Alton Towers Firework Weekend Blog

This is an honest review of my day.

So here we go, let’s look back on the fireworks weekend 2017 at Alton Towers. As we arrive at the Carpark the masses are already here, nothing new me being late. As we get moved further and further along the resort, we park at what appears to be a million miles from the turnstiles. Time to get the walking boots on and the hike to the turnstiles begins. Finally, we are here I begin to laugh at everyone queuing with their 2 for 1 vouchers, as I march to the entrance merlin pass in hand. We are in, Bag search done (just a camera in there) time for a brew and a sit down to rest these legs for 5 minutes. Everyone is looking at the park maps trying to plan the day, but we know where we are heading. It’s time for Nemesis.

Off we go down Towers street and into Mutiny bay. The normal route is blocked by a not so bad looking GCI wooden coaster, but we will come back to that later on. I see Forbidden Valley I can get excited. I honestly love Nemesis, not got a bad word to say about it. It stands there at the king of Towers. Still looking so good with the new paintwork, and the noise it pumps out as the B&M beast thunders around the track is just beautiful. Shock horror, there is no queue. Wait where is everyone, oh yes, I remember still walking the 15 miles from the carpark. Or maybe at the Smiler, let’s check the ride time App. Ahh I see, yes they are all at the Smiler. Right let’s go, it’s time for a morning wake up on this beast. 5 rides later and I still want more, I still must remind myself that this ride was built in 1994 and puts most rides to shame that were built in the more recent years. I suppose that old saying “they don’t build them like they use to” is true in the case of Nemesis. Unfortunately, no back row rides, now that’s a shame. This row appears to be blocked off all the time these days for fast track riders. I appreciate they have to keep space, but when not mix it up a little. Also, another nag on this is that if you have two fast track riders why not fill the other two seats from the main queue. Oh, no let’s just send it with two empty seats. So annoying.

Nemesis Rollercoaster in 2017

Ok, I’ve had my fun on Nemesis, let’s see what the rest of forbidden valley holds out for. So, Sub Terra has shut not a real shame as it never was my cup of tea. I would much rather have the Huss breakdance DYNAMO back that use to sit on the site of Sub Terra. Oh well I suppose nature will just take over the queue line and building until Merlin decided what to do with it. I sure a HB attraction will take its place soon. Talking about bloody HB attractions. Poor old Ripsaw got the HB treatment and now it’s 3 quid to jump over an inflatable log, seriously merlin…. I mean who thought this would be a good idea apart from the accountants. A Huss Top Spin with fountains, a good theme and then this. The ride op looks bored and the actual contraption is filthily and soaked wet through. As you may have guessed I will be giving this one a miss.

Here’s another B&M for us to ride before we move on to the next part of the park. Galactica, No it’s not a new ride it’s Air with VR and a little bit of new theming. Now this isn’t the first ride on Galactica with VR for me. I maybe hated for it, but I didn’t mind it. It was something new and I was willing to embrace what appears to be the future. Oh my, how slow is the boarding of the trains its just goes on and on. Ok so we finally get on, I had heard new VR headsets were being used on the ride. Well if they are I can not tell the difference. I now kind of get why the VR is hated, I really didn’t enjoy it that time. The headset didn’t fit, no sound, and the headset is shaky on the head. I think next time it will be without VR.

So we are off for a look around, we take in some more rides and take the long route through the gardens. Even though it's November it’s nice to walk than taking the Skyride. HEX time, and absolute fantastic ride, no need to go into detail with this one. I’m sure you all know how good this rides with an excellent throughput.

Rita and Thirteen. Which one to do first, let’s do thirteen I think it’s the better coaster. 40 min queue time, seriously I am really going to wait this long for a mid-range coaster. Well its either that or 90mins for RITA, sod it lets wait. Even there is not much to this queue line I like it and I don’t know why. It’s just fence, woodland and an oddly placed old disused van parked in the woodland. Let me let you in on a secret, just by the baggage drop off point on the left-hand side there is a humungous Cedar tree. If you just take 5 seconds to take in the age and size of this tree it’s honestly stunning. Now I know what you are all thinking, who is this freak wittering on about trees, well I am a tree surgeon so its aloud. So back to Coasters. We now stand in the indoor section of Thirteen, I try and hold it in as the little children who have queued up in the single rider’s queue now decided to jump into the main queue. I can not help myself “oh you little **** get back in your own ******** queue”. Dam I tried so hard to hold that in. We that was a pleasing ride on not such a big coaster, the drop section is still a fantastic element of the ride. It’s not all about 27 loops and 400ft drops.

Rita time….. Actually no it’s not. I’m not putting myself through a 90-minute queue. I do like the coaster but not enough to wait that long. It’s obviously a well-loved coaster as the queue never dies down. We may come back to this a little later on, just to get the thrill factor in from that launch.

We fast forward now a few hours and we have had plenty of rides. I’m using the ride app very wisely today to find where to head to next.

Katanga Canyon, this is a part of the park I really do love, firstly the MACK Powered mine train coaster. It just looks good, and its a firm solid family coaster. This one does bring the queues, but this isn’t helped as its only a one train coaster, but saying that it is a long train. You always get a station fly through and it interacts with the rapids really well. As we approach I notice not so much of a queue I think we will have to have two rides on this one. Just as good as I always remember.

We walk no more than 30 yards to reach the entrance of the Congo river rapids. Now we all know this is going to be quiet. No one will be brave enough to take on the river rapids in November. As the station platform nears, I’m and surprised to see about 50 people waiting, how wrong was I. With recent events that have happened on river rapids around the world there have been some understandable changes made. The most noticeable is that the waterfalls have been turned off and the water guns removed. It is a shame as these are the main elements of what make up the ride experience, but we fully understand. Water rides are becoming few and far between in the UK and I’m not too sure why Lets hope this one stays and would be nice to see it get an upgrade in the near future. The other Noticeable change for the good is having ride ops around the ride to watch out for any problems. Let’s get back to the ride itself. It was still a fantastic ride and we still got rather wet, never lets us down. Ride operations have always been good on the rapids and it wasn’t a let down on this visit.

Food Time. We have stuffed ourselves to the point of explosion at Pizza pasta and warmed up with numerous cups of tea. It’s time to get back to it. Let’s go to X sector, as we start to walk I eagerly remember we haven’t done another firm favourite of mine, Duel. Turn around let’s go back.

I can agree with most people Duel has become a little bit repetitive over the years shooting a laser at dots on a wall, and it needs some of that Merlin TLC. Hope that TLC comes for the 2018 season. It is a very basic concept that works well. I still love this ride and have done for many years even before it was Duel. Part of me would like it to go back to a basic haunted house but part of me doesn’t. We have still had a brilliant ride on this, and yes I got the high score, I hate losing.

Whilst we are walking over to X sector we take a second to look at the amount of gunpowder that now sits around the lake for tonight’s show. WOW there is a lot, this has got a bit more exciting, only a few hours to go.

X sector, now this place has changed a fair bit over the years. Now call me a bore but Smiler is not really my thing. Don’t get me wrong it looks stunning, and when it duels it’s amazing to watch but for me, that’s where the fun ends. Just too many inversions and the second half of the coaster has become as rough as riding a camel bareback. But I am subsequently dragged on as the rest of the group love it. What the hell, lets give it the benefit of the doubt. Should have brought my wellington boots, the amount of water in the PIT (queue line) is blinking stupid. They must have forgotten about drainage in the planning process. 30 mins later and its all over. That wasn’t to bad too be fair, it's still rough but I cannot lie to myself, it wasn’t the worse ride I have had on it.

Now I see a much better coaster Oblivion. Now this is a good one. It may not be the biggest or the longest, but my god it’s fun. It gives me a real buzz climbing up that lift hill and waiting ready to drop. Another coaster that doesn’t really bring in a huge queue, but I love it. Maybe I have got this whole coaster thing wrong and I love all the wrong coasters, who knows.

How I miss Submission it wasn’t the best flat in the world but at least it broke up the day. But now we have a beautiful bit of grass. Just what towers needed more grass.

Enterprise, I’m going to give this one a miss. That large amount of pizza pasta is starting to move around in my belly, I think it could end badly if I attempt Enterprise.

The day moves swiftly on with plenty more rides and painfully laughing at people trying to complete the hangtime bar challenge thingy, they all strut their stuff over to the challenge with the girlfriend cheering them on and they hang for 30 seconds. Very amusing. Now I mentioned earlier that we would talk Wood, well I have had had a look at the GCI that’s under construction, I have also listened to the number or rollercoaster engineers, sorry I mean park guests. I have heard them say it’s going to invert twice and other strange conversations. But all I will say is I will make my mind up on it when it’s completed, and I have had a few rides on it. We shall digress on this subject on another day.

Its time to join the masses on the front lawns and get prepared for the fireworks. Time to get the picnic blanket out. Yes, I do have a picnic blanket. What’s this I have found in the bag, Minstrels, Haribo, and Maltesers, this should keep us going. Its honesty crazy to see how big the queue is for a 9-quid hot dog. My god, these people must love a hot dog. 5 minutes to blast off. The voice over has been counting down from 45 minutes, how times moves so slow when you are being reminded every 5 minutes.

The 10 second countdown begins. We are off, so far so good, the lights look incredible the fireworks are fantastic. Not to sure on the storyline though let’s see how it goes. Then at that point, I see the eyes light up and knees go weak on every under 20 year old enthusiast, when they hear a certain gentleman’s voice. Yes, John Wardley is narrating part of the show. The lasers start, and the fireworks get better they are so loud, still this storyline hasn’t improved. Oh well just enjoy the fireworks. The music fits well and you honestly couldn’t ask for a better firework show, it’s absolutely incredible. The ending blew me away. I honestly could say it was a major improvement on last year, but it will never beat 2013 fireworks show, that one sticks in my mind as the best I have ever seen.

So that’s it, Last day of the season at Towers. Oh wait I still have time for more rides on Nemesis. Ok I had 3 more rides. Walking boots are back on and I now have to drag these knackered legs back uphill for 15 miles to find the car, oh how fun is this going to be, wish me luck. All in all, it has been a blast. Really fun day and Towers do appear to be making improvements where needed.

Always recommend it as a good day out for all the family.

See you in the next one.


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