Yesterday was my first visit to Alton Towers since October, and having not really been anywhere since lockdown started in March, I went in feeling pretty unsure and a bit nervous, but thankfully everything was running super smoothly.
Entering the park with all the extra batching, booking and temperature checks was surprisingly swift. I was expecting the whole process to be a bit of a chore, but the sheer efficiency of the procedure was very nice.
Distancing in queues and on rides, alongside wearing a mask on coasters, may seem odd, but it felt more natural than anticipated. Most people were complying which gave excellent peace of mind throughout the day, but I did feel that some pathways were a bit chaotic. Whilst the majority encourage guests to "keep left", I often found that this was ignored, meaning I had to awkwardly weave in and out of traffic to try and maintain some sort of distance. A particularly tricky spot was the pathway heading up to Fountain Square via The Ruins. Not all paths are like this, but it should be kept in mind that it is a bit difficult in the busy areas (all the more reason to walk through The Gardens!).
The park felt busy, yet managable. Queue times were always over-estimated, and guessing them for yourself isn't really possible with the distanced queues. The longest I waited was around an hour for Wicker Man, despite the distanced line being all the way back to One Tree Path. Most rides seemed to be running quickly; weirdly enough, Nemesis' queue felt shorter than usual (perhaps because it was trickier to estimate how long it would take from a certain point).
As for lunch, I decided to go for Pizza Pasta, which isn't currently offering a buffet service; instead you can order either half, or the entirety of a pizza to eat in, or take away. The queue was understandably lengthy, so hopefully the park will update the app so mobile ordering is available from more food outlets.
Overall, I'm very impressed with what Towers have pulled off here. If you go in knowing what to expect, and you feel comfortable visiting with all these necessary precautions, then it's certainly worth going. Whilst there were some instances where distancing wasn't easy, the park have done everything in their power to ensure it's possible. It was very refreshing to be back; the atmosphere throughout the whole park is fun and strong. When you visit often, you forget how special the park is; having been a semi-regular for years, and not visiting for some ten months, it was almost like re-discovering the place. As always, staff were super friendly, and with crowd stewards keeping an eye on things, they brought a lovely, welcoming feel to the day.
I'll certainly be coming back as soon as possible!