Alton Towers: UK Theme Park Resort for Short Breaks
Alton Towers occupies a special place in the world of British entertainment. From the 1980s onward, it was the first real theme park to attract a mass audience, and it has continued to do so, adding thrilling attractions which use the latest technology to wow visitors of all ages.
It's also more than just a theme park, with live entertainment, fine dining, luxury hotels and a fabulous family waterpark, just to mention a few attractions. So it's no wonder that millions of Brits head to this corner of the Midlands when they need to relax.
This buyer's guide will run through everything Alton Towers has to offer, as well as the best ways to buy tickets. With our help you can plan your visit and save plenty of money to make your trip extra special.
Traditional UK Leisure Park
The manor of Alton Towers first opened its gates to public visitors in the 1860s (one of the first English country houses to do so), but it wasn't until the 1920s that the idea for a leisure park really took hold. By the 1950s, a small fairground has taken shape in the gardens, with a boating lake and chairlift being added in the 1970s.
However, the 1980s saw Alton Towers explode into life. Famous attractions like the corkscrew and the Blade appeared, and crowds started to expand year on year. By the 1990s, the original owners had sold their stake to the Tussauds Group, who started the era of big ticket, statement roller coasters. Starting with 1992's Runaway Mine Train, Alton Towers premiered a series of spectacular new experiences throughout the 1990s, from 1994's Nemesis to 1998's Oblivion. In the process, it became the UK's favourite theme park, with attendances peaking at 3.6m in 2002.
Since then, visitor numbers held steady and new attractions and zones have appeared on an almost annual basis. So even if you visited Alton Towers in the past, there's likely to be something new to experience.
Introducing the Various Zones at Alton Towers
Like many amusement parks around the world, Alton Towers is massive, occupying almost 4 square kilometres. Because of this, the park has been divided into zones, each of which has its own range of attractions and other amenities:
Katanga Canyon – Based around the continent of Africa, Katanga Canyon has two unusual attractions to explore: the Runaway Mine Train and the Congo River Rapids.
Gloomy Wood – Divided from the main park by dense woods, Gloomy Wood is dominated by Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back, which takes brave visitors through a zombie-infested haunted house in search of a lost scientist.
Mutiny Bay – Themed around the age of pirates, Mutiny Bay is home to the new Wicker Man coaster (see below), along with favourites like Battle Galleons, where you can race and splash fellow competitors in a watery contest.
Adventure Land – One of the older parts of the complex, Adventure Land still offers plenty of excitement, including the opportunity to become a human pinball on the Spinball Whizzer, or to try some Foot Darts if you want a chance to relax.
Dark Forest – Not to be mistaken for Gloomy Wood, Dark Forest is built around the Rita and th13teen roller coasters – two of the fastest and most exciting coasters in Europe.
Forbidden Valley – Conjuring up a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland, Forbidden Valley is home to the Nemesis coaster and the cutting edge Galactica ride, which uses VR headsets to create an interstellar experience.
What Kind of Attractions Will You Find at Alton Towers?
Above all else, Alton Towers is a first-class amusement park, and the roller coasters have always taken centre stage. The exact mix of attractions changes every now and then, but here are a few current highlights that visitors will encounter when they head to the Alton Towers complex:
Smiler – Opened in 2013, Smiler is an all-steel roller coaster which holds the world record for "inversions" (the loops which are characteristic of coasters the world over). In this case, 14 loop-the-loops produce an exhilarating, if gut-churning ride along over 1km of track.
Wicker Man – Loosely based around the cult horror film of the same name, this wooden roller coaster was opened in 2018 and features a series of sheer drops along its 618m length. Beginning with a video presentation featuring scary tales of sacrifices and demons, it's sure to send a chill down any coaster fan's spine.
Rita – Also known as the "Queen of Speed", Rita opened in 2005 and has become an iconic ride at Alton Towers. Capable of accelerating from 0 to 100kmh in just 2.5 seconds, this is one for adrenaline junkies as it whizzes through the Dark Forest area.
th13teen – Another horror-themed ride, th13teen opened in 2010 and is made out of pure steel. At the time, it was the first vertical drop coaster in the entire world, as the cars drop 5m in the middle of the ride (or the "ride into the unknown" as the park's marketing material puts it.)
Oblivion – One of the most famous of all of Alton Towers' coasters, this coaster appeared in 1998 and is still the third fastest roller coaster in the UK. The 55m drop retains its ability to take your breath away, so gather yourself before riding.
All of those attractions offer plenty of thrills for adult visitors. However, Alton Towers is definitely a family attraction, and there are plenty of things for kids to do as well. Some highlights for youngsters include:
CBeebies Land – Developed in conjunction with Children's BBC, CBeebies Land is crammed with cartoonish delights. There's the Octonauts Roller Coaster, the Numtums Number-Go-Round and the In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, not to mention Postman Pat's Parcel Post and the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride.
Cloud Cuckoo Land – The other zone designed specifically for younger visitors has almost as much to offer. Take it easy on Galloper's Carousel, bounce around on the Frog Hopper and take the wheel at Cuckoo Cars Driving School.
Wicker Man Ride Shown in 360 Degree Video
Other Attractions at the Alton Towers Complex
Coasters are far from the only thing on offer at Alton Towers, which has become a genuine all-round leisure attraction. Here are just a few other things to enjoy during your stay there:
Splash Mountain Water Park – Alton Towers also has one of England's biggest water parks, complete with two high-velocity water slides, the Flash Floods flumes and more sedate amenities like the Bubbly Wubbly Pool, the Wacky Waterworks Tree House and Lagoona Bay.
Extraordinary Golf – There are two creatively laid-out, challenging mini golf courses which will either raise a smile or infuriate anyone who plays them.
Alton Towers Spa – From the "aqua relaxation rooms" to professional massage teams, the on-site spa is the perfect place for mums to relax while dad takes the kids around the zones of the main park.
Food and Drink – As with any top-class family resort, dining is a major part of the Alton Towers experience. There's a huge array of options to choose from, including American-style bar and grills, pizza and pasta buffets, waffle houses, and the truly unique rollercoaster restaurant, where dishes slide down a corkscrew onto your table.
Useful Information for Visitors to Alton Towers
Transport – Alton Towers can be found at: Farley Lane, Alton, Stoke-on-Trent. If you intend to drive, the postcode is: ST10 4DB, so setting your Sat Nav should be simple. In any case, the resort is easy to reach, being just off both the M6 and M1 motorways, not far from the geographic centre of England.
If you do drive, one word of caution is in order. Sat Navs will find the postcode without any problems, but the last mile or so can confuse them, sending visitors down the wrong lane to a nearby farm. So follow signposts to Alton Towers as you approach.
Alternatively, you can take the train to nearby Stoke-on-Trent station before taking the First Group bus service from Stoke city centre to the park gates.
Opening Times – Unfortunately, the park is not open for visitors all year-round. Instead, Alton Towers shuts down for the winter season, when maintenance and new ride construction can take place. The final day of the season is November 4th, and the park reopens on March 17th, when the spectacular fireworks signal the coming of winter.
When the park is open, the roller coasters start running at 10am and shut down at 6pm. The Monorail from the car parks starts up at 9:30am, so be there if you intend to beat the queues.
Queues – The average queue time for attractions at Alton Towers is just over 20 minutes, which is pretty standard for amusement parks around the world. However, if you really want to pack everything in or hate waiting around for a few minutes, the shortest queues can statistically be found in September, when they tend to be around 10 minutes long.
Are There Accommodation Options at Alton Towers?
Yes, one of the key aspects of Alton Towers is its mixture of superb rides and the amenities visitors require for short breaks and extended stays, so you can easily turn your trip into a weekend or even a week long adventure.
There are quite a few hotel options on the complex or in the nearby area, and each has their own unique theme. CBeebies Land is tailored to the needs and tastes of today's toddlers and Splash Landings is right next to the waterpark, targeting families with slightly older children.
There are secluded lodges in the Enchanted Village which would be great for couples, the Luxury Tree Houses offer something wacky but comfortable for all sorts of visitors, while the famous Alton Towers Hotel is designed for older visitors, offering entertainment every evening throughout the season.
Moreover, the region around Alton Towers is full of accommodation providers, so it's well worth checking out nearby hotels at booking sites and comparing rates with those on the resort complex.
Ways to Buy Alton Towers Tickets
Alton Towers offer a variety of ways to purchase entry and accommodation, and all of them appear regularly on the Alton Towers HotUKDeals listing. Firstly, you can buy the following Theme Park tickets:
One Day Pass – provides a day of access to all of the coasters, with free admittance for anyone under 3 years of age. Savings are routinely offered if you book at least 5 days in advance.
Season Pass – If you live nearby or are considering an extended stay at Alton Towers, the Season Pass is easily the best value option. For around the price of two days admission, you can visit as many times as you like throughout the season. Season Pass holders can also bring a friend at a discounted price, which is handy to know.
Short Break – A handy ticket for weekenders, this tariff includes a single night of accommodation and admission to evening entertainment, as well as two days of admittance to the theme park itself.
These packages don't include access to the Waterpark or Extraordinary Golf, both of which have to be bought separately.
A Guide to the Seasonal Special Events at Alton Towers
Alton Towers lays on some incredible events throughout the season (note: these special events are not covered by Season Passes, so you'll need to purchase tickets separately if you intend to attend them. Events include:
Scarefest – Running throughout most of October and a couple of days in early November, Scarefest is one of the UK's most terrifying and exciting Halloween celebrations. Scary characters roam the park giving youngsters a fright, live shows take to the stage to tell spooky tales, and the whole complex opens late into the night.
Fireworks – As the season draws to a close, Alton Towers marks Guy Fawkes Night with a spectacular fireworks display. Held on 3rd and 4th November, the fireworks see the attractions open until late, as guests have the chance to ride Nemesis as rockets illuminate the Midlands skies.
Christmas – While the theme park generally closes during winter, the resort does open for a few special days when Alton Towers lays on plenty of festive activities. On 5 days in late November and December, you can enjoy the roller coasters and other attractions during "Santa's Sleepover", with far shorter queue times, delicious Christmas dinners, and live shows. However, these sleepovers are only available for those staying overnight, so you'll need to fit it around a short break.
How to Buy Tickets for Alton Towers and Save Some Cash
If you want to try the roller coasters, relax at the spa or attend one of Alton Towers' special events, there should be no need to pay full ticket prices for your visit. Instead, take advantage of a range of discounts for your next trip, and leave more spending money for gifts, shows or food and drink.
When you check the hotukdeals Alton Towers listings, you'll encounter a variety of ways to save. The resort itself often runs 2 for 1 deals – which would be ideal for couples wanting a cut price escape. And the same kind of deals are often used by other brands as a marketing tool. For instance, brands as diverse as Seabrook Crisps or Carex Antibacterial handwash have included Alton Towers discounts with purchases. So you might well kill two birds with one stone when buying something you need.
In fact, there are plenty of ways to save money on Merlin attractions, from inducements to buy power from British Gas to money off deals from Goodfellas Pizzas. The thing to do is bookmark our listings, and check back before your next visit to the theme park. There's sure to be some way to slash the cost of visiting Britain's premier amusement park.
Days of Excitement with Alton Towers discounts at hotukdeals
Alton Towers is head and shoulders above other British theme parks. Offering 10 cutting edge roller coasters and huge areas for kids to enjoy, along with mini golf, spa facilities, waterparks and luxury accommodation, it's the kind of place anyone can enjoy. If you want to pay the park a visit, do so the cost effective way by taking advantage of the hotukdeals Alton Towers listings.