Having seen the trailer Alton Towers released in the run up to the Fireworks event I have to admit I was a little bit concerned for the tone of this year's display, however, I was very glad that my initial impression from the trailer was proved wrong.
Having the portal as a centrepiece (which I am sill adamant that it looked like a Stargate) from which to tell the story was an interesting choice, and for the most part worked well. There were a couple of occasions when I wasn't quite sure if I should look at the screen or the fireworks going off, but these were few and generally when the main fireworks were being fired the action on screen was minimised. I quite liked how there were a number of occasions where there was pyro fired from the rigging surrounding the portal, and generally there was a nice range of fireworks used, both in terms of size, noise and effects, and colours. The overall mix of the soundtrack worked well with the storyline, the sci-fi geek in me loved the use of the Stargate theme, and there was also a nice nod to David Bowie as well. As the main story section was drawing to a close I was wondering just how they were going to manage to include In the Hall of the Mountain King, but as usual Towers managed to pull it off perfectly with the use of the 8 bit version of the Resort's iconic theme song.
I had initially only planned to attend on the Saturday, but ended up on park both days! Saturday was the first time I'd been on park on a capacity day and it was clear from the queues that built up for just about everything that the park had reached its safe limit. In a way it was nice to see the park buzzing again and just goes to show the reputation and pull Alton Towers Fireworks still have. I suspect the fact Bonfire Night fell on the Saturday also contributed to the number of people wanting to get in to see the display. I do have sympathy with those annual pass holders who were turned away, perhaps Towers need to look at using a system similar to what Thorpe use for Fright Nights for future years - however, and this may be an unpopular view, I do think Towers would be justified in charging a small fee for passholders to pre-book to ensure people didn't take spaces 'just in case' and prevent others from getting in. Sunday wasn't quite as busy, but I'd estimate it wasn't far off hitting capacity again. From my experiences the staff on Sunday did seem to cope a little better perhaps having had the chance to assess and devise some better strategies after the Saturday.
Whilst this year's wasn't my favourite display (that is still jointly held by 2013's and 2015's), it was still very impressive and I am glad that I made the impromptu decision to go up for the second night.