My uber showbiz best mate Lisa got us some free tickets to experience the ghoulish goings on at the annual Alton Towers scarefest. This two week long period sees the theme park embrace all things Halloween with some special attractions for this ghoulish time of year. Six of us headed to Stafford for some thrills and early Halloween fun at the UK’s biggest theme park.
The last time I went to Alton Towers, I had been dating Shaun for two weeks and we got invited there to celebrate my youngest sister’s Birthday along with my whole family. It was his initiation into my family which was actually a fab idea as we spent a lot of time in queues, with not much else to do, so he had no choice but to get to know them and vice versa!
This time, 6 years later, there was no initiation process as we hardly queued at all, thanks to the phenomenon that is the Alton Towers Fast Track passes. These are ingenious and cheeky sneaky ways to get to the front of the very long queues quicker! Awesome idea!
So, a couple of hours into our trip just after we had sampled the brand new ride ‘Smiler’ (which is bloody brilliant by the way!) for the first time, the power went off in the park and grounded all the rides. We were gutted! So, we did what anyone else would and we headed to an on-park pub where the girls slugged glasses of wine, Shaun necked a pint of cider and I stuck to the water along with Blake, who wasn’t exactly in the market for cocktails anyway. You know, being two years old and all that.
If the power going out wasn’t bad enough, we wandered for a while to pass the time, fed some ducks, stroked some fish, and then the heavens opened. It didn’t dampen our spirits though and thanks to the fast track passes, once some of the rides came back on, we didn’t have to wait too long in the rain to go on the new Thirteen ride (awesome twist on that one!) and Rita Queen of Speed (great ride, terrible name).
Throughout the whole day, Blake actually only sampled two rides – the squirrel ride which is a high track ride in a giant acorn, overlooking some chickens and fields. It goes about 2mph and is about 10 foot in the air. Blake just loved this and was so excited. You forget they love the little things! He also went on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride which the rest of us thought was dull as dishwater, but he loved the boat ride through the chocolate factory and the simulated lift resembling Charlie’s Great Glass Elevator. For the rest of the day he was really happy just soaking up the atmosphere, or running around the many trees and bushes dotted about the park. We took it in turns to stay with him whilst the rest went on certain rides and Blake was just good as gold all day. He was an angel!
We had a great day out, even if we couldn’t get on a quarter of the rides we wanted and the weather wasn’t so kind. It was fab to catch up with great friends, initiate Lynsey into the extended family and witness Blake’s face of glee and delight at all the sights and sounds the theme park had to offer. He even walked away with a giant dragon teddy that his Dad won in a ferocious Arabian Derby battle. You know the one – where you roll balls into different coloured holes and the horses move forwards for every one you get in? Well yeah, Shaun fought a fierce battle to win the toy for his boy. Nothing was going to stand in his way and he was victorious, relishing in his win. What he didn’t tell us until later was that the other 11 players he was up against were all children under seven years old. So immoral! But Blake’s face was pure delight so we’ll slightly forgive his unsportsman-like nature for once!
Alton Towers highlights:
- Great selection of rides for little ones. There is a Cbeebies land opening next year which looks great for preschoolers.
- Plenty of toilets! This was invaluable with a toddler who’s been regressing with his potty training… again!
- The beauty of the park. The towers and grounds are stunning and we saw lots of them when the power went off.
- The effort put into dressing the place for Halloween. They even had carved pumpkins in the aquarium!
- The aquarium. This was a godsend for entertaining Blake when the weather turned and the power went off.
- The rides. These just never get any less exciting. Loved the Smiler ride and the fact it’s so long. Well worth the fast track passes to get on this one quicker too as the conventional queue was 2 hours long to get on this one.
Alton Towers lowlights:
- The power being off and rides off for a good few hours.
- Staff in the eateries. I think they just hated the world. Ordering instructions were often confused and delivered through gritted teeth – like they do have to say the same thing over and over but hey, people aren’t psychic and they’re hearing the instructions for the first time.
- Children’s meal options. There was a big fuss on the menu that they’d collaborated with Annabel Karmel on a menu that was healthy for kids. The infant menu contained two different pasta dishes so not a lot of choice there. The menu stated “we care about the food your kids eat” but then with the meal you were offered a choice of coke, sprite, fanta or diet coke for the kids. Er…. not on my watch! Not now, not ever, thanks. Alton Towers, please sort this out. Think Ms Karmel would be pretty pissed to read that.
- The price of games around the park. With the power off, we resorted to other measures for entertainment. £5 to attempt to throw 3 basketballs into a hoop? Bit steep!
Sadly with Blake in tow, we didn’t get to experience the special Halloween themed activities in the park such as the Zombie run or the scary maze. It definitely wasn’t age appropriate for him, but he was happy enough and mesmerised by the pumpkins dotted all over the park.
All in all, it was a fantastic day which created many memories we will look back on in years to come. Highly recommended for families of all ages – especially big kids like us!
We received free entry and fast track tickets to Alton Towers.