Discussion in 'European Parks and Attractions' started by Islander, 20th Jul 2012.
@Matt N I can't tell if you're being serious or not?
You must be their favourite customer
Doesn't this policy of turning day tickets into season tickets match up with Merlin's targets? I can't remember the exact phrasing but Varney did an interview about repeat custom and second gate attractions, such as the treetops adventure.I suppose its an easy way to hit targets and look good on the annual report.
Maybe Bill Gates was onto something about lazy employees doing hard work.
I disagree with a few of the points raised in various posts above.
Heide-Parks guest figures are poor. The very fact they now get 25% less guests than in 2001 says a lot. The other German parks seem to be maintaining or increasing their guest intake each year.
Regarding the state of the park under Merlin rather than Tussauds. It would be true to say that the initial developments under Merlin (rather like we saw at Alton Towers) saw an improvement, however after that initial spike, we have seen the Heide-Park offer dwindle significantly. These include:
- A reduction in food and beverage availability
- Homogenisation of food and beverage into the Merlin way
- Loss of ride stock
- Loss of live entertainment
- Typical Merlin 'negative' theming
With the closure of Colossos, Heide-Park are no longer under any illusion. The greatest ride that park have was one built by the family owners of the years gone by. Hansa-Park are making every effort to replace Heide-Park as the family park choice of the north and have done a very good job in recent years. Heide-Park received around 100,000 guests more than Hansa-Park in 2016 - and I suspect that in 2017 the figure could almost have matched, such was the dire-nature of their season last year.
Regarding the admission price, Hansa-Park are clearly having to cut down their own entry prices in order to cope with Merlin's aggressive bargain basement policies.
I was hoping it would only be the UK industry that would suffer at the hands of Merlin's crackpot ideas but it looks like they are now trying to force it down the German throats too.
I can't tell you how crap Heide-Park was when I visited 2 years ago compared to when I visited in 2011. And, what makes it all better, is the German fans think Merlin are a waste of space too.
So Heide Park is close to being beaten by a small family-owned theme park nearby in terms of guest figures? Now I get why you think they are atrocious in terms of guest figures. Hansa also looks to have some superior rides, in my opinion. Have you seen Kärnan and Fluch Von Novgorod?
When Heide loses its main appeal for international visitors location plays a big part in visitor figures. Hansa has better transport links to Hamburg and is close to Lubeck which is a UNESCO heritage site. It's more accessible from Poland and Denmark. Soltau is in the middle of nowhere and you'd only really be heading there if you were going cross country (probably to better parks) or to the theme park itself. Anywhere over an hour away from Soltau and you'd have similar or better options Phantasialand/Movie Park to the west and Hansa to the east. For families theres also the Fort adventure place, so unless you are theme park mad there's a lot of competition around for an annual day out.
Karnan has filled a thrill gap that was missing when Colossos went down which may account for the higher figures. Plus it was an anniversary year at Hansa which has seen significant marketing over the past 2 years.
Heide is still a decent park. Even if it is losing its identity by throwing in a third IP in as many years and squeezing peppa pig into an area that will ruin the aesthetics and the immersion of the area. (Think Garda's western area right next to Oblivion).
Heide is OK if you are looking purely at rides. But then - nothing is exactly "stand-out" - at least, not without Colossos. Scream is probably one of the best towers in Europe, but that is where it ends.
However, the reason I labelled my trip there a couple of years ago as "crap" was the fact that there was a confused ambience, a bizarre mish-mash of themes/areas and several areas just mothballed and/or closed for whatever reason.
It just felt... flat.
When you walked into Hansa-Park, there was a live band playing, and the flowers had been re-arranged with the date of the day. It felt quite the opposite, even if the rides are, in theory, better at Heide-Park.
In my opinion, I do actually think Hansa looks superior to Heide from the point of view of someone who has visited neither. The theming at Hansa looks stunning from pictures, and even in terms of roller coasters, Heide only has 2 more than Hansa including Colossos. Kärnan and Novgorod are both branded as fantastic rides by people who have visited, also. The only ride I've ever heard get consistently rave reviews at Heide is Colossos, even though I'm sure Flug Der Dämonen and Krake are excellent rides. I'm presuming Hansa is also much better value in terms of admission prices.
Sorry Matt but the theming in Heide vs Hansa is a no contest. Heide is a lot more consistent and to a higher quality. Even Karnan has some poor quality work on its tower. Just penny saving things that Merlin would get slaughtered for in any of their parks.
Karnan is the stand out ride out of the 2 parks. Novogrod is good but is very much a ride of 2 halves, like Karacho at Tripsdrill.
I like both parks but they are very different.
Hansa-Park offers more immersive ride experiences than Heide-Park. Novgorod is one of the best themed coaster experiences in Europe. Heide-Park has nothing of that quality.
Saying that, Hansa also has some unthemed older rides, like Nessie, from its olden days of the 70s and 80s. But then... Heide-Park also has these rides, like Big Loop. And then... Heide-Park has Limit. The less said the better on that!
Neither park is consistent.
Agree on the story aspects of Karnan. I did read recently Nessie is getting a retheme for 2018.
Just to bring this back to topic and prove I'm not exactly a Merlin fanboy. My least favourite rollercoaster in the world is in Heide Park. I'm yet to have had an experience as rough as Limit. The day that gets removed I'll help. I'll even bring my own sledgehammer.
I've never actually visited either, so I can't really comment. But from pictures, Hansa's theming seems to look a lot more detailed in terms of individual rides. I haven't seen anyone ever comment on the areas. And I do think I'm a bit of a Merlin apologist!
In Heide's defence, however, attractions like Krake and Flug der Damonen and the How to Train your Dragon area look to be of a high quality theme-wise!
One thing I would say about Heide is that it doesn't have that fundamentally German feel to it, it feels bland - almost everything about it feels dull.
I didn't visit prior to the Tussauds purchase so I am not sure if that came later, but I don't think it is aided by the sprawling nature of it - Phantasialand and Europa feel much more homely whereas Heide doesn't have that. Quite a few areas have a real CBA feel to them too, especially around Colossos and Frau Rita.
I think they used to be a little more homely - have you see the abandoned piazza to the right of the entrance area at Heide? Think it was called 'Heide-Dorf' and featured rides, an electronic bird show and various shops/cafes.
Have a look for photos on Google. It's quite sad to see.
@AstroDan I don't recall the bird show but think there was a swinging ship and perhaps tea cups back there? That must have been closed for at least a decade? I really think that park has too much to support its attendance...
With 2.1/m guests a year, it was probably fine - but the attendance has fallen in the past few years. As with Alton Towers, Merlin's response is to close down and/or reduce the offering, which in my eyes would make the product worse, therefore starts the vicious cycle.
It depends what's taken out vs. added to thr offering. If reducing your operating cost base by removing some teacups, a swinging ship and some robot birds allows you to build two B&Ms, some might argue that's a sacrifice worth making.
I really don't know enough about the German market to know just how dire the current figures are vs. the market. What the park used to do vs. what it does now has some relevance but it's not definitive without additional facts that sit behind it.
In addition, I would urge some caution in assuming that high gate figures are a measure of financial success.
The Heide-Dorf area was closed in 2009, 2 years after Merlin took over operations. From scanning Heide-Park forums, there's still a bitterness now about its demise. The park used to have a great many rides and areas, including the Heide Gardens, which no longer remain.
In total, since 2009 the park have closed 2 entertainment venues and around 10 rides, replacing a couple of them, adding 2 B&M coasters and a dark ride, a cheap wild west kids area and 2 IP areas (including Peppa Pig in 2018). They have also seen new attractions come and go, including the Krake Lebt scare maze which failed miserably.
They also used to have a Mississippi steamer than went around the lake. But that was blown up as part of the fireworks to promote Krake... and the station then converted into a Pizza/Pasta... The Heide Park jazz band were also presumably sacked.
The difficulty for the park is that the way Merlin run theme parks is very different to the way the majority of German parks are run. Heide-Park is now a very corporate machine and has lost much of the old charm, as much as it now has some B&Ms - there is no price on atmosphere.
Certainly not at a Merlin park, since everyone pays practically nothing for an annual pass
This is true of other operators but certainly of Merlin, for sure. Six Flags were the originators of this.
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