Alton Towers visitor figures through the years

Matt N

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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
The TEA attendance report for 2019 has been released and is reporting a 1.4% growth in visits to Alton Towers over the previous year - adding 30,000 new visits for a total of 2,130,000 guests.
Thanks very much @AT86; I’ll add that to my info!
 

AT86

TS Member
This document might help with this thread @Matt N. It has been released as part of the Chessington new coaster consultation so it perhaps more official than the TEA reports. It shows that as of 2019 the park was getting around 2.5 million guests per year, the highest since 2013.

Sorry it is not overly clear, the quality of the document isn't great. Alton Towers is the green line.

bKmGkff.jpg
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Here is a link to that image https://www.cwoa-consultation.com/proposals?lightbox=dataItem-komw1163

I find it very interesting how great a year all the parks had in 2010, that Chessington had almost no investment in the 2000s and the massive benefit Colossus had to Thorpe and then again with Saw.
Also that Wickerman really did bring the rebound back to Alton, but it looks like the Smiler incident also affected numbers at Thorpe too, with DBGT really not bringing anyone back in.
 

AT86

TS Member
I am surprised TEA didn’t restate some of the 2019 figures for UK Merlin parks since Merlin actually released these earlier in the year.

The 2019 TEA report Alton Towers figure is 2.1 million, whereas the Merlin released info is more like 2.5 million.

Likewise the 2020 figure is closer to 1million on the Merlin data versus 670k on the TEA report.
 

Matt N

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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I am surprised TEA didn’t restate some of the 2019 figures for UK Merlin parks since Merlin actually released these earlier in the year.

The 2019 TEA report Alton Towers figure is 2.1 million, whereas the Merlin released info is more like 2.5 million.

Likewise the 2020 figure is closer to 1million on the Merlin data versus 670k on the TEA report.
I’ll admit I’m surprised by that too; surely they’d take actual data if Merlin provided it?

Although maybe Merlin don’t want them using the exact figures…

Also, the only reason I didn’t put the actual figures in there is because it’s a little hard to pinpoint exact attendance figures from the graph that Merlin showed.
 

Matt N

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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
The 2021 TEA report has been released, and it claims that Alton Towers got 1,800,000 visitors in 2021, which is a 169% increase on 2020’s figure of 670,000: https://aecom.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/reports/AECOM-Theme-Index-2021.pdf

It appears that Alton Towers has now reclaimed the title of the UK’s most visited theme park in the eyes of the TEA report.

Interestingly, the TEA report claims that Thorpe Park came within 100k of Alton Towers in 2021 and became the UK’s second most visited theme park (Thorpe is listed at 1,700,000 in the TEA report, with a 183% increase on 2020 and a near return to 2019 levels). Legoland came in third, being listed at 1,500,000 and a 233% increase on 2020, while CWOA came in last, being listed at 1,450,000 and a 184% increase on 2020.

I must admit that having recently done that dive into Merlin’s own attendance graph, I find the discrepancy between the TEA report figures and the Merlin figures very intriguing. For instance, TEA claims that Alton Towers only got 670,000 in 2020, while Merlin’s own graph states that they got close to 1 million (I pegged it at ~937,500, to the nearest 31,250). TEA also claims that the park only got 2,130,000 guests in 2019, and were still trailing LLW, while Merlin’s own graph claims that the 2019 figure was more like 2.5 million (I pegged it at ~2,500,000 exactly to the nearest 31,250, in fact), and that the park was only below LLW in the post-Smiler doldrums of 2015-2017, with Wicker Man’s opening in 2018 seeing Towers reclaim the title.

I might update the list at the start of this thread with my estimates that I extrapolated from the Merlin graph… I really hope Merlin wheels out that graph again and reveals the 2021 attendances before too long!
 

Nick🎢

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Spinball Whizzer 😒
Lots of variables.

Is it just bodies through the gate. How do they count multi day trips. Are annual pass visits counted. All that kind of stuff. Are we counting sales or turnstiles etc. #RandomMumbles
 

Matt N

TS Member
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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Lots of variables.

Is it just bodies through the gate. How do they count multi day trips. Are annual pass visits counted. All that kind of stuff. Are we counting sales or turnstiles etc. #RandomMumbles
I don’t really know, but I assumed that the metric used was fairly similar. I assumed it was the number of unique guests who visited each year, but I could be wrong and it could be the number of visits.

One thing that leads me to believe that this discrepancy is not caused by the way Merlin reports attendance compared to TEA is that the discrepancy seemingly works in different directions for each park.

While the TEA report is seemingly harsh on Alton Towers compared to Merlin’s graph (for instance, TEA listed Alton 2019 as 2,130,000, while Merlin lists it as ~2,500,000), it’s actually quite kind to Thorpe Park and Legoland Windsor (for instance, Thorpe 2019 is listed by TEA as 1,900,000, while Merlin lists it as ~1,500,000. Ditto with LLW 2019; it’s listed by TEA as 2,410,000, while Merlin’s graph lists it as ~2,062,500), which would suggest that the discrepancy probably isn’t caused by Merlin reporting their attendance in a different way. If it was caused by, say, Merlin having a slightly more generous definition of “attendance” than TEA, surely the discrepancy would always work in the same direction and make the parks look better on the Merlin graph, no? However, the Merlin graph quite often reports worse numbers for a year at a particular park than the TEA report does, which would suggest that it’s not Merlin being more generous or more harsh in their assessment of “attendance” than TEA.

In some years pre-Smiler, Merlin and TEA’s figures were actually in quite close lockstep with one another, for what it’s worth.
 

Matt N

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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
No way did Thorpe came within 100k visitors of Towers. These figures aren't accurate
I'm led to believe that the TEA report is an educated estimate rather than a concrete figure.

Personally, I'd be more inclined to trust Merlin's own graph, which was provided to support recent planning applications and is therefore likely to be very accurate; I've added the figures this provides up to 2020 (extrapolated by myself to the nearest 31,250) to my opening post in this thread.

We don't actually know the 2021 figures, though, and COVID did do strange things to guest figures at many places, so I guess we don't know for sure until Merlin wheels out the attendance graph again to support a future planning application!
 
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Matt N

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Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I meant to update this thread when the 2021 version of Merlin’s graph came out recently as part of Chessington’s waterpark consultation.

The discrepancy between the Themed Entertainment Association and Merlin is ever growing, it would seem… while TEA says that Alton got 1,800,000 in 2021, which would make it lower than even the worst post-Smiler years in their book, Merlin’s graph seems to imply somewhere around 2,343,750, which would make 2021 Alton’s 2nd highest year since 2013.

In terms of the other parks; even though they did Alton down by over 500k, TEA were almost 500k too generous towards Thorpe in their 2021 report. TEA said that Thorpe got 1,700,000 in 2021, which in their book would have Thorpe down as getting merely 100,000 less visitors than Alton, while Merlin’s own graph says that Thorpe got somewhere around 1,218,750 in 2021, which makes the 2021 difference between Thorpe and Alton over 1,000,000.
 
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