Alton Towers visitor figures through the years

OilyWater

TS Member
In some planning application from the last 5 years, Merlin releaed their own attendance figures for all their UK parks since their beginnings, even before they owned the parks. It was fascinating and I wish I had saved it, I've never found it since. There were very interesting and obvious patterns from some years to the next differing between each park.

Does anybody have this? Can't remember which application it was on, or what year it was published! One of the southern parks I think, maybe Legoland?

There is a lot of nonsense being posted in this thread, I will post again tomorrow.
Thanks for the warning.
(I joke!)
 

Dave

TS Founding Member
I wouldn't make too many assumptions about trading when it comes to the reported attendance figures. There is no legal requirement for them to be accurate.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
I wouldn't make too many assumptions about trading when it comes to the reported attendance figures. There is no legal requirement for them to be accurate.
If they're part of shareholder communications there is.
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
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.

I think you are looking at this from too much of an enthusiast's perspective. You make good points, but a lot of the non-enthusiast general public responded very positively to The Smiler when in first opened, moreso than for The Swarm the previous year at Thorpe Park. Yes, it didn't get visitor numbers over 3 million, but the number of visitors from 2010-2014 are still pretty impressive. Things like the queue line and lack of effects in the first section of the ride may have annoyed many an enthusiast, but I doubt the wider public cared as much you'd think. For most people, it was still a massive, 14 looping thrill ride, and that was all that counted. A lot of my non-enthusiast friends aren't that fussed on anything outside of the actual ride experience itself.

The one fundamental reason that the park numbers have dipped below 2 million is because of the crash. I still feel people underestimate on here just how much of a negative effect that had on the park. It's no coincidence that only 2015 and 2016 seem to have less than 2 million visitors in total. We can say Merlin's lack of care played a contributing part, but I'm fairly convinced had the crash not happened, we'd have still seen over 2 million visitors the past few years. The additions to the park in 2006 and 2007 were weaker than anything under Merlin, and yet there were still over 2 million.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
I don't think the comparison of Alton Towers & Europa Park is at all unfair - even if they are at opposite polar ends of the scale when it comes to product offering / theming / day out experience. Mack have invested heavily in Europa Park and spruce bits of the park up each year. Alton Towers leave areas to rot for a few years then wheel out the maintenance under the guise of TLC.

It's all about attention to detail. I remember at Europa Park we were in the Mine Train station & a train was despatched. The Operator noticed one of the two red rear lights on the train had blown & was on the phone for maintenance. By the time we boarded the train an electrician had arrived & only had time to unscrew the bulb cover before the train was sent again. Bulb swapped when we came back into the station & the cover doubtless replaced after the following ride-cycle. Had this been Alton Towers the Op would not have seen the rear light due to the Op cabin location, but had the platform host noted it it'd just have gone down on the defect sheet to be looked at the following morning / more likely at the end of season.

I know someone who used to work for Mack Rides at Europa Park and remember him telling me something along the lines of "Our guests come and pay their admission fee and expect to get 10-15 rides in a day. If they do not they are at Guest Services demanding a refund". So all the rides at Europa Park are high-capacity and run with ruthless efficiency so that all guests have a great day out - not just the ones with a fat wallet for FastTracks like at Alton Towers.

TBH, I consider Europa Park to be the best theme park in the World. I'm no fan of Disney in any shape or form, but I genuinely believe Europa Park gives Disney a run for it's money - especially if you like the more intense rides as Disney is in the main, fairly family-orientated.
 

Robert.W

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
The TEA report for 2017 has just been released! :)
DdZ_s5hX4AAFjjK
 

Dave

TS Founding Member
Attendance is important in the aftermath of the Smiler incident as it’s a good indicator of public trust in the product. The key thing Merlin will want to see though is operating profits and guest KPI scores.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
Attendance is important in the aftermath of the Smiler incident as it’s a good indicator of public trust in the product. The key thing Merlin will want to see though is operating profits and guest KPI scores.
It depends if it's more one off day visitors returning to the park for their annual trip or if it's passholders coming every weekend making the most of the shorter queues. Without specifics in terms of the visitors demographics, it's not particularly helpful.
 

Mikw

TS Member
It depends if it's more one off day visitors returning to the park for their annual trip or if it's passholders coming every weekend making the most of the shorter queues. Without specifics in terms of the visitors demographics, it's not particularly helpful.
Good point, I've been loads this year because of the season pass. Guess this might have been brought in just to inflate the visitor numbers?

I hope it works though, i'd like to see Alton get a bigger budget and they might if they have a big increase in visitors
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
As a rule of thumb, more regular visitors = lower per cap spending which is an important (largely unreleased) metric.
 
With Wickerman this year I'm sure attendance will be higher.
Per capita spending should be up as well because there will be lots of one-off visitors for the new coaster.
Don't forget that although typically per capita spending is lower with AP holders they do tend to be a major source of bookings in accommodation.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Sorry to bump the thread, but according to Wikipedia, Alton Towers got 2,350,000 visitors in 2018. How likely do you guys reckon this is? I'll wait until the TEA report comes out in May before I update anything, but I'd be interested to see what you guys think to this figure.
 

Graeme

TS Member
It seems like a fairly reasonable increase from the year before, considering a new ride has been installed.

I can't really judge the hype around it and crowd levels as i didn't visit.
 

RoyJess

TS Member
If it on Wikipedia then it must be true :rolleyes:

If those guest figures are true, then someone better tell the person that is in charge of Merlin's budget :rolleyes:

Looking at today's complaints on Alton's FB page, looks like families are having a great time spending most of the day queuing to get into an over booked swimming pool without any guarantee that they will be able to get in.
 
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