I’ve spoken many times about how we’re a CBeebies family. You may judge me for it, but it’s pretty much on every morning in our house, in the background whilst we eat breakfast, get dressed and pack our bags for the day. My cousin once told me they use the scheduling to help keep them on time for the school run – if they’ve not got their shoes on by the time Octonauts comes on, they know they’re in trouble. I could probably sing the theme tune to any of the programmes, without needing a prompt (Go go, go go… Go Jetters!) and I’ve watched Something Special so many times that I know the names of the children in each series that do the ‘Time to Sign’ Makaton with Justin. So of course, visiting CBeebiesland at Alton Towers has been on my to-do list ever since we first ventured to Thomasland at Drayton Manor and realised how much fun children’s themes parks are.
When Peperami got in touch, challenging us to see if we were brave enough to try the new Wicker Man ride at Alton Towers, it sounded like a perfectly good excuse to actually check out some of the adult rides at a theme park for a change, even though I knew we’d probably still spend most of our time in CBeebiesland. I packed us a picnic, punched in the postcode on our Sat Nav, and we ventured off on one of the hottest days of the year for our very first trip to Alton Towers.
I’ve only been to DisneyWorld once when I was much, much younger (a special Year 2000 treat, thanks Mom and Dad!) but when we arrived at Alton Towers, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Disney. The huge car park, the monorail to the entrance (which Pickle LOVED!) and the street-like feel when you go through the gates, with the impressive looking Towers building in the background behind a big lake and lots of greenery. It really is beautiful.
To start with, we just got our bearings by walking around the CBeebiesland section of Alton Towers, seeing what was on offer, mentally making a note of the height restrictions as we passed each ride and attraction to avoid disappointment later in the day. We arrived just in time for the next Live show to start and – bonus: it was Bing, Pickle’s favourite. We arrived with just a few minutes to spare before the performance began, and all of the shaded seating had already been bagsied so we sat in the sunshine, and I couldn’t wait for Pickle’s reaction when he saw his favourite character right in from of him.
The show was quite sweet – it followed the same lines as a normal Bing episode would: Bing and Flop took the Wheelie out on a picnic, complete with Hoppity Voosh and a carroty bagel (yummy delicious). Pickle squealed with delight seeing his favourite characters, waving goodbye to them at the end of the show. Children were allowed to eat and drink during the performance which I think helps keep them seated and calm, and it was a nice way to start off our day.
The NumTums Ride
After seeing queuing times for other rides of thirty minutes plus, we spotted a zero wait time for the NumTums ride and quickly jumped on it. It’s nothing particularly spectacular – just a carousel with cars rather than horses really, but I liked that parents could sit in the middle, and it was a good gentle ride to start off with. Ease ourselves in gently!
In The Night Garden Ride
We spent most of the day keeping our eyes open for when the queues for certain rides seemed to lessen, and as the advertised waiting time for the In The Night Garden boat ride had dropped by ten minutes, we got in line and awaited our turn. A year ago, Pickle wasn’t really that fussed about In the Night Garden but after we went to see In the Night Garden Live in Cannon Hill Park, he gets quite excited by it – and loves to copy the ’round-and-round’ action at the start of the programme by tracing his finger over the palm of his hand.
Pickle was exactly the right age for this ride, I’d say. It was a gentle, steady boat ride (no physical thrills on this one!) but seeing as he loves nothing more than pointing out things that he recognises, his face lit up with delight at each new character or familiar location we spotted. He was mesmerised.
I didn’t really know what to expect, so again, thought the ride was quite sweet – I enjoyed all the excited pointing and babbling from Pickle but it’s worth possibly saying that I read Emma (Brummymummyof2)’s review when she visited when the park first opened and she had been a bit disappointed with the lack of interactivity.
Our little Hiccup
We did have one incident during our day that I’d rather forget… We’d been queuing in the Postman Pat ride for about thirty minutes by the time we got to the front of the queue. It had gone quite quickly, and we were looking forward to letting Pickle ‘drive’ us around (he loves thinking he’s the driver).
When all of a sudden, Pickle just turned around and bit the boy behind us. No provocation. No reason. Just a totally random bite. Obviously, I was mortified. I made him look at me as I explained how wrong it is to bite, and showed him how he had hurt the boy. I found the boy’s Mum to apologise and asked Pickle if he was ready to say sorry too. He wasn’t. He didn’t want to. So I told him we weren’t going on the ride anymore. (LPD, at this point, started to protest: But we’ve been queuing for ages, can’t we just get on?) But I stood my ground. No child of mine gets rewarded with a fun ride after biting.
I did the walk of shame back through the queue and decided it was about time that we left CBeebiesland to explore the wider park.
In Search of the Wicker Man Ride
We hadn’t picked up a map of the park, and I hadn’t downloaded the Alton Towers app (which in hindsight, would have been a very wise choice) and so when we went in search of the new Wicker Man ride, we didn’t have a clue where we were going. I think I saw a sign saying it was near Mutiny Bay, so off we toddled in that direction and meandered around.
I just don’t even know how we managed it, but we walked probably within ten metres of the entrance to the ride without seeing it, got distracted by the Sea Life attraction and took a wrong turn, meaning we literally walked round half the park (in the blazing sunshine with a toddler, no mean feat) before we found it. I couldn’t resist drawing a map of our route, just so you can see how ridiculous it was.
I am super glad we did though, as it meant we stumbled across the Sea Life part of Alton Towers, which I had no idea was there. When we walked in, I thought it’d just be a tiny little room with a handful of fish – but how wrong I was! It was almost as good as going to a full sized Sea Life, complete with a walk-through tunnel. A real highlight of our day, and Pickle’s!
Honestly, if you’re heading to Alton Towers purely for CBeebiesland – definitely make sure you venture out to Mutiny Bay for this. It’s absolutely brilliant.
The Wicker Man, finally
Eventually, we made it to the Wicker Man entrance. And whilst we weren’t really planning on visiting any of the other rides, it was quite nice to see everything that was there – I had no idea Alton Towers was so huge! It really is massive, isn’t it? I’d love to return with just LPD for a date-day one day soon, and get to enjoy it as adults rather than as parents. It’s not the same going on a ride on your own whilst your spouse tries to keep a toddler occupied, eh?
I’m not a massive ‘big’ rollercoaster ride fan, but I reckon I’d have given The Wicker Man a go. Apparently, it’s the first wooden rollercoaster to be built in the UK for twenty years. It’s a very traditional rollercoaster which really appeals to me, and had it been in operation during our visit, I’d have definitely had a go.
I absolutely love these photos of LPD and Pickle outside the ride. I asked LPD to show me some facial expressions that summed up how brave he felt to take on the new rollercoaster, and this was his response. God love him. And before anyone asks, no… that’s not Pickle eating a Peperami Firestick (although, give him half a chance and I’m sure he’d have given it a good go!).
As the ride wasn’t open when we got there (I think it was undergoing some maintenance), we enjoyed having a little sit down and a Peperami snack break, before going back to brave further queues and the potential for more biting incidents in CBeebiesland.
Mr Tumble’s Sensory Garden
We enjoyed a potter around Mr Tumble’s sensory garden, and I was particularly grateful for the benches near the end of the garden path where I grabbed a few minutes rest off my feet whilst Pickle was engrossed in the interactive screen. It was perhaps a little too hot to spend much time in the garden out of the shade, and a lot of the plants seemed to be suffering in the heat, but I bet it’s really lovely normally.
Mommy’s Star Turn
As a nappy change was required, we stopped by the Show area section of CBeebiesland to use the facilities and decided to hang around and grab a good spot in the shade for the next live show. I unexpectedly ended up taking a turn up on stage (any excuse, eh? Got to put that theatre degree to use somehow!), and ended up holding an Octonauts sign in a game of corners. Oh, the glamour.
I was hoping at least Pickle would run to my corner during the game… of course, he ran in every direction but. No loyalty this kid. Although, that was probably a wise move as my corner was the only one not to win any of the rounds. Uh oh.
Postman Pat Ride
After the morning’s failed attempt at the Postman Pat ride, we felt we’d left it long enough to try again. I made sure to remind Pickle that if he was to bite again, we wouldn’t go on the ride… and lo and behold, he displayed impeccable behaviour. Thank goodness.
Before long, we were on the ride, and Pickle enjoyed spinning the wheel and driving us around the little course. I love the driving rides like this – there’s always cute things to point out and Pickle particularly enjoyed seeing the cows on this route.
Nina’s Science Lab
Again, taking shelter from the sun, we popped into Nina’s Science Lab, where Pickle loved looking at the sensory tubes and had lots of fun speaking into and listening into the sound tubes with LPD.
The Furchester Hotel Live
Going to the Furchester Hotel Live show was one of the highlights of the day for me! I don’t have any photos as they weren’t allowed, but not only was it gloriously air conditioned, the show was fun, upbeat and interactive. We went nearer the end of the day, so the show wasn’t very busy at all and meant that Pickle even got the chance to find a plastic cookie to hand in. We all came out with big beaming smiles on our faces.
My Instagram Highlights
If you’d like to see our experience of Alton Towers in more of a live version, I made an Instagram Highlight of all my stories from the day – so pop on over to my Instagram profile to have a sneaky look.
All in all, our day at Alton Towers was brilliant. I’d probably say CBeebiesland is more geared towards slightly older children – so I’d love to return in a couple of years when I think Pickle would really get the most out of it, but the rides we went on and the attractions we enjoyed made it a very special day out, indeed. Thank you, Peperami. If you’d like to visit yourself, it’s definitely worth looking out for the promotional packs of Peperami that are offering 2 for 1 on adult entry. That’s a massive saving, and every little helps when it comes to the cost of family days out. Winner.
Disclaimer: we were offered tickets to visit Alton Towers by Peperami to promote their special 2 for 1 entry offer. All content, opinions and views remain my own.