Some people think a day out walking round a crowded theme park the equivalent of hell. Queuing for disappointing rides, being fleeced for overpriced hotdogs and listening to other kids whine is just not for them. If you have learnt anything from our blog ramblings you will know that is just not us! We love the drudgery of a long queue and a hotdog priced at £6 always tastes better than a normal one. Fact! Give the girls a few quid to spend in the souvenir shop and they are in their element. Thankfully they have the theme park bug too which is just as well.
Even if some of the high adrenaline theme park rides are a little too scary we still find lots of fun. Wherever we go we like to scope out a theme park and incorporate it into a family trip. Drayton Manor was a big hit on the way back from London at Easter. Although our hearts lies in Walt Disney World sometimes all you need is a little fix. For us a UK theme park can just about fill the void until we have saved enough to go back to Orlando! Whenever that might be. Sadly 2027 is looking kinda do-able at the moment.
Alan has really started something here and likes to surprise the girls by not letting on where we are going. For me, this only leads to dilemmas in the packing stakes. Then there’s the stress about not telling them. The location of Alton Towers in the Midlands fitted in well as a stop over on the way to Great Yarmouth. Spending the weekend with our friends the Speeds in Norfolk is always a long car trip, so if we can break it up all the better. Taking around 4 hours from Newcastle to Alton Towers we needed to be up early at 6am. A bit of a struggle due to the holiday lie in / non-routine, but we were all snoozing (according to Alan) as soon as we hit the Angel of the North. At this point the girls thought we were heading straight to Norfolk.
Alton Towers Surprise
As we got closer to Alton Towers and the brown tourist signs reading ALTON TOWERS started to appear Alan decided this was the perfect time to tell the girls. A McDonalds carpark was found (and nearly getting a lunch delivered by mistake) Alan spilled the beans… we were heading to Alton Towers for the day. Abigail replied with “What’s Alton Towers?’ and Imogen with “Oh but i wanted to see Mollie and Emily today!’. They really need to work on their reactions to be top you tubers ha ha! I think they have my apathetic genes too strong. There’s just no hope.
Since we last came to Alton Towers (probably around 4 years ago) there has been quite a bit of development. Parking up near the monorail station, we could see the new Enchanted Village and the Cbeebies Hotel, which has been built on the back of the original hotel. Whether it’s the new investment or the fact it was the Thursday before the bank holiday weekend in the school holidays the place was packed. I love the monorail and think it really adds to the excitement of coming to this park. We didn’t really have to wait too long and were soon at the park entrance.
Cbeebies land is a new one for us, and although the girls are well out of watching this channel, there seemed to be quite a few rides and attractions in this area they wanted to go on. First up was Mr Bloom, a cute little interactive attraction which had the girls looking around the garden for things to feed the compostarium and creating a little ride for the Wee McGregors to go on. Probably more suited to the under 5’s but fun anyway. The show lasted around 20 minutes where the guy hosting it stayed in full Mancunian Mr Bloom accent the whole time. Mr Bloom he might just be after your job!
The Furchester Hotel was another recent addition to the park for 2017, based on the British Sesame Street spin off. We queued for around 20 minutes until the next showing which lasted about the same length of time. Funella and Phoebe Furchester were preparing for a cool rock star who was about to check into the hotel. Helped by the kids at the show as well as their relations appearing via TV screens the Cookie Monster and Elmo. The show was fun and fast paced led by a ‘human’ bell boy and the puppets. The only downside was sitting on the concrete floor! I’m too old for that.
Feeling the need to stretch the legs the girls headed to Justin’s House, a crazy softplay type attraction, that involves collecting and firing soft rubber balls. I made my excuse to grab a quick coffee and watch them at the viewing point.
The girls took the ball collecting job quite serious and came out of the session a bit sweaty and desperate for a drink of juice. The Justin’s house theme tune then played in my head on a loop all day. Sing along “There’s Robert..and Dee..and little monster too!’
Our last ride in Cbeebies land was Tree Top Adventure, a gentle ride through the tree with a good view of the park underneath. We remember this same ride in a former guise and it has been re-branded to be the Cbeebies bugs (the yellow blobs that appear in the logo). I had no idea they were even called bugs but every day is a school day. As I was leaving Cbeebies Land I had to admit I’m a little glad the days of watching those shows are over.
HEX – The Legend of the Towers
Next on the list was the ride Hex housed in the original Alton Towers stately home. The entrance to this ride is pretty spooky, telling the tale of the Earl who aggressively sent away a beggar to find himself cursed, a la Beauty in the Beast. The curse said that for every branch of the old oak tree that fell a member of the Earl’s family would mysteriously die. Eeek! At this point Imogen was freaking out but knowing that once she was on the ride she would be fine we kind of ignored her! As predicted she came off saying it was fine! The ride was a shuggy boat type effort with some cool trickery thrown in.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
This section of the park sadly seemed the most tired. Since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was closed (that was a great ride) there really isn’t much to do in this section.
The Gallopers carousel was fun but the queue for the Frog hoppers was insane, and Abigail didn’t fancy the driving school. This seemed like the perfect time to grab a quick bite to eat at the Burger Kitchen, a standard theme park fast food outlet.
Heading round the park in an anti-clockwise fashion our next zone was the Gloomy Wood, where we joined the queue for Duel. Now I’m really not one for ghost trains but pass me a laser gun and I feel fine! We all loved this ride (yes Alan got the most points!) and had we had more time we may have gone back on. Outside of Duel was a cool ice cream kiosk called Nitrogenie, which served up ice cream made by using liquid nitrogen. Like the Alchemist without the cocktails and just as impressive. If we hadn’t just stuffed our faces with burgers I would have liked to have tried it. Next time.
The last section on our whistle stop tour of Alton Towers was Mutiny Bay, a pirate themed zone with accompanying swash buckling music.
As the Merlin group own the Sea Life Centre’s, they have their own small sea life centre in Mutiny Bay called Sharkbait Reef. Featuring jelly fish, sharks, clown fish and rays. The attraction was a fun way to spend 45 minutes or so. Imogen took lots (i mean LOTS) of photos of the fish. I know this as she used my phone!
Our last ride of the day was Marauder’s Mayhem a waltzer style / teacups ride. The poor lad operating the ride had his work cut out here. A gang of overexcited teenage lads were standing up or nearly spinning the barrel off the stand! Sit down please. Sit down please. SIT DOWN PLEASE!!!! Poor guy will be asking for a transfer to Justin’s House! Although controlling some of those Under 5’s might be just as tricky.
It was soon time to head to the exit after a fun, but tiring day at Alton Towers. But not before another surprise was sprung on the girls… Alan was at it again.