What is it?
Alton Towers is a theme park, waterpark, resort and spa based in Staffordshire. It features four hotels, a theme park packed with over 50 rides, waterpark, woodland lodges and 18-hole golf course.
Park opening times:
24th March – 4th November (Hotels and the spa are open all year round).
What age is Alton Towers best for?
Alton Towers is generally regarded as an attraction for older children and adults, when compared with other major theme parks (like Legoland, Thorpe Park and Drayton Manor) based around the UK mostly due to its legendary white-knuckle roller coasters.
However, the resort has built a new range of attractions for smaller children, specifically children under with the new CBeebies land and hotel, which we’ve reviewed here.
How much does it cost?
£££ Alton Towers is pricey. Online prices:adult – £32-39.50, child (aged 3-15) £27.20 – £35. Gate prices: adult – £52.80-£60.30, child (aged 3-15) £46.80 – £54. Under 3s go free
Don’t pay full price on the day! Book in advance via the Alton Towers website as prices are cheaper. The best prices are online when booked 5 days in advance.
There are also seasonal discounts and monthly offers with savings of up to 25% as well as the option of annual passes, which are really cost effective if you know you’ll be going 3 or more times in a year.
10 things you need to know before you spend a day at Alton Towers
1. Best bits for under 4’s
All of CBeebies land is perfect for preschoolers. There is an In the Night Garden Magical boat ride, and even an Octonauts rollercoaster for little thrill seekers.
There are also constant activities and shows across the day, scheduled in every half an hour over 14 hours; ranging from meeting Bing, to dancing with Ubercorn and many, many more.
Animal-loving toddlers will jump for joy when they see Old MacDonald’s Farmyard. With games, rides and a petting area for hands-on fun, you’d be quackers not to take your nipper there. Make sure to measure your child before you go, as many rides do have minimum height requirements (rather than age) – and the ride helpers will be strict. Don’t let your child’s disappointment spoil the day – warn them in advance.
2. Best for swimmers
If your child is a water babe, he or she will absolutely love the Alton Towers Water Park. Situated in the Splash Landings hotel, you’ll need to buy separate tickets from the theme park, it has multiple pools, waterfalls, slides, waves and more, is fantastic fun. But parents beware – there are lots of water guns for a soaking, and it won’t be just your kids shooting! Large lockers are situated next to the pools and only cost £1. Opening hours are subject to the time of year you’re visiting.
3. Best rollercoasters for older children
If you have kids who are thrill-seekers, Alton Towers has lots on offer to wow them. With some of the hottest rides in the country, the term ‘hold on tight’ certainly springs to mind.
Galactica is a rollercoaster with cutting edge virtual reality, riders strap on VR headsets and follow a space adventure in front of their eyes.
Thirteen has a steep drop that throws you into blacked-out tunnels, not only will you be screaming at what you can’t see, but also at the unexpected movements of the coaster carriage.
Nemesis takes you into the terror lurking in the Forbidden Valley. We don’t want to give too much away about this famous ride, but keep in mind the film Alien when you’re boarding. Float, swoop, soar and dive like Superman on the Air rollercoaster and, if you’re really brave, stick your arms out for a cool, comical photo.
If your family likes heights, than Oblivion is the ride for you all. After climbing 60 metres, you’re held at the peek of a colossal vertical drop where you’re advised not to look down. But the minute curiosity gets the better of you and you open your peepers, you’re plunged down into a steam-filled tunnel. A scary, but thrilling experience!
Finally, hold onto your eyeballs as you’re catapulted from 0 to 100kmph in 2.5 seconds on Rita the Queen of Speed. The sound alone as she pulls off is enough to make your teeth chatter. Before you jump on, make sure your kids don’t have anything too valuable in their pockets. There are lockers available at the ride if you need to stash anything away beforehand, phew!
4. Is it worth buying a Fastrack pass?
In terms of getting on all the rides you want to, the fastrack pass is worth it, but when it comes to value for money, it certainty is not. There’s no escaping it, Alton Towers gets really busy! So you ae likely to queue for hours, especially at peak times. You can avoid the queues with the Fastrack system, but you will pay an arm and a leg for it.
Based on a tired system, for the cheapest passes (the bronze fastrack) you pay £20 per person for fast access to four rollercoasters . That’s one pass only to each four rides, not multiple rides.
The system goes all the way to the platinum fastrack pass the allows you to jump the queues on unlimited rides all day long, but that’s an eye-watering price of £95 per person!
5. Don’t spend money on
Alton Towers is a big park and all the walking around is bound to make your little one thirsty. Instead of constantly forking out for bottled drinks, invest in the penny-saving Cruncher. You buy the cup for £5, but then your tot can then fill it up for free all day with soft drinks from the shops. A fab idea and cool gift to take home!
6. Best place for food
The park is full of restaurants that will appeal to the fussiest eater, they aren’t cheap, of course, but you can get two courses for kids for £8, and a main meal for adults costs around £15.
7. Mum & dad me-time
After hitting the rides with the kids, there’s no better way to relax than booking into the resort spa. Situated in the Alton Towers Hotel, it’s a gorgeous hidden treat that includes a hot tub, steam room, swimming pool, meditation area, sauna and multi-sensory showers to help any parent recharge their batteries. With treatments starting from just £35, it really is a must-have!
8. When to go
Insiders suggest avoiding the end of the summer holidays, so March to the end of July would be the best time to book a visit. If you want to make it a stay to remember, take the nippers away on one of the parks exclusive breaks.
Enjoy an unforgettable firework show on the 4th November, enjoy an action-packed time over February half-term, be scared out of your wits on the Halloween-themed Fright Nights, or celebrate Christmas with an amazing trip to winter wonderland.
If you can, visit out of peak season – Alton Towers opens from March to November. Pick a good weather day in Spring or Autumn and the queues will be much shorter or if you’ve got pre-schoolers, visit during summer term time.
If you arrive at the beginning of the day, don’t make the common mistake of jumping on the first ride you see. Head instead a little further into the park where the queues have yet to build up.
9. Get a deal on tickets
Keep your eye out for promotions in the summer on food and drinks packs. These discounts are available only on gate prices, but you can still save money.
If you stay at the hotel you get special early entry to the theme park an hour before the general public and free parking. Not all of the rides are open at this time, but there’s still plenty to keep you busy.
10. Get the Alton Towers app
Be tech-savvy and download the free Alton Towers Resort app. It gives you live waiting times for every ride as well as an interactive map, so you can make the most out of your stay.
Don’t forget to…
Between the unpredictable weather and the splashtastic rides, take plastic macs to stop your brood from getting too wet.
There are seven baby-changing facilities in the park and baby supplies are available from the Towers Trading Store. Guest services hire out pushchairs at £7 for a single pram and £10 for a double, with an additional £10 deposit that you get back at the end of the day.
Family facility rooms in the hotel include a fridge, microwave, washing machine, iron and ironing board and cots are available from reception.
If you’re only staying for the day it’s worth noting that there’s a £6 car parking fee.
CBeebies Land Hotel
This hotel opened in July 2017, offering a more colourful option for families with toddlers and younger children wanting to stay at the resort.
With themed rooms based on Bugbies, In the Night Garden, Postman Pat and Octonauts, it really makes for a magical experience for fans of CBeebies. Rooms start from £217, with bed and breakfast, and it’s an extra £45 for the theme park tickets.
A new restaurant that’s open to the general public, as well as theme park goers, your food is delivered on, yep, a rollercoaster. You order your food via a tablet on your dining table and then and wait in anticipation as your dinner flies around the track, above your head doing the loop-the-loop before it slides down to your lap.
Address: Alton Towers Resort, Alton, Staffordshire ST10 4DB