Shropshire Star

'Pack the entirety of Christmas into a couple of days' –Our review of Alton Towers' Santa Sleepover

Pack the entirety of Christmas into a couple of days with Alton Towers’ Santa Sleepover, writes Derek Bish.

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Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers

Presents, turkey, crackers, Santa, theme park rides and water slides…

Well, this is Christmas with an Alton Towers twist!

So bring your most festive jumper, check into one of the many hotels on site and get your Christmas on.

As a family of five, we checked into the Splash Landings Hotel for our experience, where we enjoyed a spacious Beachcomber room.

With three kids, we’ve been almost exclusively using AirBNB because of a lack of five-person hotel rooms, so it was a rare treat to not only have a room we could all share but one where we were not tripping over each other.

There was a double bed, bunk beds and a sofa bed that was easy to put away when not being used, giving us even more room.

Of course, a big part of Christmas at Alton Towers is the theme park itself.

And while parts are shut through the winter due to maintenance, there is still plenty to do - especially for families.

Cbeebies Land, Mutiny Bay and The World of David Walliams are all open, leaving plenty of rides in operation.

The place is decked out in all its Christmas best, including more trees than you can count - and we were greeted with the first frost of the season, giving the place an even more Christmassy feel.

That did bring some issues, with a few rides unable to operate until the frost had cleared, but there were still lots in operation and the kids enjoyed passing their driving tests and then stealing the crown jewels with Gangsta Granny.

Over in Cbeebies Land, there are loads of shows to enjoy, as well as the rides, with a special Christmas treat from Hey Duggee that promises plenty of singing, dancing and crowd interaction.

And in between all the shows and thrill-seeking, you of course have to go and meet “the big guy”, and I don’t mean Hey Duggee!

Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers
Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers

A visit to Santa is a must for any Christmas time, and the beautiful grotto at Elves Avenue welcomed us, with Santa taking his time with each of our children and then allowing them to choose a wonderful gift at the end of the meeting that they will undoubtedly treasure for years to come.

If you wish to purchase your grotto picture though, packages start at £20 for two photos and a bauble, so it is advisable to take your own as well.

Back at the hotel, dinner was served in The Secret Garden Restaurant, with a three-course extravaganza to be devoured.

And in between the light starters and desserts was the main event - turkey and all the trimmings, with Christmas crackers, of course!

Served in a carvery, along with gammon and vegetarian options, all the vegetables you would expect could be piled on the plate - along with yorkshire puddings (a controversial Christmas choice for some - not me, mind!), stuffing and the pigs in blankets.

Despite cramming lots of people in for dinner, The Secret Garden Restaurant is a lovely place to eat - and all you have to pay for on top of your booking are your drinks.

There were a range of options for the kids as well - chicken strips, fish fingers, quorn nuggets, beans, peas, past and spaghetti hoops included. Not exactly fine dining for them, but perfectly good enough to fuel up after a busy day walking round the park.

And dinner is just the start of the entertainment in the hotel, with an arcade, a bar and on-stage entertainment, allowing the family to keep the party going long into the evening.

And in the midst of all that is this year’s pantomime, another Christmas staple.

This year Robin Hood is being performed with all the enthusiasm and gusto you would expect - an hour-long show in the main conference room that was fun for all the family.

Best of all for the kids are the bean bags at the front that allow them to get closest to the action without craning their necks round or over the adults from several rows back.

After the show, a tenner in the arcade, a couple of drinks and some dancing, it was back to the room for a comfortable night’s sleep - only disturbed by our alarm the next morning so we could get up for breakfast back in The Secret Garden Restaurant.

A full buffet is on offer from bacon and eggs, to waffles and syrup, and fruit, cereal and yoghurt.

Check-out is by 10am, and with the bags back in the car it was time to enjoy the amazing water park - going from the cold of the outside to the tropical-like atmosphere of Splash Landings.

And you can’t even help but feel Christmassy while rocketing down the Master Blaster slide, with a Christmas playlist providing the soundtrack.

That helps going-home day feel like a full holiday day - especially with us only being an hour from home.

So instead of a sad trudge to the car after, it was a weary but satisfied one. And while I tried to engage my passengers in the fun of the last couple of days, everyone apart from me was soon fast asleep - no doubt dreaming of Alton Towers and what other Christmas fun this festive season will hopefully bring.

- The Santa Sleepover continues up to and including December 23.

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