Alton Towers

Alton Towers remains one of the most beautiful theme parks in Europe to me. The park is spacious and beautifully situated down a valley in an area surrounded by forest. The ancient castle certainly contributes to the mysterious appearance. The park handles the imposed height restriction in very creative ways as can be seen with Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita and now Smiler.

But first we take the Sky Ride to the back of the park for Thirteen (#834). This roller coaster by Intamin was added in 2010 in the theme area the Dark Forest. Hellen doesn't feel her best today so I'm going to check out the ride just by myself first. Here at the back of the park there are hardly any people yet so I can enter the train almost straight away. Usually I try not to do too much reading in advance on new attractions and also in this case I had already forgotten most of the details. The track of Thirteen is nothing very special, up to the last part where the train suddenly drops several meters down and then runs backwards for quite a bit in complete darkness. Together with Hellen we immediately go for a second lap but that was, given the last surprising elements, not such a brilliant idea.

Rita is temporarily closed due to a technical failure and so we walk a little further to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is also new to us. Charlie is a typical dark ride with boats that go through the different areas. In each room we lose one of the prize winners who are allowed to visit the chocolate factory. At the end of the cruise, we all enter the great glass elevator and 'leave' the factory. Nicely done but for Alton standards it feels a bit cheap.

A little further on we find the Ice Age The 4D Experience, a 3D movie with some extra special effects. As one who appreciates the Ice Age movies, this is a nice addition. From the outside, the theatre looks very attractive.

Then we arrive at Smiler (#835), the Gerstlauer ride that opened four months ago. Smiler is a unique roller coaster and from a distance it already looks very impressive. In total, this almost 1200 metres long roller coaster features no less than 14 inversions. The first inversion is already met prior to the first of the two lift hills. After that it's actually a rapid succession of loops, fantastic dive loops and corkscrews, only interrupted by the second, this time vertical, lift hill. The whole contraption is, as said before, more or less hidden in a pit to avoid issues with the height restriction. The yellow & black color scheme and the centrally positioned flat screens contribute to the overall atmosphere around Smiler. A very successful investment of Alton Towers if you ask me.

The only downside is that the roller coaster draws so much attention that it is quite busy in the queue. Later that day, when I wanted a second ride it takes a very long time and at one point the queue falters, probably due to a malfunction. Eventually I give up and unfortunately I have to settle for just one go at Smiler for today.

However, I did manage to ride all three B&M coasters that this park offers, so Oblivion, Air Galactica and Nemesis are again refreshed in memory.

We are slowly getting used to the English breakfasts again. Pretty good though but starting each morning with it is not for us.

Dark Forest. With Halloween this area is even more appropriate.

The entrance to Thirteen. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to take good pictures of this ride.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is pretty good but does not fit Alton Towers I think.

Veruca must be squeezed.

The atmosphere is nicely portaited at Ice Age, the 4D experience.

Scrat can't reach it's nut.

This traffic school is also new in the park.

Smiler makes quite an impression. Both in terms of appearance and ride experience.

The second lift hill is vertical. Unlike a Eurofighter the descent is not more than 90 degrees downward.

Lots of track on a relatively small area. 14 inversions are gone through in rapid succession.

Nemesis is still masterful as well.