Located in the heart of Staffordshire, Alton Towers Resort first opened its theme park doors in 1980. It has since added a Caribbean lagoon themed Waterpark and two hotels. May 2014 saw the launch of the resort’s biggest new attraction – CBeebies Land. We take a look at the new rides and live entertainment on offer, in addition to the many other attractions for young families at Alton Towers.
A good place to get an overview of CBeebies Land is the Get Set Go Tree Top Adventure, which gives you a great aerial view. Essentially a monorail, each vehicle fits two people, making a great excuse for the spare parent to have a go on an adult-only ride that takes their interest.
Postman Pat's Parcel ride was very popular, giving kids the chance to ride in the famous postal van. As the sorting office parcels have been mixed up, you have to press a variety of buttons when prompted to deliver them to the villagers. If the queue is too big, you may like to try the Numtums Number-Go-Round first, which typically only had a five-minute waiting time. Sitting on an individually numbered cart, children can enjoy a mild trip on the merry-go-round.
Nina’s Science Lab is a scientific sensory experience where you can play with a giant plasma ball, communicate via a long tube, or find hidden objects with a red filter. There is also a Photo Studio nearby where you can be superimposed with a number of Cbeebies characters. Charlie and Lola’s Moonsquirters and Greendrops is an indoor play area, ideal if the little ones have excess energy to burn off. Outdoor adventurers may prefer Tree Fu Tom’s Training Camp. There is also the Something Special Sensory Garden, where you can look for items on Mr Tumble’s spotty bag trail.
In the Big Fun Showtime area, you can play a variety of fun games, meet the likes of Iggle Piggle from The Night Garden, or enjoy regularly scheduled live shows with the Zingzillas, Mike the Knight and Nina and the Neurons. There is also a large picnic area, toilets and deckchairs to relax in the sunshine. The shows are all great and had the children transfixed throughout.
While waiting to visit Mr. Bloom's Allotment, his neighbours entertain the waiting crowd with vegetable facts and plant trivia. You may become over-familiar with the instrumental version of "Meet the Veggies" however, which plays on loop for the entire queue time. Mr. Bloom appears on holiday with Granny Bloom, reportedly having more fun than you can wobble a wheelbarrow at. The kids are then asked to look for fruit around the garden to feed Compo. One inside, the children finally get to meet the Veggies and have a dance.
Next up was the In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, which listed a zero waiting time; primarily as it had temporarily broken down. As luck would have it however, technicians got it working again within minutes and the line re-opened while we were there. Frazzled parents dashed towards this magical queue-less ride. The boat trip itself was very relaxing and full of Night Garden characters to spot.
Justin's House Pie-O-Matic Factory is absolutely the highlight of Cbeebie's World. Upon entry you are mysteriously given a purple sack and told to fill it with the soft balls that are all over the floor. The reason soon becomes clear as the level above holds a number of ball launchers, ready to fire at everyone and anyone. It's a lot of fun and definitely one for parents and children alike. It may also command the longest wait times at busy periods but is absolutely worth it.
Over in Alton Towers there is even more fun for young families in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Based on the classic Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride takes you on a boat trip through Willy Wonka’s legendary factory. Complete with iconic illustrations by Quentin Blake, the ride concludes with a fantastic trip in the Great Glass Elevator.
Ice Age: The 4D Experience is a 3D cinema attraction, complete with physical effects and falling snow. The cartoon is about 14 minutes long and is essentially a condensed version of the third film. When it finishes, you arrive into an Ice Age gift shop, where you have the opportunity to buy a photo or merchandise. I couldn’t resist the ice cube tray for comedy purposes. You may also bump into Scrat or Sid on your travels.
The Battle Galleons are another fun ride, which can be found in Mutiny Bay. The boats are armed with lever-powered water cannons that can squirt other boats or unsuspecting people in the queue as you pass by. However, there are additional water cannons in the line too, ensuring that you will be pretty much drenched by the time you exit the ride. Thankfully if you have a spare £2, there are dryer cubicles outside. Ideal if you get saturated in the morning as I did!
There is also a Twirling Toadstools flying chairs ride, a driving school where you steer around in a brightly coloured car, the Wobble World indoor play area and bouncing frog hopper (for people over 0.9 metres). Other highlights for young families include the pirate-themed aquarium called Sharkbait reef, two nine-hole courses of Extraordinary Golf (located near the Splash Landings hotel), exploring the history of the Towers and taking in the breath-taking scenery in the Alton Towers Gardens.
For older thrill seekers, don’t miss The Smiler – the world’s first fourteen-loop rollercoaster. It’s so good that even the traffic lights are smiling as you exit the park!
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be Superman, be sure to try Air which simulates weightlessness at high speeds. Nemesis launched in 1994 and continues to be a favourite with the most seasoned adrenaline junkies. This inverted rollercoaster is said to reach G-forces greater than a space shuttle launch and is definitely one to go on before lunch! There are plenty of other high-octane thrills available too, with Thi3teen, The Blade, Oblivion, Rita, Ripsaw, Enterprise, Runaway Mine Train and Nemesis Sub-Terra all competing to make you scream the loudest.
As popular rides will have lengthy queues during peak periods, you may want to consider purchasing a Fastrack ticket. If you are planning to visit multiple times, an annual pass is also available. With the Merlin Annual Pass, you can also visit 31 UK attractions over a 12 month period, including Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND Windsor, Madame Tussauds in London and a variety of Sea Life centres.
In addition to gift shops, there are a variety of places to grab a quick snack or sit-down meal. With a Pizza & Pasta Buffet, Burger Kitchen, Bar and Grills, Mexican Cantina, Fish and Chips, Hotdogs, Donuts and healthy eating options, there really is something to suit all tastes.
Making the most of the visit, we stayed in the Alton Towers Hotel. Set around a huge flying ship that spans multiple floors, the hotel is themed around an explorer named Sir Algenon. In the evening, a singer boarded the ship to belt out songs by Jessie J and Katy Perry while the kids had fun on the dance floor. The nearby Secret Garden restaurant offers great food and impressively short waiting times for food.
The family room at the Alton Towers hotel is a great size, featuring a nautical theme throughout, a double bed and bunk beds, TV, desk with kettle and a whopping six milks (many hotels offer three or less), butterscotch crunch and oat crumble biscuits, a menu of available sweets and snacks while watching a movie, and even a fan for the hot summer months.
There are also a number of incredible themed rooms at both the Alton Towers and Splash Landings hotels, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Ice Age, Pirates, Postman Pat and Charlie and Lola. Many of which also come with a VIP car parking space near the hotel and activity packs for the kids.
There really is so much to see and do that we’d highly recommend visiting for multiple days if you want to fit in Alton Towers, CBeebies Land and the waterpark. The wealth of entertainment and rides on offer is quite staggering, making Alton Towers Resort a fantastic destination for the entire family this summer.
Review by: Sarah O'Connell
Review Date: 19th June 2014
Alton Towers Resort Review
Rating out of 5: