Forgive me Towers Street for I have sinned. Yesterday I visited Alton Towers. As a self confessed Merlin moaner and someone who has somewhat fallen out with Alton Towers of late I visited for the first time in over a year. Worse still as I was *that* person who didn’t have a voucher and decided to visit so last minute there was no point booking online I ended up paying gate price. I know. I know. But this does of course mean I am now the not so proud owner of an Alton Towers season pass. No scorn please, I am already terribly ashamed. Anyway, so onto the day. Arrived around 9.30am, no queue for the monorail (although they still operate this as inefficiently as is physically possible), small queue to buy a ticket and all quite organised in terms of entry and bag check. I was on Towers St fighting off refill drink and photopass sellers by 10am. So far so good. Last year I visited around the same time of year and staggered openings really were crap. Thank god they have gone. I managed Rita twice, Thirteen and Hex all before 11am. Last year they wouldn’t have even opened by then. Dark Forest looks as awful as always, everything is just so grimey and needs a good clean, Hex was good though - a personal favourite of mine. Although why on earth they added someone to shine a torch at the bookcase in the octagon and say ‘oh look a bookcase sealed for two centuries, follow me’ in the most half arsed delivery I don’t know. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Walked over to X-Sector via the ‘world’s first musical bush’ (or something like that) near the Towers and gave the secret *wink wink nudge nudge* to the Smiler entrance host for the single rider line, because god forbid they would actually advertise such a service to their guests. Just as I walked up to the station (as the only person in said secret queue) Smiler went down. I decided to stick it out and watch this performance of ‘What we now have to do for a routine stoppage since we royally messed this up a couple of years back’. The cast of this show involved three members of tech services, two managers, around 4 hosts and 55 forms that needed be filled in before they finally evacuated the cars, turned the thing off and on again, and sent each train around twice for testing. After their standing ovation the show finished. It’s nice to see them adding entertainment back to the park at any rate. This was around 20 minutes, so nothing too major, probably would have been done in 5 a few years back, but I get it. Smiler is meh for me. It’s not bad by any stretch and seems to have been cleaned up over the winter which is welcome. But it gets a bit monotonous after a while. Inversion after inversion after inversion after inversion. You get the idea. Oblivion was advertised at a 0 minute queue but was clearly longer so I swerved that and got my season pass sorted at the Box Office, grabbed a tea from Corner Coffee and headed via the Gardens to Forbidden Valley. I noticed the smell pods are working well in the Gardens as usual. You know, those cannabis ones. They always seem well topped up. Walked over to Galactica and just as I reached the ride heard those immortal words ‘at this time, Galac...’ so an about turn it was and over to Nemesis. Walk on. Row 7 (8 closed off for RAP). Never gets old this, still love it, nuff said. Although it already needs a good clean, track needs jetwashing. Galactica was open by now, around a 20 min queue, quite poor operations here, two trains but the train was often back in the brake run before the second was despatched. When I were a lad that train would be being slowed on the lift waiting for the block to clear. Think on and look sharp Galactica ops. Haven’t actually been on Galactica for a few years because I couldn’t bring myself to wait in those awful queues whilst VR was a thing. Enjoyed the ride and it seems to have been smartened up so fair enough. Back over to Nemesis on the way past because well, why not? Duel next - hmmm seemed improved in some places but my god the flying heads scene (or whatever it’s called). If you ever wanted a behind the scenes tour you are in luck. You can see everything! Just turn the bloomin’ lights off, pitch black would be better than that embarrassment. Onto Fence Canyon. Rapids closed all day and RMT was the same as always, walk on a least which is bonus. Lunch next - chicken Tikka wrap at Eastern Express. £4.99. This is in Stoke. The robbin’ b******s. On the plus side the water fountains saved me a fortune in drinks as it was sunny out and you need to stay hydrated kids. Quick sweep browse of Sealife whilst lunch went down then back over to Oblivion which was now walk on. That queue needs some work, it’s horrid. The lack of attention to detail across the park is cringe worthy sometimes. The parrot in Mutiny Bay is STILL telling the kids to go and watch the amazing pirate show. That stopped what - 3 years ago?! Pull your finger out Towers. Smiler next via top secret queue (shh don’t tell anyone). Then I took another stroll through the gardens. Credit where it’s due, the Pagoda looks brilliant. Having climbed the 3000 steps back up to FV I treated myself to a Nitrogenie. I believe the appeal here is the process of making them is a bit of theatre. Well yesterday it was. As long as the show was a farce and the cast was a school drama class. It took two of them to work out how to use the till and then a good 10 minutes to scoop some ice cream out and shove popcorn on top. Painful stuff and Towers poor organisation at its finest - some things never change. The Ice cream was nice though. By now it was coming up to 3pm and Wickerman was calling. Queue was 25 mins and moved well. Managed two rides before ride close, one on the very back row and one at the front. I really like this ride. It still looking nice and fresh, the preshow is good fun and gets a good reaction from the crowd and the ride itself is just pure fun. Makes me smile from beginning to end. Good stuff. And so that was it. As always the monorail queue was out the entrance so it was a walk back to the car. I did have a good day, the park felt like a far better place to be than last year, no staggered openings and the return of at least one single rider line helped improved the day no end. However it doesn’t excuse the poor opening times - 4pm ride close is just too short. The park is so big you just can’t stop all day if you want to get a good ride count. I wanted to get up the Towers for a wander but there just wasn’t time, and there is no way I would be wasting 45mins in the Dungeons and paying extra for the privilege. 5pm minimum ride closes need to come back. Anywoo that’s me. Here are some photos in case you forgot what Alton Towers looks like.