Alton Towers visitor figures through the years

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Hi guys. Just wondered if any of you knew anywhere I could find Alton Towers' visitor figures from before the TEA Theme Index came out in 2006. I found a couple in Tales from the Towers, but I can't find any anywhere else. Here are some of the ones I've found in Tales from the Towers and from the TEA:
1980: Just over 1,000,000 (Tales from the Towers)
1984: Over 2,000,000 (Tales from the Towers)/~1,843,750 (Merlin graph)
1985: ~1,812,500 (Merlin graph)
1986: ~2,250,000 (Merlin graph)
1987: ~2,312,500 (Merlin graph)
1988: ~2,875,000 (Merlin graph)
1989: ~2,437,500 (Merlin graph)
1990: ~1,937,500 (Merlin graph)
1991: 2,070,000 (Tales from the Towers)/~1,843,750 (Merlin graph)
1992: 2,500,000 (Tales from the Towers)/~2,625,000 (Merlin graph)
1993: 2,600,000 (Tales from the Towers)/~2,843,750 (Merlin graph)
1994: 3,011,000 (Tales from the Towers)/~3,312,500 (Merlin graph)
1995: 3,000,000 (Economics Research Association/park operator)/2,700,000 (Alton Towers student pack 1999)/~2,843,750 (Merlin graph)
1996: 2,749,000 (Alton Towers student pack 1999)/~2,875,000 (Merlin graph)
1997: 2,700,000 (Alton Towers student pack 2002)/2,701,000 (Alton Towers student pack 1999)/~2,875,000 (Merlin graph)
1998: 2,700,000 (Tales from the Towers)/2,780,000 (Alton Towers student pack 2002)/2,782,000 (Alton Towers student pack 1999)/~2,875,000 (Merlin graph)
1999: 2,650,000 (Alton Towers student pack 2002)/~2,593,750 (Merlin graph)
2000: 2,450,000 (Alton Towers student pack 2002)/~2,437,500 (Merlin graph)
2001: 2,300,000 (Alton Towers student pack 2002)/~2,187,500 (Merlin graph)
2002: 2,500,000 (Amusement Business)/~2,656,250 (Merlin graph)
2003: 2,500,000 (Amusement Business)/~2,562,500 (Merlin graph)
2004: 2,400,000 (Amusement Business)/~2,086,750 (Merlin graph)
2005: 2,400,000 (Amusement Business)/~2,187,500 (Merlin graph)
2006: 2,400,000 (TEA)/~2,218,750 (Merlin graph)
2007: 2,400,000 (TEA)/~2,250,000 (Merlin graph)
2008: 2,520,000 (TEA)/~2,593,750 (Merlin graph)
2009: 2,650,000 (TEA)/~2,656,250 (Merlin graph)
2010: 2,750,000 (TEA)/3,010,000 (Planning application)/~3,062,500 (Merlin graph)
2011: 2,650,000 (TEA)/2,732,000 (Planning application)/~2,687,500 (Merlin graph)
2012: 2,400,000 (TEA)/~2,406,250 (Merlin graph)
2013: 2,500,000 (TEA)/~2,593,750 (Merlin graph)
2014: 2,575,000 (TEA)/~2,312,500 (Merlin graph)
2015: 1,925,000 (TEA)/~1,968,750 (Merlin graph)
2016: 1,980,000 (TEA)/~1,750,000 (Merlin graph)
2017: 1,900,000 (TEA)/~1,875,000 (Merlin graph)
2018: 2,100,000 (TEA)/~2,187,500 (Merlin graph)
2019: 2,130,000 (TEA)/~2,500,000 (Merlin graph)
2020: 670,000 (TEA)/~968,750 (Merlin graph)
2021: 1,800,000 (TEA)/~2,343,750 (Merlin graph)
I will edit this post if I find any more visitor figures in Tales from the Towers, if any of these are wrong, or if you guys can find any more. Bear in mind that 2006 and later are taken from the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and all of the pre-2006 numbers are from Tales from the Towers. I am also going to add to it when future TEA Theme Indexes are released, as I want to make this a sort of archive for Alton visitor numbers.
2020 Edit: I have now added a source for each figure listed, as these figures do not all come from the same source.
2022 Edit: I have now added my estimated figures for every year from 1984 onwards, extrapolated from Merlin’s official attendance graph. These figures are estimated to the nearest 31,250; for a more detailed look at Towers’ visitor figures, as well as those of the other UK Merlin parks, view this post (https://towersstreet.com/talk/threa...res-through-the-years.5778/page-2#post-378827).
 
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Sauron97

TS Member
I think it's clear the numbers reflect on the things the park has done, and the path it has unfortunately strolled down in recent times. The 2010s are by far the most interesting, as we haven't got the crappy DIC acquisition period, and the weary Charterhouse period beforehand.
2010 wasn't a bad year actually, all things considered. Aspects of the park were beginning to age and we all know problems were rife as they had been for a long time, but not to a huge extent; much of the former park from the 90s still existed, fireworks returned, a brand new family thrill coaster was unveiled, and the monorail featured all of the park characters.
2012/13/14 was the major disappointment. The terrible gimmicky imaging (vekoma track nemesis being the prime example) started to appear, fanta.. well.. yeah..., ill thought through new attractions like Sub-Terra which in concept was awesome but needed far too many adjustments and would of been better if the focus had been more on the ride itself than a walkthrough. And Smiler, wow, something that could of been one of the most incredible projects the resort had ever made, a secret government themed ride that would influence how you think and feel.. but no.. the station was the first major let down. It could of had government labs and an introduction to the purpose of the X sector area and what you were about to experience. Instead it just featured a few illusions on walls and flashing lights. -_- The first section of the coaster could of at least had more effects and the shop above should of had a glass floor so that you could see the trains pass below. Nope. Again, signs that the park wasn't making room for visitor experience and was rushing major projects. The queue line... well, do I need to say anything.. everyone knows it's just a black metal fence zigzagging in the most boring way possible, enough said on that.
There was a clear lack of maintenance too during these years, and as many have observed, what little was left of entertainment was slowly eroded in to nonexistence.
THIS, in my opinion, is reflected by the dwindling guest numbers, that weren't enticed by the park or its new offerings and would of subconsciously been put off by the lack of experience compared to other major parks.
2015 was just the nail in the coffin, with the accident happening when it couldn't really get much worse. And look how atrocious those visitor numbers are, admittedly not always the parks fault due to the rags sensationalizing everything, but still bad.
Look at the number increases on the TEA for Europa park up to the near present.
3,950,000 4,000,000 4,250,000 4,250,000 4,500,000 4,600,000 4,900,000 5,000,000 5,500,000 5,600,000. Far, far more consistent. And this is as more themed areas are made, more attention to detail and visitor experience are offered, and regular maintenance has occurred.

One other thing, 1994 seemed like a fantastic year for attendance, and look, Alton Towers were doing things RIGHT that year. Some of the o̶l̶d̶e̶r̶ wiser members here would probably know what a year it was, but sadly neither of us were part of that generation. It makes you think, if Merlin genuinely think that park maintenance, entertainment, and sustained theming are just to cater for enthusiasts and won't reflect on the GP/guest numbers, then they will learn the hard way that this is not true at all as the stagnation will continue, regardless of pricing and new accomodation. What a pity AT didn't learn from their achievements; we can only dream that we can go over the 3 million mark again.
 

Sauron97

TS Member
Precisely. Year of the roller coaster was the year that the UK industry actually seemed like it was heading somewhere good. It goes without saying WHY they were doing the right thing, but yes, Nemesis was the right direction to take in terms of attention paid to attractions and had they followed this up, enthusiasts might just not be as miserable as we can be.
 

JB1985

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Oblivion
@Sauron97 - great post

There seems to be a reoccurring theme spreading across numerous threads. The conclusion is that Merlin are squeezing everything they can margin wise from the park in order the give a better return to investors and shareholders.

It’s not about the park anymore it’s about the ROI

Would the Mack family have the funds to buy the place?
 

GaryH

TS Member
I remember 93 and 94 (sadly yes im that old lol). 93 was a good visit, and I recall seeing all the fences around the Nemesis site, but when 94 opened it felt like a massive turning of the page for the park. With RMT and Haunted House following afterwards, the park was having a lot of investment, and visitors were coming in their droves.

One thing to remember however about 94 is that Nemesis was new technology. No one in Europe had ridden anything like this unless they had been to the States. Its comparable in terms of when the Corkscrew opened, no one back then had been on a coaster with 2 loops.

As time has gone on, visitor numbers have dropped off. There are loads of possible reasons for this, including the Smiler accident. For me, personally, someone who used to visit over 10 times a year (living 4 hours away) and staying in the hotels 3-4 times a year, I now usually visit 3 times a year and don't stay over in the resort hotels now. My reasons are mainly due to the cost and value for money.
 

Slugjc

TS Member
What intrests me in those figures is how stable Visiting numbers were during the financial crises. Considering what massive businesses went under at that time. Find that amazing.

But it also shows for me, how under pressue they must feel about the new ride being a hit. They haveto get this right. It has to work, it has to grab peoples attention and more than anything. Give people some confidence back in the park. It needs to hit the ground running and keep that up for a good couple of years. Hopefully we'll see a park just rise up into a new Golden dawn.

1994, i can remeber the hype around Nemesis. After visiting the Big One in Blackpool weeks before and thinking Wow, what height what drama. At 10 years old it was my first Rollercoaster and i thought well, ive done the largest in my first go. Nothing can top that. Then i walked down the path from the haunted house, saw the thunder looper turned and saw Nemesis for the first time, then to ride it. Its hard to explain. But what i mostly think about Nemesis and the whole atmosphere was that, for 6 years after that, Britain was a boss place to be. We ruled the world, we had a swagger, and Wardley and Alton Towers rowed that wave. I just hope that Alton Towers has finally grabbed it board back up. swam back out to see, can see the wave starting and are ready to start swimming to catch that wave.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Reminds me of a line from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,

"So now, less than [twenty] years later, you can go up on a steep hill in [Staffordshire] and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
 

Graeme

TS Member
If i've said this once, i've said it 1000 times.....

They have lost sight of what is important and what will keep customers coming back and that's customer experience. The whole park is just one massive expense now. Food quality is crap and over priced, the hotels are a complete state, the park looks run down (despite the TLC in places), they back track on decisions, Fast track is over sold.

Now, the comparison as always. Why do Europa get it right? Simple.....

Investment. Now i'm not talking about a new ride every year, I'm talking about the simple things. Every year the park is spruced up in some shape or form and it's clear that they really care about their produce. this in turn, gets noticed by customers, even the non enthusiasts. Also, if you're a day ticket holder, you're a day ticket holder, doesn't matter how much money you have in your pocket, you get treated the same as everyone else.

Food and drink offerings are great across the park, all of the food I have tried has been as good as expected, but yes, is more than you'd pay on the high street but I don't mind for a quality product.

The hotels are pricey BUT somehow, you don't feel like you're being ripped off, because the quality of the hotels and customer service is excellent.

If you show some love and care to your product, people will notice.

Ah but, but, but....TLC. NO......this should be done as routine, they have missed the boat on this one as the resort has already decayed.
 

WillPS

TS Member
What intrests me in those figures is how stable Visiting numbers were during the financial crises. Considering what massive businesses went under at that time. Find that amazing.
People trade down in a recession - for example, Waitrose and M&S Food did very well during the recession as people traded down from regularly using restaurants, more than offsetting the amount of customers who traded down from Waitrose to Sainsburys or Asda. I expect the same is true for families/people who 'traded down' from going to Disney or Universal parks (which suffered during the recession) to visiting theme parks in Britain.

Remember, the peak years of growth for the park in the 90s co-incided with the early 90s recession.
 

Benjsh

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
If i've said this once, i've said it 1000 times.....

They have lost sight of what is important and what will keep customers coming back and that's customer experience. The whole park is just one massive expense now. Food quality is crap and over priced, the hotels are a complete state, the park looks run down (despite the TLC in places), they back track on decisions, Fast track is over sold.

Now, the comparison as always. Why do Europa get it right? Simple.....

Investment. Now i'm not talking about a new ride every year, I'm talking about the simple things. Every year the park is spruced up in some shape or form and it's clear that they really care about their produce. this in turn, gets noticed by customers, even the non enthusiasts. Also, if you're a day ticket holder, you're a day ticket holder, doesn't matter how much money you have in your pocket, you get treated the same as everyone else.

Food and drink offerings are great across the park, all of the food I have tried has been as good as expected, but yes, is more than you'd pay on the high street but I don't mind for a quality product.

The hotels are pricey BUT somehow, you don't feel like you're being ripped off, because the quality of the hotels and customer service is excellent.

If you show some love and care to your product, people will notice.

Ah but, but, but....TLC. NO......this should be done as routine, they have missed the boat on this one as the resort has already decayed.

I think it's a bit unfair to compare it to Europa. Europa Park is owned and ran by Mack and plays its part in being the "showroom" for Mack rides. That ownership model is unique really to the industry. Whilst I agree with you that they are streets ahead, they are streets ahead of most other theme parks too outside of Disney and Universal.
 
The feel you get now at Alton Towers is lack of value for money. Families have been out priced now and parents ain't gonna spend close to £200 to take there kids to a park where to really enjoy every big ride in a day you got to spend even more money on fast track tickets.
 

Graeme

TS Member
I think it's a bit unfair to compare it to Europa. Europa Park is owned and ran by Mack and plays its part in being the "showroom" for Mack rides. That ownership model is unique really to the industry. Whilst I agree with you that they are streets ahead, they are streets ahead of most other theme parks too outside of Disney and Universal.

I don’t think it is unfair.

Surely, it makes sense to look at the best, see how they do things and take some inspiration from that.

The parks are total polar opposites and Merlin are not a tin pot company despite the impression they give.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
The feel you get now at Alton Towers is lack of value for money. Families have been out priced now and parents ain't gonna spend close to £200 to take there kids to a park where to really enjoy every big ride in a day you got to spend even more money on fast track tickets.

Its quite easy to see most of the park without using Fast-Track tickets, I think most people are too lazy to wait in an hour long queue now and want to try and skip everything, whereas 20-30 years ago everyone just waited an hour to ride Nemesis and no-one got to skip the queue.
A family of four can visit for £110 or less using 2for1 vouchers or £121 if booking online (assuming children young enough for child price).

Also I went with my family in 1994 (we collected Safeway vouchers as we couldn't afford the entry back then even) and although I was too scared to ride Nemesis I remember the huge queue for it. There was no option to Fast-track anything and we still queued for a while for Toyland Tours and my brother and Dad queued for the Corkscrew.
We took a packed lunch as again money was tight, but we still got some burgers or something as well in whats now Burger Kitchen next to Toyland Tours. It was park-run back then and the quality was not amazing, as you'd expect for theme park food.

So in some respects things haven't changed for some families, going to AT is still a big expense at over £100, you can't always do everything in a day and theme park food is still high price and average quality. But some things are the same about theme parks worldwide.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
@Matt N Because I am a massive geek I have the Amusement Business (forerunner to TEA) attendance reports printed off in a folder in the loft - so I hope you appreciate my trouble...

2002 - 2,500,000
2003 - 2,500,000
2004 - 2,400,000
2005 - 2,400,000(!) - you have 2,200,000?
2006 - 2,400,000
2007 - 2,400,000

There is a lot of nonsense being posted in this thread, I will post again tomorrow.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
@Matt N Because I am a massive geek I have the Amusement Business (forerunner to TEA) attendance reports printed off in a folder in the loft - so I hope you appreciate my trouble...

2002 - 2,500,000
2003 - 2,500,000
2004 - 2,400,000
2005 - 2,400,000(!) - you have 2,200,000?
2006 - 2,400,000
2007 - 2,400,000

There is a lot of nonsense being posted in this thread, I will post again tomorrow.
Thank you @Rick! I will edit my 2005 and add your 2002, 2003 and 2004 numbers. Looks like your 2006 and 2007 numbers match up to TEA's, which is relieving. Did you use TEA for those?

On a side note, is there any way I can find these on the internet? Also, if you're wondering where I got 2,200,000 from for 2005, I got it from TEA's 10 year review section of EMEA in 2015, but I think your number seems more reliable.
 

Benjsh

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
@Matt N Because I am a massive geek I have the Amusement Business (forerunner to TEA) attendance reports printed off in a folder in the loft - so I hope you appreciate my trouble...

2002 - 2,500,000
2003 - 2,500,000
2004 - 2,400,000
2005 - 2,400,000(!) - you have 2,200,000?
2006 - 2,400,000
2007 - 2,400,000

There is a lot of nonsense being posted in this thread, I will post again tomorrow.

I'd be interested in seeing some of the other UK parks in the same period (90's to present day) if you have that info and don't mind sharing. Just an overview.
 

Slugjc

TS Member
Value for money is a interesting thing. I struggle to think of anywhere that has value for money. Concert tickets/all sporting events/theme parks/attractions etc all charge way too much before and during your visit. Yes you get free stuff, national places but they are few and indeed far between.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I'd be interested in seeing some of the other UK parks in the same period (90's to present day) if you have that info and don't mind sharing. Just an overview.
I don’t actually have any info for other UK parks, but I can try to find some if you want.
 
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