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Alton Towers 19th/20th June 2022 (19th June 2022: Alton Towers Day 1)


Matt N

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19th June 2022 (Alton Towers Day 1)

Hi guys. After having started 2022 with some slightly more unusual (compared to what I usually visit, anyway) parks, I today returned to slightly more familiar turf; Alton Towers, my most visited theme park of all time! My mum found a very good deal on an Alton Towers Hotel stay, with 1 night in a standard room with park tickets only costing £107pp, so we thought it would be an absolute no brainer to go and spend 2 days at Alton Towers! Interestingly, my Nan has also joined us for her first Alton Towers trip in 3 years (she came with us in 2019), with a ride on Wicker Man in her sights after it was closed on her 2019 visit (it was one of her most anticipated rides after we’d hyped it up).

 

We left Gloucestershire at around 7:30am, with us getting to the resort at a little after 10am. One key upshot of staying in a resort hotel was that we were able to walk in through the hotel guest entrance, which I have never done before! As such, we were in the park by 10:30am:

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After entering, we headed to our first ride…

Galactica

Galactica was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. Interestingly, this queue ended up being vastly overstated, as we waltzed straight into the station and only had a one cycle wait; always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that Galactica isn’t my favourite coaster, as I find the flying position and some of the extended elements on your back that come with it a bit uncomfortable, but it didn’t seem quite as uncomfortable as my last ride was, for some reason, which was good. Also, we got front row, which is always a bonus! Overall, while not my favourite ride, Galactica was all right, and a good way to start the day:

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After Galactica, I tackled the other Forbidden Valley B&M…

Nemesis

Nemesis was on an advertised 5 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue times board didn’t lie; it was a station wait! So, how was it? Well, I was seated in a row 3 outer seat, and it was good! Just the right amount of force, no headbanging; great stuff! There was a light rattle, but this was very negligible and had no major impact on enjoyment. Overall, it was a great ride:

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After that ride, I actually decided to go straight back round again for another ride on Nemesis; with a queue that short, it would have been rude not to! This time, I was seated in row 4 on an outer seat, and unfortunately, there was some headbanging present on 1 or 2 of the inversions, as well as a bit more of a judder than the last ride, which detracted from it a tad compared to last time. Still, this impact wasn’t major, and the ride was still very enjoyable!

 

When all is said and done; as much as I don’t rate Nemesis nearly as highly as I know many do, and inverts aren’t as much my kind of thing as some other types of ride, it is a cracking coaster, and I’m very glad they’re saving it. Many of my niggles with Nemesis at this point are more signs of age than anything inherently wrong with the ride, which I’m hopeful the retrack might go some way towards rectifying. I look forward to seeing how it rides when it’s been retracked!

 

After Nemesis, we met back up, and we headed over to…

Duel

Duel was nearby and on a walk-on queue, so we decided to give it a go. My mum tried to coax my Nan on Duel, but to no avail; my Nan refused to go in, so it was just me and my mum. Interestingly, the ride actually broke down for around 5 minutes shortly after we sat down in our vehicle. This meant that even when the ride did restart, we crawled through the initial scenes at a staggeringly slow pace, with the themed audio being replaced by a continuous loop of “please remain seated; the ride will restart shortly”, which made for an… interesting experience, to say the least; the themed audio didn’t start until a good couple of scenes in! So, how was the ride? Well, given that there has been a considerable amount of discussion online surrounding the ride’s future and the state that it is currently in, I was expecting it to be pretty awful, with a lot broken… but I didn’t think the ride looked nearly as bad as online comments suggest. Sure, it wasn’t working perfectly (a few targets were broken, and my mum’s blaster cut out halfway through the ride), and it is perhaps showing its age a tad now, but all of the main jumpscares were working, and overall, I thought it was a good, fun ride that still delivered on its intended theme and premise very well; my mum commented on how she thought it was surprisingly scary, so it’s clearly still delivering its punches! The breakdown also benefitted my score in an unexpected way due to the slower speed giving me more time to rack up points in the initial scenes; as such, I got a new personal best of 11,500:

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After Duel, we met back up with my Nan, and we headed on a little further to ride…

Runaway Mine Train

Runaway Mine Train was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. This ended up being pretty accurate, which is always good! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 10, and it was great fun! The ride kept up good speed throughout for a powered coaster, and that tunnel helix never disappoints! My Nan liked it as well; she commented on how “it’s faster than it looks”! Overall, I think RMT is a great, fun ride, and a definite guilty pleasure of mine; it’s definitely one of my favourite powered coasters, and a ride that definitely punches far above its weight in fun factor given its calibre, in my opinion:

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After Runaway Mine Train, we decided to head over to Mutiny Bay and warm up in Sharkbait Reef, as it was drizzling and getting surprisingly fresh at this point in the day given it’s the middle of June. It is a nice walkthrough to use as a 10 or 15 minute time killer; it’s well themed and has a surprising amount of animals in it:

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After Sharkbait Reef, we headed to a hotly anticipated ride…

Wicker Man

Wicker Man was on a 30 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. Now this was a hotly anticipated ride for everyone in our party; my mum and me, perhaps controversially, share it as a favourite ride on park, and my Nan was keen to ride after missing out on it on her 2019 visit; it was closed both days, and she’d been slightly bitter about it ever since! I was also very interested to ride Wicker Man again because since my last visit to Alton Towers, I have visited Europa Park and ridden Wodan, a larger GCI that really blew me away, so I was interested, and somewhat nervous, to see whether Wicker Man still held up for me. The queue time ended up being somewhat understated, with us ultimately waiting 45-50 minutes; the ride appeared to be struggling more than usual to maintain a consistent dispatch interval, and I think there may have been some form of reliability issues while we were waiting. Anyway, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and I shouldn’t have been worried, because the ride was absolutely phenomenal; that was easily one of the best Wicker Man rides I’ve ever had! The ride was absolutely relentless, and had absolutely stacks of airtime; there were so many bits where I was hurled out of the seat brilliantly, and I wasn’t even on the back! The ride was brilliantly smooth as well, and really comfortable as woodies go; perhaps surprisingly given that I’ve now ridden Wodan, the ride honestly fared better in my memories than I’d remembered from my previous visit, and I’d genuinely say that there’s less of a gap between Wicker Man and Wodan than I’d previously thought! I’d still give Wodan the edge, as I think it does have slightly stronger airtime and a certain dementedness that Wicker Man can’t quite match, but there’s not tons in it by any means; Wicker Man was phenomenal, and my Nan thoroughly enjoyed it as well:

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After Wicker Man, we sat down and ate lunch for 20 minutes or so before I headed off to ride…

Oblivion

Oblivion was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. I split off to do this while my mum and Nan were finishing lunch, as my mum hates Oblivion with a passion and my Nan instantly ruled it out on the basis of how thrilling and intense it looked. The queue only took 15 minutes instead of 20, which was a definite bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, it was fantastic; I do absolutely love Oblivion, and today’s back row ride was no different; the sustained air off the drop was absolutely sublime, and the sense of speed in the tunnel was truly unrivalled! Not to mention, the bonus airtime pop into the brake run delivered a surprising amount as well! Overall, Oblivion was running very well indeed, and it truly cemented the ride’s high rating for me; I apologise if this is controversial, but it’s my favourite UK B&M:

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After Oblivion, I briefly met back up with my mum and Nan before once again splitting off to ride…

The Smiler

The Smiler was on an advertised 30 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. As I was riding alone, I decided to do something I’ve never done on Smiler before, and use a benefit very seldom seen at Merlin parks these days; I used the single rider queue! As such, I ended up halving the advertised queue time, only waiting 15 minutes as opposed to the advertised 30; great stuff! So, how was the ride? Well, I was situated in an outer seat on the front row, and I’m afraid it wasn’t one of the more pleasurable rides I’ve had on The Smiler. It did seem quite rough for a front row ride, with a fair few head bashing jolts, and when combined with the fact that the ride makes me feel somewhat strange anyway even when it’s riding smooth, it did leave me feeling a bit battered and bruised getting off. This might not have been helped by the fact that the restraint was surprisingly tight on my… sensitive area, and it got a proper walloping during one of the jolts, which did leave me feeling somewhat in pain getting off. Smiler is a ride I really want to like, and I do try to go on it with an open mind every time I ride it, as I do like the idea of the layout for what it is and I think it’s a very inspired piece of design, but I’m sorry to say that I never really warm to it, and that was exacerbated today with the fact it wasn’t overly comfortable either:

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After Smiler, I met back up with my mum and Nan, and we headed over to ride…

Gangsta Granny: The Ride

Gangsta Granny was on a 30 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. Me and my mum thought that Gangsta Granny was a ride that Nan might like, so we were intrigued to see her response. The queue didn’t look very long at all at first glance, but did end up taking the advertised 30 minutes, as it moved rather slowly; I did not time the throughput, but it can’t have been very high. So, how was the ride? Well, I really enjoyed it; I thought it was a very nice dark ride when I rode it in 2021, and I thought the same today; there’s some very nice physical set pieces and some very nice screens as well, and I do quite like the ride system! Nan liked it as well! On a side note, did it always have a bubble machine? I swear it didn’t have a bubble machine in 2021…:

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After Gangsta Granny, we headed over to Dark Forest to ride…

Thirteen

Thirteen was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. This wait time ended up being pretty accurate, which is always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and I have to say that that might have been the best ride I’ve ever had on Thirteen; it was absolutely brilliant! Thirteen, while never devoid of it by any means, was never a ride that I would have described as having overly strong airtime. But today, there were 1 or 2 pops of airtime that properly yanked us out of our seats and properly surprised me! The first drop was excellent, with a brilliant pop of airtime that had me well out of my seat, and there was an airtime hill elsewhere in the outdoor section that really threw me up in the air, as well as the odd fun tickles of floater air that Thirteen has always been good at providing! The ride also had good intensity throughout both the outdoor and indoor sections, as well as impeccable smoothness and comfort! Not to mention, that drop track and backwards section were a great laugh as always! Overall, Thirteen was fantastic; it’s a ride that has grown on me a lot over the years, and today’s ride took it up another notch in my estimations. Yes, it might not be the most intense coaster, but it is brilliant fun; I have grown to like it a lot:

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After Thirteen, my mum and Nan were growing tired and headed on to the hotel room, leaving me to my own devices for the reminder of the day. As such, I then went and rode…

Rita

Rita was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue ended up being slightly longer than advertised, instead taking nearly 30 minutes, but this wasn’t really an issue; I was hardly pressed for time. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and it was good fun, although a touch more rattly than many of my recent rides, which detracted slightly. It must be said, though, that the ride remains a damn sight smoother and more enjoyable than I’d remembered it being in years gone by; the rattle that it had today was more a minor niggle than a true dealbreaker like its pre-2016 roughness used to be for me. And putting that aside, I actually think Rita has a surprising amount going for it. Yes, the layout isn’t the most interesting, but the launch is brilliantly punchy, the ride is fast paced, and an often overlooked element of Rita that I think really delivers is its airtime. There are 2 or 3 legitimately strong moments of ejector airtime, and even though the ride has OTSRs, these still deliver! Overall, I had a good, fun ride on Rita; yes, the rattle detracted a tad for me today, but I still really enjoyed it overall, and I think it gets a very unfair amount of criticism, myself:

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After Rita, I went for a walk-on reride on Oblivion. I was once again seated in the back row, and it was once again awesome, with some biblical sustained air and speed:

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After my Oblivion reride, I closed out the day with a reride on Wicker Man. Even though I was seated in the middle, the ride was just as phenomenal as it had been earlier; the pacing was relentless, and I was almost standing over some of the airtime pops! It was a truly brilliant ride to close out the day with:

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After my ride on Wicker Man, I made my way to Towers Street and exited the park to head back to the Alton Towers Hotel for my first stay in 3 years. Interestingly, we were upgraded to a Moon Voyager Room in spite of having only booked a Standard Room, and I’m certainly not complaining; the room is lovely:

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After a sit down in the hotel for about an hour and a half, we headed back down the golden path for an evening meal at the Rollercoaster Restaurant. I’ve dined at this restaurant 3 times now, and I absolutely love it; it’s such a brilliant novelty, the food is perfectly nice for what it is, and it’s possibly one of Alton Towers’ greatest nostalgia moves, in my opinion; all the old concept art and footage of coasters is absolutely captivating:

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After our Rollercoaster Restaurant meal, we headed back to the hotel and closed out our day.

 

So in conclusion, we had a brilliant day at Alton Towers! I got a fair amount done (14 attractions in total), and there were some brilliant rides ridden! Wicker Man was phenomenal, and on absolute top form on both rides, Oblivion was fantastic, Thirteen was surprisingly brilliant… I could go on, because there were so many great rides today!

 

Thanks for reading! Join me tomorrow for Day 2 of our trip!

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