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Matt N

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About Matt N

  • Birthday 07/31/2003

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  • Favourite ride
    Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
  • Favourite Theme Park
    Europa Park

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    Forest of Dean (UK)

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  1. Thank you! Yes, that's a strategy we often lean towards; you don't want riding time going to waste! To make things even more efficient, we also take packed lunch to save both money and time queueing at a park food outlet.
  2. 8th August 2022: Alton Towers Day 2 We had our second day at the park today! Staying in the hotel naturally gave us an advantage, and I had a particular advantage this morning as I headed in alone at about 9:15, therefore I had plenty of time to get to my first ride of the day. That hotel entrance remained a phenomenal secret weapon as it had been the previous day: If you’ve read many of my Alton Towers trip reports before, you’ll know that a common strategy of mine when greeted with a pre-opening Alton Towers is to start in Dark Forest and ride Rita first thing. It’s at the back of the park, but also has low capacity and often holds a substantial queue later on, so getting it done early eliminates a substantial amount of waiting. I attempted to implement this strategy once again, but sadly, Rita was experiencing difficulties, and I was informed by the ride host that it would be opening late: With this in mind, I instead decided to get in a pre-opening queue nearby: This queue was for… Thirteen Thirteen’s pre-opening queue appeared quite long, but I thought I might as well join it seeing as I was in Dark Forest and it was the only other ride I could start on in that area. Thankfully, this queue was not nearly as long as it initially appeared, only taking around 15 minutes. So, how was Thirteen? Well, I was seated in row 4, and it was really good fun just as it had been yesterday; in fact, it seemed a bit more fun today, with a little bit more airtime in the outdoor section: After Thirteen, I retried the other coaster in the area… Rita Rita was on an advertised 10 minute queue, so I decided to give it a ride while in the area. Rita was the only one of the big 7 I hadn’t ridden yesterday, so I was looking forward to giving it a go. So, how was the ride? Well, it was pretty good fun; perhaps controversially, I do really enjoy Rita! I was seated in the back row today, and while it had a little bit of a rattle, this was certainly not a deal breaker, and the ride sensations themselves seemed awesome today; the airtime over the first twisted hill was unbelievable, and the pacing was absolutely turbocharged throughout! Overall, Rita was good fun today, and I’m definitely glad I gave it a ride: After Rita, we headed over to another coaster elsewhere that had a short queue… Oblivion Oblivion had an advertised queue time of 0 minutes, and we thought that this was an opportunity far too good to pass up! As promised, the queue was very short indeed, and strong operations on 2 stations meant that we were on the ride in very little time at all! So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was absolutely cracking; the speed was exceptional, the ride was smooth, and a loose OTSR made for some excellent airtime! I do love Oblivion, and today’s ride was very fun indeed: After Oblivion, I split off from my parents and tried the other coaster in the area… The Smiler Even though The Smiler was on an advertised 100 minute queue and I’m not its biggest fan, I decided to give it a go for one reason; that single rider queue! I know I’ve talked about it a lot lately, but the SRQ really is a game changer on this ride, and I’m far more tempted to give Smiler a go if I can get on it in very little time. I must say that “how much queueing time can I shave off by using Smiler’s SRQ?” is becoming an increasingly fun game, and it was one that very much worked in my favour today, as I only waited around 15 minutes in spite of the 100 minute advertised queue time! So, how was the ride? Well, I’ll afraid to say it wasn’t that pleasant for me at all; I was seated in row 3, and I’m afraid it seemed to give me an incredibly thorough bashing today compared to yesterday’s ride. I came off with an incredibly sore neck and a definite headache: After Smiler, we headed towards the lakeside. Me and my mum had drinks and ice cream while my dad attempted to get a hole in one on the £1000 golf challenge… he sadly couldn’t win £1000 on this occasion. After that, we initially headed to Wicker Man, but the queue time had risen to 80 minutes by the time we got there, so this plan was quickly foiled. We instead decided to head over and ride… Galactica Galactica was on only a 20 minute advertised queue, so we thought we’d have a ride. I’m not sure the queue even took that long, to be honest; it was very quick, which is a definite bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and it was actually quite similar to yesterday’s; not my favourite ride on park, but smooth and actually not too bad at all, all things considered: After Galactica, we decided to try the other coaster in the area… Nemesis Nemesis was on an advertised 30 minute queue time, so we decided to give it a ride. The queue was stretching a fair amount into the extensions, so I did wonder if this was a bit understated, and it did ultimately take about 45 minutes. But how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and it was pretty good, although it seemed a little bit rougher than it did yesterday: After Nemesis, we headed back to a ride we’d tried to do earlier… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on an advertised 45 minute queue time, so we decided to take advantage of the substantial drop compared to earlier. I initially thought that this was somewhat overstated, as it only took us 30 minutes to reach the baggage hold and the waiting area for the pre-show, but the advertised time turned out to be fairly accurate, as it somehow took us 15 minutes to get through the pre-show area and queue through the station. Anyway, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 6, and it was phenomenal; fast, airtime-filled, and overall very fun and rerideable! As I said yesterday, Wicker Man always delivers for me, and is definitely a coaster that I like an awful lot more than I think I probably should: After Wicker Man, we had time for one final ride… Runaway Mine Train Runaway Mine Train was on an advertised 30 minute queue, and we hadn’t ridden it yet this trip, so we decided to have a go on it. The queue initially didn’t look too long, but looks were a bit deceiving here, as I later ascertained that the entire queue was open, and it ended up taking 45 minutes. Anyway; how was the ride? Well, we were seated in row 16, and it was good fun; even though it’s on the less intense end of the spectrum, RMT is a good bit of light hearted fun that never fails to put a smile on my face! It’s a definite guilty pleasure of mine; the intensity of that helix into the tunnel never fails to surprise me: After our ride on Runaway Mine Train, it was past 3pm, so we thought it was a good time to head back home. So, that concludes our 2 day trip to Alton Towers! I had a great time; even though my last visit was a mere 2 months ago, I do always enjoy a trip there, and it was great to get back on some of my favourites! It was also nice to stay in the Alton Towers Hotel again; I do always enjoy it there! Thanks for reading! I’m not sure where I’ll be reporting from next, but I know that a new trip report from me shouldn’t be too far away!
  3. I can’t imagine a Mack Powered Coaster with Scorpion Express’ layout would be at all expensive to replace and maintain parts on, in fairness. Even if it did need replacing, I imagine they could give it the Nemesis treatment and replace the whole lot for very little (possibly even less than £1m?). But we don’t know that it is being removed currently by any means. The current closure could just be due to some slightly lengthier maintenance work following whatever happened the other day.
  4. 7th August 2022: Alton Towers Day 1 Hi guys. Today was the first day of my latest 2 day Alton Towers trip, which is always an exciting day, particularly when your break entails a stay in the Alton Towers Hotel! I know it’s only been two months since my last trip to Alton Towers, but I got offered a theme park trip of my choice for my birthday this year by my parents, and as I had a nice time at Alton in June, I thought “why not go back there?”! We left home at about 7:15am this morning and got to the park in good time, arriving through the hotel entrance shortly after the 10am opening time. I’ve got to say, that hotel entrance has become a real secret weapon on my last two Alton Towers trips; it saves a huge amount of time getting into the park, which is always a bonus: After entering the park, we headed to our first ride… Galactica Galactica was on an advertised 0 minute queue, so we decided to take a ride on it. As promised, the queue was very short indeed, which is always a bonus. The operations were also very good, with a throughput of comfortably over 1,000pph being attained on 3 trains and 2 stations; terrific work! So, how was the ride? Well, Galactica isn’t a favourite of mine, as I find the flying position a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve got to say that today’s ride was one of the more fun I’ve had on it in recent times; I was seated in row 4, and it was really smooth, with some fun sensations! All in all, that ride on Galactica was about as good as I could have asked for given that the ride isn’t really one of my favourites: After Galactica, we tried the other Forbidden Valley B&M… Nemesis Nemesis was on an advertised 25 minute queue, and as such, we decided to give it a ride. Ultimately, the queue ended up being more like 45-50 minutes once we joined; it was only stretching up to below the first corkscrew, but dispatches were infrequent, and me and my dad later ascertained that this was because the ride was on 1 train and attaining around 500-600pph. The park decided to add the 2nd train whilst we were in the queue, which added another 10 minutes or so onto our queue time but ultimately sped up the pace of the queue after that. Interestingly, we encountered a rather angry staff member at the Fastrack merge point, who later got moved elsewhere due to them getting overly animated at guests’ behaviour. I’ve never seen that at Towers before… anyway, how was the actual ride? Well, it was good! I was seated in row 5, and it was fairly smooth, well paced and forceful; what’s not to like? As much as I may not hold Nemesis on the same god-like pedestal that most enthusiasts do, today’s ride was very good indeed; it certainly packed a very good punch: After Nemesis, we decided to head for a slightly longer stroll to ride… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on an advertised 50 minute queue, so we decided to have a ride on it. This queue time was very accurate, which is always a plus, and it appeared that the bulb in the pre-show had been fixed since my last visit, meaning that its tricks were obscured from guest view once again; good work, Alton! But how was the ride? Well, it was phenomenal; I was seated in row 8, and it was relentlessly fast, packed with airtime, smooth and overall very fun! That definitely cemented its place as my personal favourite ride on park, my UK #2 and my overall #5; I always feel like I shouldn’t enjoy Wicker Man nearly as much as I do, but it never fails to have me laughing and feeling blown away when I hit the brake run! As blasphemous as this probably sounds, I genuinely get almost as much enjoyment from riding it as I did from riding Wodan at Europa Park back in April! Even though it’s not nearly as impressively specced as Wodan on paper, it’s just so much fun and so rerideable, and even though Wodan does come out on top for me, the gap between the two remains far smaller than I ever expect; there’s really not a whole lot in it for me! Perhaps I just really like GCIs in general?: After Wicker Man, it was getting on for 1pm, so we decided to sit down in the courtyard for a spot of packed lunch before heading to our next ride… Thirteen Thirteen was on an advertised 50 minute queue, so we decided to get in the queue and have a ride. This queue didn’t end up being anywhere near 50 minutes, and operations were good; always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 2, and it was good fun, with some fun twists and turns in the outdoor section and a cracking indoor section that’s always a laugh; it was lovely and smooth, as well! However, having ridden it both towards the back and towards the front in recent months, I must say that I definitely prefer Thirteen towards the back. That cracking pop of ejector airtime over the first drop is missing in the front, and the outdoor section generally feels a bit more fun in the back. Nevertheless, Thirteen is always a really good, fun ride that puts a smile on my face, and it’s definitely one that’s grown on me over time: After Thirteen, we initially considered Rita, but it had a 75 minute queue, so we went elsewhere… The Smiler In spite of a 60 minute advertised queue, I decided to give Smiler a go. Now you may be wondering “why on earth did you do Smiler when you’re not a huge fan of it and it had the longest queue on park?”. Well, dear reader, that is where a secret weapon of mine came into play; the single rider queue! I made use of this for the first time on my last visit to Alton Towers, and it is truly a game changer; it reduces my wait time substantially every time I use it, and today was no different! In spite of a 60 minute advertised queue time, I got on the ride within 5-10 minutes, which I thought was brilliant! So, how was the ride? Well, Smiler isn’t really a favourite of mine, as I find it a bit too rough and intense for my personal liking, and today’s ride was pretty par for the course in this regard. However, it admittedly didn’t seem quite as rough as it did on my last ride; always a bonus, particularly given that I was seated on the back row! I do always feel bad for Smiler, though; it’s a coaster I really want to like, as I think there’s some good bits in there (the layout is admittedly creative, and those two airtime hills are absolutely amazing!), but it never really does it for me due to a combination of it not being the most comfortable ride and the back-to-back inversions almost creating a repetitive motion-type sickness feeling for me akin to that caused by a particularly intense spinning flat ride (I’m not a huge flat ride lover myself). I apologise for this, as I know that most enthusiasts love Smiler, but I cannot lie about my own opinions and experiences: After The Smiler, I met back up with my parents, and we moved on to the other coaster in X-Sector… Oblivion Oblivion was on a mere 15 minute advertised queue time, so we certainly couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a ride! This short advertised queue time certainly held true; it didn’t take us long to get on at all, which was aided by some very good operations. A throughput of over 1,000pph was being attained when I was in the queue, which is phenomenal, in my opinion; well done, team Oblivion! But how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that as ever, the other X-Sector coaster is far more up my street; it was particularly excellent today, with an absolutely sublime pop of sustained airtime over the drop and a phenomenal sense of speed in the tunnel. Even though it isn’t the fastest coaster I’ve ridden (that accolade goes to Stealth at 80mph), Oblivion always feels like it could conceivably be the fastest coaster I’ve ridden; that tunnel feels unbelievably fast! Overall, Oblivion was absolutely excellent, and definitely warranted its top 10 placement for me today; it may only have one key element, but it does it so well that it always leaves me grinning: After our ride on Oblivion, we fancied something slightly less thrilling… Congo River Rapids Congo River Rapids was on an advertised 15 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go as a slightly more relaxing ride to break up the coaster rides. The queue initially looked long when we joined, but it moved quickly, so the advertised queue time was actually pretty accurate. The good thing about rapids rides is that they are almost invariably queue munchers; CRR was dispatching a boat roughly every 15 seconds or so, making for a throughput of about 1,800pph if you assume full boats of 8. They also seemed pretty good at filling boats today, so this throughput figure likely wasn’t too far off despite rapids rides’ tendency to often dispatch with boats that are far from full. So, how was the ride? Well, it was all right for a nice sit down; as a way to relax, I can’t really complain about it! However, I do feel that the ride is considerably less exciting than it once was due to the removal of the waterfalls and many of the wave machines; I don’t really have an issue with it not being a huge soaker given our climate, but the opportunities to get even a slight spray on the ride are slim to none these days, and my parents and I both felt somewhat short changed upon getting off. I appreciate that this is out of the park’s hands, so I’m probably being overly harsh, but the ride is definitely less of a priority on our agenda than it once was due to these changes. Still, it was perfectly all right for a relaxing ride in between coasters, and it was nice to get back on it after quite a bit of time without a ride: After our ride on Congo River Rapids, we had a reride on Wicker Man, with a tempting 40 minute queue. I was seated in row 8, and it was just as sublime as our earlier ride, if not more so; it had warmed up superbly from earlier in the day: After this, my parents left the park and left me to my own devices. I went on to ride… Spinball Whizzer Spinball Whizzer was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so I decided to take a ride on it. The queue did end up longer than 25 minutes, taking more like 45-50 minutes, but this can’t really be helped; what can you do? So, how was the ride? Well, Spinball isn’t a ride I overly rate, and today wasn’t really an exception to that rule, I’m afraid; spinning rides aren’t my favourite anyway, as I have quite a low tolerance for spin, and Spinball is quite a jerky ride, so definitely isn’t the most comfortable of experiences. Still, that’s more down to my personal preference than anything overly wrong with Spinball; it solidly fills a family thrill coaster hole in Alton’s lineup, and even if it isn’t my personal favourite, I’m glad I got to ride it: After getting off Spinball Whizzer, I had a reride on Oblivion. The airtime wasn’t quite as strong this time due to me getting a pretty thorough stapling into the restraint, but the ride was still excellent nonetheless: After my reride on Oblivion, I closed out the day with another ride on Wicker Man. I was seated in row 3 this time, and despite being very near the front, the ride was still relentless and brilliantly thrilling and fun like it had been earlier; Wicker Man is a ride that always clicks for me regardless of where I’m sat: After that, I left the park and headed back to the Alton Towers Hotel: So, that was the first day of our trip to Alton Towers! The park was undeniably busy today, but I still got on 11 rides, which I was really chuffed with! I was also chuffed as always with how some of my favourites were riding; Wicker Man was as phenomenal as ever, and still easily my favourite on park, Oblivion seemed particularly awesome today, Thirteen was great fun, Nemesis was good… it was an excellent day all round! Thanks for reading! I’ll post the 2nd part tomorrow once I’ve had my 2nd day in the park!
  5. Sorry if this is a slightly random question, but; out of interest, when the planning application talks about high points on Exodus being painted white a la Stealth, what is the height threshold for something to be considered a "high point" and roughly where (as in, how high up) would the track turn from dark to white? I'll admit I'm not entirely sure what the point of painting the high points white is. Is it to make it blend in more or something?
  6. Perhaps Creek Freak might be moving location? It wouldn’t be unheard of for Thorpe to move it; they’ve done this with other mazes in the past. As for Exodus, I gather that a decision won’t be made until at least September. I seem to remember reading that it wasn’t on the agenda for the Runnymede Council meeting at the end of July, and the next one isn’t until September.
  7. I actually quite liked the IMAScore tracks on Colossus and Inferno myself. Particularly the one they added into Inferno’s station; that was very atmospheric with all the drums and bass, in my opinion! I also much prefer the IMAScore around admissions and the dome to the old music; I think those new tracks give the area a really nice vibe!
  8. I had another dream last night. Thankfully, this one wasn’t quite as much of an acid trip as some of my previous ones, but it was still a bit weird… My family and I were driving along a motorway in Italy (we've never been on a family holiday to Italy…), and for some reason, my mum was driving (it’s usually my dad who drives when it’s all 4 of us, particularly if we’re abroad). We drove past a road sign that said “Gardaland: 10 miles”. I go “Ooh, there’s a road sign going towards Gardaland, the biggest theme park in Italy!”. My family initially reacted in the usual way they react whenever we see a theme park road sign in the UK on the way to somewhere else; they went “Oh, fun!”, shrugged and continued on with our journey. However, this is where it began to get weird… we travelled up the motorway for a few more miles, but things then took an unexpected turn, and this experience turned from a leisurely drive into something befitting of a James Bond film… My mum, completely unprovoked, suddenly did the most spectacular u-turn you’ve ever seen in the middle of this busy motorway, put her foot down like mad, and started driving in the direction of the Gardaland road signs. My dad and older sister, for completely inexplicable reasons, suddenly flew out of the car through some sort of ejector seat mechanism. I looked at my mum, concerned that my dad and older sibling had randomly disappeared from the car, but she didn’t look fazed at all; she said “F*** ‘em; we’ll come back for them later”. At this point, she suddenly started driving like a rally driver; the speedometer was at well over 100mph, she was weaving in and out of traffic, weaving between lanes, she was jumping over cars… this was some insane driving, particularly given that my mum is a very safe driver in real life! I asked her why she had suddenly changed tack and started driving crazily, and she said “Son, you and I need to go to Gardaland together!”. We then continued to speed down the road together in what was by far the most insane piece of driving I’ve ever experienced… it was spectacular, but insane! We eventually arrived at Gardaland and got out of the car… but not before she sped into the car park and did a load of donuts around it, still travelling solidly over 100mph. She then stopped rapidly with a perfectly executed handbrake turn, and we got out of the car right outside the entrance. None of the Gardaland staff even batted an eyelid at the fact my mum had just sped into the car park, drove at an insane speed round it or had parked somewhere that definitely wasn’t a parking space, so we had a speedy and efficient entry process. Once we were inside Gardaland, it was strange… because even though I was talking about correct Gardaland ride names, like Raptor and Oblivion The Black Hole, the park did not look like any photos or videos I’ve ever seen of Gardaland. It was instead a blend of Drayton Manor and Warwick Castle; for the most part, the park was a spitting image of Drayton Manor (but with all the signs and ride names in Italian), but had Warwick Castle itself randomly plonked in the middle of it, along with the Horrible Histories maze from Warwick Castle and the show where the performer shows off and demonstrates old weapons (he was shouting “This… is a BIG AXE!” as we walked by… that’s an actual line from this Warwick Castle show that I remember. I can’t remember what the show was called, but it definitely used to run at Warwick when I was a child, and that line was definitely part of the spiel). This all seemed perfectly normal to me in my dream, however… Now when we entered the park, we didn’t actually go on any rides… my mum needed the toilet as soon as we entered. But she wasn’t content with any old toilet, oh no… there was this “special toilet” that she was intent on using. The ones right by the park entrance weren’t good enough… she went to great lengths to find this “special toilet”, and we spent about an hour staring at the park map and walking around trying to find it. Eventually, we found the special toilet… it was in this Tudor house, and we had to walk up a tiny ladder and crawl through these tiny spaces to use it. She used it and walked out saying “10/10; totally lived up to the hype! I’m happy we came to this park just for that!”. Then I went in… and it was like one of those Medieval toilets you see in old castles, where it basically consists of a hole that drops directly into a river. Sadly, I then woke up before we could go on any rides… that was a strange one, and a lot longer than I’d expected it to be when I started writing!
  9. Hi guys. Merlin Entertainments, the owner of the 4 biggest theme parks in the UK, has two Resort Theme Parks in the London area; Thorpe Park and Chessington. In spite of these parks’ identical owner and close proximity to one another, they are very different theme parks; Thorpe Park is aimed at thrillseekers, and has one of the UK’s biggest selections of thrill coasters and thrilling flat rides, while Chessington is aimed at younger families and has a zoo and various family-orientated rides. With that in mind, I’d be keen to know; which of these two theme parks do you prefer? Now I know you probably all think I’ve lost my marbles a bit here. I can imagine you all thinking “Come on, Matt; we’re all adults, and Chessington is a kid’s park. Obviously Thorpe Park and its thrill coasters and flat rides will win here!”. However, I made a poll because things I’ve read and heard would suggest that it isn’t quite that clear cut. It feels like most people absolutely despise Thorpe Park with every fibre of their being; no one ever has a good word to say about it. Chessington, on the other hand, seems to get fairly good reviews, and a lot of people heap praise upon it whenever they visit and cite good memories they’ve had there. So I was interested to know whether Thorpe Park’s thrill rides are enough to get it past some of its perceived inadequacies, and whether Chessington’s perceived advantages are enough to get it past its less thrilling ride selection, in your eyes. Personally, I would (perhaps controversially) vote for Thorpe Park here, and by a comfortable margin. I do have a soft spot for it, and I don’t think it deserves much of the criticism it gets. The coaster selection is really decent, with some excellent headliners, they have a really decent selection of support rides, including two brilliant flat rides in Detonator and Rush (and I’m not the biggest flat ride fan, so that’s saying something!), the theming is stunning in areas, the landscaping is surprisingly nice in areas as well, and I overall get a really nice vibe from Thorpe Park! I do like it a lot, and while I rate Alton Towers a fair bit higher as a park, it is up there with AT as a park I try and visit at least once annually. With Chessington, on the other hand… while I admittedly haven’t been since 2014, so I probably need a revisit with fresh eyes at this point, I’m not entirely sold on the hype it often receives. I don’t remember any of Chessington’s attractions really standing out to me even within the sphere of family attractions, and while it was nicely themed in places, I don’t remember the theming being anything spectacular. It wasn’t a bad park by any stretch, but even at only 11 years old (my last visit was just before my 11th birthday, so technically 10 years old), I remember me and my family had the overriding feeling that we were just a bit too old for it. Of the UK Merlin parks, I’d (surprisingly) even say I preferred Legoland on my recent visit there, although I would perhaps say I felt similar at that park. As I say, though, I do probably need a revisit to Chessington; I’ll see if I can get back there when the new coaster opens. But which of these London area Merlin parks would you rate higher?
  10. Is it known how Carnival will actually differ from Mardi Gras, aside from (presumably) this scare maze? The events look quite similar to one another at first glance.
  11. In rather sad and unexpected news, it has been announced that California's Great America will be closing within the next 11 years, as Cedar Fair has sold the land it sits on to a company planning to develop it for real estate: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220623005938/en/Cedar-Fair-Capitalizes-on-Opportunity-to-Sell-Its-Land-at-California’s-Great-America-Amusement-Park This money is being used to reduce Cedar Fair's debt. I don't know about any of you, but this comes as a big surprise to me; CGA had a very elaborate masterplan only a few years ago, if I'm remembering correctly, so something must have changed drastically.
  12. I'd possibly advise aiming for the front row of a car on Colossus if you can (odd numbered rows). There's discernibly more legroom in the front than the back. I can imagine someone of 6ft might struggle a tad for room in the back of a car. I'm around 5'9.5" myself (so around 2-3 inches shorter than you), and even I can only just get my legs behind the seat in front, if that's anything to go off of. I once rode in the back of a car next to a man who was a couple of inches taller than me, but not excessively tall by any means (perhaps 6' or 6'1"?), and his legs looked like they were straddling the seat in front in a rather uncomfortable fashion. As @jessica2 says, though, Colossus is quite compact in general, so I'd maybe try the test seat before joining the queue to be absolutely sure that you'll fit. Other rides have test seats as well; I know Stealth does, and I think Nemesis Inferno and Saw might do as well (?). But you appear to be below the chest restriction for all the listed rides, so you should be reasonably OK.
  13. I mainly commented on Nemesis because it was something I noticed. It hasn’t always had a rattle and the head banging moments on my past rides, so I thought it was something worth commenting on because it did detract from the ride slightly for me. I couldn’t agree more! I absolutely love Wicker Man, and even after having ridden Wodan at Europa Park, it hasn’t lost its shine for me! Thanks for bringing this up; I can certainly look for some synonyms or alternative ways of putting that phrase in future!
  14. 20th June 2022 (Alton Towers Day 2) We had Day 2 in the park today! We got up fairly early and as we were staying in the Alton Towers Hotel, we had somewhat of a head-start (or I did, anyway; my mum and Nan joined me later); even though Early Ride Time is no longer offered, the park opens its gates early to allow you to get to your first ride and queue for it before opening time, and staying in the hotel will naturally allow you to get here ahead of the regular day guests, which is always a bonus: As such, I decided to take advantage of this and head into the park at about 9:25am and head to an area that often gets long queues later on; Dark Forest. I started on… Rita Rita often gets a long queue later on, so I decided to give it a go early on. I watched the ride test for a bit, and I was one of very few people waiting in the area. As such, when the ride opened at around 10:05am, I discovered that I would be on the very first ride of the day, which is an achievement I’ve never had before! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and the ride was more pleasurable than yesterday’s, with less rattle and some phenomenal airtime, as well as a launch that’s punchy as ever and absolutely supercharged pacing! Perhaps controversially, I do like Rita, and it was a great way to start the day: After Rita, I decided to tackle the other coaster in the area… Thirteen Like Rita, Thirteen was on a walk-on queue, so I decided I may as well give it a go while I was in the area. I wasn’t 100% sure of this, so wouldn’t like to claim that I was, but it looked as though I may have made the first ride of the day on Thirteen as well; the train in front of me was empty, and the station looked deserted when I arrived! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated directly on the back, and it was excellent; I once again experienced multiple moments of cracking airtime during the outdoor section, the twisty sections were great fun, the ride was blissfully smooth, and the indoor section was a good laugh as always! I‘ve got to say, I think Thirteen is definitely a back row coaster, based on my memories of the front: After Thirteen, my mum and Nan entered the park, and we attempted to ride Thirteen together. We got as far as the station, and I was even batched into the front row… but the ride broke down. We stood in the station for about 15 minutes or so, hoping that the issue would be resolved quickly, but they eventually closed the queue line. With that in mind, we left the queue. I initially went off to ride Oblivion, on an advertised 0 minute queue. However, the queue looked much longer than 0 minutes by the time I arrived in X-Sector, so I instead decided to rejoin my mum and Nan so we could all ride… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on an advertised 55 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. Interestingly, the queue only took 35 minutes as opposed to the advertised 55, which is always a bonus! Although this could have been in part due to a rather interesting quirk with the pre-show, where both the doors remained open. As such, no one watched it; we were just filtered straight through the room, and the show just started running to no audience while everyone was piling into the station! My mum and Nan were very happy that we didn’t have to watch it, and I have to admit that as much as I do like Wicker Man's pre-show, not watching it did shave off some time getting on the ride and make the experience less uncomfortable. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and it was phenomenal; relentlessly fast and full of airtime just as it had been yesterday! We all thoroughly enjoyed it: After Wicker Man, I headed over to X-Sector to ride… The Smiler I hadn’t done The Smiler yet today, so I decided to give it a go. The advertised queue was 70 minutes, and it was spilling well into the pit, but I once again used my secret weapon... the single rider queue! But the question is; how much shorter would my queue be today? Well, today was where single rider really came into its own... that queue was walk on, and I waltzed straight into row 2! I actually felt a bit naughty using the single rider queue today, as it basically felt like I was using Fastrack without paying for it... even though single riding via the SRQ is technically allowed, it felt a bit wrong to walk onto the ride when the main queue was 70 minutes. But how was the ride? Well, I'm afraid it was similarly rough to yesterday's; definitely not the most enjoyable: After Smiler, I couldn't leave X-Sector without having a go on... Oblivion Oblivion was on a 25 minute advertised queue, so I decided to give it a go. I did wonder upon joining whether the queue might be longer than 25 minutes, as it was stretching all the way to the tunnel underneath the station where the Lord of Darkness talks about the psychological effects of Oblivion (the longest queue I've seen for it in a while). However... it only ended up taking 10-15 minutes, and this was due to some of the best operations I have ever seen on the ride; they were throwing shuttles out at a rate of knots, my measured throughput average for Oblivion exceeded 1,000 riders per hour for the first ever time, and on 5 shuttles, we were only stacking at the end for a few seconds at most (for some idea, seasoned visitors to Alton Towers will know that you typically stack for a long time on Oblivion). Phenomenal work! So, how was the ride? Well, I was on the front row, and I actually enjoyed it slightly more than yesterday's ride! The sustained airtime was once again phenomenal, but the sense of speed, while phenomenal everywhere, seemed slightly enhanced on the front, for some reason: After my ride on Oblivion, I met back up with my mum and nan, and me and mum rerode Wicker Man on an advertised 35 minute queue. Interestingly, we watched the pre-show this time; clearly the pre-show skipping on our first ride was just a one-time issue! The queue still only took 25-30 minutes, though, so that wasn't an issue by any stretch. As for the ride, I was seated in row 8 once again, and the ride was phenomenal once again: We then had some lunch before I wandered over to Forbidden Valley to ride... Nemesis Nemesis was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. This queue ended up being pretty accurate, possibly slightly understated, taking 20-25 minutes; always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 6 on an inner seat, and it was good, although slightly jolty in places. This wasn't a dealbreaker by any means, and I've ridden far rougher coasters, but it did detract ever so slightly from the ride for me: After Nemesis, I took a ride on the other Forbidden Valley B&M... Galactica Galactica was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue was overstated, only taking 15 minutes in the end; always a bonus! The operations on Galactica were top notch this afternoon; the ride was running 3 trains and both stations, yet we didn't stack on the brake run at all. My throughput average for Galactica was 1,221pph, which was the highest I measured all trip; terrific work! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in the back row, and as I said yesterday, it's not my favourite coaster; it's OK, but I do find the flying position inherently uncomfortable, and I'm also not a fan of the fly to lie, where it dumps you on your back for a sustained period. With that being said, however, the ride did feel a bit faster on the back, and bits of the layout itself are really quite good fun; it's just that I don't particularly enjoy that flying position at all: After Galactica, it was getting on for 2:30pm, and my mum and nan were wanting to head home. As such, we headed out the hotel entrance and closed out our day there. So in conclusion, we had a brilliant Alton Towers trip! It was great to get back to the park for my first 2022 visit, and I had many great rides! In particular, Wicker Man delivered as well as it ever did, with some of my best ever rides on it being had this trip, Oblivion was awesome, and Thirteen has gone up a fair amount in my estimations; it was unexpectedly brilliant this trip! Thanks for reading; I hope you've enjoyed my reports!
  15. 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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…: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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