A Grand Day Out at CBeebies Land, for £35!18/08/2017
We must’ve been mad but we took our littles ones (under 5s) to CBeebies Land at the height of the summer holidays, thankfully it turned out to be great fun and, more importantly, cheap! Loads of rides to check out, characters to meet and shows to see. We easily filled the day pottering around this colourful little corner of Alton Towers which did mean us grown-ups missed out on the thrill-rides but hey, who needs the Nemesis when you’ve got the Octonauts rollercoaster? Whoop Whoop!
Alton Towers is an expensive place to visit on a whim - £54 for adults, £48 for kids, while under 3s are free - so make sure to look out for deals well in advance. Thankfully there are always some about and you can save loads of money by booking online 5 days in advance which drops the price down to around £29 per adult. It’s also worth noting that online tickets get you in the park an hour early at 9am. Unfortunately you have to buy a ticket for Alton Towers to get into CBeebies Land and while it is fun, it ain’t £54 worth of fun. Get deal hunting!
You can save loads of money by booking online 5 days in advance
Back in June we collected a few vouchers from The Mail to get two adult tickets for £11 and also grabbed a Carex bottle which gave us a half price ticket for the 4-year old. With both of those offers it meant queuing up for tickets at the gate instead of printing off pre-booked ones and heading straight in, but even at 10:30am the queue was short. The Sun also do tokens to collect but they only give you deals on certain days. Cadburys and Kelloggs often do 2for1 deals on Alton Towers and other Merlin Entertainment places like Legoland and keep an eye on the Money Saving Expert Alton Towers vouchers page.
To sum-up, our 2-year old was free and we got two adults in for £11 and then the 4-year-old in for £22, a £35 bargain!
Unfortunately Alton Towers isn’t local for us so we made the trip while staying with family near Birmingham. I was surprised how out-of-the-way it is and by car it means driving through a lot of windy roads and country lanes depending on where your sat nav decides to take you - put in the post code ST10 4DB and hope for the best. We got a little tour of the lovely, but very hilly, Alton as we made our way to the park! You can also get the train to nearby Stoke-on-trent and bus it from there.
Once you get to Alton Towers you’ll be guided into one of their massive car parks - make sure you remember what letter you’re in - and then the best bet is to head over to the monorail next to Extraordinary Golf. There’s also a toilet there if you need it after a long drive. You can walk to the park but chances are you’ll be in the furthest car park away and it’s a 20-25 minute walk. We had to queue for the monorail for about that time but once you’re on it it’s just a few minutes to the ticket booths and gate. The monorail cars just about fit a pushchair in the central aisle and there are wide ramps to get up to it.
Remember you have to pay extra for parking, £6, which is a bit of a cheek. You can buy parking vouchers from machines at the park exit but these get busy near closing time. Top tip: pay for the parking when you buy your tickets and save hassle later!
Pay for the parking when you buy your tickets and save hassle later!
Once through the ticket barriers you’re on ‘Tower Street’ which is a boulevard of shops and restaurants - not quite as glam as Main St. USA in Disneyland Paris but does the job. At the bottom of that street you’ll see the lake and Alton Towers itself in the distance. Luckily CBeebies Land is at the end of Tower Street to the right so you don’t have to march too far and it’s away from the throng of thrill-seekers looking for Nemesis, Smiler, Oblivion and all that nonsense, give me Postman Pat’s delivery van any day of the week.
The various activities in CBeebies Land seem to be split into 3 areas: rides, interactive shows or little fun houses the kids can run around in. Nearly everything is suitable for all ages with a couple of the bigger rides having height restrictions. The rides are cool but we found the interactive shows got the best reaction from the kids who were able to get up close to characters they know and love.
Everything was well suited to little legs and we didn’t feel too exhausted getting around. The wait times were also sensible, the longest being an hour for the Octonauts rollercoaster, but queues got much shorter later in the afternoon. Most of the popular rides were about half an hour waits and sometimes you can get lucky with the interactive shows like The Furchester if you happen to be passing when one’s about to start. One of the biggest criticisms would be that it seemed slow to get people on and off the rides and keep queues moving, but then again safety checks are especially important after the Smiler tragedy and the Alton Towers staff seemed very thorough.
And yes, they blast out all the theme songs everywhere you go but at least there’s some variety, I still get a cold-shiver when I hear the Peppa Pig theme after it’s inescapable presence at Peppa Pig World.
Here’s a breakdown of what the kids enjoyed the most in a rough order of best to worst:
Octonauts Rollercoaster - A great introduction to this type of ride. It goes up a bit round a bit, and a friendly whale gives you a squirt of water, all with the whoop-whoop Octonauts sounds effects we all hate love. You even get to go round it twice which is probably why the queue is so slow. Our 4-year-old got a thrill out of it but older kids might find it a bit tame. There’s a 0.9m height restriction.
The Furchester Interactive Show - This is great fun, even though I find Furchester the most interminable CBeebies show. It’s a small building you go into and sit on the floor while Funella and other puppets appear at the check-in desk at the front of the theatre. They get the kids running and dancing about as they prepare for the arrival of a famous guest. Our little one got a little shock when the puppets first appeared but she was amazed by the whole thing. Big stars like Cookie Monster and Elmo only appear on-screen though - so you can’t hassle them for an autograph sadly.
Get Set Go Tree Top Adventure - You’ll see this one above your heads when you first go into CBeebies Land. It’s a track about 20ft up where little two-seater cars rattle around giving you a fantastic view of the park as you go through tunnels and spot the yellow CBeebies bugs. The branding is a little light-weight - I’m surprised they didn’t go all-in with another show rather than the forgettable yellow blobs - but it’s still a fun experience and the queue moves quickly.
Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride - I don’t really ‘get’ Go Jetters but it always seems fun and glossy while also trying to be educational. This brand new ride ticks all those boxes as it whirls you around with the catchy theme song pumping and geography FACTS blasting out. The ride itself is nothing new - it’s the same as Disney’s Dumbo except here it’s a four-seater Vroomster and the kids get to move it up and down with a joystick. There’s a 0.9m height restriction and we did try and get our 0.88m 2-year-old on it but the staff were hot on measuring kids before they got on. We also got a great photo op with the disco unicorn character outside the ride (I’m not Googling the name!).
Mr Bloom’s Allotment - I wasn’t expecting much from this but it turned out to be a fun little interactive show. You get a host doing their best Mr. Bloom accent while the man himself joins in via video link from his ‘holiday’. The kids start off out in the garden having to collect things to feed Compo then you get to go inside a big shed where a few of the veggie puppets come to life. Like The Furchester, it’s great to see the kid’s faces light up when they see the familiar characters.
Postman Pat Parcel Post - Finally, a character I know all about! It made me feel quite nostalgic being able to sit in Pat’s classic red van and do the rounds. I didn’t get to drive though, the kids made sure of that. Thankfully there were two steering wheels in the front so they got one each. There are also buttons to press when you go past certain points in Greendale to deliver the post. The scenery is a bit static but it was a pleasant jaunt. Although in the show Pat gets to drive helicopters and all sorts these days so I did feel a bit short-changed only getting the van.
Charlie and Lola’s Moonsquirters & Greendrops - A bit of a random assortment of things to do in typical Charlie and Lola fashion. There’s an area to dress them up using big magnetic pieces and then a little ball pit where the kids can put peas (green balls) into a pipe and then they rain down.
Tree Fu Tom Training Park - Yeah, it’s basically a big park but gives the kids an opportunity to run-off some energy if they’ve been standing in queues all day.
Nina’s Science Lab - A small-ish area where kids can don a lab coat and get hands-on with a few experiments. It’s nothing ground-breaking - guess objects in a box by touch, talk to each other through long pipes, texture walls - but it’s a decent distraction.
Justin’s House Pie-O-Matic Factory - This is a large set of Justin’s House which often has a long queue and has a height restriction of 0.9m. It’s a bit crazed, loads of kids running round trying to blast cherries (red balls) at each other while adults cower in the corner. It’s fun, but a bit manic for my liking.
In the Night Garden - This one sounds promising - a nice gentle cruise through the Night Garden - but it is a bit boring and the models you pass of all the characters are very static and have seen better days. Still, adrenalin-pumping thrills have never been the forte of Igglepiggle or Upsy Daisy so I guess it’s in keeping with the ponderous nature of the show.
Something Special Sensory Garden - This is little area to wander around with a few Makaton signs for kids to practice as they explore. There’s also a few patches of herbs and flowers for littles ones to smell. Overall it’s a bit bland and I expected more colour and interaction but it’s fine for a little stroll if you need to get away from the noise.
Numtums Number-go-round - Very dull. It’s just a big disc with little motorbikes stuck on that kids can sit on and go round. Basically a very boring merry-go-round. You have to be a die-hard Numtums fan to get anything out of this one!
With all those rides we definitely needed the occasional break! Luckily there’s the Big Fun Showtime area where there’s snack food and ice cream on offer and plenty of places to sit down and have a picnic. There’s also a stage where they have live-action performances featuring CBeebies heavy-hitters like Hey Duggee and Tree Fu Tom. Part of that area is under shade so it’s a good opportunity to take a breather and cool-off.
The shows themselves are short and high-energy with the characters getting kids up to do little jobs or find things. They put them on fairly frequently - we saw the Hey Duggee show twice - and they do character meet & greets after they’ve finished. There’s also a little tent near the stage where you can meet Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy and there never seemed to be a big queue for them - which is surprising given how much you have to pay for the privilege at the In the Night Garden Live Shows!
Over near Justin’s House is the Little Explorers Lunch Box if you want to sit inside. Understandably it is pretty expensive, around a fiver for a kid’s sandwich and meagre extras. As always, bring a picnic if you can and you can save your money for the massive merchandise shop opposite the Lunch Box. Every CBeebies character seemed to be accounted for, who knew there were Bing figures and playsets.
After the kids were thoroughly exhausted by the all of the above we meandered over to Alton Towers itself. The rides close at 6pm (which seems early given how long it takes to queue for the big rides at peak times) so the crowds start to thin out around 5. We made it to Cloud Cuckoo Land behind the old buildings and had a go on the classic merry-go-round (that’s how you do it Numtums). Then we got hungry and got some overpriced hotdogs to keep us going for the big queue to get back on the monorail.
The kids loved the day and there was plenty to keep them entertained. It would have been nice to meet more of the characters like Bing and the Zingzillas but I think they keep them hidden away at the CBeebies Hotel. I think the Hotel could be a fun extravagance but one day at CBeebies Land was enough to see it all. Mission accomplished Octonauts!