27 May Visit - First Time in a While

AirFAN

TS Member
I used to post quite often on this forum about 10 years ago. Haven't been to the park in a while. I thought I'd share my thoughts of the day.

We travelled for 2+ hours to visit the park and made good time - arriving for 10am. I'm one of those that gets a bit anxious if I'm not there as early as possible as I like to make the most of the first 1 to 2 hours to ride as much as possible whilst the queues are small.

We arrived at the park just after 10 and spent the next 20/25 minutes in a slow moving queue to park the car. When we finally parked it was evident why, there was only one person marshalling cars into their final positions. Splitting the queue into two and having two marshalling would have easily solved this issue. Surely the park wants to get people in as quickly as possible to maximise the time (and money) they spend on park. As a first impression this wasn't a good one. By the time we had parked and walked to the entrance it was 11am. Granted, I could have arrived earlier, but I really don't expect to have spent an hour (15% of the parks opening time) just getting to the park entrance after arrival.

We made our way over to FV (since forever I have this notion that riding Nemesis first and working clockwise around the park is the best way to maximise your time). Nemesis and Galactica were running perfectly - queues were moving at a rapid speed - had to wait no longer than 5 minutes for each.

After looking at the queue times all week on the app to get an idea of the times I may expect today I was hopeful that we may be able to get a good ride count in. I quickly realised this wasn't going to be the case after getting the sky ride over to the Dark Forest. When we got there it was evident it was a busy day on park (there were a lot more people than I am used to seeing, I usually always visit during term time mid week). The queue times for Thirteen and RITA were both showing 50mins. We decided to do Thirteen first. When we reached the back of the queue we weren't that far from the station, so I was confused as to why it was 50mins. The queue moved painfully slowly - so slowly that I was almost convinced the ride had to be operating with only one train. It wasn't, it was operating with three, the slow queue was explained by FastTrack (and people joining the ride from the exit - unsure what this is). I completely understand Towers have to make money (and they probably make a lot from these add ons) - but there is nothing worse than standing in a painfully slow moving queue. For me it feels like the day loses momentum and the joy/excitement diminishes.

We decided to have some food in DF. We ended up having a mixture of items (kebabs, hot dogs, chips). I would describe the food as distinctly average. Last night I had watched Shaun Sandbrook's food review of the park he had filmed a month or so ago (strangely I also saw him on park today). I don't want to bash the guy because he seems super nice but I failed so see what was appetising about much of the food displayed in his video. I was so bewildered after watching I was searching for #ad. I'm unsure why there are so many positive comments about the food on park. The offering/quality across the board (in my opinion) really is absolutely abysmal. I'm not bothered about paying an inflated price for food on park - but at least sell something half decent. Is it just me? I would like to know others thoughts.

By this time it was around 2pm and we were becoming so conscious of time. We decided to sack off RITA and head to X-Sector. We joined the queue for Oblivion. This is when it was closed because they were experiencing high winds. At ground level it didn't appear that windy but looking at the trees you could tell there were harsh gusts of wind. After 15 minutes or so the ride reopened only to close again. At this time they announced Oblivion and The Smiler would be closed for at least 30 minutes. At this point we were feeling a bit dejected - we decided to go over to the Mardi Gras pavilion and have a drink. They were expensive - but honestly I don't mind this at all - at least you can't compromise on the quality of a branded beer.

After the X-Sector wind fiasco and spending a bit of time near the lake it was coming up to 3pm (we couldn't believe the time). We decided to do Wicker Man. The queue for this was also showing 50 minutes. The difference between this and Thirteen was there was clearly a lot of people in this queue. It moved quickly. Train after train after train were being hauled out of the station at a rapid pace. I have to say the ride was amazing - watching it and experiencing it are two completely different things. The speed and intensity are surprising - it feels so much faster when you're on it. Everyone working on this ride clearly had their s**t together. Soon after we got off it closed (I assume because of the wind).

It was now 4pm and we honestly couldn't understand where the time had gone. We decided to do the rapids and then go home. It was a shame we couldn't have gone on more rides.

I dread to think what the queue times would be like had the park been any busier than today. Is FastTrack always like this? As I said previously I only ever really visit on super off-peak days. Spending all my time in queues would leave me with no time to relax on park (i.e take a seat and grab the odd pint). I can't spend money if I'm standing in a queue (and yes, I am perfectly happy spending £9 a piece on a few cocktails in the sun if I'm in the right mood).

When I visit Alton Towers I always feel nostalgic. I think I have rose tinted glasses when it comes to most things at the park (not that you'd be able to tell from this post). It was interesting visiting with someone who had never been to the park before. You start to open your eyes to the things that are starting to look tired/outdated. The monorail for example. Why is the view out of the windows partially obstructed? Why are the stations in a state? I know the thing is old but you're doing it no favours when the simple things within your control are overlooked (clean the skylight windows for god sake - realistically how much would this cost?).

I can see how the park is taking advantage of the times we live in, in which young people are spending proportionally a lot more of their disposable income on experiences (Mardi Gras for example). More time in the park to actually experience these would be nice.

I apologise if this post comes across as a bit of a rant. It appears as though I didn't really have a good time at the park (I did) - I think my brain just reacts more strongly to negative experiences :tearsofjoy:

I'd like to hear any thoughts that you guys may have
 
Sucks that your visit wasn’t what you expected, I love it but there is definitely room for improvement at Towers. Not being able to see properly out of the monorail windows is a real bugbear of mine. I find the food is average, nothing special but definitely could be improved. A couple of tips, next time you visit, try heading to Dark Forest first to do Rita and Thirteen. That part of the park is usually really quiet first thing, then head over to forbidden valley to do nemesis and Galactica, which should still be fairly quiet. The majority of the crowds seem to head straight for wickerman or smiler first, sometimes spinball too because they’re all close to the entrance. By doing this you should get 4 coasters done quite quickly and it’ll take some of the pressure off the rest of the day. Arriving a little earlier can also help, I tend to try and arrive for 9-9.30 so I'm already in the park when the rides open, really does help I find.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Arriving around 10 is very late. The park usually let guests in before this time and sometimes open some of the coasters before 10. Plus you have the walk or ridiculous monorail queue to contend with. I'm normally there not long after 9, at the gates 9:40 at the latest or my day is ruined, especially since 4pm closures became the norm.

Starting in FV isn't a great strategy since WM and the Smiler opened either. Whilst you're in the quietest area of the park, the other areas are crowding up and won't calm down until the afternoon. Whereas FV always seems dead at the end of the day.

It's not the fact that you haven't visited in 10 years making you see how run down everything is. We all see it too. It probably is far more run down than it was when you last visited. Only now, some of it has had purple paint slopped all over it. Because Towers strategy for anything looking tatty these days seems to be either to leave it that way or paint it purple.

Your slow moving queues are probably due to the fact they give RAP's out like sweets these days.
 

Danscott22

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
I used to post quite often on this forum about 10 years ago. Haven't been to the park in a while. I thought I'd share my thoughts of the day.

We travelled for 2+ hours to visit the park and made good time - arriving for 10am. I'm one of those that gets a bit anxious if I'm not there as early as possible as I like to make the most of the first 1 to 2 hours to ride as much as possible whilst the queues are small.

We arrived at the park just after 10 and spent the next 20/25 minutes in a slow moving queue to park the car. When we finally parked it was evident why, there was only one person marshalling cars into their final positions. Splitting the queue into two and having two marshalling would have easily solved this issue. Surely the park wants to get people in as quickly as possible to maximise the time (and money) they spend on park. As a first impression this wasn't a good one. By the time we had parked and walked to the entrance it was 11am. Granted, I could have arrived earlier, but I really don't expect to have spent an hour (15% of the parks opening time) just getting to the park entrance after arrival.

We made our way over to FV (since forever I have this notion that riding Nemesis first and working clockwise around the park is the best way to maximise your time). Nemesis and Galactica were running perfectly - queues were moving at a rapid speed - had to wait no longer than 5 minutes for each.

After looking at the queue times all week on the app to get an idea of the times I may expect today I was hopeful that we may be able to get a good ride count in. I quickly realised this wasn't going to be the case after getting the sky ride over to the Dark Forest. When we got there it was evident it was a busy day on park (there were a lot more people than I am used to seeing, I usually always visit during term time mid week). The queue times for Thirteen and RITA were both showing 50mins. We decided to do Thirteen first. When we reached the back of the queue we weren't that far from the station, so I was confused as to why it was 50mins. The queue moved painfully slowly - so slowly that I was almost convinced the ride had to be operating with only one train. It wasn't, it was operating with three, the slow queue was explained by FastTrack (and people joining the ride from the exit - unsure what this is). I completely understand Towers have to make money (and they probably make a lot from these add ons) - but there is nothing worse than standing in a painfully slow moving queue. For me it feels like the day loses momentum and the joy/excitement diminishes.

We decided to have some food in DF. We ended up having a mixture of items (kebabs, hot dogs, chips). I would describe the food as distinctly average. Last night I had watched Shaun Sandbrook's food review of the park he had filmed a month or so ago (strangely I also saw him on park today). I don't want to bash the guy because he seems super nice but I failed so see what was appetising about much of the food displayed in his video. I was so bewildered after watching I was searching for #ad. I'm unsure why there are so many positive comments about the food on park. The offering/quality across the board (in my opinion) really is absolutely abysmal. I'm not bothered about paying an inflated price for food on park - but at least sell something half decent. Is it just me? I would like to know others thoughts.

By this time it was around 2pm and we were becoming so conscious of time. We decided to sack off RITA and head to X-Sector. We joined the queue for Oblivion. This is when it was closed because they were experiencing high winds. At ground level it didn't appear that windy but looking at the trees you could tell there were harsh gusts of wind. After 15 minutes or so the ride reopened only to close again. At this time they announced Oblivion and The Smiler would be closed for at least 30 minutes. At this point we were feeling a bit dejected - we decided to go over to the Mardi Gras pavilion and have a drink. They were expensive - but honestly I don't mind this at all - at least you can't compromise on the quality of a branded beer.

After the X-Sector wind fiasco and spending a bit of time near the lake it was coming up to 3pm (we couldn't believe the time). We decided to do Wicker Man. The queue for this was also showing 50 minutes. The difference between this and Thirteen was there was clearly a lot of people in this queue. It moved quickly. Train after train after train were being hauled out of the station at a rapid pace. I have to say the ride was amazing - watching it and experiencing it are two completely different things. The speed and intensity are surprising - it feels so much faster when you're on it. Everyone working on this ride clearly had their s**t together. Soon after we got off it closed (I assume because of the wind).

It was now 4pm and we honestly couldn't understand where the time had gone. We decided to do the rapids and then go home. It was a shame we couldn't have gone on more rides.

I dread to think what the queue times would be like had the park been any busier than today. Is FastTrack always like this? As I said previously I only ever really visit on super off-peak days. Spending all my time in queues would leave me with no time to relax on park (i.e take a seat and grab the odd pint). I can't spend money if I'm standing in a queue (and yes, I am perfectly happy spending £9 a piece on a few cocktails in the sun if I'm in the right mood).

When I visit Alton Towers I always feel nostalgic. I think I have rose tinted glasses when it comes to most things at the park (not that you'd be able to tell from this post). It was interesting visiting with someone who had never been to the park before. You start to open your eyes to the things that are starting to look tired/outdated. The monorail for example. Why is the view out of the windows partially obstructed? Why are the stations in a state? I know the thing is old but you're doing it no favours when the simple things within your control are overlooked (clean the skylight windows for god sake - realistically how much would this cost?).

I can see how the park is taking advantage of the times we live in, in which young people are spending proportionally a lot more of their disposable income on experiences (Mardi Gras for example). More time in the park to actually experience these would be nice.

I apologise if this post comes across as a bit of a rant. It appears as though I didn't really have a good time at the park (I did) - I think my brain just reacts more strongly to negative experiences :tearsofjoy:

I'd like to hear any thoughts that you guys may have
Just as a tip for next time - I was there on Friday as well and did Rita and Thirteen twice within the first hour as they were dead, Galactica and Nemesis weren't busy at all at any point during the day so maybe save those for later next time! Doing Oblivion after Rita and Thirteen at the start of the day would be beneficial, and then The Smiler single rider. We arrived at 9 and got parked straight away, however the Monorail was down so all guests up to at least 10am were having to walk. Just a few tips that may help for your next visit :D
 
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