This trip was a complete spur of the moment. We’d had some information through the post from a website that has special offers for Police Officers, both current and retired. Inside was a short break to https://altontowers.com It was reasonably priced, but, as I’m a bugger for a bargain break, I decided to do some searching online and see what I could find myself. Firstly, as a disabled wheelchair user you are entitled to up to two carers tickets free of charge, and you pay for your own. The carers must be over 16 years of age. To claim them you are required to take evidence of your disability to the ticket point at the entrance where the carers tickets will be issued. Evidence can be a blue badge, PIP allocation letter or a letter from your Doctor.
If you collect Tesco Clubcard points you can exchange them for tickets which effectively costs you nothing. (we did this) I recommend buying your entrance tickets early, as that too means great savings. You only need to book a week or so in advance to get the savings. We booked two adults and one child (3 to 11) for one-night stay in Splash Landings Resort. We picked a random child up off the street to take with us, so we wouldn’t get any funny looks! Nah.. It was our grandson really, not just any old kid. He was quite excited to go which was something of a relief. The Splash Landings Resort water park is extra to your hotel booking, so if you wanted to do that too, which I recommend you do, then don’t forget to get the tickets!
Alton Towers is well signposted from all directions and, has dedicated hotel parking. This is a bonus as it means you can leave your car at the hotel and hop on the shuttle train to the theme park the following day. Alternatively, you can drive your car the short distance and park in the disabled parking area at the gate and the ticket you get from the hotel ensures you get free parking. Without hotel stays the parking is £6.
Splash Landings hotel is a water park, and it’s impressive. Check in is very efficient, and if you’re visiting the theme park as well, you can get your carer tickets and parking sorted from the reception on checking out. Two access keys are provided for the rooms and a parking voucher if you choose to drive the car to the theme park. The staff are incredibly helpful and really can’t do enough for you, nothing is too much bother for them. They are there to make your stay the best it possibly can be.
Whilst the poolside is wheelchair accessible, the water itself isn’t unless you can get yourself down steps into the outdoor spa pool or, walk into the main pool/fun zone. Access to the slides would only be possible for you if you were able to walk up steps to get there. I’m told by my Mr and Grandson that they’re great fun though once you’re on them. The ‘kids’ queued for approx. 35 minutes to go on the rapids, and apparently that was worth the wait! We have a great picture of our boy and my Mr’s hand. The pictures are not included in the ticket price.
It is very warm inside, as you’d expect and there is ample seating and table areas for spectators. You are permitted to take still photos, (No video) but only of the people you’re with, they don’t like you to take panoramic shots and include everyone else in the pool, which is fair enough. It is a paedophiles paradise after all.
The cafeteria has kids’ meal deals, which was £4.50 for a sandwich a drink and a piece of fruit. This impressed me greatly as it was a decent healthy snack. Coffee, teas and cold drinks were available too and you could watch the kids and chill out at the same time.
Our session was booked to run from 15.30hours to 20.00hours, and as we could check in from 1500 hours, we had time to dump the bags, get changed and get our butts down there pronto. Whilst it was busy it wasn’t totally overcrowded, and there was plenty of room for everyone. The changing rooms are accessible in a wheelchair, just watch out for random toes as it was a little narrow in places and people apparently are deaf to any ‘excuse me’ warnings you might issue in their direction.
As I said, the outdoor spa pool was the only one accessible to Mildred and I. It can be accessed from two places. Inside, there are 5 or 6 steps with handrails to get in, and a place for wheelchairs next to them. Outside, steps again but without handrails. The water was very warm and has jets around the outside which are superb for easing out any kinks in your back! I stayed in there, people watched, and generally relaxed. Well as much as you can relax surrounded by very excited children!
As the water park is in the hotel itself, we elected to wrap ourselves in towels and shower back in our room. There are showers and changing facilities in abundance, but it was easier for us to go back to the room with Mildred. Our room was a ‘Beachcomber room’ with a double bed and a set of bunk beds. Our boy is very tall for his age and his feet were hanging over the end of the bunk, but he was so exhausted I don’t think he minded too much. Our bed was comfortable and a good height for me to get in and out of.
The décor was beach theme, with a carpet, that looked like the beach, complete with footprints in the sand and some quirky pictures and accessories. A lot of fun. Bathroom was shower over the bath, (My fault for forgetting to request a disabled room) which was piping hot, my favourite! Toiletries and towels were supplied, although we did take our own. Our room was on the same floor as the hotel reception and was easily accessible in the chair, and there are lifts to all floors.
You have the option to eat at the Roller Coaster Restaurant, but this has to be booked in advance, which we hadn’t bothered with, so we ate in the Flambos restaurant. I recommend this highly, especially if your party has a good appetite. You definitely get your money’s worth in the ‘all you can eat hot buffet’. Adults £19.95, under 11’s £9.95. kids aged 12 to 15 years £12. For your money you get unlimited soft drinks, which is a godsend, and a huge variety of hot and cold dishes to choose from. Dishes ranged from salads, to roast dinner, pizza and veggie options. There is also an allergy menu, so all food allergies are catered for. The food is tasty and substantial. Deserts options were cheesecakes, chocolate tarte, trifles, jelly, chocolate fountains, sweets and ice creams. Plenty of choice for all.
There is a disco and a bar along with an amusement arcade if you wished to use them. Given we had a long day in the Theme park ahead of us we opted for a relatively early night as we’d booked breakfast for 7am. Its recommended you book breakfast before your stay, as you then get the choice of times from 7 till 10am Breakfast was great selection again. A selection of cereals and different milks, fruit, toast, jams, pastries and full English breakfast. Again, all you can eat. We filled up and didn’t need to eat until later in the day. As with the evening meal, an allergy menu is available on request. Gluten free and vegan options are also provided, and the sausages were very nice! Also, if you state on the booking form the food allergies, it pops up on the Ipad when you check in for breakfast and they give an almost personal service, taking you right through the menu. The chef will then cook whatever you request. Pretty cool!
A bonus of staying at the hotel is that you are allowed entrance into the theme park 45mins before the gates open to the public at 10am. There was a delay with the shuttle from the Splash Landings hotel and we intended walking to the park but were stopped by an assistant who informed us it would take us a good 20 mins to walk there. I use that royal ‘we’ again when I say walking, I mean the Mr was pushing Mildred and I at a fast trot. Instead of walking, we loaded up the car and drove there and parked up right by the gate. Again, we were guided into a queue with other wheelchairs and pushchairs and we were in almost instantly. The extra 45 minutes meant we were able to get some of the big rides done before the park opened to the general public. As a wheelchair user you queue via the fast track or separate disable lane, and generally only wait for 5 mins tops. Most of the rollercoasters require you to transfer into them with assistance from carer, the staff don’t assist in any way. A bonus (And we all love a Brucey bonus right) of the wheelchair situation or mobility issues means you get either the front or the very back seats on the rides. In other words, the best seats! Don’t forget to smile for the cameras!! I love the roller coasters; they give me an adrenaline rush I miss so much from old times. However, they do leave me in sooo much pain for several weeks later. Alton towers was no exception. It was The Smiler that finished me off as it threw me around like a rag doll and every single part of my body spasmed. I had to go on three more after that one too. There was no way I was going to miss out. Thank the Lord for morphine is all I can say. However, I have to confess, this time, getting over the adventure took a lot longer than usual so I have decided that’s it for rollercoasters for me. I will have to look for something else to get that adrenaline rush that won’t leave me in so much pain I could of smashed a gallon of morphine washed down with neat gin.
There was an offer on for ride photographs for the day we were there. I don’t know how long it was on for sorry. Pay £15 and you get 2 bands which are scanned after every ride. You then scan the QR code and the photos download to your phone or laptop to keep forever. Really good way to have a permanent reminder of your day, without having to lug the photos around with you all day. Also, very handy when it pours with rain. They don’t curl up and get ruined. Speaking of rain, we knew it was forecast so dressed accordingly, kind off, we are eternal optimists after all…… so it was shorts tee shirts and coats … this was all fine until we sat on the ‘Rita’ ride and it rained stair rods. It was hideous!! As the ride went from 0-60 in 2 seconds, we couldn’t even open our eyes because it was too painful. Hence the photo showing us with our eyes squeezed shut. I never knew I could get so wet in such a short space of time. And I mean absolutely soaking wet! As always when you’re wet, the cold seems to follow. As a result, I started to shiver, which wasn’t great for me so, when the ‘boys’ went into the Alton Towers Dungeon, (which wasn’t wheelchair accessible) I retired to the Woodcutters bar and Grill which was just by the attraction, to warm up!. The Dungeons must be booked separately, and cost £7. You can book through the free Alton Towers App on the day, although it is recommended you book in advance.
There are plenty of places to eat a picnic if you wish, but we decided to sample the food in Alton Towers. Lunch was in Just chicken, again, allergies are catered for. It was good hot food and a substantial amount of it which surprised me! Something on the menu to suit everyone. Price wise it was what you’d expect in a theme park and to be honest I thought it was good value. As days out go it’s a goodie! One I’d recommend, even for wheelchair users. I am very fortunate in that I can transfer with assistance on good days, however if you need a little extra help transferring the two carer tickets are a godsend. There is a lot there for tiny humans, but as our grandson is 11, we didn’t see many of the little rides sorry, but if the rest of the park is anything to go by … it will be epic.
If anyone has any questions about our visit to Alton Towers, or Splash Landings, please get in touch, if I can answer you then I will!
Much love. Flairey. x