Ahh at last, the day I’d been eagerly awaiting had arrived. Yesterday was my first Theme Park visit of the year. It’s a passion I share with my girlfriend and one of my best friends so off we voyaged to the beautiful Staffordshire countryside.
Last year was a trip tinged with disappointment. My beloved Towers provided me with a poor day out thanks to increased prices, miserable staff and many ride and themeing faults. As such I vowed to only visit once in 2005. Would 06 be better?
Upon arriving the atmosphere seemed much, much better. Lots of painting had taken place. The park visibly cleaner. Queues for the rides were non-existant, we walked on everything. This meant we could get much more ride time on Rita & Spinball – two rides I feel I just haven’t experienced enough.
There were some bitter disappointments. The Mine Train and Flume were both closed however two things more than made up for it.
First was Duel. I’ve long lamented the 2002 re-theme of the Haunted House but yesterday all the elements seemed to be working properly and the ride seemed a bit nippier. It’s also the first time in years I’ve been on Duel without it stopping mid ride for five minutes. Really enjoyed it.
Second was the Ripsaw. Wow. They’ve beefed her up a treat. For a start they were actually using the water jets to full effect actually drenching riders – haven’t seen that for years! You may think I’m mad but this encouraged me to ride it instantly and loved every minute.
Air was struggling bless her. While she was nippy around the track and got up the lift hill without stalling she did seem to make funny whining noises in the station. I’ve now learnt the ride was closed at 3pm shortly after my own ‘flight’.
One thing I will say is that the staff were excellent. Gone were the moody ‘magic’ providers of 2005. Instead they were chatty and laughing. Playing games with each other and interacting with guests like I’ve never seen before. One in particular, Kate on Nemesis, took time to talk for a while. I really got the feeling she cared about the job and, in her words ‘her baby’ Nemesis. This passion has been lacking from the park of late but early indications are that 2006 could really be the season where the magic returns.
One more dose of excitement was provided by the sight of Henry Hound strolling down Towers Street. Ahh a childhood icon at last returning to the home of the Talbots!
I also did something very different yesterday. I’ve never done it before – despite dozens of visits. I actually took time to explore the ruins of Alton Towers. Still, more about that tomorrow…