Your essential news update for UK theme parks for the February and March 2014 period.
February and March, the first two months of the UK theme park season. Even though most parks stay closed until March, we got a small glimpse of the upcoming season this February, with Alton Towers opening select rides in the 3rd week of February as part of their Moshi Monsters event week. Needless to say, it really all kicks off this March in the UK parks. Also, more information on arguably the most exciting themed attraction announced this year which strangely, isn’t actually in a theme park. Oh yes. Read on.
The first UK theme park to open its gates and run rollercoasters in 2014, Alton Towers played host to a Moshi Monster takeover this February Half Term, drawing in hundreds of families from all over the country.
Guests and “Moshlings” were offered a chance to take 2 trails around the park, which when followed, allowed plenty of interactive activities and meeting with the stars of Moshi Monsters for the show’s biggest fans.
Sadly, Alton Towers received a high volume of complaints from guests who came to the park, expecting, as it is their newest ride, to be able to ride The Smiler during the February Half Term events; despite the fact the park never claimed their headline coaster would be open at this time.
Scaffolding was spotted around the top of The Smiler’s first lift hill whilst the February Half Term events were taking place, making it clear that the rollercoaster was undergoing the much needed maintenance and refurbishment work it needed after its faulty first season. As previously announced by Alton Towers, the whole of X-Sector remained closed throughout February.
The Smiler, which holds the world record for most track inversions on a rollercoaster, was plagued with downtime throughout the course of 2013. One thing is for certain - Alton Towers are doing everything they can over the closed season to improve and repair The Smiler where needed, to ensure it has a much more reliable and healthy second year of operation.
The Smiler is currently scheduled to open on the 22nd March, with the rest of Alton Towers, on the first day of their 2014 season.
Despite Alton Towers full attention being on The Smiler recently, it is nice to see that the birthday of their arguably most iconic ride of all time, Nemesis, has not gone unannounced. Merchandise celebrating Nemesis’ 20th anniversary this year, has popped up in selected shops across the resort. Coaster enthusiasts and fans of Nemesis, which debuted in 1994, can now celebrate the legacy this ride holds, by getting their hands on a limited edition t-shirt and other collectables.
It is worth briefly mentioning that Nemesis operated on one train this February, meaning that possibly the ride and its trains could be undergoing light maintenance off site as a 20th birthday treat.
Alton Towers have also confirmed their Extra Ride Time hours for 2014. Exclusive to Resort Hotel Guests, Annual Pass holders, and Guests booking online at altontowers.com, this allows entry into the theme park from 9am-10am during the 2014 season. Ride availability is a limited selection however; Nemesis, The Blade, Oblivion and Duel are open, to name a few. The Smiler does not form part of the Extra Ride Time line-up, most likely in a bid by Alton Towers to reduce as much pressure on the ride operations as possible.
Finally, Alton Towers has resubmitted plans for a third on-site hotel - and you can read all about it here.
The Nation’s Thrill Capital has announced the return of their extremely popular summer event – Summer Nights. Beginning on Friday the 11th of July, and running every Friday and Saturday until the end of August from 7:30 to 10:30pm each night, the they have increased the number of Summer Nights weekends quite drastically from 2013.
Thorpe Park also state on their website that the 2014 Summer Nights events include a “party atmosphere on the beach”, which did not form part of the line-up of Summer Nights in 2013. Again, standard entry is £15 per person and entry for annual pass-holders is £5 per person (including Merlin Premium Passholders).
Finally, continuing with the stream of 2014 events being announced in the last month before the start of the season, Thorpe Park have confirmed that they will be open, from 10am to 5pm, on Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th of March, for Annual Pass Holders and Merlin Members exclusively. This is their first Annual Pass Holders Event since 2011, and is open to everyone with a Thorpe Park Resort Annual Pass, Merlin Annual Pass, or Merlin Membership. The theme park is then to open its gates to everyone for the 2014 season on Thursday the 20th of March.
Thorpe Park had teased about a Pass-Holder Day on their social media earlier in the year, with a weekend finally being confirmed. This comes as a surprise, as Thorpe Park’s last Pass-Holder Day; held on the 13th of March 2011, came under a little bit of criticism, when Annual Pass-Holders were allowed to bring two friends that weren’t pass-holders into the park with them. Since then, Thorpe Park have hosted the Friends and Family Day in 2012 and 2013, which allowed Merlin employees to bring friends and relatives into the park, usually the weekend before general admission began the following Thursday.