The secret guide to Alton Towers

We give you the ultimate lowdown to making the most of your day at Alton Towers

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A day out at a premium attraction like Alton Towers can be an expensive outing, especially for families.

That makes it all the more important to make sure you are getting as much value for money as possible.

As the resident BirminghamLive theme park geek and Alton Towers visitor for over 35 years – I’ve come up with a few tips to help you get the most out of your day.

Queue tips

  • Eat early or eat late: Theme park visitors are creatures of habit. Between 12-1.30pm you can be sure to be in big queues for food or without a seat to park your tired posterior on. Get in there before 12 or closer to two and you can’t go far wrong.
  • Ride during lunch: It goes without saying that a good time to ride is during that peak lunchtime rush. Take advantage while others are polishing off their burgers.
  • Queue close: It’s the queues that close on time – not the rides themselves
  • Teenagers/adults without kids: Simple advice. Go when kids are at school and the resort is open.
  • Extended queue times: When the park is busy or it’s a particularly pleasant day – the rides are often extended by an extra half an hour for example. Keep an eye on Social Media.
  • App: Download the app for live queue times, offers and directions in the palm of your hand.
  • Queue close: It’s the queues that close on time – not the rides themselves
  • Teenagers/adults without kids: Simple advice. Go when kids are at school and the resort is open.
  • Extended queue times: When the park is busy or it’s a particularly pleasant day – the rides are often extended by an extra half an hour for example. Keep an eye on Social Media
  • Late rides: Most guests tend to leave between 3.30-5pm, for a mixture of reasons. Coaches need to leave, school parties want to assemble, and parents want to ‘beat the traffic’. That means rich pickings for the hardy souls who want to squeeze in some last minute fun.

(Image: Publicity picture)

  • Finish the day as far away as possible: It goes without saying that most people will try and get on a ride at the end of the day and are more likely to do that on their way out of the park. That means the areas getting nearer to the exits like Spinball Whizzer for example, will be busier. Th13teen and Rita would be my tips for a good last ride.

  • Feeling flush? If you don’t want to stay queueing in the sun and you have a few pounds to spare you can buy individual fast-track tickets for all rollercoasters except Wicker Man, or a range of silver, gold or platinum fast-track passes (a limited number are on sale each day)
  • Early ride time: Guests staying at Alton Towers Hotel, Splash Landings Hotel, CBeebies Hotel and the Enchanted Forest Village get early ride access on selected rides before the park opens to the public. Make sure you ask at check-in about this.

  • Woodland Walk: You can sometimes take a walk through the woodlands for an alternative entrance into the park. Not always open, again, ask. It’s a nice gentle and pleasant start to the day.

  • Display boards: The visual displays are dotted around the park with useful information on them. For example you can find out straight away which ride has the longest and shortest waits. It helps you plan on the go.

Food and drink hacks

  • Rollercoaster Restaurant: Not only does your food arrive by rollercoaster, the whole restaurant is a homage to the coaster. From the tables, to the video screens, to the wall displays. The walls are actually fascinating and serve the purpose of providing some great planning history of the rides in the park with original drawings of the conception. Great for geeks like me to learn more.

  • Free water: You can get free refills of tap water in all our restaurants in addition to our soft drinks ‘hydration stations’. Great in the heat or just when you fancy quenching your thirst.
  • Picnics: Take a picnic in the wonderful gardens. They are a vital and beautiful part of the heritage of the site and they are a genuine pleasure to walk around.
  • Families with younger children can picnic in CBeebies Land. Parents can take a break while the kids enjoy Bing in Big Fun Showtime.

Ride tips

  • A good old fashioned map: Everyone likes a park map and they are still very much a part of the excitement of a day at a theme park. Plan your route carefully and mark off where you want to go.
  • Wicker Man: If you can get on the back – it’s the best place to sit. I have sat in all seats and it’s definitely the best ride.
  • Air/Galactica: Essentially this is two rides in one. Wear the glasses for the whole virtual reality experience, or go for the now rustic approach of air as it used to be.
  • Driving school: Tell your child to drive over to the back of the track. There’s a nice little tunnel, a bridge for taking great pictures, but also all of the children seem to gravitate to the middle and get stuck a lot. If they want the open road – head for the far side

(Image: PA)

  • Get a wristband: If your child is just about big enough for ride, ask for a proof wristband, they can just flash it then every time they go on a ride around their height. They won’t need to be measured again and they will feel quite special.
  • Get shooting: There are plenty of rides and attractions that adults and children can enjoy together, but if I had to pick one that adults can enjoy with younger children it is definitely Justin’s House, the Pie-O-Matic Factory .This is a superb area where kids and adults and children race around filling bags of foam balls to fire at each via various air cannons . It’s brilliant fun and I would recommend to anyone.

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The Wicker Man ride at Alton Towers

  • Parent swap: This is a great idea that lets parents both ride an attraction. It’s a free service that allows one person to queue and then swap parental duties with the other at the end so both can experience the fun. All you have to do is pop to the Resort Box Office when you arrive and they will do the rest.

  • Cameras: Take a good look at the tracks when you are queuing – you can often see where the camera points are. Great for making sure you strike all the right poses for your ride souvenirs.

  • Height restrictions: Be subtle and know your child’s height before you arrive. Every ride has a height restriction and you will be able to determine which rides to steer them away from just by looking at the info on the map

  • The ride height restrictions are as follows:

  • Minimum Height 1.4m – The Smiler, Galactica, Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita

    Minimum Height 1.2m – TH13TEEN, Sonic Spinball, Wicker Man

    Minimum Height 1.1m – Marauder’s Mayhem

    Minimum Height 1.0m – The Blade

    Minimum Height 0.9m – Battle Galleons, Runaway Mine Train, Congo River Rapids, Enterprise, Heave Ho, Justin’s House Pie-O-Matic Factory, Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride, Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, Frog Hopper

Aquatic life, keeping cool and more

(Image: Publicity Picture)

  • You can seek out some shade in Sharkbait Reef by SeaLife with over 300 species of marine life. No extra charge for this. It’s a brilliant set of exhibitions from start to finish and it’s good wholesome fun. You should particularly let your children dip their fingers into the one little pool where they will have their fingernails cleaned by little shrimps. This always raises a smile with visitors.
  • The River Rapids and Battle Galleons offer the chance of a cooling spray or a drenching respectively. You can also enjoy a cooling mist from Wicker Man’s ‘smoke’ (which is actually water mist!)
  • The resort website is as slick and well equipped as you would expect and is packed full of information and advice. There’s an offers page too which is well worth a look.
  • Safety: There are wristbands available for children that you can get from guest services. You give them your name and mobile number which is added to the band and if they are found without an adult you will then be contacted.

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    Alton Towers

Getting from A to B

  • Comfy shoes: These are a must. You will do a lot of walking and you don’t want blisters ruining the day.
  • Ponchos/waterproof coats: If you are looking at going on one of the water rides it would be wise to make sure you are prepared. There’s nothing worse than trudging around in heavy wet jeans.
  • The Sky Ride serves a purpose: Save those weary legs with a scenic journey over the top of the gardens and rides to get you from one side to another.
  • Buggies are available to hire at Towers Trading just inside the park. They are a very good option when you consider that guests will walk between 10,000 and 20,000 steps during their visit
  • Walk or monorail: Did you know William Shatner of Star Trek fame opened the Monorail back in the 80s? Not a lot of people do. Despite the brilliance of the monorail, you may want to boldly go where not many people go and walk to the entrance instead from the car park. The 15 minute walk could save you 20 minutes of queuing up. It always feels like a better way to start the day when there is a line of people snaking around the corner waiting to board the monorail.
  • Haunted Hollow: Another walk that is worth doing is the mildly creepy but mainly funny walk through the park for a shortcut from the Gloomy Wood area. There are a number of interactive displays that are always good for a laugh.

Money tips

  • Book your tickets in advance. Arriving with tickets in hand or already booked is a great way to not have to waste time at the start of the day.
  • Look for special offers: On the official website, on crisp packers, shampoo bottles – you name it and you can often find deals.
  • Lockers: Make use of them. Leave the food in the bag until you need it. Large Locker – £2 per hour, or £10 per day Small Locker – £1 per hour, or £5 per day
  • Guest services: This can be found at the top of the park near the entrance. A good port of call for any queries you might have.
  • Gifts: If you fancy buying ride photos or souvenirs, you can purchase them throughout the day and ask for them to be sent for collection at the end of the day near the exit.
  • Car parks: Remember the car park letter that you parked on. They are vast and you will be one of many trying to find your car. Also it is worth buying your car park token when you arrive rather than when you leave. This will cut down the waiting time at the machines later.


You can see the Alton Towers hotel options here.

Alton Towers Hotel bedroom

  • Floor tiles: Not something that you would usually think would be interesting, find the odd tile in the bathrooms by the mirror in the hotel, you will get a message through the speakers as you gaze at yourself in the mirror.
  • Carpets: This may sound a bit Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, but the carpets are fabulous. It’s particularly great how the carpets merge between the two hotels. Take a look.
  • Breakfasts: If you are a guest at the hotel it is an inclusive buffet breakfast. That means you get to fill your belly for the day ahead.

Every ride rated!

We have reviewed every ride and rated them – find out the scores here.

What have we missed? Share your top tips in the comments below ad we will be sure to add them into the story…

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