AD – Press trip
We spent a weekend at Alton Towers water park, theme park and resort. Whilst we had a brilliant time, a few tips could have made our stay even better. We were among the first people to try out the cBeebies hotel. We also put both cBeebies Land within Alton Towers theme park and the Splash Landings waterpark through their paces.
Our children were aged 3 and 5, so the perfect age for the cBeebies experience. I wanted to share the things that would have improved our stay so that others will hopefully have a better time. Here’s a quick video of what you can expect from your stay at Alton Towers and my tips are below!
The Alton Towers cBeebies Hotel
1. Pick the right hotel for the age of your children
The CBeebies Hotel only opened in July 2017, so everything is shiny and new. The whole hotel is geared up towards young children and the girls were incredibly excited to stay there. The rooms are all themed, ours was a CBeebies bug themed room. However, if your children have grown out of CBeebies on the television, they will also be too old for this hotel.
2. Check the entertainment plan
The entertainment all involves cBeebies characters and the presenters are incredibly engaging. The characters all make an appearance and children will love having their photo taken with them. My girls adore Swashbuckle and loved the Swashbuckle gameshow. We had originally booked dinner for this time, but were able to have a bit of flexibility on it so that they could watch the show. They also loved meeting some of their other favourites characters including Octonauts and Iggle Piggle.
3. The Alton Towers theme park ‘secret’ priority pass
We had to collect theme park tickets from the hotel on arrival as part of our booking. When we arrived, they handed over the park tickets and our lanyards and badges to show we were staying in the hotel. They told us we’d pick up the key later, which was fine.
However, what they neglected to mention was that there were also priority ride tickets for us when we collected the keys. Each of us was able to go on one ride in the Alton Towers theme park without queueing. As they knew we were going to the theme park on our arrival day, it seems ridiculous that they didn’t give the passes to us for that day. Instead, they didn’t mention the priority tickets and gave them to us when we collected our keys. We ended up going back into the theme park after our day at the Alton Towers water park on our second day to use the passes.
4. The food at Alton Towers cBeebies hotel
We were really impressed with some elements of the menu at the cBeebies hotel. In particular, we liked the fact that the children’s menu was exactly the same as the adult menu but with smaller portions. The girls loved the design your own pizza option. This allowed them to put stickers on a picture of a pizza to say what they wanted on it. The picture was then given to the chef to could cook what they’d asked for.
Another highlight was the help yourself salad bar on a windmill in the centre of the room. This was full of healthy options and you could have it as a side, starter or main. However, the salad bar was definitely the only redeeming feature of the vegetarian menu. The only veggie options were pizza, pasta or sausage and mash. I wasn’t particularly enthused by any of those choices since I am veggie and prefer a healthy option. I didn’t end up ordering from the menu at all and filled up on the salad bar instead.
Alton Towers theme park and cBeebies Land
5. Allow plenty of time for visiting Alton Towers theme park
If you’re visiting at the weekend, the queues in cBeebies land are quite substantial. Some were up to an hour. Then you need to factor in the lunch, snack and toilet breaks and the day starts to ebb away. We didn’t make it out of cBeebies land at all and we spent two afternoons at the Alton Towers theme park. There are actually several rides young children can go on in the rest of the park, including the Runaway Mine Train, Frog Hopper and Gallopers Carousel.
6. Plan for the queues
You do expect to queue at a theme park and no queues were over an hour even on a busy weekend. However, this can be more problematic with young children. There was one occasion when we got to the front of a 40 minute queue and Lia announced that she needed the toilet. Luckily she decided she could wait until after the ride, but it was a lesson learned. Regular toilet stops are a must!
7. Food and drink in Alton Towers theme park
We took a picnic to the theme park to save a bit of money, although there are plenty of places to buy food at Alton Towers. This ended up being a bit of a godsend with young children though. We got through three big bottles of water between us in a day, mostly in the queues when we were stood in the sunshine. It was also great being able to hand them a snack in the queue when they were getting bored.
On the second day, we didn’t have a picnic so we intended to go to the rollercoaster restaurant just before we went home. Sadly though, the signposts for this were incredibly misleading. From the monorail stop by the car park, there are signposts for the rollercoaster restaurant leading away from the monorail. We therefore got the monorail back to the car park and went to look for the rollercoaster restaurant. Only to be told that we’d have to get the monorail back into the park to go to the restaurant. Needless to say we didn’t bother. We grabbed a sandwich in the cBeebies hotel instead.
8. Dress for the weather
Most of the queues are outside, so it would have been pretty miserable in the rain without a waterproof. The same goes for the sunshine. We covered our two in suncream before going to the park and carried it with us. This, along with hats and sunglasses, gave us peace of mind that we could stay outside in the queues for as long as it took without worrying about the heat or sunshine.
9. It’s not all about the rides
Maybe it’s just me, but every time I go to Alton Towers, I feel like I should do nothing but go on rides. But the children see it differently. The fact that they can go in a playground anytime is irrelevant to them. The girls loved the Tree Foo Tom play park, Nina’s Science Lab and the Charlie and Lola play area. But most of all, they had a brilliant time in the Justin’s House Pie-O-Matic Factory. There was no queue for this either, so it comes highly recommended!
10. Take one adult per young child if you can
Libby has always been a bit braver than Lia when it came to rollercoasters. This meant that they did want to go on different things. Rather than all queueing for the Octonauts rollercoaster when Lia didn’t want to ride it, I took her on a different ride while Libby queued with my husband. It was really useful having one adult to each child.
Having taken both girls around a theme park on my own a couple of times before, it is much easier to take an extra adult with you if you can do it. Some rides only allow two people to sit together and children under 1.1 metres often have to sit with an adult so having two children to one adult can mean they can’t go on everything.
Alton Towers water park
11. Take a buoyancy aid to the Alton Towers water park
Libby is a brilliant swimmer for her age, she’d happily swim a couple of lengths and can tread water for a long time. Despite this, I felt so much better with her wearing a buoyancy aid at the Alton Towers water park. I like to use one that doesn’t restrict their arms, so I would highly recommend the Konfidence swim jacket. There are certain areas of the pool that non-swimmers won’t be able to go in without some sort of buoyancy aid. They will also need one for the water slides.
12. Ask staff to find out which slides young children can use
I thought that the signs within the water park were rather poor. There were signs for the big slides, which made it clear they weren’t suitable for children under 1.1 metres tall. However, we were totally unaware that there are other slides that young children can ride with you. Luckily, a brilliant member of staff saw us looking lost and showed us around.
Children over the age of 3 can ride on the rush ‘n’ rampage slides in the Alton Towers water park. If they’re under 1.1 metres tall, they must be with an adult. Anybody can ride on the flash floods slides and both of my two went down on our laps. All the slides do tip you out into a pool so non-swimmers couldn’t go on them alone.
13. Check the opening times for the outdoor area of the Alton Towers water park
The outdoor part of Alton Towers water park opens slightly later than the indoor area. The bubbly wubbly pool (a warm pool a bit like a jacuzzi) opens just after the outdoor area. This is only suitable for children aged five years and over. It’s a lovely place to go and warm up as the rest of the outdoor pool is quite chilly!
14. Grab a rubber ring for the lazy river
There are rubber rings available in the lazy river and they’re a great way to chill out. However, there aren’t that many of them and they’re just floating around in there, rather than being available to take from a particular location. So if you see one free when you get in there, grab it!
15. Keep a close eye on weak and non-swimmers
There are some areas where the currents in the pool are quite strong. In particular, the entrance / exit to the lazy river is quite tough to swim through. I wouldn’t let a child go in there alone unless they were an incredibly competent swimmer.
16. You probably won’t need a whole day in the Alton Towers water park
We had planned to spend a whole day in the Alton Towers water park. However for young children, that’s probably too long. A morning was plenty of time, after which we headed back to the theme park to use the priority passes we’d been unaware of the day before. If you do decide to stay all day, there is a restaurant there so you can get lunch and go back in afterwards.
AD – Press trip