Grannies go free at Alton Towers in 2020 to celebrate the opening of the World of David Walliams
Staffordshire theme park Alton Towers has revealed that the star attraction of its soon-to-open World of David Walliams themed area will be Gangsta Granny: The Ride.
The world-first ride experience is inspired by Walliams’ biggest selling children’s novel Gangsta Granny.
Fans will also be able to stay overnight in one of four Gangsta Granny themed bedrooms in the Alton Towers Hotel.
Stay overnight in a Gangsta Granny room
We revealed last year that the World of David Walliams will be arriving at Alton Towers this Spring (2020) with a host of rides and attractions, bringing to life much-loved characters from the author’s children’s novels.
To celebrate the launch of Gangsta Granny: The Ride, Alton Towers is offering a new Grannies Go Free pass for 2020.
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, Gangsta Granny tells the story of Ben who discovers that his Granny is secretly an international jewel thief.
David Walliams works with Alton Towers on the new Gangsta Granny ride
Comedian, actor and best-selling author David Walliams OBE said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Gangsta Granny is becoming a ride at Alton Towers.
“I never imagined it would happen so it’s a real delight to see my characters brought to life in a ride.
“I’ve worked really closely with the team at Alton Towers to make sure the ride is just as funny and exciting as the book. I think children and their parents and even their grandparents are going to love it!”
The new 4D ride experience will see guests join the main characters as they attempt the greatest heist in the history of the world: to steal the Crown Jewels.
On-board a royal carriage, they will set off on a Crown Jewels tour only to be caught up in Ben and Granny’s adventure.
The ride will whizz, twist and spin passengers 360 degrees through a series of scenes where they will see, feel, hear and even smell an electrifying and unique retelling of the Gangsta Granny story.
Using state-of-the-art special effects, 3D projection-mapping and animation inspired by the artwork of Tony Ross, passengers will descend with Ben and Granny into the sewers, be chased through the streets of London and even come face to face with the Queen.
In other parts of the David Walliams area will be Raj’s Shop, a Royal Carousel, Raj’s Bouncy Bottom Burp and other surprises.
John Burton, Creative Lead for Alton Towers Resort, said: “David’s stories are full of witty characters, intrigue and exhilaration so it’s been a fantastic challenge to build all that into a new ride experience.
“It’s the first time we’ve attempted such a complex combination of a physical ride experience, high-tech special effects and brilliant story-telling to ensure guests feel they are with Granny and Ben on every step of their adventure.”
Alton Towers in Staffordshire, a member of the Merlin Entertainments family, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
It opens for 2020 on March 21.
The park says the new area will open in the Spring but has not given an official launch date yet.
Grannies (and Grandads) go free
Alton Towers is offering one free adult (aged 60 and over) ticket per full price child ticket when bought by March 20. The free tickets can be used during the 2020 season (March 21 to November 1, 2020). For full terms and conditions, go to www.altontowers.com/tandcs
Gangsta Granny-themed rooms
There are four themed rooms in the Alton Towers Hotel. They cost from £281.50, based on a family-of-four with bed and breakfast, book via altontowers.com
Gangsta Granny Facts
It was first published on 27th October 2011.
The anniversary edition was published in 2018.
Gangsta Granny was David’s first children’s number one bestseller.
It stayed at the top of The Sunday Times top ten for 24 weeks.
Overall sales of Gangsta Granny are 1.75 million in the UK alone.
Gangsta Granny has also been adapted for the stage by the Birmingham Stage Company.
A television adaptation was commissioned by the BBC in 2013 and first aired on BBC One on Boxing Day 2013. The cast includes Miranda Hart, Rob Brydon, David Walliams as Ben’s Dad and Joanna Lumley as The Queen. It is currently available to view on Netflix.
David closed 2019 as the UK’s biggest-selling author. His titles took three of the top 10 overall bestselling books of 2019 as well as the top three bestselling children’s books of the year.
He is one of the most influential children’s writers and has revolutionised reading for children.
Since the publication of his ground-breaking first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), global sales of his books have exceeded 37 million copies.
Across his titles, he has celebrated a total of 55 weeks at number one in the overall book charts and more than 150 weeks at number one in the children’s charts – more than any other children’s writer.
His most recent novel, The Beast of Buckingham Palace, was published in November 2019 and went straight to number one in in the overall industry bestseller charts where it remained for four weeks and included the coveted UK Christmas number one spot.
*For more information on Gangsta Granny: The Ride and other new attractions inspired by the books of David Walliams visit www.altontowers.com/Walliams.
We take our children to LEGOLAND theme park in Windsor and share our highlights and advice
What is it?
LEGOLAND Windsor is a theme park for children based around LEGO toy building bricks. It has more than 55 rides and attractions and opened in 1996 – the second LEGOLAND – the first was LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark – read our review of that here.
Where is it?
It is in Windsor, Berkshire in England.
* Lego Ninjago The Ride
This is an interactive 4D ride. You sit four to a vehicle, put on 3D glasses and travel around a series of screens to battle enemies. You fire at them by using ninja hand movements which are detected by sensors while also feeling blasts of air and heat. Your scores are in front of you so you can see who does the best.
It was a little scary for our four-year-old daughter but great fun for our older son.
The queues are long for this popular ride, which opened as part of Ninjago World! in 2017. You can cut down waiting time with the Reserve & Ride reservation system on this ride.
*Atlantis Submarine Voyage
This submarine ride to find the lost city of Atlantis was a highlight for our children and as it had one of the shortest queues, we did it twice in a row.
*The LEGO 4D Movie Theatre
We saw Lego Ninjago – Master of the 4th Dimension at this 4D cinema.
This is amazing for Ninjago fans, who can watch their favourite characters in stunning 3D while also getting the fourth dimension experience of being sprayed with water and fake snow and feeling the heat of fire (there are dry seats at the side for anyone who doesn’t want to get wet).
*LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display
This indoor display was a welcome bonus on a wet day. But it is also a great walk through the most famous scenes from Star Wars films, made from 1.5 million LEGO bricks.
Explore the world in LEGO form at Miniland with famous sites and monuments from different countries built of the small bricks.
Just the very fact that this is all about LEGO is such a thrill for children – they are at LEGOLAND, LEGO is everywhere you look and the shops are full of LEGO sets.
What did we think?
This theme park obviously has the wow factor for LEGO fans, who will be excited as soon as they know they are going to LEGOLAND.
On the downside, it is showing its age in places and the queues are long for some of the rides.
An outdoor Ninjago show
But it is otherwise perfectly pitched for young children. There are a good variety of attractions, shows and play areas and it is set in nice parkland.
Our top tips
*The rides open at 10am but the front of the park opens at 9.30am so to get a good parking space and be first at one of the more popular rides, get there early. You can kill time in the shop and look around Miniland but at 10am there is a stampede to the rides.
*Parking costs £6 and you can pay in advance. For an extra £6 you can secure priority parking nearer the entrance. We were there fairly early both days and managed to get good spots without the extra charge.
*The Reserve & Ride (formerly called Q-BOTS) ride reservation service save a lot of queuing time but is expensive. There are three options, we had the Express version and hardly had to wait at all on the rides where we used them. In the cold and rain when we went, this was a huge relief and a big bonus and the staff treat you like royalty (although there is definitely some guilt to be felt at skipping on ahead of others patiently waiting their turn). You use the system on your mobile phone and can only use it on one ride at a time. Read our full guide to it here: How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System
*Buggies can be left outside rides at the owner’s own risk.
*There are two hotels – LEGOLAND Resort Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, if you want to stay over on site, with themed rooms. They are very popular and very expensive. There are also lots of cheaper hotels in the area.
*Be aware that there is not much to do indoors if the weather is bad so be well prepared with umbrellas and waterproofs. When it is raining particularly hard or you need to dry off for a bit, aim for attractions like the LEGO 4D cinema, Star Wars display, X-BOX Gaming Zone and Atlantis Submarine Voyage. Some of the queues for the bigger, indoor rides are also undercover – like the Ninjago Ride and Laser Raiders. Umbrellas and rain ponchos can be bought. (There is also free sun cream available around the site which I thought was a great idea).
*Check out height restrictions so you don’t have disappointed children. Staff are very strict and always check – for lots of rides children have to be over 0.9 metres (with a parent) and 1.3 metres to go on alone.
*There are obviously lots of temping LEGO sets and other LEGO products you can buy from shops. You can pay for your purchases and collect later as the shops can get busy at the end of the day.
*Take swimming costumes if you plan to try out Splash Safari where toddlers can splash and enjoy water features and DUPLO-themed animals.
Don’t miss our article: LEGOLAND Windsor – our 10 top tips to get the most out of your visit
LEGOLAND Windsor Resort information
Food: Picnics are allowed but there aren’t many picnic spots and even less under cover, as we discovered on our first day, standing up to eat our sandwiches, huddled under a shelter.
There are various restaurants and food stalls around the park, but it is quite pricey. We had a nice pasta pot at one stall on our second day, which helped to warm us up.
Opening hours: Varies depending on the day and time of year.
Cost: Tickets bought in advance online are from £29 and from £53 if bought at the park. Children under 90cm go free.
Look out for two-for-one offers and other discounts, plus you can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers or a Merlin Annual Pass.
Annual passes are also available as well as prices for short breaks, staying at one of the two LEGOLAND hotels.
Best for: Children aged three/four (0.9 metres in height) to 10.
Time needed: A full day or more.
Access and restrictions: LEGOLAND has a lot in place for guests with additional needs. It is a hilly site but there is a hill train, which has a carriage for wheelchairs and buggies. There is a Ride Access Pass for those who struggle to queue, a Wheelchair Access Pass, so people in wheelchairs can access the rides, disabled toilets and a Changing Places facility. There is also a sensory space.
Address: LEGOLAND Windsor Park, Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY.
Book via the LEGOLAND website.