Theme Park Insanity

How to maximise your ride time during your day at Alton Towers!

Image credit: Coaster Gen.
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How do you maximise the amount of ride time you get out of your day during a day visit to Alton Towers? We know just the trick!

What’s the one thing that we all want the most when visiting our favourite parks or attractions? For us it’s value for money and that means maximising your experience as much as you can to ensure that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to trying out everything the park or attraction has to offer. In the case of a theme park however this can in some cases be a rather challenging task, however having visited Alton Towers a more than ample amount of times last season we have learnt just the trick when it comes to ensuring you fit as much into your day as possible whilst riding as many rides as possible (even during the busier periods)!

Now we know what you’re going to say! During peak periods the only way you’re going to achieve this is by purchasing the dreaded ‘Fast Track’ tickets, however believe us when we say you don’t have to purchase these in order to still fit plenty of rides into your visit during time on park!

Throughout the following article we are therefore going to share with you all our typical day visit to Alton Towers, and discuss with you how we usually attack the ride line up in order to ensure we fit in as much as we physically can do during our visit. There are after all many different little tips and techniques you can use throughout the day which will allow for a more successful experience whilst still getting the most out of your visit. We obviously however can’t account for ride downtime as this is literally outside of our control and if a ride does go down for whatever reason whilst you’re queuing for it? Well then, that’s just dumb luck at it’s best haha!

Ready, set go!

Now before we begin we want to make one very well discerned recommendation, and that’s if you are one of those who makes visit upon visit throughout the year to all of the major Merlin owned parks but have yet to purchase a Merlin pass then we have advise one thing – DO!!

Merlin Passes have so many benefits when it comes to a day at Alton Towers and for this reason we can’t recommend having one of these enough as having this will give you a much needed head start over the rest of the hoard who are desperate to get in and crowd the coasters! The main plus of having a Merlin Pass is the fact not only do you get unlimited entry to all Merlin owned parks and attractions throughout the year, however you also get in to the parks half an hour ahead of everyone else visiting for the day (barring the hotel guests as this is included in the price of staying on resort as well). By doing this you will be able to enter Alton Towers at half nine as opposed to 10:00am and get straight to it!

This being the case once you have clambered your way through security and have finally got into the park it’s like someone just started the countdown of the launch on Stealth (wrong park we know but still relevant)l! Three… Two… One… GO GO GO!! What you will likely witness is one of two things. You will either see everyone bolting like the Flash (yes I made a DC Superhero reference) towards¬† Big Bob, or you will see them hurtling down past Spinball Whizzer and towards X-Sector! In this instance we advise head towards Big Bob and make your sacrifice early rather than later because if you do you will likely see a maximum of a 10 minute queue at this point as opposed to an 80 minute plus queue you will see an hour later!

"Make your sacrifice early"
Tackle the Beast!

Once you have fed the flames and have escaped the Beornen once or twice you’re going to want to immediately head straight down to Forbidden valley to take on the beast. By doing this and following this strategy you should arrive down at Nemesis just in time for it to open and for you to achieve a walk on. We would therefore advise taking full advantage of a walk on and getting at least two rides if not three in a row to ensure you get a good amount of time on this top invert! After doing this you should then immediately head down to Galactica and do the same again ensuring you go intergalactic at least more than once as this will ensure you have beaten the crowds and had a fairly good amount of ride time prior to the rest of the world descending on Forbidden Valley.¬†

Taking on the beast!
Going Intergalactic!
Head to Intamin Forest!

After tackling the alien and shooting through stars a good few times you’re going to want to head back up to the sky ride and make your way over to Dark Forest (or the Intamin Forest as we like to call it). Once there head straight for Th13teen! Out of the two coasters within this area Th13teen is usually the one which gets the bigger queues as Rita tends to be much more successful at devouring the queues. By the time you get to the over side of the gardens you should just be arriving around the same time the area is opening again beating most of the crowds and getting straight onto the rides (in an ideal world). All of this so far however doesn’t account for down time on rides as this is always possible, however if this does happen then the best thing to do is try and get to the intamin forest prior to Forbidden Valley as the coasters within Forbidden Valley usually eat the queues far quicker than the ones in Dark Forest do and this we advise from our own experiences.

Once you have been down to the woods alone (we say this because we’re usually a single rider) you’re going to want to exit Th13teen and head straight to Rita. Now at this point the queues will likely be starting to build and therefore we would anticipate that you’re going to very likely be tackling at least 20 minutes waiting time for Rita. This being the case given the ride lasts 25 seconds from launch until station arrival the queues will usually (and we say usually because again there’s still no accounting for ride down time) move fairly fast and this again is due to the fact that Rita is as a rule a queue muncher! This therefore means that at this point if you did want to get more than one ride on Corrie’s Best (see what we did there?) then you more than likely can.

"Queue Muncher!"
Let Marmalisation Commence!

Once you feel like you have got your full fill of Dark Forest (we still think Intamin Forest sounds better haha!) then it’s time to make your way over to X-Sector.

Out of all the coaster heavy areas on park X-Sector is usually the one which will get the busiest first thing and this can be due to the fact that most people will want to hit Oblivion and The Smiler early. By this point however things should have chilled out a little and not only that, but you will likely be hitting this area in and around lunch time when everyone else has headed to grab some scram.

Once you arrive we would advise starting with Oblivion. This ride usually tends to get no more than a 10 minute queue most of the time and given the fact the ride operators were operating a 2 station service last season queues again should move fairly fast. This therefore means that again if you want to have more than one go on this ride prior to hitting the Smiler then you can in most cases do just that. This therefore means that you can indeed ‘not look down’ on more than one occasion.

"Don't Look Down? Ooops I just did!"

That means you now have only one thing left to do, and that’s to submit yourself to the wills of the devious and downright deranged Ministry of Joy! Yep, it’s Smiler time!

Now in this case we would advise utilising the single rider queue. The reason we say this is due to the fact that even though you will still likely have to wait a little while you’re still going to get onto this record breaker a lot faster this way at this point than you will if you all stick together and queue in the standard queue (which at this point could still easily be 60 minutes plus). If you do still however want to queue together then in all fairness it won’t really affect your day too badly if you do as you will still be left with the rest of the afternoon after your ride within which to enjoy the rest of the park’s offering.

If you have by this point followed our advice then you should have managed to hit up all 7 major coasters within the park by dinner time and this is extremely good going indeed. This will therefore also mean that you have the rest of your day to focus on the smaller rides such as Duel, Hex, The Blade (if it is still on park) and Enterprise etc. The other rides on park (Duel in particular) never really seem to amass much of a queue and this means you should also get through these very quickly indeed.

Tackle the Rest of the Park!

After completing your marmalisation and becoming an advocate you now have two options. You can either grab some much needed lunch (because if you’re anything like us then you will probably be extremely peckish by this point) or you can start to attack the smaller rides (or what little remains of them). In this instance however the better option of the two for infrequent visitors is to keep going and make you way to Enterprise as having a late lunch will not only cut down queues in food outlets, but it will also again maximise the amount of ride time you have prior to leaving.

Once you have completed your ride on Enterprise we advise you head straight to Hex and start making your way back around the park in the opposite direction to the way you will have just come.

This will therefore mean you hit Enterprise, Hex, Duel and then finally the Blade (again if it’s actually open on our return although if you’re reading this after the park has reopened for 2020 then you will already know the answer to that one). This will mean that by 15:00 at the latest you should have completed pretty much all of the rides worth riding for us older ones before leaving the park for the day. Now as you head back up from Forbidden Valley you will also have the option of checking out the River Rapids (or lazy river as we like to now call it as that’s exactly what it’s become) and the Runaway Mine train (Choo Choo!). If you’re limited for time we would advise choosing the mine train over the rapids as this in our opinion is worth more of a wait than the rapids.

Battling Ghosts and Ghouls on Duel!
Choo Choo!
Value for Money!

All in all following this method of approach you should have by now had a fairly successful (but extremely tiring) day at Alton Towers and should feel like you have got the most out of your visit and admission fee, however if you’re paying per day then we would advise making a two day visit to ensure you really get your money’s worth as there is so much more still to do and see on resort! This includes the Alton Towers Dungeon (yes we do actually do love it!), Sharkbait Reef (the park’s onsite SeaLife center included with your admission and of course the brand new World of David Walliams which we still can’t wait to check out for the first time hopefully this season rather than next (but again who knows at this point really?).

All in all to really fully appreciate Alton Towers Resort you really need to ideally spend at least two days on park (or make a return visit for another day later in the year if you can only commit to just one this time around). With such a wide variety of choice available throughout your day we definitely feel that the potential to get value for money is always there regardless of whether you get loads of rides in throughout your visit or not. If you can however maximise your ride time and get value for money during the process? Well then, who are we to argue? So next time you visit the UK’s number one theme park resort remember to follow our approach and you’ll be bound to make the most of our your visit and as stated in the title – “maximise your ride time”‘ during your visit to Alton Towers!

special thanks

We would like to give special thanks to our great friends over at Coaster Gen for allowing us to use the fantastic header image of the Towers as without this the article just wouldn’t have created the first impression we were going for!

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