The park have had a bumper opening day to celebrate the first ‘normal’ start to a season since 2019. Yesterday the park announced they had sold out for the first day of the season, though this was more likely due to restricted capacity, rather than crowds to rival those usually seen at fireworks. Either way, there is good news for anyone visiting in the coming weekends, as the park’s opening hours have been extended to 6pm every Saturday until the 9th April.
Ride availability was good, which had been a concern for many after several notable attractions were closed during the recent pre-season ‘buy out days’, where the park is hired by private companies for a day. Most significantly, both The Smiler and Congo River Rapids returned to operation after downtime at the end of last season. The Rapids opened a little later in the day, but without its waterfalls and wave effects. Whilst these effects have not operated for the past few seasons, recent closed season maintenance suggests these could be returning, so watch this space for further news.
The only notable ride closures during opening day were Enterprise and Hex. It has been several seasons since the Enterprise has operated on opening day, mainly due to it being one of the last rides to receive its winter maintenance, which often therefore overruns into the open season. Hex is a more surprising closure, though the ride also did not run during the recent previews, but hopefully it won’t be too long before it reopens.
CBeebies Land is the park’s focus for the 2022 season, with the area’s entrance receiving a refresh, alongside various other minor upgrades around the area and Little Explorers Toybox
More significantly, CBeebies Land has new attractions for 2022. Both the area’s playgrounds have been upgraded with lots of new additions and are now home to different characters. JoJo & Gran Gran at Home is the new look for the indoor playground, replacing Charlie and Lola’s Moonsquirters and Green Drops. The outdoor playground has become Hey Duggee’s Big Adventure Badge, replacing Tree Fu Tom Training Camp.
There is also new entertainment in CBeebies Land with three new shows. Andy’s Adventure Dinosaur Dig is an interactive show which has replaced Mr Bloom’s Allotment. Big Fun Showtime also has two new shows, Bing’s Day Out at CBeebies Land and The Map Badge, a new show starring Hey Duggee.
Elsewhere, Bing will also be staying over in the CBeebies Land Hotel from 2022, in a set of new themed rooms.
Retro Squad Returns with new ride
Originally, the park were expecting the Retro Squad to be a single season phenomenon, but the Squad has returned for 2022. Funk’n’Fly and Roller Disco are back in Forbidden Valley and Dark Forest, though Mixtape has been replaced this season.
The park officially announced the return of the rides just a few days before the start of the season, including a new addition, Spinjam, which has replaced Mixtape in X Sector. The new ride is an Extreme by Tivoli and is due to open a few days into the season.
Flavio’s Fabulous Fandango, the fourth of the pop-up rides will also remain in The World of David Walliams.
What else to expect this season?
The park have announced another full season of events for 2022, repeating last season’s line up along with a new event for the Easter Holidays. Alton Towers have confirmed that Mardi Gras will be returning for its second season, this year joined by the new Festival of Thrills in April.
We already know that several events will be receiving upgrades this year, with new food and drink offerings for Mardi Gras and Oktoberfest, as well as a new Scare Maze to celebrate Scarefest’s 15th birthday.
The new Festival of Thrills event will kick off the season’s event line-up in April, and so far we know that it will be a celebration of the park’s seven main rollercoasters. The new event will include live music at each of the coasters, so we’re expecting that it may be a new version of the park’s long-running Big Six Challenge crossed with Mardi Gras style entertainment.
Further ahead, the park have already revealed that Lightopia will be returning for Christmas. They have not, however, elaborated on the new scare maze for Scarefest, though it seems likely that it might replace either Altonville Mine Tours or Darkest Depths, both of which were conspicuously absent from the new promo video.
The full line up of this year’s events is:
- Pirate Takeover: 18th – 27th February
- Festival of Thrills: 4th April-6th May
- Mardi Gras: 21st May-19th June
- Oktoberfest: 10th September-2nd October
- Scarefest: 7th-9th, 14th-30th October
- Fireworks: 4th-6th November
- Christmas: Select dates from 25th November
In 2021, the park applied for planning permission to keep the ‘temporary’ stage on the front lawns during future seasons, so this will once again be the main hub for the events this year.
Swiss Cottage Repairs
The Swiss Cottage will be the latest building in the garden to receive attention. Though unlike some recent garden projects, this will be more modest in scale and aims to repair damage to the back of the building and make the structure watertight.
During the years when the Swiss Cottage operated as a restaurant, a flat-roofed kitchen extension was built onto the back of the structure. It has been many years since the building was in regular use and by 2019 the roof of this extension had collapsed, which lead to the subsequent demolition of the entire modern section of the kitchen.
The current planning permission is for repair works to complete the process of removing that structure and return the back of the Swiss Cottage to its original state. This involves repairing windows, brick and stone work, as well as removing remaining remnants of the kitchens, such as extractor fans and electric boxes.
Whilst this work will secure the structure for years to come, there is no indication that the park are planning to return the building to regular use at any time soon.
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