Alton Towers Theme Park Review: How to make the most of your visit

Alton Towers and CBeebies Land review

by Laura Riddell |
Updated on
Alton Towers Family rides

In summary

Set in beautiful grounds with a striking, part-ruined, stately home that dates back to 1810 as the backdrop, Alton Towers in Staffordshire is the largest theme park in the UK. The resort spans 550 acres of land. The theme park has more than 40 rides and attractions, and is home to CBeebies Land and other family friendly rides for little ones, alongside several white knuckle rides for older thrill seekers.

When do we visit

I visited on a sunny Friday during the last weekend of the Easter school holidays with my husband and our two sons Odhran, 8, and Reuben, 5. Alton Towers opening dates are March to November, when it closes for the winter season. During the peak summer months of July and August is it open 10am - 6pm. But it can get incredibly busy during these months, with longer queues. We've previously visited in April, May and September and find these months to be a good time to visit, when the weather is still somewhat reliable, but the queues aren't as crazy long. A member of staff informed me that Sundays and Mondays of bank holidays tend to be quieter than Saturdays. But it's worth avoiding peak times if possible. A school inset day might be a good choice. Little kids in particular won't be able to understand or tolerate the big queues that can develop at CBeebies Land. So, it's worth remembering that if you're visiting with an under-5 on selected off-peak dates (not weekends or school holidays) you can buy a Parent & Toddler Pass online for £29, and add an additional toddler for £5.

Alton Towers Review

What is there to see and do?

Alton Towers is a theme park that offers an equally enjoyable but different experience depending on the age of your kids. When we first visited, Odhran and Reuben were at the CBeebies Land and The World of David Walliams stage, and still are to some degree. But on this visit, Odhran had hit the 1.4m mark, so we started our visit in the more thrill seeking parts of the theme park. But, from tot to teen, Alton Towers makes for a great family day out. Alton Towers has 11 themed areas that contain a variety of different rides and attractions, suitable for different ages. These include: CBeebies Land, Dark Forest, Forbidden Valley, Gloomy Wood, Katanga Canyon, Mutiny Bay, The Gardens, The Towers, The World of David Walliams, Towers Street and X-Sector.

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

Tips for visiting CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

If a visit to CBeebies is top of your list for a visit to Alton Towers, I suggest you arrive at the park for as soon as it opens. The car parks and monorail are in operation an hour before opening time, so this gives you plenty of time to arrive at the gates ahead of opening. The theme park is a good 15-minute walk from the car park. The monorail will take you from the car park to the entrance. But it's worth keeping this in mind if you want to get to CBeebies before the crowds. There is an express car park, which is right opposite the theme park, and useful when you've got little legs that are tired after a long day out and can't walk back to the main car parks or stand in the queues that can develop for the monorail, during peak dates. But express parking must be booked in advance and will set you back £20, and needs to be booked in advance. Standard parking is £10.

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

Once you arrive, head straight to CBeebies Land, which is near to the entrance. It's worth mentioning that there's a Costa right next to CBeebies, in case you're gasping for a morning coffee. When you arrive at CBeebies, I suggest heading straight for one of the more popular rides, such as Get Set Go: Treetop Adventure (Children under 1.1m must ride without an adult) or Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure (must be over 0.9m to ride, and 1.1m or over to ride without an adult) or Go Jetters Vroomster Ride (must be over 0.9m to ride, and 1.25m or over to ride without an adult. Fast Tracks cannot be used in CBeebies Land or on any of the rides except for Gangsta Granny at The World of David Walliams. And queues for rides at CBeebies can reach up to 70mins - though we've found the times on the post next to the rides is always longer than the time you actually end up waiting.

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

By hitting CBeebies first thing in the morning, we've managed to get on a couple of the most popular rides before the crowds descend. The longest we've waited for a ride at CBeebies is about 25-minutes for the Postman Pat Ride. You don't want to kill the mood of the day for little ones by having to join a huge queue when you arrive, and remember buggies must be placed in the designated buggy areas, so your little one will have to stand. So aim to get there for park opening time and get on a couple of the most popular rides before huge queues develop.

There's no height restriction on JoJo & Gran Gran at Home and Andy's Adventures Dinosaur Dig. Something Special Sensory Garden and Hey Duggee's Big Adventure Badge (a playground with slides and mini trampolines) are great ways for little ones to have fun without having to queue. On all of our visits, the boys (and my husband!) have always enjoyed Justin's House Pie-o-Matic Factory, where you can shoot foam balls at one another. Download the app for Big Fun Showtime details, as you'll probably want to your little one to have the chance to meet some of their favourite CBeebie's characters such as Duggee or Bing. When we visited, there was the chance to meet Bluey and Bingo, but the queue for a photo was huge, and although Reuben is a big Bluey fan, he decided he wanted to get on another ride rather than wait around for a picture.

Alton Towers Review

What other family friendly rides are there at Alton Towers?

You'll find lots more family friendly rides in The World of David Walliams, and across the park. Gangsta Granny: The Ride, where you sit in a carriage and spin through the sewers on a special effects heist, is always a hit with my boys. The queues can get very long for this. But on our recent visit, we were straight on. Due to height restrictions, my husband and I split up at this part of the theme park and I take my eldest on Flavio's Fabulous Fandango, while my husband takes our youngest on the Royal Carousel. Ray's Bouncy Bottom Burp is another fun ride we always enjoy.

But there are other family friendly attractions, including Sharkbait Reef by Sea Life and Heave Ho, a spinning pirate ship ride. The Blade provided the right thrill factor for my five-year-old, who was also delighted to be tall enough to go on the Congo River Rapids during this visit (you must be 1.1m or over to ride). Runaway Mine Train is possibly our favourite family ride at Alton Towers, and Battle Galleons is a fun ride. But prepare to get wet (bring a poncho or spare clothes if you plan to go on this ride). Skyride is a lovely way to get a view out over the park. The Curse is a haunting dark ride that opened in 2023. It's suitable for children 0.9m or over. But the boys were freaked out by the idea of this ride.

Alton tower Nemesis reborn review

What does Alton Towers offer for older children/adults?

Alton Towers offers lots of thrill rides for older children and adults, including Nemesis Reborn, Nemesis Sub-Terra, Galactica, Rita, Th13teen, Oblivion, The Smiler and Wicker Man. I grabbed the chance to ride on Nemesis Reborn, which opened in March this year, and felt like my fillings were going to fall out as it hurtled round the track. Oblivion is a thrilling ride, where, as you hang over a 180ft vertical drop you think 'stop, I want to get off!' before you've screaming your way into the pit below, in a ride that is over in a few intense seconds. It's the world's first vertical drop roller coaster, and true white-knuckle ride. But our favourite ride is Wicker Man, purely for the theatre of this fire engulfed ride. My eight-year-old loves this ride. Wicker Man, Th13rteen and Spinwall Whizzer are thrill rides suitable for children over 1.2m.

Alton Towers Review

What about food and drink?

There are several restaurants - Woodcutter's Bar & Grill, Rollercoaster Restaurant, Explorers Pizza Pasta Buffet, The Burger Kitchen and Just Chicken, alongside snack kiosks. But if you want to save money and avoid food waiting times, pack a picnic and a flask with hot drinks. For an idea of costs, we paid £10 for ten mini donuts and £8 for a coffee and hot chocolate.

How long does it take to go around Alton Towers?

You could easily spend two or three days at Alton Towers, especially if you have the time and money to stay at one of their themed on-site hotels, or visit their separate water park. But if it's just a day visit, you can have a jam-packed day of fun, but you'll need to be selective on what rides attract you most to make sure you have a chance to go on, or you might end up disappointed, and feel you didn't make the most of your visit.

What age is it most suitable for?

It's suitable for all ages, from toddlers to adults. Child really needs to be 0.9m tall or over to make it truly worthwhile. But children under 0.9m go free, and there are still attractions for them to enjoy.

How much does it cost?

On the day tickets cost £68. So always best to book online in advance, where prices start from £29. Children under 90cm go free.

Book tickets here

Are fast tracks worth the money?

This will depend on the ages of your children and what sections of the park you want to visit. Fast tracks can't be used in CBeebies and on any of the rides (with the exception of Gangsta Granny) in The World of David Walliams. So, if you're after a relaxed day out with little ones it's unlikely worth paying the high cost of fast track tickets. But, if you're on a day out with teenagers, or you and your husband want to fit in thrill rides, then you might want to consider fast tracks, especially if you're visiting during peak times when queues can reach up to 70 mins. But these can significantly increase the cost of your day out. They come in four tiers - bronze to platinum, each allowing you to fast track a number of rides once, except the platinum fast track, which allows you to enjoy all of the rides and attractions as many times as you like. But fast tracks come at the hefty cost of between £32 per person for bronze to £130 per person for platinum.

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Review

Tips for visiting Alton Towers Theme Park

  • Have a game plan - if you don't decide in advance what rides you really want to go on, you might end up aimlessly wandering round the huge park and not getting on as many rides as you could if you arrived with a plan of action.

  • Download the Alton Towers app - this will show you a map, how long it'll take you to get from one place to another, and the wait times, which will help you plan your day and maximise your time.

  • Bring ponchos or dry cloths if you plan to go on Battle Galleons.

  • During the summer, don't forget sunblock for little ones. Even if looks like it's going to be a cloudy day, you don't want to get caught out if the sun suddenly makes an appearance.

  • Bring plenty of snacks and water or other drinks. This will help you save money, and keep little ones distracted while queuing.

  • Avoid the lunchtime rush from 12pm - 2pm and enjoy more ride time by having your meals during less busy periods.

  • Keep in mind that you will need extra time to walk or take the monorail from the car park to the turnstiles.

  • For those needing to make a Ride Access Pass application - this must be completed online at least seven days before your visit.

  • The advertised closing time indicates when the ride queue lines close. Squeeze in another ride by joining the queue a few minutes beforehand.

How to save money on a visit to Alton Towers Theme Park

  • Book tickets in advance online for significantly less than on the day prices.

  • Depending on where you work it might we worth check your company rewards portal in case they offer discounted ticket prices.

  • If you're likely to visit more than once or to visit other Merlin attractions then you might want to consider investing in a Merlin Annual Pass

  • Covert Tesco Clubcard points into Tesco Reward Partners Vouchers (every 50p in in vouchers will give you £1 off the cost of your day out).

Take a Break's verdict

Alton Towers is undeniably a fantastic, fun-filled, and memorable family day out. It's huge and has a range of rides and attractions suitable for all ages. It's a theme park your family can grow with - taking them from CBeebies when they're little, to The World of David Walliams and the family friendly rides when they're a bit older, to the thrill rides as teenagers. But, like all theme parks, it's an expensive day out and can mean long queues. Entry tickets are expensive. And by the time you factor in high food costs, car parking, extras such as photos, souvenirs etc, and especially fast tracks, you could be talking upwards of £500 for a family of four. But all factors considered, we'd rate it 4.5 out of 5.

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