In theory we should have got a much-needed extra hour’s sleep due to the clocks changing. In practise, my brain decided it wasn’t going to be tricked that easily. Bah. If only my body clock would update itself automatically like my phone clock.
More by chance than for any other reason, we managed to leave all the scariest rides for the second day this time. And boy, did we start with a scary one…
Rita. It’s bloody terrifying. It doesn’t necessarily look it… it doesn’t have any loops or sheer drops or anything like that. But in my opinion (and most people I’ve talked to) the launch at the start where it accelerates you from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds is the scariest thing at Alton Towers. Most rides get less frightening the more you go on them, and turn out to be not as bad as they look (even Oblivion). Not Rita. I get more scared every time I go on her. I’m wondering if some day I’ll find I just can’t do it anymore.
After that was out of the way, we knew the rest of the day would be easy and relaxing in comparison. We had a plan: we were going to spend the morning waiting in the inevitable queues for the rides we didn’t go on yesterday, and for the afternoon we’d bought Fast-track passes for Nemesis, Air and Oblivion (which allow you to skip to the front of the queue once for each ride). So next up was Th13teen.
I really like Th13teen. It’s… different. I won’t spoil the end bit if you don’t know what it does, but even the standard roller coaster bit through the woods at the start is pretty fun.
Last of the big queues was for Sonic Spinball. The queues are always horrendous, but it’s a great ride so we just had to wait anyway. At least it was only an hour and not two hours like it was the day before. Spinball is unpredictable… because the cars spin round while they go down the track, you never know whether you’ll end up going down the big drop backwards or sideways this time, and it feels really erratic like you’re being pulled in all directions at once. So don’t be put off by the queues or the theming… give it a try.
Our afternoon was a bit more sedate than yesterday’s, with less rushing around and standing in queues. We took advantage of our fast track passes to have another go on Nemesis and Air. Something was going on near Nemesis, by the excavations for “What Lies Beneath”. We couldn’t quite work out what, but it involved a worker in a radiation suit lying unconscious while others warned the public to stay back. And possibly a frog. Exciting.
We also finally braved one of the water rides (Congo River Rapids) and got a little bit wet. But by the time we were queueing for the Runaway Mine Train, madness was starting to set in. “Eye Spy” wasn’t sufficient to keep us amused for long and we took to making up terrible jokes of the form “What’s ____’s favourite ride/area at Alton Towers?”. (Most of them aren’t fit to publish, especially the Michael Jackson ones, but if I tell you that “What’s Patrick Stewart’s favourite ride at Alton Towers? Enterprise!” was probably the best one, you’ll get some idea of the standard of the others).
Our final Alton Towers ride of the day (and of the year) was: Oblivion!
Definitely the second most terrifying thing in the park after Rita. This time I was in probably the scariest seat, right on the edge of the front row. At least when you’re in the middle of the front row you can see the track in front of you… on the edge there’s nothing at all apart from the black gaping hole rushing up to meet you. As usual our approach to the drop was punctuated by moans of “oh god, why are we doing this?”, but once you’re up there you don’t really have much time to think about that.
(I’d tell you the story about how I coped with Oblivion the first time I went on it, but I don’t want to end up barred from Alton Towers or anything).
After that it was getting dark and with the drive back to Edinburgh still ahead of us, we decided it was time to call it a night. After a good filling meal at the Woodcutter’s Grill (the kind of place that has an enormous vat of chips on the serving hatch, which can’t be a bad thing) and a quick visit to the gift shop for obligatory purchase of notebooks and T-shirts that were probably intended for people half my age, we were on our way. The drive back was a lot quicker than the drive down – about two hours shorter in fact, even with scary thick fog in the Borders that I had to slow right down for.
So that was Alton Towers 🙂 I’m off on my travels again this weekend, in fact I’m writing this on the train to London, so stay tuned for a first-time gig goer’s account of… Evanescence!