Toyland Tours (Alton Towers)
The following review will go into explicit detail regarding the attraction and the surprises it may conceal. If you choose to read on, be warned that it may detract from your first ride on the attraction.
years before Cred Street and the Land of Make Believe ever ebbed their way into
Alton Towers, Talbot Street was one of the most popular and bustling areas of
the park. At the end of this street, Around the World in 80 Days, and whilst it
was hardly frequented by the masses, was an animatronic frenzy around the world
featuring mummies from Egypt and adorable fluffy seals from the Arctic.
on one side of the park a savage monster was ripping holes in the ground and
tossing riders through it’s contorted circuit (going, of course, under the
guise of Nemesis), Talbot Street became the Land of Make Believe, and Around the
World in 80 Days became Toyland Tours.
transformation was spectacular – from the outside, the drab exterior was no
longer an inconspicuous subtle façade, but instead a brightly coloured
entrance, fronted by colourful porches and arches. The transformation inside too
was rather spectacular, with the theme being that of a magical toy factory.
the same boats were used, that is where the parallels end. Through the door, you
climb some stairs that take you aboard the deep red and gold hull of the S. S.
Toyland Tours. As you cross this ship, the cloudy walls proclaim that ‘ideas
make toys – toys make presents – presents make parties’. You cross the
ship and go down some stairs beneath its bridge before you walk onto the
platform that loads just one boat at a time.
station really is fantastic, with the paddle steamer that you cross to get onto
the platform and a huge six-foot teddy bear being lifted from a box with a
gathering of brightly coloured balloons.
make toys; your boat rolls from the conveyor and into the water before you pass
a bubbling tank of brightly coloured liquid, so named the Thinking Tank. Above
it thought bubbles echo some of the ideas this contraption has come up with –
opposite, a prototype ‘Elecopter’, a giant pink elephant with ‘chopper
rotors upon it’s cap. Above it, the thought bubble declares that this is an
idea that ‘will never take off’.
continue to pass madcap ideas, such as bouncy castles (bouncy castles on
trampolines, obviously), a Snailetrix (race track for snails, many running on
‘lead-free slime') and stripy paint.
a batches of stripy green and yellow balls undulate through a zany contrivance,
you are duly informed about the balls – each sign says either ‘balls up’,
‘balls in’ or ‘balls out’. This kind of humour is enough to make any
adult smirk, and goes way above the heads of those young enough to be corrupted.
teddy stuffing department will soon pass on your right hand side, teddy bears
are told to keep their mouths shut, those who habitually don’t have stuffing
pouring from their maws. A giant robot watches over proceedings, a television
screen set into his bulbous blue stomach shows the prevailing boat of riders as
they enter the next room.
you go beyond the dolly mixtures, in the truest sense with every part of their
bodies a different garish colour, you go into the bathroom, where you are
surrounded by thousands of bubbles, plastic ducks and fountains jumping over
your head. You soon go between two columns of water pouring from the taps into
the poorest and most unbefitting part of the ride.
Sega room has a huge console to your left and standing proud on this rather
outmoded machine under a monitor is the ever-endearing Sonic the Hedgehog. On
screens around the darkened room between golden hoops are snippets of Sonic and
his computer capers.
make presents; the Toyland Express train chuffs past, fully laden, with a teddy
bear in the front engine, pulling carriages piled high with party presents and
gifts. Geronimo Giraffe pulls on a ribbon on another present as you pass under a
castle archway from which toy soldiers play fanfare.
make parties; the grand finale of this inimitable voyage is the grand party. As
lights flash and mirror balls turn a band of cats play music as your boat sails
by a huge jelly (by huge we’re talking about 20 feet tall here) with a mermaid
wobbling upon the top.
isn’t really much substance to the final scene other than the over-use of
glitter as well as gaudy, clashing colour schemes. As you pass a huge spinning
turntable of butterfly cakes (remember them?!) and fairy cakes, you go under a
collapsing tunnel of candy canes before the boats queue up for the station under
the shadow of a dancing hippo in a sequin dress upon a fairy cake. Attention is
drawn to the continually swinging chest of this ‘lady’.
ride follows on from the despicably popular Bubbleworks, a ride that has
received almost universal praise. Both the Bubbleworks and Alton Towers’
Haunted House were done by outside companies, the theming on Toyland Tours,
though, was done in-house (virtually) by the Tussauds Studio.
is fair to say that on the whole the theming inside is fantastic. It is a very
colourful ride, and seems to have been looked after very well, whereas parts of
the Bubbleworks are showing their age.
ride is tucked away in the middle of nowhere though. This means that very few
people ride it, and in fact the whole of Cred Street is very baron, a lost
opportunity, and something the park seem to have picked up on due to a new look
virtually every year (Nicklodeon, Barny, Land of Make Believe… the list goes
are a few facets that mean the ride is far inferior to the Bubbleworks; the
finale is an anti-climax and, incongruously, the one of the most disappointing
parts of the ride. The Sega part is also completely incongruous parts of the
ride. The story is that ideas make toys (covered by the not so droll think
tank), toys make presents (the scenes following) and that presents make parties
(the ‘finale’). The Sega section seems to be a palpable plug for Sega, and
to a less annoying extent, the bath section seems to break away from the
consistency that the rest of the ride works for.
As a family ride, Toyland Tours seems to set the balance right, and is still an interesting ride whatever your age. It just lacks the finale and homogeny that the older Bubbleworks seems to have set the president for.
3/5 Marcus Sheen