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Alton Towers 23rd/24th March 2024 (23rd March 2024: Alton Towers Day 1)


Matt N

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23rd March 2024: Alton Towers Day 1

Hi guys. Today was an exciting day; the start of my personal UK theme park season with a trip to Alton Towers! We were keen to come to the park this weekend for the Alton After Dark event and a first ride on Nemesis Reborn, and after thoroughly enjoying his first visit to the park last year, my grandad joined me and my parents for a return to the park. He was incredibly excited for his first ever ride on Nemesis after it was closed on his first visit!

 

Under the pretence of us wanting to stay in the park until 8pm, we left our home in Gloucestershire slightly later than usual, at around 9:15am. Due to congestion on the M5 and an accident on the M6, the journey took a little over 3 hours, with us arriving at Alton Towers at around 12:20pm. Unbeknownst to us, this ended up being rather symbolic of the day ahead… this should become more apparent as the report progresses!

 

Upon arrival, we took the monorail into the park and pretty much walked straight on, so with a brief stoppage on the ride, we got through Alton’s gates at around 12:45pm:

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After getting into the park, we decided to make a beeline for one of the key draws of our visit…

Nemesis Reborn

Nemesis Reborn was on an advertised 110 minute queue time. It was one of the key draws of our visit, and realistically, we knew the queue would probably be long, so we decided to just get in it. This ultimately proved to be a good decision, as the queue only took around 60 minutes, which was in part due to absolutely phenomenal operations. Dispatches were incredibly speedy, and a throughput of around 1,300pph was being attained on 2 trains, which is as high as I’ve ever seen on Nemesis! But how was the ride? Did Nemesis Reborn live up to the hype after a 2 year retrack? Well, I have to say that it was great to get back on Nemesis; not riding it for 2 years did make me realise what an excellent coaster it is! I rode in row 7, and it was one of the best rides I’ve had on it, with awesome speed, just the right amount of intensity and a pretty much glass smooth ride experience! My grandad, who was taking his first ride, absolutely loved it, saying that “you can’t not love that” and that “it was somehow even more insane than Smiler”! He even told me to specifically mention that “the outside loop was so insane, it made snot spread all over my nose”! I also have to say that I really like what they’ve done with the area; it’s looking absolutely brilliant, and my parents were also very impressed! I’ll do a more detailed review of Nemesis Reborn at some stage, but all in all, our verdict was very positive:

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After Nemesis Reborn, the rest of the rides were either closed or on very long queues, so we decided to head for the shortest coaster queue…

Runaway Mine Train

Runaway Mine Train was on an advertised 60 minute queue time. As the other coasters were all either closed or on queues of over 100 minutes, we figured that it was the least worst option and decided to give it a go. This queue was ultimately slightly longer than advertised, taking around 65-70 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 17, and it was good fun! Runaway Mine Train is a definite guilty pleasure of mine; that tunnel helix is surprisingly intense for a family roller coaster, and the ride definitely feels faster than 22mph! My grandad also really enjoyed it, saying that it was faster than he’d remembered, with the tunnel helix gaining particular plaudits from him! So overall, Runaway Mine Train was a good, fun ride that we all enjoyed:

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After our ride on the Runaway Mine Train, we headed to the snack stand near Wicker Man so that my parents and grandad could get some coffees. However, we were told that the stand had “run out of hot drinks” (my mum’s face upon hearing this was a picture…), so we headed to a different stand to get coffees before heading over to Rita.

 

At that point, Rita’s 100 minute advertised queue time was the shortest of that of any of the open coasters we hadn’t ridden, so we initially decided to get into the queue. However, the ride was running 1 train and attaining a throughput of slightly under 400pph. This meant that the main queue pretty much wasn’t moving, with it moving more quickly from people leaving it than from the actual ride throughput. Therefore, we decided to bail after 15 minutes of minimal movement, as more rides were opening with shorter advertised queues:

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After bailing on Rita, we decided to head for a ride that had just reopened on a shorter advertised queue time…

Wicker Man

Wicker Man had just reopened on an advertised 70 minute queue time, so as all four of us really like Wicker Man, we decided to get in the queue. We had our suspicions that the queue may be a little longer than 70 minutes based on where it stretched to, but we hadn’t bargained for the actual length. It moved quite a bit slower than usual, likely in large part due to a combination of reduced capacity (only 2 trains out of 3 were running) and far more Fastrack and RAP than usual, and with a brief 5-10 minute weather delay, the queue ultimately took 145 minutes. No, that is not a typo… it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get to the airgates, and by the time we got off the ride and were stood in the shop, it was a full 2.5 hours later than when we had joined the queue (we joined at 4:30pm, and we were off the ride and in the shop at 7pm). That is quite possibly the longest queue I’ve ever waited in for a UK coaster, and up there with the likes of Gringotts at Universal in opening year as one of the longest I’ve ever waited in. To be fair, the weather delay added a small amount of time on, but even without that, the queue would still have taken well over 2 hours. But enough about the queue; how was the ride? Well, the longer-than-expected queue actually worked in our favour somewhat for the ride experience itself. By the time we got on the ride, it was pretty much dark, so we had an unexpected night ride with all the themed lighting on! I’d been hoping for a night ride on Wicker Man before our trip, but I had not expected to get one when I joined the queue at 4:30pm, so that was a definite bonus! Perhaps controversially, Wicker Man has long been my favourite Alton Towers ride, and people have always said about how brilliant it is at night. And my god, it did not disappoint! I was seated in row 5, and it was absolutely sublime! The pacing was phenomenal, with the ride absolutely flying through the course, there were loads of excellent airtime moments, and overall, it was just a phenomenal amount of fun! I should also add that it was absolutely belting it down with rain during our ride, which added an… interesting dimension to the experience! Overall, that night ride on Wicker Man was absolutely phenomenal; all four of us were shocked and in complete hysterics at the end, and that ride, for me at least, is an experience I will never forget! I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it was the best ride I’ve ever had on Wicker Man and quite possibly the best ride I’ve ever had on a UK coaster; it almost made the 2.5 hour queue feel worthwhile! And it was in row 5; I can only imagine how insane it would have been on the back:

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After our absolutely sublime night ride on Wicker Man, it was 7pm. As we’d changed our minds about staying until 8pm earlier in the day and booked a restaurant reservation at our hotel, we decided to leave the park to head back there at that point:

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So, that wrapped up our first day at Alton Towers out of this 2-day trip! I’m not going to beat around the bush here; it was a pretty weak day overall. I’m sorry to be negative, but I’ve had a lot of theme park visits over the years, including countless trips to Alton Towers alone, and it’s definitely the weakest day I’ve ever spent at Alton Towers. In fact, it’s probably down there with Thorpe Park July 2018 as one of the weakest days I’ve ever spent in a theme park full stop. A combination of long queues, sporadic ride availability, and cold and windy weather did definitely test our enthusiasm at times.

 

However, this wasn’t Alton Towers’ fault. The problems were largely caused by excessive wind speeds and poor weather; they can’t change the weather, and to be fair, it was pretty windy and cold today. And they were kind enough to give us all a free return visit for our troubles, so we are thinking of returning for an additional day trip later in the year.

 

Also, the day was not without its positives at all. For one, I really enjoyed getting on Nemesis Reborn; I’m a big fan of what they’ve done with the theming and area, the ride itself was running excellently, and it seemed like my parents and grandad were also fans! Secondly, that night ride on Wicker Man was simply sublime; as much as the queue was very long, I’m so glad we got to do that! It was possibly the best ride I’ve ever had on Wicker Man, or any UK coaster for that matter, and it left us all in awe and in complete hysterics!

 

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this report! I apologise for a slightly more negative report today, and I admit that I may have been overly harsh at points, but I do feel that I need to be honest with you all, and that means not pretending that things were brilliant when they weren’t. Keep your eyes peeled for another trip report tomorrow, as we’ve got a second day in the park tomorrow!

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