You can board the Monorail at either of its two stations. Obviously at the beginning of the day you will more than likely be traveling from the hotels and car-parks down to Towers Street. The queuelines at both stations begin at ground level and take you up several slopes to the platform. Here you are batched into groups of six and sent to your bay where you await the arrival of the next train.
A train will roll into the station, and the doors spring open. Enter the train and take your seats, as the train will soon be leaving again. The doors will close, and you journey starts. As the train pulls out of the station the wacky voiceovers used to begin, which each train having a different voice to suit it. This would be your tour guide for the trip, and point out all of the key sights and features of the resort. For the 2012 season the audio was replaced on all trains with one generic track.
First of all the train takes you over the car park area. Not much to see here, but don't worry it's about to get much more interesting. The train then enters Forbidden Valley, and takes you on a wonderful arial trip of the area. The views of Air and Nemesis are simply stunning, so have the camera ready!
Next you pass through Gloomy Wood, just skirting the edge of the area, but giving a great view of Duel. Then, the train enters Katanga Canyon, passing by the Runaway Mine Train, Congo River Rapids, and over the lake at the heart of the area. Again, it's a sight worth seeing.
Finally the train flies over the coach parking area, and to the top of Towers Street, snatching quicks views of the entrance area, before turning back on itself, and entering the Towers Street station. The doors on the other side of the train then spring open, and you exit to the top of the entrance plaza.
The Monorail was originally intended to arrive at the park to coincide with the construction and opening of Towers Street. However, due to complications with the manufacturer shipping parts for the ride over it was delayed by one year. This meant that the rest of Towers Street had to be built with the addition in mind.
Before the Monorail arrived at the park guests had two choices. They could either use the shuttle bus service which took guests along the roads to their location, or they could take a walk across the car parks. These days however it is easier to simply hop on the Monorail, and definitely much more fun!
On 13th August 1987 Alton Towers celebrated the opening of its new Monorail, with William Shatner (Better know to Star Trek fans as Captain Kirk) being present to launch the ride. Some people may be wondering why Shatner was chosen for this occasion. Well prior to the current wacky train designs which run on the Monorail today they were all painted in a futuristic grey and blue style, which each train being named after a planet in the solar system.
Although the system arrived at the park for 1987 it wasn't entirely new when the park acquired it. The trains had been in service for a short time previously at the 1986 Expo in Canada, and were shipped across the ocean to take up service in the Staffordshire countryside!
By 2008 the Monorail had become incredibly dated, and the park had decided it was time to take action. One by one the fleet of trains recieved complete overhauls. Gone was the 80's futuristic grey and blue style. Instead each one had it's own unique style and theme, complete with a different voice over in every train. This means you can ride the Monorail several times, and still have a different experience. The funky new designs which are printed on each train were the work of design company Sarner, who's other projects include Pirates 4D at Thorpe Park, and Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, to name a few.
There are many little things to remember with the Monorail:
- At the end of the day the queue for the Monorail can get very long. However, due to the high throughput the system has these queues generally move quickly, and you will not be waiting around for long. The ride team are normally quick to advise guests of the current queue time at busy periods, and will let you know if it is faster to walk rather than wait around.
- The Monorail continues to operate one hour after ride close, unless otherwise stated. It's always worth checking the time of the final train though.
- Any guest with buggies, pushchairs, or wheelchairs may benefit from using the very back car on each train. These have been specifically designed to have more room and cater for your needs.
- At around midday you may sometimes find that the Monorail is experiencing a delay. This is a normal occurrence, and is simply due to the ride team removing trains from the system during quieter periods. This will normally reoccur towards ride close, when trains will be added back in for the crowds leaving the park. These delays are normal, and generally last no longer than 15 minutes.