UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
Owen
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Alton Towers Resort 05/07/16-07/07/16

Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:00 pm

So my annual trip to Alton Towers Resort has finally came around and so I think a review is in order. The review will be split into different sections; Hotel, Restaurants, Attractions and Overall Experience.


Hotel

Due to having a 50% off code I managed to get a moon voyager room for rather cheap, and so I decided that saying in the Alton Towers Hotel (as opposed to the enchanted village) as a one off would be a nice experience. After driving up in the afternoon, I arrived at the hotel in the evening. One issue I have with the hotel, is that there never seems to be any updates to it, and it really is noticeable! Other than this the entrance looked lovely as always and we had a look around the hotel shop. One thing that caught my eye was how all but one of the t-shirts available from the hotel shop were for The Smiler, with the other being for Galactica.

After having a nosey around the shop, we headed up to the third floor to head to our moon voyager room. Room 350 to be specific. I must say at first glance the room was rather nice, very nicely themed and spacious with views over the pond (at the construction site). It was all going well, until we tried to work out how the lights worked! It was quite an odd system of some lights requiring two switches to be on in order for one light to work as well as a master switch to be turned on in order for certain lights, but not all, to work. This wouldn't have been too irritating if there had been some instructions or explanation to how and why the switches why designed like they were but there wasn't. Another issue was that the hair dryer supplied didn't work, but luckily I did not need to use it. Other than these issues the room was quite nice, although I think I do prefer a nice little woodland lodge! The staff in the Dragon Bar and reception were lovely as a,ways, and so this was a positive.

Overall I'd rate the room and hotel experience a 7/10.


Restaurants

Due to staying at the hotel for two nights, I decided to book two meals. The first night at The Crooked Spoon and the second at the Rollercoaster Restaurant, however I also stopped at Woodcutters Bar & Grill and had breakfast at The Secret Garden.

The Crooked Spoon

One of my favourite restaurants available at the resort, The Crooked Spoon was the first Alton Towers dining experience of 2016 for me. Upon entering we were greeted by a loverly member of staff who happily allowed my group and I to sit in the quieter end of the restaurant. I do have to admit, this is probably my favourite restaurant in terms of theming on the resort, the details are what make this experience extra special! Once meals were chosen I was surprised to see the speed of which the food came out, it must have been within 5 or 10 minutes of ordering! I had ordered the pulled pork burger with village chips. The first thing I noticed is the nice theming touch of using wooden crates as serving dishes had been removed, and replaced with a bog standard white plate. As well as this, the 'village chips' had been reverted to fries and the toadstool bun had also had a face lift. Although this isn't a huge deal it's these little touches that make the deference at a themed dining experience such as The Crooked Spoon. Small nit picks out the way, I must admit my meal was very nice and made me remember why I love the place - by far the best quality food of the trip!

The Crooked Spoon 2016 - 8/10.


The Secret Garden

The first morning had arrived which meant time for our breakfast at The Secret Garden. On entering the restaurant nothing had really changed, which I felt was slightly disappointing that there had been no chances within the last 5 years. This didn't get better with the food either. Unfortunately, the food seemed quite below standards, with bacon being extremely salty and chewy and hash browns dripping in grease, it wasn't such a nice experience - however it was edible and set me up for a long day on the park!

The Secret Garden 2016 - 4/10.


Woodcutters Bar & Grill

Although I only stopped here for a snack, I must say the food was of a lovely standard - especially the garlic bread! The main issue with Woodcutters is that it seems to be crying out to be expended, as I didn't visit on a very busy day and the restaurant was filled to the brim! Other than this the staff were loverly and the restaurant looked fairly nice!

Woodcutters Bar & Grill 2016 - 7/10.


Rollercoaster Restaurant

Finally, the time had come to experience the Rollercoaster Restaurant. I was very excited to try this, more so than Galactica (more on that later). Walking in the atmosphere was fantastic, whilst the room was minimally themed, the lights and track tangled above my head were enough to make me love it's minimalistic design. Once seated, a lovely girl explained the process to myself and the others on the table. The system seemed to work quite simply and so we were soon off! As it was a 'special' experience, I decided to go for three courses starting with the Nachos. Now, at the hefty price tag of £6.75 I was expecting these to be the best nachos ever, alas this was not to be when the food whizzed to my seat. The nachos were stale, and so I asked if this could be thrown out and removed from the bill - the staff were incredibly cooperative! Now, after a not so great start I ordered my main, the Spicy Chicken Burger. Once again the meal whizzed around the track and to my seat, however something caught my eye. The burger contained a tomato that was not listed in the meal description, although this wouldn't be a problem for me personally (I simply discarded the nasty intruder) I couldn't help but think if someone had an allergy and didn't see the tomato disaster could strike. Unfortunately the burger turned out to be a standard Chicken Burger, nothing spicy about it. The fries also seemed to be wrong as I was led to believe these were all curly, quite a let down for the £12.75 price tag! Finally I opted for the child's Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and it was very delicious and quite enough for me! I appreciated the show element that set off every 15 to 20 minutes, however upon the third re-run it started to wear thin, some differentiation could be key here. Although my food wasn't quite as good quality as it should have been, the experience and staff here are fantastic! One staff member by the name of Suzie was particularly helpful, and even went out her way to get me a set of the table number cards!

Rollercoaster Restaurant 2016 - 7/10.


As you can see, my dining experiences varied heavily during my stay, and came together with a combined average of 6.5/10.


Attractions

Spinball Whizzer - This attraction has always had a place in my heart, and my experience just reminded me why. The ride was smooth, fun and we span the most I think I've ever span on a spinning coaster! The new soundtrack was quite interesting and suited the ride well. I give Spinball Whizzer 6/10.

Oblivion - Although I only rode Oblivion once during my trip, the ride still manages to shock me with its sheer speed! The mist effects were working very nicely when I rode, which actually gave me quite a soaking! It's a big shame the shop has been shut (again) however I look forward to what's coming next! I give Oblivion 6/10.

RITA - Now I'm certainly not the biggest fan of RITA, however riding this coaster in the front row is quite something - with the airtime being packed into the ride even in the front row! There's not much to say really, it was a nice experience however the slight head banging could have gone amiss... RITA gets 5/10.

Runaway Mine Train - Who doesn't enjoy this ride? The RMT is a family favourite if I've ever seen one, and I always forget how forceful the attraction can be down some of the larger drops! A nice little time killer, however the theming around the ride needs to be thought about. It gets a respectable 4/10.

Nemesis - Probably my most controversial opinion, Nemesis wasn't all that impressive. Although I certainly didn't hate my experience like in 2015, I still didn't find the experience all that entertaining and found myself saying "I'll go on it seeing as it's there". I also seemed to find The Smiler much more forceful than Nemesis, not to mention the attraction also hurt my back quite a lot. The ride looks fantastic, however I just don't enjoy it 4/10.

The Smiler - On the other end of the spectrum, we have The Smiler. Now personally I wasn't phased by the events of last year and I couldn't wait to experience this beautiful attraction again. All I can say is wow. Of all 4 of my rides the attraction was consistently smooth, forceful and insane in every way. I absolutely love this ride, and I am glad it's one of my favourite attractions. The ride gets 9/10 from me, as the projection room was unfortunately out of action!

TH13TEEN - Now, since 2013 The Smiler has been the only ride that I've considered my favourite rollercoaster, that is until I rode TH13TEEN this year. It has been a minute since a theme park ride has left me exiting wanting to run straight back around again, however this year TH13TEEN did just that. The ride experience was beyond amazing, tonnes of floating air time, with every single effect working and audio that I'd never heard before seemingly being added around the coasters route. Then came the drop, and I swear that the sequence has been altered as it caught me completely off guard and made me yelp! By far the best attraction of the trip, 10/10.

Now for the resorts 'new' addition for 2016, Galactica.

Galactica without VR (Air) - Asking the host if I can ride without the head sets, she said there were no worries and to enjoy the ride! The ride was nice and floaty - Air with a big portal. The station ruined this experience slightly, however more on that below.

Galactica with VR - Having not experienced good VR before I was quite intrigued, albeit slightly nervous about the experience not working. After venturing down to the station, we soon entered. What on earth were they thinking?! I've never seen a refurbishment take so much atmosphere away from an attractions station as I saw with Galactica. The corrugated metal building was illuminated with blue lights, and three screens featuring the most repetitive 'pre-show' you'll ever experience. The experience just got worse while the ride began to have issues. After a 45 minute wait in the disabled queue, we finally boarded the craft. The host was quite honestly diabolical and should not be allowed to work on the ride if you ask me, leaving half a tonne of dirt (including other people eyelashes) on the VR headsets lens. The experience only got worse when o had to ask for help 6 times adjusting my headset. Unfortunately this really ruined the experience for me, and it didn't help I had some randomers eyelashes floating around in space with me. The experience e was okay, however I was extremely let down on my initial go. The next day it ride this again, and although the station still felt dull, the host was absolutely fantastic, wiping the lenses thoroughly and checking if I was okay with adjusting the strap. This experience was much better and I actually really enjoyed it, thank you to this host fir selling the ride to me with your excellent customer service. I was expecting the VR quality to be much worse but my rides were both quite good with no issues, the ride was in sync and it was interesting, however I can see why some would be let down. I don't see this lasting long, however ill enjoy it while it lasts. Galactica gets 6/10.


The attractions this year were very good, with some sky rocketing above others, overall the total for attraction comes to 6.25/10.


Overall my towers experience in 2016 was okay, however there is something missing. I didn't get that magical fuzzy feeling at any point other than on TH13TEEN and The Smiler, which is something that was sorely missed. I honestly think Alton Towers has dropped to my no.2 park now, I hope the magic is brought back soon! I'd rate my experience 6/10.

The trip averages out at a 6.5/10 this year - a significant drop on previous years. I really hope the resort regains its magic in 2017, as right now I'm not desperate to return...

Thank you for taking the time to read this review! Open the spoiler tag to see some photos of my trip!

Spoiler: show
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S.J_O'Grady
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Re: Alton Towers Resort 05/07/16-07/07/16

Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:07 pm

Great shot of the portal there :D
Life is a roller coaster. You can either scream every time you hit a bump or you can throw your hands up in the air and enjoy it.
 
Owen
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Re: Alton Towers Resort 05/07/16-07/07/16

Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:13 pm

Thank you, I have a couple more as well but didn't want an overload of photos haha!
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