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Air at Alton Towers

Increasingly designed to be a multi-day destination, Alton Towers features dozens of rides and attractions aimed at every age group. Our reviews are designed to help you decide which ones to prioritise, but if you only have a short period to explore the theme park then make sure to experience the attractions below.

The attractions at Alton Towers are spread across a number of themed lands. Due to the park’s enormous size, it can take some time to get one from land to another, even when using the Skyride cable car as a shortcut. Expect to spend a significant amount of time walking (or running!) from one area to another.

Adults, teenagers and older kids:

Nemesis

Older guests look for adrenaline-pumping thrills are well-served by Alton Towers’ line-up of major roller coasters and several other thrill rides:

  1. Nemesis – it may be getting on a bit in age, but Nemesis is still the best roller coaster in the UK. The ride’s circuit is tightly-packed into a giant hole in the ground, and the thrill of seeing the ground rush beneath your feet is as strong as ever. Ride on the front row at least once to see the rivers of “blood” flowing by.
  2. The Smiler - Alton Towers' record-breaking new coaster for the 2013 season features a dizzying array of inversions and futuristic theming. For our money, Nemesis still tops it, but it's an impressive addition to the park.
  3. Oblivion – there’s not much to X-Sector’s original headline attraction, other than its 180-feet-tall vertical drop. Fortunately, the moment of anticipation before you plunge into the dark pit below is more than enough justify riding this classic coaster again and again.
  4. Rita – visually, Alton Towers’ launched coaster is something of mess, and it has never really fitted in with its surroundings in the former Ug Land area or the current Dark Forest. Nevertheless, you can’t argue with the basic experience of being blasted from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. Ride early to avoid a lengthy queue.
  5. Air – the world’s first Bolliger & Mabillard flying coaster was something of a disappointment when it first opened in 2002. While its circuit and theming are underwhelming compared to similar rides (Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, in particular), it still offers an experience that is completely unique in the UK.
  6. Hex – The Legend of the Towers – based on the mythology behind a real chained oak tree located nearby, Hex makes great use of the spooky gothic mansion that lends Alton Towers its name. After queuing through the south wing of the Towers and absorbing several pre-show areas, you’ll be subjected to a disorienting ride experience. Are you really upside down?
  7. Sonic Spinball – it may not be quite as good as the similar Dragon’s Fury at sister park Chessington World of Adventures, but this spinning coaster is still great fun. Expect to be dizzy, but giggling by the time you reach the end of the circuit.
  8. Thirteen – it’s not quite the “world’s scariest coaster”, as Alton Towers’ marketing department would have you believe, but the Dark Forest’s headline attraction is still worth riding. The world’s first element is a little underwhelming, but the indoor backwards section is a real highlight.
  9. Nemesis: Sub-Terra – this miniature drop tower may not be quite as thrilling as the nearby Nemesis roller coaster, but Alton Towers scores points for having made a real attempt at instilling a coherent plot around it. The indoor, underground location and audiovisual elements make this worth riding if the queue isn't too long.
  10. Ripsaw – on rainy days, you can safely skip Ripsaw. If it’s hot, though, don’t miss out on the thrills caused by not knowing whether the fountains located underneath its spinning gondola will soak you or not.

Young children (aged 8 and under):

Ice Age 4-D

Alton Towers offers two sprawling areas (Old MacDonald’s Farmyard and Cloud Cuckoo Land) dedicated entirely to rides for younger guests:

  1. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The 4-D Experience – the original movie upon which this 4-D attraction is based was not shot with this usage in mind, so the marriage between the in-theatre effects and the on-screen action isn’t perfect. Most kids won’t care, though – Sid, Manny, Scrat and friends are as popular as ever.
  1. Berry Bish Bash – on busy days, this indoor fun house can be pure mayhem. Expect to see kids firing foam balls all over the place using a range of different guns and other devices, and having a great time in the process.
  1. Riverbank Eye-Spy – few theme parks would find the space for an oddity such as this, but Alton Towers has room to spare. Kids will have a great time floating around on this lengthy boat ride, using buttons to trigger animal noises as they go.
  1. Squirrel Nutty Ride – it’s hardly on a par with a Disney ride, but this slow-paced circuit ride offers pleasant views over the Storybook Land area and some nice fantasy-style theming.
  1. Old MacDonald’s Tractor Ride – adults may have lost the ambition to drive a tractor, but few kids have. Most will have a great time “driving” full-sized vehicles around a fixed circuit.

Families and groups:

Duel

Some of Alton Towers’ rides offer a great shared experience for families and groups, although they may be unsuitable for very young children:

  1. Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back! – the backstory behind this laser gun ride is lost in the noise as you blast your way around the interior of a haunted house. Expect to have a sore trigger finger by the time you reach the exit, and sore pride if your friends and family members have beaten your score.
  1. Congo River Rapids – the best river rapids ride in theUK by some distance, the Congo Rivers Rapids winds its way around Katanga Canyon. The real fun comes from not knowing which members of your party will be drenched by a rogue wave or one of the fountains and waterfalls along the route.
  1. Skyride – while it’s designed primarily as transportation across the sprawling park, Alton Towers’ Skyride is well worth riding at least once even if you’re a walker at heart. The best leg is the one between Cloud Cuckoo Land and Forbidden Valley, which offers incredible views over the Towers’ gardens.
  1. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory: The Ride – it’s not the best dark ride ever created, but this journey through Willy Wonka’s world is still worth making the trek to Cloud Cuckoo Land for. Kids will love the shaking floor in the “Great Glass Elevator”.
  1. Battle Galleons – this one is for those that love to get soaked only…if you’d prefer to stay dry, avoid it. There’s one simple aim – use the gun on your miniature pirate ship to drench everyone in sight.
  1. The Flume – what it lacks in imagination and originality, Alton Towers’ log flume makes up for in sheer length. After floating around the woods for what seems like an age, the final splashdown doesn’t disappoint.

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