Cuts 2015: How the consistency of the product is being eroded.

Tom

TS Member
CVC and Blackstone are long time backers in Merlin, but they will have realise dthat now is the time to get out. You simply cannot maintain growth at the rates they hope and I think those firms have identified that and think that now is the time to cash in.
 

smudge

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Les be honest, the days where the park shuts half an hour early, most guests will have left by then anyway. I'll always go 'off peak' to avoid the que's, but have done everything including re-rides by lunchtime. I Just hope they don't make the cuts when the park NEEDS to be open longer.

Just to explain my point a bit better, you're likely to experience much more (more 'value for money' if you think like that) on these 'off-peak' days, you don't need the late evenings to enjoy all of the attractions and the weather hardly constitutes sitting on the lawns and 'hanging about.'

There's always the hotels if you do want to hang around. Maybe that's one of the driving factors behind this decision...
 

jon81uk

TS Member
There's always the hotels if you do want to hang around. Maybe that's one of the driving factors behind this decision...


Trouble is for most guests if they leave the park at 4:30pm then they might as well drive straight home. The only need for a hotel is if you stay in the park later and therefore don't feel you can get home in one day.
This is why they local B&Bs campaigned against the noise order, the fireworks really encourage people to stay in the parks longer and therefore are more likely to stay over. Also again one of the reasons Disney have night entertainment, it keeps people in the park later, spending on dinner etc.
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
I am really concerned if the rumours about staggered openings come out...

- it is embarrassing to be an enthusiast of a park which acts in this way and trying to promote it to others becomes awkward
- guests are going to complain if they cannot get on key rides and attractions at 10am
- staff could become more stressed if there are not enough in key positions
- staff pay could become affected as hours are likely to be reduced

Removing all Fastrack would certainly help to cut staff ;)
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Well fast track isn't needed on off-peak days anyway when they are planning to close at 4:30 so they shouldn't be selling it anyway, as you say that means they don't need to staff merge points or sales booths.
Also I think they could open Sub-Terra a little later as it is staff heavy and not something you would repeat ride in a day. Also on cold weekdays in March & October there is no need to open water rides early as again, they shouldn't be busy on weekdays when they weather is cold. But all other rides should be ready to open on time at 10am.
 

Tom

TS Member
Actually, the target is to not have too much of a distinction between days at any time of the year. The target is that people want to buy Fastrack regardless of attendance.
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
One thing that is a positive (yes, there are some..) is that although some days are now 4.30pm, there is a clear distinction between closing times on week days and weekends. Which, there are should be. When a park is busier, it should open later and when it is quiet, it should close earlier. In 2012, for example, Alton Towers was closing at 5pm pretty much daily - regardless whether there were 5,000 or 15,000 guests in the park!

Obviously 4.30pm is too early under any circumstance really, but I have to say it is pleasing to see that most Saturdays are remaining at 6pm.
 

John

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Actually, the target is to not have too much of a distinction between days at any time of the year. The target is that people want to buy Fastrack regardless of attendance.
I can see this being the case on Air at least, as no doubt we'll be seeing more 1 station operation on relatively busy days.
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
We could actually see better park hours at weekends in 2015 than we did in 2014. But those quieter term time week days, will see a cut in both park hours and ride opening times within those hours.

From a selfish point of view, I might find 2015 better.

:p
 

Scott

Former TS Team Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Simply put - if the KPIs stay fairly high, the cuts will gradually continue.

Every season without fail since TowersStreet was founded there have been cuts (and many many U turns). I mean the first bloody news article on the site was about late ride openings!

They've tried many things and cancelled them after backlashes but I fear this season may be the year that they really go for it without care for the reaction - now that the shareholders are there to please in a big way.

It's a case of gradually squeezing the product up until the point it affects reviews on the touchscreens too much. Then things will change the other way a bit more... Touch screens seem to be Merlin's way of deciding everything!

Anyway, the whole atmosphere right now makes me very worried about Scarefest and Fireworks.
 

TheMan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
NemiLerVion
If the private equity guys are getting out, they've squeezed the company, got the best share price, sell them off, be guaranteed they know something we don't or they'd still be in.

There's always an exit strategy for high level investment. Put the work in, grow the profit, then get out.

If they're actually selling now, leaving Merlin totally beholden to the stock market.

Oh dear.
 
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Spark

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Same thing happened to American Adventure, however they are still improving areas at AT. maintenance is the important part, if they cut back on this then will we see rides closed due to not passing H&S
 

smudge

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Towers won't demise like AA. The brand is too strong nationally unlike AA. Worse case, merlin offload and towers is privately owned. Hopefully stock holdings won't be interested in something like AT on its own. I certainly wouldn't be interested. Not for return anyway. The midways & Lego however, remain very attractive for investors. Merlin should just concentrate on them IMHO. Saying that IF towers was privately owned, we wouldn't be seeing the levels of investment we've been used to - Catch 22. Investments & operations would be better for the park in the long run however.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Towers won't demise like AA. The brand is too strong nationally unlike AA. Worse case, merlin offload and towers is privately owned. Hopefully stock holdings won't be interested in something like AT on its own. I certainly wouldn't be interested. Not for return anyway. The midways & Lego however, remain very attractive for investors. Merlin should just concentrate on them IMHO. Saying that IF towers was privately owned, we wouldn't be seeing the levels of investment we've been used to - Catch 22. Investments & operations would be better for the park in the long run however.

Basically I think if AT was privately owned (if Tussaud's had never bought it) then it would be very similar to Drayton Manor now, a good medium size park, not the best in the UK that Tussaud's made it into.
 

thefatone

TS Member
If the private equity guys are getting out, they've squeezed the company, got the best share price, sell them off, be guaranteed they know something we don't or they'd still be in.

There's always an exit strategy for high level investment. Put the work in, grow the profit, then get out.

If they're actually selling now, leaving Merlin totally beholden to the stock market.

Oh dear.
Someone doesn't understand what Private Equity does :).

They buy a company that they think they can make value of - they cut spending or increase value in other ways (by adding more to it's portfolio, for instance), then they sell it at a huge profit. They have a huge profit awaiting, they're gonna sell it.

Private Equity NEVER stays on board. That's not what they do. They only keep it if they have to (such as if the markets collapse..).

The owners who replace it? Who says they're greedy companies with such demands? It could be that Kirkbi (owners of LEGO) invest further in the company. They have a good background. They'd do well with their less demands.

If anything, in my eyes, CVC and Blackstone removal can only be a good thing. It can't get any worse.

(To add: Tom obviously has no understanding of how Merlin works and just assumes they micromanage everything, which is not the case at all. Obvious case in point that the likes of Chessington would close earlier when completely dead, rather than Alton)
 

Tom

TS Member
A private equity firm will stay on board if they think that double digit growth is sustainable, it would make no sense to leave otherwise. They have obviously determined that the growth is unsustainable and have chosen to cash in now. There is no indication that any significant number of people believe that Merlin's growth is sustainable in the long term and the stagnation of the share price since flotation is testament to that.

If you want to believe that Alton Towers is being repressed by Merlin and its shareholders, and would open every hour god sends to keep people happy if it could, that's fine.
 

thefatone

TS Member
A private equity firm will stay on board if they think that double digit growth is sustainable, it would make no sense to leave otherwise.
No they don't. They don't care what growth it's making, all they care about is making the maximum amount in the shortest time possible.

I'd suggest reading a really good book by Robert Peston - Who runs britain (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Runs-Br...d_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1WT4MPCFQCH7NK0XX8NC). It tells you exactly what Private Equity is about, why they do what they do, and why your understanding of them is completely wrong.
 

AT86

TS Member
Alton Towers has ultimately been owned by investment capitalists since 1998.

I don't think it is a co - incidence that with a few exceptions the quality of new installations has fallen since this time. Nemesis and Oblivion are arguably the parks best all round attractions. The erosion of the 'magic' and declining interest in the level of guest experience also started to decline around this time.

For this reason I don't see it as a bad thing that these shares are being sold. Maybe getting rid of the vultures can help towards a refocus of a more customer centric culture at Merlin? (I can dream, right?)
 

Tom

TS Member
No they don't. They don't care what growth it's making, all they care about is making the maximum amount in the shortest time possible.

I'd suggest reading a really good book by Robert Peston - Who runs britain (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Runs-Br...d_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1WT4MPCFQCH7NK0XX8NC). It tells you exactly what Private Equity is about, why they do what they do, and why your understanding of them is completely wrong.

I'm considerably well-versed in business practices, and I don't require a BBC libertarian economic journalist's opinion on generic issues to enhance my knowledge.

What you're suggesting is that they are turning their back on at least 10% year-on-year compounded growth of their investment, which is absurd. However with your posting history I'd suggest it's argumentation/controversy for the sake of it in any event.
 
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