Reviewed by Rebecca Linsell
With three excited children in the back of the car, we drove to Alton Towers for the opening day of the 2015 season. Coming off from the motorway, it was really well sign posted, even when we took the wrong turn, we soon picked up the brown signs for Alton Towers once again and it was very easy to find.
The park is set in the midst of very pretty Staffordshire countryside, with rolling hills round about. On arrival at the main gates it indicated very clearly where you needed to be and on approach to the car park there were several attendants who were controlling the parking and showed us where to park. Although there were hundreds of vehicles arriving at the same time as it was so well organised it certainly did not feel so many people were arriving at the same time.
It is about ten/fifteen minutes walk from the car park to the main amusement park gates or you can get the monorail which are very frequent and only take a few minutes.
You can pre-book your tickets online (at least two days before arrival for a discounted price) or you can purchase your tickets for the park on arrival. Either way, you enter the park through the main gates which are well staffed although you do self scan you tickets for entry. There were no long queues to get in which I was pleased about as the kids were chomping at the bit to get in the park.
Walking through the main gates we were met with a view of very well maintained park grounds and a beautiful Gothic Revival Stately Home. To be honest as you walk around you do not really appreciate how lovely the situation and the grounds are. It is a very large park and the areas are well spread out around the grounds. There are plenty of maps around for you to see where you are within the park and all the attractions are well signposted. It was refreshing at any point that we were not sure where we were and started to reach for our map, a member of staff approached and pointed us in the right direction. We found all of the staff throughout the day were attentive, friendly and chatty.
Alton Towers is best known for the adrenalin junkie rides, which my 9 (almost 10 year old) has just discovered but is still rather unsure of some of the biggest roller coasters. There are however so many different rides to choose from, not just roller coasters (which I was secretly quite pleased about!). My toddler twins (aged almost 3 years old) squealed with delight at the sight of CBeebies Land and all around the park there were plenty of gentle rides and attractions to keep them happy, such as the Ice Age 4D Cinema, Battle Galleons and the old favourite the Gallopers Carousel.
The highlight for our younger kids was their first encounter with a roller coaster, the Octonauts ride in CBeebies land which is new for 2015. We were lucky to have a fast track pass for this ride as the queues for this ride were quite lengthy (I overheard someone saying they had waited 40 minutes), although it was the opening day. The staff were well organised and got the riders on and off the ride as quickly as they could.
You have to be 0.9m to ride the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure. If you are under 1.1m you must be accompanied by an adult (18+). You join Captain Barnacles in the driving seat on the ride and go on an Octonauts mission to help Peso rescue a baby whale. On your way around the ride you see some other sea creatures on the sea bed, and don’t forget to give Dashi and her camera a wave and she will take your photo. My two loved it! They thought it was great and it was particularly funny that their Mummy was squirted in the face with water!
Our day at Alton Towers was really good fun, we all had a fantastic family day out. The highlights for us were The Octonauts ride for our youngest, Justin’s House (also in CBeebies Land) was surprisingly good fun for all of us and Sonic Spinball was the favourite of my eldest (this was my first encounter with a large rollercoaster in about thirty years!).
The park was very clean and tidy and we constantly saw litter pickers and bins being emptied throughout the day, the toilets and baby changing facilities were spotless. I was impressed with the attention to detail in all of the areas and the fact that as a whole it really does cater for a family of mixed ages and there is something there for everyone.
It is undoubtedly an expensive family day out but, as there is so much to do, comparing it to other theme parks it is definitely of superior quality and therefore it is good value. I did object to paying an additional £6 car parking fee at the end of what is already an expensive day, I thought that was a little bit too much on top of the cost of the park entry tickets.
In one days visit there was not nearly enough time as the park is vast and there is so many things to do. When we come again, I would be very tempted to stay at one of the onsite hotels and have a couple of days at the park to be able to fit everything in. We did have such a good time and we will undoubtedly be back.
Tickets cost £50.40 (adults) and £44.40 (children under 12), these are on the day on the gate prices. Save money by booking in advance online: book 7 days + in advance for tickets prices of £37.80/£33.30 or 2-6 in advance for ticket prices £45.36/£39.96. Children under 4 go free.
For more information, rides, opening times or to book tickets visit www.altontowers.com.
Alton Towers Resort, Alton, Staffordshire, ST10 4DB