I have never been to Alton Towers, so my primary point of reference for large theme parks is Orlando. It’s not a bad place to start, but hoping things will be like they are in Florida can certainly skew an experience.
We started on the Congo River Rapids, which is a fairly standard raft ride. It’s tame and will only get you wet if you decide to jump in the water (which is not advised).
From there we went on the Runaway Mine Train – a family friendly coaster, which actually feels a bit sharper and quicker than I had expected. Typical, yes, but at least it had some zip to it.
Duel was next, which is a haunted house dark ride where you can shoot the ghosts and ghoulies with your laser gun… or just do what I did and just sit back and enjoy the effects and everyone else reacting to the jump scares.
We took the Sky Ride across the park and although not a ride, as such, it did afford us some spectacular views of the countryside. It’s a great way to see the park… and really the only way to get across it quickly.
We had paid an additional charge to go through the Alton Towers Dungeon – a new attraction for 2019. It’s a very lengthy presentation (perhaps 45 minutes) which includes a brief dark ride on a boat and about five short segments of audience participation with performers, ranging from a torturer describing how he uses his tools to a wench behind a bar warning us of the arrival of Dick Turpin. I liked it. It’s a little slow, but with the right crowd I think it would be a lot of fun.
Galactica is a flying coaster with several inversions that makes you feel like Superman. It’s an odd feeling, going head first into a loop, but certainly one worth waiting for.
Rita launches you from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds, and that is not just an empty tag line. You pull away so fast that I was concerned we weren’t going to hold for the first bend. Great experience.
Oblivion is the ride that Alton Towers is still famed for. It was the first vertical drop coaster in the world… but that’s all it is. There’s nothing else to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a frightening experience and I screamed like a little girl on the way down, but that is me in the picture… third from the right, second row.
Make no mistake about it: Alton Towers is a large park, but I definitely feel the rides and activities could be organised in a more guest-friendly manner. It often feels as though you have to walk for twenty minutes just to reach your next ride, and then when you’re done you have no option but to turn around and go back the way you came. The layout needs to be rethought, or at the very least, they need a train that circles the park, picking up and dropping off people at various areas. Having said that, I certainly got my steps in.
So it was a good day, but there were several rides we missed altogether because the park is so goddamn big. With some better planning (from us and the park designers) it could have been a great one.