Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Alton Towers: The Day I Stopped Oblivion

It was cold and wet when we got up at 5am. I ran downstairs like an excited kid about to go on holiday – on an aeroplane for the first time. I grabbed myself a bowl of Special K, and hungrily wolfed it down. I filled the kettle, and set about making a cup of tea for the other half – she won’t even get out of bed without one. Checked my email, checked some web stats, got washed, got ready.

I then set about organising the food bag, and in the back of my mind, a warning went off: Don’t forget about the diet. Hmmm. Diet. Stuff the diet, this is a day of fun!!!

So I crammed lots of nice stuff into the bag: Yazoo, Chocolate, M&Ms, crisps, and, of course, sandwiches.

Then we waited for our ride. The plan was to be picked up at the house at 6am, then go on to our second point to pick up the others at 6.15. We got to the second point at twenty past six, and waited patiently. For ages. The other car didn’t show up. I phoned. They were running late. I wasn’t pleased. So we went to McDonalds for the rest of the people in the car to get breakfast. I just got a coffee.

We went back to our waiting point, and waited. Finally, the others show up – at seven o’clock. So now we’re running 45 minutes late. Alton Towers opens at 9.30 – there was no way we were going to make it for then. So we blast along the motorway, making good time. We hit a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t bad. We got through that, and barrelled along towards our destination. Then we hit trouble. The road was closed. There had been an accident, and the police had shut the road. So our driver (who had refused my offer to bring SatNav), then tried to renavigate the route. He took a different road, but that took us to another part of the road that was still closed.

Then, the driver of the second car needed a pee. For crying out loud, we’d already stopped twice for him! Strengthen your bladder mate. Alton Towers was gonna start filling up!!!!

So we pulled over, he peed, we carried on. This detour had added an extra half an hour to our journey. I was seething.

We pulled into the car park. It was pretty busy. Great. THEN, there was great debates as to what to take in. Would it get colder? Do I need a coat? Hat? Gloves? Scarf? Should I bring all the food? Should we move the cars? For Pete’s sake people, if you stop deliberating we could be queuing for Oblivion by now!

FINALLY, at twenty past eleven (that’s right: 11:20) we were on the monorail. We paid and entered the park, and headed for the rides.

The first one that we went on was the Spinball. That was great. Me and two others went on it, but as our carriage came into the ‘station’, the ride broke down. Unbelievably. For ten minutes, I was stuck on this ride, as all around I could hear the screams of terror and delight of others, who were on rides that were still working. Aaaargh!

After being released, we rushed over to Oblivion. Man, was I looking forward to this. We only had to queue for ten minutes or so, which was great. It wasn’t as busy as I thought it would have been. We finally got onto the ride, and I was sitting front row, far seat. I slyly took out my Nokia 3250, twist and shoot camera/video phone. I was going to video this beast!

The ride started, and immediately you are on a 45 degree ascent. Clang clang clang clang clang, as you are being drawn up by the machine. Suddenly, the machine stopped.

Now, I’ve been on Oblivion before, and I knew that it was not supposed to stop at this point. A vague warning bell sounded in my mind – again.

Suddenly, a pre-recorded message was blasted from invisible speakers:

“Please be aware that video recording equipment, cameras, and mobile phones are not permitted on this ride.”

Oh cak.

The girl sitting next to me said, “They’ve caught you!”

Looking directly in front of me, I could see CCTV cameras, but I thought, “Surely not!”

Anyway, I very slowly folded the phone back into normal position, and wedged it back in my pocket – hard to do when strapped in and at a 45 degree angle.

I carried on smiling like someone who is enjoying the ride, hoping against hope that they hadn’t seen me. I was wrong. They had.

We waited for what seemed an eternity. Then the unthinkable happened.

They had sent a staff member to CLIMB up the side of Oblivion, complete with rock climbing harness gear and everything.

She called along “Row 1, Seat 1 – please pass your phone along.”

I had no choice. I dug it back out of my pocket, and handed it along the row.

Then my mate called out to the woman “Do you want my phone too?”

“Are you planning on taking it out on the ride?”


“Then no thank you.”

She then radioed down to the control centre that the phone had been confiscated, and the ride continued to climb.

Now I was worried. Would they keep my phone all day? Maybe send it back to me the next day? Would I get thrown out? Would security be throwing me? Would I be forced to wear some kind of ‘Naughty Boy’ clothing so that crew at other rides could keep an eye on me?

Anyway, the ride carried on – it was fantastic.

I got off the ride, and the woman that had had to climb Oblivion came over to me. I couldn’t believe that she was smiling. She handed me my phone, and that was that. You have no idea how relieved I was!

Anyway, we then had lunch – I couldn’t believe it, but then again, I was quite hungry.

After that, we went on the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory ride – if you’ve got kids, they’ll enjoy it, if you haven’t, give it a miss.

Then Rita – Queen of Speed. Oh my word. It totally blew me away. Words cannot describe the speed or the rush that that ride delivers. Just go on it.

The Corkscrew – that was the ride I queued the longest for. It was good, but not fantastic, but I would definitely ride it again.

From there, it was the Runaway Mine Train – good, but it hurt my ribs because you slide around in the seats.

Nemesis – fantastic. Apparently, you experience the same G’s as a space shuttle launch. In other words, its bone crushingly great.

The Ghost Train is okay, you have to shoot loads of baddies all the way around, which gave me hand strain.

We then went on the River Rapids – large yellow inflatables that get you soaked if you’re not careful.

Then I went on the Teacups, because they’re just fun.

We finished off with Spinball again, using our Priority pass that we had gotten for our inconvenience earlier.

I’m gutted that I didn’t get to go on Air, and I would’ve loved to have done Oblivion, Rita and Nemesis again.

Anyway, from there we went to the new Crazy Golf course, which costs a fiver, but was really good and took about an hour, and then we headed home.

So Alton Towers was great – but don’t try to video any of the rides. They just don’t like it.

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