After four long months, Alton Towers Resort opened its gates for the 2015 season this weekend. From the new Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, to changes to the queues and operations of the Resort’s attractions, TowersTimes examines all the developments from opening weekend.
The first day of the main season saw the opening of CBeebies Land’s latest addition, Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure. Based around the popular television show, the ride sees guests become ‘Octo-cadets’ to join Captain Barnacles and his team on their latest mission in the GUP convoy. Like the rest of CBeebies Land, the attraction uses bright colours with lots of theming around the ride and queueline to help immerse young guests in the experience. Once on the ride you pass through a range of feature theming elements and effects – including a whale which squirts water – completing two circuits of the track. Young guests experiencing the ride for the first time yesterday seemed to be thrilled by the latest addition, and the ride proved popular throughout the day attracting a significant queue. The ride did experience a couple of minor issues with the restraints at one point having to be manually released, however overall the rollercoaster is a good solid addition to the ride line up.
Across the park a number of changes and re-freshes have taken place. Over in Forbidden Valley, in recognition of its 21 years of operation, Nemesis has received some fresh signage using the Neme21s branding seen on the new merchandise introduced during February Half Term. Although only a small change, this gesture will no doubt please fans of the iconic rollercoaster. The new roof for the Congo River Rapids has been completed, with the station now having a more open appearance than previously. Restoration has also begun on Prospect Tower, which overlooks the valley. After gaining planning permission at the start of this year, the restoration project will see the tower restored to its former glory.
Up on Towers Street, Guest Services has now been merged with the Resort Box Office which will now handle any enquiries, complaints, ride access passes and parent share passes, annual passes, and fastrack sales. Parents wishing to hire a buggy for the day can now do so from Towers Trading. Corner Coffee has been repainted to a much toned down blue colour compared to the bright yellow it was last season, whilst up by the turnstiles, new parking ticket machines have been installed. The Alton Towers Traffic Patrol have returned for another season, this time with new one man vehicles allowing them to play a selection of upbeat tracks to keep guests entertained as they enter and leave the park. Alongside the new vehicles, two members of the ATTP are also equipped with acrobatic, bouncing shoes allowing them to enthrall the crowds by performing a selection of acrobatic flips and tricks.
Some of the more controversial changes of opening weekend have been seen in the operations of certain areas of the resort. For the 2015 season the park is staggering the openings of its rides and attractions, which sees Dark Forest; Cloud Cuckoo Land; and Hex not opening until 11am, whilst Nemesis: Sub Terra; Ripsaw; Congo River Rapids; and The Flume not opening until 12pm. These unannounced changes to ride opening times angered many guests, with several taking to Alton Towers Resort’s social media channels to vent their frustrations. When asked about the reasons for the changes, the resort stated that it was as the result of research indicating that the affected areas and attractions were not used much prior to their new opening times. Changes have also been made to the queues for both Nemesis and Rita which have had their single rider option removed. Whilst the removal of the single rider queue for Rita is seen as a reasonable move, the loss of Nemesis’ single rider option has caused significant dismay amongst guests who formerly used it as a way of maximising the number of rides they could get in one day. Several attractions have also had a reduction in operations staff, something which was particularly evident on Oblivion which was loading just one shuttle at a time instead of the usual two, and Nemesis: Sub Terra which now has no actors in the final section. It is not yet known if these operational changes will be in effect throughout the 2015 season.
Did you visit for the first weekend of the season? What are your thoughts on the changes and developments across the resort? Make sure you have your say over on the Attraction Source Forum. With the 2015 season now in full swing, TowersTimes will continue to bring you all the latest news and developments.