Sunday, 26 September 2010

Alton Towers

September 24

Finally a weekend to ourselves. Steve and I decided to use this time to go to Alton Towers, yet another amusement park.
Entrance decoration.
It was fairly chilly today at 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), so waiting for the rides to open was unpleasant. Also, there was uppity youth present who began chanting. I am starting to think that Europeans are genetically programmed to chant. However, it gave us plenty of time to look at the Towers themselves.
They opened up the pathways and everyone just bolted all around the park. I cannot run so we just walked briskly. We headed for the back of the park first because there was a new ride there, 13, which was advertised as "the ultimate ride experience" and as the scariest ride since the Annie McLeod Experience. We couldn't actually see any rides because they are so well hidden by the trees and terrain. The park is also EXTREMELY green, as you will see in the pictures. It is also f*ing HUGE. Anyway, we continued in the direction of 13.

But we didn't go on 13 first.

The first ride we went on was Rita. Rita is a launched (61 mph) coaster that was more about its twists than its speed, which I though was a good direction for a not terribly fast launch. It was a good ride.
The unstoppable crowd here nearly has us giving up.
Next we went on 13. 13 had a very disturbing queue line. I'm not sure what the story line is behind 13, but you walk through some desolate woods and come upon the station building. Inside there are creepy sounds like water drops, etc., and then a young girl whispers over the loudspeakers, "If you go down to the woods today, you better not go alone". These sounds and phrase repeat CONTINUOUSLY while you are in the station, which gets annoying. Oh yeah, then some kind of loud pop goes off and electricity goes all crazy around a plasma ball in a fenced off exhibit within the queue. Many people jump at the sound and visuals, but we were past that section when it went off. Anyway, onto the ride. It appears to be a kiddy ride at first with a very small hill and relatively low speed. It goes into a separate station and stops. ***SPOILERS*** Then the train free falls for about 10 feet (it is the first roller coaster to do this). Then it exits the station and rides backward in complete darkness though still not too fast. Then it stops again and proceeds forward into the station after the track switches back. No, it was not the ultimate ride experience, but it certainly was a new experience, and for that it garners some points from me. I have no pictures because it was all in the woods.

In Six Flags Great Adventure, there is a ride called Superman Ultimate Flight. On this ride you essentially are rotated so that you experience the whole ride on your belly (or back if you have flipped upside down). Steve and I took a few friends from Virginia to the park, and after riding this, one of them kept commenting on how it is like Air, a ride at Alton Towers. In an attempt to honor this good friend (who is also responsible for the name of the blog itself), I thought we should make Air our next stop.

We failed at that attempt (But we wound up going on it pretty soon! Please don't be mad! Please!).

We were on our way to air when we came upon the edge of the valley. So we turned around and walked for a bit, and we somehow ended up back at 13. Uh... how? Anyway we then walked all the way to the center of the park (near where we started) and took a path that was about a quarter mile long just twisting and turning. That path was also spooky themed as there were lots of spooky things. We emerged into a new section of the park and immediately encountered props for Nemesis, which we went on next. Nemesis theme to an alien invasion, so there are deep canyon and river/waterfalls of blood. Neither Nemesis nor Air (which is right next to Nemesis) is remotely close to their positions on the map. As for the ride itself, Nemesis was good but not great. What made Nemesis great was the immersion in the scenery, swooping through the canyons over the blood and through misty tunnels. I deemed my second favorite ride of the day. We went on again via the single rider line after we got off.
Bloooooood! Wheeeeeeee!
We finally went to Air, which was the prototype for the previously mentioned Superman Ultimate Flight. After the intense Nemesis, Air looked like a very serene ride. The line was a little longer because these types of coaster take longer to load, but we finally got on, the ride turned us onto our tummies, and we were off. As predicted, the ride was very calm, but like Superman, this ride did not unleash the potential that these rides should have. It was not a bad ride by any means; I actually quite enjoyed it, but it is always somewhat disappointing when a ride wastes potential (biggest violator is Volcano at King's Dominion).
Puts Superman to shame.

After air, we rode Nemesis again.

Then we got Nemices Donuts, which ruled.

We decided to head for Oblivion, riding the Runaway Train and Duel along the way. The Runaway Train is a mine train. Duel was a haunted house ride where you get a laser gun and shoot the monsters for points. I destroyed the rest of the people in my car, though pulling the trigger so many times induced hand cramps.

Oblivion was by far my favorite ride. It was the world's first vertical drop coaster (which they make damn sure you know). Now I LOVE drop towers, and this gave me a similar feeling of free fall and calmness. However, the ride was short and basically consisted of the drop and then the return to the station. However, its vertical drop was fantastic. The queue line had all these silly videos that tried to scare you with one guy arguing with another with exchanges like:
"This ride is perfectly safe."

"If this ride is so safe, why is it called Oblivion?"
 If you look closely, you will notice that the retort doesn't make any sense.
 Also, the gift shop sold a very interesting term as well.
I'm not sure what it says about your penis when you cover it with Oblivion.
We rode Oblivion again, and then we headed toward Sonic Spinball.
I did not go on this ride because it spins, so Steve went on it alone. Afterward, we went on a kiddy coaster, Beastie.

We went on the Sky Ride to get back to Nemesis, rode it, and then headed to Air, which had broken down. Lame. We then headed on the Sky Ride to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie was a dark boat ride and when we first set off, the couples in the two rows ahead of us tried to snuggle, tipping our boat to within an inch of taking on water. The ride sucked, by the way. We made our way to 13 again, which lost a bit of its charm since I knew what was coming.

And then came Hex.

Hex was set in the towers themselves (the actual ride part was not) and started out with a video about an urban legend. The Earl was heading back in his chariot when a beggar woman asked for some change. The Earl responded with something on the lines of, "No! You can't have any f*ing change! I hate you!" (may or may not have been exact words). Anyway, she got mad and put a curse on him (points for originality) that linked an old oak tree. Whenever a branch on this oak tree falls a member of your family will die. Well shortly after, a lightning storm took down a branch and a family member perished. The Earl then chained all the branches to one another and the tree to prevent further incidents. Then he grew obsessed with the branch that had fell, became a mad scientist, built a secret lab, and did experiments on the branch. I get the feeling that the last part deviates a bit from the original story. Anyway, we walked in and sat down onto what Steve immediately identified as a Vekoma Madhouse. In these rides, the seats tilt and the walls of the room rotate so there are gravity shifts that appear to be for no reason. The seat can also tilt in the opposite direction the way the room rotates, which means it can look like you are upside down while you are actually right side up. These make me sick because my brain tries to process the disparity between what I am seeing and feeling, and it fails.

We went back to Oblivion, rode it, and then with 40 minutes left to closing, Steve decided to go on a log flume. He came back 30 minutes later, but because the park is so widespread, we could not get to any more rides. We got on the bus to the train station and began the journey home. Overall, it was a fantastic day, and this was probably my favorite park so far.

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