Nigel Bunyan, Telegraph (UK), July 12, 2006
A couple’s plans for a £5,000 wedding at Alton Towers were thrown into confusion yesterday after it emerged that the theme park had double booked them with a fun day for 20,000 Muslims.
Amanda Morris, 30, and her fiance, Scott Lee, 31, have been told that if they go ahead with the ceremony they will not be allowed to go on celebratory rides together.
Furthermore, Miss Morris and her female guests will have to cover up to be in line with guests of Islamic Leisure wearing hijabs. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for 18 months, and suddenly it’s in ruins,” she said yesterday.
“Everything was booked — the photographer, the hotel rooms, everything. Then some of our guests started getting letters saying they would have to cover up because it was a Muslim event.
“Alton Towers haven’t even had the decency to let us know they had hired it out. It’s not the Muslim event — it’s not their fault that Alton Towers have double booked.
“The people with Islamic Leisure want their day as much as we do. I don’t blame them at all. But Alton Towers shouldn’t have done this. They should at least have rung us to discuss it.”
Miss Morris, a recruitment sales advisor, and her fiance, a market trader, booked their wedding in the Emperor’s Suite last year.
The bride-to-be said: “It’s a nightmare. We have been planning this for so long and now this happens nine weeks before the ceremony.
“People are ringing us saying it must be a joke. I don’t know what we are going to do now. I would still like the wedding to go ahead, but I just don’t know how it will all work out. I’ll be gutted if I have to cancel it now.”
The couple, who live in Leeds, chose Alton Towers as the venue for their wedding because they have previously enjoyed staying in the complex’s hotel.
At the time they made the booking the only date available was Saturday, Sept 16. They were happy to accept it, believing that they and the 60 guests for whom they had booked 20 rooms would be able to enjoy the following day on the rides.
Since then, however, Alton Towers have hired out the complex for its first Muslim fun day.
Believing that they and their own guests had the complex almost to themselves, Islamic Leisure drew up a list of requirements.
These included the provision of prayer areas and bans on music, alcohol and gambling. In the Muslim tradition, women would also need to cover their bodies, as well as going on rides separately to their menfolk.
The couple have since contacted Islamic Leisure, whose staff confirmed that the wedding party would be asked to adhere to their conditions.
Yaseen Patel, the organisation’s director, confirmed: “The body will have to be covered, (though) they do not have to wear the hijab.”
An Alton Towers spokesman said staff would be discussing “the options available” with the couple.
She claimed it was a condition of the Islamic Leisure booking that wedding and hotel guests would be exempt from the Muslim dress code.