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awful 'day out' at Alton Towers!!!

(28 Posts)
jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:09:33

Myself, dh and two dcs had never been here before. I decided I would treat them this half term and booked the tickets online. It was very very expensive at £135 for all of us. I then booked some food vouchers as we were going to be there all day for another £45. We can rarely afford days out like this so were all very excited to go. We live about 2 hours drive away so obviously petrol was pricey too. Anyway we left really early to get there for 10am opening. As we left the motorway to get on the A road the problems started with a massive queue of traffic, all heading for Alton Towers. It took about 2 hours to get to the car park. We parked up at the nearest available space then had to tramp over mud and stones for a mile just to get to the park entrance. Now when you have to pay £6 just to park, which i think is a complete rip off as you pay so much for your tickets, you would think the car park would be free. We printed our tickets online so could go straight throught the turnstiles but then had to queue for another near hour to redeem our food vouchers. After getting those we were told we had to go to the cafe to collect our re-fillable drinks vessels. We asked a waitress if we could just collect them immediately as we weren't ordering food and drink but no...we had to queue to collect them behind others ordering food. Altogether it had taken us about 4-5 hours with no ride at all so far. We finally got to the stage where we could ride and came across the sonic spinball. We were in the queue for that for an hour and a half and so it went on. Every decent ride was over an hour and a half wait. We spent a whole day in the place and got on 5 rides in total. We never got a chance to go to hardly any of the rides the dcs were looking forward to. The whole day cost us over £200 to spend most of it standing in the cold in queues. Why why why do they take that amount of money from people and let them in when they will get to go on hardly anything. Surely there should be a maximum amount of people they let in. I have been to many theme parks in the past and know that you have to queue but this was just ridiculous. The children were upset and disappointed and I was angry we'd spent so much for so little. When we left to return to our car it was dark and the mile walk back to our car had virtually no lighting and no footpath for most of it so we had to dodge cars coming the other way. I will NEVER go to this place again!

Pootles2010 Wed 31-Oct-12 09:13:01

Yeah alton towers is v expensive full price - i would never ever pay full price, don't know anyone who has tbh, tend to wait till we have vouchers. It is a bit miserable in the cold at this time of year, I agree. Sounds like que's were particularly bad - maybe with being half term?

PhyllisDoris Wed 31-Oct-12 09:16:50

Sounds dreadful, but no different to other theme parks, which are all a rip off - more time queueing than riding. We always take a picnic, though haven't been to one in a long time because I hate them.

jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:17:07

I did expect the queues as it's half term and I have been to other theme parks at half term but no way as bad as this. It was impossible to get a decent amount of rides into the day. We paid full price as had no access to any vouchers of any kind. and it was a last minute one off treat that I thought the kids would love. To continue to let people in paying that sort of money when the park was so full there was no chance of having a decent day is wrong in my opinion.

Pootles2010 Wed 31-Oct-12 09:19:37

I do agree - they are total rip off merchants, particularly in regard to the car parks! We haven't been in ages. I think it's partly because there's a lack of real competition in this country - they're they biggest and they know it.

Nooneelseisallowedafergus Wed 31-Oct-12 09:21:23

Poor you. That's awful. Get the kids to pull sickies from school and go with vouchers in term time next visit.

Bluebell99 Wed 31-Oct-12 09:23:06

We used to have merlin passes for a few years but stopped this year because of these issues. To charge for parking is just greedy, it used to be free for everyone, then free for pass holders then just free for premium pass holders. However I think it should be free parking as entrance fees is so expensive. I also hate how they sell tickets allowing people to queue jump, fast passes, which make the queues longer for everyone. Why should people be able to pay to queue jump?! My son went on a school trip reward to Thorpe park and he only managed to do two rides all day!

jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:24:51

grin Nooneelseisallowedafergus, I suggested that to dd1 who is a real stickler for the rules and was horrified that I would think of such a thing!

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Wed 31-Oct-12 09:27:21

I avoid Alton like the plague. Overpriced, queues that go on forever and it's so spread out. The parking fee was the icing on the cake tbh. We tend to go to Drayton Manor, it's cheaper and there's very little the youngest DC can't go on (huge problem at Alton).

jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:27:27

We were actually looking into the merlin passes but after yesterday we have decided against it. The fast track tickets are completely unreasonable I agree. There were signs in the queue stating you will be dismissed from the park without refund if you get caught queue jumping, yet they are quite happy for you to do it if you pay them enough!

threepiecesuite Wed 31-Oct-12 09:32:00

I went on the 18th July, just before the schools broke up. It was at full capacity, with 400 coaches of teenagers squeezed in. We got on 1 ride all day, queued 3 hours for it..... never, ever, ever again. Every single aspect of all of it was a complete rip-off.

ApplesinmyPocket Wed 31-Oct-12 09:32:50

I love Alton Towers, but I would never go in half-term, or any school holiday really (I appreciate that isn't possible for most people with school-age children.) This week it is Scarefest too isn't it - the park's busiest time of year oddly enough.

Give it another chance if you ever can go when most of the schools have gone back. If you arrive when the park opens and leave when it closes and plan the best and most efficient way around the park, on a quiet day you can walk on to many of the rides without queuing at all, and even go round again. We have been every year in the first/second week of September and managed 20 rides or so a day, with the park at times being TOO quiet - no atmosphere - though I'd take that over queues any day.

I realise that may be out of the question for you though and I'm really sorry you had such a rotten day out with so little pleasure and so much money wasted sad

jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:35:46

I don't think I'd ever talk dh into going through that again and tbh I can think of TONS of places I'd rather go. None of us had ever been before and I really thought it was going to be worth the money. I know that maybe we went on a busy day but the whole thing has put me off theme parks for a very long time!

OneHandFlapping Wed 31-Oct-12 09:38:00

Sorry your lovely day out was ruined.

The best time to go is a rainy day in early spring/late autumn during school term time, when queues are lowest. Arrive at opening time and stay until closing. Plan your trip to go on popular rides as soon as you get there.

If you get Tesco vouchers, redeem some of those - dramatically reduces the cost (I think Alton Towers is part of this scheme).

Take your own food - something simple eg cheese sandwich each and a cereal bar or two.

Don't let this put you off. Theme parks can be lovely places if you can avoid the crowds.

BiscuitNibbler Wed 31-Oct-12 09:39:51

Halloween half term is one of the worst times to go to Alton Towers, it is always hugely busy.

You should be able to find half price tickets fairly easily, they are normally all over the place. Also you can use Tesco reward vouchers. I have never met anyone who has paid full price to go.

Was the Monorail not working? You do not normally have to walk from the car park to the entrance.

We go a lot (premium pass holders) and you need to get there before 9am on busy days, but most of the time it is fairly quiet - we sometimes just go for a morning or an afternoon and manage to get on everything we want to. I think it is just one of those places that you need to plan when you visit to avoid the hordes.

GooseyLoosey Wed 31-Oct-12 09:41:47

Agree with the raining day thing, I usually try around October (but not the half term). We usually get to go on everything we want with minimal delays. Nightmare in school hols.

jollymollie Wed 31-Oct-12 09:47:17

I didn't know anything about a monorail having never been here before. Everyone else was walking from the car park to the entrance. It was a last minute decision and didn't know about vouchers etc. I also don't shop at Tesco so don't have any clubcard vouchers.

noisytoys Wed 31-Oct-12 09:55:57

That's why we took the kids to Disney World in the past. They have ride return tickets where they give you a time slot to go on the busiest rides. Max 20 min queue, great theming and a good day. We used to have a Merlin pass too. Never again

LeeCoakley Wed 31-Oct-12 10:12:36

I hate with a hatred the Merlin 'class' system. Perks for those who can afford it! Gaah! The cost of parking is an outrage. The only thing you can do is vote with your feet. But while they keep offering cheap ticket deals people will keep going so it will never change. Sorry you paid so much for an awful experience. Why don't you send a copy of your OP to Merlin? You never know they might send you something in recompense.

mummytime Wed 31-Oct-12 10:17:01

I would never do something like this spur of the minute (and would avoid half-term). Last time we went we used Nectar points for Alton Towers. If I didn't have vouchers I would shop around as agencies sometimes have cheap deals, and there are often vouchers on something. I would never buy food vouchers but take in a packed lunch and buy any extras with cash. The roads to Alton Towers do get very crowded.

BiscuitNibbler Wed 31-Oct-12 18:34:52

I think if you sent a copy of your OP to Merlin they would say the same as the rest of us: it is their busiest time, they do heaps of offers / vouchers which are easy to find, there is a monorail so you didn't have to walk and you are allowed to take in your own food.

Seriously, it is like complaining that a maze has hedges.

susiedaisy Wed 31-Oct-12 18:39:14

My brother went to Thorpe park yesterday and had a similar experience, we spoke to him at midday he still hadn't been on a ride because of traffic and them colossal queues!

ruddynorah Wed 31-Oct-12 18:41:30

You didn't do your research. Look for hotel offers. We last went on the £99 deal. Two people stay over night, inc breakfast, inc tickets, inc fast pass, inc early ride time. Did all the big rides in the first hour, 9-10. Then went on them all again with fast pass or not depending on queue. Oblivion x3, airx 4, Ritax2 nemesisx3 thirteen x2 etc etc. For those big days out you need to plan ahead and use offers available.

ruddynorah Wed 31-Oct-12 18:43:03

They have 2for1 tickets on crisp packets etc. No one pays full price...

KeemaNaanAndCurryOn Wed 31-Oct-12 18:47:01

Sounds like an utterly crap day out and I'm not surprised your disappointed when it cost so much for a special treat.

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