2019: General Discussion

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bluesonichd

TS Member
Been on park today and managed to get on everything we wanted to go on. Nemesis & Oblivion being walk-on all day is enough to keep me happy.
I was there at 12pm and Nemmy had a 25 min q and a 20 min fastrack/ RAP q :tearsofjoy:
A complete nightmare
 

Kraken27

TS Member
People buying fastrack to reduce their queue by 5 mins... Good value for money totally

It's the mentality of "I've got a Fastrack Ticket, so I'm going to use it". Back when I worked at Towers in addition to the free - yes, FREE, hour-slot timed Fastrack tickets they did an admission offer that got you one any-time Fastrack on all the main rides. Can't remember what it was called, but I remember the pass was silver on one side & the ride staff just crossed each ride out on the other side as you used up your anytime Fastrack.

You'd get guests coming to the Nemesis exit not long after 10am to use their Fastrack, when the normal queue would have been about 10mins then (probably 5 after Air had opened as everyone headed to Air first then). We'd helpfully point out that the normal queue was currently very short & they may prefer to queue now & use the Fastrack later when the queue would be a lot longer. Some would accept the suggestion & thank you, some would say no & ask to go on now avoiding the 5-10min wait. Crazy, but true.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
@Kraken27 was that the X-Cellerator pass? I'm sure it came out about 1998/9, cost about £70 if I recall.

That may well be it - sounds familiar. I do remember when it was launched there was outcry due to (1) the cost - it was about double the daily entrance fee at the time & (2) the fact that guests with deeper pockets were getting a better day out, thus ending the "every guest treated the same" policy that had been in place since 1980.

This was under Tussauds ownership. How things have moved on now Merlin are at the helm! It's now put up prices, upsell / charge extra for everything, whilst cutting costs and the overall quality of the product offer across the board. The rides themselves may still be good, but staffing levels have been cutback wherever possible across the park - and it's noticeable to all to see. (Closed F&B units, boarded up baggage holds, removed SRQ's on some rides etc).
 

WillPS

TS Member
If I recall correctly, X-Cellerator was mostly given out to hotel suite guests rather than being aggressively marketed or upsold?

There was a later 'hotel pass', given to all hotel guests, which ran concurrently with (free) Fastrack during the last year or two it was offered, mostly notable for turning Oblivion's exit path in to a complete scrum.
 

Alsty

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Shambhala
My memory is a bit hazy but I recall the X-Cellerator passes being controversial in the media ("How dare people pay to skip the queues..."), so I'm sure they were being sold and not just given out to hotel guests.

I have searched a little bit for X-Cellerator passes and found a link to an article from 2001:
Alton Towers temporarily introduced the sale of the ‘X-Cellerator’ pass in 2000, and it was such a success, it is being sold again for the 2001 season. The pass cost in the region of £60 per person, respective of £20 for a standard ticket, yet the ‘X-Cellerator’ pass allows visitors to ‘queue jump’ all of the rides and actually receives VIP treatment. The tickets are limited each day so that ‘normal’ visitors are not effected too greatly by this approach, however somewhere in there must be an issue of general morality – after all, how many British families will be able to afford in excess of £200 for a single day out?

Also a TowersTimes post in 2007:
Last time i enquired about the X-cellerator passes, they were 70 quid each. A rip-off really when you consider the fact that you are only allowed to skip the Q on each ride once!

Rory is correct, the pass is a ticket whit all the rides listed on the reverse. Each ride has a box next to it and the oeprator ticks the box before you board the ride to say you have used up that ride - this is to stop you re-riding. Just go down the exit at each ride and get the attention of the operator.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
If I recall correctly, X-Cellerator was mostly given out to hotel suite guests rather than being aggressively marketed or upsold?

There was a later 'hotel pass', given to all hotel guests, which ran concurrently with (free) Fastrack during the last year or two it was offered, mostly notable for turning Oblivion's exit path in to a complete scrum.

There was indeed also a Hotel Guest Pass - it gave you priority access to 4 rides. I know Spinball & Oblivion were two of them. It was certainly responsible for hammering normal queue throughput on Spinball. What is more, the Hotel Passes were not dated, so they were actively sold on eBay / retained by hotel guests for use on busier days, e.g. Scarefest / Fireworks when they were not staying in the hotel.

X-Cellerator passes were included for hotel suite guests, but a set number were available for purchase each day - am pretty sure you had to pre-book them & could not just arrive on the day and buy them. I do remember that Alton Towers spokesperson (may well have been Liz Greenwood at the time) defending the ticket in the press as a "special occasion ticket".
 

AT86

TS Member
There was indeed also a Hotel Guest Pass - it gave you priority access to 4 rides. I know Spinball & Oblivion were two of them. It was certainly responsible for hammering normal queue throughput on Spinball. What is more, the Hotel Passes were not dated, so they were actively sold on eBay / retained by hotel guests for use on busier days, e.g. Scarefest / Fireworks when they were not staying in the hotel.

X-Cellerator passes were included for hotel suite guests, but a set number were available for purchase each day - am pretty sure you had to pre-book them & could not just arrive on the day and buy them. I do remember that Alton Towers spokesperson (may well have been Liz Greenwood at the time) defending the ticket in the press as a "special occasion ticket".

Ah yes the good old days when there were more benefits to staying onsite than you could shake a stick at. ERT on Air and Nemesis, priority passes for 4 other rides, discounts on certain games and merch, priority seating at shows (when the park actually had shows), kids activity packs in the rooms.

Here is the front of the priority passes given to hotel guests in 2003. At that time it was Black Hole (which was a winner because that queue was a killer, although you did get to listen to German MTV with the swears still left in, wunderbar), RMT, Duel and Corkscrew.

gtQcoJy.jpg
 

Kraken27

TS Member
Ah yes the good old days when there were more benefits to staying onsite than you could shake a stick at. ERT on Air and Nemesis, priority passes for 4 other rides, discounts on certain games and merch, priority seating at shows (when the park actually had shows), kids activity packs in the rooms.

Here is the front of the priority passes given to hotel guests in 2003. At that time it was Black Hole (which was a winner because that queue was a killer, although you did get to listen to German MTV with the swears still left in, wunderbar), RMT, Duel and Corkscrew.

gtQcoJy.jpg

Don't forget the hidden chocolate drawer that used to be in the ATH rooms years ago - filled with free chocolate. you can just hear the accountants in Poole quivering with the mere mention of the word free nowadays. Why give it away free when we can sell it at grossly inflated prices in the hotel shop? Like Center Parcs, the only thing Towers don't overcharge for is newspapers, as they come with the price printed on them.

As to German MTV in the Black Hole queue - you often got an awful lot more then just swearing in the videos. Suffice it to say the German attitude towards nudity is somewhat more relaxed than the British one!
 

WillPS

TS Member
Oh, X-Cellerator definitely was sold, but it wasn't pushed hard like (paid) Fastrack is now. The closest the parks got to that in my earlier visits was pushing 'Virtual Queue Mobile' which featured Air, Nemesis and Submission.
 

Mikw

TS Member
And smiler because of single rider queue

Well, that's it isn't it? If i can i always go on a Tuesday or Thursday. Head straight for Thirteen and Rita, can usually get straight on those. Hex next, Then to X sector, Smiler single rider a few times, and then Oblivion. Go to Wickerman at lunchtime as it's quieter, Spinball too. Then RMT and Rapids, Duel and finish the day on the Walk on Nemesis and Galactica.

I appreciate that's not always possible on a Saturday though, but it works in the week.
 

GaryH

TS Member
Regarding opening times.... The shorter hours wouldn't be so much of a problem if the park was not so large and the skyride was operating. But, it's a big place, it's impossible to do it all in a short time, especially if you have to walk everywhere.

Back in the 90s the park would regularly be open until 7pm in the summer months.

Not sure if there are restrictions on opening times but I'm sure the local parish council would have a day on later opening due to the traffic.
 

Ben Anderson

TS Member
Theres quite a lot of interesting debate on here regarding Merlin's way of operating parks. As we all know they seem to go for cheap entry and upcharge on anything they can. This strategy is great for Thorpe Park (especially), Chessington, Legoland. The problem is towers is very different it's not London based, massive spaces of gardens and should all be about the 'Magical Expirence'. Not quick and cheerful day out.

I think Merlin see towers as "passed its peak" and see a lot more potential in parks like Thorpe Park and Legoland for quicker growth. I don't think anyone believes towers is dead, as its rammed still in summer holidays but they cant get those extraordinary peak nemisis, oblivion and thirteen opening year queues and Merlin knows that.

For me and my friend who usually go on a tight budget and can walk at some speed, know the park well. Mostly always have a great day. We can skip monorail if needed and do a power walk into the park and have plenty of energy to cope without the sky ride, etc.. throughout the day and get plenty of rides done on 4pm close.

Families are the ones with the money for Merlin (not someone tight like me). The problem with their 'cheap and cheerful' strategy, they upset them not to come back. Imagine just turning up with your family with screaming kids about 10am, your parked right at the back of the car park, hit the monorail with an hour queue into the park, walking to each ride with no sky cart till 12. Time you eat, have a few coffee breaks - your days over at 4pm. Then queue for car park ticket and pay 6 pound for the privilege. Then on the way out large monorail queue or 20 minute walk when knackered. Surely that's not a magical experience. Wouldn't they rather just pay another 10 or 20 pound each and have a few more luxuries???
 

deathproof69

TS Member
Currently on park...disappointed that both Nemesis and The Smiler are down. Nemesis has a crane over it at the moment. Just feels like I'm walking from area to area and there's nothing here! Only ride open in Xsector is Oblivion, only ride open in Forbidden Vally is Galatica/ well blade. But still.

The park desperately needs flats/dark rides!
 

imanautie

TS Member
Just out of curiosity do they still play the Nemesis theme music around the ride when it’s closed? I’ve never experienced it being down.

Wonder what’s the matter with old Nemesis!
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.
IL say one thing, it's downright creepy walking past nemesis when it's down and silent...

Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
 
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