A couple of weeks ago we were talking through where we could go for a little holiday, we thought about a few options and eventually decided on a mini break to Alton Towers.
I know that it wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice of holiday destination but we had recently been to Paulton’s Park and had such a great day as Cherry and Matt absolutely love going on the big rides.
Alton Towers is without a doubt my favourite theme park, I used to go there when I was little and I love the way it’s based on an old estate with lots of history. There are lots of forest areas and the rides are hidden in them, it’s not just all set out on concrete like a lot of theme parks. You can head away from the main paths and walk through the gardens if you wish, we did this on the second day and they are beautiful.
We’ve stayed in the Splash Landings Hotel before but this time we opted for the new stargazing pods as we’d been talking about going camping and this seemed like a slightly more luxurious option. I really liked the idea of the kids being able to run around outside until bedtime and the setup definitely allowed for that.
The Stargazing Pods are all set out around a central park area, there are also telescopes so you can look up at the stars. The kids had a great time running around playing until gone 10pm, despite me and Matt being ready for bed at 7pm after walking around all day!
Then there is a teepee bar area which has live entertainment at night as well as a toilet and shower block, which is cleaned regularly so always in good condition. You don’t have to walk too far to get to the toilet block either which is great when you have young kids.
We loved staying in the Stargazing Pods and it would definitely be my first choice next time, they have two single beds in with a double bed at the back and the mattresses were really comfortable which I wasn’t expecting!
In the morning you can go and collect a breakfast roll and hot drink from the reception, they had a vegan sausage one which was a nice surprise as I wasn’t sure if they would have anything we could eat.
We had dinner in The Crooked Spoon restaurant both nights we were there, it’s the closest restaurant to the Stargazing Pods and I had checked the menu beforehand to see if they had any vegan options and there were a couple. If I’m honest, my expectations for the food weren’t that high. We were really pleasantly surprised though, we had the burger and it was actually really good. Not as good as the one we had last week or anything but it had nice melted vegan cheese on it, a coleslaw type thing, salad and the bun was toasted and fresh, plus you got LOTS of chips!
They did have a healthier option too but we were starving after walking around the theme park all day so ate this on both nights! The service was so quick too, our food came out within minutes on the first night. I guess they need to keep to a tight schedule so the tables can turn around quickly.
The restaurants get booked up quickly so definitely book in advance if you are planning to go, the rollercoaster restaurant especially gets really booked up, we couldn’t get a table there.
Our 2 night stay in the pod included breakfast and 2 day theme park entry, for about £330 which I thought was great value. We also added a 2 day water park ticket on which was around £50.
We didn’t realise quite how busy it would be in the theme park as it was a weekday in term-time but there were LOTS of coach trips there so the queues for the big rides were still long, this meant on the first day we just stuck to the smaller family rides. Although by the end of the day the queues were starting to get smaller so Matt and Cherry did manage to get on Wickerman (the newest ride) fairly quickly.
When you stay in the resort you get entry to the theme park 30 mins early so on the second day we took full advantage of that, they opened three rides early so Matt and Cherry managed to get on Wickerman quickly then Matt made it into The Smiler queue before it opened to the public and didn’t have to wait long for that, this was the ride he wanted to go on the most and it didn’t disappoint! He also managed to get on Oblivion quickly. Cherry wasn’t old enough for those two which she was gutted about but they did also make it to the Thirteen queue before it got too long so by 11am they had managed to get on all the big rides which is pretty good going for how busy it was!
Oh and Matt got to go on Nemesis quickly, although someone had been sick on it just before him so they had to clean it!!
The app is great as it tells you the queuing time for each ride, The Smiler queue never really dies down though so I think if you want to ride that then you need to be prepared to queue for a long time!!
Poor old Tiger hates rides and although we managed to get him on Hex, the look of terror on his face made me feel so bad!!! Even the river rapids freaked him out so after that I took him on the small ones whilst Matt and Cherry went on the bigger rides. He did love Duel though which is a ghost train where you get to shoot the zombies with a laser gun. Also the Frog Hopper!
We were so lucky with the weather. The sun was shining the entire time which meant we drunk a ridiculous amount of slushie drinks, you can pay once for a cup then get refills for £2. You just can’t beat a slushie drink when the sun is shining, I get far too excited about them!
I was also pleased to find vegan Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the vending machines.
If you’ve never been before then my number one tip would be to take comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved. The monorail broke a couple of times during our stay, and on the second day the queue was so long we didn’t want to wait in it so we ended up doing the walk back to the resort which takes 15 minutes. The theme park itself is huge too so there is a lot of walking involved!!
We had such a great time staying in the Stargazing Pods and will definitely be back, Cherry is desperate to grow to 1.4 metres so she can go on all the biggest rides!