Spending the day at a theme park with children in tow requires just two things: Patience (oh so much patience) and planning.
It’s going to be busy, the weather may not be on your side and the children will be SO very excited. But I’ve learned from the many, many parks we’ve visited that investing just a little time before you go can save you hours of arguing, tearing your hair out and swearing that you’ll never visit another theme park again.
Alton Towers stands out for me because as well as being a hair-raising adrenalin pump for the little ones, it’s also a beautiful place to be (not something you would expect from a theme park with all that gleaming metal, scary rides and crowds of excitable people). But, if you take the time to look around, there is a lot more to take in which makes spending a whole day here much more enjoyable.
Before you even venture into the park, check out the website and get an idea of what’s there and what you’d like to do. There are videos for many of the rides so you can get an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for!
For big rides like The Smiler, Air and Thi3teen the queues can be horrendous so make a plan for when to go on them. There are electronic boards as you enter the park telling you the waiting times. You will usually find that very early in the morning, lunchtime or late in the day when others are making their way home, the queues aren’t so onerous.
If you’re travelling with younger children, always have something on hand to entertain them if you have to queue: an electronic device to play with, a sweet treat etc.
Parents with small children can also get a pass which allows one of the parents to queue for a ride and when they’ve been on, the second parent can go on without having to queue again.
Aside from the rides themselves there are also lots and lots of other things to see and do at the park, so make sure you plan these for the ‘busy’ times when everyone else is queuing!
For the Ice Age 4D cinema show, go and ask the staff when is a quieter time – they usually have an idea on when the busy times are. You can also take a Sky Ride over the whole venue to see the rides and the gardens from on high.
Speaking of the gardens, they are just lovely. If you don’t think your children would walk around without moaning, create a ‘treasure’ hunt for them so they have to tick items off a list when they spot them; an oddly shaped tree, a leaf, a red bush etc.
Other tips for enjoying Alton Towers:
- Book your tickets in advance so you don’t have to queue at the entrance – a surefire way to get the kids irritable from the moment you arrive! It’s cheaper to buy them in advance way too.
- You can never rely on the British weather so be prepared for any eventuality and pack clothing for all the family should it be colder or warmer than expected.
- The wet rides are fabulous fun for a family, but leave them until the end, for obvious reasons!
- You can buy Fasttrack tickets for certain rides, which reduces the waiting time, but they are expensive.
- Check out height restrictions for rides before you go to avoid any disappointments on the day.
- Try to avoid peak times for eating lunch (about 11am to 1pm) – you should be on those popular rides at this time to avoid queues!
- As the park closes it gets really busy, so stop for a bite to eat or a drink before and you’ll avoid the rush.
- Plan to stay over near the park so you don’t have a long journey ahead of you. Places to say around Alton Towers include Travelodge Ashbourne, which is under 10 miles from the main gates.