Have we passed the golden age of theme parks?

jon81uk

TS Member
Personally I think the cost is a lot to do with it

a day out at towers is easily £100 plus for a family of four let along six like my family. I can pay for a whole years national trust membership for that
But that was the same in the 90s.
I only went to Alton Towers once as a child/teenager as it was expensive, but we did make a few trips to Drayton Manor. But we had National Trust membership for years!
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Nobody is talking about BPB building the tallest rollercoaster in the world, or Alton Towers building a true world’s first or Chessington creating first class dark rides.

The best we can muster now is Thorpe’s new ANPR cameras and whether Alton might ever decide to clean the monorail instead of bulldozing it.

I get the point you are making, but Alton Towers have installed two world-class coasters in the last 10 years (Smiler and Wicker Man). Thorpe did make a ground-breaking experience with Derren Brown (even if the use of VR tech didn't really work properly, it was all very new ideas). There is still some ambition, but there just aren't as many parks doing it.
 

ChristmasPud

TS Member
I personally think that the quality of the rides produced in the 2010s far outweighs that of the rides produced in the decades before it, on average. There are of course exceptions, but on the whole, I think coaster quality is arguably the highest it's ever been. I think that the same goes for other types of theme park attraction; for example, dark rides and immersive attractions are arguably on levels of quality we've never seen before
In the UK or around the world? It seems very rare for a British park to still have a really entertaining dark ride let alone open a new one. Both coasters and dark rides have made some brilliant innovations since the boom in the 90s but we see barely any of this in the UK. This country's parks are playing catch up

You'll always get an amount of "it's rubbish now" / "that was the real Alton Towers" said about any time, be it the 1800s or 2020s. But in many ways, yes there was a silver age in the 90s and I think everyone really loves what came out of that. A lot of the stuff from that era is still the British parks' bread and butter appeal.

If you look beyond the big marketed parks, there are still gems popping up often! And Wicker man was the first solidly good big themed coaster a UK park has opened for a long time, Icon a fun ride too.

Some parks that were once rapidly growing face challenges today that maybe they didn't have back then. It's a mixed bag, but the public clearly still enjoy parks. I think parks should focus on maintaining their solid appeal than jumping on fads and gimmicks to try stay relevant.
 
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Benjsh

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Comes down to finances. House prices, electricity costs, petrol costs and just about everything else in the UK are some kind of sick joke compared to our European Neighbours and America too.

People just don't have as much disposable income as they once did. My parents house (4 bed detached new build) cost them 30 grand brand new in the 1980's. It's now worth over 300 grand. Wages have risen since the 80's of course but not ten fold.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
In the UK or around the world? It seems very rare for a British park to still have a really entertaining dark ride let alone open a new one. Both coasters and dark rides have made some brilliant innovations since the boom in the 90s but we see barely any of this in the UK. This country's parks are playing catch up

You'll always get an amount of "it's rubbish now" / "that was the real Alton Towers" said about any time, be it the 1800s or 2020s. But in many ways, yes there was a silver age in the 90s and I think everyone really loves what came out of that. A lot of the stuff from that era is still the British parks' bread and butter appeal.

If you look beyond the big marketed parks, there are still gems popping up often! And Wicker man was the first solidly good big themed coaster a UK park has opened for a long time, Icon a fun ride too.

Some parks that were once rapidly growing face challenges today that maybe they didn't have back then. It's a mixed bag, but the public clearly still enjoy parks. I think parks should focus on maintaining their solid appeal than jumping on fads and gimmicks to try stay relevant.
I was actually referring to around the world in my statement; I won't deny, the UK has built some great stuff in this decade, but if you look in worldwide polls ranking things like coasters and dark rides, for example, most of the top ones were built during the 2010s.
 

ChristmasPud

TS Member
if you look in worldwide polls ranking things like coasters and dark rides, for example, most of the top ones were built during the 2010s.
Ok but polls are never anything to rely on really, most of them are self congratulatory industry promotional articles. They're always going to focus on the latest thing
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Ok but polls are never anything to rely on really, most of them are self congratulatory industry promotional articles. They're always going to say the latest thing is best because that's the way promo works
I'm not just referring to polls; if you talk to a lot of enthusiasts and ask them what their favourite roller coaster, dark ride, water ride or any other category of ride is, there's a 90% chance that it was built in the 2010s.
 

D4n

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Zadra
I'm not just referring to polls; if you talk to a lot of enthusiasts and ask them what their favourite roller coaster, dark ride, water ride or any other category of ride is, there's a 90% chance that it was built in the 2010s.

With the UK being the exception (again) which is seemingly yet to surpass Nemesis
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
With the UK being the exception (again) which is seemingly yet to surpass Nemesis
Yes; that's certainly true in the case of the UK. I personally wouldn't say Nemesis is my UK favourite (it's my 3rd favourite in the country behind Icon and The Swarm), but I seem to be in quite a minority there!

Looking around the world scene, however; most of the favourite rides in enthusiast polls and ranking threads seem to have been built in the 2010s. For example, in the 2019 ElloCoaster poll, Nemesis was the only coaster in the top 25 steel built before 2000, and I think only a few others were built in the 2000s. The top 25 coasters in that poll were almost predominantly built during the 2010s.
 

Thameslink Rail

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
I think it would be interesting to run a UK rollercoaster poll on this forum to find out whether we prefer the latest rollercoasters or older ones. (I would be happy to run such a poll if others would like to partake).
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I think it would be interesting to run a UK rollercoaster poll on this forum to find out whether we prefer the latest rollercoasters or older ones. (I would be happy to run such a poll if others would like to partake).
I have run a similar sort of thing in the past (and am currently running for this year) using people's posts in the Top Ten Coasters thread as ballots, and here are the results of those from 2019, if you want to see them: https://towersstreet.com/talk/threads/your-top-ten-coasters.160/page-24#post-276441

I don't know about you, but I think these show quite a significant bias towards newer coasters; only 6 coasters in the top 25 were built before 2000, and a further 7 were built during the 2000s. That means that 12 of the top 25 coasters opened in the 2010s, so on the whole, this site seems to prefer newer coasters.

Also, let me take this opportunity to remind you all; if you want your list to be included in TowersStreet's Favourite Coasters of 2020, get posting in the Top Ten Coasters thread!
 

RoyJess

TS Member
Let's have a poll.

It's been ages since any ranking has gone on around this forum.

Oh please not another forum ranking! :rolleyes:

I personally feel that there is a lot of potential for the UK theme park market, the trouble is that Merlin has monopolised the market in this country and chipped away at it product. Back in the 80's, 90's it was a race to the top, who could build the biggest, fastest ride, now a-days it's now a race to the bottom.

Yes times change, you need to bring in new rides and attractions, but also you also need to keep some of the old classics. As far as I'm concern in addition to your rollercoasters, all themeparks should at least contain a log flume, an old fashion carousel, rapids, a good indoor dark ride or two.

OK the themeing is not great at Alton Towers, but then it never was back in the day. However it did seem a lot tidier and cleaner back then.
 
The uk market peaked late 90s when the age range of early to late 30’s went to theme parks with our own families and then friends then 1 by 1 we all got married and had kids but the big difference is my friends and people who I work with don’t take there kids to theme parks as after been at work 5/6 days a week they just want to rest watching the footie on Sunday or steaming movies. Just a day out at Alton towers for a family of four costs a minimum of £118 with park tickets and parking then you got petrol £20 to £30 then you got food&drink around £50 so really a day out costs between £150 and £200 just to queue you for a 3 min ride each time.
My daughter been to many theme parks since she was 2 but most of her friends play on your consoles or tablets.
 
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