I hope you’re doing well? Haydn and I love rollercoasters, if you’ve read our travel blogs from Florida, Barcelona and Germany then you’ll know we’re pretty much obsessed! We love theme parks and so this year we’ve decided to get ourselves Merlin Annual Passes. In the first section of this blog I’ll be talking about the passes but if your here just for the Alton Towers section feel free to skip down.
The pack was sent to us and arrived after 5 working days so can’t really complain there especially since we didn’t need to use them until day 6.
Above you can see what comes inside the pack which includes the lanyard, pop badge card holder and the discount booklet. The annual pass card comes attached to the welcome letter in the parcel.
After we’ve had these for a year I’ll more of a review but for now first impressions are pretty good. We’ve gone for the pay monthly membership since they work out cheaper than the yearly payment option. The joining fee of £36 per person is a little bit of a joke because I just don’t think the welcome pack you get is worth that… It was over £70 for both of us to join which is pretty expensive. But still I’m fairly confident we’ll get out money’s worth with all the Merlin attractions.
To start making the most of our passed we decided to drive to Alton Towers the same weekend we received them. This is our nearest theme park besides Flamingo Land which of course isn’t a Merlin park. Once we arrived it was so easy to use our new cards and get straight into the park.
There are so many high thrill rides in the park including some that have really paved the way for future coasters such as; Oblivion (the first ever dive coaster), Rita (the fastest launch coaster at the time of opening), The Smiler (the current record holder for most loops) and Thirteen (the world’s first free fall drop coaster). Of course many of these rides have been improved upon and upgraded in other parks around the world but Alton Towers clearly does a great job in pushing the boundaries and bringing new types of enjoyment to riders.
To start the day we went on the family coaster Runaway Mine Train, this was a new ride for both of us as on previous visits we hadn’t realised it was even there! I enjoyed the ride though and will definitely do it again. The ride operators really go above and beyond in terms of entertainment for this coaster which is really great to see. From there we headed over to Wicker Man. This had a lot of hype when first opening and although the layout and themeing is really cool I don’t enjoy the ride. The ride has a pre-show section and this is something I never seem to enjoy. It attempts to add “fear” but opinion just slows down the queue even though they were operating on three trains. The second reason is just that it feels so rough – typical of wooden coasters I know – but for me it takes away from the enjoyment.
Surprisingly queue times were really short on the day we visited, it was the end of May half term and the weather was a little drizzly. This meant we were able to hop between areas and practically walk into rides. Over in X Sector we didn’t queue at all for Oblivion and only about 30 minutes for The Smiler.
I really enjoy Oblivion, of course I wish the track had a little more to it but honestly that initial dive is thrilling. Fun fact, initially the ride used audio at the top, before the drop that said “Don’t Look Down” but noise complaints from locals meant it has since been removed. Operations were running great and both station A and B were being used. Dive coasters are quite unique to me particularly as I’ve never been on any others like it. Overall a really enjoyable ride which I’ll likely re-ride everytime we visit the park this year.
I hadn’t been on this ride before and I was incredibly nervous to do so. The record breaking 14 loops and infamous past made me genuinely scared; something I very rarely feel when it comes to coasters. But since Haydn loves it I knew I should give it a go. In the end I actually really enjoyed this ride; it definitely made me feel dizzy but no where near as bad as I thought I would. We sat on the front row which is definitely a bonus since I was able to see the track layout ahead and brace myself for each loop.
Post The Smiler we went onto another ride that was new to both of us, Hex. The pre-show for this ride is much better but then the ride is more designed to be that way. There are two different screening rooms and then one ride room that is deisnged to make you feel incredibly disoriented – which it did! The screen rooms scared me… Even though it’s a “family” ride. I’m such a baby when it comes to eeriness and on several occasions I found myself clutching Haydn! The ride was really interesting and leaves you so confused, the banked seating swings back and forth like a pirate ship whilst the room itself spins in sync with the seating to give the illusion of spining endlessly.
One of the nicest things about Alton Towers is it’s landscaping. Set around the 1850 Gothic Revival Stately Home there is plenty of beautifully kept garden space with ancient statues and architectural pieces. On one trip this year we plan to take a picnic and wander around the grounds because they really are beautiful.
Next up on our to do list was Rita and Thirteen. For this we walking round towards the back of the park into the Dark Forest section. As far as I’m aware these are the only two rides in the area so I could definitely see something new being added there in the future.
The first ride we went for was Thirteen, this is probably one of my favourite rides in the park. The first time I went on it the group I was with plotted not to tell me what happens; the coaster has a free fall drop which happens in complete darkness. Naturally I screamed soo hard the first time we went on it but even now I still find it quite enjoyable. Operations were running great for this ride and the trains were really smooth which is always a bonus.
The second coaster in this area is of course Rita – at one point the fastest launch coaster nicknamed The Queen of Speed. Other rides are now significantly faster so her title has been revoked but the ride is still good fun and has an interesting track layout all set in a forest environment so it’s unique in some ways. Launchs are one of my favourite features – hence Taron is my all time favourite – and since Rita uses a launch I do enjoy it. However, the ride operators that put me in my seat forced the bar a click to tight and my entire right leg was in agony, the skin was being pinched through my shorts an by the end of the ride I don’t think there was any blood flowing to my foot!
By this point we were starving so decided it was time to find something to eat. The rollercoaster restaurant is on our bucket list but it’s also on everyone else’s meaning it was booked up for the following 4 days! A little bit gutted we had to walk away still hungry… Although at least we’ve now got another something on our Summer bucket list.
Even though we were still starving we were now in the section of the park home to the classic ride Nemesis. We decide whilst we were over there that’d we give it a ride and then find food after. In hindsight that was a bad idea as this inverted coaster has quite a few loops that left us feeling a little sick. However, the inverted style of train is definitely my favourite so I still enjoyed this quite a lot. Its definitely showing signs of age though in terms of themeing and roughness.
After Nemesis we were pretty much done with rollercoasters for the day – I felt super dizzy and my neck was starting to ache – TMJ disorder problems… So we decided to get something to eat and chill out. We used the Just Chicken fast food restaurant as you can pick a number between 1-90 and try to win your meal for free. We didn’t win but with our Merlin passes giving us 20% off it didn’t feel extremely overpriced.
We are really looking forward to some more fun days out especially now the weather is getting warmer. I think I’ll even add a new category to my site specifically for Days Out! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss any of the fun.