We arrived at Alton Towers around 9am, the car park was almost empty, and we were excited, we had not been to Alton Towers together as a family for quite a long time.
Heading to the monorail station, the queue was long. We saw one train in about 10 minutes, and the queue was simply not moving. In previous years there would be a train waiting, but today the queue was full of complaining people, and many turning around to walk the 15/20 minutes to the park entrance.
Getting to the entrance around 9:40, we jumped past the small crowd to use the Annual Pass entrance, and we were in the park.
First stop was Spinball Whizzer which in our opinion is one of the most fun coasters in the UK, the random spinning of the cars produces a different ride every time.
Up to Th13teen, and it was just past 10 at this point, no queue, we were straight on. Heading out, with a young child in tow, we headed off to Cloud Cuckoo Land, which, for want of a better phrase, was boarded up. All the kiddie favourites were closed, queue lines dug up and not looking like they would open again. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Driving School, the large inflatable playground, all closed. Disappointed, we went for a ride on Twirling Toadstool, a swing ride that goes around. The ride operator, John I believe his name was, was really fun, singing over the speakers. A ride on the carousel and Frog Hopper while we waited for Ice Age 4D to open which was at 11am, but actually opened later, getting on for 11:15 when we actually had the film.
With nothing else to do in the area, we headed for Hex, another firm family favourite, but no, Hex is no more, the signs are gone and the doors remained firmly closed. Instead we headed off for a ride on Enterprise before settling down beside Oblivion for a spot of food, sandwiches we had brought ourselves, for the food offerings are getting less and less on each visit, either burger or pizza. There is a new ‘Roller Coaster Restaurant’, but for the three of us, we tallied up that it would cost us around £50 – and you have to book your table, plenty of people were leaving muttering complaints was the result.
Duel, Runaway Mine Train and Marauders Mayhem saw the afternoon out, and we were ready to leave.
We understand that the park saw a 25% decline in visitor numbers last year, and that has hit profits, but we believe that the cuts have run far too deep, with boarded up rides, shops and food outlets, we forgive the Flume being shut off as they say a new ride is coming there next year, but for everything else, it was quite embarrassing to be there, almost like a closing down sale with bare minimum running.
Leaving Alton Towers, we were left thinking next time maybe Drayton Manor or Flamingo Land would be the place we would be heading until Alton Towers gets back on its feet.