Alton Towers - travel review
When you have young children, life fast becomes one never-ending cycle of what to do to entertain them. Holidays are booked based on what the kids want to do and weekends revolve around sporting activities or trips to the park.
When they’re little they’re happy with most things, but your options become severely limited when approaching the teenage years where everything is boring and wide-eyed childhood amazement gives way to moans and groans about poor Wi-Fi signal. Happily there is one weapon in our armoury that never fails. And even better than that, it;s a whole world of fun for parents as well as kids. A magical place called Alton Towers.
The famous theme park has the ability to bring out the inner-child in, not only the most disinterested sullen teenager, but in world-weary adults too.
Rolling up at the hotel after a long day at work, the wonder begins. The elaborate fountain outside the hotel entrance is a clue to what you’ll find inside – a colourful world of make-believe come true.
The foyer, with its quirky decor and friendly staff, is immediately welcoming and as the troubles are left on the doorstep, the smiles begin, soon giving way to declarations about how awesome everything is.
Once checked in, it’s up the stairs to find our Moon Voyager room, across printed carpet and doors lit by industrial lanterns. Once inside the room, the amazement heightens as the bathroom, interactive mirror, numerous switches and bunk beds in a little den are all explored. . . plus, wonder of wonders. . . there’s even an XBox.
Later we ventured down to the bar where there was a show for younger residents, a bar and restaurant then back up to the room for a good night’s sleep ahead of a day at the park itself. The morning after we were up early for the buffet breakfast – a huge array of goodies from croissants to cereal to bacon and eggs.
Then it was off to the park to make the most of the early access granted to hotel guests.
The Wicker Man is the latest addition to the rides at Alton Towers, opening in a literal blaze of glory earlier this year. Made of wood with real fire, it promises a thrilling ride like nothing else on the park can offer.
Unfortunately on our arrival this ride was delayed, so we headed off to the others.
The newest and best rides always attract big queues, so we armed ourselves with fast track passes to ensure not a moment was wasted.
First it was Hex, with its mind-bending and stomach-churning trip into a myserious tale of supernatural forces, The Smiler, with its constant loops and vertical rise half way through which disorientates and thrills with the same intensity.
Thirteen, Rita, Oblivion, Nemesis, Glactica and Spinball Whizzer all followed, each one leaving us wishing we could afford a second batch of passes to go on again and again.
There are a huge number of places to eat in between rides – if the stomach is strong enough – from burgers or baguettes, to a full meal inside the Rollercoaster Restaurant, where dishes are delivered in little carts on tracks from high above diners’ heads. This time we found a snack stall and tucked in ahead of the afternoon session.
The hotel is just one part of the accommodation on offer at the park.
There are woodland lodges, the Splash Landings hotel with its own waterpark and the CBeebies hotel for younger guests. There are even tree houses for a more luxurious stay.
Then before we knew it, it was back to the monorail and off home.
We ran out of time to try the Wicker Man and wished we could have spent longer having a wander in the beautiful gardens.
All of which can only mean one thing – a return visit – and this time we may just extend the magic for two nights.