The School Pages

Alton Towers

From 1986, nearly every year a group of us would go the Alton Towers resort. Staying at someone's flat, university digs or somewhere as close to the park as possible, we would usually travel in a convoy of cars the day before. I did go once as a day trip but it meant leaving at a ridiculously early hour and getting back in the early hours of the next morning. This was on a Sunday, so I had work that day as well. As each year past we saw the ticket price increase from £5.99 to £12.00, which wasn't too bad considering that in 2015 it costs £50.40 for an on-the-day ticket, only going down to £37.80 if booked 7 days ahead. Anyway, here is what I remember of the trips, along with photos (official and ones I took).


The first time we went the price was £5.99. We visited the gardens (it was the middle of April) which were nice, and had two official photos on the Log Flume and the Black Hole. The Enterprise was a favourite ride, and near to the Black Hole and the Alpine Bobsleigh, which was removed at the end of the year. It was two asbestos channels that you raced down down in a wheeled sled with only a brake and no form of protection. many of the rides were the type you have at a fairground but in a permanent place.


The ticket price had been raised to £7.99 this time, and we went in the second week of April. The Waltzer, often seen in fairgrounds, was a favourite this year, as was the new Grand Canyon Rider. We got completely soaked on the Log Flume ride this time, but that might have been because there were six of us in the boat!


The ticket price was the same as last year and we travelled in convoy in identical cars, as both Simon and Chris had red Renault Clios. The new Skyride (opened the year before) was a vast improved on the old open air cable car that we tried two years ago. The Beast opened this year, which was like the Black Hole, but outside. It was repainted, moved and renamed (The New Beast) in 1992 before closing in 1997. One of the pictures below is of the Monorail, which was opened in August 1987 by William Shatner. It was grey and blue in colour until 2008, when each train was given a different style and theme.


The tickets had gone up to £8.99 this year, although my one was marked as free. It was probably part of a buy one get one free deal, although I was given some free tickets when the park wanted to use some of my music for their website. I gave those tickets to my niece though. We unfortunately made the mistake of going in the first week of October, and I can only describe this visit as the wet one. Lestocq and Tom were the only two to wear plastic protectors whilst everyone else put up with the rain.


We missed one year, and by the time we went this time, the ticket price had gone up to £10.50. Learning from our last trip, we went in the first week of June this time. The dancing water fountains near the entrance were interesting (well, for two of us) and there was the regular favourite rides of the Log Flume and the Black Hole plus the Beast. The latter closed unfortunately at the end of the year due to noise complaints from neighbouring villages and Cine 2000 closed the following year. The films were projected on half of the dome inside and you stood in the middle so it covered your periferal vision.


The following year the price had gone up again to £12.00. Other than the rides, I seem to recall that we ate alot around the park, mainly chips, doughnuts and ice cream. The Thunder Looper had opened in 1990 but I did not try it. Not because of the loop, but the vertical climb. Due to restrictions for the park it closed in 1996 as it was too tall and need frequent repair. The Black Hole was still there (that didn't closed until 2004) as was the infamous Corkscrew (closed in 2008). The Haunted House opened (the largest ghost-train ride in Europe) altough it wasn't that scary.


The last visit we made, and the ticket price was still £12.00. We stayed at Giles' place and went near the end of May, but Louise and I came back a day earlier than everyone else. This was the first time I drove up there and I had Louise put on my insurance so we could share the driving, but she only drove back to the first petrol stop and then I took over. Usually when you wanted an official ride photo, you would had to make your request and fill in your details and wait for the photo to be posted to you. Some rides (like the Black Hole) tried to reduce the waiting time by using a polaroid photo, but the quality really suffered.