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UK Theme Parks – Alton Towers

UK Theme Parks – Alton Towers

Alton Towers Theme Park, Staffordshire, UK, set in over 500 acres of superbly landscaped grounds, is one of the biggest theme parks in the UK and has something for all the family.

First opened in 1980, Alton Towers Theme Park started off as little more than a fairground and has now grown into a world renowned theme park with some of the most innovative rides, live shows and many themes – Old MacDonalds Farm, Merrie England, Gloomy Wood, Forbidden Valley, Katanga Canyon, Ug Land, Adventure Land, Cred Street and the X-Sector. There is the Water Park, The Towers and the Gardens which cater for the more sedate among us.

Alton Towers Theme Park is a thrill-seeking world for kids, for adults and adrenalin seekers who enjoy white-knuckle experiences. Unfortunately, some of the rides have a height restriction, which means smaller children are unable to ride on some of the most popular big rides, although there are plenty of smaller rides that are just as suitable for the younger and smaller children to experience white knuckles.

While at Alton Towers Theme Park you will never need to go hungry. There are numerous places on the Park itself that cater for all tastes of food. Fresh Fish and Chips, Chicken and Ribs, Pizzas, Burgers, Fried Chicken, Pastries, Cakes, Coffee, Thick Shakes, Baked Potatoes, Waffles, Ice Cream, Barbecue, Donuts, Sandwiches, Fajitas, Nachos, Halal, Asian Cuisine, Hot Dogs, Salads. Not to mention a selection of Restaurants and Bars around the site.

Alton Towers Theme Park is noted for its extreme rides, which include Nemesis, Europe’s first inverted roller coaster in which people hang with their legs dangling from the floorless ride cars. Nemesis first opened in 1994 and was built in trenches to reduce its height above ground to comply with the planning restrictions which require builds below the tree line. Nemesis is claimed to be the most intense ride ever.

Also at Alton Towers Theme Park is Oblivion, the worlds first vertical drop roller coaster. Construction started on Oblivion in 1997 and first opened in 1998. It has a simple layout with a 180ft drop. Before the drop, the cars are held by brake for several seconds before plummeting into a dark tunnel followed by a 180 degrees banked turn. While the passengers are suspended waiting for the drop they can see the words “Don’t look down” on the ground thus adding to the atmosphere of the impending drop. Oblivion is featured in the PC Game RollerCoaster Tycoon.

Still very popular at Alton Towers Theme Park is the Corkscrew Roller Coaster. This is the oldest ride at the park and was the most publicized rollercoaster in the United Kingdom. This roller coaster has two inversions and many people find it a rough ride but still intense.

Air is the worlds first flying coaster. Riders find themselves suspended horizontally and facing down as though they are flying. Air cost Alton Towers £12 million and opened in 2002. After the riders have assumed their seats and the restraints are lowered, the mobile floor platform descends and you are asked to “Prepare for Air”. The car seats rotate 90 degrees forward leaving the passengers facing the grown. You are then told to “Assume the position….now fly!!” The ride begins and you are taken down 2,756 feet of track at a maximum speed of 46.6 mph (75 km/h) with a maximum G force of 3.5. Air is the only flying coaster to feature a half zero-g roll.

Rita – Queen of Speed is Alton Towers first launched roller coaster since Thunderlooper was removed in 1997. This ride is based on drag racing and you are launched from 0 to 100 kph in just 2.5 seconds and pulling 4.7gs into a banked turn. Rita was opened in 2005 and reaches a maximum height of 69 ft (21m) and careers around 2,100 feet of track.

Runaway Mine Train was reopened at Alton Towers in April 2007 after being closed for over 8 months due to a failure of a coupling. This ride usually runs for two circuits and gets quite intense, especially in the tunnel running alongside the River Rapids. Runaway Mine Train first opened in 1992 and cost Alton Towers £3 million.

There are many more rides at Alton Towers, some intense and some sedately rides. On a warm, sunny day, a visit to Water World is a must. Bear in mind though, you will get wet which all adds to the excitement of trying to position yourself where you think you won’t get wet……….

Because of the vast size of Alton Towers Theme Park it has been said that you won’t get round all of it in one day. There are two hotels on site (Alton Towers Hotel or Splash Landings Hotel) so you can rest overnight and be raring to go the next day to visit the places you have missed and to revisit the favorites.

Alton Towers opens its gates at 09.30 but the rides and attractions do not open until 10.00. Closing times vary throughout the season. Prices are cheaper if you book online, but if you do book online you must book at least 48 hours in advance of your visit. See Alton Towers Theme Park [http://www.altontowers.com] for prices.

All in all, a visit to this theme park is a must, but be prepared for long queues at the most popular rides. After a visit to Alton Towers be prepared to sleep well afterwards as it can be an exhausting day. I love it.