2018: Wicker Man - General Discussion - SPOILERS! - Part One

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PeteB

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I'm wondering have Alton/Merlin lied about a ride's budget before

Yes. They do it all the time.

I had it on good authority from someone who was very involved with Th13teen, who when I asked "how can this be £15m" and the answer was it wasn't anywhere near.

Two reasons, firstly when they quote these figures it incorporated EVERYTHING from the whole season's marketing to merchandising and everything else. Secondly, the budget itself is a marketing gimmick. They want to be seen as building BIGGER and BETTER and MORE EXPENSIVE with every project to create that "wow factor". So a ride years ago might have been £10m, the next one gotta be £12m, next £14m, then £15, then £18m. So on it goes, higher than the rate of inflation, yet gate figures didn't increase.

In the early stages The Smiler was being quoted as a £20m ride and then it suddenly dropped to £18m. They litterally just pluck these numbers out of thin air.

See what they're doing with Thorpe - over the last few years they've been trying to boost the place as the UK's best thrill park. So we had The Swam at £20m, and now DBGT at £30m (lol whatever). The park doesn't get high enough attendance figures to justify these budgets, Towers should be getting the biggest ones. It's just marketing hype.

Factor in that in 1994 Nick Varney is on record as the marketing director saying he had £4m to play with for marketing Nemesis. That was 1994! Compensate for inflation and you get a figure of nearly £8m in 2017.
 

Spike

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Taron
Yes. They do it all the time.

I had it on good authority from someone who was very involved with Th13teen, who when I asked "how can this be £15m" and the answer was it wasn't anywhere near.

Two reasons, firstly when they quote these figures it incorporated EVERYTHING from the whole season's marketing to merchandising and everything else. Secondly, the budget itself is a marketing gimmick. They want to be seen as building BIGGER and BETTER and MORE EXPENSIVE with every project to create that "wow factor". So a ride years ago might have been £10m, the next one gotta be £12m, next £14m, then £15, then £18m. So on it goes, higher than the rate of inflation, yet gate figures didn't increase..

I agree that they include everything and in Th13teens instance they had to remove The Corkscrew, SW8 they just bulldozed the flume which would have cost significantly less. Also, at what point do manufacturers step in and say "Woah, hang on a minute this is making our products looks ridiculously expensive"

See what they're doing with Thorpe - over the last few years they've been trying to boost the place as the UK's best thrill park. So we had The Swam at £20m, and now DBGT at £30m (lol whatever). The park doesn't get high enough attendance figures to justify these budgets, Towers should be getting the biggest ones. It's just marketing hype..

I can't remember seeing anywhere £20million for The Swarm let alone £30million for DBGT!!!?? Are you sure these were the advertised budgets for these rides? :confused:

It's also worth mentioning that the general public are not stupid, The Smiler could be passed off as an £18million investment comfortably but SW8 better look £15million worth other wise you're going to get "£15million for that!?" and a lot of people feeling cheated. It's all very well and good exaggerating the budget slightly, but you better explain or show where it's gone...

Nemesis - The Pit
Air - The Technology
Oblivion - The tunnel
Th13teen - The freefall drop
The Smiler - Sheer amount of steel
SW8 - We'll have to wait and see
 
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Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I don't think an official figure was ever released for DBGT although I have no doubts that it has gone somewhat over whatever the original budget was and will continue to cost them a small fortune for quite a while yet. £30 million was rumoured when we first knew of a new dark ride coming to Thrope but I have no idea how accurate that was.

The Smiler again went over budget so who knows how much that ended up costing them as an investment project. I would guess that the eleborate marketing campaign cost a fair whack. Then obviously the whole project overrunning by 2 and a half months along with major last minute ground work changes (goodbye nice paved plaza, hello concrete jungle) did not help things.

£15 million, £18 million, £20 million - these are all huge costs! Then you look over at Europa-Park; €10 million for Wodan, I doubt that SW8 will be comparable in seeing how far money goes. But then again, you can look over at Disney and suddenly things don't seem so bad.

:)
 

Sammy

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Untamed - Walibi Holland
It's also worth mentioning that the general public are not stupid, The Smiler could be passed off as an £18million investment comfortably but SW8 better look £15million worth other wise you're going to get "£15million for that!?" and a lot of people feeling cheated. It's all very well and good exaggerating the budget slightly, but you better explain or show where it's gone...

Nemesis - The Pit
Air - The Technology
Oblivion - The tunnel
Th13teen - The freefall drop
The Smiler - Sheer amount of steel
SW8 - We'll have to wait and see

I agree with the statement that you have to be able to show where the money has gone and that smiler could be passed off as £18mil. However relatively speaking, in terms of the rides listed there, the only one where the ride system cost less than Smiler is probably at a push Th13teen. Even through it was almost 20 years previous, I wouldn't be surprised if Nemesis' hardware cost more than Smiler's!

What they state the budget of SW8 as is get to be seen and this is my biggest concern. I worry they will over hype the cost as per and then also go on market it in a similar way to Th13teen, ie. terrifying to try and draw re crowds, when in actual fact it's just a boarder-line family/thrill coaster and nothing more. It could back fire badly!
 

Spike

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Taron
What they state the budget of SW8 as is get to be seen and this is my biggest concern. I worry they will over hype the cost as per and then also go on market it in a similar way to Th13teen, ie. terrifying to try and draw re crowds, when in actual fact it's just a boarder-line family/thrill coaster and nothing more. It could back fire badly!

Was Th13teen's marketing too much though? To us yeah, but I think it worked for the general public. Every year I've taken noobs and every year Th13teen impresses with old and new guests I take. I agree it was an intense marketing strategy for something we'd deem family/thrill but does the GP really see it like that, or is it just another coaster to go on?

I think we forget sometimes how overly critical we can be towards something when we're not specifically the target market. We're practically non-existent in the eyes of Merlin when it comes to designing a ride and we're a minuscule part of their overall demographic. I personally think Th13teen was hyped the right amount for the GP and it worked, the feedback tends to be positive about the ride as well, so job done for Alton.
 

rob666

TS Member
Corkscrew was cheap to remove as it was a kit on flat ground, likewise Rita needed no major groundworks.
Earthworks on a large scale aren't cheap, and the new ride is on a sloping site with lots of pilings, thick retaining walls and deep excavation.
That alone would have cost Merlin a few million, perhaps that is where the money is going.
 
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cactuselves

TS Member
Corkscrew was cheap to remove as it was a kit on flat ground, likewise Rita needed no major groundworks.
Earthworks on a large scale aren't cheap, and the new ride is on a sloping site with lots of pilings, thick retaining walls and deep excavation.
That alone would have cost Merlin a few million, perhaps that is where the money is going.
Agree with this, I work in construction and the station foundation / in situ conc / excavation around it could be costing in the region of £2m- £3m. Foundations and earthworks across the site £1m-£2m. (This isn't a car park coaster!). Station fit out and themeing £0.5m upwards depending on standard. Then there's drainage, electrics, post construction landscaping and you could be up at £5m before any wood on site. The coaster itself will prob be in the region of £5m- £6m and there *might* be a magnetic launch which could be another £1m, there's also an app gone in to smdc to use excavated material from the ride to landscape the field car parks (you've got to loose muck somewhere), this will have a cost. With marketing too you can justifiably be in the region of £12- £15m...[/QUOTE]
 
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PeteB

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Also, at what point do manufacturers step in and say "Woah, hang on a minute this is making our products looks ridiculously expensive"

Quite honestly, probably never. They don't care. Only the public would give two hoots about the cost of a Rollercoaster. For business to business it's different. I learned this from working in the AV industry, where there are basically 3 price tiers:
  1. None advertised prices - meaning they don't talk to anyone except actual customers what the price is.
  2. Punter rates - idiot prices and the ones generally get advertised on websites, brochures etc.
  3. The real price - usually about 50% less than the idiot prices but depends on your relationship with the supplier.
Even at the real price there still has to be some wiggle room for haggling.

I would imagine for something as expensive as a rollercoaster there would be many factors. If you and I wanted to build the exact same ride in both of our parks, it's extremely unlikely we'd both pay the same price. Relationship, customer history, contra deals, package deals, back scratching and numerous other factors likely change the price.

I can't remember seeing anywhere £20million for The Swarm let alone £30million for DBGT!!!?? Are you sure these were the advertised budgets for these rides? :confused:

Just Google search "the swarm £20m" and you'll see all the news articles come up. It was in all of the park's press releases at the time.

It's all very well and good exaggerating the budget slightly, but you better explain or show where it's gone...

Nemesis - The Pit - I could see how this would cost a lot. The ride's budget was £10m (approx 19m in todays money), so £4m on marketing, meaning the B&M coaster and pit was probably in the region of £6m. Maybe £1m for the pit and £5m on ride hardware? Seems more realistic to me.

Air - The Technology - Negative. This is B&M's product, that wouldn't cost the park.

Oblivion - The tunnel - Agree, hence why the ride is so short, and I'm sure the water splash section was cut also.

Th13teen - The freefall drop - Negative. Intamin already had the magnetic braking technology, and again the drop track setion is another product for them now, one that they've gone on to sell with other rides.

The Smiler - Sheer amount of steel - Negative. Gerstlauer are cheap, and Saw is a similarly lengthy ride.

SW8 - We'll have to wait and see - I do hope there is some "secret" even if it's just something as simple as The Smiler's first inversion, which they were so keen to hide. It will certainly add more interest in the build up to opening day.
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Nemesis - The Pit - I could see how this would cost a lot. The ride's budget was £10m (approx 19m in todays money), so £4m on marketing, meaning the B&M coaster and pit was probably in the region of £6m. Maybe £1m for the pit and £5m on ride hardware? Seems more realistic to me.

Air - The Technology - Negative. This is B&M's product, that wouldn't cost the park.

Oblivion - The tunnel - Agree, hence why the ride is so short, and I'm sure the water splash section was cut also.

Th13teen - The freefall drop - Negative. Intamin already had the magnetic braking technology, and again the drop track setion is another product for them now, one that they've gone on to sell with other rides.

The Smiler - Sheer amount of steel - Negative. Gerstlauer are cheap, and Saw is a similarly lengthy ride.

SW8 - We'll have to wait and see - I do hope there is some "secret" even if it's just something as simple as The Smiler's first inversion, which they were so keen to hide. It will certainly add more interest in the build up to opening day.

It's easy to see where money went on Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. Thirteen's pit and other groundwork would have cost a fair amount and the whole Dark Forest re-theme would have been part of the budget. Gerstlauer are cheap yes but The Smiler is 1500 feet longer than Saw, and again the groundwork would have cost a fortune. The Smiler went over whatever its budget was anyway.

I don't think the figures that are publicised are plucked out of thin air. However I do think what Towers/Merlin include in their budgets is different compared to other parks.

:)
 

Towerslover

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Icon
John Wardley has mentioned in interviews that Nick Varney and the ones at the top of Merlin don't consider an large investment unless it can be described in one scentence that sells the ride as something unique and make you go woah and has a 'killer image' that can also be shown to someone and make them excited and interested. Or something like that anyways :)

I really can't see SW8 being just a standard ish woodie based on previous investments by Merlin at towers.
 
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andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Was Th13teen's marketing too much though? To us yeah, but I think it worked for the general public. Every year I've taken noobs and every year Th13teen impresses with old and new guests I take. I agree it was an intense marketing strategy for something we'd deem family/thrill but does the GP really see it like that, or is it just another coaster to go on?

In 2010, despite the popularity of the ride, I did hear a lot of non-enthusiasts stating "was that it?" at the end of Th13teen, or things far more negative. The national ride advert featured adults looking terrified and screaming, on the outside section of the ride no less, so I think there was definitely a large amount of the GP expecting it to be far more intense than it was. If anything, we the enthusiasts were more prepared as we'd seen the plans and had a feeling, even before riding it, that they were over hyping it hugely (well at least I did). Plus all those terms "psycoaster" and "ultimate ride" were shown on national TV several times during the promo, building up the fear factor.

Having said that, I too have taken a lot of noobs throughout the years who have loved Th13teen and were not expecting the indoor drop. From what I can tell, from 2011 onwards, more and more people seem to be genuinely thrilled by it, and the on ride reaction is much more positive without the unrealistic expectations.

But either way, it got people through the gates, so it worked on that level.
 

PeteB

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Did the £18 million include the themeing coasts as well?

Yes, this is what I was getting at. Most likely breakdown of the Smilers costs:

£7m on the marketing campaigns
£1m on merchandising
£10m on the ride itself which you could breakdown further if you separated the theming and major ground works etc.
 

James

TS Founding Member
Most of The Smiler's budget will have gone on the ground works which was a disaster to say the least. It was hardly a smooth running project.

On that note, SW8 is doing quite well construction wise so far it seems. This was posted on TowersStreet Facebook page yesterday, a picture of The Smiler site in June 2012. 11 months before the ride opened.

600244_348994721837645_1291031369_n.jpg


This is SW8's construction site today, posted on TowersStreet Facebook page (more pictures on the page). 11-12 months before the ride is expected to open.

18194089_1445281915542248_153645687142394481_n.jpg


Compared to The Smiler, works on SW8 are coming along very nicely. The Smiler a year before it opened had not even begun to have the ground dug up. SW8 already has station foundations set, the theming piece foundation looks set, and foundations are being set around the site. Drainage and electricals have also started to be installed.

The progress on SW8 shows that some lessons have been learnt from past mistakes. Everything seems to be moving smoothly and it's not quite the mess that The Smiler's construction was. A positive for once.
 

haydn!

TS Member
I agree that they include everything and in Th13teens instance they had to remove The Corkscrew, SW8 they just bulldozed the flume which would have cost significantly less. Also, at what point do manufacturers step in and say "Woah, hang on a minute this is making our products looks ridiculously expensive"

They won't care. Exagerating the budget in this way isn't exclusive to Merlin, so most of their customers will be doing it. Plus, I'm guessing the cost of rides are highly bespoke with detailed negotiations, discounts, with list prices rarely being the actual amount paid.

Just to defend these companies though. The physical ride may only cost half the quoted cost in a press release, but the additional stuff like theming, marketing, merchandising, etc that makes up the bigger number they like to use - is all still investment into the park. They're not lying to anybody, they're just playing the numbers to their advantage.
 
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