Roger Crow enjoys an overnight stay in the theme park's new affordable cabins and gives his verdict.
With a spectacular firework display and entertainment from a live band, Alton Towers recently launched their new Stargazing Pods. Designed to offer affordable family accommodation that's a lot more comfortable than camping,
the compact cabins also provide an opportunity for guests to study Staffordshire's night sky.
What are the new Stargazing Pods?
Ensuring fun and games extend way beyond the park's closing times, these on-site sleeping pods are the latest - and most economical - addition to the accommodation options available at Alton Towers.
There are 102 of the wooden domes, which sleep up to four (one double bed, two singles) and are equipped with modern amenities like USB ports and WIFI access. Both indoors and out, there's a celestial theme; study the night sky until bedtime, then fall asleep in a room decorated with stars.
What's it like to sleep under the stars?
Although small, the pods are cosy and extremely comfortable, with washroom and toilet facilities located close by. The pods are dotted around a green, where telescopes have been set up for aspiring Brian Coxes to learn the difference between Ursa Minor and Ursa Major - especially if they use an app and resort WiFi to give them a clue.
Do you get good grub?
On a daily basis, campers can visit all restaurants around the resort. The closest is The Crooked Spoon, which is next to the Enchanted Village - although booking is advised. Breakfast (included in the price) is provided near the Stargazing Pods' reception area. There's a hot sausage or bacon roll for meat eaters, while vegetarians can go for a version with cheese, egg and mushroom. Coffees and teas are also included.
What else can you do in the park?
The Stargazing Pods' overnight fee includes a free nine-hole round of Extraordinary Golf, and a free second day in the park with early access to selected rides and attractions. Catch the monorail for a wealth of attractions, ranging from CBeebies Land for the youngsters to more intense rides for teens and above. Oblivion, Nemesis, The Smiler, Wicker Man and Galactica are musts for hardcore riders. If you prefer something less intense try The Blade, a swing boat ride which is stomach-churning but great fun.
How to get there
The Stargazing Pods are priced from £88 for up to four people (off peak) and £123 (peak). Visit altontowers.com.