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Scarefest At Alton Towers

23 September 2020

30 comments
Scarefest sign at Alton Towers


On the 9th October Alton Towers will transform the resort in to a Halloween haven of all things spooky for its Halloween event, Scarefest. We visit every year and in our opinion it keeps getting better and better and we couldn't wait to see what was in store for us this year. 

Alton Towers have promised that this year it will be as spooktacular as ever with lots of thrills and chills planned. The one thing we love at Alton Towers is they provide Halloween fun for all the family. 

Family Friendly Halloween Fun

Scarefest at Alton Towers


Alton Ancestors
On Arrival you will usually bump in to the Alton Ancestors. They have left their gravestones behind and are back from the dead. One thing you should know about the Ancestors is they love to dance so make sure you check them out and even join in.

CBeebies Land Monster Ball
Join the CBeebies characters live in Big Fun ShowTime as they dance and play games. the show features Bing, Ubercorn, Peter Rabbit and many more of your favourite CBeebies friends, you can even dress up in your favourite costume.

Garden Lights Walk: Whispering Souls
We visited the Alton Towers gardens for this first time this year just as lockdown eased and I have said ever since that I hope we visit again. This year for the first time the Gardens has it's own event during Scarefest. View the gardens as never before and witness them come to life in a whole new spooktacular…LIGHT! This is a free attraction and not a live scare maze.

scarefest at alton towers


Freaky Fun Zone
You won't want to miss the Freaky Fun Zone on the front lawns.  The five super-freaky Halloween characters put on the most spook-tacular shows, with meet and greets and photo opportunities. Little ones will love this as the characters are so much fun and very colourful. 

Thrilling Frights

scarefest at alton towers


Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard
New for 2020 the Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard is an outdoor maze inviting you to venture into the Freak Show hidden den to discover the secret of the psycho clowns’ next big show.

Altonville Mine Tours
The ‘Skin Snatchers’ are the outcasts of their whole family. Rumours are they lived in that old mine. It’s deep, dark and the damp inside gives you the proper shivers. Just recently some fool reopened it – for tours! Be careful: they say those Skin Snatchers have a secret, too horrifying for words. 

The Attic: Terror of the Towers
In Alton people talk of the Governess – how she’s haunted by the death of young children. She wants revenge, and she will do it by seizing the spirits of the living in retribution. They say her ghost haunts The Attic and that’s where you’re headed.

Alton's scare mazes are award winning and definitely not for the faint hearted. Recommended for those aged 15+ and make sure you are prepared for anything. The scare mazes are an extra charge which can be pre booked online. Please note you must wear a face mask. 

We have done a few scare attractions over the years with The Attic our most recent and I can confirm they are very scary.

scarefest at alton towers


There are also many other reasons to visit Alton Towers during Scarefest including the Alton Towers Dungeon and Darkest Depths

Darkest Depths
Enjoy some extra-spooky swashbuckling aboard ‘The Mutiny’, a notoriously spine-chilling ghost ship. You’ll truly earn your golden Piece of Eight by venturing into the darkest depths, avoiding the hazardous calls of the treacherous Sirens, dodging the swords of terrifyingly ghoulish pirate mutineers and coming face to face with the Kraken – the legendary monster of the seas!

Alton Towers Dungeon
As Scarefest descends on the Towers, enter The Alton Towers Dungeon for a little less laughing… and a lot more screaming! Will you be found guilty by the Bishop of Stafford, survive a visit to the Plague Doctor and make it out of The Witch of Burslem’s Cottage? Enter The Alton Towers Dungeon this Halloween, as we celebrate the most hideously horrible time of year with your delightful peasant screams… If you dare!

Both attractions are recommended for guests age 10+ and you are required to wear a face mask

scarefest at alton towers
scarefest at alton towers


As well as as this scary fun you can enjoy your favourite rides in the dark as the theme park is open till 9pm every night during Scarefest. 

Also if you want to make the most of your visit to Scarefest you can stay over at the resort where the spooky fun continues. 

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Have you been to Alton Towers? Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit.


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Michelle
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Visiting Alton Towers Gardens

23 June 2020

15 comments
Alton towers

Alton Towers holds very special memories for us. As individuals John, Big J and I have all been separately with friends. As a couple John and I have visited for over 20 years now and John proposed to me during the fireworks. We got Merlin Passes when big J was young and every year we would visit the fireworks and start a Christmas tradition of visiting Santa at his Sleepover at the Alton Towers Hotel. When little J was born we continued with our Merlin Passes and he has now turned out to be the biggest thrill seeker of us all, loving rollercoasters. We visit the Alton Towers Resort at least 6 times a year so not being able to visit this year has been hard. When Alton Towers announced they were going to open the gardens I was eager to visit however I wasn't sure whether it would feel weird especially for the boys not being able to go on the rides. We decided to go anyway for a day out and we all really enjoyed it.

Alton Towers Gardens

Obviously when you think of Alton Towers you think of a theme park but the gardens are actually quite a big part of the resort. I think we have maybe walked through them less than a handful of times and that was to get from one ride to another if the sky ride was closed, we have never stopped to actually appreciate how beautiful they are.

Here are a few tips and hints to make the most out of your day.

Alton Towers Gardens

1. The gardens are open daily from 10-4pm and as the theme park is closed the gardens cost £12 per person or £1 if you are a pass holder. You have to book online and they will not accept walk ups.

2. Upon arrival by car you head towards the coach parking / disabled parking area. Someone will be there to show you where to park. When we got there, there where only about 20 cars.

3. Heading towards the main entrance you will see a pop up tent. Here they will take your temperature and check your bag. All staff had masks on.

4. If you are familiar with Alton Towers then the toilets to the right of the entrance are open as are the ones in Mutiny Bay.

The Smiler at Alton towers

Social Distance Queues at Alton Towers

Spinball Whizzer At Alton towers

5. Once inside you can choose to head straight to the gardens via the 3 entrances or you can head up towards X Sector and the Towers for a stroll. It was so quiet but it was actually lovely to walk around taking nice photographs of the boys next to their favourite rides, Spinball Whizzer and Smiler.

Walking alongside the Towers

6. You cannot go inside the Towers at this time but you can walk along the front.

7. Once inside the gardens you can choose from 3 routes. There is a map available to download online which will show you a suggested route, an alternative route and an accessible route.

walking along a path

Alton Towers Gardens

8. Some of the pathways are uneven and some paths have steep steps to get up and down so always check your map for an alternative way if these paths and steps are unsuitable for you.

Stonehenge at Alton Towers

9. There are 13 points of interest in the gardens including Conservatories, fountains, a swiss cottage and even Stonehenge.

10. You are more than welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the gardens and their are plenty of bins around to dispose your litter.

11. There is a snack shop open just by Mutiny Bay selling hot and cold drinks, ice creams and snacks.

12. In the Mutiny Bay Courtyard there are approx 12-15 picnic benches under cover which is a nice place to enjoy a snack if it is too hot or raining. Just watch out for the hungry birds and ducks!

13. Enjoy

Boy sitting in Alton Towers



If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

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We are actually really happy we went. It was lovely exploring the grounds and not rushing from one place to another. 

Michelle
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Travel | Five Reasons To Stay At The Alton Towers Resort

18 September 2019

18 comments
Cbeebies Hotel, Alton Towers
A trip to Alton Towers can be so much fun for all the family but it can also be very exhausting. Even though we don’t don’t live to far away we usually make the most of our visit by booking a night stay at the Resort. Staying the night has lots of benefits but here are our top five reasons why we think you should stay at The Alton Towers Resort.
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The Alton Towers Hotel

27 May 2015

25 comments
I wasn't going to blog about our recent visit to Alton Towers as I have blogged so many times already about Alton Towers but we did so much over the three days we were there so I wanted to give it a mention. We only decided to stay over very last minute and we managed to get a really good deal on the Alton Towers Hotel. We originally booked for just Saturday but later extended it to Friday and Saturday.

Big J and Little J Outside The Alton Towers Hotel
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What To Expect When Visiting Alton Towers After Lockdown

16 August 2020

6 comments
boy looking at an Alton Towers map

After our visit to the Alton Towers Gardens back in June we couldn't wait to get back to the theme park and ride the coasters. We decided to visit last week after we renewed our Merlin Passes at the Legoland Centre in Manchester. We pre booked our tickets and also booked a night at the Alton Towers hotel. We were keen to visit but also a little anxious how social distancing would work both in the park and hotel. 

Entering The Park
The entrance was extremely busy and there were huge queues. The monorail was off so the queues were backing up as people walked from the car parks. 

Temperature and bag checks first and also we were checked with a handheld metal detector scanner too. 

There was no social distancing taking place getting in to the park. Although there are guidelines on the floor as to where you should stand, most people just ignored this and huddled together. 

Towers Street
Towers Street was extremely busy. As everyone is entering the park at the same time it was very overcrowded in places as people were deciding which way to go, heading to guest services or just stopping to take pictures. 

The Rides
We managed quite a few rides so I will tell you about individual rides and how the socially distancing works. The queues were very busy for most rides which you would expect during Summer. There are chevrons in place within the queue lines but again most people just ignored these despite announcements every few minutes from staff reminding guests to socially distance from the guests in front and behind. 

Spinball Whizzer
Each ride seats 4 guests however they will only fill the ride with members from your own party. If you are a 'two' then the seats behind you are left empty. 

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue was really big for this ride. We heard a family saying they had queued for 1 hour. They will only allow one ride access pass family on at a time so you have to wait for the guests using their passes to finish the ride before you can go on. 

Heave Ho
There are 6 rows on Heave Ho however they are only using the two back rows and one of the middle rows to ensure social distancing takes place on the ride. Only one family can sit per row. You will not be allowed to sit by other guests to fill up a row. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

wearing mask on ride at Alton Towers

Marauders Mayhem
This ride runs as it did previously with each barrel being used. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

Wicker Man
If you have experienced Wicker Man before you will know that just before you reach the ride you are enclosed in a room with other guests and you watch a short video. This has been removed. You are kept outside until it's your turn then you walk straight through the room and on to the ride. 

Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests. 

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

The Runaway Mine Train
Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests.

This was the only ride we saw being cleaned. They stopped the ride quite frequently and cleaned all the seats and bars. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let up to two ride access pass parties on the ride at any one time. 

Duel
Each cart seats 5 people however if your party is less you will not share a cart with anyone else. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

There is no ride access pass / disabled queue for this ride. It has been removed. 

Congo River Rapids
Each boat seats 8 people however if your party is less you will not share a boat with anyone else. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal however the entrance has moved. It is now down a pathway that is opposite Duel.  

The Blade ride at Alton Towers

The Blade
The blade has 10 rows available however only half are being used to allow social distancing. 

Both back rows are used as are rows 3 on each side. Another party will fill up one of the middle rows (row 5) on one side.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Nemesis
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Galactica
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue has been moved. It is now next to the main entrance. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Thirteen
The rows at the back of the Thirteen train are filled with mannequins so are out of use. This is to ensure enough weight is on the train to allow it to go. Depending on party sizes they were only allowing 2-3 parties on at any one time to allow for social distancing. 

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Rita
Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests.

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Smiler
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. Once at the lower staircase you are in with the main queue from this point on. 

Unfortunately we did not go on Hex, Oblivion or Enterprise so I am unable to update on these rides.

freestyle machines

Around The Park
There are hand sanitisers everywhere. 

There are keep left / keep right guides for you to follow ensuring you stay on your own side of the path.

Toilets were very clean and every time we went in there was a cleaner in there. If the sinks were in rows of three the middle one was the only one in use. All toilet cubicles were open which wasn't great if you open the door at  the same time as the person next to you. 

The FreeStyle drinks machines were open. I thought they wouldn't be available but it was. There were hand sanitisers close by to clean your hands both before and after.

We had a great few days at Alton Towers although even though we have our passes we still had to pre book our tickets. Pre booking your tickets online before you go guarantees entry and also lets Alton Towers know how many guests to expect. It's £1 per person to book and as we had to do the same for the Legoland Centre too I can see this mounting up over a year if it continues so could make it very costly on top of the annual pass cost. Hopefully they will come up with another solution for annual pass holders or at least reduce the yearly cost.

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Have you stayed in a large accommodation venue? Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit.

Visit our Out and About Section for lots of travel posts

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Michelle
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A Different Kind Of Day Out | Living Arrows 26/52

29 June 2020

7 comments
boy sitting on a wall at Alton Towers

Last week we decided to visit Alton Towers Gardens for the day. We absolutely love Alton Towers and have been Merlin Pass Holders for as long as I can remember. Telling the boys that we were going to Alton Towers even though the rides were closed was a tough challenge. They both looked at us like we were crazy anti prompted lots of  sighs of 'what's the point?' but they came along anyway and I know they both had a lovely day.

Alton is about a 90 mins drive from home but the roads were quiet and the drive was actually really nice. It is a drive we have done hundreds of times over the years but it seemed more enjoyable than ever.

Little J was actually really excited as we pulled in to the gates asking if he could looked at the rides before we headed in to the gardens.

It was so quiet when we arrived and we were able to park right by the main gate with only ten other cars in the car park.

As soon as we walked down Towers Street little J ran straight for the large area of grass in front of the lake and towers and just kept running. A huge grass space just for him as there was no one else there.

The gardens are beautiful and there was lots of areas to explore, lots of stairs to climb and tunnels to crawl through.

Was it strange going when the rides were closed and there were probably less than 100 people in the entire park? Yes, but it was actually really enjoyable and we saw a side to Alton Towers that we have never seen before despite going 5-6 times per year.

It was our longest day out since lockdown and we did lots of walking so we were exhausted when we got home but it was definitely worth it.

Michelle

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Living Arrows
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December 2020 - Looking Back

31 December 2020

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Well today is the last day of December but also the final day of one of the strangest years I think we will ever experience. I have spent some time looking back at 2020 and although we did have some nice times together, I'm glad it's over. I think like most people December is the month when we spend far too much, eat far too much but absolutely love spending time together with family and friends. For most of the UK this wasn't possible due to tiers and lockdowns but I hope if you were affected then you were still able to enjoy December and Christmas as best you could. 

mum and son looking at each other


We have remained in Tier 2 for most of this month so we have been allowed to go to the shops, visit the hairdressers and barbers and also see friends under the rule of 6. However even though we were allowed we didn't head out unless absolute necessary and spent most of the month in just our own bubble of 4.

elf on the shelf in a glass jar


Our month began with our Elf, Jingle returning from the North Pole. He was in Elf Isolation for 72 hours but once he was free he caused lots of mischief around the house and little J loved it. He has now returned to the North Pole to rest and prepare for next Christmas. 

3 people walking

3 people walking

3 people walking over a bridge


We decided to join The National Trust this month after enjoying a few walks and in December we visited a Christmas Trail at Tatton Park and also headed to Dunham Massey for a Peter Rabbit Trail. We love the outdoors and exploring so I know we will make good use of our passes in 2021. 

boy with muddy football boots


Little J managed to squeeze some football in-between lockdowns and tier changes and it was good to see him back on the pitch after having so much time off this year. Luckily he still enjoys it and cannot wait to return next week. 

Big J finished his online university course for Christmas a week earlier than us so enjoyed some time away from the screen. I hate that his university experience is online. He is not having the experience he expected but I am so proud he is sticking at it. He is back a week later than us in January so hopefully things may change in the world soon and he can start to head out rather than being stuck in his room. 

Disneyland Paris Bauble


I have said this so many times over the last few months and it still makes me want to cry but this year is the first in many many years that we haven't been to Disneyland Paris at Christmas time. It's a huge part of our Christmas and not being there felt wrong. Big and Little J surprised us with a Disneyland Paris decoration that they had ordered for us and it's just perfect.

Present Poem


Little J was both sad and happy on his last day of school. He finished all his work including this poem which he wrote himself and we just love. He was happy to finish but also sad as he was going to miss his friends. His friends are so important to him and they are all lovely but he will be back with them soon. 

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers


We managed another day out in-between lockdowns and tier changes to Alton Towers. This is another tradition for us and whilst it wasn't the same as usual, Alton did an amazing job at making it safe for everyone. It was really quiet and at times it felt like there was only us there. We didn't think we would be able to see Santa this year but we did and the whole experience was fantastic. 

a tractor decorated in Christmas Lights


The week before Christmas we did something unusual we headed out to watch a tractor convoy parade which was raising money for a children's hospital. 80 tractors decorated with Christmas lights passed by and although it may seem random it was really good.

man and woman in christmas jumpers


John and I managed to squeeze in a date night. We popped on our Christmas jumpers and headed to Breakout to tackle a Christmas themed escape room. It was lots of fun and we escaped with 14 minutes to spare. 

queue


The day before Christmas Eve we all went to be tested for Covid-19 at a no symptoms test centre. It was so cold and raining and we had to queue for almost 2 hours but it was worth it so we could see our Christmas bubble safely on Christmas Day. 

a selection of presents


Father Christmas came on Christmas Eve and brought lots of presents for little J. Our Christmas was quieter than usual but we all enjoyed it and we got to see both sets of parents on the day so that was lovely and more than I think we expected. 

a family playing a board game


Christmas came and went and we were left with lots of toys and games to play with and that's pretty much what we did for the days after. 

The weather wasn't great but we did manage a few walks to blow away the cobwebs which was nice. Despite everything that is happening in the UK and the World right now we did have a lovely December and we are looking forward to a much happier and brighter year in 2021. 

Michelle
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Our Post Lockdown Travel Bucket List

10 February 2021

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post lockdown travel bucket list

I first published this post last year during the first lockdown and I remember writing it with lots of hope that in 2021 our travel diaries would be jam packed full of days out, weekends away and at least one trip to a Disney park booked. Unfortunately our travel plans are exactly the same as last year - zero. 

As it's just the beginning of the year we would have only normally visited local parks and beaches anyway but it's the short breaks, days out and holidays planned we are really missing out on and struggling with. 

Whilst it's rubbish that we haven't been able to travel we are safe and healthy at home and the extra time at home has been great for saving for holidays and break aways when it is safe to do so. I'm not sure what travel will look like this year but I really do hope we manage to tick off at least a few from our post lockdown travel bucket list.

Southport Pier


Southport Pier
I'm thinking we may be a little nervous travelling outside our local area for the first time so I know we will want to stay close. Some of our favourite memories as a couple, a family of three then a family of four are at Southport Pier. A nice stroll along the pier, a visit to the penny arcade and fish and chips overlooking the beach might be just what we need.

Wicker Man At Alton Towers


Alton Towers
As a theme park loving family this is what we are missing the most, a visit to Alton Towers or any of the Merlin theme parks . In between lockdowns and tiered systems in 2020 we did manage to squeeze a trip to Alton Towers Gardens and Alton Towers. Knowing what to expect when visiting Alton Towers after lockdown will really help us perpare for our next visit as is it very different. 

Season of the superheroes at Disneyland Paris


Disneyland Paris
We are all in need of a walk down Main Street at Disneyland Paris. Seeing the castle is my favourite thing and I just cannot wait till the day we can visit again. I absolutely love Disney but after watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order in 2019 we headed to Disneyland for the Marvel event, Season of the Superheroes and we were blown away. It added a little bit extra to the trip and meeting Captain America was a highlight for us all. We have just started watching the movies again so I have everything crossed the Marvel event will go ahead in May and June and we get to visit. 

The Lake District


The Lake District
A visit to The Lakes will definitely be a must if it's safe to visit during the Summer months. We have visited many areas of the lakes over the years but our favourite is definitely Bowness on Windermere with a nice boat trip over to Ambleside. We head up to the lake district a few times a year including a big family trip each Summer staying in a cottage it's such a beautiful place. 

The Disney Castle

Disneyland
At the beginning of the year we got talking about visiting Disneyland in California. We have visited Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in Paris so it was only natural to think about Disneyland in California. John wasn't too keen on the idea mainly due to the flight time but now I think if we ever get to travel to the USA again I think it will definitely be on our travel plans.

Unfortunately at this moment we have no idea what travel will look like in the future but we can still plan and dream that one day the world will go back to normal.

Michelle
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