The Rollercoaster Restaurant opened at Alton Towers Resort in May, and last week during our little break there with J, we decided to give it a spin. The premise is an interesting one, your food is delivered to your table by Rollercoaster! The rollercoaster theme is heavy throughout the restaurant, with archive adverts of some of Alton Towers’ classic coasters projected on the walls and geeky plans and concept art on display.
Located within the theme park, next to Galactica in Forbidden Valley, the Rollercoaster Restaurant is accessible via a new pathway. This runs from the Extraordinary Golf, across the car park and into a new entrance to the theme park that is open after the park closes.
On stepping into the restaurant, it’s hard not to be impressed. The track twists and winds to all the tables from the kitchen upstairs. We were greeted by a friendly maître d’ and led to our pod. There are three tables (seating 4) to each pod, and each seat has a number from 1 to 12. There are several longer tables for larger groups, but generally you’re close to other groups – think Wagamama.
The ordering of the food is done on a tablet. You choose your seat number, and then make your choice and then send it to the kitchen and repeat for each member of your party. J chose his starter and drink first with little help from us. The simple picture based screens make it easy for even the biggest technophobes to order with ease. It’s best to order the next course after you’ve finished the first, because the food is sent very quickly. I found this really helpful because we could have J’s food bought when he wanted it, and not waiting for us to finish.
The food arrives strapped to the ‘carriages’ in what can be best described as a tiny ‘casserole dish’ with a card with your seat number and rollercoaster on. You spin the lazy susan to bring it round to your seat and un-clip it from the carriage. You can grab cutlery, plates and condiments from the lower lazy susan. It’s a very hands on dining experience, but it’s good fun, and J loved watching the carriages whizzing around. Despite seeming like there wouldn’t be a need for waiting staff, there are still plenty of them hurrying around, clearing tables and happy to help.
On the subject of staff, I have to give a special mention to Grace who looked after us. There was a child with special needs on our pod that was struggling with the environment. She was incredible with him and his increasingly upset mother, I’ve never witnessed someone try SO hard to help. She’d noted how well behaved James was and how he liked the ‘cards’ that came with each dish. So she gave him all 12 cards and some glow-sticks all sent to his seat via the rollercoaster.
The food was pretty good, our Mushroom and Toast starter was seasoned beautifully. The main we had of a Veggie Burger was a little lackluster, I’ve had much worse but I’ve had better. None of the puddings really appealed, but James had a ‘Chocolate Fondue’ – the chocolate sauce was beautiful, and was just enough for him. It was all reasonably priced, our meals and drinks came to £48 (with a 20% annual pass discount).
Whilst the food wasn’t perhaps as good as it could have been in every course, it was fairly priced. The draw to the Rollercoaster Restaurant is the experience, and I’m pleased to say the experience is fantastic. The staff were wonderful, and the Rollercoaster aspect is utterly fascinating. Seeing so many grinning faces on the children, and adults as their food whizzes around is infectious.
I’d imagine this concept could easily be rolled out to the other Merlin Resorts. I would love to see similar at Thorpe Park or Chessington. The Rollercoaster Restaurant is proving very popular at the resort and booking is a MUST, it’s only going to get busier as the summer holidays approach. I’d highly recommend a trip to give it a try, it’s a fantastic family restaurant.
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