Alton Towers is somewhere that holds many happy memories for me. From my childhood, when my mother used to take me with my sister; in my youth when I was free to go on my own with friends; and most recently when it became an annual trip for my late wife and I on her birthday.
Even though I have taken the boy all over the country to all sorts of places Alton Towers was not really on my radar as I simply discounted it as not age appropriate. We came close to going when they opened the hotel, and waterpark, which runs term-time specials for toddlers and their carers, but never got around to actually arranging a visit.
Then over the summer, some of our friends, who have a daughter nine months younger than my son, told me about what a great time they had at Britain’s biggest theme park. The thought of taking Max quickly entered my head, that is, after I had stopped teasing my friend’s daughter about ‘Alton Flowers’. “It’s called Alton Towers, not Alton Flowers silly,” she would say. “Then why did you call it Alton Flowers?” Was my jovial (or should that be juvenile?) retort.
So when Play and Stay offered to send us, I was intrigued to find out how much fun the Alton Towers Resort could be for a near five-year-old and his dad.
On arrival we discovered it is still extremely well organised, and also still a decent walk from the car park, but there is the monorail which I suppose counts as your first ride of the day.
If you’re feeling extra flush you have the option to pay £15 for priority parking, which means you can park right outside the entrance to the park. But as I am tight, I opted for the normal parking which still costs £5, which I must admit to still being a little miffed by.
Once inside we headed down Towers Street, and turned right for Adventure Land, which seemed like a great place to start for us. It turned out I was right. After a quick toilet break we were straight into the Berry Bish Bash, which is a sort of soft play area combined with firing squidgy balls at each other. My son thought this was hilarious, especially as one of the biggest targets – and thus most popular – appeared to be his dad. We also went on Old MacDonald’s Tractors, which I thought a little tame, but my boy obviously enjoyed pretending to drive a tractor.
The Beastie was higher octane, and we both enjoyed being thrown around on that. A quick drink and climb on some playground equipment, and it was time for lunch. The excellent map lays out the great food choices available, and I opted to bribe my son with a KFC, in exchange for him thinking about going on Enterprise, a ride I had identified as enjoyable for me, and that he passed the minimum height requirement for. Sadly, while he agreed to go and have a look, his hesitance – and the queue – put me off.
No matter, as there were plenty of other rides for us to enjoy. We had a good time on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride, the Peugeot Driving School was an instant favourite for him, and there were more soft play adventures within Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Since being damaged by fire, the Skyride is still out of action, which is a mild irritation legs can get tired walking over the vast area the park occupies.[/caption]
The obligatory water ride came in the form of the Battle Galleons, a very funny concept that lets you fire water cannons at targets and other parkgoers as your boat travels around. Our cagoules instantly became an excellent idea. After this, we needed warming up and, after fumbling for the right change, used one of the giant dryers. It was also an apt time to go and have a look around Sharkbait Reef, a new attraction for 2009, completed in collaboration with Sea-Life.
This centre adds to those we have visited in Birmingham and on Anglesey, and had a number of different attractions we had not seen before, which was an added bonus.
At Alton Towers there were plenty of rides we did not get to go on, like the Runaway Mine Train and the Rapids, but I fully expect to go back at some point and give them a try then.
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