This weekend saw the opening of the UK’s first Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers Resort. The new Restaurant offers diners the chance to experience service with a difference with meals being delivered via rollercoaster tracks set above guests’ heads, giving a whole new meaning to fast food. TowersTimes went along to sample the new restaurant on its debut weekend.
Located at the far end of Forbidden Valley, Rollercoaster Restaurant occupies the space formerly home to the Air Shop. Over the past 6 months the space has undergone an impressive transformation to create a fascinating new restaurant and somewhere which, to those not aware of the history of the space, is unrecognisable when compared to the building’s former use. Whilst the concept for the restaurant is not a new one with Europa Park being the home of the original restaurant of this type – Food Loop – there has been a great deal of anticipation surrounding the restaurant coming to the UK for the first time.
Rollercoaster Restaurant is very much the Resort’s premium food and beverage offering, catering for lunch service during theme park operating hours, and dinner from park close until 10pm. There has been a great deal of anticipation for the new restaurant and the opening weekend has seen all available pre-bookable slots taken, although it is important to note that the restaurant does make a certain number of lunch spaces available to walk-up customers who may not have had the opportunity to pre-book their meal. The menu offers a good range of options to cater for all tastes, from steak and burgers, to curry and fish dishes. Menus for lunch and dinner do differ, with the dinner menu having more extensive and sophisticated selection of dishes, including premium quality steaks and a ‘Super Looper’ dish containing an 8oz fillet steak and buttered lobster tail. As expected for a restaurant being marketed as the premium offering at the resort, the menu prices are some of the highest at Alton Towers with a main at lunch ranging from £11.95 to £15.95, and dinner main courses ranging from £11.95 – £29.95.
As you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a member of staff who, after either checking your booking or checking for space, guides you to your table. Most of the 13 tables are arranged around their own dedicated rollercoaster track. Most of the tables have 3 sections of 4 seats, meaning that smaller groups will find themselves sharing their table with other parties, however during our visit this did not detract from the experience. There are also two long tables which would be ideal for larger groups. Once seated your server presents you with a tablet computer through which you order your meal. This tablet is set to your table so all each individual guest has to do is select their seat number before making their choice from the menu on the screen. One thing that is important to note is that you have to order your food and drink in the order you wish to receive it i.e. order your drinks first, followed by your starters, then your mains. Although at first this may seem like a complicated way of ordering it is in fact incredibly simple and the food is delivered very quickly.
Your food is delivered via a network of tracks which twist and turn above diners’ heads and, in the case of two of the possible routes, even complete a full inversion before descending to each table. Each of the individual tracks have had their twists crafted on location with each section of metal track having been delivered to the site straight before being installed and custom fitted to ensure the perfect fit to the space. Many guests were transfixed by the dishes speeding by above their heads, something which helps make the short wait seem to pass quickly. Each meal is delivered in a specially designed metal pot to ensure it reaches each diner safely, and in order to ensure the quality of the food is maintained some meals are delivered in two pots. Once the meal arrives your food is easily identifiable with a ticket specifying which seat number the dish is for. As an added touch, each seat number is also associated with one of the popular rides at the theme park, both past and present, and the ticket which comes with your dish gives an interesting fact about your ride. Once your meal has arrived you can transfer it to the plates and bowls provided in the centre of each table where you will also find your cutlery. During our visit we sampled the Grilled Salmon and the Bombay Butter Chicken Curry, both of which were tasty and well cooked. The burgers were proving to be a popular choice among diners and it is perhaps interesting to note that the burgers served have been specially created for the Rollercoaster Restaurant, just one example of the attention to detail evident throughout the restaurant.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the restaurant is the attention to detail in the décor and overall atmosphere. The walls contain a series of displays containing original plans, concepts, and artwork for rides past and present, whilst each table is identified by a specific ride. Every half hour a celebration video show is projected onto the walls which highlights some of the Resort’s most iconic rides from both the present day and the park’s history. Even the audio played throughout the restaurant provided a nod to the past with both Thunder Rock Rally Radio from Ug Land, and the old Air theme playing at various intervals along with soundtracks from current rides.
Rollercoaster Restaurant is also the first food and beverage outlet within the main theme park to remain open outside of the Theme Park opening times into the evening, complementing the existing offering at the Resort accommodation and providing much needed extra capacity for evening dining. Guests can make their way to Forbidden Valley from the hotels via a newly constructed ‘Golden Pathway’ which contains a number of quirky themed features and signs as well as audio along the full path. It is understood that the Resort also plan to make Galactica available for part of the evening with the virtual reality rollercoaster remaining open until 8pm over the weekend exclusively for guests visiting the Rollercoaster Restaurant.
Overall we were very impressed with our first visit to the Resort’s newest restaurant and consider it provides good food in a nice atmosphere. Throughout our meal staff were incredibly attentive, ensuring any pots were cleared from tables swiftly and any queries dealt with quickly and efficiently. The prices are some of the highest you will find for food at the Resort, however the food supplied is of good quality and well prepared and Merlin Annual Pass and Alton Towers Annual Pass holders do receive a 20% discount.. Whilst the new restaurant may not be somewhere you would eat at for every trip due to the higher prices, it is definitely somewhere we would recommend trying at least once and we will certainly be making a return visit later in the season.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Rollercoaster Restaurant yet? What are your thoughts on this latest dining experience at the Resort? Have your say on this and more over on the Attraction Source Forum. TowersTimes will continue to bring you developments from across the Resort as they happen.