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The Big Debate: Alton Towers or Thorpe Park?

Alton Towers mansion

In this week's poll, we ask which of the UK's two leading theme parks is your favourite - Alton Towers or Thorpe Park?

Alton Towers has long been established as the UK's most popular theme park, pulling in million of visitors every year and boasting an impressive line-up of groundbreaking attractions. In recent years, though, sister park Thorpe Park has been playing catch-up, installing mega-budget rides such as Stealth, SAW - The Ride and (in March 2012) The Swarm.

This week's Big Debate, therefore, asks a simple question of our UK-based readers. Which is the better theme park? Does Alton Towers still offer the best day out around, or has Thorpe Park's growing list of thrill rides lifted it to the top of the pile?

My own view on this is pretty straightforward: Alton Towers wins hands down. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the park's setting is hard to beat - Thorpe Park's former gravel pit can hardly compete with the grounds of a spooky gothic mansion. Secondly, I think that owner Merlin has gone too far in stripping out almost every child-friendly ride at Thorpe Park. Yes, they are aiming at teen and young adult market - but sometimes, it's actually nice to have a change of pace, rather than riding coaster after coaster.

Theme Park Tourist's recent recruit Sebastian also rated Alton Towers as slightly better than Thorpe Park, in his article comparing the two. I know there are a few Thorpe Park fans out there who disagree, though - make your views known!

Vote now!

If you were short on cash and could only visit one of these two awesome theme parks, which would it be? Let us know by voting below.

Which is the better UK theme park - Alton Towers or Thorpe Park?

Share your thoughts

Thanks for voting in Theme Park Tourist's Big Debate. Why not let us know why you voted as you did using the comments section below?


There are 3 comments.

Thorpe Park edges it for me as it boasts a better lineup of rides aimed at thrillseekers, given the height limitations both parks have to contend with.

Stealth is probably the most intense ride in the country and SAW is also the only ride of its kind in the UK. Colossus has to be experienced, it's a brilliant coaster with a gut-wrenching finale. The new ride (Swarm) also looks excellent, if a little short!

Alton Towers does have Nemesis which remains one of the top coasters in the world for it's unique layout and themeing, but the other rides let Alton Towers down; Air is incredibly dull with the exception of one particular inverson, Rita (contracy to the name) is not very fast at all, and unimaginative. Th13teen is also a let-down given the hype generated before it was open. Oblivion is a one-trick pony and laughable when compared to drop rides in the states like Sheikra or Griffin. I do like the look of the new Nemesis-themed drop ride that's about to open though, and from what I gather, there is an AMAZING new coaster coming to Alton Towers in 2013, so the competition is just getting started it seems..

This debate would have been totally ridiculous ten years ago. However, in recent years Thorpe Park has been majorly invested in my Merlin Entertainment. This is good in the fact that the standard for theme parks in the UK which, compared to Europe and the United States, is severely lacking.

Some may not agree but during those ten years I think Alton Towers has been rather neglected (especially as the flag-ship park of the UK). As much as Alton Towers has set the bar high with the ground-breaking rides such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air, the park is living on past glories. This is quite evident with the disappointingly average Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the thematic mess that was formerly known as Ug Land. Thirteen and Rita are fantastic rides but the designers have been such a mess with the theming!

Thorpe Park has been transformed to contain some of the countries best roller coasters, especially SAW and Nemesis Inferno. But it lacks character, image and sense of adventure. It is more like a big-kids playground than a theme park. Unlike its sister park Alton Towers which has a distinct identity. One of mystery, excitement and adventure. The iconic backdrop of the towers is probably the main factor towards this.

But I do hope in the future that Thorpe Park does create a name for itself. A brand, as it were, which transforms it from being an amusement park with lots of big rides to a place with real character. Disney does it well with there stories and theming. I think Thorpe Park, and probably all theme parks in the UK, should take a leaf out of Disney's book and give us a reason why we should visit that park.

Having been on all the rides at both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park (excluding a few kiddie rides) I think Thorpe park now edges it with Swarm. I rode this at the weekend and it was the first time I felt like I was riding a large American coaster.

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