Baby H is a big fan of CBeebies – it’s a ritual, all the little ones in my family have grown up on the fairly educational channel as opposed to Disney (urgh) or Nickeloden (sit down, Dora).
When I saw the adverts for CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, I got VERY excited. I have been going to Alton Towers since I was a little girl (Who remembers Henrietta Hound, the mascot!?) and it’s always nice to go. I knew that H would enjoy meeting some of his favourite characters, and with the current sunny weather, it seemed to be a good time to visit.
CBeebies land has only been open for a few weeks, so one must forgive any early misgivings of which there are a few. I’ll try and scatter tips throughout this post in case you want to go to.
So, let’s start at the beginning…
Alton Towers has never been one of the cheaper theme parks and adult tickets cost £49.20, a child (age 4-12) is around £43.20 on the day. Book online at least 7 days before for 25% off. This is let’s face it, it is very expensive, and the price difference between adult and child isn’t big enough. However – there is only one way to visit Alton Towers and that is with a 2 for 1 voucher which you can get on certain cereal packets (Kelloggs) or sometimes in magazines like CBeebies. You get a free adult ticket with the purchase of an adult OR child ticket which makes it far more affordable. I collected two vouchers as there were 4 adults and 1 under 4 attending (Under 4’s are free of charge).
Arrival and Parking
Due to other morning commitments we arrived later than we wanted (1pm). I would highly suggest you arrive at 10-11 (the park opens at 10) so you can have a nice picnic and explore more of the park, which is vast. We ran out of time with just 5 hours to go on rides.
Throughout the day, you will feel slightly fleeced because everywhere in the park is just an invitation to spend more money. It starts with the parking – £6 for a regular space, which is miles away from the entrance, so you need to get the free Monorail or walk. Or, you can go for the Express Parking which is very close to the entrance, but costs £16!!!! We went for this because we arrived so late and we were feeling lazy. But geez. £16!
CBeebies Land is situated very close to the entrance, just to the right hand side. I believe it’s been built over the old Adventure Land for kids. This is great because it’s easy to find and less hassle when you have a toddler with you. At the entrance you are greeted by a member of staff who hands out badges (H LOVES HIS BADGE SO MUCH) and there’s CBeebies music blasting out constantly everywhere! It does feel like a park within a park.
Attractions at Cbeebies Land
I’ve called this ‘attractions’ as opposed to ‘rides’ because there aren’t actually that many rides – Postman Pat, In the Night Garden, Num Tums Go Round, Tree Top Adventure, are rides. The other things are more experiences.
We made it on two of the rides, Num Tums, which is just a small merry go round like the ones you find at the fair which H didn’t like, and the Tree Top Adventure which as a short wait and a nice ride around the top of cBeebies land. The other two had huge queues which we weren’t willing to wait in because (as I will say a few times!) it was a very hot day.
Meeting a NumTum:
(Whilst I am here, can I just say the new look Num Tums is just PANTS compared to the first series?!).
Mr Tumble’s Sensory Garden is a pretty small but a nice space to sit and relax – there were nice things for the kids to press on the fence. Some of the plants had already started to look a bit yellow and neglected (no doubt the heat hasn’t been helping).
Busy pressing stuff! H actually loves to learn sign language via Mr Tumble, but these diagrams are of course a bit too grown up for him to understand.
We went to Tree Fu Tom’s Training Camp which is basically an outdoor play area. Most of the things there were too big for Harrison – climbing ropes etc. but he could walk around on the bridge and play with a giant abacus.
The best part of that was seeing a Tree Fu Tom Mascot in the Training Camp which perked the kids up.
Charlie & Lola’s House (a play house that looks like C&L’s in the cartoon) and Justin’s House (similar to a fun house inside) are for older kids, certainly not suitable for H’s age, plus he’s too short to get in to Justin’s which you have to be at least 0.9 meters tall. I am disappointed they didn’t have a proper soft play like area for the smaller babies.
Both of the above were more hands on, fun attractions, they seemed fine for older children. Nina and the Neuron’s house is like a kids exhibit in a museum which various science-y things to do (ie. Smell this, what does it smell like etc.) which I guess quite an easy exhibit for them to maintain but in the context of a theme park, is a bit boring.
It’s a good idea to check the boards which are around so you know the show times and also when there are character meet and greets in the tent (such as meet Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy).
The Big Fun Show Time, which has set shows throughout the day, is held under a large canopy on a sculpted field that looks like something out of the Teletubbies. The shows feature different characters; Mike The Knight, The ZingZillas, Nina and the Neurons. I find Nina and Mike a weird choice and I would’ve chosen more musical shows like The Lingo Show or Alphablocks as they’re both educational and have some great songs.
Zingzillas was a decent show, but the sound was too loud and it would’ve been nice to hear them sing some more recognisable songs. I actually just felt bad for the actors who must’ve been sweating to death!
Mike The Knight has a small experience in some tents in the Big Show area which stuff like hop scotch and some physical challenges. I can’t imagine they would be as much fun on a rainy day, but I saw a few kids playing around in the area, and their parents napping on the many deck chairs!
Mr Blooms Allotment is a show and therefore has a permanent 25 minute waiting time listed. H is a fan of the how, however, because of the heat and the fact you have to stand in a pen waiting, us and a few parents left – it’s just not possible to fry in the sun for that amount of time without shade, seats or entertainment for the little ones. Since this is a set show, they really need to either list proper show times, OR have a seating area for parents and kids to wait, which has a shade and some entertaiment for the kids.
There should be more rides overall I think (I am kinda sad I didn’t see any teacups or a baby caterpillars!) rather than these ‘pop in and play’ exhibits because the younger kids can’t generally do as much with them and they can feel a little museum-y. When you go to a theme park, you just want to go on rides and have fun!
There’s a shop on site which sells various merchandise from top CBeebies characters, and also has exclusive Alton Towers only items. It’s a decent shop for any fan, and prices are ok, not too inflated. We bought a t-shirt for £12. There’s also a photo booth experience where you can have a photo on the cBeebies sofa (family photo) or have one with your favourite characters – this is taken on a green screen. This costs £10 for one photo but there are various (expensive) bundles.
There wasn’t anything particularly inspiring about the photo we got (H with In The Night Garden characters), and the staff looked a little bewildered when it came to catching his attention for the shot (which is surely, what you need practise in if you’re going to take pictures of kids). There was a mess up as you can download a digital version of the image once you get home and we were provided with the wrong one, although to their credit, they fiddled with it and it was rectified within 48 hours.
CBeebies for a toddler under 2:
I think the land is ideal for children aged 3 upwards – although H is super confident and mobile, he was still quite nervous on rides and wasn’t big enough to fully enjoy things like the Tree Fu Tom outdoor play area, or Charlie and Lola. The live show didn’t hold his attention fully, whereas it would for an older kid.
Staff – The staff at cBeebies land do a mixture of things, there are people walking about, people who man areas, a few entertainers (not too many on this day, we only say a hula-hooper and an average juggler at the end), people who do the shows etc. All of the staff are impressively friendly and welcoming.
Facilities – The land is well thought out for people will small children; lots of benches and tables in shady areas, enough toilets and baby change rooms (which was clean when we visited). There are lots of buggy parks to leave your push chair as you can’t take them on most rides – be aware of this, and don’t take your most expensive buggy (although everyone leaves their buggy pretty much) and have a little bag on you that has your valuables like wallet, phone etc.
Characters – One of our favourite bits was meeting characters (they must’ve sweltering in this heat in those costumes!) and we managed to catch Tree Fu Tom, Postman Pat and Upsy Daisy. You can also have your photos taken with all the characters which is great for photo ops.
Music - CBeebies theme tunes are blasted everywhere, it would be nice to have some quieter areas – for example when we sat outside the restaurant the loud music was quite annoying. During the Zingzillas show, the music was incredibly loud – I am aware it is a show but it hurt my ears so god knows how the little ones were coping with it. Turning it down slightly or adjusting the base I think would make it more pleasant overall.
There is a little restaurant in the CBeebies area is called Lunch Box and the selection of food is quite poor, AND there is no air conditioning. We went on a hot day, so the inside of the restaurant was almost empty because it was so stuffy. Food wise, there was a small selection of hot food and lots of sandwiches. There were some muffins and coffee too. It was quite uninspiring and there was just one flavour of Heinz jar baby food and some of the powdered cereal at the till (free with a purchase, but it can’t be purchased!).
Considering this part of the park is for small children, I expected lots of possible hot/cold toddler friendly food choices (H is not a fan of sandwiches) and healthy snacks, like from Ellas Kitchen or Organix.
Obviously ideally most parents will take their own food but should you want to eat there, all I can say is there’s not much to look forward to!
There are drinks machines dotted around, on average £2 a drink which is expensive but not as bad as it could be. They have a refillable bottle option, for £7 you get a plastic bottle which you can top up throughout the day (although I didn’t see that many refill points).
Character Choices – To me there are some strong CBeebies shows that have been missed out like Octonauts, Waybuloo, Balamory, Show Me Show Me and I would have loved to have seen something in the land for them, even if it’s just some figures dotted around the park. To me the likes of Nina and the Neurons is less captivating to small children (and I have nothing against Nina, she’s my green eyeshadow’d sister).
Waiting Times – It was not that busy when we went but there was still around 25 minutes to wait for In the Night Garden boat ride and 40 minutes for Postman Pat – these two remained as the most popular rides during the day. Whilst there is entertainment for the kids, such as little blocks to play with when waiting on some of the rides, realistically if you have a toddler they’re not going to last long especially if its a hot day. This was a QUIET day so on a busy day I wouldn’t even attempt the queues.
Overall Cost: Like I said earlier, you get fleeced, then fleeced some more at Alton Towers, which I guess you have to expect at a theme park. Parking is expensive (should be free really), entry is expensive DO NOT GO WITHOUT THE 2 FOR 1 VOUCHERS – it simply isn’t worth the full ticket price – there’s the gift shop, then snacks being sold throughout the day, then all ‘pro’ photos are at least £10 for one, the balloons are £5 (!!!! – I know helium is in short supply but please!) etc. Expect to be a few £100 down after this day out.
Despite my criticisms, we did have a great day, and next time we will aim to get to the park much earlier to make full use of all of the park. H is really too small for the experience, although I am glad he had fun, once he is older he will be appreciate it a lot more. I like how Alton Towers are always mixing things up, (for example we made it over to their new roller coaster, The Smiler) to keep things fresh.
Definitely worth a visit with your 2 for 1 voucher, sun cream and your own snacks!
*Entrance was paid for by me, I was not sponsored in any way to write this post.