Second rise in 2012
Alton Towers have increased their adult single day ticket from £43.50 to £45 according to their website altontowers.com . This is the second increase in entry price this season – in March the ticket price stood at £42 for a single adult. The two in-season increases combined represent an increase of 6.6% over the season so far and exceed any increase previously seen in a single season
Above Inflation Madness?
The increase in ticket prices since Merlin Entertainments have taken over the operation of Alton Towers has long been a contentious issue. With ticket prices raising approx. 12% since the 2011 season, guests have seen a significant increase in the cost of their average day at the park. These increases in price have often baffled fans of the park considering the economic decline over the last few years.
This price increase makes Alton Towers the most expensive theme-park in the UK (Legoland, also operated by Merlin is a mere 80p cheaper). In contrast to European theme park offerings, Alton Towers is now £16* more expensive than Europa Park (a comparatively similar park to that of Alton Towers size) Germany and only £6* cheaper than a Disneyland Paris single park day ticket.
Some UK parks have even seemingly correctly responded to the lower than average visitors and ongoing recession hitting consumers by reducing park ticket prices and introducing deep discounting, rather more in favour of visitors and their wallets, such as Drayton Manor who are offering next day tickets online for £23.50 (including parking and fees) for adults, versus Alton Towers current online ‘saver’ rate of £36.
*Based upon current exchange rates on 1st Aug 2012 at time of writing
The Year of Cut-Backs
These price increases come in a year of rumoured low guest turn-outs to a number of Merlin parks and throughout the year we have seen a number of attempts at cost-cutting throughout Merlin attractions. At Alton Towers in particular there have been moves and then backtracking on attempts to close rides, reduce opening hours across the season, stagger ride opening times to reduce operational costs and even attempts to close the Skyride during off-peak periods.
With cuts to aspects of the theme park experience that usually enhance the enjoyment of the day, more aggressive ‘up-selling’ techniques like Fastrack tickets for rides and the seemingly neglected state of the parks’ general upkeep it remains to be seen how guests will respond to the park increasing prices when most families are continuing to struggle in the current economic climate.