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Alton Towers Trip Report/Review 23.10.14


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Alton Towers Trip Report 23rd Oct 2014

 

 

 

Me and my wife visited Alton Towers several days ago as a birthday treat for her and I just wanted to write up some of my thought on the place. Now unfortunately I kind of forgot to take any photo's of the place so it'll just a be a written account but anyway let's get on with it.

 

 

So this is the first time I've visited Alton Towers in probably around 10 years (last time I visited it still had Black Hole and Corkscrew and I think Oblivion was the newest ride there). I was also less of a coaster fanatic at that point and although I (luckily) rode Corkscrew and Black Hole before they were removed I didn't have the courage to do any of the other coasters (accept the Runaway Minetrain) so I had a lot of catching up to do. Also we were lucky with my wife's birthday being around this time of year as it meant that we also got to go when the park was in Halloween mode and had the scare mazes up. Anyway what will follow will be a review of the park and the rides/scare mazes we visited during the day.

 

 

The Park itself

 

Given that I've visited Thorpe park a fair few times I was expecting the theming to be on par if not better in Merlin's flagship park and I was not disappointed, The areas were themed well in respects to the ideas behind them without being over the top and the integration of the towers itself and the grounds were well done in a way that they didn't disrupt any of the theme areas.

 

As for the day itself we were pretty lucky. As well as it being Halloween we also managed to miss half term crowds so queue times were pretty much non existent (in fact the only ride we really did have to queue for was The Smiler but that was expected).

 

So with it being pretty empty and the extended opening times coupled with arriving at around 10:15 we had a pretty packed day starting with......

 

The Runaway Minetrain

 

Our plan was to work our way up the coasters starting with the most tame and then going upwards (not that this actually happened but hey plans and first contact and all that). So we started with this one.

 

Now being powered I didn't really expect much from it but it seemed to actually travel pretty quickly around the course and I swear there was airtime in some of the parts of it. I mean it didn't warrant a second ride, but it was still much better than I expected and a pleasant way to start the day.

 

 

Nemesis

 

Now, as I reviewing these in the order that we rode them in I'm pretty sure you can see why our plan failed miserably. Anyway this was the coaster I was most looking forward to from the trip and it definitely ended up being my joint favourite coaster in the park.

 

We rode this twice (both walk ons which was awesome!) and I loved both of them (though I swear when we rode it at dusk it pulled a lot more forces during the first drop into the corkscrew and the zero-g-roll but I may have just imagined it). Anyway the ride was brilliant and well worth the hype.

 

Nicely themed and definitely trumping its sister Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe with a lot more forces through its inversions though I would argue that its not as intense as I imagined it would be from the hype surrounding it.

 

 

Air

 

As we had decided to work our way around the park this was next up. Being my first flying coaster this was a pretty cool experience though it did feel a little bit tame with the only real forces being when your flipped onto your back.

 

We rode this twice and it was my wife's joint favourite coaster due to how relaxing it was for her (plus she's a bit short and the whole extra foam harness on this and the newer B&M coasters helps make the rides more comfortable for her, as usually her ears are right at the support level and she gets thrown around a bit).

 

As for me I wouldn't go mad over it. I do however want to see what the forces are like on the other flyers, (especially at the bottom of the Pretzels) plus I found that the leg harnesses were a little bit painful on my shins.

 

 

Sonic Spinball

 

Now despite trying to make our way to the Dark Forest next we kind of screwed up and took the skyride (Although I won't deny that it made travelling a hell of a lot quicker, travelling over the valley in one of these was a pretty nerve racking experience for me, especially when the ride op didn't close the door completely).

 

Anyway with our amazing sense of direction we ended up in Tower Street rather than the planned Cloud Cuckoo Land so we just thought screw it and headed to Sonic next. This was a pretty fun coaster (and I'm pretty sure the lifthill was the quickest I've ever been on). It seemed to spin quite a lot too, though I don't really have that many spinners to compare it too so it may not spin much at all.

 

 

Thirteen

 

Skipping Smiler because of the 60 minute queue (this turned out to be a good move), Oblivion (more on this later) and Rita (due to it being a typical launched Intamin and therefore down), we headed off to Thirteen. Now I've obviously seen what this coaster does but my wife hadn't so imagine how funny it was when we got to the drop and she was like 'is that it?' moments before it dropped, scaring the crap out of her!

 

Mind you given that I'd heard that the ride didn't amount to much I have to say that the first drop was a pretty big surprise. Much steeper and longer than I expected and took me completely by surprise.

 

My wife's other favourite coaster and one I have to say I enjoyed too. Although as a tip don't put your arms up during the drop. It's pretty painful smacking your arm on the edge of the car when the drop finishes.

 

 

Rita

 

Having opened while we queued for Thirteen this was our next stop and my joint favourite coaster in the park, though due to the OTSR on Intamin coasters, definitely not my wifes lol.

 

The launch was fun and the amount of G's through the corners were pretty intense. This coaster also confirmed that it's airtime that is the funnest part of a coaster for me with some crazy airtime on the hills during this ride.

 

A great ride though I'm not all that sure I understand the idea behind the theme and do all Intamin Launched coasters have exactly the same station or is it just Merlin?

 

 

The Smiler

 

Ah, The Smiler. Quite possibly the most annoying soundtrack for any ride ever, anywhere (though I suppose that is the idea). This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While I understand the whole record breaking thing I just found the ride boring. I mean I genuinely think it would be better with a few less inversions it just seemed to repeat itself over and over again (which again might be the idea, but it just didn't work for me).

 

Plus, for a coaster that's only a year old, it felt pretty rough. I'm pretty sure SAW is a lot more smoother than this despite being older. We did ride it twice, though I didn't enjoy the second time.

 

 

Duel

 

Having just had lunch at a place that looks and tasted fairly similar to the Pizza Hut at Thorpe we decided to let our stomachs settle down a bit and do some gentle rides starting with Duel which was a fun little shooter dark ride. It was pretty damn long too to be honest and more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

 

 

Ice Age 4D

 

God this was hands down the worst ride in the park. Now I know it's meant to be a cinema but the seats were just rows of benches that were pretty uncomfortable as opposed to every other 4D Cinema I've been in where there actually seats. The film itself was just a chopped up version of a Ice Age film rather than a new one for the park and the effects were more annoying than effective.

 

Added to the fact that the volume was unbearably loud it just didn't make for an enjoyable experience.

 

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

Now despite the rather mundane start to the ride (couldn't they have at least put in a little drop for the water part?) the glass elevator bit was actually a really enjoyable and fun simulator ride which surprised me.

 

 

Hex

 

Another fun flat though I did think trying to fill a pitch black room with around 40 people was a bit stupid lol.

 

Out of wonder does anyone know how high the seats actually swing?

 

Nemesis Sub Terra

 

Despite the pre show taking about 20 minutes to actually start this was again a well themed ride with a couple of bits that annoyed me. One of them was the fact that it was again so loud. I mean I know they want to create a atmosphere but it was just too loud and hurt more than scared you. Also the scare maze bit seemed a bit lack lustre though given that your taken through it so quickly I suppose it doesn't really matter.

 

It did however absolutely terrify a little girl that was in our group so it must be doing something right.

 

Blade

 

No, just no. Given me rollercoasters any day and I'm fine. Give me a repetitive flat and I have to do everything I can to hold onto my stomach starting half way through the ride. Still my wife loves them so I have to make some sacrifices.

 

 

Oblivion

 

Ahhh Oblivion, the one coaster in the park that genuinely terrified me. Now I have no idea why I should be fine riding SAW at Thorpe and scared of Oblivion but I was. I think in all honesty it probably had to do with the old hype surrounding it and the fact that its one of the only rides that actually look tall in a park where everything seems to hug the ground.

 

No matter what the reason was it took us till 8pm to actually build up the courage to ride this and boy am I glad that we did. Mainly due to the fact that it would be annoying as hell to leave it as the only unridden coaster but also because for a coaster that only does one thing, it does it pretty well.

 

A really fun coaster to end the day on, or at least the coaster riding part of it.

 

 

The Scare Mazes! (spoilers included)

 

 

Zombies

 

Now somehow, at some point I managed to convince my wife without actually trying to go through the scare mazes with me. First up was the less scary zombies one which wasn't all that bad. I mean it was probably due tot he fact that we did it while it was still a bit light and there was also a person in a wheel chair going through with us so the actors probably cut us a bit of slack but parts of it still scared my wife.

 

NOTE: If you are scared of these scare mazes my best advice is to try and not show it. I know it sounds hard but the more scared you seem the more they go for you.

 

 

The Sanctuary

 

Probably my favourite out of the two main mazes but then again I have a soft spot for horror that isn't too far-fecthed. The maze itself ties in fairly well with the ride and its themes and help explain it a bit more while also providing a well themed walk-through with plenty of jump scares.

 

There also not joking when they say the mazes aren't for people with claustrophobia or epilepsy as there's some pretty small spaces in this maze which is fun, especially when your trying to keep your hands on the person in front.

 

We also had to laugh in this as we'd spent the whole day trying not to get wet, only to end up getting soaked in this as we were stopped under the inoculation spray jets lol.

 

Terror of the Towers

 

Another fun scare maze and this time with a smaller group that I was at the back of. Although still fun and with plenty of scares I not sure some of the scenes made a hell of a lot of sense in this one (why was there kitchen scene in it?). I also learnt that the scare actors get annoyed when you stare at them as you walk by (luckily he never got my eyes out with a rusty spoon as threatened.)

 

The end was pretty sketchy as well as it was continuous strobe lighting which really disorientated you (in fact I got one of the biggest jumps out the attraction when a imprinted outline of my wife appeared behind me thanks to the strobe lighting).

 

All in all I thought the scare mazes were worth the extra charge to get into them as they were fun and seeing as we had a two for one entry voucher didn't really coast anything. Probably not something that I'd do twice but a fun experience anyway.

 

 

Conclusion

 

A brilliant day out and well worth the 5 hour journey to get there (we stayed in a lovely guest house around 20 minutes away from the park). The coasters were all a nice experience and the other ride we rode were for the most part good.

 

We lucked out slightly by the time of the year that we visited (was completely unplanned) and that we visited on a day when everything was working.

 

So yeah, congratulations and thank you for anyone who managed to actually get to the end of the review. I hope it wasn't too tedious or boring.

 

Cheers

 

James

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