Alton Towers is arguably the Uk biggest and well-known theme park, it’s part of the Merlin group in which you can use your Merlin passes etc, like many other places it was closed for a short time this year during the lockdown, but has taken several social distancing steps to open, this review focuses on the Lockdown elements, there is a more in-depth review on my site, and if your want up-to-date info please read their site also just before you leave.
Alton Towers is one of the furthest attractions so we tend to only visit once or twice a year, but this year for obvious reasons, we haven’t been. With the kids going back to school we thought we could take advantage of the merlin passes and squeeze in a trip for them, we were also keen to see what measures and steps they had taken with Lockdown.
As you arrive…
Like many places and seemingly all Merlin attractions, its currently a book process, which means you cant just turn up on the day this allows them to manage how many people enter the Park, the Carpark etc is unchanged but the monorail is currently close, which means its a bit of a walk, about 15 minutes so if you struggle with this have this in mind, its all signposted and there are signs about the social distancing steps they have done on the way.
The entrance is as you expected busy when we visited we opted to arrive later and leave later, as they have been closing much later compared to normal, and due to other travelling distance it was easier.
However our entry was fairly straightforward with a temp check, bag search and ticket entry, there were staff before all of this directing and checking you have booked etc. However! this is a busy place, this whole process will take a while when busy, much longer than a normal busy day due to all of this, so have this in mind.
Anti bac and signage are greeted you once you are through, they like some for the other promote the App so you can keep an eye on whats going on etc, another high tec update is the refill stations, I realise it’s commercial and money, but actually, we took advantage and it works really well, they are dotted around the park and you can refill your bought cup with limited interaction with people and staff, top tip though? it dispenses cold water also so you can use your own bottle for that.
Fortunately, in the park there has been very little closed, a new David Walliams area is being built, thus that area is a bit up and down, and like many theme parks a ride or two are always closed at times during the day, Wicker Man though was, arguably its biggest and newest ride was which will disappoint people, but nothing else in the main park was effected, even indoor places like HEX and The Dungeons are ok.
However, Ceebeebies Land was the most affected, Justins Pie making factory and Furchester Hotel show, was closed which is a shame because it’s very popular, the big tent in the middle area was also tweaked, another hugely popular area that has shows and some good toilets lol. These are tweaked all the time so hopefully, they might be back on when you visit.
There are signage, Antibac and various things dotted around the place, some are visible and some not so much, however, Antibac is often at rides so you can easily top up when you want, there is floor signage around however unlike everywhere else I’ve visited or seen, there are actually staff directing people, the sky ride is only open in certain directions which means these travel routes around the park are more important,
But there are certain parts two way with barriers and floor signage, and even certain places just one way, especially near Duel, Wickerman, and the Kanyon, these paths go narrow and they have directed you to go one way in but out the forbidden Forrest route, I was surprised that staff were actually telling people, which is a compliment.
One thing you will notice is the ride length, there are fewer people, it still feels like there are lots but in reality, it’s less than normal, which you would think great the rides are smaller queues….no, to stick to social distancing etc, steps have been put in, the rides get cleaned which can add a shorty delay, the queue itself has markers to create gaps, which means the ride’s queue looks really long, but people will not all follow this…on the rides themselves some are Masks only and will be signposted before you enter the queue, the App will give you update also.
The rides though will have fewer people on, if the ride is a pod-style ride, then a group/family will be in them, save for a rollercoaster, but if not there will be a gap, so, for example, a 1 or 2 set gap between you and the next, and on some rides 1 or 2 rows gap between you and the next. This may cause frustration or big delays, so be prepared, it will affect the big rides and the ones in Ceebeebies land, to be honest, I didn’t find Ceebeebies land that busy, but the rides were, largely because of these delays etc.
With the exception of a couple of rides most rides and attractions are on, Wickerman is a big loss for some there are still plenty to ride, likewise many of the food and shops have been tweaked or closed, but again not enough to really affect your day, so you can still have fun and get what you want. There is signage around though the app works better, and this can help with the Queue times also, I do think the one way staffed areas is a refreshing change though I think it might annoy people, people will not be following their own social distancing rules, so using this is a help, much like masks.
You might get annoyed with others who aren’t really bothering but it’s down to you I’m afraid to manage your own distance in response. It will be busy to get in, and it will be busy on rides, there may be fewer people but the social distancing procedures will slow it down, so be prepared, especially in Ceebeebies land where kids might not quite understand.