once Its possible but it does require you to get up really early and you have to plan out every single detail to make it work. It's a hassle but it's also possible.

 

I woke up in a B&B extra early and took the bus to Euston train station, from there I took a train (with tickets I bought early for a good discount, not that expensive at all) and went to Stoke on Trent. From there it's an hour with the bus. In the evening I did the whole thing over because it was the day before a TPR trip and everybody was meeting up at Heathrow..

 

Personally I thought it was totally doable, the trains were cheaper and more reliable timewise than what I'm used to at home. But you will be traveling for many hours so for some people it's probably too much of a hassle. In my case I really really needed to go Alton Towers and I had no options to wait till morning to return or anything like that. If you do, than staying overnight is certainly the more relaxed route as I was up and about from 6 till 23 o Clock I think... Worth it though IMHO ^_^

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In addition to the posts above you did mention an overnight stay, which would be in a B&B - this is what we always have done, we live a 4.5 hour car journey away and its much nicer to not have that at the start of your day.

 

There is a B&B right outside Alton Towers gates called the Trough Ivy House, I've stayed there a couple of times, cosy but nice and its closer to the turnstiles than the car park is! There is another 5 minutes walk down the road called the Chained Oak which we have also used twice, again very nice. Its a short walk up the hill but its a bit of a busy road with no pavement/sidewalk. I always see people doing it and its probably fine just something to bear in mind.

 

At a quick glance here are some bus times from Uttoxeter station, if you scroll down from the 5th timetable onwards there seem to be buses every couple of hours. I can't tell you how accurate this information is, although it was only posted a year ago. There may be a better timetable somewhere but this should work as a guide

 

Bus times Uttoxeter station to AT

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There is another 5 minutes walk down the road called the Chained Oak which we have also used twice, again very nice.

 

Is it named that because it's close to the actual tree or just because of Alton Towers?

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There is another 5 minutes walk down the road called the Chained Oak which we have also used twice, again very nice.

 

Is it named that because it's close to the actual tree or just because of Alton Towers?

 

The actual chained oak is very close to it and it's named after that.

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^ Thanks, checking out the actual tree Hex is based on was always on my to-do list before I left for Korea but I never got around to it.

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My tip for you is not to go to Alton Towers. It is for two reasons, Thorpe Park is much closer to get to and Alton towers is miles away. Thorpe park is almost next to Hethrow. Also as you said it was your dream to go there, don't go because you will be disappointed. It is good, but from reviews I have geared this year, 2016 is not the year to visit.

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I'm travelling to Europe for the first time this summer, landing in Heathrow and then country hopping for a couple weeks. I'd like to squeeze in a trip to Alton Towers or Thorpe Park at the beginning of my trip. Ideally Alton Towers since it's been a dream of mine to visit that park ever since Nemesis opened. Looking online, it seems like going from Heathrow to Alton is a huge trek unless you rent a car -and I'd like to avoid having to rent a car during my trip unless I absolutely have to.

 

While Alton Towers is a great park, I personally agree with Henry M, and think that it is a bit too difficult to get to in the timeframe you have said from Heathrow airport. While renting a car might be cheaper option, if you are not used to driving on the opposite side of the road (from the US)..getting out of Heathrow can feel pretty tricky (quite afew Roundabouts!) and if you are doing it after a flight from LAX....even more so. Heathrow does have pretty good transport links though and there is a bus station there (National express) which can take you pretty much anywhere in England. I disagree with the 200 pound rail fare stated though...I have never paid anywhere close to that in the UK anywhere. If you leave planning to the last minute then sure...but if you book online..or get something called a "Britpass" then you can get some good deals. Rail will require you getting into central London though which you can do through the underground or Heathrow express (expensive). Bus station is right at the airport if you went that route. Personally I think you are asking a LOT of yourself though to do this in a short period of time..but it is doable.

 

Thorpe park is pretty much adjacent to Heathrow, lots of accommodation options around (even staying in London would be OK)..and there are some pretty OK rides there aswell (you can ride Nemesis Inferno as a consolation to actually doing Nemesis), I also loved the "Saw" ride as the theming was pretty cool.

Transport options are numerous without needing a car (even bus or taxi from the airport would only take 15 mins),and if you stayed in London...rail options are plenty.

You may well feel more relaxed doing the closer park and you could tie it in with some sightseeing in London if you haven't already.

 

My opinion only...I lived in the South East of England for a couple of years, while my aunt and uncle lived near Alton towers...so I know both areas. I don't think there is a wrong answer for you....just whichever you think will work out best. You will enjoy both parks...whichever you choose.

The only thing I will say is DON'T rent a car if you are not sure about driving on the left. I think they make Heathrow as much as a b*****r to get out of as possible just to trip up the American tourists!!!

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The only thing I will say is DON'T rent a car if you are not sure about driving on the left. I think they make Heathrow as much as a b*****r to get out of as possible just to trip up the American tourists!!!

 

This is true, some years ago my brother had friends visiting from when he did a year of college in the US...they rented a car, and returned it after 10 minutes of trying to get out of Heathrow. Its not the nicest place to drive when you live here, let alone in a foreign country!

 

Thorpe is a much easier option, so much transport, dedicated buses every 15 or 20 minutes from Staines station...but if you can leave London 2pm(ish) and get to Alton for 8pm and stay overnight before going in this is what I would suggest doing. In a single day it is a lot! Both parks are good but for me if it was one or the other I'd choose AT.

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Rent an automatic if you rent. It's worth extra £ for the less hassle/safety. Also a smaller car is advised as the roads get tiny. Chained oak B&B is awesome, the best B&B I've ever been to- I stayed last week, too bad hex won't be open for you.

 

Thorpe would also be a fun trip also, but Alton is beautiful even though I'm super disappointed with them this season. Still some run down looking buildings and sad with so many rides closed.

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If you can make it to Terminal 5 at Heathrow there is a bus (the #71) which heads direct to Staines and stops close to the train station (takes about 10mins) where the shuttle bus to Thorpe Park runs from. Should cost something like £2 or £3 in total so it really is easy.

 

As mentioned for Alton Towers there are National Express Buses which run from Heathrow to the nearby Stoke On Trent which takes between 4 and 5 hours to get there and can be bought for as little as £15. There are 4 buses a day which goto stoke from the bus terminal at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3.

Then again there is a shuttle bus from Stoke on Trent railway station to the park which is a little more expensive than usual at £10 for an adult return.

 

The trains are much faster but will cost more. Probably looking at £60 to £70 for a return to Stoke On Trent or Uttoxeter from London Euston which takes 2 and a quarter hours or an hour and a half on the express. The problem is trains before 10am will cost an absolute fortune more like £250 return thanks to the ridiculous premium they put on the trains during commuter hours.

 

Hope that helps a bit.

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Then again there is a shuttle bus from Stoke on Trent railway station to the park which is a little more expensive than usual at £10 for an adult return.

There's no shuttle bus to the park. It stopped running a couple of years back.

The trains are much faster but will cost more. Probably looking at £60 to £70 for a return to Stoke On Trent or Uttoxeter from London Euston which takes 2 and a quarter hours or an hour and a half on the express. The problem is trains before 10am will cost an absolute fortune more like £250 return thanks to the ridiculous premium they put on the trains during commuter hours.

As I already mentioned, if booking in advance you can get a return to Stoke for £18. This includes hourly departures from Euston from 0746. You can check the fares and timetables at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/.

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Thanks for the awesome replies everyone! Much appreciated and very helpful! Yeah, renting a car in England is probably something that I want to avoid, since I'm used to driving in Los Angeles (which is a hell of a battle in its own right, lol!)--so driving on the left side of the road, sitting on the right side of the car, roundabouts...they're all things that, I'm sure, will take a lot of getting used to, for the short amount of time that I'm there. That said, I'd rather take trains, buses and taxis when I can!

 

I'm still deciding between the two, but whatever decision I make, I'll post a TR & some pics when I get back

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So I have now been to the park and experienced Airlactica and my opinion on the ride is this. While it isn't quite as dumb and stupid as I was expecting it was still nothing special considering the cost involved in installing it. I will not consider this a hit for the park either as I heard a lot of people getting off the ride saying thing like "was that it?" "What was the point in that?" "I preferred it before the video". I could easily see all the headsets being gone within the next 5 years.

 

The biggest issue I have with the whole ride is very simple. If I don't want to wear the headset I shouldn't have to! Air was the wrong ride to put VR on as it completely removes the aspect of the flying coaster from it. If I want to experience the feeling that Galactica gives me I will gorilla tape my phone to my face put on a TPR POV and turn a fan on because thats about how it feels.

 

I will leave you with a genuine quote from Guest Services when I went to see if there was any way I could ride without the headset and this was the response I got "If we gave people the option not to wear the headset no one would wear them". What does that tell you about the feedback they have had on it?

 

I will do a TR at some point soon but for now that is my thoughts on Craplactica I mean Airlactica, wait no GALACTICA.

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I guess it's a matter of opinion as to whether you like it or no, because i loved it and at least when i was there it seemed like everyone else was too. Although i do think that they should give you the option to ride with or without the headsets, but Air really wasn't a good coaster so it shouldn't matter too much.

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