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Tips for Visiting Alton Towers

Alton Towers is one of our favourite theme parks in the UK. It’s home to a great many rides and attractions, from the kid-friendly rides and shows in CBeebies Land to the high-octane thrill rides such as the Smiler and Nemesis Reborn.

It is the largest theme park in the UK, and we’ve have been lucky enough to visit Alton Towers on many occasions.

In this guide, we’re going to share you with all our tips to help ensure you get the most from your Alton Towers visit, from finding your way around the park through to making sure you get to ride all the rides you want to ride, even on a busy day.

This guide is focused specifically on tips for visiting Alton Towers.

If you’re looking for more details on the park, including information about all the rides, restaurants, opening times, ticket prices, our reviews and more, check out our complete guide to visiting Alton Towers.

That guide goes into a great deal more detail about the park in general, whilst this guide focuses specifically on sharing tips to get the most out of your visit.

15 Tips for Visiting Alton Towers

Alton Towers Resort is located in central Staffordshire in England (about halfway between Birmingham and Manchester) and is the largest theme park in the UK. The Alton Towers theme park sits on over 550 acres of land, with the larger resort area totaling 910 acres.

A visit to Alton Towers is often a special trip with family and friends looking for a fun day or two. For many it is also a significant investment in their hard-earned money and time.

We’ve visited Alton Towers several times over the years and we wanted to provide tips and advice to help you make the most of your visit to Alton Towers and get the most out of your day.

These include tips about how to plan ahead, save time, save money, avoid surprises, and hopefully help avoid any tantrums!

Wicker Man Alton Towers


Buy Tickets & Parking in Advance

If you want to get the best price for tickets, you will definitely want to book your tickets in advance on the official site here.

Tickets bought online are nearly always significantly less expensive than buying them in person on site. Buying your tickets in advance also means you can go straight to the turnstile and skip any line for the ticket office.

It’s also worth noting that Alton Towers operates a dynamic pricing system, so on busier peak days tickets tend to be more expensive, and on quieter days tickets can be less expensive. If you can be flexible with your dates, you might find that choosing a different day for your visit can save you some money.

We also recommend purchasing parking in advance if you are not staying on site (parking is included for on-site hotel guests). Whilst there’s no saving for doing so, it saves you having to pay for parking on site.

The Alton Towers Dungeon (located within the park but requires an extra ticket) tickets are also cheaper if booked in advance than if purchased in-person on the day. They are currently £2 per person cheaper online than in person.


Make a General Route Plan for the Day

Alton Towers is spread out over a large area, and it can take a while (sometimes as long as half an hour) to walk from one ride to another. So it is a good idea to plan out your general day and have a general route plan for what you want to visit and in what order.

Since you presumably want to spend more time enjoying the rides and attractions than walking, it’s a good idea to have a general plan for your day at the park. Spending some time looking at the park map either on the park’s website or in the park’s app can help you plan your route and save you time on the day.

Alton Towers is laid out in different zones, each of which has a different theme and each of which contains a number of rides and attractions. You can learn more about all the zones and details of every ride in my detailed Alton Towers guide.

Depending on your group, you may or may not end up visiting all the zones. For example, if you are visiting with younger kids, you are likely going to spend more time in CBeebies Land and The World of David Walliams and not so much time in the X-Sector and the Dark Forest.

So a general plan might be something like this “Purchase tickets and parking in advance. Arrive at park at 9:30am, start in CBeebies Land, break to have a packed snack, then go to World of David Walliams, walk to Mutiny Bay and buy lunch there, spend the rest of day split between Mutiny Bay and Katanga Canyon (save water rides for last!).”

However, if you are visiting with teenagers and adults who meet all the ride height requirements, you’re likely going to be heading for the bigger rides.

A general plan for Alton Towers if visiting the larger rides and staying overnight on site might be as follows.

“Have breakfast in hotel at around 8am and head over to park for 9am opening with pre-booked tickets. Use guest hotel entrance. Join queue for preferred ride in Forbidden Valley, then do remaining Forbidden Valley Rides. Head to Dark Forest for the thrill rides then have lunch at Woodcutter Grill. After lunch head to Wicker Man, then finish the day at X-Sector”.

Of course, depending on how busy the park is and whether or not you have Fastrack Passes you will have to adjust your schedule. On very busy days without Fastrack passes you might not be able to do more than 3 or 4 big rides in a day. Conversely, on a quiet day or if you have a Fastrack Pass you will be able to fit in more rides.

If you are wanting to visit the Alton Towers Dungeon (extra ticket needed), be sure to allow about an hour for that.

Having an idea of which rides you want to do as a group is a great start for your visit. You can then look at the map of the park and figure out which areas you need to visit.

It’s definitely a good idea to ride all the rides in a specific area that you want to do before moving on to a new area. Otherwise you’re going to spend more time walking between areas rather than experiencing the attractions.

For those with any kind of accessibility or disability issue, we highly recommend reading the Alton Towers accessibility guide, recommended routes, and policies. Ask any questions you may have in advance so you are prepared on the day of your visit.

Gardens at Alton Towers


Download the Alton Towers App

Whilst I’m still not convinced that everything in the world needs an app, I have to say that the Alton Towers app is pretty decent, and a must-have when visiting the park.

It has a lot of functionality that will improve your visit, from live ride queue times, to managing your ride photos, to a handy map and navigation feature that will get you everywhere in the park you want to go.

There’s free WiFi across Alton Towers, so you don’t need to worry about data usage. The app is also free to download and use.

Whilst some of the information in the app can also easily be found in the park, other things like ride queue times are much easier to find in the app. Having all the information in your pocket can really help when deciding which ride to head to next.

The app can be downloaded here.

Alton Towers Queue Times
Alton Towers Queue Times


Arrive Early / Leave Late

To make the most of your time at Alton Towers you should plan to arrive early and then ideally stay until the park closes. The longer you are on site, the more you will be able to see and do, and the more value you will get from your ticket.

It’s important to note that whilst rides generally start operating at around 10am, the park itself actually opens at 9am. So you can go into the park and join the queue for the first ride you want to go on. Or just grab a coffee or wander the gardens.

For closing, depending on the time of year and day, the park normally closes at 4pm or 6pm (for special events it can also stay open later than this). However, this closing time is the last time you can join a ride queue, not the last time the ride runs. So if you are still in a line after closing time, you should still get to do the ride.

Now, if you need to leave the park for any reason, such as to go to your car or let the kids have a nap, then you just need to make sure you get a hand stamp from an admission staff member before you exit so you can reenter later. So you can take a break and return. This makes the most sense for those staying overnight at the Alton Towers Resort.

We think that making the most of your time at Alton Towers makes a lot of sense as you have invested a fair bit of money into your visit, so should get the maximum value from it.

Hex Alton Towers


Understand any Ride Restrictions

Most theme park rides have minimum height restrictions for riders due to health and safety reasons. A few of the rides also have maximum height restrictions.

If you are visiting Alton Towers with anyone who might be affected by the ride height restrictions, for example children or those over 6 feet tall, then it’s a good idea to do some research in advance as to which rides are going to be suitable for the whole group. You can see all the ride height restrictions on the official site here.

This will avoid you wasting time going to rides that you can’t all ride together. Knowing which rides your kids can and can’t ride can help avoid a lot of tears and disappointment.

Knowing which rides are suitable for which members of your group will also allow you to divide your group up if you wish, so everyone gets to experience the attractions they want to, and no-one gets upset about missing out or having to wait around.

Galactica Alton Towers


Plan your First Ride

If you are a thrillseeker and want the get the most from your day at Alton Towers, it’s really important that you know what you would like your first ride to be. We’d recommend picking the ride which is likely to have the longest lines as the day progresses.

Whilst it can be hard to know exactly which rides will be most popular on any given day, as a general rule of thumb the newer more thrilling rides tend to have the longest lines.

For example, the Smiler and Nemesis Reborn are normally very popular rides with long wait times. So if those rides are on your to-do list, we recommend heading to those rides as soon as you arrive and joining the line. This should get you onto these rides quickly.

As an example, on a recent visit to Alton Towers I joined the line for Nemesis Reborn at 9.30am and was riding by 10.10am, only 10 minutes after the ride opened. Later in the day, ride wait times were over 2 hours for that ride.

For those focused on the smaller rides and rides geared to younger children, long lines are generally less of a concern. But it can still be a good idea to start with the rides your kids want to ride most.

Nemesis Reborn by Laurence Norah

Nemesis Reborn by Laurence Norah


Consider the Fastrack Passes

If you are visiting Alton Towers on a busier day, such as a school holiday or a weekend, then the queue lengths for many of the rides are likely to be fairly long.

By fairly long, we mean 1 – 2 hours wait time for the more popular rides. The most popular rides are generally the thrill rides and big themed rides, but even the smaller rides can have long wait times on a busy day (or if they are new to the park).

The good news is that you can skip the majority of the lines by investing in a Fastrack Pass. There are a variety of Fastrack passes available, which are named Bronze, Gold, Silver and Platinum.

The pass you choose will depend on which rides you really want to ride, as well as your budget. It’s also possible to buy a single Fastrack pass on a per ride basis for many of the rides, which can be a good way to ride a specific ride quickly if you don’t want to invest in a whole Fastrack pass.

Other than the Platinum Fastrack pass, all the other passes allow you one entry to the special Fastrack line for each ride that has Fastrack. The majority of rides do have Fastrack, with the exception of the CBeebies Land rides and some of the other smaller rides.

The Platinum Fastrack pass is the only pass which allows you to use the Fastrack line as many times as you want for each ride. It’s also the most expensive, and really aimed at those who want to ride as many rides as possible, multiple times in a day.

We have visited Alton Towers on a very busy day, and the wait time for many of the rides was well over an hour, with many rides having two hour wait times. With our Fastrack passes, we mostly got onto rides in five or ten minutes. So for us it made a huge difference, meaning instead of riding three or four rides in the day, we were able to ride every ride in the park.

Of course, the Fastrack Passes won’t make sense for everyone. We’ve visited Alton Towers on quiet days where wait times are usually no more than 20 minutes for a ride, in which case a Fastrack Pass makes less sense.

You can buy Fastrack Passes in advance of your visit here. You can also buy them in person on site, however you should be aware that the Fastrack passes do come from a limited pool and they can sell out.

If you are visiting during peak season and you do want a Fastrack, then buying in advance is a good idea to be sure you get the Fastrack Pass you want.

Runaway Mine Train Alton Towers


Pack a Smartphone Charger

The chances are that you are going to be using your Smartphone a lot at Alton Towers. You’ll be taking photos and videos of your adventures, using the Alton Towers app to check ride times and find your way around, and lots more besides. And all that use is going to drain the battery.

Whilst there are charging stations available at Alton Towers for a fee, we think a much more sensible solution is just to invest in a portable battery pack for your phone. These can charge your phone from flat multiple times over (depending on the capacity), and mean you’ll be able to keep using your phone all day without worry.

There are a lot of options out there, we currently use one like this which worked well to charge our phones and our friends’ phones on a recent visit to Alton Towers.


Make a Food Plan

In addition to making a general plan about what rides and attraction you want to visit in advance, it is also a good idea to think about what and where you want to eat.  Thinking ahead can save you time and money.

There are a number of food vendors and restaurants in the park open during the day, from hot dog and ice cream stands to sit down eateries like the Woodcutter’s Bar and Grill and the Rollercoaster Restaurant.

It can be a good idea to look at the park map and have a general plan for lunch so if there is a specific place you want to eat, you can make your way to that area for lunchtime.

If you want to save money (and probably some time), consider bringing along your own food and snacks.

Alton Towers has a few different picnic areas, and you are more than welcome to bring your own food to the park. This can be a great way to save money on your visit, especially if you are visiting as a group or family, as food costs for a few people can quickly add up.

Alton Towers Picnic Tables


Bring a Refillable Water Bottle

You are going to be doing a lot of walking at Alton Towers, and it’s going to be a long day. So you definitely want to stay hydrated.

Rather than having to pay for drinks or buy bottles of water, you can bring your own refillable water bottle and then use the water refill stations which are dotted throughout the park. We use these water bottles by Klean Kanteen, but there are lots to choose from.

If you are planning to buy soft drinks in the park, you might be able to save money by using the Coca-Cola Refill stations throughout the park.

To use these, you need to purchase one of the refillable Coke Freestyle cups (priced at £15 during our last visit) and then you can drink as much as you wish. You can use the same cup on future visits for a lower per day cost.

Water refill station Alton Towers by Laurence Norah


Stay Overnight

One really good way to make the most of your time at Alton Towers is to stay overnight, either at one of the on-site hotels (see and book all the options here) or at a nearby hotel.

We have done both, and they each have their pros and cons.

Staying two nights can make it easier to get there early and stay until closing the park without worrying about heading home.

If you only choose to stay one night, we’d recommend making it the night before your visit. This way you’ll be able to enter the park at opening time and make the most of your day.

Accommodation at Alton Towers

Staying on site at one of the Alton Towers resort hotels definitely has its advantages. First, the hotels are all themed, so your overall experience will be extended. The theming extends from the main areas through to each room, and there’s also entertainment on offer in the hotel areas as well.

Another advantage of staying on site is that it gives you time to enjoy some of the other attractions on site that you might not otherwise have time to enjoy.

These include the Splash Landings water park and the park themed Mini Golf. We’ve done both of these when staying overnight and think they are both worth experiencing.

If you stay on site, you also get free on-site parking, which will save you a bit of money if you are driving to Alton Towers.

Finally, one of the main advantages of staying in one of the on-site hotels is that you can enter the park via the hotel guest only entrance, which is near the hotel monorail stop.

This entrance brings you into the park right next to Galactica and Nemesis Reborn. If these rides are on your to-do list, then you can come in early and join the line for them before anyone else.

It also means you don’t have to queue for the monorail, or walk to the main park entrance. On busy mornings the monorail queue can be 40 minutes long, while the walk to the main park entrance from the hotels is around 20 minutes. So you can skip all that and be straight into the park instead.

For more information and a detailed breakdown of what each hotel has to offer, see my complete Alton Towers guide.

You can book the resort hotels as part of a package including your park entrance here. They often run offers through the year, so do check out what’s on offer as you might be able to save some money on your visit.

Stargazing pods Alton Towers

CBeebies Land Hotel Alton Towers Resort

Artic Explorer Room Alton Towers


Accommodation near Alton Towers

Instead of staying on site, you can also stay at a nearby hotel. We have also done this, staying around 10 minutes drive away on the night before our visit.

This let us arrive early and meant I got to ride Nemesis Reborn as one of the first riders with only a short wait, rather than the two hour wait that happened later on.

The main advantage of staying outside the park is that you get a wider choice of accommodation, it can be better value, and it’s going to be a more traditional hotel experience. Depending on the hotel, it may also be a bit of a quieter and more relaxing experience as the on-site hotels are very popular with families.

Both can be good options which are well worth considering for your Alton Towers visit. If you are interested in a hotel, here are some recommendations in the area, sorted by approximate driving distance from the resort:

  • The White Hart – a popular inn in the village of Alton, offering a range of en-suite rooms. 7 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers
  • The Laurel’s B&B – This is a well-rated B&B which serves breakfast. Rooms are en-suite with tea/coffee making facilities. 8 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers
  • The Bay Tree – a very well-reviewed B&B with en-suite accommodation and breakfast available. 8 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers
  • Peakstones Inn – This 3* hotel offers a range of en-suite rooms and there’s an on-site restaurant and bar. Breakfast is available. 10 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers.
  • Heywood Hall – This property offers a number of self-contained apartments, each with a small kitchen an en-suite bathroom. There’s also a hot tub and garden for guests use. 12 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers.
  • Whiston Hall – A former 19th century hall which has been converted into a modern mid-range hotel with its own golf course. A range of en-suite rooms are available, and breakfast is offered. We enjoyed our stay here and the food in particular was very good. 13 minutes’ drivee from Alton Towers.
  • The Duncombe Arms – This pub/hotel is found in Ellastone and offers air-conditioned rooms with coffee machines and en-suite facilities. Breakfast is available and there’s a restaurant and bar for other meals. 13 minutes drive from Alton Towers
  • The Royal Oak – This inn offers a range of comfortable rooms in the town of Ashbourne. There’s a restaurant and bar on site with meals available. 19 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers.
  • YHA Ilam Hall – This youth hostel is found in a gothic hall set in 84 acres of parkland. There’s an on-site breakfast, kitchen for self-catering, and a choice of shared or private accommodation. 22 minutes’ drive from Alton Towers.

Of course, there are lots more options to consider. You can see a full range of accommodation options near Alton Towers on here, which includes a number of holiday rentals as well.

Whiston Hall hotel by Laurence Norah

Whiston Hall hotel by Laurence Norah


Make Meal Reservations if Staying Overnight

If you decide to stay at one of the on-site hotels, you will want to make meal reservations in advance of your visit. This includes breakfast and dinner mealtimes.

The restaurants get busy, so reservations are required in order for them to be able to ensure everyone has a good experience. Reservations are free, and detailed information about how to book will be sent to you as part of your booking confirmation.

The more popular times, such as around 7:00pm to 7.30pm for dinner and around 8am for breakfast, book up fast, so if you want more choice, we advise booking well in advance. You can always change the time of your reservation if you change your mind, subject to availability.

While you can still often eat without a booking, it can be a long wait for a table or you might not get your choice of a restaurant.

Secret Garden Restaurant Alton Towers

Secret Garden Restaurant Alton Towers


Consider the Digital Photo Pass

If you want to have memories of your time at Alton Towers, then we’d suggest investing in a Digital Photo Pass for your visit. Whilst you can obviously take photos all around the park, the one place where photography is strictly forbidden is on the rides.

The good news is that all the rides have their own photography systems in place, usually placed to capture a key moment during the ride where you are looking most excited or terrified. Naturally these can make for some memorable images! Additionally, there are some specific attractions with a photo shoot element, such as in CBeebies Land, where you can have additional photos taken of your visit.

The Digital Photo Pass gives you access to all the ride photos from your day at Alton Towers, for you and anyone in your group. The photos are all delivered digitally via the Alton Towers app, and you can then share them with friends digitally, or print them with your preferred print service.

On a recent visit to Alton Towers as a group of six (four adults and two kids) we ended up with over a hundred digital images between the six of us, which made the Digital Photo Pass more than worth it.

The main tip I would give would be to have all the photos taken and added to the app, and then at the end of the day you can decide if you want to pay for them. Before you pay for them they can be previewed in a small version with a watermark. If you decide you like the photos, you can pay to unlock higher resolution versions with no watermark. Otherwise, if you don’t like them, you don’t need to pay.

The photos stay in the app for 90 days after your visit, so you have plenty of time to decide. Once you have purchased, they then remain in the app for an additional year, during which time you can download them to your device and keep them forever.

You can of course also buy the Digital Photo Pass in advance of your visit or during your visit. It’s normally presented as an option when you buy your tickets.

However, unless you are one hundred percent certain you’re going to want the images, our recommendation is to wait until you see them all before deciding to buy.

Alton Towers Ride Photos


Be Prepared for Sun & Rain

The weather in England is notoriously fickle, even in the height of summer. We’ve had experiences where we visited Alton Towers across two days, with the first day being pouring rain and the second day being gloriously hot sunshine.

So you just never know quite what you are going to get, and the weather forecast isn’t always going to get it right. So we recommend being prepared for a range of eventualities. We’d generally suggest considering packing the following, which you can adjust depending on the time of year you are visiting:

Oblivion Alton Towers


Take Advantage of Free Shows and Entertainment

Alton Towers has a lot more to offer than thrilling rides. There are also a number of free shows and other types of entertainment on offer, many of which are perfect if you are visiting the park with younger children.

These shows can be a good way to take a break and sit down whilst being entertained. Shows vary, but include live action shows such as the Furchester Hotel, Hey Duggee, Bluey, and Teletubbies shows. Many of the shows also include the opportunity to take a photo with the characters.

Additionally, there is a live stage set up next to the Alton Towers lake which often hosts performances. You will want to check the schedule when you arrive to see what is on on your particular day.

If you are staying in one of the on-site hotels, then the party doesn’t stop when you get back for the night. Each resort normally has live performances each night for you to enjoy as well.

Teleubbies show Alton Towers by Laurence Norah-2

Furchester hotel live Alton Towers by Laurence Norah-2


Further Reading

That’s it for our tips for visiting Alton Towers! We hope you found it useful.

Before you go, we wanted to share a few of our other guides that you might find useful.

And that’s it! Have you ever visited Alton Towers? Do you have anything you’d add to the above, or a question about an upcoming visit? Just let us know in the comments below!

All the tips you need to make the most of your time at Alton Towers, one of the best theme parks in the UK!

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