It isn't always the rides that I get excited about when visiting theme parks, or the shows, or even the setting. Sometimes it's the food and dining experiences too.
When Towers announced they would be opening a Food Loop style restaurant for 2016, I got ridiculously excited. A lot more excited about this than Galactica and I don't think I have ever been excited for something as much as this in the UK since the Smiler.
Located in the Old Air shop, the restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. Having an interest in staying after hours, my group went for the latter. Out of hours access is achieved by walking down this new funky path that goes between the hotels and Forbidden Valley.
After walking the path and through the southern sector of Forbidden, you reach the restaurant's entrance with it's striking L.E.D lit arch with a decent collage of roller coaster pictures behind. The name is obviously very creative, although I don't think they had much choice there.
Once inside, you are led to your designated table. Each table has 12 seats interconnected to each coaster trough. Whilst it's quite big inside, it's definitely a fair bit smaller than Food Loop. If you are visiting on busy days or in a group over 4, I would strongly suggest booking in advance to guarantee eating here.
The restaurant interior is futuristic and modern, which goes well with the nearby Galactica and contrasts the open airy Food Loop. You order food off a tablet just like Food Loop, but it's free standing instead of being connecting to the table.
The restaurant sports a reasonable range of different dishes, which can be adjusted for dietry needs.
For starters I had the garlic mushrooms, whilst for mains I went for the Roller Coaster Burger. A beef burger with a special sauce, salad, chips and slaw. One of the nice touches is how the plates and bowls have all been specifically branded for the restaurant. Quality is reasonable, think TGI Fridays and Frankie & Benny's and prices for the food at least is adequate. Drinks on the other hand are overpriced. £3 for soft drinks, no thanks and alcohol beverages are over £4.50 too.
However one of the things that brings this restaurant back up on the marketing is it pays homage to the park's roller coasters past and present. All over the eatery is lots of different plans and drawings from all the park's different rollercoasters amongst a video playing every so often showcasing the park's current coasters with changing lights and ride themes helping add to the experience. Even the seats are named after to coasters which also have a ride name amongst a number. I sat on the Sonic Spinball seat, which interestingly appears as Spinball Whizzer when orders arrive.
And if you leave late enough [depending on the time of year] you are treated to night time shots of Galactica and the surrounding area. Being summer [and just after the longest day] you can see this wasn't the best time for night shots. Roll On Scarefest I guess.
The Million Pound Question-Does It Beat Food Loop?
Like the Lord Of Darkness would say, the answer to that unfortunately is no.
This is Alton Towers, whilst the food quality and perhaps location are noticeably better, Food Loop is still the better. This is mostly down to the merchandise selection, the larger size and operations. But probably most importantly, it is located in Europa Park. It only beats it marginally but a defeat is still a defeat.
That being said, the Roller Coaster Restaurant is a fantastic restaurant and dining experience, and with the surroundings, food, atmosphere and roller coaster gimmick has to easily be the best theme park eating experience in the UK.