As a general rule I usually wait until we are home to write up what we’re up to but considering I’ve been awake on and off since 1am we’ll start and see how far we get!
So we’re away this weekend at Alton Towers for Toby’s birthday. We don’t really do presents (that you can open) as Toby isn’t really interested in toys and finds new things challenging so we tend to go away instead as he enjoys adventures.
I had an email a few months back from Alton Towers offering us a half price mini break and having visited the park with Toby a couple of times in the past I decided to price it up. I can’t remember the exact figure but we got two nights hotel stay in the Splash Landings hotel (waterpark), two day’s worth of theme park tickets and breakfast for a very good price and decided to go for it.
We left home just after 7:30am yesterday morning and arrived just before 11am. It would have been earlier if he hadn’t had to stop three times or got stuck behind two double decker buses of school children on a trip to Alton Towers down lots of narrow country roads. Anyway the boys did well in the car.
As soon as we arrived in the car park Toby started clapping because he knew exactly where he was. We were here just over a year ago but he remembered it and was very excited to be back.
We headed straight for guest services to get a Ride Assess Pass (RAP) for Toby as he doesn’t understand the concept of queuing and becomes very distressed in big groups of people. Many attractions offer RAPs for people with disabilities and it makes such a difference – I don’t think we would be able to visit somewhere like Alton Towers without one. You do need certain criteria and documents and there’s an SEN guide online which tells you all about it.
So Joel wore a wristband on Toby’s behalf and we were given a card to be signed by the ride staff. So instead of going through a rise enterance and queuing with everyone else, the RAP entitled all four of us (I think it’s up to three people with every disabled person) to go to the ride exit and hand the card over. The staff then write a return time on the card which is usually about 15/20mins later and you cannot jump another queue before that time. This makes it fair for other people who do have to queue. However usually we come during the school holidays and it is much busier but being a Friday the queues were much shorter and because of that the staff didn’t bother signing his RAP card which allowed us to hop straight from one ride to another! I would highly recommend coming during the week if you have a child with additional needs, having been here a couple of times before either on a weekend or during the school holidays there is a massive difference.
Toby clapped and flapped all day and it was lovely to see him enjoying himself. Because he doesn’t speak it can be tricky at times to work out at times what he likes but we found out a long time ago that he LOVES rides – hence all the theme park trips! Here he is enjoying the In The Night Garden boat ride – which we have been on hundreds of times before but I guess that helps Toby to enjoy it even more as he knows what’s coming next.
Teddy loved meeting lots of characters too and joining in with lots of dancing in the shows. Hey Duggee was his favourite and he just kept shouting, “Duggee, Duggee, Duggee!” at the top of his voice. Toby found the shows a bit noisey and enjoyed watching a few videos on Joel’s phone (thanks to the free wifi) which allowed Ted to join in with the other children which he loved. After the Duggee show the children were invited to queue up to meet Duggee and Ted was one of the first ones there. He ran up and hugged Duggee and then ran and hugged the security lady too as if to say thank you!
Toby’s favourite ride is the Octonauts rollercoaster, we know because he kept pulling us that way and clapping away to himself. He loves the Octonauts – Peso the cuddly penguin which is always in his mouth is an Octonaut. Teddy was just tall enough to go on too however he found it a bit fast!
Ted loved Mr Tumble’s sensory garden, driving Postman Pat’s van, Tree-Fu Tom’s adventure playground and playing in Justin’s House (Justin’s House is very noisey is you have a child who doesn’t do lots of noise – I stayed outside with Toby)
There are also great changing facilities in Cbeebies land including a proper changing bed (rather than just a pull out baby change) which makes life much easier when you have an older child in nappies.
After a long but fun day but caught the monorail back and checked in to our hotel room. The boys enjoyed having some down time – Toby on his iPad and Teddy with his trains before we bathed them and got them ready for bed. We don’t usually stay in hotels with the boys…we stayed in a Travelodge once last year and I don’t think any of us got much sleep! Anyway Joel took Toby out for a walk in his buggy while I got Ted to sleep and Toby actually dropped off in the buggy! So we had had both children asleep by 8pm and for anyone who knows us, this is unheard off! We had well and truly tired them out.
However Toby being Toby and not needing as much sleep as the rest of the world got up at 1am. I opened one eye to see him taking the iPad off charge and thought oh no! He really struggles to switch off and at home once he’s up that’s him up for the day which when you are all sleeping in one hotel room isn’t ideal! He woke Ted up too by clapping and jumping about so we decided to give him his melatonin that he usually takes to help him switch off. I settled Ted and Joel took Toby out in the buggy again to try and get him to sleep. Trust me pushing Toby round in the buggy at 2am isn’t much fun at all.
I woke up at 3am in the bottom bunk with Ted and with the other two beds empty. Joel and Toby had ended up in the car and they had both eventually dropped off in there. Toby had his blanket with him but Joel was just in shorts and a tshirt – again not much fun to try and sleep in a cold car!
Anyway they’re back and Joel’s asleep in the top bunk and the boys are bouncing about. Never a dull moment here…don’t think we’ll be staying in a hotel again anytime soon…please pray for a better night tonight!! We’re spending today in the waterpark as the weather forecast isn’t great and then back to the theme park tomrrow. Hope everyone else has a good day too!