Garry Livingstone & Elizabeth Laidler Review Their Recent Visit To Alton Towers!
In our FIRST EVER guest review, 2 of our wonderful followers – Garry Livingstone & Elizabeth Laidler bring us their full thoughts on their recent visit to Alton Towers.
During their visit, the theme park fanatical couple checked out Alton Towers’ stunning NEW dark ride – The Curse At Alton Manor, helped Th13teen celebrate it’s 13th anniversary with a rather special ride and took in the sights and sounds of their favourite UK park.
Now as much as we do love sharing our thoughts on our visits here at TPI, we also love hearing about your experiences too.
That’s why we were thrilled when Garry & Elizabeth offered to write the following review and share their thoughts & experiences on our happy place (and second home) too.
Here’s how their day went!
Noticeable Improvements From The Start!
We arrived at 11:10 and made our way to the monorail.
First thing we noticed was the lovely refresh of the paint work on the station and also the toilets have had a little TLC with what looks like new ceiling mounted heating.
Nothing much changed in the sense of the monorail trains other than updated audio.
We made it to the entrance plaza, very quick bag check & through the turnstiles.
We did experience a slight issue with one of our passes not scanning but thankfully it managed to scan fine on the hand scanner.
We headed straight into guest services to collect my partners RAP timeout card & headed over to towers trading to get our drinks vessels reactivated.
There was some lovely NEW merch, however (much like everything else) prices have increased (especially on pin badges which as ever are limited to 2 of each one per customer).
We headed to the tills to get our vessels reactivated and were thrilled to hear you can now gain annual pass discount of drinks refills (new for 2023).
This is a very big move for towers as they were the only ones not offering this previously.
We then headed over to the box office for a photo pass.
This has now been updated to utilise the Alton towers app allowing you to transfer your photos (rather than using a website).
You do still however get given a card with a QR on to scan, but at the end of the day you can scan the QR on the app and all your photos appear (rather than going onto a website and downloading that way).
The photos are much easier to download and save to your phone using the app rather than the website.
As a result of this there has been a noticeable improvement with the WiFi on park with new WiFi points being installed increasing the cover across the park.
For the first time I didn’t once hit a black spot that wasn’t covered either by WiFi or mobile data.
Celebrating 13 Years of Th13teen!
Our first ride of the day was on Th13teen to celebrate her 13th birthday, however when we got there we were really disappointed to find nothing had been done to help celebrate her birthday.
There were no roaming actors & nothing merchandise wise either which was highly disappointing (especially for those that enjoy the ride and the theme).
It’s also worth noting that the RAP access point has also now changed meaning you now enter via the exit (which felt more difficult given you have people exiting and entering in the same place).
This was due to ride staff letting RAP users into the station as people were offloading and trying to exit (which seemed to slow operation times).
A simple fix to this would be to have people exit first and then allow RAP users into the station.
We also felt communication between station staff could be improved.
This was due to the fact that when we went to row 9 (as instructed) my partner got there and found people already sat in the car.
This resulted in them having to be asked to move back behind the air gates by the station staff.
RITA, Wicker Man & Lunch!
Our second ride was on RITA, a ride which in our opinion is not given enough credit due to it having a great launch and the layout also provides some great air time too.
We then proceeded to Wicker Man which is one of our favourite rides at Alton Towers.
We headed straight to the RAP entrance and got let straight through to the baggage hold, and then into the pre-show.
The pre-show was spot on as usual. The smells and effects were all working and felt really immersive.
It took us a couple of minutes to be loaded which came as a result of really quick operations by the ride staff.
All effects and smells were working and felt really strong. The ride also felt very smooth and seemed alot quicker than the last time we were on it (some lovely air time)!
The Curse At Alton Manor Felt Cursed.
We then headed over to The Curse At Alton Manor & headed to the RAP entrance. We got to the rope to be told it had closed temporarily and they were exiting people through the main doors.
This from listening to other people seemed to be a common occurrence on this day and as a result the ride spent more time closed than open.
We instead decided to go for a walk to Forbidden Valley.
We headed onto Funk n Fly (which was walk on) & the 3rd year of this attraction at the park (2nd for this particular model).
Funk N Fly also remains the only original retro squad member at the park.
We got loaded on by the ride’s operator who was a member of the owners team and had a lovely conversation about the attraction.
We were informed it’s down time last season was due to people slamming the bars shut which resulted in the locking mechanisms being damaged and 4 of the arms being out of operation.
He showed us how the mechanism worked and also informed us that each one is roughly £1,500 to replace (which is staggering!).
The speakers however let the ride experience down as the audio kept cutting out and going crackly.
We then had some donuts which had also increased in price but noticed so too had the size compared to the end of last season.
After eating them we headed to Galactica to find the usual RAP entrance was closed. This meant it took us 10 minutes to find the non ambulant RAP entrance as there were no staff available to assist with directions and it wasn’t clearly marked out.
Operations appeared slow, however we completely understand there are some very complex safety procedures to follow.
It’s a good ride but since the removal of the (very poor) VR headsets it has little to no themeing which makes the old Galactica branding now seem pointless as it now feels like the ride has reverted back to it’s original iteration AIR.
We feel that if the ride is to remain with the park, it needs some major investment putting into themeing it properly.
Following our ride we were sat on the brake run for round about 5 minutes (which in a flying position is not very comfortable to begin with), however having someone else’s sick visible on the floor in front of you is definitely not nice either.
The exit to the ride also feels very plain and basic too given the fact there is no longer a ride shop and just wooden walls.
NEMESIS IS CLOSED!
We had a little look around the construction walls of Nemesis & then proceeded up to Sub Terra where we also found a phalanx operative standing outside.
We looked at what people are speculating to be a viewing platform, however on closer inspection we noticed what looked like a bar above it which looks like it would hold a sign.
As such, we don’t think this is actually a viewing platform but rather an extended queue line for Sub Terra or possibly even a new entrance to Nemesis itself.
It would seem silly putting in loads of money to erecting scaffolding just to create a viewing platform to then rip it back down once nemesis reopens.
This could also be a ‘specimens only’ entrance where those who received a wrist band on closing night (and also via Twitter) could enter upon it’s reopening.
We also saw a number of engineer/maintenance staff going into the Sub Terra building.
It would seem something is definitely coming to this building but until something is confirmed by Alton Towers themselves, everything remains pretty unknown at this stage.
Time To Enter The Curse At Alton Manor!
We decided to head back to The Curse At Alton Manor, however sadly it was still closed so we had another look around the shop. We found Attic of Antiquities to be very beautifully themed with some really nice merchandise on offer too.
Sadly, there is still currently no The Curse At Alton Manor pin badges on offer and this we were told is down to a supply issue.
We also checked out Coach House Confectionery – the newly reopened concession stand outside the attraction & decided to sample the chocolate cupcakes.
We did however struggle to identify the flavours of the cakes as there were no signs, so had to ask the staff member who also struggled to identify them too meaning they failed to inform our chocolate cupcakes also included a mint goo on top.
As we were eating our cupcakes the manor finally reopened and as such we headed straight to the RAP entrance to enter the ride.
The first thing we noticed is you’re immediately made to feel as if you are viewing a house for sale.
The overall themeing is incredible and there’s also some really interesting information if you take the time to look too. We did however feel like we were being rushed through by other guests.
The pre-show room was beautifully themed and if you take the time to watch the projections in the dolls house it’s really interesting.
The surprising switch to the UV writing was a really nice touch too & really adds to the suspense.
The station is themed to a party with paper chains draped from the ceiling. The themeing in the scenes is really good too, however there is room for improvement as some areas are completely pitch black. In our opinion the audio also seemed rather quiet too.
There’s so much to see throughout the ride too making it very re-rideable as you won’t see everything in one run through.
Of course, It’s still early days for the ride as it only opened on the 18th March, but for a ride system that’s over 30 years old it seems they haven’t really given it much TLC.
Instead it feels as though they have concentrated more on the themeing and story of the attraction. In our opinion ride reliability definitely needs to be addressed.
Once things have been ironed out though we definitely think it will be a really good addition, but for how long we’ll have to wait and see.
It will also be interesting to see how long the themed actors roaming the area remain too and also if they do anything for scarefest with the curse at Alton manor.
A Twist On The Retro Squad!
After experiencing The Curse At Alton Manor we decided to head to X-Sector and take a look at the new for 2023 Retro Squad ride – Twistatron.
The ride seems to fit quite nicely in enterprise’s former footprint but it does seem weird seeing a ride above ground level and not in the pit like it’s predecessor.
Twistatron is an unusual ride due to it being an outward facing trabant (usual trabants have the seats side on to the center similar to have enterprise was).
It’s owned by Raecher Hiscoes, originally based in Scotland and usually travels under the name of Star fighter.
It’s uniqueness doesn’t stop there either as it’s also a self built ride by RH Fabrications and has only been around since 2021 making it’s debut at a fair in Inverness in June 2021.
It’s currently part of Scotland’s funfairs and has only ever operated within Scotland which makes this the first time it has been out of it’s respective boundaries.
The ride has also been re-branded with the usual Retro Squad vinyls and has been assigned the usual thematic playlist.
The ride experience itself is quite an unusual one. It starts off feeling like a typical twister where you seem to go from corner to corner but then it starts to tilt similar to how enterprise did.
The ride cycle lasts a decent length for a funfair ride but it’s rumoured to have preset cycles and a manual freestyle cycle too.
We imagine due to health and safety restrictions, Merlin and Alton Towers will have more than likely set it to a preset cycle.
As with all the Retro Squad rides there’s also a member of the showman’s team there as well as towers staff.
Celebrating 10 Years Of The Smiler!
We then decided to head onto The Smiler which is celebrating its 10th year at the park this year.
At present we haven’t seen any limited edition merchandise, however after speaking to staff it would seem that not all the resort’s merchandise is available yet so that may come along at a later date.
Hopefully we see some special edition merchandise appear during the resort’s upcoming Festival of Thrills: Smiler takeover event!
Nothing else much appears to have changed with The Smiler apart from the introduction of a few new logo signs in the station. Ride operations were fairly quick as the park were running a 3 train operation.
After Smiler we headed to Oblivion (another ride that’s short and simple but still manages to pack a punch making it in our opinion underrated).
For a prototype & first of its kind it still feels to be doing quite well even 25 years on!
The loading and unloading was slow and this we put down to them running the ride on 4 trains.
Only having 1 in the station at a time meant that you were sat on the brake run for quite a while (which given the fact it was the end of the day did eat into your available time to get into another queue before ride close at 16:00).
When we finally exited Oblivion we went straight to the box office to get the two photos that we couldn’t have added on our photo digipass and decided to head to the monorail before exiting the resort became to difficult.
The monorail had quite a long queue already being only 16:10 but it did seem to move fairly quickly.
Overall the day was lovely, the weather held out until the end and it only started to rain when we got back to our car.
The park overall was clean and tidy with people actively walking around picking up litter and even emptying bins (even ones that really didn’t need emptying at that time).
Some toilet blocks could’ve still done with some TLC (not so much on the cleaning side but the condition of the facilities available).
All Staff we encountered during our visit were also very friendly and polite & If we were to give the day a rating out of 10 I would say it would be a 7/10 overall.
A good start to the season, but still a bit of room for improvement moving forwards.
After hearing this review it seems fairly evident that both Garry and Elizabeth enjoyed a pretty successful visit to Alton Towers as a whole.
Yes ride reliability wasn’t great, however they still appeared to get on a lot of rides during their visit.
We have also loved hearing their thoughts on the resort’s newest attraction and can’t wait to see what Alton Towers decide to do with Gloomy Wood this coming Halloween.
Overall, we would like to give huge thanks to both Garry & Elizabeth for taking the time to share this fantastic review with us and we look forward to hearing more about how they get on over the coming months.
If you fancy featuring on our website then we would love to hear from you!
Simply drop us an email to email@example.com and we’ll see what we can do to make it happen.
Huge thanks once again to Garry and Elizabeth for sending in this wonderfully detailed review, we loved it!
Thank you very much for reading!
P.S. Fancy finding out how we got on during our recent opening day visit to Alton Towers? Check out our opening day vlog now below…..