Rollercoasters in the Forest

Never one to waste a good weekend, Kimmie managed to persuade Jase to catch a train up to Stoke on Trent to visit Alton Towers, thus ticking another thing off her bucket list.

Stoke-on-Trent

We stayed one night in the exciting town of Stoke-on-Trent, so we thought we’d give you a feel for the place and its nearby attractions.

Stoke was a surprisingly interesting town to visit, but not one we’d return to in a hurry. We thought it would be worse than it was, since people turned their noses up when we mentioned that we were staying there a night!

The town itself is a bit bleak, but we did eat the best pork pie we’ve ever had there. Not to mention they have a massive supermarket and some decent pubs.

Trentham Gardens

It’s not too far to get to Trentham Gardens from Stoke, so we took the opportunity to visit. To get there, we walked there along a nice peaceful river pathway. It was a long walk and we also walked around the gardens for ages so were too tired to walk back. We ended up catching an Uber back to town, but it was hard to catch as there weren’t many available in the area!

Trentham Gardens is a very beautiful place to walk around. We were lucky to be there when all the tulips were in bloom, so there was lots of colour. There is also a variety of scenery including woodland and open fields.

At around 300 acres, Trentham Gardens is quite large. It has a hedge maze, play areas for children, various gardens, lovely walking tracks, a lake, lots of sculptures, and much more. You could spend a long time here, and if you’re really keen they also have a monkey park! We would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area!

Flowers at Trentham Gardens.
Flowers at Trentham Gardens.
Italian style symmetrical gardens.
Italian style symmetrical gardens.
A frog sculpture in front of the lake.
A frog sculpture in front of the lake.

Alton Towers

We caught a taxi to the park since the public transport to Alton Towers is basically non-existent. In booking our taxi, we noticed that there are quite a few dodgy taxi companies around Stoke on Trent, so we would recommend that you do some research before booking in a ride. We used Rush Hour Taxis and they were good.

As intended, we arrived at the gates early to make the most of the day and get in as many rides as possible. This meant waiting in a line outside the main entrance for some 25 minutes while we watched resort guests enter for early ride time. We weren’t too upset though as most of the rides weren’t even open.

Luckily we had bought our tickets online and were ready to go once the gates opened. We managed to get some discount vouchers for the tickets on a cereal packet. Never pay full price!

It was quite a chilly morning; much colder than down in London! We soon warmed up though, as once the gates opened the adrenaline kicked in and we ran to get in line for the park’s newest attraction, the Wickerman roller-coaster.

The rollercoasters

The Wickerman opened earlier this year. It is a wooden roller-coaster, and the storyline goes that you are being sacrificed by a Wickerman worshiping cult that lives in the woods. Since it’s so new, everybody wanted to go on it and the line was already long. It took them a while to open it as they hadn’t done the testing before the pack opened. As a result, we ended up waiting in line for about 90 minutes to get on the ride!

At times during the day we saw that the queue for the Wickerman was at a three hour wait! However, this is based on information from the Alton Towers app, which we found pretty terrible. The app was quite slow a buggy.

The Wickerman in the mist.
The Wickerman in the mist.

After spending so long in line for Wickerman, Kimmie was getting worried that we wouldn’t be able to ride on all of the “big seven” roller-coasters. So, we ended up running between the rest of the rides and resting while waiting in line.

Next up was the Galactica coaster. This was a futuristic rollercoaster where you put on VR headsets before flying around the galaxy through wormholes. It was a really neat variation and we enjoyed it a lot more than we expected to. We both had issues with the VR sets threatening to fall off our heads as we raced around the track!

One of the Galactica portals.
One of the Galactica portals.

Straight afterwards we ran over to Nemesis, which had been briefly closed earlier. This was fortunate as it meant the line was quite short. With Nemesis, your feet are dangling while you race through lots of loops close to the ground. Much of the ride follows a small stream running alongside the ride. This was the fastest and most adrenaline pumping ride that we experienced, and Kimmie loved it!

Some people on Nemesis.
Some people on Nemesis.

The Dark Forest

Alton Towers is quite a large park, so we opted to catch the cable car over to the Dark Forest section of the park. It’s a shame that we didn’t have more time to spend strolling around, as the park looked very scenic. However, we were on a mission and had more roller-coasters to ride!

We grabbed some takeaway burgers for lunch to keep us going and then joined the line for Thirteen. We ate the burgers in the line to save some time.

The entrance to Thirteen.
The entrance to Thirteen.

Thirteen is a spooky roller-coaster. The story is about going into the woods where a witch lives. At one point in the ride you go into a small tomb. The lights go out, and after a little show the roller-coaster suddenly drops, landing onto another section of track where you are launched backwards. Thirteen was Jase’s favourite roller-coaster because it was a bit tamer, and he liked the fun backwards section.

Right next to Thirteen was Rita: Queen of Speed. You can guess what this rollercoaster is about based on the name: going really fast! Rita launches you from 0 to 100kph in 2.5 seconds, and is themed like a race car track. Since it was so fast the ride was over really quickly, with the main excitement over after the initial 2.5 seconds of acceleration.

Rita launching through the sky.
Rita launching through the sky.

X-Sector

We were quickly getting towards the end of the day by this point. We ran past the ruins of the park’s namesake stately home to get to the final pair of roller-coasters.

The Smiler is infamous for an incident that happened a couple of years ago where a car full of people crashed into an empty car and some riders were severely injured. This bad press hopefully served as a wake up call for the park’s owners; it definitely had an impact on the public as even when we were there people were talking about it.

The ride itself was quite long with lots of spirals and loops. It had a strange theme about being a bit crazy with lots of optical illusions. Because of the creepy music and the loops we didn’t feel amazing after this one.

The loopy Smiler.
The loopy Smiler.

Our final coaster was the one Jase had been dreading. Oblivion is a very simple ride. It hangs you high up in the air before plunging you straight down into a hole in the ground. Into Oblivion. However, since we’d already done all of the other roller-coasters we decided to complete the “big seven” and give it a go! Terrifyingly for Jase, we were put in the front row. This one was a real stomach lurcher, and it also felt quite short.

Hanging up high, just before dropping into Oblivion.
Hanging up high, just before dropping into Oblivion.

The final run

After completing all of the major roller-coasters is was about 4pm. We’d spent six hours queuing and running about the park!

We decided to squeeze in a few of the other rides since we had time. First up was Hex, which was a cool optical illusion ride inside the park’s centrally located old stately home. We finished the day off with a ride on the Spinball Whizzler.

The dizzying Spinball Whizzler.
The dizzying Spinball Whizzler.

Final thoughts

It was great getting the opportunity to experience the “big seven”, however it was hard to do so and you spent a lot of time waiting in lines. We don’t think that it’s possible to see and do everything in the park in one day.

Comparing Alton Towers to other theme-parks, Kimmie didn’t think it was as good as some which she had been to in the USA. Kimmie would have liked more theming, and perhaps more entertainment while waiting in line.

So, while our visit to Alton Towers is one item ticked off her bucket list, Kimmie will look to visit different theme-parks in future! That is, if Jase can bear to put himself through the exhilaration of more roller-coasters at another theme-park!

Jase and Kimmie