My family and I recently visited Alton Towers theme park in England for their Halloween event, Scarefest. We had a fun and safe overnight visit. Here are some highlights.
By Steven Kennedy
We arrived at Splash Landings hotel ready to walk to Alton Towers theme park as the monorail was closed due to COVID-19. We took the hotel’s guest only path, which brings you out in Forbidden Valley by Galactica (It’s also used after hours so hotel guests can visit the Rollercoaster Restaurant).
There are distance markers everywhere, even on the footpaths outside the park, plus plenty of signs explaining the rules and hand sanitizer stations everywhere. The park capacity is currently limited and you must pre-book. You can also book the haunted house mazes, but we found out you can also just scan a barcode at each maze entrance and buy a ticket on the day of.
Two mazes made a return this year, “The Attic: Terror of the Towers,” which is actually on the top floor of the Towers themselves; and “Altonville Mine Tours: Skin Snatchers,” which is in the basement of the Towers. The third was a new outdoor maze called “Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard.” These three mazes can be bought in a package for £22 in advance. The fourth maze was another return for “Darkest Depths,” a pirate-themed maze that was £8.
We thoroughly enjoyed all four, although my wife Chris was a bit traumatized by the mine tours. There was also entertainment and refreshments on the main lawn, plus the Tower Gardens were lit and themed for Halloween to make a free walk-through attraction called “Whispering Souls.”
We managed to ride The Smiler roller coaster before it got too busy. It shuts down quite often due to hitting capacity. We then headed to the Woodcutters Grill for an early lunch. The tables were well spaced out and ordering was done in their mobile app. It was very straightforward and the food was amazing!
By now, more or less every ride had around an hour wait due to the extra safety procedures for COVID-19. Masks are only required inside buildings and on the actual rides, but this was strictly enforced.
Our first maze was at booked for 2 p.m. and the lines were pretty long as smaller groups were going through the mazes with much bigger spacing between groups. This meant it was a struggle to get all three houses done in the 90-minute time slot we were given – we did manage though.
We then wandered over to Towers Street to the Towers Trading Company shop to buy some merchandise, which is excellent. They had ride-themed merchandise and Halloween things too.
Towers Street looked fantastic with ride-themed pumpkins and a hearse, plus plenty of lighting and bunting, creating a great atmosphere. We managed some night rides on Oblivion, Nemesis, and Galactica roller coasters. The park closed at 9 p.m. and we took the short walk back to the hotel for the night.
All drinks at the hotel bar were only available to order via a mobile app with last orders at 9:15 p.m., as all bars in the U.K. must currently be closed at 10 p.m. There was in-room ordering though, with a limited menu and drinks.
Scarefest is happening through Nov. 1, 2020. More details and pre-booking can be found at AltonTowers.com.