|Trip Report: |
Home to some of the most highly rated coasters in the world, it is a definite challenge to make the most of a day at Alton Towers. Being amongst a group of 9 people, and each with varying opinions of what are good rides, and what is too much to handle, I will stay away from personal stories, and instead, share more factual experiences and suggestions for the best possible experience at Alton Towers.
Getting to the park in itself is a challenge, especially to those who are not familiar with UK driving. Not so much with the directions, but with the challenges of the actual road designs – namely that they are incredibly tight and small. As you strategize the time it takes you to get to the park, tack on an extra 20 minutes as the roads immediately before the park are single-lane, tight, and through a slow-moving series of hills and turns. It is bumper-to-bumper traffic. When parking, take advantage of the monorail service that will take you from the carpark right to the main entrance. Remember to grab a parking token at the station, as it is required to exit the park at the end of the day.
The park usually opens up at 9:30am, while rides begin at 10am. The park closing time varies on the time of the year it is. In my case, it was open between 10am and 5:30pm, which isn't enough time to experience all the coasters this park offers. If the funds are available, I would highly suggest investing in the priority pass, which is an add-on ticket that allows you to fast-track at most of the coasters in the park. The cost for the priority pass is around 7 pounds. Also, the same coasters have a separate queue line for single-riders. However, single-rider queues are unpredictable. They can be a significant time saver, but they can also easily be longer then standing in the general queues. Throughout the park, there are updated display boards with the approximate wait times for selected popular rides. Based on my personal experience, I found that the wait times are not only approximate, but they are flat out inaccurate.
The first coaster I went on was Oblivion, located in X-Sector. Generally, taking the time to ride Oblivion is worth the experience, as the turnaround time for unloading and loading riders is relatively fast. The hallmark vertical drop is literally the entire ride. It has no other component to it. Moving on from Oblivion, my next coaster experience was on Corkscrew. Located in Ug Land, this coaster is certainly mild compared to anything else in the park, and the queue for it can be long, and in my opinion overrated. Also in Ug Land is Rita - Queen of Speed. I wasn't able to go on Rita as it broke down and when it resumed operating, I couldn't get back to it. What I can say about this coaster is that it is still going through its novelty stage. Good or not (and it certainly looks good), people flock to this ride simply because it is new (premiered during the 2005 operating season).
After Corkscrew, my fellow thrillseekers and I ventured to Nemesis, where the queue is virtually guaranteed to be long, but it does move along rather quickly. Nemesis is well worth the wait. Offering riders several exciting components with some great surrounding scenery, Nemesis is literally a thrill-a-second. One thing that amazes me about this ride is the track layout. It has several thrilling components but in a tight and limited amount of space. Nemesis is located in Forbidden Valley, as is Air. From what I gathered, Air tends to develop the longest lineup. According to the display at the entrance to the ride, I was looking at an 80 minute wait time. Given the limited operating times of the day, and how long the queue was, I had to cut out Air from my mental list of rides to experience.
The last ride I experienced, and I am glad I did get back to it, was Spinball Whizzer. Not as big as the other coasters in the park, this ride is definitely exciting and a pure joy to go on. Its combination of quick acceleration, coaster type, and unique layout all add up to a fun experience.
Runaway Mine Train, located between Forbidden Valley and the main entrance of the park, in Katanga Canyon, wasn't operational that day.
Given the layout of the entire park, there are literally great coasters in every corner. Using the Skyway cable cars is a good tool in going from one end of the park to the other. It will definitely save you a lot of walking. The Skyway can be picked up near the main entrance, at Towers Street, and it takes you to Forbidden Valley, then onto Cred Street, which is where the new Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Ride is.
In conclusion, I would say that this park should be among your most desired to visit list. However, given its popularity and anticipated queue lines, you should do your best to visit when its operating times are the longest (during July and August). Purchasing the priority pass will go a long way in saving time waiting, and it applies to the vast majority of the coasters in the park.