For the first time in almost 2 years we had a family day to Towers in main season. There was me, Hubby, the Boy and the Princess. (I went with geekyness turned off and to just experience a standard family day). Now the Boy has just hit his 1.4 meter height recently and Princess isnt far away, however braveness levels are rather inverted with Boy being a little apprehensive and cautious while Princess is fearless and into everything. We arrived at the resort just after 9:30, after toilet stops, and monorail faff we got onto park for bang on 10am. First thing to note, we looked at the cheapest way possible to get into the park, we used the kids pay and adults go free - but with just a few quid between kid and adult prices it may as well have been a BOGOF - I paid for parking while there too. There is no simple way of putting almost £90 in one go is a hard blow for any family. Sod the BOGOF, etc. Its expensive. So wallet dented off we went. Both kids were excited to ride 13, so we had a stroll upto Dark Forest to begin with. According to RideTimes the queue was 0mins, it was about 15. Not bad. 13 I'll be honest, we had to pre-warn the kids of the surprise. We went on, with Princess getting a little nervy the closer we got, in the station she almost backed out until she saw smaller children getting off. They LOVED it - as did I! I forgot the outdoor section is actually a decent length, yes the trims still suck, but the trees have grown more and its beginning to have that enclosed running-wild in a forest thing quite well. The drop section worked well (shutter door closed too). Kids came off, bouncing off the walls desperate for another go. Charlie Instead we hit a lowlight of the day (kids choice) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Neglected is the best way to describe it. We waited almost 20mins from the cinema room, when we got near the platform with only an Op (no host) we asked why so many boats were cycling through empty, he told us half of the boats didnt have sound. The boat ride. Wow. What a sorry state thats in. Many lights not working. The first room had only the pipe moving, nothing else (even the chocolate swirl has given up the ghost). The pre juicing room was static. The juicing room managed a little movement on Violet but her spinning light effect no longer works. No umpla loompas moved - ever. The off load strobing lights were poor. Getting off the ride we went to the TV area, for AGES while they built up enough guests to start - mainly due to empty boats. Anyway the TV section kept cutting half of each 'advert' off - they werent high quality to start with! It then did the same for the actual Willy Wonka / Mike TeeVee bit - it came on after Mike is in Willys hand. Fail. Thankfully the lift was in good shape. And salvaged a truly awful ride. If I were in the Dahl family Id want that thing closing down. It was never a strong ride and its clearly been dropped from any maintenance / TLC plans. Twirling Toadstool While Hubby had some fresh air - me and the kids went on Twirling Toadstool, a little sad to see the 'flap your arms' thing wasnt going on, but for such an old ride it was still pulling in the guests and pleasing everyone. Ice Age 4D We finished the Toadstool and staff were hurrying people into the next Ice Age showing, a new attraction to all of us, so we joined in. Well I am VERY impressed, infact we all were! We know the Ice Age franchise well - so to see it in 3D and have the effects was ace. The leg ticklers bothered the Boy, he ended up sat cross legged. It was all a tad predictable but pulled off well and the theatre looks gorgeous inside, I wanted to hang around and take it all in. Gallopers So Princess being Princess the next ride she saw was Gallopers so she sat on a horse giggling while I sat in some grand carriage, which entertainingly also moved up and down abit. Nice old fashioned ride, and she was fascinated with the intricacy of the horses. We headed towards Driving School, but Boy was rather gutted to find out he's now too tall, so instantly Princess says its too babyish for her. Its still looking good though, so we crossed over the bridge and headed towards Hex The kids had done it before, but couldnt remember it - so were rather excited. Especially when I told them it was based a little on a true story. Not sure what was going on but the timings of the ride were rather out, we ended up stuck in the Octagon for ages, I was expecting to be evac'd. We did get through to the vault, it was abit quiet still alot brighter than I remember - but Boy loved it, was convinced we did go upside down and spent the entire exit grilling my knowledge of how it works. Woodcutters It was a little after 12, the kids were hungry and Woodcutters is my fav place to eat on park for the menu and service. We got a lovely table looking towards DF with the windows all open too. I was THRILLED with Woodcutters today. The Boy ordered from the 'summer special' menu - which could be missed, its on such a tiny bit of laminated paper! He had the Chippers Platter (roughly £6.50) for 1/4 ribs, chicken goujons, jacket potato, corn on the cob, salad and garlic bread - plus a kids drink and a yoghurt - BARGAIN! Id have ordered the same upon seeing the plate of food that arrived for him. All in all we paid £30 for 4 meals, 2 kids, 2 adults and 2 pints of lager. I found it excellent value, the staff delightful to deal with and a leisurely and filling lunch was had. Skyride After lunch we took the skyride. I wouldnt normally comment on this but... it had only just opened. They were doing evacuation training in the morning. REALLY?! Surely the training could be done when its not going to impede on a guests day. If it MUST be done on a guest day, surely you'd avoid the 6-weeks holiday? Common sense just failed. Also the premium rate help line caused a few sniggers between us and another family. It just looks awful and comes across as sheer greed. Blade The kids remember Blade and loved it, we had 2 rides on that. Boy had debated Air now he was 1.4 meters, but on watching it decided he wasnt playing. Princess was belly laughing at Ripsaw and desperate to go on, but sadly as a 1.4meter ride she wasnt getting on. We called it a day and decided to leave Forbidden Valley until... Nemesis Sub:Terra As we strolled past I noticed they were just batching and there was no-one in the single rider queue. I know Im a bad dad, but I couldnt help it! (To be fair, I was in and out in 9mins!). I've always found Sub Terra an odd beast, today set off abit -iffy, its hard to take skinny guys in the Phalanx role seriously, especially when they run off the have a gossip with the baggage guys! It made me chuckle at the irony. Anyway the ride was FLAWLESS - if every time I got that ride it would be my top non-coaster at Towers! The elevator on the way down worked, there was a staff member adding a small scare when the doors opened. Ive never taken in how well the 'cavern' walls look - its epic theming. So I took my seat on row 3 Ive never been on that side before, its probably the better side. Every effect worked, the egg turned properly, the lights were on time and excellent, the water jets, back pokers and leg ticklers all in time and excellent. I was on the first row to drop and it was funny to be in the chamber alone, even if for a second or two. On returning to the top there was smoke, the alarms and staff were chasing people out. Onto the right exit lift, again everything worked well. Hilariously there was one woman loudly saying how scared she was and it shouldnt be allowed. Then the lights went off, the bags and air worked well too. Then as soon as the doors opened, she was met by the Phalanx causing her to scream and fall onto someone else - much to everyone elses hysterics. There were probably 3 actors in the end, they did a great job, they were just everywhere. Duel After meeting the family back, we headed to Duel, walk on - bonus. The kids felt brave and sat on the front on their own. Pretty much all the effects were working (in a geeky moment - I heard lots of old Haunted House sound effects). Kids enjoyed it and we had a laugh. --from here on we found ALOT of issues using ridetimes.co.uk and the ride signs for times, they were so out it was unreal.-- Runaway Mine Train We joined the '15min' queue, which was almost 30, it was a standard RMT ride - we all enjoyed it. Nothing else to say. Congo River Rapids Again another standard Rapids ride, didnt get too wet - always a bonus. Though Hubby did get some water in his mouth, said it was awful and is now concerned he has Malaria. Tbh the water is an awful colour. Flume The Boy was adamant we were doing Flume, the queue was alost to the gate, despite ridetimes saying it was 15mins. FAIL. But we queued and it was about 40mins. The ride is in awful shape. The troughs in some parts are showing white where its showing white through damage. It felt old and looked tired and not entirely safe (the geek in me knows it is, but we all picked up on the state of it). Decent run through, got abit wet. Battle Galleons Deciding we couldnt get much wetter now we went on Battle Galleons. With no queue we had to walk the entire queueline, im sure this can be opened/closed just seemed a waste. Then when the staff had finished chatting we got on. I am still wet some 7 hours on. I think I will be damp forever. I have NEVER known a ride like it for wetness, but it was hilarious because of that. Sonic Spinball Deciding after a wash a Spindry might be in order we popped over to Sonic (with its listed 20min queue) - which turned out to be 40. Again we found a tired looking ride, the supports are dirty, the track is a mess of colours. Every queue game we tried was broken the Boy even said 'why cant alton towers be bothered to mend these?'. He is 10! This is a family coaster with a slow queue. Kids are really going to notice if simple things dont work, which is bounced onto the Parents! AAAAGHH! So we got on, its abit quicker than I remember and we had a decent spin too. With all of us enjoying it. -- So it was now half five, with the park closing in half an hour. We were a little stuck. We were all hungry, and could have got in more rides. But all damp and knowing the park was closing we chose to leave. Monorail was thankfully empty, we got back to the car drove half way and stopped off for Dinner. It does seem a shame we couldnt eat again at Alton and take in more of the nice day. But we were abit uncomfortable in damp clothes and my feet were pounding. -- All in all from our discussions Positives Sub Terra, Duel and Ice Age - ALL BRILLIANT! 13 being a really good family coaster Woodcutters - excellent food and staff! Atmosphere was really good! [/i]Negatives Cost - it is expensive to go in, end of. Upkeep of the park is really bad, some areas look downright awful. Charlie - it shouldnt have even been open in the state it was today. Ridetimes.co.uk - seriously inaccurate. Skyride - evac training in the kids holidays. Ugh. -- So yeah no smiler, nemesis, air, oblivion or rita. But thats not what we were there for. We all had a great day of non-stop different rides, and had a brilliant family day out.