Alton Towers is an enormous theme park, covering some 800 acres and incorporating a large number of rollercoasters, thrill rides and family-friendly attractions. Seeing everything you want to in a single day is a challenge, particularly during peak seasons when queues for the most popular rides can be hours long. The cost of a visit to Alton Towers can also stack up, easily running into hundreds of pounds for a typical family.
Fortunately, it is possible to save significant amounts of both time and money by planning ahead, using a few simple tips which we've collated below:
- Take advantage of special offers and discounts - there should never be a reason to pay full price for Alton Towers tickets. The park frequently offers "two-for-one" deals in conjunction with newspapers and stores, and Tesco shoppers can use Clubcard Vouchers to save up to 66%. You can find all the latest offers using Theme Park Tourist's Special Offer Watch, and if all else fails tickets are available at a 20% discount from the Alton Towers website.
- Avoid staying in the official park hotels - the Alton Towers Hotel and the Splash Landings Hotel are expensive, and the quality of the rooms often fails to justify the price. You can find a great room at a local bed and breakfast at a much lower cost, and still within 5-10 minutes drive from the park. The exception to this is when the resort offers special offers on room rates, which will be listed in our Special Offer Watch.
- Pick up an Annual Pass - if you're a regular visitor to Alton Towers, buying an Annual Pass could save you money in the long-run. Individual passes can be purchased online for £84 for adults, with family passes available for £66 per person. If you're planning on visiting any other attractions owned by Merlin (including Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and LEGOLAND Windsor), you can buy a Merlin Annual Pass, costing £140.40 for a Standard Pass (with some restrictions) or £167.40 for a Premium Pass. Assuming that 2-for-1 deals are available at the parks, you'll need to visit 4-5 times in order for the pass to pay for itself (though it also offers discounts on food and drink).
- Take your own drinks and snacks - food and drink can be quite expensive at Alton Towers, and as it is situated in a remote location you'll have little option but to pay the asking prices. Bringing a selection of drinks and snacks (or even a packed lunch) with you can help save money, and all of the park's major attractions offer racks or lockers where bags can be stashed while you ride.
- Visit on the quietest day possible - if you can, avoid visiting Alton Towers during the school holidays and on Saturdays. Sundays and weekdays are usually the least busy, although it is possible to have a great time on any day by using the rest of the tips in this article.
- Arrive early - aim to get to Alton Towers at least 45 minutes before rides open, to give yourself a chance to park, catch the monorail and pick up your tickets (if you haven't ordered them in advance).
- Take advantage of Early Ride Time if possible - if you're booking tickets online, have an annual pass or are staying one of Alton Towers' on-site hotels, you'll be able to enter the park an hour before it opens to other guests and enjoy a selection of the most popular rides with very short queues.
- Choose when you plan to eat carefully - Alton Towers' restaurants are very busy between 11am and 1pm. If you can eat either side of this window, then do.
- Don't start at the front of the park - the rides at the front towards the front of the park (such as Sonic Spinball) get busy early, as many guests head straight to them. Instead, head towards either Air (in Forbidden Valley) or Rita (in the Dark Forest) first as both rides' queues are at their shortest early in the day. If you want to ride both, hit Rita first due to its low capacity.
- Use Single Rider Queues - if you don't mind riding on your own, then you can take advantage of the Single Rider Queues that are used on many of the park's biggest attractions to help fill up empty seats. These are usually much shorter than the standard queue.
- Eat breakfast before you arrive - breakfast at Alton Towers is both expensive and time-consuming, so make sure you eat before you head to the park.
- Buy a car park token on the way in - buying your car park token on the way into the park will save time on the way out, when queues often build at the machines near the exit.
- Turn to the dark side and buy Fastrack tickets - we hate it when theme parks charge extra for queue-jumping options, which leave everyone else in the park feeling like second-class citizens. But if you must, or you're desperate, you can buy Fastrack tickets (with costs ranging from £5 to £84) which enable you tro avoid the lines for some of the most popular attractions. If you follow the other tips in this article, though, there should be no need.
Share your Alton Towers tips!
Do you have any tips that could help others save time and money on their Alton Towers trips? Why not share them with others through our theme park tips section?