In a survey of healthy food available at leading tourist attractions in the UK, Alton Towers fared poorly compared to others.
The survey, conducted by The Soil Association, ranked Alton Towers joint seventh out of 14th. You might not think that was too bad, until you realise that the park scored just 5 points out of a possible 25 in the report.
The survey, carried out in June/July 2006, saw a 'secret mum' head to various tourist attractions, and rate each one on a predefined scorechart. The categories included "how long it took to find fruit", "availability of healthy drinks in vending machines" and "quality of children's meals".
Alton Towers scored 0/3 in the "access to free fresh drinking water" category, 0/5 in the "healthy food promotion" category, and it took over an hour of searching before the 'secret mum' could find any fruit at the park.
The report states: "Branding is very close to the heart of the Alton Towers experience, in common with all its sister attractions in the Madame Tussauds Group which share the same set of corporate food and drink partners.
"While it's very much a kiosk culture, the restaurants do offer a haven of sorts and a degree of food choice. Down Towers Street, the Tower Restaurant and Corner Coffee both have orange and apple juice - though neither is marked on the menu - and between them they can also offer wraps, salads, soup and sandwiches. Ironically, it is the whopper MacDonalds on the child-oriented Cred Street that is among the leaders, offering carrot sticks instead of fries, organic semi-skimmed milk and fruit juice instead of Coke, and a 'fruit bag' as options within its Happy Meal. More disturbingly the family meals deals on offers [sic], offered no fruit or vegetable portion (unless you count deep fried onion rings), and no healthy drinks.
"As recommended by Day Chipper, Eastern Express remains far and away the best place to eat, with a range of curries and daal, including vegetable options, and salad stuffed wraps. There are also bowls of fresh fruit on the counters."
Alton Towers responded to the report, saying: "Given the irregular nature of most people's visits to a theme park, and the fact that it is regarded as a one or two day 'treat', Alton Towers does not feel that we can take serious nutritional responsibility for our visitors while they are with us. That said, we work hard to ensure we offer an extensive choice of food for our guests to enjoy at a range of High Street prices. Our own restaurants and kiosks offer everything from sandwiches to full meals; as well as a wide range of snacks including fresh fruit - with menus based on visitor research and actual sales. Our catering partners such as McDonalds also work hard to provide alternative and balanced choices. Finally, we offer the facility for people to bring and eat their own picnics - giving parents complete control over the food their family consume on their day out."
The full ranking list is as follows:
|2||Tower of London||14/21*|
|6||Chessington World of Adventures||6|
|=9||Oakwood Theme Park||3|
|=11||Pleasure Beach Blackpool||2|
|=11||Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach||2|
|=13||Camelot Theme Park||1|
* No vending machines seen at the Tower of London. The points available have been reduced accordingly.