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Photo TR: Thorpe Park, Drayton Manor & Alton Towers


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So last weekend I went on a mini road trip to Thorpe Park, Drayton Manor and Alton Towers.

 

After finishing work early on a Thursday I went to pick up my friend then we made a quick stop at Thorpe Park as it was on route. Now I'm sure most of you know Thorpe Park doesn't have a great reputation when it comes to staff or efficiency but they have been know to throw surprises from time to time. This time though was not one of those times. I can honestly say this may be one of the single worst trips to Thorpe I have ever had! For a company (Merlin) that is still under the spotlight you would expect everything to be top notch but it wasn't even close, from rude staff, slow operations, the general dirtiness of the park and the overgrown gardens.

 

I don't want to be completely negative about the park as always a few beams of sun light can mange to break through the darkest of clouds. In this case this biggest was something I have wanted for years and thats what looks like the start of Colossus finally getting repainted! All the track connections and a couple of entire track pieces have been repainted and look fantastic! If they re paint the whole ride, fix the fountains and water sections it will look fantastic once again. Also I think a lot of trees should be removed as the whole area is a bit over grown. Also on the note of Colossus the ride was SUPER quiet and running 2 trains. I don't know what they have done exactly but I could hardly hear the ride running when I was standing next to X and considering you used to be able to hear the ride from the car park thats a HUGE improvement.

 

But anyway enough with my rant about the park its time for some photos!

 

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Always a good start to a trip even if the queue line was full of obnoxious school kids.

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This is still by far my favourite ride at the park.

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This is the Swarm. Moving on.........

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This is the parks good B&M. Nemesis Inferno has to be one of the last really good B&M inverts.

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So this is some of the repainted Colossus and I think it looks fantastic! The ride look so great when it opened and I hope it goes back to that.

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It is very random what parts of the track have been repainted but all track connections have been painted.

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Saw: The Ride was testing during our visit and actually re opened at 4:30pm that afternoon but we had left by that time.

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I wanted to bury my head in the ground with some of the terrible things I saw from staff during this trip!

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Okay so this has to hands down be the dumbest thing I have seen at Thorpe in quite some time. For anyone who has visited Thorpe Park you will know the park is pretty much a circle so is really easy to navigate. With the construction of next years dark ride in full swing the site is taking up vast space where the arena used to be. Due to the size of the project the site offices have been places on the old site of Miss Hippo's Fungle Safari. To allow for site vehicles to get in and out of the site without impacting guests a road has been made from the offices to the main site which of course makes total sense. They even designed gates that could block off entry to either each site separately with keypad doors to allow workers in or block the entire path temporarily to allow vehicles through. Again fantastic idea, but of course in typical Thorpe Park fashion they just keep the entire path blocked which means if you want to go from say Slammer to Nemesis Inferno you have to walk around the entire park!

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All of which of course caused terrible pinch points of guests in the park and made multiple people standing there thinking "wtf is going on". Considering there was all of 5 people working on site while I was at the park the fact the path was kept closed is mind boggling.

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"The island landscape is changing so it will be harder to navigate"

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The driver is secretly spying on everyone over the fence!

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Wait am I still at Thorpe Park or did I go to Diggerland?

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This is one of my favourite food items at Thorpe that I am really surprised hasn't been picked up at other parks. Roast & Relish Hand Carved Meat Filled Baguettes are awesome. You can have turkey, gammon or beef filling with stuffing if you so choose and it tastes so freaking awesome!

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Next up it was time to take a walk over and look at "Im a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here"

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Honestly if it wasn't for the fact this is where the dead end of the park now is due to 2016 construction I could easily have walked passed it thinking it was an over grown building. Considering how busy the park was the attraction didn't have much of a queue. I don't know if thats a sign that its not that popular or just because the park was full of annoying school kids. Either way I didn't enter the attraction as I don't like the show at all and this doesn't appeal to me one single bit but from the outside it certainly didn't even attempt to draw me in.

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Here is another positive thing I believe the park has done (Other parks may have done this but I haven't noticed). Smoking has always been banned in queue lines but now they have added e-cigarettes in the queue line also.

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As part of the Im a Celeb you can get sweets with bugs in. Who wants to try one?

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Preparations were under way for the parks "Island Beats" event which is under way now featuring many bands and music acts I have never heard of!

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Hmmm seems this angry bird was so fat he broke the slingshot.

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Rush was in full swing..........

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Always worth a visit to the poop deck before you leave.

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After leaving the park early to get to Drayton Manor I of course got stuck in the compulsory M25 traffic!

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Which as you can see made me so happy!

 

 

So thats it for Thorpe Park and I certainly have no intention of returning there any time soon regardless of the fact its on my annual pass. But of course it was onwards and upwards from here and the trip got a hell of a lot better with some amazing and awesome stuff so stay tuned as Drayton Manor is up next!

 

-Craig

Edited by StealthFan
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I am not a big fan of Thorpe Park, it seems more Six Flags than Six Flags to me. I really enjoyed your trip report, and am sorry that your trip sucked from a staff POV. They're normally OK when I go if nothing special. The closed pathway must have been annoying, and it looks so silly just to dump the benches across the path.

 

Good news about Colossus, but I wonder if maybe the repainted sections are just where they have either welded or replaced track sections? And same with the joints, maybe they've just sorted out the joins and repainted them which is why the ride is running quieter? Just speculating of course

 

Thanks for the TR

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Good news about Colossus, but I wonder if maybe the repainted sections are just where they have either welded or replaced track sections? And same with the joints, maybe they've just sorted out the joins and repainted them which is why the ride is running quieter? Just speculating of course

 

I dont personally think it is them painting over welds as they have been known to paint over the welds in patches over the years. I really do hope its the entire ride repaint as it really needs it. They must have done something significant to the train and ride because not only was it quiet but it was running 2 trains fairly efficiently (Compared to before) and thats something I haven't seen in years. Normally its either always running one train or 2 but stacking for ages.

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I have been five times this year and never experienced these issues. The staff are not the best, but efficiency is something that Thorpe Park have never had a problem with. I guess it just may be that annoying time of year when the park is flooded with school kids..

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  • 2 weeks later...

So after a pretty abysmal trip to Thorpe Park it was on to Drayton Manor!

 

Ever since my last trip to Drayton Manor a couple of years ago I have said to myself I will always stay at the hotel on park and this time was no exception. The parks hotel is very nice and reminds me a lot of the Big Blue Hotel in Blackpool. It has a very modern look and feel, great breakfast, free wifi, comfy beds and air conditioning all for a very reasonable price including tickets to the park. Plus for those of you with young families there are Thomas the Tank Engine themed rooms for an extra fee which from what I have seen look fantastic.

 

Onto the park not a whole lot has changed since my last visit with the exception of an installation of the Air Race plus a Thomas Land expansion. That being said the park is still very nice, clean, has friendly staff and reasonable operations. It did seem to me that a program of some sorts to upgrade various things through out the park has begun with such things as new TV screen inside the Haunting and a refurbishment of Pirate Adventure which is great to see. I would like to see something like Shockwaves station be next on the list with a full re paint but maybe that is something we will see in the future.

 

As with Thorpe Park the park was full of school kids but they seemed to handle it a hell of a lot better than Thorpe Park. Staff members were stationed inside the queue line to remove anyone who was queue jumping which is something I don't think I've ever seen. Also they put a rule in place for Thomas Land that said if you are under 17 and were not accompanied by an adult you could enter which made life so much easier for the young families on park and also made it a great place to go to get away from the kids.

 

Anyway before I keep going on and on lets get to the pictures and video!

 

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The hotel still looks brand new even though its been open since 2011

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The rooms were very clean and comfortable plus they had blackout curtains which allowed for a great nights sleep.

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This is the breakfast of champions!

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Did you know Drayton Manor used to have a Pinfari?

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For those of you who have ever wanted to make your own Intamin box track now you can!

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The park doesn't have turnstiles at the entrance just staff members with handheld scanners. This seems a bit odd to me but they make it work really well.

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First stop is Intamin goodness!

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It doesn't matter what side you ride on its a great ride.

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After Intamin awesomeness it was time to visit Thomas Land! If this area was around when I was a child I would have exploded with excitement.

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Of course here is the main train himself its Thomas!

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Naturally he is joined by the Fat Controller! Yes that is his name, not "Sir Topman Hat"! Stupid political correctness.

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You know you have made it in life when you have your own bronze statue.

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The new expansion to Thomas Land feature Sodor Airport and multiple new rides.

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Including this Toby ride which made no sense to me what so ever but everyone seems to love it.

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Winston is a character I don't remember from my childhood is he a more modern character or is my knowledge of Thomas the Tank Engine not what it once was.

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The expansion doesn't seem to stop with Thomas Land as there is another addition opening next year! This proves the popularity the show still has to this day and prove what a success it has been for the park. The one hope I do have though is that all this constant addition doesn't stop work being done on the rest of the park with new rides and attractions in the future. I wouldn't want to see the park put all their eggs in one basket.

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If you take a ride with Thomas, Rosie or Percy you can go and visit the original TV set from the show. This to me is without a doubt the best thing about Thomas Land its just a shame its so far away from the main land itself so is sometimes missed by guests.

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The fact these models still work is amazing and it all looks so good. It bring back so many memories from my childhood and I could have spent ages in here.

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It does disappoint me that a lot of kids walking around were shouting things like "This isn't the proper Thomas" because they only know the CGI version of the show. CGI is all good and fine but for me it can never replace the charm models like this have.

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If you visit the park don't forget about the Zoo. Much like Chessington the zoo and park fit very nicely together and they have a great variety of animals.

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Whos impressed by the size of my snake?

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All the enclosures have these sings which teach you the sign language interpretation of the animals. This is a great touch by the park that I can honestly say I don't think I have seen anywhere else.

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The next stop for rides was "The Haunting" which is the parks Mad House.

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For those of you who have been on the Haunting you know how messed up/awesome it is! I can't put into words what I think of this attraction but I do love it.

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It has seen some recent upgrades with these new screen in one of the pre shows but the ride is showing its age. The audio in the library pre show was just terrible, the speakers crackled, I couldn't understand any of the words being said and the music was deafening. Still it is a great ride but it needs a small amount of TLC to bring it back to its true glory.

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Oh no terrible Pepsi!

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Pirate Adventure was closed during my visit as it is getting some refurb work on the models inside. Im so glad they are looking after this attraction as it is a classic. If you haven't been on this before check out this POV below from my last trip.

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Pirate Adventure is not the only dark ride at Drayton Manor they also have a shooting dark ride in the form of Wild West Shoot Out! I love this ride so much and if you don't believe me check out this POV!

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G-Force was down all day which was a shame due to the fact that it pushed all the kids into other ride queues. While its a shame the ride was down I do still enjoy the ride and I don't know what it gets the reputation that it has. Its not the most amazing ride and the lift is screwed up but it is a lot of fun and I always try to ride it when I'm at the park.

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Is there a more screwed up lift that this?

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Rides have to be kept in enclosures as they are dangerous animals!

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Would you rather visit the "Super Loo" or "Tangled Toilets"? Comment below and let me know!

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Any park with jugs is a winner in my book!

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Shockwave is I believe the only Intamin stand up coaster in existence but I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will tell me.

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The operations on this ride were horrible though so I didn't ride. I was lucky if I saw a train run with any less than 10 minute intervals between dispatches. Its a shame because the rest of the park had pretty decent operations and this let them all down.

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Do you #DareToRide all the attractions and Drayton Manor?

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It would be wrong not to take a ride on the Cable Cars as it offers some great views of the park.

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A pirate ship thats actually on water! Why is this not done more often it makes 100% total sense!

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Ben 10 is a great coaster! These Junior Boomerangs are great fun and I'm so glad that Paultons Park is getting one.

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"Not our Dino!"

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I missed out on riding Stormforce again so I have still yet to ride this but it looks like a lot of fun and I will one day get on this ride!

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65 years of Drayton Manor and it seems the park is doing fantastic. It doesn't seem like people have been put of visiting other parks due to the Smiler incident which is good and it seems the park has a promising future.

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Sadly this it from Drayton Manor as we had to continue on with our journey.

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But before getting back to the car I noticed this image on the path. Now is it telling me to walk this way or to scratch my bum while doing it? Your thoughts?

 

Over all though it was a great visit to Drayton Manor and I will definitely try to get back there when school kids aren't about. I hope there will be a few new additions in the park other than Thomas Land in the future as they seem to have a lot of land to expand so could do a lot if they really put their minds to it.

 

Next stop on the trip was my first trip to Alton Towers in 2 years. How awesome was it? Stay tuned and find out!

 

-Craig

Edited by StealthFan
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Excellent report Craig!

 

Shame about Thorpe. Not been since the start of the year and it wasn't great then. I have to say Colossus has run very smoothly the last few times and great to see the repaint has progressed as I saw tester patches at the start of the year.

 

Very glad that Drayton is doing well. I hope they install something major in the main theme park side soon rather than Thomas Land. But it has to be said, that area is doing absolute wonders for them!

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Awesome report, really enjoying it so far!

 

After Intamin awesomeness it was time to visit Thomas Land! If this area was around when I was a child I would have exploded with excitement.

 

I can only second this. I absolutely LOVED Thomas the Tank Engine when I was a child, so many great memories! So awesome that you can go see the actual set from the series!

 

Shockwave is I believe the only Intamin stand up coaster in existence but I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will tell me.

 

I will be "someone" and say that RCDB says you are wrong.

 

Would you rather visit the "Super Loo" or "Tangled Toilets"? Comment below and let me know!

 

Is there really any competition?

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Very glad that Drayton is doing well. I hope they install something major in the main theme park side soon rather than Thomas Land. But it has to be said, that area is doing absolute wonders for them!

 

Oh you can't deny just how popular Thomas Land is at all but I do agree something big or major is needed in the main park sooner rather than later.

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I didn't know that Drayton had its own hotel. It's good to see Pirate Adventure getting some love (as well as The Haunting).

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  • 1 month later...

Well its a bit later than I originally planned but here it is, the Alton Towers part of my trip report.

 

Obviously the park isn't haven't its best season this year but I still had a fantastic trip. The ride were running well, queues were low, reliability was fantastic and I just felt super relaxed. I could go on and on but I will let the photos and video do the talking.

 

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All aboard the "Moo-norail"

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First stop was Duel which has seen better days. It may be the new eco friendly lighting Merlin is installing in a lot of attractions or due to the high increase in H&S related things but I noticed a lot more of backstage areas and dead space than I ever have before.

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Quick "flying" visit to Air.

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Which some how took me all the way to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A ride I don't think gets much love but I do enjoy it, especially the glass elevator.

 

If you haven't experienced the ride for yourself check out this POV below.

 

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Hex is definitely high on my favourite dark rides list and has been ever since my first ride.

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Due to it being a huge people eater I don't think I have ever queued more than this for it.

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but I don't feel I will have any issue with any form of queue today.

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Even saying 15 mins for a queue was optimistic.

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After all these years Oblivion still manages to scare the crap out of people.

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Is this train about to start its annual strip down or nearly finished? Only you can decide!

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Its small touches like this I feel a lot of newer installations miss out on. Touches like this around an area can really add a lot to the whole atmosphere.

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As I am in X-Sector I will talk about the Smiler as its hard not to ignore a massive £13 million.

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With the ride not running and all of the effects turned off it is eerily quiet in the area. During this visit staff were stationed at the ride entrance to turn people away and answer any questions guests had. I did feel a bit sorry for them as they got a lot of crap but they also tried to ignore the fact the ride was even there. I get it, it was a terrible accident and shouldn't have happened but you can't ignore the fact that it did happen. When guests have the inevitable questions about it that your not allowed to answer you can always direct them to guest services.

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As queues were not an issue I took a ride on Sonic Spinball.

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Which was spinning more than I have ever experienced before. Its not Dragons Fury or Winjas but it was running really well and I really hope it continues to.

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I didn't visit the park last year when CBeebies Land opened so I was really looking forward to checking it out.

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From walking into the area I was really impressed with how all the rides and attractions have been transformed. They all look fantastic, clean and well thought out which I really didn't expect. I am assuming because this is an IP area standards are required to but higher than normal (especially as this is a BBC IP) but this area is truly fantastic and I would like to believe Merlin will continue like this with future investments IP or not.

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New for this year was the Octonauts coaster.

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It lives on the site of old Beastie coaster and of course is a new credit. This ride actually had the longest queue on park by a county mile with queues up to 45 mins! So before anyone asks, no I do not have this credit.

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This is the CBeebies blob. I don't know what its called so I will name him Bernard.

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DING DONG!

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This is part of the CBeebies "walk of fame" which feature hand prints/paw prints of some of their most famous starts. This is arguably the most famous of them all. Postman Pats cat Jess!

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Time for something to eat. For the first time I ate at Woodcutters and discovered they did Gammon steaks. This instantly sold me on eating there again!

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Well done Windows........

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After lunch it was time for some Intamin fun!

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I know this ride gets a lot of "hate" due to the retarded way it was advertised but I really do love this ride. Yes its not the most thrilling ride in the world but I think its a hell of a lot of fun and a great family coaster.

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Plus I really love the theme of the ride. I just wish there was some more theming around the ride and queue line to really finish it off.

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I never understood why they called this ride Rita. Creative must have gone on their holidays or something.

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I do think it looks better as part of the dark forest though. Rita isnt really a ride I go out of my way to ride but it was running better than I've known it too on this trip and didn't try to chop my head off.

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I blame Intamin cable for this horrible walkway!

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You can't go to Alton Towers without taking a ride on the Sky Ride.

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"Yay for not needing to do large amounts of walking!"

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The park did a pretty good job of removing most of the Smiler logos from around the park but a few have been left here and there. Anyone care to take a guess where this one is?

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"We are on a log flume, we are on a log flume"

 

Did I cover the song? Hell yeah I did!

[youtu_be]

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New at Alton Towers for this year is Nitrogenie Ice Cream.

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To put it simply its ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.

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And for what I consider an extortionate price you can have some fillings with it.

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Honestly I didn't think it tasted very good and it made my chest hurt for a good couple of hours after. I would much rather just go the Burger Kitchen and buy ice cream from there.

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I can truthfully say this tasted exactly how it looked.

 

Watch one of the genies making ice cream below

[youtu_be]

[/youtu_be]

 

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I needed to lay down after that questionable ice cream so another ride on Air seemed like a good idea.

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It would be nice to see this ride get the next repaint after Oblivions recent refurbishment but over all the area does still seem pretty nice and as its soon to have "Food Loop" it can only get better.

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Now of course I'm sure what everyone has been waiting for when it comes to Alton Towers and thats Nemesis!

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Nemesis Sub-Tera obviously......

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The ride had recently re opened after modifications made to it by ABC during my visit which caused all sorts of issues. The modifications to the restraints made even chunky people not be able to ride. Since the trip the ride has been closed again and hopefully the issue will be rectified. I personally LOVE this attraction, it is one of Merlins best themed attractions and I do think it compliments the Nemesis story very well. I know a few effects have been removed or broken since it opens but it does stand up well still.

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Of course though it will never live up to the myth, the legend, the phenom that is Nemesis!

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I am literally the first person EVER to take this photo.

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Since The Smiler accident the park is crawling with these signs all over the place. Literally hundreds of them have been placed around the park on every single attraction.

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Only a one train wait for the back row. Don't mind if I do!

 

Now please enjoy the following photos of the best B&M Invert EVER!

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Everyone likes to be reminded of that good old Vekoma.

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Before leaving I took a quick trip over to the hotels to take a look at the parks new ariel ropes course.

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It all part of the Enchanted Village/Forest Expansion.

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And contains many of the obstacles you expect from an ariel course.

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There is 2 courses an upper and a lower course which are both very well priced.

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I really can't wait to go back and give it a try.

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Plus it looks like they have allowed space to expand the whole attraction if it does well.

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Well thats it for my trip to Alton Towers. Since this trip I have been back and had another fantastic trip. If you can please go to the park and support them as they have been taking a beating recently thanks to the crappy UK media. Don't let one freak accident effect your experience.

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed this trip report!

 

-Craig

Edited by StealthFan
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Nice report Craig. Since accident the park has been very quiet but I think it's building back up again.

 

I agree with what you say about CBeebies. The area is a fantastic revamp of the farm and they've done a great job with it. The whole area has SO much more atmosphere than it ever used to have. I just wish they would open an entrance to it from nearby Spinball.

 

Yep, Nemesis is still as awesome as usual and each time i've been it's been walk on for the last few hours of every day so many many rides on it can be enjoyed (especially back row left seat!)

 

Neil

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Nice report Craig. Since accident the park has been very quiet but I think it's building back up again.

 

Im not fully convinced it is picking back up yet. I was at the park over the bank holiday weekend and everything was walk on or around 10 mins on both days I was there. Im sure in time it will pick up though but for now I will just enjoy the non existent queues.

 

I just wish they would open an entrance to it from nearby Spinball.

 

I was thinking about that while I was on park and then I realised they are doing what Drayton Manor did with Thomas Land. They had staff at the main entrance to CBeebies land that seemed to be stopping group of teenagers entering the land unless they had kids with them which is something I 100% support.

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Hi Mate looks likes some great photos its sad to see alton towers being hit by all the events there this year, how were the queue times did u notice the effect of this i feel like no big coaster will be opening there for a while.

 

Attendance has definetly been effected by the accident but every ride was open other than The Smiler. I don't imagine this has effected any future developments the park has planned too much though.

 

By the way, I believe RITA is the backwards acronym for Alton Towers Intamin Rollercoaster. Cheers!

 

I can actually believe that sadly.

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