England's largest theme park offers 500 acres of attractions and rides well spaced out in pretty parkland surrounding a stately old mansion. This Staffordshire gargantuan is an ideal day out for all ages, offering everything from famous rollercoasters for thrill-seekers to CBeebies Land for younger guests.

You can also book a short family break at one of the UK's best-loved theme parks - there's on-site accommodation including the water-themed Splash Landings Hotel, the CBeebies Land Hotel and the Enchanted Village with its luxury treehouses and woodland lodges. 

See our feature on a family weekend break at Alton Towers.

Best for: All ages

Location

Alton Towers Resort

What to expect

Cafe/restaurant
Connecting rooms
Family rooms
Indoor pool
On-site shop
Picnic areas
Seasonal opening
Spa

What to do

Alton Towers has its pick of headline-hitting exhilarating rides, but there are also plenty that aren't nearly as scary, and lots perfect for those with younger children.

With thrill-seekers head for:

Galactica, The Smiler, Th13teen, Nemesis and Nemesis Sub-terra, Oblivion, Rita - Queen of Speed, The Blade, Ripsaw, Enterprise.

Take the whole family to try out:

Runaway Mine Train, Sonic Spinball, Congo River Rapids, The Flume, Duel - The Haunted House Strikes Back (ghost train where you can shoot the ghosts!), Haunted Hollow, Hex - The Legend of the Towers, Tea Cup Ride, UG Swinger, Ice Age - The 4D Experience, Sharkbait Reef by Sea Life, Extraordinary Golf, Live Shows, Tree-top Quest, Waterpark.

With young children, don't miss:

CBeebies Land, Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, Peugeot Driving School, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Ride, Berry Bish Bash, Bouncing Bugs, Frog Hopper, Galloper's Carousel, Old MacDonald's Farmyard (check out 'There's something in the dung heap'!), Doodle Doo Derby, Old MacDonald's Tractor Ride, Old MacDonald's Singing Barn, Riverbank Eye Spy.

Note that some rides have height and girth restrictions - see the signs at the entrances to individual rides.

Visit 'Guest Services' for information on 'Parent Queue Share passes' and to get free ID wristbands for the kids, giving you a little extra peace of mind.

CBeebies Land Meet and Greet.© Alton Towers

CBeebies Land Meet and Greet.

Where to stay

The resort itself has three hotels – Splash Landings HotelAlton Towers Hotel and CBeebies Land Hotel - plus a collection of luxury treehouses and woodland lodges in The Enchanted Village. Family deals are usually on offer, comprising hotel and ticket packages.

When

Open late March–early Nov, generally from 9.30am to between 4pm and 7pm, according to season. Get there early to avoid traffic and lengthy queues. Leave the 'big ones' until last to avoid the queues (it's the queues, not the rides, that shut at closing time, giving you a bit of extra time), or invest in Fasttrack passes.

Ice Age The 4D Experience.© Alton Towers

Ice Age The 4D Experience.

Octonauts ride.© Alton Towers

Octonauts ride.

Eat

There's a huge choice of on-site restaurants and food outlets, plus picnic areas, including the Rollercoaster Restaurant where you can dine below a rollercoaster track and watch your food loop-the-loop before arriving at your table (advance reservations recommended).

Competition of the week

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Cost

Expect to pay around £135 on a day out for a family of four. Savings may be available if you book in advance online, and there are two-day ticket discounts and short breaks including hotel accommodation.