Last Sunday we kicked the UK theme park season off with a trip to our old faithful, Alton Towers.
It had been around a year since our last visit (read our Alton Towers trip report here) and we were very giddy to get back on some of our favourite coasters.
As I said after our Disneyland Paris trip, I like doing posts about our highs and lows after any visit to a theme park but in all honesty, there really weren’t many lows this time, so I thought I’d start the season off in a positive fashion with five hits from Alton Towers.
Let’s get going…
1. Merlin Annual Pass Perks
If you follow us on Twitter you’ll know that we’ve invested in Merlin Annual Passes this year.
This was really born out of the decision to have a low-spend year after our big blow out in Orlando in 2018. We didn’t want to miss out on theme park trips, so a Merlin Annual Pass felt like a good compromise.
As Alton Towers is the nearest park to our house, that’s where we headed first.
The experience started off well as soon as we arrived at the plaza. The queues to get in the park were pretty hefty, but we by-passed them all by heading straight to the annual pass entrance. There was only one person in front of us and we got in within about 30-seconds.
Merlin Annual Pass-holders also get to enter the park half an hour before regular guests but thanks to a slight hangover, we only just made it in time for the normal opening.
On top of the special entrance, we also got good value out of our pass by making the most of the 20% food discount. We used this at Pizza Pasta Buffet and saved a decent amount. You can also use this on merchandise in the shops but sadly we forgot to show the lady at the till our pass – rookie error!
2. Audio around the parks
The in-park audio was one of the biggest improvements on 2018 for me. I’m pretty sure they’ve ramped up the volume as it was pretty loud across the whole park which added such a great dimension to our visit.
I think the audio made the trip more magical for me, and I was smiling from ear to ear walking round the park. It’s such a small thing that makes such a big difference to your experience, and it’d great to see the team at Alton giving a shit about it.
3. Dark rides
I don’t know if it’s because it had been a while since our last visit, or they genuinely had improved but man, the dark rides were one of the highlights of the day for me.
Like I know there are very few of them at Alton, but Duel and Hex were running really well in my opinion. Again, the audio was nice and loud which added to the atmosphere and I felt like the effects were on point in both.
A special shout out goes to Duel which genuinely surprised me with how good it was. For the first time in years I actually jumped which is no mean feat when you pretty much know the layout by heart.
We sadly didn’t get chance to enter the Dungeon but I’m so glad they kept the boat ride portion of this attraction as Towers really does need some more dark rides – a new one is my absolute dream for their next big investment.
4. Front row of Galactica
Ahh Galactica. The ride that divides so many opinions. This B&M flying coster has been in a bit of limbo over the past few years with the re-theme and addition of VR headsets.
I didn’t mind the VR to be honest, I thought it jazzed up a somewhat boring coaster (when the headsets focused) but I know it was fairly unpopular decision and a lot of people were relieved when Towers announced its removal.
So now it’s back to the Air experience but with the Galactica theme. Honestly, this is a coaster we were prepared to miss but we managed to get there when there wasn’t a queue so decided to give it a whirl.
Because the wait time was so small, we hopped on the front and I have to say, this is the way to enjoy this ride. It felt the most intense and having no one in front of you really makes the experience quite unique.
Sure, Manta at Seaworld is a far superior coaster but we both came off it falling a little bit more in love with Galactica.
5. Pizza Pasta Buffet
I had to end on what was a true highlight of the trip… our first EVER meal at Pizza Pasta Buffet.
This is somewhere I’ve always wanted to try at Alton Towers but we usually only go once a season and don’t want to waste valuable ride time with a sit down meal. Since we have annual passes this year, we decided to give it a try.
Our verdict? Delicious! We really enjoyed our meal here. To be honest it’s really similar to Pizza Hut and the pizza is a lot nicer than the pasta, but it was a fab meal and at £14.99 per adult (even cheaper with our Annual Pass) it was well worth the cash.
The only downside? We ate so much we literally rolled out of the place and had to go home as we were way too full to carry on coastering. Luckily we had ridden most of the things we wanted to and will be back a few times this year, but a warning if you only visit annual – you will leave feeling stuffed!