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2016: General Discussion

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And then, it's had scaffolding around it for about a year or so but I never see anyone doing any work on it. Anyone know anything about that?

I don't know for sure but I think the scaffolding was initially up to inspected the Pagoda to see what condition it was in etc. I can't say I saw any work taking place at all throughout the year though. Hopefully this is with a view to bring it back to its former glory, probably wishful thinking.

Concerning the gardens I think the only viable way to bring them back to life is as a separate ticketed attraction.

Lets say £5 for a days entry (with the intent to increase this as the quality improves) or a valid theme park ticket.

To access the gardens a new park entrance could be added where Air passes the car park. This entrance serves two purposes, a direct route down into the gardens and the Hotel entrance to the park (as it would block the current woodland walk). Then close any minor pathways into the gardens. Gate the main pathways leading in and simply have a staff member checking tickets (no different to how Legolands hotel do it).

Restoring the old tea room and toilets should be enough for the gardens to function as a stand alone.

I've thought about this for years and its the only way I can see the Gardens getting proper attention. There are many people that would visit them if they didn't have to spend a crazy amount on entry.
I think there's a major problem that the people who go to towers for rides won't want to look round the gardens, and the people who want to look round the gardens won't do the rides (generally), so cant justify the cost of entry. Without introducing a pay per ride or wristband system, there is no way towers can offer a discounted ticket without risk of people abusing the offer and doing rides.

As has been said though, this is a great way to put the closed days to some use. I'm sure there are people who would pay to look around the gardens or towers, and its a shame towers don't look into it. Even if it was just a few days a year and needed to be pre booked, I'm sure a small number of people would go. I'm sure towers could find some dedicated volunteer who knows about the history instead of paying someone to give tours.
I highly doubt the majority of guests even know the gardens exist. Most of them seem to think the Towers are "a fake castle like Disney"
The thing is people aren't going to want to spend lots of time in the gardens when they've paid £50 odd to get in.

When the majority of customer visit once, maybe twice a year they aren't going to visit the gardens. I do appreciate the gardens but it is a lot of money to spend to waste an hour of ride time in the gardens when you can go and look round better kept gardens in the local area for a small fee or even free!
I have never paid full price to get in to the Towers in the last twenty years, few people do.
On busier days, I always do the gardens to get from Dark Forest to Forbidden Valley, avoiding the many walkers on the cross valley path by doing an extra left or right turn onto the quieter paths.
This year these paths were very overgrown, some paths that were five feet wide are down to two feet wide, not good enough for a bat fastard like me.
Walking cross valley takes about 20 minutes, quicker than waiting for the cablecars on a busy day.
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I'm just going to have a little tiny rant about something that's been bugging me a bit:

What are Alton/Merlin playing at!?!? It's 27th December 2016, they can't even tell us what dates the theme park will be open for the 2017 season yet and they've only just admitted that opening day will be 25th March even though it has been blatantly clear for a couple of months now! Tree Top Quest opening hours are now online but for Feb & March only, but wait, you can't book tickets for it because they can't even tell you if it will be available to non hotel guests! Don't even get me started on the Waterpark. It just seems as if they don't want to take my money. Golf says it is open year round, but tickets aren't available to book from Jan 1st so how are you supposed to tell if it's open or not? Thorpe Park have had their opening dates and times out since early November with park tickets available to book as well. Why is it so impossible for Alton Towers to get their act together and give guests the information they need to plan a trip and make tickets available to book?!?!?

Rant over :)
How hard can it be to sort stuff like that out!
I would imagine, very hard. I have long suspected that the park gets the majority of its budgets centrally from Merlin as opposed to being able to make its own local business decisions as to what would be best for the park.

It's likely Merlin have set budgets of taking £x amount in turnover spending £x amount on payroll, £x amount on maintenance etc.

That's probably why we've seen crazy decisions that make no sense to us like the Water park opening hours. The water park is basically a full to capacity licence to print money, yet if the park feel they can achieve similar turnover figures elsewhere (regardless of how profitable or not), then they may decide to spend the payroll elsewhere and keep the water park opening hours short.

It's what middle managers in every organisation do. It's likely the park are doing exactly what local councils up and down the country do every fiscal year: looking at the pittance of a budget they've been given and then moving the deck chairs around to make the budgets fit as best they can. It's likely the park are still finalising where the axe needs to fall.
Just going back to the gardens comment.... there is no way I would pay extra to get in the gardens. If anything, it should be the other way around where people can pay to enter the gardens but no go on any rides. A wristband or something like in BPB to distinguish those who have paid for rides against those just going in the gardens. I'm sure this would encourage a lot more family members to visit the park with kids etc. where they can go and walk around the gardens while the kids go on the rides. Lets also remember that these people are more likely to stop for food and drink bringing more revenue into the park.

Opening the gardens during closed season for a small fee would also be a good idea. And i've said it a million times but i'll say it again, what a better spot to open a coffee/tea room than the Swiss Cottage.
I thought it already had been but as 2016 is now long gone I am going to lock this thread. Please continue any discussion in the 2017 General Discussion thread or feel free to begin a new thead for something new!


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