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Wickness Towers - A Desperate UK Cred Trip

JoshC.

Giga Poster
We all know the story. Covid has made international travel near-difficult to impossible, depending on the country and time of year. So out of a need to get creds, a UK trip was in order.

It's funny, I've never actually done a UK cred run trip before. I've managed to do most of the major British parks, but one which hadn't been ticked off yet was Fantasy Island. It's never been high up on my list, mostly because I'm really not a fan of seaside resorts or parks in general. But you know, needs must. Padding the trip out a bit meant we also added in Wicksteed Park and Alton Towers either side of a trip to Skegness, which would include further trips to nearby places to pick up a few more creds on the cheap. So it's not much, but it's something I guess...

Day 1 - Wicksteed Park
Setting off around 8am from Surrey, we got to the park at 10am. We didn't know what to expect in terms of busyness or anything, and the website was very...uninformative. But of course, we needn't have worried - the park wasn't that busy, and we were able to pick up our wristbands easy peasy.

Like many, the first time - and main reason - I heard of Wicksteed was because of their old Waterchute attraction. Not knowing where exactly it was in the vast land of the park, we headed towards the in-sight Thrill Zone where, you guessed it, the park's more thrilling rides are. With the masses (if you can call it that) heading to the park's headline coaster, we went to the park's log flume, Rocky River Falls:
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For a simple log flume, it was quite fun; couple of nice effects and a suitable level of wetness too.

Next up was the park's headline coaster, Dinosaur Valley:
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Bog standard Pinfari which has been rethemed recently to include the dinosaur figure and boards. Surprisingly, it was running all 3 trains, which meant despite the earlier influx, it was walk on.
Profiling on the drops was a bit awful...felt like it has been designed with set squares. Made the ride pretty much not re-rideable.

With that done, we ticked off the park's dodgems (which had a strict no bumping rule which everyone was pushing the bounds of) and Ladybird Coaster (a small Zierer Tivoli). We then went to the park's new for 2021 ride, Galaxy Invaders:
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It's a tacky-looking, spinning, swinging...thing from SBF. I don't like those sort of rides, so unsurprisingly I didn't like it. The setting was incredibly long, a good 3+ minutes, which didn't help either.

A quick ride on the Paratroopers and we set our sights towards the Waterchute. We found our way over to it, but sadly it was closed because of a plumbing problem. A bit more wandering, a quick trip on the car ride, we found our way to the park's old fashioned train ride. Was a very nice, long circuit which gives great views of the land around the park.

A quick bite to eat (cheesey chips, which was some decent fries with some unmelted, pre-grated cheesed unceremoniously bunged on top), and we headed over to the park's final coaster, Clown Coaster. But tragedy struck...
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It was closed!
We were warned that the roller coasters may shut because of the weather when we picked up our wristbands, and because of the rain earlier, the track was classed as too wet. Other two creds had been fine, but this one was not.

With the weather dry and improving, we held out hope that things would be okay. We killed some time doing the indoor slides (featuring my first vertical drop slide, which was fun and slightly nerve-wracking in equal measures), the high ropes course and spending some time in the animal enclosures. Everything included in our wristband of course, but it was worrying to see the ticket prices of some of these attractions...especially the Meerkat enclosure, which one could walk through in 15 seconds. Obviously the pricing is there to push the wristbands, but still.

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Polly wanted a cracker; I wanted a cred.

After we had killed this time, Clown Coaster was open and ready for us. One ride (and interaction with an incredibly enthusiastic staff member) later, we had all 3 creds ticked off!

But there was still a problem...that damn Waterchute! We trekked back to the other side of the park, and the mysterious plumbing problem had been fixed, and the ride was open!
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Sadly it was hard to get a good angle of the ride :(

It was a fun little ride, made slightly more special by its age and history. Nice to have it under one's belt and all that.

This bought us to about 3pm, and that stretched out the day enough. As such, it was time to go and make our way to Peterborough, which was the rough halfway point between Wicksteed and Skegness.

So, final thoughts!
Wicksteed was a nice enough park and the location really is lovely and quaint. We stretched the day out much more than necessary, in part because we just wanted a calm day, and in part because there's not any other decent cred pick ups nearby (which don't require kids to get). The rides are bang average, but hey, it was a +3.
As for stuff related to Covid: there was hand sanitiser about, and mask wearing was recommended in all indoor places. Majority of people were pretty good with it.


After arriving in Peterborough, we still had some extra things planned. We found an indoor, UV lit golf course, which weirdly had 15 holes, and was a bit meh (and a little on the expensive side). More excitingly, we had an escape room booked at Escape Peterborough: The Cabin. It sounded like it was going to be a slightly dark / scary room, but it was fairly standard and had no horror element to it. Room itself had some good puzzles and looked pretty nice, but was let down by the fact it had no audio, creating a very dull and lifeless atmosphere.
In any case, we escaped with 6 minutes and 58 seconds, which was good...but in hindsight, probably should have got out with closer to 15 minutes left!
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And so that bought an end to Day 1! Coming soon: Skegness, and parks filled with tat and rubbish...Yay?
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Great report @JoshC.! (Sorry about my lateness in commenting, by the way!)

Wicksteed looks like quite a charming little park, actually, in spite of there not being too much there! I’ll be intrigued to hear your thoughts from Fantasy Island and Alton Towers, as they have the brunt of the significant coasters of your trip by the looks of things! (No disrespect to Wicksteed, but the other two have much larger scale coaster selections)
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
So I didn't quite plan to wait almost 3 weeks between entries, but between various pieces of technology dying on me, uni work piling up and work being hectic, this slipped down the priority list. I do hope no one ha chewed their fingernails off waiting in anticipation for my views on Skegness...

After an early start in Peterborough, we made the trek down (or is it up? sideways I guess...) to the not-so-wonderful coast. The plan for the day was to start off in Fantasy Island and see how long we would spend there. I was the only one in the group to have never visited before, so getting all the creds was obviously the bare minimum. But also I had been told about some of the weird and wonderful stuff inside "the pyramid", so that had to be considered also. After that, assuming we had time, we would make our way to Bottons (a lovely +4) and, if we has even more time, Dunes (a cheeky +2). It meant some doubling back, but not the end of the world. A shout out to @Hixee for some helpful advice, especially about parking, pre-trip too!

Fantasy Island
Thanks to traffic not being a nightmare, we arrived with plenty of time pre-opening. I quite liked the mess of track one could see from where we parked...
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Waiting for the ticket booths to open to collect wristbands, we wandered round the park and took in the atmosphere. And instantly I knew that, regardless of the rides, I wouldn't like Fantasy Island. This was no surprise, as I'm not a fan of seaside resorts anyway, but the tight pathways, buzzing marketplace and general vibe is just not really my thing. So yeah, I felt justified in waiting so long to visit.

Odyssey
First ride of the day. Like any sane enthusiast, I don't like SLCs, but I did tolerate Kumali at Flamingo Land, so was hoping that another custom one would be fine. And you know what, it was tolerable. The first half of the ride was enjoyable, and actually pretty good. The second half is where the SLC-ness comes in. Head banging, uncomfortableness and just generally not that enjoyable.

So a ride of two halves. It's something I would ride again, but not something I would ride multiple times in one day.

Spinning Racer
I *think* this is the first time I've done one of these standard layout Maurers. I quite liked it. Fun layout, nice pops throughout. Only downside is it didn't spin quite that much. We usually have the weight distribution on spinners sorted pretty well, so whether this is weird and we were unlucky or if that's by design I dunno.

It was at this point that we ventured into...The Pyramid. Many strange and mythical things lie in this pyramid, but seemingly none of the new stuff for this year was open. One thing looked like a Robo Arm. The other thing I dunno. I lost track of things in there.

The Pyramid itself was of two halves. The bit with the rides and stuff is pretty cool; decently themed and feels very polished. It wouldn't feel out of place at Toverland a few years back for example. The other half is basically an arcade, and is not fun.

Anyways, in The Pyramid (I feel like that phrase should have it's own themed sound bit the amount of times I'm saying it), we did the balloon ride (fine), Toucan Tours (cute), water slide (needs more dingys) and Seaquarium (of which 3 adults in one boat apparently causes almost-sinking, hilariously). Then it was time for, cue Robbie Williams....

Millennium
This had a long-ish wait, well, longer than it should have been, and the loading procedure wasn't helped by offcoming riders having to cross in front of the queue. Much faff.

I was told by the other two people in the group that Millennium was "one of the smoothest Vekomas" out there, including new-Vekoma stuff. Very much a believe-it-when-I-see-it jobby. But, you know what, I agree with that. It's bloody smooth, Surprisingly smooth. I don't get how it's so smooth smooth. Makes no sense really.

The ride itself was fun, but nothing special. The smoothness is great, but equally it's not very forceful, and with no airtime either, it's a tad on the forgettable side. But given it didn't beat my head to a bloody pulp, it's a win in my books.

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On a dreary-looking day, in dreary Skegness, stood a couple of dreary Vekoma, captured by my dreary photography skills

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A view of...The Pyramid *cue dramatic music bit*

After Millennium, we found ourselves outside the park's mini golf course, Lava Creek Adventure Golf. Since it's included in the wristband, we gave it a crack whilst not many people were doing it (and because we were making good time). It's a decent little circuit, very nicely styled and cleverly laid out over two levels. I was terrible at it though, so therefore it was a terrible mini golf course... ;)

With stomachs grumbling, and the food places on park looking both very busy (suddenly) and not that appetising, we went across the road from the park to the Spar supermarket to pick up food. I'm sure that place must make a ton of money too..

With that, we joined the queue for...

Rhombus Rocket
And oh boy was it a long queue. And a reasonably slow moving queue. I can't remember how long we queued for it, but it was the longest wait of the day. The cred itself was decent for a powered cred though; nice layout.

The park was getting exponentially busier now, and with heaving queues for many of the flat rides (not that we were going to do them anyway) and log flume (which I'd've liked to have done, but equally knew it was nothing special), it felt like our time was coming to an end. We went back to the other side of the park and quickly nabbed the Wacky Worm, fortunately with no queue, to complete the creds. And that bought an end to the 3 and a bit hours spent at Fantasy Island.

Final Thoughts
Mysterious, not-open new-for-2021 rides in _The Pyramid_ and log flume aside, I got everything done I wanted to at Fantasy Island. The creds were fine, the other rides were nice. But yeah, I have no desire to return to the park, even for their decent-sounding Halloween event. It's no surprise to me either, as I didn't expect to like the park itself in any way. So maybe I didn't give the park a chance? But in any case, not for me. Thanks for the +5.

And final point: Covid measures. What Covid measures? Yes, all restrictions had been lifted for almost a month by my visit. But no sort of distancing, mask wearing or anything. Surprised I didn't catch the blasted virus tbh (thank you vaccine I guess!).


With that done so early on, getting the +6 from the remaining two places seemed little more than a formality now. After a nice quick drive, and finding cheap parking reasonably quickly, we arrived at...

Bottons Pleasure Beach
Fun fact: Either I mis-typed or my new laptop autocorrected this originally to Bottom Pleasure Beach. heh

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We're now in pure cred run territory. Bottons was busy, of course, but nothing major. Tokens collected, we went straight to the spinning wild mouse, which is on top of a building.
It's weird how - as a general rule of thumb - I like spinning roller coasters from the likes of Maurer, but hate the spinning wild mice rides. I guess it's partially to do with the seating configuration? But then I absolutely loved the one at Bagatelle a few years back, and that spun like crazy. I can't quite explain it. In any case, I didn't like this one.

The adjacent Wacky Worm was next. I had to ride solo, which caused...some embarrassment.
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Oh well, goon achievement unlocked I guess?

Next up was the one of its kind Runaway Train, which provided some nice laterals.

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That was JoshC. approved.

Annnd finally Queen Bee, which distinctly felt like an inverted Wacky Worm. And was also on top of a building. I admire this place's creativity if nothing else.

With some tokens spare (it worked out cheaper, and quicker, for us to get token bundles than wristbands), we ventured into the Ghost Train, which looked pretty cool on the outside:
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Well, at least as "pretty cool" as a tacky Ghost Train by the seaside can do from the outside.

Spoilers though:
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It was not.

And so completed our foray to Bottons.
Final Thoughts
Cred run, quick +4. Covid measures non-existent.
There's also a set of escape rooms in the entertainment centre adjacent to Bottons, from the same company of the one we did in Peterborough. It's called Escape Skegness (which, tbh, was the thoughts I'd been having more-or-less since arriving). We were actually planning on doing one of their rooms, before we found the one in Peterborough. I'm glad we chose not to one here so it meant we could keep the cred run flowing.

A slightly longer, double-backed drive later meant we ended up at our final destination:

Dunes Leisure
If Bottons was a cred run, this was designed to be more of a cred sprint. A Wacky Worm and a Miner Mike. To be fair though, this turned out to be a nice laugh. The Wacky Worm train was basically filled with adults thanks to a large birthday group joining our train, meaning it was sent round several times and the operator had a lot of fun with it all. And Miner Mike was a nice little surprise as I didn't realise these things went backwards as well as forwards. And they pick up some nice speed.

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Miner Mike - better than a Go Gator

With the cred sprint done, we were tempted by one more ride...An even tackier on the outside looking Ghost Train:
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OooOoOooO, spooky

But funnily enough, there must be some inverse correlation with exterior look and interior quality with Ghost Trains in Skegness, as this was decent. Some loud noises, tight turns, good use of mirrors, and the operator giving a jump scare as the car returns to daylight, this was well worth hoping on.

Final Thoughts
This cred sprint ended up being very pleasant. Really nice staff around here, relaxed atmosphere (though still busy an not very Covid great), but overall pleasant and fun. Glad we made it.



And so that brings my time in Skegness to an end, hopefully for a long time. I've got the creds and there's little reason for me to return any time soon. Glad to have ticked off some of the bigger UK creds that I needed, so successful trip in that sense.
A not-so-short drive to Nottingham, which served as our stop gap before Towers, and a terrible meal at The Harvester there brought an end to Day 2.

Coming soon (and hopefully I mean that!), a trip to Alton Towers, and some bonus ramblings about other small days out I did this summer when I *probably* should have been trying to finish my PhD instead...
 
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JoshC.

Giga Poster
And let's move onto the final day of this desperate road trip...

Alton Towers
I usually make at least one visit a year to Towers, and I've done a trip report on here in the past. So I'll keep this brief and restrict to some newer stuff...

Dark Forest was the first port of call. Though neither of the coasters opened until 10.30, which was annoying. I am a fan of both Rita (which is like a mini, baby Taron) and Th13teen (despite a mediocre outside section, the whole presentation is great). We then made our way to the new area...

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David Walliams World

It's bright and colourful, and all pretty basic. For an area which is aimed at families with slightly older kids, the rides line up for the land is a little lacking in my opinion. In any case, we started with the temporary attraction, Flavio's Fantastic Fandango. It's a Twister ride, but runs quite slowly. I don't like spinny rides, but I managed to ride it and not feel terrible afterwards.

Gangsta Granny: The Ride
The big new ride for the area. It's a simple set up of a ride; cars moving around slowly and stopping at individual scenes. There's a simple to follow story and some simple special effects. But it doesn't have the extra oompf for me. It's missing something. That's not to say that every ride has to be something special and break the trend. But it just feels a bit...I don't know, meh?
I'm sure it hits the spot for others, but for me? nah.

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I do like this painting in the queue line of the Towers though

After all of this, it was time for lunch. Went to Woodcutters for the first ever time; food was simple, well priced and nice. Would recommend.

Following that, it was gone 2pm. Yep, 4 hours spent at Dark Forest and Walliams World, which says a lot about how busy the park was. So, naturally, it was time to go to the busiest part of the park, X-Sector...

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I don't ride the incredibly rough and uncomfortable Smiler. But I enjoy taking photos of it all the same.

The park were running their 'Ultimate Summer of Fun' event, which included lots of festivities on the front lawn. We enjoyed some food and drink round there, and part of the fun meant that staff were doing random acts of kindness. This meant that we were each given...
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A free Fastrack!

A prompt ride on Wicker Man with the free Fastrack followed. I'm not a big fan of this, but the ride was better than many others I had. Still not great, but not terrible. So yay, that's something?

The park had quietened down now, meaning that quick rides could follow. The last couple of hours saw us ride Duel, and two rides on Nemesis and Galactica. Everyone knows of Nemesis' quality, and I think Galactica, whilst fairly standard, is a decent part of the Towers line up.

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Plus Nemesis is properly photogenic innit?

And so brought a close to a long and busy, but overall productive day at Alton Towers.

Trip Overview
New parks: 4
New creds: 14
Best new cred: Errrrrrrrrrrrrrr, Spinning Racer I guess
Best new park: Not really worth saying
Highlight: Free Fastrack is alright I guess
Lowlight: The terrible food and service at The Harvester. Closely followed by Skegness.

Thanks for rea-but wait, there's more!

Forgive me for banging on in a long post, but as promised, here's
some bonus ramblings about other small days out I did this summer when I *probably* should have been trying to finish my PhD instead...

So a short while after my trip to Towers, I returned back up to Towers with my Mum and 6 year old little brother. Little brother had turned 1.2m this year, meaning that Towers had a lot to offer him, especially with the Retrosquad rides.

Th13teen
I was a bit worried about how my brother would react to Th13teen's secret surprise. But he absolutely loved it. He enjoyed the outdoor section, and the creepy nature of Dark Forest too. Fantastic result.
Wicker Man
I remember when I first did Wicker Man and thinking that the pre show was a complete mismatch for the younger side of the target audience. It is incredibly loud and dark in nature. I still stand by that notion, but with the pre show not running (because of Covid), I didn't get a chance to test that theory. On that note, I also hope the pre show doesn't return as without it, the operations are markedly improved.

Anyway, my brother loved Wicker Man. Liked absolutely loved every second of it. To the point he was very happy to queue an hour again to re-ride it. It's annoying how he loves a ride I'm not a fan of. But yeah, maybe that says how I don't have my finger on the pulse and that I'm a jaded enthusiast he doesn't like good things when they're put in front of me?

But yeah, a 10/10 from little brother.

Retrosquad
This was my first time on the Retrosquad rides. As I've said a million times, I don't like rides that spin, so I never expected to like any of these.
Roller Disco
Based in Dark Forest, this is a Waltzer which doesn't run that fast. I didn't like it. My Mum and brother did, and did it twice.
Mixtape
Based in X Sector, this is one of those weird spinning, jumping, twisting flat rides. It spun a lot, had uncomfortable restraints and I bashed my head a bit. No one liked it.
Funk n Fly
Based in Forbidden Valley, this is a Paratrooper like ride. It was the one I hated least of the three, but I still did not enjoy. Little brother did enjoy a fair amount. No reride for him on this though, thank you very much.

So yeah, not the rides for me. It will be very interesting to see what their plan is going forward. I can't imagine what the park will be like losing the 3 Retrosquad rides, plus the twist in Walliams World, plus Enterprise being on its last legs too. In other words, the park needs new, permanent flat rides, and quick.


Annnnnnd one final thing from my own 'Ultimate Summer of Fun' (though, given it's the UK and in Covid times, 'fun' is very much in inverted commas here). I also made a day out of going to, of all places, Essex, and doing a set of 4 escape rooms. Room Lockdown Romford is a quartet (soon to be quintet) of horror themed escape rooms, and I went with a subset of other people who have done a fair few rooms each. This meant that we smashed all 4 rooms out of park in terms of times...
Job Interview. Themed around a job interview where the recruiters want the kill you. Escaped with 13m 40s.
Captured. A psychopath has captured you, leaving you chained up and blindfolded and you have to escape. Escaped with 9m 48s left.
CineScream. You start watching a horror film, but then the cinema goes to black and you have to find a way out. Escaped with 4m 19s left.
Roots of Evil. A creepy house is hiding many demonic secrets. Escaped with 10m 41s.

CineScream in particular was fantastic; the rooms starts with showing an actual short horror film (before your 60mins starts), and features live actors coming into the room (who, admittedly, overstay their welcome slightly). Roots of Evil was also brilliant, and we were about 30 seconds short of setting the record for escaping. So frustrating, but also a nice little ego boost!

So yeah, if you ever end up round Essex, or if you fancy doing a decent horror themed escape room, Room Lockdown Romford is definitely somewhere to go!

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Annnnnnnnd that now does bring an end to this rambling finish of a trip report. Back to deep realms of work I go...until I get distracted by Halloween...
 
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