It’s been 3 weeks since we said hello to the 2013 season, and it’s safe to say it’s been an eventful one so far! If you need to catch up, here’s a quick round-up of news from the past few weeks.
2013 Season: A Chilly Start
The 2013 season has not been the smoothest of starts for the resort, and with The Smiler been delayed until May it was never going to be a busy time for the park. Unfortunately mother nature decided to take a wintry turn and force the park to close for three days, when the park was blanketed in a deluge of snow. Although thanks to a lot of hard work the park has since fully re-opened, the unseasonably cold weather has continued to affect both Alton Towers and most other UK theme parks. The start of the usually busy Easter holiday period was much quieter this year, so here’s hoping for some warm sunshine soon.
Burger Kitchen Opens: Mixed Reviews for Alton Towers new food outlets
As reported last year by TowersStreet, the park said goodbye to the three Burger King food outlets at the park in favour of Merlin’s in-house Burger Kitchen brand.
The launch of the new food-outlets (which were also launched at sister park Chessington World of Adventures Resort) this season, coincided with the Cloud Cuckoo Land restaurant being refurbished. Reviews of the refurbishment on our forums have been mostly mixed, with many favouring the new outside paint-job but less enthusiastic with the generic high-street style decor inside.
As for the food, again reviews have been mixed but with a slight leaning towards the negative, with members generally not finding the burgers being of high quality and over-priced for portions. Though as this is a relatively new food venture it’s hoped that as time progresses things will begin to improve as on park food usually has a relatively positive response from guests compared to other parks. In a positive spin, if you’re a Merlin annual pass holder you can obtain free hot drinks from the Cloud Cuckoo Land Burger Kitchen after 3pm if you present your annual pass (fair usage policy applies).
The Smiler Heading Towards Completion?
Fans of Alton Towers have been watching the continued construction of The Smiler since the season started again. Since opening a lot of track has been installed leaving only the lift-hills, drops and 2nd bunny-hop. As well as track erection, the Marmaliser theming feature has also started to be installed on the site with the main body and three legs currently standing.
Progress is also continuing on the station building which has almost been completely clad, and more track and equipment has been delivered to the park. At the end of March the park welcomed the rides trains, which Alton Towers revealed on Twitter and on their Smiler mini-site. The park also released a series of pictures taken from above the site and featured them on their Facebook Album. With progress continuing at a rapid pace don’t forget to check out TowersStreets Smiler mini-site and our Facebook page for regular updates.
The Sanctuary Closing
Dubbed as a prequel to The Smiler, scare maze The Sanctuary is set to close on Sunday 14th April. Originally introduced at Scarefest last year, the attraction was brought back temporarily at the start of the season due to The Smiler being delayed. Despite the maze being free of charge since re-opening in March, relatively small queues have been seen on most days.
With The Smiler due to open next month, the decision was announced on the resort’s Twitter account that The Sanctuary would close next Sunday at the end of the Easter holidays.
New Shows and Street Theatre
In positive news on-park entertainment has seen an increase in quantity and quality this season, the new pirate show seemingly getting much more positive reviews than previous years, including more panto humour. The show introduces two new characters to the pirate show line-up: Lady Victoria Sponge and Captain Roger Ramrod, with the show based around Lady Sponges kidnap by recurring villain Sharktooth Jack.
There has also been a welcome return of street theater to the theme park, with a wandering troop of actors dressed as “park keepers” entertaining guests. If you want a treat stay behind after the Pirate Show in the courtyard to see this band of quirky characters provide a musical entertainment with a twist. Word on the grapevine suggests that further characters and improvements are set to feature across the season from the entertainments team.
Rides: The Updates and the Damage
As reported during the closed season Oblivion has received a re-paint and some cosmetic improvements over the closed season. With the track looking worn and the station building falling apart it was in desperate need of some TLC, which it seems to have received. The track is now a similar colour to The Smiler track and the station building has had its outside cladding replaced. Also in X-sector Submission and Enterprise have had a clean-up and both arms on Submission can now operate (though currently they are only running one arm). Also the area in-front of the X-Sector toilets has been opened up and repaved.
Rita Tunnel Returns
In a last minute change of plan it seems the scaffold tunnel underneath the Rita launch track has returned despite work carried out to prevent a launch cable snap putting guests at risk. Unfortunately this scaffold tunnel is very much an eyesore, and it is hoped that the park finds a solution to this issue soon.
Also in Dark Forest much of the theming and paint-work seems to be fading; returning much of the old Ug-Land theming into view. This relatively new area of the park is quickly joining Nemesis as looking very tired and worn.
Unfortunately the recent un-seasonal snow has had a few victims across the resort. The most noticeable of which is the Twirling Toadstools ride, which has seen it’s roof collapse under the weight of the snow. It is understood that the park are awaiting a new part in order to fix this damage.
As always stick with TowersStreet to bring you all of the latest news and reviews from the UK’s number one theme park. For live updates as they happen don’t forget to “like us” on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Don’t forget to also come and join in the discussion over in our popular forums.