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Alton Towers reverses decision on staggered opening times after backlash from thrill-seekers

The plans would have seen major rides in the Forbidden Valley remain closed until noon

Trailer for Alton Towers' new ride

Thrill-seekers will be able to make the most of all the rides at Alton Towers from 11am after bosses did a U-turn on a decision to stagger its opening times.

The Staffordshire theme park was facing an angry backlash after it released its opening times for the new 2018 season earlier this week, which revealed that top white knuckle rides would be opening at staggered times throughout the day.

The plans saw some popular ride zones – including the Forbidden Valley which includes rollercoaster Nemesis, Ripsaw and Galactica – set to open as late as noon.

Alton Towers will no longer stagger its opening times

Under the plans, The Smiler and Oblivion would have opened at 11am while the skyride would only have started operating from 11.30am.

Customers had taken to social media to vent their anger over the proposed hours which they feared could have led to longer queues.

Now bosses at the park have announced all areas will be open by 11am at the latest.

The U-turn has been welcomed by regular vistors.

Jessica Packman, 24, said: "It would have been a really bad idea. Alton Towers charges a lot of money to access the park so you should be able to get on the rides all day from the time it opens to the time it closes.

"I don't see the benefit of the rides opening at different times.

The Wicker Man is due to open in Spring(Image: Alton Towers Resort)

"It would have caused a lot of aggravation from customers - especially ones who may not be aware of the changes and travelled far to visit the park."

Christopher Mountford regularly visits Alton Towers as a member of Staffordshire University's Theme Park Society.

The 27-year-old, from Stoke, said: "It's good to hear that the park is certainly taking the feedback of the guests and followers on board.

"People love the place, and understandably want to make the most of their day out. People ultimately want the place to succeed and would have most likely have voiced their disappointment in a supportive way, but hopefully they will not be discouraged by this."

Alton Towers will open for the new season on Saturday, March 17, with its latest £16 million ride, the Wicker Man, set to draw in thousands of visitors.

On its updated opening hours, park bosses said: "The theme park opens to all other guests from 10am with over half our rides available, with all other rides and attractions to be open by 11am at the latest every day.

"Park open and close hours will always be flexible to ensure we can give our guests great experiences – if the park is busy we'll always do our best to stay open."

The Burton Mail's sister paper, The Sentinel, asked Alton Towers for a statement on why it had planned to stagger the opening of rides but it declined to comment.

When was everything scheduled to open?

Under the now abandoned plans the rides were set to open as follows:

9am: Monorail to the entrance to the park

9.30am: (Early ride time: For hotel guests and Merlin Annual Pass holders only): Wicker Man, Spinball Whizzer and a selection of rides in CBeebies Land; Postman Pat Parcel Post, Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride, Justin's Pie-O-Matic Factory, In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Something Special: Sensory Garden and Numtums Number-Go-Round.

10am: CBeebies Land and thrill seekers can head to X-Sector for The Smiler, Oblivion & Enterprise in X-Sector with Marauder's Mayhem and Heave Ho! in Mutiny Bay also open.

11am: The Smiler, Oblivion and Enterprise in X-Sector with Marauder's Mayhem and Heave Ho! in Mutiny Bay also open. Selected rides and attractions opening later include:- Dark Forest, Cloud Cuckoo Land, Sharkbait Reef by SEA LIFE, Battle Galleons, Runaway Mine Train and Hex

11.30am: The Skyride

Noon: Forbidden Valley, Duel and Congo River Rapids

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