Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent I have been to Alton Towers many many times. In fact I even did one season working on ride photos for Oblivion! I know the park like the back of my hand and no other theme park in the UK has ever matched it for me.
Last year we noticed how much quieter it was in the park since the Smiler accident and we noticed again this time that it felt much quieter than Chessington or Legoland and we were there in the school holidays. This could be because the park is much bigger so the number of people is similar but spread out over the different areas so it doesn’t look as busy.
CBeebies Land is brilliant and my kids absolutely love it. I thought they were getting a bit old for it now and they tend to watch other channels on the tv these days but even at 6, 4 and 3 they think it’s brilliant. Romeo has asked for his birthday to stay in the new CBeebies hotel that opens in July so we can’t wait to go back and try that.
With Merlin Passes we get the early ride time so a 9am start rather than 10am. We left Kent at 5am to make sure we were there early but Steffan didn’t follow the Sat Nav correctly so we weren’t on time. So we decided to save time we would park on the express parking.
Parking is free with a premium Merlin pass (worth getting premium over standard for one member of your party for this reason) it is usually £6. Express is £16 but with the pass it is down to £10. But it does mean you don’t have to queue in the long queues for the monorail or walk 15 mins to the car park and as we don’t have a buggy these days it was worth it for quick entry and the whinging at the end of the day.
For early ride time there are a few big rides open and then of CBeebies land. Some of the queues are ridiculous for what the ride actually is. The In the Night Garden ride can get up to an hour long during the day as can Postman Pat and Octonauts.
We tend to do one or two of the rides here then we go elsewhere in the park for rides opening at 10am and get onto those before queues build up. CBeebies Land gets quiet again at the end of the day as most people with young children tend to leave early.
Cuckoo land is also designed for small children and so that can be quiet in the morning but gets busier after lunch once people start moving around. There is a learner driving school just like in Legoland but nowhere near as busy!
There are parent swap cards so one can queue for the big rides then the second parent can walk straight on. This works in Disney and places where there is lots to entertain the children but if you are over by Nemesis there are only big rides there so nothing to entertain the kids at all so we tend to stay away from the biggest rides. Or we get a fast pass so Steffan can go on them. We get 1 each with the passes so he has 5 to use this year and will get most of the big rides covered.
One of their favourite things is Justin’s House. It’s not a ride but more like an activity. You have soft ball and canons to use to fire them at other people. There is something similar at Chessington but they just love Justin Fletcher so this one is better to them.
There is a restaurant in CBeebies Land that does healthy food and pretty reasonably priced as well for meal deals. We got 2 deals then 2 sets of sandwiches and 2 packs of pringles between the 5 of us then with our 20% discount lunch was coming to £15! Not bad at all! Better than eating chips as well.
Instead of getting ice creams we got a pic n mix. There was a small cup for £4 or a bucket for £6. With the discount for Merlin passes the bucket came to £4.80…it’s not done on weight so we piled so many sweets in! It was a bargain…lasted all 5 of us the whole 4 day holiday…think I ate way more than the kids!
You can get a refillable drinks bottle for £7 and all share it but we have one for Legoland and then the kids drink far too much fizzy drinks so we now just ask for tap water everywhere like we did at Disney. Saves money and is healthier.
Because the park is so big we did hire a double buggy the second day we went. They aren’t good for storage like a normal buggy would be but Xavier was so tired from all the walking the day before. Even Lottie was to be honest. At the moment the main path to the mine train and the canyons is closed as they are building a new ride so they make you walk even further through the woods. So if you have kids under 5 it’s definitely worth taking a buggy.
We wanted to go to the water park as the weather was so nice but even with our passes we had to pay. It’s discounted but wouldn’t be much under £50 for us all so we decided that we didn’t need to spend money when the park was free. Maybe we will go when we go back for Romeo’s birthday.
If you have preschool children this is the theme park for you. It’s got more than Legoland for the very small and then it has something for everyone outside of CBeebies Land. You can easily spend 2 days here if not more.