2012: The 'downhill' season?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott, 18th Sep 2012.

  1. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    Friendly reminded guys, please be respectful and play nice.

    There is already a topic for this specific discussion if you want to continue it there. Otherwise lets continue down this slippery alton towers shaped slope.
     
  2. Moley

    Moley TowersStreet Member

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    Merlin. Shipping containers. LOL.
     
  3. manual_operator

    manual_operator TowersStreet Member

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    Natalie I do kind of agree with you regarding the extending of hours in that it wasnt that nice to be told at 5pm, half an hour before close that you need to keep the ride open an extra hour and that you have no choice in the matter (of whether you're staying) which, for me, was an issue of time getting up/getting home again when it took me 2 hours each way.

    However, I wouldn't say it ruined morale and I would never let it affect how I dealt with guests either. And it works the same with private hire of rides (though you have prior knowledge of that happening).

    Personally I think they should get rid of 2-4-1 and just charge £30-32 on the door which pays for the rides to stay open til 5.30-6pm....simple really lol


    Anyways, just my 2 cents worth....
     
  4. Scott

    Scott Former TS Team Member

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    On the subject of the above (if its still allowed to be discussed) I hear what both sides are saying... Were I told that I had to stay an extra hour at work with no choice I would be peeved - particularly if I had plans. However, where I work, people aren't that likely to ask you to stay longer. In a theme park environment where things can be changeable, I would assume that it would be made clear to staff that there may be occasions where they are enforced to stay late.

    Basically I can see why staff may not like it, but I agree that they should probably expect it to happen sometimes in that kind of job.
     
  5. Bear

    Bear TowersStreet Member

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    None of the staff were forced to sign contracts. Staying late is (or should be) part of working at a theme park, and if opening hours are extended late in the day then the staff should expected to do it unless they have a genuine reason why they can't. Yes, it might be an unpleasant job at times, but at the end of the day if you work there then you signed the contract and you've got to do it! Working at a theme park is a job where you have to commit to customer satisfaction, and while it is certainly tough, that is what you are paid to do and should likewise do it.
     
  6. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Me.... personally, I havent found it too bad a year to be honest. The cost saving measures havent really affected me, and the times I have visited and stayed in the hotels have been very good. There have been some good offers this year, such as the £99 hotel stays with park entry tickets, introduction of the drinks into Flambos anf the staff have been just as good this year and any.

    For Joe Public however I think the picture may be seen differently, common complaints from the public seem to be car parking charges, entry prices and the length of the queues. Fair comment. Probably if it wasnt for my annual pass and the fact I visit often I think I may feel different.

    But, lets also remember that Alton arent purely to blame here. There isnt one business in the Uk which isnt affected by the recession at the moment (except funeral directors!!!), and costs such as petrol to get to the park is now a massive factor in a family deciding whether to visit or not. Many people out of a job, or facing an uncertain future, and a lot of people holding on to their money rather than spending it. There isnt really much Alton can do to counter this, even with cut price entry.

    They just to ride this one out I think and make reasonable cuts where appropriate until the UK situation improves.
     
  7. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    How about build a new roller coaster that's so big and so amazing that people have no choice but to visit Alton Towers that will finally take the crown from Nemesis, as well as a new themed land for it and a new flat ride too? :p
     
  8. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Fair point but I think even with the most spectacular of rollercoasters, peoples wallets are being hit so hard that many still wouldnt visit. Everything is going up in price, and people are now prioritising more than ever, and im afraid food, heating and lighting bills, fuel etc takes a much higher priority over visiting a theme park at the moment.

    Plus would it really be prudent for AT to spend all that money on these things at a time of financial uncertainty? We are having to be sensible with our money, businesses have to be too!
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas TowersStreet Member

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    This year was the first year I visited Alton Towers as much as I have done. I'd like to add my two cents chronologically if you don't mind:

    This year started off badly when the bad weather caught Alton Towers and large groups of guests had to be sent home as none of the rides were able to operate. I managed a visit to Alton Towers on the second day of half term, and though it was cold, freezing and not very warm I enjoyed my day. I had good company and the staff seemed to be in a very good mood.

    When I came later in the season I visited during the easter half term, this was very very busy. In fact I'd say it was the worst trip of the year for me. All I managed was Ice Age 4D, and a couple of flat rides before coming home cold and wet. As far as Ice Age goes, I like the theming, the effects that they've used and the staff are very jolly, but I feel as though it's just not enough to make me want to come back again.

    Having read bad reports of Sub Terra when it first opened, I decided to leave it until a later visit to experience what lies beneath Nemesis. As far as rides go, it is very scary, I naturally do not like horror mazes, and for me it was a really good, slightly different addition to the line up. Sub Terra is a talking point ride. I liked the fact that staff seem to take on a role, the fact that they had themed uniform and the ability to have some banter with their customers. I’d say it is a good investment, but it’s not sustainable. The cost of extra actors must be very high, and it will cost more to run on a long term basis. I’d say that it was the park’s white elephant. It’s a great ride, just one that will date badly and won’t last. So as much as I love it now, I won’t love it as much as I love 13 now. It won’t improve with age, it will decline.

    As far as part time staff go at Alton Towers, I have not one issue whatsoever. Every member of staff I have spoken to has been in a good mood, or civil and polite. I understand working in retail myself that it is hard to smile all day long, but nobody has ever been rude and most of the time staff are great.

    I am very fortunate in that I have an annual pass so I have no need to do all the rides in one day, I visited with my sister for her birthday at the height of the staggered openings. This really ruined a trip to Alton Towers, hanging about like a wazzock waiting for the next ride to open, leaving whole areas of the park half ridden. I am very grateful for Merlin for undoing these cuts which just seemed ridiculous, and frankly should have never happened in the first place.

    The time I visited when the Skyride wasn’t open (Reduced sky ride times anyone or even closed midweek?) just seemed a tad bizarre. A lot of people were asking why they’d closed it, and again Merlin’s cuts don’t help create a good company image, especially when people are paying as much as they are to get in. I remember almost grimacing when I saw some of the social networking posts from angry customers.

    As far as marketing goes, this year’s marketing hasn’t grabbed me the way in which THORPE PARK’S has, the Fantastical Express seemed half hearted, SW7 needs a hashtag, and I miss the days of bring a gnome and get in free! At the same time the Sub Terra advert was a piece of art and the Ice Age marketing worked well enough to get hour long queues for what is in essence a cinema!

    Is this the beginning of a downward spiral? It depends in what way you want to view it. I’d say that yes, the park does need some love and attention and that whilst it is great that we have two new attractions this year, older parts of the park such as toilets, theming pieces on large rollercoasters falling to bits and a general ‘that’ll do’ attitude has taken over the park. I’m not entirely sure how Rita’s cable snapped, but the new tunnel underneath it looks awful.

    Am I still a happy customer? Yes, because deep down I love that place to bits, and long after Merlin have been sold on, Alton Towers will still have the same bit of magic. It may not be the same drop of magic I experienced the first day I went, but promotions like ‘Win your dinner by guessing a number’ or seeing a pirate dance along to Justin Bieber will always make me smile.

    If you said to me is Alton Towers on a downward spiral? I’d say they’re more a pair of scales, in that for every good thing Merlin do (Sub Terra Version 2.0, Ice Age Meet and Greets) they seem to be able to undo their good work (Do I need to give you examples?) which makes being an Alton Towers enthusiast more of a bumpy ride than Corkscrew in its final days.

    Just my two cents anyway.
     
  10. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Extended ride close is part of a good theme parks blood.

    If an extra 30 or 60 minutes is damaging staff morale as has been suggested, perhaps Alton Towers need to look into their welfare procedures.

    God help any of said staff if they worked at somewhere like Europa, whose hours can be decided anywhere from 6 to 9.30pm on the day! !

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk
     
  11. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Also they have to inform staff by 2pm to extend it so it would never be too last minute, it isn't great if you have plans but it's the terms you agree to when you take the job. I can't leave my work until I'm finished even if that means staying 2 hours behind and that can be with no managerial notice what so ever (and I wouldn't get paid for the honour).

    But it's not staff that stop management extending ride close, it's budgets and it's unfair to blame the staff.
     
  12. Sazzle

    Sazzle TS Administrator Team Member

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    If I'd rocked up to Towers having paid £40+ to spend the day in long queues, parting with my hard earned cash on food, drink and merchandise, I'd be VERY happy to hear of extended ride close!! Would I care about the staff? Quite frankly, I wouldn't give them a second thought. In fact, I'd say that stands for the large majority of guests, regardless of how much they've paid for the day out (or used an Annual Pass).

    Working in the leisure industry when your primary objective is to provide good customer service, and your working time is heavily governed by things such as weather and attendance, you don't really get much of a leg to stand on when you're called upon for an extra hour.

    Staff moan just as much when their hours get dropped and thus their pay plummets - which is the lesser of two evils?

    ANYWAY.

    I was thinking only a few days ago just how little time I've spent at the Resort myself this year. Compared to say, 2010 (and even 2011 to an extent), I've barely set foot up there. The weather has been awful, the spark has absolutely withered away, and things look generally glum and faded.

    I'll always love Towers, no matter what happens... its just a shame there's something missing. I can't put my finger on it, but something's "off".

    The best seasons were those when I could comfortably afford to stay on Resort at Splash and spend an evening in the bar catching up before heading onto park the next day for some raucous fun with the groupies.

    Maybe I'm just getting old? *sigh*

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  13. T

    T TowersStreet Member

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    With all the cuts, U-Turns & despicable decisions the park has made this year, I truly believe it's been the worst season since I began visiting. It's not made for a nice environment to be in, nor has it been as 'magical' as it once was. Yes, this word is drastically overused on these Forums, but I agree that Alton Towers used to be the most wonderful place you could choose to visit. Full of life, & excitement. Now, however, it's bland & parts of the park are looking worse for wear & shabby! It's not a good look at all!

    I hope that SW7 will bring 2013 into a brilliant year, with increased gate figures, and a thorough spruce up of the park as a whole.


    Sent from my New iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  14. coasternut

    coasternut TowersStreet Member

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    The decision to extend park opening hours has absolutely nothing to do with staff morale, its purely a business decision. However, you have to remember that Alton Towers relies on a very young workforce, many of whom rely on public transport to get home at the end of the day. Its out of courtesy that the 2pm watershed is enforced so they can make alternative arrangements; not because they are work-shy or feckless which seems to be the general perception from many enthusiasts.

    If the park offered more in terms of evening entertainment and worked with the relevant authorities to improve transport infrastructure then perhaps then it could become a true 'resort'. At the moment, extending opening hours improves guest satisfaction but has a minimal effect when it comes to generating revenue. They need to encourage more ways for guests to spend there money in the evenings before they should consider extending ride close beyond what it is now.
     
  15. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Good point well made costernut, and people shouldn't blame staff. As I said before its purely a commercial decision not to extend ride close. Merlin have hacked at the operations budget this year expecting towers to operate on a shoestring. Hence guest experience plummets.
     
  16. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Alton operate their own staff transport so if ride close is extended, buses hours should be too.

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  17. Sazzle

    Sazzle TS Administrator Team Member

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    They run late night buses for Scarefest for staff - we used to see them driving around by field and Carnival! Anyway, by-the-by and all.

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  18. Aly

    Aly TowersStreet Member

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    A lot (infact I think all, or certainly most of) the staff routes are registered as service bus routes, and therefore and required by law and VOSA to run to timetable. Therefore adding additional journeys and not running on time deliberately could result in them losing their operators license and gaining substantial fines.
     
  19. thefatone

    thefatone TowersStreet Member

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    Just to add, pretty much all the staff expect it to become a later ride close if its busy - most probably expect it to be a 530 on saturdays, purely because it's always been that way and that saturdays are busier than others. It doesn't come as a surprise when they do extend them.

    However, think we're meant to be talking about how downhill this place is, rather than how the staff may have to stay behind a bit more ;).

    5pm on weekends isn't great, budget cuts previously in the season weren't great. Park looks okay now though, I imagine they'll start afresh with new year budgets with the coaster in 2013.
     

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