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Photo TR: TPR UK Trip

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If you are looking for a fast food chain that is 100% Traditional Britishness wrapped up into one tasty meal, you're safe at going to Harry Ramsden's, the isles' major Fish Shop Takeaway chain.


We didn't see any Ramsden's on the trip, IIRC, and besides, I did get Jason to an actual chippie later on. It was my main aim of the trip - especially since most of the Americans spent 10 days complaining about our, admittedly slightly dry theme park chips - and I wouldn't have squandered an opportunity in Harry Ramsden's - all kidding aside, they're available in the UK pavillion at Epcot, which says much about their authenticity.


But you will be pretty chuffed with where I actually found good fish 'n' chips. Just wait another few months 'til Jason gets to that update. (Jason, that's payback for the 'Oh, Mike's just being a geek again.' comment near the end of the trip )

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What's that kiddies? I do believe I hear the faint sound of the gauntlet being thrown by Mike somewhere in the vague direction of Jason.


I'm loving the trip reports so far, Jason! The only food I never found appetizing on the trip were any of the burgers I ate. I loved all of the fisn'n'chips I had for the whole trip really! I must confess, however, that I have not had any fried fish since, and it was actually quite a long time before I could eat ANYTHING fried at all. (although, i must admit that i'm quite excited about heading to the Texas State Fair to try the fried frito pie this fall! )


I look forward to the next update!!

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^^Hmm... I don't exactly remember when or why I made that comment... but there's no doubt in my mind that you fully deserved it! You know, as far as my TRs, you just can't rush perfection!


^Also no idea how you'd even begin to fry a Frito pie... but now I want to try it!


At any rate, Day Two of the trip took us out of England and into Wales, where we spent the day at Oakwood. No need for a lengthy intro, as that will only slow down the speed at which I am able to rush this TR before the eyes of an apparently ravenous public. In fact, to speed the pictures even more (and because we've been having some Internet connectivity problems lately), I'll even post it in two parts. Enjoy!


Oddly enough, when I was a Cub Scout, I painted my Pinewood Derby car those exact same shades of neon orange and green (true story).


Oakwood set up a generous itenerary for us... and then added to it as the day went on!


First stop: ERT on Speed!


Even the fencing next to the ride was themed.


But you know, woodies are more my speed.


Over the river and through the woods, to the insanely great-running coaster we go....


Megafobia was, by far, my favorite woodie of the trip.


OK, OK, enough ERT. How about a backstage tour?


Hey, Mr. Six is here, too!


OMG, monster boobs!


Oh man, a guy looking down at us from a dual staircase landing... this place must be haunted!


This is how Elissa would react to rats in Opposite World. Also... they gnawed off his foot!


Mrs. Spider is a very lucky woman....


Man, Toby Maguire's really let himself go....


If that's what's hiding in the sink, just imagine what's waiting in the toilet!


Footless, one-armed man in an antique bathtub... spoooooky!


After a long day working in the haunted house, this guy likes to just hang out.


OMG... they killed The Hulk!


This doesn't seem so scary... until it shoots chicken blood at you as you ride by! But even then, it's more gross than scary....


Now *that's* scary!


The park was open by the time the last tour group exited Spooky 3-D, so we got to be among the first riders of the day on the most amazingly "WTF?" dark ride ever: Brer Rabbit's Burrow.


Here's the concept: We board a kiddie train that takes us underground to watch Brer Rabbit and his friends get ready for their rap party. Yes, you read that correctly. AKA the "Happenin' Place."


Mike is *very* excited to visit the Happenin' Place!


How To Throw a Rap Party, Step 1: Take a nice, healthy poop.


Step 2: Take a bath with Bubbles.


Guess which one is Bubbles....


Much like "It's a Small World," this ride actually had its own theme song. The opening stanza went something like "Brer Rabbit and his friends are gonna cut loose, gonna liven up this party with some carrot juice." That, of course, is right before the big splashdown.


Oops... sorry, wrong Brer Rabbit ride!


Fun fact: There are 26 Robert Sleighs in the Wales phone book.


This Bob Sleigh has an unlisted number.


There was something very "Little House on the Prairie" about the lift hill.


Is it just me, or are these "sledges" inherently phallic?


This is true for so much in life.


Oakwood was another one of the many British parks that encouraged picnics and generally hanging out in the green areas... but it's the first one where I saw an actual tent pitched!


Treetops Rollercoaster was awesome!


In life, there are good logs, and there are bad logs. This is a good log.


This coaster was literally "through the trees!"


The "tea trays" were a very unique dry "wet" ride. Basically, you sit on the British version of a snow saucer, get pushed down the flume and hold on for dear life while you skim across a shallow pool before skidding to a stop along a strip of miniature golf green-style carpet... hopefully before reaching the concrete pad that surrounds it! It's most definitely a "Never in America"-type attraction.


Flyers can be fun,

Except when they do not snap,

Like this stupid ride.


Oooh! We found the Lost Kingdom! You'd think there would be some sort of reward or something.


Turns out it was one of those foam ball play areas that I actually really enjoy. This one was predominately for kids... except they played a lot of kid-unfriendly music in there! Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" was coming out of the loudspeakers as I walked in.


It's all about the Elizabeths, baby!


"We're waaaatching youuuuu!"


Most of us were really impressed by what we believed at the time to be authentically antique rides in Oakwood's kiddie area. Turns out they were manufactured by a European ride company that has specialized in fabricating antique-looking rides since the early 1990s.


This looked like something out of one of those "village" sets they sell at the Hallmark Store--except it was life-sized and ready to go!


But this was the *real* reason most of us wandered into the kiddie area.


OMG! It's really no wonder so many people are afraid of clowns.


Well... it serves them right for setting the bass drum on the coaster track in the first place!


Oakwood had a really nice kiddie area.


It even included a "non-theme-park" playground.


The Skyleap is a 15-foot vertical slide that park guests "ride" while wearing potato sacks. Seriously, you step up to the edge, jump off and hope you hit the actual slide at some point before reaching the bottom!


The park also had a nice-looking miniature golf course, which, unfortuantely, we didn't have time to tackle.


You know, some times I just gotta think when it comes to granting "Star Wars" licenses these days, George Lucas is just trying to grab at whatever money comes his way.


I found it a little odd that a theme park in the middle of Wales, of all places, would have a New Orleans section. But... eh, whatever.


You know, I've been to the original Aunt Sally's Pralines in New Orleans...


...and it didn't look anything like this on the inside.


Fin, part one. Stay tuned for part two.

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Ready for part two? Don't scroll down until you are!


They really make a big deal about "The Big 4" at Oakwood: Speed, Megafobia, Hydro and The Bounce.


For the record, this is The Bounce. I would point out what it looks like, but I'm sure your mind is already there. Pervert.


In Wales, they speak both English and Welsh. At the grape juice factory, they speak both English and Welch.


I spied this rundown snack stand while at Speed for ERT. Doesn't look too appealing does it? So why return?


Bacon baguette with cheese! This was the only place in the park that sold them, and it was completely amazing!


For dessert, Mike and I split an order of "donuts" with chocolate. In reality, these were more like cookies (biscuits) than what we call dounuts in the U.S. I wonder if that's what all the British theme park donuts are like or if this was just an anomaly.


Did I mention that they really play up "The Big 4" at Oakwood?


After lunch, it was time for super-secret backstage access to Megafobia!








"Hey... that's the craziest on-ride photo system I've ever seen!"


So close, we could almost *touch* it (but were instructed not to).


It's as if the entire coaster has reached out to envelop us in its awesomeness!


On the other side... paddleboats!


For the uninitiated, this is what the UK Tour shirt looked like. Don't own one? Man, what a loser! :)


This is what my grandfather's backyard used to look like. Before he died.


Good news: Oakwood no longer needs fresh corpses to test its coasters!


Next up: Q&A with the park's maintenance staff!


Just *look* at all those coaster parts! Look at them now!


"So what happend to your ceiling?"

"Well, we used to store fireworks in here...."


Behold the No. 1 necessity for running a productive park maintenance shop.


They bite.


What's that, Mr. Antique Kiddie Train? You want me to ride you? Well... maybe just this once.


After the maintenance Q&A, the park offered ERT on Hydro.


People. Got. Wet.


How's it goin', TPR?


Can we get you a towel? How about a squeegee?


Oooh, a handstamp. That means we're exiting the park...


...to see sheep! Actually, I'm told these sheep used to graze right under Megafobia. They moved them when they heard TPR was coming back....


So why did we leave a park full of coasters to go to a bowling alley?


That's why :)


"This way to the Maze!"


For the uninitiated, "Crystal Maze" apparently was a popular '80s/'90s kids' game show in the UK, where teams ran through four themed zones (space, a ship, Medieval times, etc.) to complete tasks that would earn them jewels, which would in turn give them time inside a giant dome where they would basically play the world's largest game of Simon to see who ended up with the most points.


At some point, they licensed five "Crystal Maze" play areas in the UK (and one in Japan), where kids could basically play the game for bragging rights under the direction of this creepy guy... and by the time we got to Oakwood, this was the only one left in existence. Sound like something TPR would be interested in? You betcha!


C'mon, Rosie! You can do... that thing!


It's Indiana Craig!


Sadly, there will be no more "Crystal Maze" for TPR... or anyone else. The attraction closed forever exactly one week after our visit :(


Oh well. We were pretty excited to come in third place out of all competing TPR teams... and just five points away from finishing second!


This is what happens when you miss the bus....


"Hey! Nigel, stop! Wait for us! Come back!"


Fortunately, most of us did make the bus on time (we walked to "Crystal Maze" from Oakwood and back), and we were rewarded with an introduction to the most hilariously horrible game show ever conceived: "Baggage." For those who haven't seen it (and you really should), three guys tell their secrets to an eligible bachelorette in phases from bad to worst in an attempt to get her to choose them for a date. She eliminates them round by round until just one remains. Only she has a secret to share, too, so if it turns out her "baggage" is too much for him to handle, he can reject her after she chooses him. And, of course, it's all hosted by Jerry Springer.


OK, in all fairness, who among us hasn't done that? (I tell women all the time that I'm Lady Gaga.)


We stopped for dinner at Services, and I was very impressed with the selection. I skipped Wimpy this time and went to the cafeteria instead, opting for what turned out to be a pretty good plate of curry chicken. That maple pecan thing in the corner, however? Absolute Heaven! The New Jersey Turnpike could learn a thing or two from Services.


I also got some really odd-flavored chips (or "crisps," if you will) to try. Believe it or not the prawn ones ("prawn" is the generic term for shrimp in the UK) tasted just likc cocktail sauce, while the chicken ones bore an eerie resemblance to the taste of Stove Top stuffing.


Believe it or not, there were even more adventures to be had before Day Two officially ended... but you'll have to wait (maybe for months, according to Mike) and see what comes next!

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And believe it or not, the blurriness in the last Brer Rabbit photo isn't from the train moving too fast for pictures - I believe Jason actually ingested some of that intoxicating carrot juice stuff.


Those Oakwood donuts are indeed anomalous, and I think they were just poorly done. Most are nice and doughy. Crystal Maze was a-maze-ing, although I still think we should have been 'The Brits plus Jason', but 'The Leftovers' worked too! Nice amount of physical exertion (like we don't have any on TPR trips), and EXCELLENT kitsch value. I think we closed it (by a week) on a high.

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That's possibly the worst explanation of what The Crystal Maze is that I've ever read!

I suggest looking at this to see what the show really was. It's well worth a watch as well- Easily one of my favourite gameshows ever!


Those doughnuts look vile! I'm pretty sure Alton does some decentish doughnuts, as does Blackpool I think.


I've always thought as Oakwood as quite a strange park to be honest. It's miles and miles away from anywhere, and it's hardly advertised at all outside it's local area despite having one of the better rides in the country in Megafobia. Ahh well. :confused:

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^^Well, I guess it would have helped if I had ever seen (or heard of) the show! I remember on my first TPR trip, Robb had to explain to the non-U.S. participants what Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was so they could understand the Mr. Rogers ride on which we had ERT. His short synopsis: "It's like a kids' show on acid." Maybe that's what Crystal Maze was like: Double Dare on acid?


^^^Carrot juice was probably the strongest thing I tried the entire trip!


I mentioned that the day didn't end with the Crystal Maze... and here's the proof! After a long drive back to England, we bunked down for the night at the Alton Towers Hotel--but it was a huge mistake! Apparently, our initial reservations had been for the adjacent Splash Landings Hotel, but when we got there, Robb and Elissa found out they had been changed without their knowledge. This did not sit well, as Splash Landings would have offered us a tactical advantage for meeting areas, water park ERT, etc.... but we made due, and it was fun to stay at quite possibly the best themed resort hotel outside of Disney. Enjoy!


We're here... even though we aren't supposed to be!


Any hotel with a pirate ship right in the middle of the lounge is OK in my book! This served as a stage for entertainment the second evening we were there (photos to come).


On top of the pirate ship was a balloon...


...and in the middle was this guy! Presenting Sir Alton of Alton, presumably a distant relative of Adam Merryweather Pleasure.


Alton built the hotel, bringing back with him souvenirs from his early 20th century travels all over the world... including these guys in the lobby from India!


Looks like the kind of elevator that would have been used on the "Nautilus."


Oh? This should be interesting....


Mike had stayed at the hotel before and told me the elevators were a little "different." Each voyage up or down triggered a different light and music show tied to the theme music for various rides in the park. Some people thought it got a little annoying after awhile, but I loved it every time!


The entire hotel was made to look like something out of the late 1800s/early 1900s. Even the lamps in the rooms appeared to be gas-powered ("appeared" being the key word).


Pictures on the walls were paintings of Sir Alton's various practical inventions--all of which looked suspiciously like theme park rides--including the "Coasting Roller."


To exit a room or corridor in England, one must run toward a rectangle and duck. Mike and I did this, and he took me on a guided tour of the hotel.


Some of the "props" at the hotel, hanging out of guests' reach, supposedly were authentic antiques. I think "supposedly" is probably the key word in that sentence, too.


Hello, Th13teen! We'll be seeing you tomorrow!


Mike and I took turns sitting in the big chair.


Hello, ladies!


The Dragon Bar was closed by the time we got there, but some of us managed to have some fun there the next night....


The Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings were connected on one hallway. As one hotel became the other, the carept began to change. It was pretty neat!


Random crab!


A preview of the next evening's water park ERT.


It never got this dark in there while we were in the water! I didn't take my camera the next night because I was afraid it might get splashed or damaged, so this is about all you're going to get from that part of the hotel. I will say that, though I'm not a big fan of water parks, I had a BLAST at ERT the next night. They had me at "private, indoor and climate controlled."


The inside of Splash Landings. Ah, what could have been....


The shark-in-the-bathtub joke never gets old!


It says "exotic," not "erotic."


This is where we found most of the rest of the TPR gang! I was feeling pretty tired by that point, so I went back to the room to crash.


This was the view from our room the next morning. Not bad, eh?


Breakfast buffet in here... with all-you-can-eat blood sausage!


Mr. Tree prefers his sausages made from human blood!


This was our view over breakfast. Not bad. Not bad at all!


After breakfast, a few of us went outside to check out the Sir Alton of Alton fountain, which was too dark to get a good look at the night before. This thing really was imaginative and helped set the background for the story the hotel told.


Since the next day was Club TPR Day at Alton Towers, and it was impractical to reach all non-UK Trip Club TPR members that late in the evening to change the meeting spot, we had to trek over to Splash Landings to begin the day. On the plus side, it gave us an opportunity for daytime water park photos.


Oh, and if you haven't checked out the "Water Park Dance" video (I assume it's still on Coastertube), do it NOW!


"I can't wait for the Alton Towers TR coming up next!"

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^^Well, I guess it would have helped if I had ever seen (or heard of) the show! I remember on my first TPR trip, Robb had to explain to the non-U.S. participants what Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was so they could understand the Mr. Rogers ride on which we had ERT. His short synopsis: "It's like a kids' show on acid." Maybe that's what Crystal Maze was like: Double Dare on acid?

No need to explain yourself Jason. Your explanation was just fine.



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Day Three was our first official day at Alton Towers. Enjoy!


First, some unfinished business from the Alton Towers Hotel TR. The bedspreads were made to look like stitched-together blueprints from Sir Alton's inventions.


It's like they skipped a full century between telephones!


Moving on to the park, first we have some preliminaries: monorail...




...and Enterprise.


Now that we've satisfied all the TPR special interest groups... welcome to Alton Towers!


On the way from the hotel to the special, super-secret TPR-only back-door entrance, we passed Alton's miniature golf course. It looked pretty nice... but even with a full day and a half at the resort, who had time for golf?


First up was an hour of ERT on Air, which Mike and Elissa conspired to make me ride despite my (or my stomach's) general dislike of upsie-downsie, turns-aroundsie inverted steel coasters.


Of course, they succeeded. And after three rides, the only loss was that of my precious comb, which fell through the crack behind the shelves as I was retrieving my "carry-on" items from the station. Thanks again, Mike, for lending me one for the remainder of the trip (I probably should get that back to you someday...).


After Air, some of us--for whatever reason--decided the easiest way to get from there to be among the first in line for Th13teen would be to trek through the scenic valley in the middle of the park.


It may have been shorter than walking all the way around--but this was by far the toughest climb I've ever had to make at a theme park! Along the way, Mike informed me that these random pieces of decorative architecture were called "follies."


Folly, folly, folly!


We found a dank, dark hole!


"If you go down to the woods today...


...you better not go alone."


Behold, the scariest, thrillingest, most amazing roller coaster in the history of Earth! Or not. I actually kind of agree with Robb's assessment: Th13teen is a fun family-style coaster with a couple neat surprises that probably make it too intense for kids but not intense enough to really thrill teens or adults. I enjoyed it... but I wouldn't visit Alton Towers just to ride it again.


Next door was Rita... which, as pointed out to me, could be a reverse acronym for "Alton Towers Intamin Rocket." Also, I just learned that the U.S. headquarters for Intamin is just two hours from my apartment. That should earn me some coaster cred!


After three coasters in a row, we moved on to Hex, the park's haunted swing, the cue for which is actually built inside the castle/lodge after which the park is named. That seems to be a trend for British parks--find an elaborate old building and stick an attraction inside of it.


Hex introduced me to the supposedly true legend of the chained oak, which I thought was pretty cool. I saw a reference to it outside the park in the name of a B&B, as well. The basic premise of the ride (and legend) is that a witch cast a spell on a rich dude who wouldn't give her money, causing one of his relatives to die every time a branch fell from a particular oak tree. He didn't believe her... until it happened! He then had his servants wrap chains around the tree's branches so no more could fall. Apparently there were at least two such trees in England at one time.


And then we went to Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is just the best name for a theme park land ever, don't you think?


"Hey there, TPR! How you doin'?"


This looked like one of the most fun kiddie car rides ever!


And it was sponsored by a car company I had never heard of.


I can name a number of TPR members who would feel right at home here!


The fence was as ornate as the carousel!


See, Gilroy Gardens? You're not the only park that can have mushroom-themed chair swings!


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my most anticipated dark rides of the trip.


Unfortunately, most of my pictures from the ride didn't come out... but this one did! Overall, I was mildly disappointed in the ride. The boat portion, which I did enjoy, was too short, and getting off the boat and standing in a second line before entering the elevator finale made the experience seem kind of disjointed. I thought it would be kind of like a Pirates of the Caribbean, where I would want to ride several times, but once was really enough.


After having walked for what seemed like miles around the park, we opted to take the skyway to our next destination.


We see you, folly!


If you've ever wanted to see an aerial view of Alton's pirate-themed Splash Battle... you're welcome!


At the time, I assumed this coaster had carried the Sonic name since the game was popular 15 years ago. I had no idea it had just been renamed this summer!


Gotta love Sonic (the hedgehog, not the drive-in restaurant chain... though I do enjoy that, as well).


This is why they call it "Spinball."


The themeing was dead on, right down to the design of the bumpers.


While my compatriots rode Sonic, I opted for the kinder, gentler (more boring) Storybook Forest.


This was the coolest thing in that small section of the park. When you pushed a button on the fence, the giant bookworm woke up and told a story.


Squirrel Nutty? Well... why not?


OK, this ride was just weird. Apparently there were some Audio-Animatronics that accompanied it at one point, then they became static statues, and now they aren't even there anymore. The whole point of the ride today seems to be to sit in one of these squirrel/acorn cars and just kind of ride around an elevated track. No more, no less.


I spy TPR members in line for Beastie!


Old MacDonald's Farmyard, on the other hand, had some pretty cool little attractions.


Decisions, decisions....


Well, the Tractor Ride delivered exactly what its name promised!


The Doodle-Doo Derby, on the other hand, was a horse-themed kiddie flat ride with some chicken themeing.


Riverbank Eye-Spy was a unique kiddie attraction.


The idea was to climb into one of these Jungle Cruise-like boats...


...keep an eye out for the fiberglass barnyard figures...


...and press the appropriate button to make the boat make the sound of that animal. The rabbit one was silent!


Further inland, I stopped to play some tic-tac-toe against a chicken. Fun fact: I did this in real life once at a casino. I lost.


The Singing Barn was so creepy it was cool! Basically, you ran around the barn pressing buttons to get different barnyard animals to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."


With an "oink, oink" here...


...and a "moo, moo" there...


...and a... scarecrow riding a tractor!? (And yes, both of them really did sing.)


That's all for part one. Stay tuned for part two!

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Part two is ready for you now. Just heat and eat!


Next, I visited perhaps the most disturbingly themed kiddie area at any park I've ever been to.


And yes, there really was a dungheap... complete with flies!


If you can get past the fact that you have to enter the kiddie area through a giant pile of poo, however, there are some neat things to be seen. Like this mushroom maze, for example.


Spider web jungle gym, anyone?


Now this caught me completely off guard. Yes, it's a kiddie zip line--unsupervised, no less! In the U.S., lawyers and insurance companies would be racing to see who could be the first to condemn this thing!


Another Imperial Leather water ride?


This time it's a bathtub flume!


Another Merlin park, another Sealife Aquarium.


"If you go down in the fishtank today...


...you better not go alone."


Speaking of lawyers and insurance companies, guys like this are the reason they've run so rampant in the U.S.


Powered coaster: oxymoron or ingenious invention? Either way, we once again had front-of-the-line passes, but the lines were so short early in the day that this turned out to be the only ride I needed mine for.


This is why they call it a mine "train."


Welcome to the wildest ride in the weeeelderness!


I really enjoyed Duel.


The basic premise is, the park turned its traditional haunted house into a dark ride mostly by just adding sensors to what was already there... but it gave the zombies inside guns to shoot back at the guests!


Oooh, moose head... scary! Mike told me later that he and the group he joined up with after we split up that morning rode it twice, not bothering to shoot the second time so they could get an idea of what the original dark ride was like. I wish I had thought to do that.


Haunted Hollow was kind of a letdown. Based on the description on Alton's website, I had been expecting some sort of dark ride or haunt maze.


What it ended up being was a tree-lined path with a few statues and tombstone-based gags and photo ops sprinkled throughout.


Step on the pressure pads in front of these tombstones, and music plays.


This hearse photo op was kind of neat for what it was--a section of the coffin was cut out so a person could stand behind it and have their picture taken looking as if they were sitting up in it.


Not sure what was supposed to be inside this crypt, but I didn't really see anything.


By the time I made it out the other side, it was time for lunch. I opted for a sausage roll...


...and a chocolate-filled crepe with ice cream. OMG!


Alton didn't seem to have much in the way of live entertainment, so I was happy to be able to catch this pirate show during lunch, even if the entire point of the production seemed to be to splash the people in the front row with water jets.




A couple pirate-themed flat rides rounded out this area.


We had front-of-the-line passes for them, too!


Take that, Knotts Berry Farm!


I don't know how this hasn't taken off yet in American parks... but I'd be surprised if it doesn't eventually.


Did I mention that Alton Towers was celebrating a birthday?


Thirty years of theme park fun! (Personally, I was hoping they might have a Dream Machine so I could try to win a Geo Metro... but no.)


After heading back to the hotel for a brief nap, I returned to the park and went directly here. Why?


That's why!




After dinner, we stayed in the park after closing for some Nemesis ERT!


The idea is that some sort of alien has melded with the coater. It's very elaborately themed.




Someone called the Alton Towers Police to remove all the coaster-riding hooligans who hijacked Nemesis!


And what other attractions were there to be found in the Forbidden Valley? Well...


There was Blade...


...and the Sauce Station!


After Nemesis ERT, it was time to walk back to the hotel for water park ERT!


When we got there, this pirate was using the stage for a kiddie show.


After the water park, we returned to the lobby for live entertainment. Our first impressions probably don't speak too highly for this singer--when we first heard her, we thought it was karaoke night!


I stopped by the Dragon Bar for a mai tai!


Instead of hanging out in there, however, we chose to spend the rest of the evening al fresco. It was a great end to a great day!


Up next: More Alton Towers!

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We started Day 4 with a little surprise. Because of the hotel mix-up on Day 2, Robb was able to strike a deal with the park for ERT on Th13teen the next morning! Thus, TPR became one of the first groups ever to have ERT on this brand new coaster. Enjoy!


While we were waiting to get into the cue, a LOT of members of the GP came up and wanted to know how they could get ERT, too. Robb told them to join TPR and pay a couple grand for access to the trip. A couple of them seemed like they were seriously considering it!


If you go into the gift shop today... you better not go alone.


I love tormenting my treats!


And now for some history. I spent most of our final morning at Alton Towers at... Alton Towers, the original country house of the Earls of Shrewsbury. The namesake 1800s castle-like building sits in the middle of the park, half destroyed, open for anyone who wants to nose around inside. Let's see *that* happen in the U.S.!


First, a look at the well-manicured gardens. No real topiary here, but a smattering of nude and nearly nude statues...


...and a few with clothes, too.


Behold the building up close!


Let's go inside, shall we?


They bite.


The main section of the building is a seemingly neverending maze of ballrooms, dining halls and living quarters.


Not much use for this fireplace anymore!


It's lonely at the top... but the view is killer!


This place was literally falling apart. There must have been a dozen ways to kill or injure oneself in every room!


This was the cold game room. Basically, they would shoot an animal, hang it up in here to cure and then eat it when it was ready. Just like the back of the grocery section at Walmart!


Lots of steps up to the turrets!


The steps lead to this view.


There's something very wrong with this sign in 2010....


Wanna know what the world's first vertical drop coaster looks like? Here you go!


Going doooooooown!


And what better way to end our time at Alton than with a picture of the Donkey Derby?


Up next: Drayton Manor.

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Thanks for continuing this awesome trip report! I absolutely fell in love with Alton Towers. It is just an amazing park. I agree with you about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I thought it to be cheap looking and disappointing, but Duel makes up for it!!! Once again, I am really enjoying seeing the trip through your eyes!



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  • 2 months later...

So... three months between updates isn't that bad, is it? With the next week and a half off for the holidays, my hope is to finish this up before the new year. Wish me luck!


Day 5 began with a stop at Drayton Manor... and a visit from Mike's mom and sister! Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of them... and I got so caught up in taking Thomas Town photos that I lost them (and Mike) shortly after they arrived. But the important thing is, we all had fun! Enjoy!


Good thing all these parks had signs. They tend to run together after awhile!


Faster than a burrito supreme! More powerful than 1,000 plungers! Able to drain large amounts of fecal matter in a single flush! Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Super Loo!


Not to be confused with super Lou! (Photo stolen from Cameron.)


Apocalypse is three, three, yes, three drop tower rides in one! And if you act now (and you're a guy), we can have you singing soprano with just one ride on our "floorless" model. But wait, there's more! (OK, actually, there's not.)


Ja, wie wir die Drunken Barrels!


If only those barrels were really full of sweet, sweet beer....


I was disappointed the shooting dark ride was closed... especially after Mike informed me it was named after a cereal! I haven't ridden a cereal-themed ride since Opryland closed!


"Happy Feet 4-D" was awesomely bad! Basically, they condensed the movie to 10 minutes and sprayed water on you at wholly inappropriate times. Somehow, on a TPR trip, moments like this are the best things ever!


The Haunting was pretty cool and really well themed. Basically, some paranormal investigators were scoping the place out when they disappeared... and now we're being sent in to search for them. The first part was a sort of miniature walk-through haunted house with a couple neat effects, followed by a ride on a haunted swing. I was really pleasantly surprised.


I ain't afraid of no ghost!


A pirate ship over water. So simple, yet so effective. Six Flags, Cedar Fair--are you paying attention?


Not the Lady Gay.


The Buffalo Mountain Coaster wins points for having absolutely nothing to do with a mountain...


...and being 100 percent non-PC!


It was fun to see that several of the UK carousels still carried traditional marquee panels. I can't think of a single carousel in the U.S. that still has them (though I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong).


If Arizona had a proper amusement park, it probably would look something like this. Only, you know, with a real cactus.


This seems a lot differnt than the Maelstrom in Epcot....


Can't do this at Six Flags anymore!


This was, by far, the best Thomas Town (er, Land) I've ever seen. And they even have the Fat Controller!


OMG! OMG! It's Thomas! OMG!


Now that's the Harold ride done right!


Cranky is cranky... mostly because people keep yanking his crank.


This is the Rocking Bulstrode. What exactly is a Bulstrode, anyway?


These are the Troublesome Trucks. They can jump up to 500 feet.


Don't be shy, Percy! Come on out and take a bow!


"I'm Craaaaazy Bertie Bus! Gimme some candy!"


Diesel's Locomotion Mayhem is a lot like Ladybug Boogie at Disney's California Adventure... only it works more than 20 percent of the time.


Lady's Carousel was... well, the picture kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it?


The plastic sheep in this photo foreshadow a much more deviant picture in the Fantasy Island portion of this TR. You've been warned.


Looks like Emily lives in a district without a lot of building codes.


De planes! De planes!


Real bulldozers are much sadder than this.


Pan for fossils AND buy ice cream? Talk about your one-stop shop!


Mike told me Excalibur was not to be missed... so I didn't miss it!


"It's a knight's world after all... it's a knight's world after all...."


Cool! Maybe we'll get to meet Simon Belmont! Oh wait....


His spear went limp!


Tell me how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, you bastard!




And so our tour begins.


Knight hole!


This is where the boats hang out on their day off.


"Victory is mine!"


I've got a bad feeling about this....


Book No. 8: "Harry Potter and the Chair That was Too Big."


*spoiler alert* Holy crap! The ride narrator was a dragon the whole time!


Fun fact: Elissa spent the rest of the day searching for a cashpoint that distributed groats.


Those can't be real. We're not even at Universal Orlando!


Oh, the puns! The horrible, horrible puns!


Ever wonder what Pirates of the Caribbean would be like had it been built with 1/100th of its original budget? Then Pirate Adventure is the ride for you!


"Yo ho, yo ho, a jerky, limited-motion life for me!"


Sky rides are always fun.


Hey, I've ridden your overseas cousin at Six Flags America!


More fun: Sombrero or unattended golf cart? You decide!


It seemed like in most parts of England, amusement parks weren't allowed to be built unless there was a building on site that once belonged to a now-dead noble.


This was Drayton Manor's.


Taters and beans! Mmm mmm good!


Without my trusty English-to-English translator, Mike, by my side, I mispronounced "pasty" when I tried to order this, and it took the girl at the register a moment to figure out what I was saying. Fortunately, she was charmed by my American accent and asked me to take her to Miami. I think we may be engaged.


Score one for themed trash cans.


Fun fact No. 1: Anyone in England caught running an amusement park of 20 acres or more without a zoo on site will be sentenced to death by llama.


Fun fact No. 2: All zoos in England must contain meerkats...



...and penguins.


It was a Drayton Manor that I finally broke down and bought a soft-serve Cornetto. Just watching them make it was a treat. Basically, they take a cup of ice cream, put it in something that looks like an industrial juicer, pull down on the lever, and it ends up looking like this. And it tasted good, too! Do we have this ice cream technology in the U.S.? I've never seen it. Maybe the portions are too small ?


And now for the moment you've all been waiting for... a tour of Dinosaurland!


Dinosaurland contains at least one 2-D generic caveman. That's how you know it's going to be awesome!


What!? Oh noes!


Not to fear! Dino Trail may not have been located inside a dank, dark cave, but it still had plenty of the giant cheesy fiberglass reptiles we've all come to love and expect from such attractions.


"Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop!"


"Hey kids! Catch my new movie on Syfy this March!"


One of these things is not like the other....


His name is Earl. (Yay, two obsolete TV show references in the same four-word caption!)


You know, if Walt Disney hadn't been so into trains, I wonder how many parks would actually have them?


Ladies and gentlemen, the back side of water!


When I was a kid, all we had were horses.


Stormforce-10 was the best looking ride in the park!


By this point, I had rejoined my translator, Mike, who informed me that "splash mac" was British for "poncho."


Time for a TPR takeover of Shockwave...


...and G-Force!


Had I not ridden the train, I likely never would have noticed Black Revolver. That was one fortuitous train ride!


It was an indoor Waltzer with lighting effects and music! I've been a big fan of these types of rides ever since the epic takeover of DelGrosso's Space Odyssey during my inaugural TPR trip (and I still crank "Tainted Love" whenever I hear it on my car radio because of that, too).


Personally, I would have given him the death penalty.


An old noble's home, a zoo AND a mini golf course? It's like the British amusement park trifecta!


Thanks, Drayton Manor! But we're not going home; we're going to Blackpool. Coming up next!

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^^Thanks, Larry!


^Chicken burger? Eww.... See, that's why I stuck to the pasty with a side of flirtations!


Moving right along, our second stop of Day 5 was the Blackpool area, which served as our base camp for a few days. There definitely was a feeling of excitement in the air as we explored the area around the park, even though it would be another two days before we actually rode anything there. Unlike the seaside resorts in the U.S., Blackpool was virtually dead after about 6 p.m. Mike said a lot of it (as well as many of the empty storefronts) had to do with the sagging economy. I guess when it comes down to buying bangers and mash or going on vacation, the bangers are going to win.


Anyway, we enjoyed it. Onward!


It kind of seemed like Blackpool made it to the 1970s... then stopped. There was a lot of retro signage, and the whole place gave off sort of a vague seediness reminiscent of Coney Island before automatic weapons were easily accessible.


It's big... it's blue... it must be our hotel!


You'd think the Big Blue Hotel would have a big blue sign. Alas....


I love Matt Frewer!


Not a bad view at all from our hotel!


"Hey! Get off the hotel property and go explore Blackpool before I call the cops!"


These lights were everywhere! Mike said they had to do with a special event held in the fall. This particular string sparked an intense "Dr. Who" conversation.


It would have been neat to have seen all these lit up. But then, I never thought I'd get to go to Blackpool in my lifetime at all, so "disappointment" really wasn't in the vocabulary!


Now that's my kind of restaurant!


With a carousel bar to boot!


Too bad they were closed :(


Oooh, scary!


Yuk yuk yuk!


These puns were likely scarier than anything inside!


This is what happens when the restraint fails on Pepsi Max Big One!


Another haunted house!?


If there's a theme park in England, there must be a miniature golf course within 20 feet.


This one looked nicely maintained (if closed for the evening).


Indoor water park! Alton's was better because we got ERT there....


Geez, another haunted house? That makes three of them in a two-block stretch... and that doesn't even include what's inside the park!


This one looked neat enough that a few of us actually talked about meeting up to check it out on our Blackpool park day. Unfortunately, there was so much to do at the park that we (or at least I) never made it.


Lady, it's nothing to lose your head over!


Unlike the other haunted houses, Carnesky's went for "old scary" rather than "funny scary" or "terrifying scary." For us, I think that's what gave it its edge. At least on the outside.


Another beach resort casino/arcade... and this one had "American pool!" Is American pool different than British pool?


Man, this place was like an acid trip come to life!


Flava Flav T-Rex says it's time for dinner!


I don't remember if I felt this way at the time, but looking back at the trip from the six-month point, the Big Blue Hotel meal was definitely the best of the trip. They even let Elissa serve as hostess!


Ladies and gentlemen, this is black pudding, AKA blood sausage. It's exactly what it sounds like. And it was delicious! I was pleasantly surprised.


This chicken was amazing! Stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon, grilled and gravy-fied!


But neither of those items had anything on the treacle pudding with custard! This may well be the best dessert I've ever tasted (and I've tasted a LOT of desserts)!


They actually have streetcorner stands for rock in the UK? Somehow, I suspect there's a translation issue.... (And there was. Apparently "rock" in the UK isn't slang for cocaine, but is a type of hard/chewy candy sold at seashore locations much in the same way as saltwater taffy in the U.S. And yes, it's pretty darned tasty.)


I spy Blackpool Tower!


Whale tail!


So, this was cool. The waves rushed into these holes...


...making sounds similar to air passing over the mouth of a Coke bottle, which were then amplified by this harmonium, creating the Blackpool High Tide Organ! I'd never seen (or heard) anything like it.


You'd think some of these TPRers had never seen an ocean before!


In the distance, a closed pleasure pier loomed.


Meanwhile, Pepsi Max Big One stood tall, having ceased operation for the evening. It was tough for a bunch of amusement park enthusiasts to see all those closed rides!


Oh well. We may not have had theme parks, and the roller coasters were closed for the night, but we still had...


There are two very funny things about this sign. Can you spot them?


This makes one of those two things even funnier!


I can only imagine this is what the Alveys' home looks like on Christmas!


Fun fact: By 9 p.m. in Blackpool, the only thing open is McDonald's!


Two things McDonald's in the U.S. needs to bring over: Mars milkshakes and whatever those cheese bite things were called. They were awesome, and the sweet red sauce (raspberry?) made them even better!


This was where I unleashed my best British impressions. Mike informed me that the only American allowed to use "me" as a pronoun in place of "I" and get away with it is Popeye.


Hey, there's always room for dessert! I'll take some ummies, a few do-nuts and a naughty rock novelty, please.


That's it for our first night in Blackpool. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, when TPR invades Camelot!

Edited by printersdevil78
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I have not seen Cornetto's in the US, but I agree they're very cool and I think they would do well. KT would always love to get one just to watch them make it!


Fun fact: Later on in the Europe Trip we spent roughly $11 on one in Switzerland!

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I miss the 'Fugde' shop so much, sometimes, that it's actually a little fugde up.


I really enjoyed our time in Blackpool, even though nothing was open. I love it when TPR spends a few nights somewhere, particularly if it's a place where you can go for a wander after dinner. Pigeon Forge (on the IntimidaTour) was the same, and only narrowly beat out Blackpool due to the fact that stuff was open - and I didn't have to put on a jumper to avoid getting chilly from the Irish wind.


Looking forward to your eventual 'Beyond Belief' review - that was one of my favourite ever TPR nights.

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I second the goodness of Cornetto's--very tasty ice cream (or whatever it actually is). We ate well at Blackpool in '06, too. Big Blue treated us to some "Hot Pot" concoction that was great, and Coasters actually makes a pretty durn good bacon cheeseburger (tough to find in the UK). I want to return to Blackpool some day and check out those extra haunted attractions.

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