On the 30th of April, we headed to the Alton Towers Resort to see what had changed for the start of the 2023 season and of course to venture into The Curse at Alton Manor and try the latest addition to the Retroquad, that being Twistatron.
The Curse At Alton Manor
We arrived at the start of a very quiet day and headed straight over to Gloomy Wood to go to Curse. Luckily for us, the ride was a walk on and within minutes we were in the newly refurbished Alton Manor taking in all the sights and sounds around us. Curse at Alton Manor now features a rolling preshow which if the queue is short you may end up missing, we nearly walked straight through but due to some guests waiting for the show to start again, we did catch the full event. If you get a chance to see the preshow you will be greeted with some great effects and narrative to set you on your way before entering the boarding station. We all agreed the space had been used well and the effects complemented the experience greatly in comparison to its predecessor Duel.
We won't go into detail about what happens along the way in The Curse at Alton Manor. But what we will say is that it is one hell of a step up from duel. Powerful use of projection mapping is prevalent during the ride and is bolstered by a series of impressive and sometimes intimidating animatronics and set pieces. Other tricks and illusions are used as well while still keeping some nostalgic nods back to the original Haunted House.
On leaving the ride all three of us were very impressed with what had been done in the time frame and all agreed that it could be one of the best dark rides in the country. It does however have to be mentioned that the ride is not without its flaws. The cars do seem a little too close together meaning you might catch the scene before you arrive and the speed of the ride tends to have the rider missing a lot of the easter eggs put in for your viewing. The final con as it were is the ride's overall reliability, which at the moment seems to be marred with consistent downtime. If these things can be fixed then Alton Towers might possibly have a contender for a top 10 dark ride in Europe.
Wicker Man and X-Sector
Next up was our appointment to feed the flames on Wicker Man. No noticeable changes had taken place here except maybe the smell pods seemed stronger. After Wicker Man, we headed to X-Sector for The Smiler, Oblivion and Twistatron. The Smiler's projection mapping seemed more "lined up" this season which was great to see and was dispatching a great rate keeping the queue lines down. The Smilers station has received 2 new logo panels and we think although can not confirm that the station may have had a lick of paint. Leaving the marmalisation machine behind we decided to check out the newest Retrosquad edition, that being Twistatron.
Twistatron aka Star Fighter is a custom Trabant ride and sits on the former site of Enterprise. Unfortunately sitting alongside Spin Jam, Twistatron looks somewhat tacky and out of place. Although some could argue that is the same with all of the Retrosquad. The loading does take a while but not as long as Mixtape or Roller Disco did so we shall take that as a small mercy. The ride experience is a strange one tilting at an odd angle whilst rotating is a strange one for sure, forcing you to fall into the restraints as the ride reaches full height. Sadly for us, it was a thumbs down from all three of us. It's not fun, it's inconvenient. Finally, we headed to Oblivion where the queue line seems to be in a bit of a sorry state and we hope the park updates this in the next TLC programme. What we did notice from Oblivion was that the holding break seemed to be consistently holding shuttles for the full 3 seconds, not like in the past where you were lucky if you could blink longer. The other downside of Oblivion was the use of only one of the station bays meaning lengthy waits on the break run.
Hex,Th13teen and food.
Next up was the Vekoma Madhouse Hex-Legend of the Towers which was rude not to due to having no wait. All was going well until we became trapped in the cinema room due to a short breakdown but being plunged into darkness wasn't the experience a lot of guests were expecting. After Hex we headed to the Dark Forest for Th13teen to be met by another breakdown just as we were about to board.15 Minutes later we were on. After this we decided it was time for food, it was time to try out Aramark's fare at the Burger Kitchen. The prices seem to have been hiked this season to nearly £11 a head for a standard meal, Which consisted of a sad-looking burger which tasted of feet, cold fries and a diet coke that seemed to be watered down beyond recognition. The prices seem quite steep for the middle-range food option and in retrospect, in future, we might be bringing our lunch with us.
It was now time to head to Forbidden Valley to check out all things Nemesis de/reconstruction. SubTerra and Galactica. We walked up to Sub Terra first and were met by a solitary member of the Phalanx. Sadly we didn't get any interaction as we tried snooping around the perimeter with the camera in hand. I was expecting some kind of military banter but hey ho what can you do? We did notice sounds coming from within though and it looked like the Phalanx logo had been freshly painted on the SubTerra building Also unless you've been living under a rock you will know that an observation platform has been installed on the hill next to Nemesis, This has yet to be opened to the public. Next up was a look around Nemesis, well if you are thinking of spying some shots without the use of the Monorail or Galactica's lift hill think again. The fences are roughly 7/8ft high and only two spaces we could find had holes in for a peek. Galactica was running 2 trains on one station ops which was leading to moderate queue times for a quiet day.
We decided to try our luck with The Curse at Alton Manor again which had been suffering considerable downtime throughout the afternoon. But sadly to no avail. We then had a break in the rain so a quick trip onto the Congo River Rapids was in order. New audio has been added to the length of the rapid's journey narrating every obstacle and rapids that comes your way, this included mentioning the waterfalls which were not switched on. The strange choice that Alton Towers has made here is that the narration is in a strong Australian accent which made no sense to us seeming that, to us at least, Katanga Canyon is African themed. After a dry run of the Congo River Rapids, we decided to finish up the day with another ride on Wicker Man which was hauling in the afternoon and one last ride on The Smiler.
So that was our day at Alton Towers Resort, In summary, The Curse at Alton Manor is a great "new" attraction and we can't wait to take another ride soon, we just wish the reliability was better. We hope Twistatron is the last of the Retrosquad, some areas of the park have had a lick of paint and a tidy up and Aramark is not a great update for culinary standards. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.