25th March 2023: Alton Towers Day 1
Hi guys. Today was an exciting day; it was my first visit to Alton Towers of the season! But this visit was particularly exciting for a different reason… my parents and I brought my grandad along with us for what was not just his first ever visit to Alton Towers, but his first ever visit to a theme park full stop! Yes, he’d never set foot into a theme park or ridden a roller coaster prior to this morning, but after seeing Oblivion on the TV, he expressed great keenness to visit, so my parents and I took him as a 70th birthday present!
We set off from Gloucestershire at about 7:15am this morning, and we arrived in Alton Towers at about 10am, making good time for entry into the park at about 10:20am:
When we entered the park, we decided to make a beeline for Oblivion, as that was my grandad’s key bucket list ride. “I need to do Oblivion first in case it’s the only one I do!” he said! However, when we got over there, it was closed, so we had to change tack:
Instead, we took a look at the queue times, and went to a different ride that was displaying a short queue time…
Rita was only displaying a 10 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. My dad felt that as Rita “is short and doesn’t really do much aside from being fast”, it was a good one to start my grandad off on. When we joined the queue, the advertised time quickly went up to 45 minutes, but we decided to persist regardless, and it ultimately took about 55 minutes. Interestingly, my grandad was absolutely perplexed about why people were screaming on the ride; he asked “what on earth are they all screaming for?”. So, how was the ride? Well, I was sat in row 4, and I thought it was awesome; the ride was relatively smooth, and it had awesome airtime and speed! As for my grandad, he seemed to enjoy the ride, and said that it felt a lot faster and more exhilarating than it looked from off-ride; he did, however, quickly retract his previous criticism of the screamers:
After Rita, we decided to have a go on the other roller coaster in the area…
Thirteen had just opened and was on an advertised 45 minute queue, so we decided to take a ride on it. This initially seemed like a sound move; with rumblings circulating that the ride was still unable to operate in the rain, we wanted to do Thirteen quickly so that we could get it in while it was dry. This decision later proved to be a grave error… as in spite of the queue not looking exceptionally long compared to previous visits (albeit far from short), we waited for 105 minutes in total, and the heavens well and truly opened while we were waiting. On the plus side, the rumours that the ride was still unable to operate in the rain were untrue, as I saw it running in a rather heavy downpour with my own two eyes! So, how was the ride? Well, I got the front row, and it was great fun; there were some fun twists and turns, the odd pop of airtime, and an indoor section that never fails to deliver! As for my grandad, he simply turned to me at the end and said “Well, I wasn’t expecting that… I almost wet myself!”. On a positive note, he also got off and said to me “These roller coasters are rather addictive things, aren’t they? When you get off one, you just want to go straight on another one!”; he was really starting to enjoy the rides by this point:
After we got off Thirteen, the rain became truly biblical, so we camped under a tree to try and escape the rain. After a few minutes had passed, we decided to take shelter indoors for a longer period of time, so we had a go on…
Hex was located nearby, so we decided to take cover on there for a few minutes. It appeared as though everyone else in that area had the same idea, as the queue quickly spilled out of the building and we later ascertained that it was advertised at 30 minutes. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever queued through the entire building and seen the queue line videos on Hex! Nonetheless, it ultimately only took about 15 minutes, and we were in the first pre-show quite quickly. So, how was the ride? Well, I have to say that it was excellent; it was my first ride on there since 2020, and it felt like everything was working and in absolutely top notch condition, and I noticed things I’ve never noticed in that ride before! Overall, it was brilliant, and I think my grandad found it interesting too:
After that, we decided to head for another roller coaster…
Wicker Man was on a 50 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. This was another one that my grandad was particularly keen to ride; he said he wanted to ride the ride after having completed the Wicker Man jigsaw puzzle that we gave him a couple of years ago (which I ascertain was quite difficult; he complained about every piece being the same shade of black/brown!)! The queue time was somewhat understated, ultimately taking 70-75 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was sat in row 3, and I thought it was as brilliant as always, with an awesome sense of speed and loads of brilliant airtime! My grandad was particularly impressed with Wicker Man as well, stating that it was “the best ride yet” and “definitely better than Rita”:
After Wicker Man, we noticed that a certain bucket list ride for my grandad was finally open, so we made a beeline for it…
When we had just stepped off of Wicker Man, my dad noticed that Oblivion was open and on an advertised 15 minute queue, so seeing as it was the main ride my grandad wanted to ride, we headed over there. We were greeted with a surprise when we got there, as the queue had risen substantially to 50 minutes rather than 15, but we joined it nonetheless seeing as it was my grandad’s most anticipated ride and me and my dad both really enjoy it too. The queue ultimately didn’t take 50 minutes, instead taking 35-40 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I do absolutely love Oblivion, and for me, it was as excellent as it always is, with a phenomenal sense of speed in the tunnel and some sublime airtime while plummeting down the drop! My grandad was blown away by the experience; he called it “barmy” and “utterly insane”, and looked in disbelief at how exhilarating Oblivion was; it was certainly the ride photo he looked the least unfazed in, anyhow!:
After Oblivion, it was getting close to the 5pm ride close, but I managed to sneak in one final ride…
The Smiler was on an advertised 40 minute queue, but as my grandad didn’t quite seem up for The Smiler, my parents stayed off it with him and I went on it via the Single Rider Queue. This queue often produces very good results as far as waiting time reduction goes; today wasn’t quite as good as some occasions, as I waited 20 minutes, but that was still a significant reduction on the advertised queue time of 40 minutes! So, how was the ride? Well, I’m not normally the biggest fan of The Smiler, but I have to say that that was the most enjoyable ride I’ve had on The Smiler in quite some time! I was seated in the front row, and it was actually really quite good; the inversions were fun and floaty, the ride wasn’t quite as intense and nauseating as it sometimes is, it was reasonably smooth for the most part (even the ending wasn’t that bad today)… I can’t really complain too much! It’s still not my favourite coaster by any means, but overall, The Smiler was a pleasant surprise today, and a very good way to end the day! On a side note, the operations were outstanding; the average dispatch interval was barely over a minute, and the staff were really hammering the trains out:
After The Smiler, we headed out of the park and back to our hotel in the local area.
So, that sums up the first day of our Alton Towers weekend! While I’d be lying if I said that it was my greatest ever day at the park in terms of ride count, and the weather at points of the day did detract somewhat, I still had a great day, and I loved introducing my grandad to the park (and theme parks full stop) for the first time! I asked him what his thoughts to his first day were as we left, and he said that it was “awesome” and “even better than [he’d] ever hoped that it could be”; I was very gratified by that response! His favourite ride overall was “easily” Wicker Man (he called it “superb”), but he seemed to enjoy everything we did to some extent, which I was glad about!
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this report, and I’ll be back at you tomorrow with the report from our second day on park, which will cover some of the things we didn’t do today (hopefully including a ride on The Curse at Alton Manor, which none of us have done before…)!
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