We visited on Friday 13th August, purchased our tickets in advance online for £39 each. I have read reviews where people bought tickets for another day then realised forecast was rain and the theme park refused to refund, you should buy them after checking forecast to avoid this, we purchased day before and knew it would be sunny.
Weather was good, we set off from home very early but due to excessive traffic on motorway it did delay our arrival by the time we got into the busy car park it was 10.30. Then choice of free monorail to take you yo gate entry but 20 min queue for monorail or 15 min walk we chose to walk.
It is £6 to park but you have an option to park closer to the main entrance but at £18 we stayed with the longer walk.
We got into the park at 11am and had already downloaded the app so we could see which rides has least queue time. As expected the main big ones were showing 75 mins on average most of the day. We managed a few smaller ones with 10 min waits such a Dual but majority of the day was 60 min min queuing time.
I don't understand how people can leave bad reviews based on queue times ever since I've been coming to Alton Towers (30 years now) it's what you expect especially in the school summer holidays! Some people just want everything for nothing! They have to fill the park so they can pay their overheads.
My only gripe about queuing is I've never understood why they don't do something to either entertain you or even staff walking around selling drinks/food but either way it's just the boredom of 75 mins and would be great if there was something to do in that time, we were lucky as weather was good and most queues were outside in fresh air and not too bad an experience however my brother said the queue for Smiler was horrific as they were inside and liked a caged area so in that respect I'm glad we avoided that.
My sister paid £8 to go to the Dungeon Tour and loved it, you have a time slot given and just work your day around it.
We stayed at the park right until the death and found that the last hour 6-7 ride times drastically reduced, Galactica was 20 mins and Wickerman was 40 mins.
We did 22,000 steps in total and thoroughly enjoyed our day, we are an active group so I'm not sure how effective the park/cost would be if you have mobility issues however there are beautiful gardens to explore also so it's not just rides I always love attending regardless of rides.
If you hate queuing this is not the place doe you.
If you are organised like we were, book your tickets based on weather forecast, they don't run out of tickets and it's same price day before as it is a week before, bring snacks in rucksack and think of ways to keep your group entertained in the queues we downloaded games to play.
All in all would recommend