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Dom
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End of Season Review 2017

Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:30 pm

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From the long awaited return of Hex to being chosen in The Welcoming, 2017 has been a fun and thrilling year for the Alton Towers Resort. And now that closed season is upon us, it's the perfect time to reflect on what a brilliant year it's been. Did you visit the resort this year? If so, then we'd love to hear your thoughts on how this year has been for you and how the resort has done!
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DeadJack5
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:23 pm

This has been such a memorable year for me at the resort. It's been fantastic.

From trying Hex for the first time, to doing the mazes. It's been such an incredible year for me and I'm so happy to have been able to go as many times as I have, even when its been a causal day taking photos of SW8.

Personal highlights have been scarefest having visited 6 times, fireworks for the first time on the last day and just seeing the progress is SW8.

To have shared it with members of this TTSP community attending my first event has been such a delight and I'm truly gutted the closed season is here.

Towers have done a great job with the TLC, Hex reopening and generally getting the park back to what's made it fantastic. 2018 is going to be exciting as every year but with a new ride and who knows what, it should be one of the best yet.
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MakoMania
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:36 pm

It's been a good year at the park, my highlight has been seeing the construction of SW8 for sure, it looks like it'll be a really solid attraction.

My only criticisms of 2017 have been the short opening times throughout most of the season and the multiple SBNO attractions, but having said that the park was run fairly well this year, fireworks crowd control was a huge improvement and the park undeniably has the best operations in the UK.

Hope they continue to improve the park and stretch the budget as far as they can in 2018 :P
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Robert.W
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:37 am

Oh wow, where do I start?! 2017 at Alton Towers has been a stellar year in my opinion! So many awesome memories made.

For a start, this year has been the first year I have been able to follow the construction of a Secret Weapon, which has been so amazing to see, especially it being a woodie! 
From first seeing the flume in previous years (and yes I do now regret not having a go in it!), to riding above the site during the early construction (and getting stuck hanging over it for nearly 15 minutes), over the year watching the theming structure at the rides centre rise from the ground and watching the rollercoasters wooden frame construction progress at such a rapid rate, it has just been nothing short of extraordinary for me!

As well as SW8, during my first summer trip this year I managed to finally complete the Big Six Challenge sort of (the only one I missed was Galactica which I don't believe was running that day). 
My first ever ride on The Smiler at the end of that day has been one of my most enjoyable rides ever at Alton Towers! We had joined the queue literally just before it closed and we slowly made our way to the station. I remember being amazed at the effects in the indoor queue area... they have got the atmosphere so on point! To my absolute delight, my first ever ride on this incredible machine was to be on the front row! But just before we could ride we were again treated with being able to witness one of the trains being put in to the storage / maintenance building for some reason, the ride operator fluffing up his announcement which caused the entire station to erupt with laughter, and after a few test runs we were on the first passenger train and front row, to leave the station. By this time it was almost 6pm and this park seemed so empty which just added to the almost exclusivity of the experience! It's certainly one ride I will never ever forget.

Oh, and how can I forget about Scarefest?! Riding my beloved Nemmy in the dark of night gave me a completey different and spectacular perspective of already this amazing ride... it's just sooo beautiful with its sinister red glow! 
Of course the Alton Ancestors were out dancing to Despacito of all things in Gloomy Woods - quite a surprise!
And Freak Show... well let's just say that my little bro now has a completely irrational fear of clowns!! :lol

In total, and due to my insanely distant proximity to the resort, I have only been able to spend six full days there, but I am certain that these are the best six days I have had the pleasure of experiencing in a very very long time. I'm lucky that I have the right balance in the amount of times I can travel to Towers... I get to go enough that I can call myself an "enthusiast" but little enough that the same type of magic I found on my first ever visit is still something I am able to experience on every visit to a certain extent. 
I can already feel the anticipation for next year, all the possiblities - experiencing not only Alton's next Secret Weapon, but my first ever wooden coaster, seeing all the possible TLC improvements around the park including that of another firm favourite of mine, Duel, and of course next years versions of the spectacular Scarefest and Fireworks which were particularly amazing this year! I can feel that there is still so much to be discovered or in some cases rediscovered! 

So, bring on 2018! I can't wait!!!
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jackf1tz
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:38 am

Well, where do I start? This season's been another absolute banger from the resort, and I'd like to start by thanking them for everything they've done to make this one the best yet. As well as this I had my very first ride on Hex in July, and needless to day, it was fantastic. The park was relatively quiet on both days, due to some questionable half term placement on my school's part, but the atmosphere had been there for every visit. The highlights include managing to get my Mum on Nemesis for the first time since '95 and 4 rides on the smiler - the most on any ride this year! Even with only managing to get 2 days at towers this year, it was amazing, and following SW8 construction's been a blast. Here's to next year being the best year Alton Towers have ever seen.
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tallicay2k
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:54 pm

MakoMania wrote:
It's been a good year at the park, my highlight has been seeing the construction of SW8 for sure, it looks like it'll be a really solid attraction.

My only criticisms of 2017 have been the short opening times throughout most of the season and the multiple SBNO attractions, but having said that the park was run fairly well this year, fireworks crowd control was a huge improvement and the park undeniably has the best operations in the UK.

Hope they continue to improve the park and stretch the budget as far as they can in 2018 :P

I agree completely about the short opening times and the SBNO attractions as well as the upped ticket prices. Its amazing to think that the UK's "leading" Theme Park during peak summer period is closing around 16:30pm - 17:00pm, its ludicrous. I'm leaving a Theme Park when the suns still high in the sky.
Towers has a long way to go to being even remotely close to what it used to be and whilst under Merlin's grasp I can not see vast improvements happening anytime soon.
I must say though, the construction of SW8 is going a lot smoother than The Smiler and I have very high hopes that it will be open come the start of new season. Obviously with the opening of the new ride crowd numbers will increase but I hope it will be consistent throughout the year.
Scarefest, meh, atmosphere, lighting this could be improved and with only Freak Show scare zone in the park this year, yeah scarefest was not brilliant. Mind you, as always riding the rides in the dark is a major highlight but this can/should be done on more occasions throughout the year if they sort the disappointing opening times.
Fireworks, I've already said about this in the firework thread and again it was a moan.
I love Alton Towers, I always will, but how it was back in 1998 - 2000's to present day its saddening.
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Heather.W
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:04 pm

I've had a great season and I've made so many memories at towers! My first year with a map and I think I'm going to renew it! I cannot wait for SW8 to open, also l look forwards to next years scarefest as I really enjoyed this years event!
 
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Kraken
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:48 am

I visited Alton Towers 3 times this season & had very different experiences... 

1st visit August Bank Holiday Monday.  Despite the fact the weather forecast has been good for the Bank Hol weekend for days (rare I know!) Alton Towers had cut staff to the bone.  1 person serving on the Ticket Upgrade / Fastrack / Annual pass (i.e. the up-sell) side of the Box Office.  Took me over 25mins to collect a pre-ordered annual pass.  25mins in the queue and then about 90 seconds for the less than happy young lady (name omitted) to print the pass.  Did I get a smile?  Don't be silly.  It should be noted that whilst in the Box Office queue the Q times were displayed in there - all of the Big 6 coasters had queue times shorter than the Box Office Queue.  

2nd visit 27th Oct - the Friday of half term (for most) and Spooktacular.  The park was very busy - went to collect my free Fastrack tickets I had been offered as a result of giving feedback on the visit above.  The Box Office queue was way out into Towers Street, so I instantly thought "oh hell".  I was wrong!  They had enough staff on the Box Office and within 10mins I had my free Fastracks and was wandering round the park.  Took in Nemesis, Galactica & The Smiler on the Fastracks and queued for ToTT.  Enjoyed ToTT, but the real highlight of this visit was The Welcoming maze - which was very good.  The group size could do with being slightly smaller (maybe 15 instead of 20?) but it was good.  All the staff on the rides seemed fairly happy despite the pressure they were under due to queue lengths.  

3rd visit was unplanned - but on 31st October just to do The Welcoming again on it's last night.  Much better experience this time round as the clocks had changed, so even a 6pm timeslot ensured the uncovered sections of the maze were dark with just the themed lighting to illuminate.  Did a final ride on Nemesis for 2017 too.  

SW8 looks like it is going to be a fun ride - fun, not extreme.  It's not going to be the biggest GCI coaster by any means, but having ridden a few of their smaller coasters, they are just great fun, appeal to a wide age range and are very re-rideable.  Just what Alton Towers needs as it continues to recover from June 2015.  

Now the general observations.  It was pleasing to see Hex reopened & refurbished, but the SBNO / removed rides were quite obvious.  The Towers Loving Care work was good to see - but I say this with the caveat that it could be argued this should have been routine maintenance.  As darkness fell over Towers Street and the lights on the eaves of the buildings came on, it was clear that no effort had been made to check any lightbulbs - there were blown ones aplenty.  

So whilst the 2018 season looks promising - I certainly look forward to riding SW8 - then one thing I think will ultimately hold Alton Towers back is Merlin.  As a PLC shareholders profits will always come first.  Every investment will be scrutinised for the return it gives to shareholders - hence why a new ride gets budget, but Towers TLC gets minimal funding, as "as long as the visitors are coming in and spending, why pay more money for benches / flower tubs / repainting etc?"  This is sad, as Alton Towers has a lot of potential.  
 
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:54 pm

I've probably visited Alton Towers more this year than any and to be honest, I love it so much and have a lot of respect for the resort! Of course, there are ups and downs and the season didn't start off well with a number of rides not open or operating well, however, this was soon rectified, although work is needed in Cloud Cuckoo Land urgently as it looks like a building site with all the boards!

My attitude and perceptions of the resort have certainly changed though. This year, I have taken a step back from the park as a whole and look at it more as a resort. I've enjoyed the hotels more than ever, visited the waterpark on numerous occasions and participated in Tree Top Quest, the VR experience and golf. Spending more time at the accommodation has certainly made me appreciate the resort and how much effort is put into Alton Towers. It is certainly a lot more than just a theme park! 

The park is making some good decisions and the likes of SW8, Scarefest and Fireworks have certainly added to this. It is easy to offer criticism, but next time you're at the resort, take a look around and see what it has in place and how well it works!
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:47 am

I love the park but I feel like this was one of the weaker seasons i've experienced. 
I'll start with the positives- the new Cbeebies attractions are lovely for younger visitors. Go Jetters isn't anything special but is a nice little bit of fun, and Furchester... It's a guilty pleasure of mine- it's great to see a SHOW with so much charm. If only there were shows for older visitors to enjoy...
Apart from the coasters and Hex, there's not much to keep a thrillseeker like myself occupied- it's been a problem for a while now but this was the first year where it really felt like there were things missing. A few flats and the reopening of Sub-Terra would easily fix this, and there's plenty of room for developments (Ripsaw and Submissions site, Dark Forest, CCL, Spinball assuming it's gone by 2019 as the LTDP implies), but I don't see this changing anytime soon.
This year I've started looking into the heritage side a bit more and I'm so glad I did. I'm slowly becoming obsessed with the ruins and the gardens- a giant area of the park that is overlooked by most.
Scarefest was good this year, but it definitely felt toned down which was a shame. Welcoming was amazing however, it was really odd but it somehow worked.
I haven't been following SW8 too closely (gasp), but it should be a fun family ride. I wanted more from the layout, but I'm hoping to be proven wrong when it opens. 
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:09 pm

I can echo Justin's words here. This season I've spent more time on resort than any other and at times it's been nice to just leave the theme park be and enjoy some time elsewhere. Had a couple evenings where I've not even got on resort until around 5-6pm, and just enjoyed myself.
That being said, the time spent in the theme park this year has been amazing and there's definitely some highlights for me, from the much-celebrated return of Hex, to finally having the entire Virtual Towers team together at once for the first time in June, to following SW8 throughout the season and of course, my favourite year of Scarefest yet! Sub Species stays firmly rooted as my favourite maze after a disappointing performance on preview night, it lived up to its reputation during the guest runs leaving me shaking after a few run throughs! The Welcoming, I enjoyed, not much in the way of scares but once you looked past that and viewed it more of a theatrical experience than an actual HORROR maze, it becomes really really fun to walk through. 

I've spent my fair share of time at Towers this season and I've already got plans set in stone for next year. Several friends from the States are coming to visit for SW8 opening and I already know that that weekend will be one to remember for a long time!

Roll on 2018, I look forward to feeding the flames with the chosen ones!
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Dom
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:07 pm

I only visited Alton Towers twice this year. Once for TowersTimes TTSP@15 event and once for TowersTimes Scaremazing event and I must say it does look like AT is coming back. I think its had a rough couple of years and its finally turning itself around. The park seems tidier and seems a lot more electric than last year. Its nice to see that they are taking note that things need to improve and that they are working on improving them. 

Scarefest really surprised me this year. Its the only place to offer a scare attraction that actually creeped me out. I think they are over taking Fright Nights in the scare department, which is really impressive. The park itself still feels slightly bare with a lack of actual rides available, even more so with some being closed. Hopefully SW8 will make the park feel a bit more active in the ride department. Overall though a fairly fun season had by myself at Towers and can't wait for next year.
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:56 pm

I'd like to echo everyone's comments so far and say that it has been a good season for AT and having Hex back is a particular highlight as it is one of my favourite rides there.  Also Scarefest was really great this year and again topped Thorpe for me in terms of maze quality and run throughs (Sub Species this year was amazing and still my favourite) although the Welcoming was very well done and enjoyable.  It certainly makes me more excited for SW8 and like others, I am looking forward to it - roll on next season :)
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:39 pm

I visited this year just before scarefest opened so it's not the fairest time for general impressions.

Happy Hex is back and it looked nice and polished, providing a great experience and judging by the comments of people coming off the ride, it's still an effective illusion. 

The queues were short enough for everyone to have done everything they wanted by the "park is closing, what rides should we quickly get on" final hour. Just as well I suppose given how shocking the opening hours were.

Something that's really worrying for the future of the park is the focus on major rollercoasters above all else. They open a new major coaster but close a family ride (or two). The CBeebies area is the kind of investment they need to be pumping elsewhere too. Even some budget flatrides everyone can ride would help, it's not good that it's getting close to the stage where people who aren't too adventurous wouldn't need to use a second hand to count how many different rides they've been on. It's crying out for Merlin to turn Charlie and the Chocolate Factory into a more impressive water ride as a log flume replacement
 
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Re: End of Season Review 2017

Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:34 pm

2017 was a great year for me with Alton Towers, I think I visited 9 times this year (I live over 2 hours away) and enjoyed every visit for different reasons, once being to ride hex once again, being there on the day the SW8 supports went vertical (May 30th), watching SW8 rise, the scare mazes were all outstanding for someone who had only ever done Terror of the Towers before this year (Except for The welcoming, I thought that was awful), going up the Katanga Canyon path to end my final vist of the year, getting a new favourite UK coaster, even though it is an unpopular ride, Rita, and just the atmosphere of the park, will be there on opening day for SW8, and if it isn’t open, trying for first ride of the year on Rita!

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