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Greetings and salutations Theme Park Review!

 

After receiving an "unexpected" day off from work we decided to visit Alton Towers. Myself, Carole and Peter hadn't visited a UK park for a while and had only seen the smiler partially constructed. Richard had not seen the park since Rita had been built. So there was alot to show him. Alton Towers are a tied for the top spot of favorite theme park in the UK for me. (tied with Thorpe Park and followed closely by Legoland), as they are both starting to theme there rides to a higher standard than most. They also get a lot of the newer rides and coasters which is nice to see. So without further ado! Photos!

 

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Are we even in the right place?

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Well... There is a coaster section??

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Ahhh! Good. Found it.

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It almost pains me to see only a section of it left as a monument at the front of the park.... I use the word almost as it was far more painful to ride it! Was nice to see them keep it though as it was one of there first rides!

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Also, we thought that a thursday, after kids had returned to school from the easter holidays, it would be quiet? How wrong we were. It was packed. Busiest I had seen it since I last visited the halloween scarefest in 2011. This was just to buy tickets, nearly 45 minutes before park opening! We were quite shocked I will be honest.

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Finally got tickets and heading in. Park Map looks very colorful this time round.

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It was quite a misty morning when we first got there and quite cold. This soon changed by around midday. We were able to get rid of the jumpers and just walk around with t-shirts on. A welcome change this year! Stepping away from weather forecasting and returning to theme parks. The Towers grounds are very well kept for such a sprawling stately home.

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They really do go on for miles!

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I really like the Towers.

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The crowds all seemed to be heading for the smiler over at the X-sector of the park. So always bieng a group that "breaks the mould", we decided to head over to the Dark Forest as Richard had never experienced Th13teen or Rita.

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Like the entrance arch to Th13teen. But then anything with wraiths/grim reapers is good in my books!

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Th13teen's load area.

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And there it goes off into the "Haunted Woods"! Good job there going as a group and not "alone" as the creepy girl in the queue keeps telling me!

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Lift Hill Shot for all those tyre drive enthusiasts! Th13een is very hard to get any photo's of as it is mostly out in the woods at the back. I had to put my camera into storage as there really isn't much room in the tiny Intamin trains. So rather than have it bouncing around in the footwell, I decided to stow it. The operations teams were really quite efficient at loading and dispatching trains. Congratulations to the Th13een team for that! The ride itself I still don't rate very high.

 

(SPOILER ALERTS!!!!)

 

The first section of the ride is very tame and ideal for families. Nothing intense and some reasonable air time over the hills. Slightly boring if you have queued expecting the extreme "Psycoaster" that they were plugging in the adverts. The vertical drop section through the floor in the crypt and reverse section are well executed, But they unfortunately do not save the ride. I honestly think they would have been better having the coaster stop in a couple of different places and having more show elements, then speeding off to the next one. But that is just my opinion.

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Next up was Rita.

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Safety Sign Noted!

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Rita's Load Area. I have to admit, the restraints are my favorite part about Rita. They are extremely comfortable and provide you with alot of freedom for those that like to have there arms up in the air. Something I miss on other launched coasters such as Rock 'N' Rollercoaster and Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris. The staff again were quite quick at loading. But dispatching was a tad slow. I got the feeling they were having a few issues with it at the time. A few re-checks of restraints etc. The ride itself has a decent launch but then just seems to fall flat. Nothing really much happens after that. I can only compare it with a common male issue. One quick blast...... Then it's over...

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It was now time to go and visit the ministry of Joy as none of us had stepped foot there yet.

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On Second thoughts? Maybe Not! The park just is just not open long enough to warrant waiting a 1/7th of our day for one ride..... Time to go buy one fast track I think! For those that don't know. Fast Track is Alton Towers equivalent of Fastpass. Only it doesn't come with an awesome Magic band.... It does however come with a painful pricetag of £10 per person. Extortion I feel after you have paid £48 to get through the turnstyles. I wouldn't normally pay for stuff like this. But we all wanted to try it out and had a spare few pennies lying around. Grrrrrrrrr.

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I can almost see a smiley face in there somewhere.....

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Ok, so what is this mass of metal supposed to be? According to the story, the ministry of Joy is bringing subjects in to ride the smiler and they will send you away smiling! (Even if that does turn you into a smiling zombie advocate) So the queue line has all sorts of wierd artworks and optical illusions painted on the floor outside. The internal queue then has a load of projection mapped optical illusions to try and marmamlise your mind! My criticism of the queue has to be how loud it is in the outside. The trains really do roar over your head and the music/theme tune is very loud and also very annoying after the first five minutes. If you were waiting any longer than 5 minutes outside I can imagine the smile on your face would be very quickly washed away.... The internal section of queue was also incredibly dark. I am always the first person to say that people should watch where they are putting there own feet and apply common sense, but even I nearly had a stumble on a support for the load area above as it was painted black and morphed into the handrail next to it. Moving on! The load area then had a very drastic change in color scheme and seemed like a cross between an operating theatre and Willy Wonka's TV room from the Tim Burton version. Quite bizarre. It had low hanging operating theatre type lights above the trains and white walls with big yellow framed windows where the control room is.

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Panoramic shot I attempted. The ride really is a twisted mass of steel. I really liked the ride and loved the layout. It does move very fast and the inversions are generally smooth apart from the exit from the cobra roll which slams you pretty hard into the seat. Also the last corkscrew drops you on your shoulders a little bit which isn't too comfortable either. But I don't think this bothers me too much. I know alot of purists will probably comment on the fact that it is really just two coasters in one as it has 2 chain lifts. Yeh, I agree with you there. But it is one complete circuit, so technically it is the worlds first 14 looping coaster. Despite all the teething problems, mechanical issues and bad press it received in the few month's after it opened, I really think Alton Towers have a winning coaster on there hands. It is definitely one of there best coasters with only nemesis posing as any real threat to it. (But then the mitch hawker poll shows how well nemesis is still doing nearly 20 years on!)

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Twisty goodness! Once again the efficient dispatching of vehicles. In this ride however it made it look like the two were racing.

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A better view of the marmaliser. A giant 5 legged monstrosity. It has a rotating LED display that shows all kinds of odd images of people smiling and thing;s that make people smile including a few of there other coasters... The five legs have a different contraption designed to adjust your senses. There is the hypnotiser which is a load of spinning optical illusions. The flasher, a bank of strobe light's which hide the on-ride photo camera. The Inoculator. Huge syringes above you that blast a cloud of mist at you. The tickler. Giant spinning brushes that you would find on a car wash over your head. And finally the giggler which again blasts a cloud of "laughing gas" towards you. All these look very interesting from the ground but are hardly visible on the coaster itself.

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Were Corrected!

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Awwww. Even the trains are smiling at you!

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Time for Oblivion. I like the concept of Oblivion but it does seem really dated now. If there was a ride I would remove it would be that one. Now that the smiler has appeared on the scene, Oblivion is nothing more than a distant memory. The staff seemed amazed that we were there. Not a single train was going round fully loaded. And they were not using the dual dispatch. That and it is incredibly short.... Probably my least favorite coaster in the park!

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Over banked turn.

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And the brake run. Amazingly I have just shown you the entire track in 3 photos! That's right people! TTHHRREEEEEEEE PHOTOS!!!

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Just before leaving the X-sector we stopped for lunch and the southern fried chicken house just near the smiler. £6.50 for a reasonable sized portion of fries, 3 pieces of boneless southern fried chicken and a drink. Not too badly priced for what is basically KFC. Next we backtracked to the towers and went to ride HEX, an indoor dark ride/walkthrough attraction. Unfortunately due to some stupid data corruption on my SD card I have no photo's! :( Feel free to use your imagination or jump to the next photo! The choice is yours my children!

 

(SPOILER ALERT!)

 

So, Hex, apparently archaeologists discovered a hidden vault behind an old book case when they were doing restoration work on Alton Towers. Inside they found an old tree Branch. Rumour has it that apparently the old Earl of Alton refused to give a coin to an old beggar on his way home and she cursed his family to die every time a tree branch fell. So he chained the first one that fell and tried to find out what supernatural forces are at work in a secret lab. Sounds like the perfect set up for a Vekoma Madhouse to me! Simple yet very effective attraction! However! Cursing his family and going to such extremes over a coin? Why didn't you just get a job? Then you could have many coins..... Or why didn't the Earl just go back and give her a coin. Would save so much time and effort with the tree. Ahhh, if only....

 

So, after experiencing HEX, we grabbed the cable car and headed over to the forbidden valley. It really does show you how large the gardens really are!

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Weather Report! Yep, Sun finally coming out over the Gardens!

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Here is Duel, Alton Towers' shooting gallery dark ride. Always a good laugh with a group of people. Oh, and me and Richard were tied for first place! Round two will commence! But at which shooting attraction, and which park? Let us see what the future holds!

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This poor guy has tried and tried to beat my score I set a few years back. I keep telling him he needs to go inside the building to have even a slight chance. Bur he insists standing outside the house! Some just don't learn!

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Ahhhh, Nemesis Sub Terra. Part walkthrough, part dark ride, part special effects show, part scare maze. Part of me want's to really like this attraction. It is a good attempt at an attraction. I'm just finding it very hard not to compare it as a knock off alien encounter attempt. (may it rest in peace), combine that with a very small drop tower. And why not throw in the egg's from Ridley Scott's Alien whilst your at it. It has a great concept just combine it with the rediculous over use of High pressure air and loud noises and you have a mess of an attraction.

 

Putting the "compare with disney head" aside, I think it is a reasonable attraction. And the staff do get into there military roles as well which adds to the humour.

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Anybody tell me what ride this is?

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That's absoloutely right! It's Walt Disney's Academy award winning Mary Poppins. Starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke....

 

Better hold on to them purses and wallet's folks, this doesn't look like a very good neighbourhood... In fact it looks a lot like the underworld from such films as the public enemy and.... Oh Sorry. Wrong attraction, Wrong Park, Wrong continent.

 

It is however Nemesis! #8 on Mitch Hawkers steel coaster poll last year. Has great pacing and speeds. And is quite close to the ground making it feel so much faster. I rate this coaster very highly. It also has no trim brakes in the middle which just makes it feel like it is full on from beginning to end! B&M really hit the spot with this beauty!

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For a 20 year old coaster it really does run very smoothly!

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Nemesis Load Area. Unfortunately didn't get very many photo's of this one. Was too bothered about riding it! So apologies there!

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Another B&M construction. There first attempt at a flying coaster. Still very smooth. I do find the position to be a bit uncomfortable. I am not claustrophobic at all. Just seems to hurt my hips alot. I must be an odd shape. Ha Ha Ha!

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Obligatory Lift Hill Shot!

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Ripsaw always seems to please the crowd... Not a great fan of flat rides if I am honest.... I am more of a coaster and dark ride type.

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Still a smooth ride!

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Still to this day I could sit and watch the lift and drop mechanism/ Awesome piece of engineering!

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You can never have enough wheels on a train right?

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I really do like this coaster.

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One final walk down Towers Street as we head back to find the car.

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With the day fast drawing to a close we decided to run back to the X-sector and grab one last ride on the smiler! A good view of the hypnotiser and the tickler elements there.

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And so we come to a close. Group Photo is a requirement, even if the photo isn't that great!

Edited by The Horned King
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So how did Alton Towers do? As always there rides seem to be in an acceptable condition. Ride vehicles were tidy and seemed well looked after. The staff were friendly and not to mention efficient. The food was of an acceptable quality and value for traditional theme park fair and the park was clean and tidy. I would certainly recommend Alton Towers for anybody visiting the UK. They definitely stand in joint first place as said earlier in this review.

 

So how did they stand in numbers?

 

Ride Quality:

 

Coasters: 8/10 The smiler and Nemesis definitely boost the mark up. But Th13een, Rita and Oblivion just don't cut the mustard as it were.

 

Dark Rides: 6/10 Charlie and the chocolate factory is a good concept but looks and feels like a cheap makeover. Nemesis Sub Terra is reasonable, but HEX is still the star performer.

 

Flat Rides: 7/10 Ripsaw and Enterprise are the two favourites. The park does have most of it's flat rides in the kid's sections of the park. Quite a few currently bieng refurbished for the new CBeebies land.

 

Water Rides: 6/10 Although we avoided them this time round it does have a reasonable log flume and a fairly long rapids ride.

 

Live Entertainment: 3/10 definitley an area that is lacking. There are a few entertainers out in the morning but they all disappear very quick.

 

Efficiency: 10/10 Cannot fault them on this. Very quick at loading and dispatching. Would also like to put a note out for the Air team who were shouting out seat and row numbers from the control room to the dispatchers who were quickly checking and confirming. Very well played there!

 

Food. 7/10 Limitied to Burgers chicken and chips. But as far as theme park food goes I cannot complain. Reasonably priced and not bad value.

 

And there you have it. My review of Alton Towers! Any comments and suggestions for my next review are more than welcome!

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Thanks for the TR. I will be there first week of June and hope for some lighter crowds - but judging from their website if weather is fine Smiler nearly always has at least a 60 minute wait while the other coaster go at 10-25 minutes.If so would only do it once and ride the other more often...

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Thanks for the TR. I will be there first week of June and hope for some lighter crowds - but judging from their website if weather is fine Smiler nearly always has at least a 60 minute wait while the other coaster go at 10-25 minutes.If so would only do it once and ride the other more often...

 

Alton towers coasters do have single rider lines remember and the wait is usually much less. Also be sure to pick up 2 for 1 vouchers which seem to be on any kellogs product at the moment

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Always wanted to try Nemesis, but it looks like The Smiler could be just as big if a draw for me.

I kind of feel the same about smiler.

My parents are considering a trip to England this year so I might just have a chance...

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Did not notice that so far. Any single rider entrances that are hard to find?

 

I think the only Single Rider queue which isn't next to the regular or fastrack queues is Nemesis, which is located next to the ride exit instead.

 

I was there on Saturday and oddly even though the park didn't seem that quiet, the queues were really good. After the initial surge on Smiler, the longest queues we saw all day were 30 mins at most. We had minimal waits most of the day and even got on Smiler in 20 mins in the afternoon which is near enough unheard of.

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I NEED to go to England some day! Alton Towers is definitely one of the foreign parks i want to visit on my bucket list. These reports must suffice for now :/ great report by the way!

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I haven't been to Alton since 2006, but Nemesis is still a top-ten ride for me--best of the B&M inverts. I like Duel and Hex quite a bit, too.

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^ and ^^, I'm glad people like Hex. It sometimes feels like a very underappreciated ride and it's themed beautifully and very nicely done. It has a great eerie but not scary atmosphere in the queue and ride. The location in the old chapel is brilliant too.

 

It's a shame the vault slips and doesn't line up perfectly these days as if you watch closely the illusion is broken, but for those who are new to the ride, they hardly notice.

 

I always make an aim to ride it during each visit and usually hang back and just watch people's reactions to it if they don't know what to expect from the ride.

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Hi,

 

Pretty new on here but have been on other forums too!

 

But I went to AT 3 times last year , and previously to that, I hadn't been to the park in about 5 years, so it was quite a shock to go 3 times in the same year!

 

Each time I went, we went straight for the smiler first. The way I see it, is if you enter the park at lets say, 9.30-10am, then you have another 30 minutes till the rides open, meaning no matter where you go, there is a guaranteed 30 minutes queue (even if you're at the front...)

 

So,we arrived for 9.30, and headed straight for the smiler. Yes, from there on there is about 45minutes to wait, until the thing has finished testing and allows people on, but then after that (if your lucky) there is only about another 20minutes waiting. It sounds a lot, but the 45 minutes is free time anyway, where nothing could be done (apart from driving in the car if you're a late arriver!!). So I simply use that time, for the ride which will have the biggest queue, giving me the rest of the day to enjoy the other rides, and returning to it before park closure

 

Loved the smiler, and its on par with nemesis! The benefits Nemesis has at the moment is the shorter queue times, and its still the 1st/second best ride in the park, although I just love the amount of time you get on the smiler!

 

I'm off again on Wednesday (15th), hoping for some half decent weather and short queue times! Does anyone know how busy it will be? (Im expecting quite short queues, with it being in term time, middle of the week, etc etc.. but thats just me hoping to have an empty park, which never happens!!!)

 

JS

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Well, Went:

 

Weather was amazing, about 15-18 Deg, Sunshine most of the day (little cloud for an hour or so.

 

Coaster count:

 

Nemesis x 5

Smiler x3

Oblivion x2

Rita x2

Thirteen

Ripsaw

Subterror

Duel

Rapids x3

Log flume x2

Spinball x2

Hex

 

As soon as we got there (9.30) we headed for the Smiler, and had to wait another 15minutes for that section to open. Queued up for Smiler for 10minutes, then worked our way around the park, checking the ride times website to track queue times. Got to Rita and Smiler had hit 50minutes within the first hour. Typical.... well, once we got around to Nemesis, Smiler was at 10minutes.... And is stayed this way all day!! Every single ride, we simply walked to the front (Bar smiler for 10minutes each time, and Air, which we didnt bother queueing again for)

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Great photo TR. I have to say that park looks beautiful. I'm not one much for theming but wow, what a setting. The Dark Forest part looks smashing. I really have to go there sometime. I'm in the UK at least two times a year so I need to squeeze in a visit next time or so.

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Great report and photos, looks like a really nice park. Is it me or are all of the mostly coasters black/grey/not really colorful? Coincidence or is there a reason for that?

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Boldikus, I THINK the reasoning is with the location of Alton towers and their building restrictions.

 

They can't build above tree height, which is why a lot of the rides are dug into the ground etc. If you look at Rita (or see pictures), the highest parts of the track are painted black, the same with the lift hill on 'Air', my understanding is due to these parts of the rides being at the maximum height they can built at, thus paint them black so they are slightly harder to see through the tree line. (Whereas, if they were bright orange or white, they would become more visible, and may face some form of fines/break building regs)

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