Alton Towers reduces ride availability in savings drive

Alton Towers

Alton Towers will operate rides, attractions and food outlets on reduced availability as part of cost savings in 2018.

The the Gloomy Wood and Forbidden Valley areas of the Staffordshire theme park will now not open until midday, with the Dark Forest area’s rides opening at 11:00.

The Congo River Rapids ride will operate on a reduced calendar of between 26 May and 14 September.

Early Ride Time (ERT), the period in which preferential park access is given to those with advanced bookings, will now only be available to hotel guests and holders of the Merlin Annual Pass.

ERT was previously it was available to those booking admission in advance. Its duration has also been reduced from 60 to 30 minutes, beginning at 09:30 each day.

The ERT lineup this season will include the new Wicker Man rollercoaster, plus the Spinball Whizzer ride and selected attractions within the CBeebies area.

Catering cutbacks

Alton Towers operator Merlin Entertainments has received considerable criticism for lengthy queues at its park’s catering outlets at peak times, while outlets have remained closed.

The latest operational changes at Alton Towers will also see the Forbidden Valley area’s Burger Kitchen outlet mothballed, according to the TowersStreet website.

It also also reported that the Tree Top Challenge, added as part of the Enchanted Village accommodation area in 2015, will be closed in 2018.

Merlin chief executive Nick Varney has spoken of opportunities to “reset” the park’s cost base in the years following the Smiler rollercoaster accident which seriously injured five people.

The company has not released visitation figures for Alton Towers for several years, but it is widely recognised that the park’s visitation remains significantly down following the 2015 crash.