Are Alton Towers actually having a good season?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Thameslink Rail, 15th Aug 2020.

  1. Thameslink Rail

    Thameslink Rail TowersStreet Member

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    So, 2020 was never going to be a good year for amusement and theme parks. I remember back in April/May there was speculation that the 2020 season might not happen at all. Then Boris announced that parks could reopen on the 4th of July. So far most parks have cut budgets and opening hours but Alton Towers have
    1. Added extra dates in September and October
    2. Extended opening hours to 7pm through August for the first time in six years
    3. Added a new event for the first time in 13 years
    4. Extended weekend opening hours in September to 8pm (I have no memory of Alton Towers opening after 7pm outside Scarefest and Fireworks).
    At the same time:
    1. Ride availability at the start was poor, no Rita, Th13teen, Hex, Driving School or Duel. (Still better than Thorpe though)
    2. Wednesday happened
    3. The park seems to be inundated with more complaints than ever before on social media. Common themes include long queues and difficulty to reach customer service.
    I would like to know
    1. If you think Alton Towers is having a good season (or at least better than the last few)
    2. If you think the extended opening hours and extra dates are here to stay.
     
    Last edited: 15th Aug 2020
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    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  2. Connor98

    Connor98 TowersStreet Member

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    It's hard to judge it by anything close to normal standards in my opinion, but you still expect a certain service and in a way, you expect higher levels of attentment from staff in other areas.

    I think it's been a good season for towers all things taken into account, they've been one of the most efficient parks in the UK when it comes to adjusting to covid measures, their operations have been good despite being hindered by covid secure measures. And I think Rita opening on its own in that area would of been a distaster anyway, so waiting for Th13teen to be closer to opening was a good choice in my eyes.

    I'm looking forward to next month when the park will supposedly quieten down (whatever that means now). I'm not sure wether we will see any walk on queues and dead days at the park at all this season, but it will be interesting to see how off peak will feel during covid times.
     
    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  3. ringo

    ringo TowersStreet Member

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    It’s not are they having a good season or are extended hours here to stay - the current extra hours / days are simply to reduce the loss - they will have worked out the numbers required for days to make a profit and if demand is there then they will open. Losses that’s occurred due to Covid-19 is something never seen before.

    Lots of seasonal businesses have extended dates to simply recoup what they’ve lost and demand seems to be there.
     
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    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  4. Danscott22

    Danscott22 TowersStreet Member

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    I personally think: better season than ONLY 2015 in recent years, and also think when things return to normal, extended opening hours and extra dates will not be a thing. I think I've said this before, but if there was no COVID-19 and it was a regular season, they wouldn't have existed.
     
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    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  5. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    I think things are going as well as they could be under the circumstances, and perhaps better than they had originally anticipated when the reopening was planned - hence the extension to opening hours, removal of closed dates etc.

    The season overall will of course be down on previous years because of being closed for so long, but this is giving them a good chance to make up for that lost revenue.

    There is clearly demand from visitors and lots of pent up demand from people not being able to go out for months and not being able or wanting to travel abroad at the moment. A trip to Alton Towers is as good a substitute as any for lots of people right now.

    Typically in tough economic times local parks do quiet well. I think Towers did well during the last recession as people cut back on big holidays and settle for day trips and short breaks instead.
     
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    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  6. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    As above the main reason is with a loss on days they could open, by opening longer days they are able to get more revenue on those days.

    Lets just hope they fully realise longer days = more revenue and happier guests, so next season we might get a full season with longer days. Everyones a winner.
     
    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  7. Matt878787

    Matt878787 TowersStreet Member

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    They really need to hire more Customer Service temps for phone and social media. There’s only so many weeks they can say they’re dealing with a large amount of queries right now.

    It’s the lower level staff I feel sorry for. Nothing puts a dampener on moral than feeling like you’re doing 5 other people’s jobs at the same time because of cost saving from rich suits.
     
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    Posted 15th Aug 2020
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  8. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    More customer service staff?
    More cost for no revenue, and it would give more people a chance to complain!
    Not a chance.
     
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    Posted 16th Aug 2020
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  9. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    I think this is a very interesting discussion thread!

    Obviously 2020 was never going to be a brilliant season, what with the closure at the start of it, but it would certainly seem that reopening has at the very least exceeded Merlin’s expectations! Merlin’s usual reaction to failure is to cut hours and remove days (for example, the 8pm closes at Thorpe failed last year, so they were removed at the start of August), and that is what most other park operators seem to be doing, while Merlin’s parks are increasing operating calendars and going ahead with events!

    The events in particular are a promising sign to me, as if the park’s reopening had failed, surely the events budget would have suffered? Loads of other places have been cancelling events, so it must be somewhat promising that Merlin are pressing ahead with events!

    I’ve also heard rumblings somewhere that the park is letting in around 12,000 at the moment, so bearing in mind that an average day in 2019 was apparently around 10,000 (attendance was approx. 2.1m, and park was apparently open for approx. 210 days), that must be a good sign if the 12,000 rumour is true, as Merlin’s profits in 2019 seemed pretty good!

    The way things are now, I’d be very surprised if the park was not making some form of decent profit, at least on the days it’s been open.
     
    Posted 16th Aug 2020
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  10. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    longer days doesn’t always mean more revenue if the capacity of the park can’t be increased as you can still only sell a fixed number of tickets. The main way to get extra revenue is to encourage people to stay into the evening so they have to eat two meals in the park, this is why Scarefest and Fireworks are such good things for them (same as why Disney have fireworks most nights).
    Even with the current 7pm closures it might help guest satisfaction having longer days, but I expect most people will leave and eat on the way home, so there are extra costs of staff keeping the park open longer but unlikely to get much direct extra revenue. But if guests have a good day out they are more likely to recommend the park and return.
     
  11. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    I have no idea if they're having a good season. I'm struggling to get a ticket.

    The queues on park are horrendous, amplified by the dire lack of support rides.

    Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
     
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  12. Themeparksandy1981

    Themeparksandy1981 TowersStreet Member

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    I wonder what the % of daily visitor numbers are season, annual, Merlin pass holders and Sun free ticket holders?
     
  13. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    I would imagine they have just a few hundred MAP/SP holders admitted a day. Add this in to the online booking, and I would imagine ATR's value per guest is actually higher this season than it has been - thus reducing the incentive to allow passholders back in.
     
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  14. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    I think it shows that there are very few annual/season pass tickets available yet you can always get normal tickets.

    It seems looking at queue times and the park that it is really busy, but is thst due to lack of rides, so throughputs and distancing on rides and queues? Or is it being the park really is doing well.

    I’ve been a few times this season and I would say on some visits it felt busier than ever, even just on pathways at on Towers Street, certainly didn’t feel particularly restricted.

    I do think though after this season they’ll have a lot of annoyed season and annual pass holders who probably won’t bother buying a pass. And I imagine now there are a lot who haven’t renewed due to the £1 booking fee and the availability of pass tickets being pretty hard to come by. Which of course could hurt them more in the long run if they annoy their loyal customers the most.

    Howver it’s great to see 7pm closes, events, etc and let’s hope these continue in the future. Will be interesting to see what happens in September as we do still have a few 4pm closes on the opening times.
     
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  15. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    Not something passholders want to hear, but I hope this is the beginning of the end for the stupid policy of the park trying to discount their way to prosperity. In recent years Towers has effectively been giving away tickets and passes, paid for by cut backs and retail closures. It's like the theme park version of hyper inflation caused by their own quantitive easing.

    I've always maintained my belief that there's a market for Towers and that the parks troubles are completely self/Merlin inflicted.

    The park does feel busy and that's the only barometer you can use for whether they're having a good season of not (in relative terms of course due to the current situation). You can't use queue times as they're mostly so shocking because of the sheer lack of attractions. Again, years of cutbacks have shot them in the foot. The park has both enough space and the infrastructure to not have to restrict visitor numbers by much at all but has to due to the lack of things to do. A few more thousand on park and pretty much every queue line would be full with no where else for people to go.

    Sent from my VOG-L29 using Tapatalk
     
  16. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I had the same hope, but then saw vouchers on Cadbury packets
     
  17. Mr Pearse

    Mr Pearse TowersStreet Member

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    I’m still calling this season a write off next year will be the test to find out how the park is doing. End of the day all events have gone ahead as that’s what has been budgeting, next season will be the one to watch to see how they make up the loss from this year.
     
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  18. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    They are definitely having a better than expected season but I don’t think it’s enough to save us against the inevitable capital cuts that will follow this pandemic.
     
    Posted 3rd Sep 2020
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  19. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I'm more optimistic about the Merlin RTPs and capital investment than I am about Disney parks at the moment.
     
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    Posted 3rd Sep 2020
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  20. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    You would think based on performance but the business models are vastly different.
     
    Posted 3rd Sep 2020
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