Travels With Ted

Alton Towers Day 1 – The Bad and the Ugly

We had a fantastic day out at Alton Towers. You can read about the good here. However, I’m taking the opportunity to show that sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive when travelling as a family. Stay strong, it happens to us all!

So what tainted day 1 at Alton Towers? Actually the good people at Alton Towers did very little wrong. Aside from having an overly complex and at times confusing website they were pretty much spot on. The theme park delivered what was promised and more. The staff were also all really helpful at sorting out our problems straight away.

There also wasn’t very much ugly. No tantrums or nappy explosions. We had a near miss with some soya milk but perhaps I’ll tell that story another time. Or perhaps I will spare you.

So What Went Wrong at Alton Towers?

For the story of what threatened to dent our positivity I need to go back to 7.15am. We were unusually organised with our packing and only left 15 minutes later than planned. We stopped at a services about halfway so we could have breakfast and to get the kids dressed. Everyone ate their cereal in a McDonalds car park and I took the picture below on my phone. At this point the excited Ted threatened to turn into grumpy Ted so I proposed a race to the sign and back after which we all jumped in the car.

Breakfast with Ted
Breakfast with Ted

About 10 minutes away from our destination May started screaming. I don’t know how she does it. No matter how far we are travelling she will wait until we are 10-20 minutes away and then let go. Ted was the same. So it was that we arrived slightly stressed in the Alton Towers Waterpark car park.

We loaded up with our swimming bags and started to navigate our way through the maze of the Alton Towers resort. At this point I looked for my phone and discovered it was not where I thought it would be. In fact I hadn’t seen it since we stopped for breakfast. Just before we had that race. This was quite a blow. I had to take a few deep breaths before we continued with our day.

To conclude this story, I logged into google and found out I could contact my phone remotely to find out where it was and lock it. I could even check it’s battery life. The WiFi was too poor at the hotel to do so in the evening but in the morning I found it was exactly where I thought it would be. I was able to add a message to the home screen asking whoever found it to phone David. Someone from McDonalds did phone and we picked it up on the way home. 36 hours and 86 WhatsApp messages later.

So phoneless I headed with the family into the waterpark. It’s a bit of trek to the front entrance. You have to walk some long corridors through the conference hotel then along a walkway round the edge of the waterpark. All the while we had an increasingly excited three year old rushing from one view point to the next, pointing out all the things he could see. The waterpark was quiet. Too quiet. Yep, turns out that despite me booking advance tickets for that day the waterpark is in fact closed on Thursdays.

We were devastated but we had to stay cheerful for Ted. We marched back to the hotel lobby and politely demanded an explanation. They didn’t seem especially surprised and suggested we simply go to theme park today. But our tickets are booked for tomorrow. No problem, here’s some tickets for today.

Of course things are never that simple. For a start our day bags were packed for swimming and it was no mean feat to expel towels, swim gear and nappies and replace them with the things we would need for a day at a theme park. Second, we had planned to go to the theme park as early as possible to make the most of the day. I had in mind we would be standing at the gate as it opened. Instead we were joining the massive monorail queue (the only queue we stood in all day) at nearly 11am.

Third and perhaps most significantly we had spent the last few weeks psyching Ted up for a day swimming and he was really excited when he saw the waterpark. He went with the flow admirably as our plans changed but he was noticeably overwhelmed throughout our day at the theme park. I don’t know if he would have coped better if he had been expecting Cbeebies Land but we were denied the chance to find out.

We did have a wonderful day. There were only a few minor complaints later on. I had a banging headache all day and David spilled my expensive coffee. David’s phone battery died a couple of hours in (he will insist on having an iphone) so there aren’t as many pictures as I’d hoped.

So what did we learn?

  1. Check opening times and dates of all attractions.
  2. The staff at Alton Towers are suspiciously helpful.
  3. Losing my phone isn’t the end of the world.
  4. The best laid plans…
  5. Don’t cry over spilt coffee.

Do you have any travel experiences that didn’t go to plan? How did you stop it from ruining your day?

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