***Since the publication of this article Alton Towers Resort have revised the plans for staggered openings. Full details can be found in our article dated 25th January 2018***
In a change to the previous line-up, Early Ride Time will now include the Resort’s newest attraction, Wicker Man, as well as Spinball Whizzer, Postman Pat Parcel Post, Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride, Justin’s Pie-O-Matic Factory, In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Something Special: Sensory Garden & Numtums Number-Go-Round. However, unlike in previous seasons, Early Ride Time will only be available from 9:30am, just half an hour prior to the Theme Park opening to other guests at 10am. Guests who pre-book online will also no longer be eligible for the earlier access with Early Ride Time now only on offer to Resort Hotel guests and Merlin Annual Pass holders (as yet there is no indication if it also extends to those purchasing Alton Towers Season Passes).
One of the major changes to operations for the 2018 season is the staggered opening of many of the rides and attractions throughout the park. As things stand, attractions are set to open at the following times:
- X-Sector – The Smiler; Enterprise; Oblivion
- Mutiny Bay – Marauder’s Mayhem and Heave Ho!
- CBeebies Land
- Dark Forest – Rita and Th13teen
- Cloud Cuckoo Land
- Sharkbait Reef by SEA LIFE
- Battle Galleons
- Runaway Mine Train
- Forbidden Valley (including Nemesis and Galactica)
- Congo River Rapids
Whilst Congo River Rapids is listed as opening at 12pm, the popular water ride will now operate as a seasonal attraction and only be open from 26th May – 4th September, a move which is set to disappoint many guests and will mean that outside of these dates the only ride operational in Katanga Canyon will be the Runaway Mine Train.
Although many are pleased to see the Resort’s newest attraction, Wicker Man, included in the Early Ride time line-up, this has been overshadowed by the dismay at the plans for the staggered ride openings. Whilst the Resort are yet to release their full opening times for the 2018 season, should they follow a similar pattern to 2017’s opening hours this will potentially mean some of the Resort’s biggest attractions, including Nemesis and Galactica, only opening for four hours. Many have also expressed concerns about how the staggered openings will affect queues with some speculating that the nature of the staggered openings will lead to significantly higher queues for those attractions which open later. There is also currently no indication as to if the 2018 season will see the return of Nemesis: Sub Terra or Twirling Toadstool.
These operational changes have also led some to question how much resilience the theme park will have should they experience a technical issue with a major attraction in the early part of the day with there being limited alternative options for guests to experience prior to 11am, especially those visiting for the Resort’s thrill rides. The staggered openings may also impact on the Resort’s appeal to those guests making longer journeys to the Resort, especially those who are only able to spend a single day at the theme park.
What are your thoughts on the changes to Alton Towers Resort’s operations for the 2018 theme park season? Share your thoughts over on the TowersTimes and SouthParks Forum.
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