Is Alton Towers a world class theme park?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Altonadvocate1, 18th Dec 2014.

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Is Alton Towers a world class theme park?

  1. Yes

    20 vote(s)
    38.5%
  2. No

    32 vote(s)
    61.5%
  1. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    OK, time to introduce myself. I've been reading Towersstreet forum since the very start, and another well known Alton Towers forum for 6 years before that. Have finally decided to sign up and contribute, so please be gentle.


    Thought I would start with a big post on a new Thread.


    IS ALTON TOWERS A WORLD CLASS THEME PARK?


    I'm asking this for a reason. There has been a lot of speculation about the proposed Paramount Park near London, and I read numerous posts saying that it is just what the UK needs and that it is time we had a “World Class Theme Park”. Personally I think we already have one.


    The No Camp.


    Alton Towers rollercoasters aren't high enough or long enough.

    Some developments in other parts of the world cost 10 times the cost of the Secret Weapons.

    The British weather can't complete.

    The theming in Disney, Universal and Paramount parks is on another level.

    The entertainment on park is comparatively poor.


    There are other issues raised, but from what I can see, these are the main ones.


    MY TAKE ON THESE.


    It's true that Alton Towers doesn't have the highest rollercosters in the world, and this is unlikely to change due to the prohibitive planning regulations associated with its location. Personally I think that height is an overrated attribute in creating a world class rollercoster. I would happily but John Wardley's seminal classic Nemesis up against any rollercoster anywhere in the world, and it would hold its own or come out on top. If I fall of a ladder 60 feet high, I would be dead. If I fall f a ladder 300 feet high, I would still be dead (but no more dead than if I fell 60 feet). Extra height does not make a coaster scarier or more thrilling for this very reason. The law of diminishing returns applies to rollercoaster height, just like everything else. What makes a truly great coaster is the twists and turns, the changes in direction and velocity, the proximity to nearby objects, sustained G forces and sudden changes in G forces. This is why a 43 foot lift hill coater like Nemesis, trumps a 200 foot coaster like the PMBO (This is not a dis of Blackpool Pleasure Beach = Grand National is a truly great coaster). If we ever get the long awaited cross valley coaster, I hope it hugs the contours of the valley, giving the sensation of speed without the actual huge speeds, so that we get a great ride duration too.


    The cost of an attraction is not directly proportional to it's enjoyment factor. I've seen many a huge budget Hollywood blockbuster that is not a patch on another movie with a tiny budget. Originality, cleverness, thrills, humour, etc are what make a great movie.


    I can't make a case for the British Weather, but PP would have the same issues in London (other than more indoor attractions).


    Regarding theming its is true that other Theme Parks spend tens of millions creating fibre glass castles, mountains, landscapes etc. In comparison Alton’s theming budget is tiny. BUT – take a look at that awesome view as the Monorail pulls in at the bottom of towers street. No amount of fibreglass, concrete or intellectual property could complete with what Alton has. For me those Majestic Towers and world class gardens are far superior to anything else. Next time you go to AT, just spend the hour after the rides close in those gardens. The feeling of escapism is unrivalled.


    Entertainment wise, I would agree that Alton Towers could improve. Whilst I always enjoy Patch and Friends during Scarefest and the Pirate Show at other times, they are clearly done on a budget and do not compare with shows and entertainment elsewhere. This is unlikely to change until Merlin do something to improve the transport links, increasing the gate figures to justify a larger entertainment budget.


    Anyway, that's my first post. I think we have a truly great world class theme park that we can be truly proud of. I'll certainly give PP a go if it comes to fruition, but I doubt that it will ever replace Alton Towers in my affections.


    Let me know what you think.
     
    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #1
  2. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    In terms of ride hardwear, There's no denying that Alton has been at the cutting edge in the past. And those rides are still "world class" to this day.

    But in every other aspect, from business ethos to customer expeience etc, no. Though that is an issue across all Merlin parks, not just Towers.
     
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    Posted 18th Dec 2014
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  3. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    No. Definitely not. Without a shadow of a doubt it's not even remotely close anymore to world class.

    It's surroundings are unique, but nature and the Earl sorted that out. Its older coasters are wonders of imagination and creativity, but now?

    Absolutely definitely not.

    2 rides are world class, one WAS (air) in terms of hardware. Oblivion and Nemesis were true world beaters that remain so IMO today.

    As for the rest? You must be kidding?

    Hotels? No. New rides? No. (The Smiler COULD have been, but they chose to rush it and skimp on budgets because Merlin are a business entirely focused on profits and doing just enough to maintain their position and keep profits as high as possible a trend that's getting worse, not better). Service? Certainly not. Food/Catering etc offerings? NO. Getting consistently worse.

    Alton Towers WAS world class, and that's why Merlin irritate me so much - they have the resource to make Alton Towers a truly unique and absolutely world class destination.

    But they don't.

    Because they're penny wise and pound foolish.

    Not to mention UTTERLY disrespectful to the location.
     
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    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #3
  4. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Posted 18th Dec 2014
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  5. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    You are going to get a spectrum of answers really and they will mostly be based on where people sit on the Fanboy - Hater scale.

    Diogo is quite close, though not (in my opinion) spot on. The ride Hardware (including the modern stuff) is top class.

    It has good ride operations too, it has some reasonable hotels (over priced though) and food is about average based on parks I have visited (over priced though). Staff are mostly fantastic and entertainments is ok. It's operating hours are naff, it's grossly over priced, new theming is mostly crap (few exceptions) and old theming is rotting.

    On the balance I would say it is world class BUT it could be so much more than it is, I think what people mean when they talk about paramount is a hope they will get a park that always does its best all the time to create a great product.
     
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    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #5
  6. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Interesting opinion. Personally, I love the smiler. I think it's a great coaster. Second for second, Nemesis clearly beats it, but the duration adds so much to the experience. I do agree that had it not been rushed then the build quality in particular would have made it so much better.

    Your response is an intelligent and considered one, but I still think on the whole there is a gut reaction to value what's on the other side of the fence more. I bet a lot of the people that underestimate Alton, but regard the proposed PP as truly world class own iphones and Dyson vacuum cleaners when there are better and in many cases cheaper alternatives available. As someone who sells phones for a living I know there are many people who must have the in product and don't even know why.
     
    jon81uk likes this.
    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #6
  7. _nemesis_

    _nemesis_ Guest

    For me, its sort of in the middle.

    I does, as Diogo said, have some world class rides, rides that will stand strong for many years to come. They have lovley gardens, providing a blissful setting. The Towers have the same effect. It also goes without saying that they are the market leaders in fireworks (behind Disney obviously).

    The park (or rather Merlin) create some incredibly unique themes. Look at The Smiler as an example. The park does also (weather you admit it or not) hold a magical atmosphere.

    But aside from that, Alton Towers does sadly suffer from up selling, budget cuts, games stalls, and general deterioration (in some areas). This is where it ultimately falls down.

    Although aside from these flaws however, I'd still rank the park above places like Six Flags Magic Mountain, or Kings Island. (Both of which I have admittedly never been to, Towers just sounds better on paper.) It'll never be Disneyland, or Europa Park. But what it does, it does best, and that is think outside the box!
     
    jon81uk likes this.
    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #7
  8. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Let's explore that shall we?

    The Smiler is a Gerstlauer infinity, currently being pushed to it's limits in smaller parks WITH lapbars. Rita is an off the shelf Intamin accelerator of which many parks have better. Subterra? An ABC drop tower. CBeebies land, refurbs of old kids rides. CATCF? Ice Age 4D? World class?

    Nemesis remains a world class coaster, as does Oblivion, and air stands proud as something that lead the way in let's be fair, was a difficult technology at the time, and I don't like the ride but still appreciate it.

    A gerst with lots of loops crammed in is not world class. Helix is world class. Harry Potter is world class. The Smiler is not.

    I love The Smiler, I love Rita too, and I am an absolute Towers fan boy and have been for as long as I can remember.

    I am however not a Merlin fanboy and my anger is aimed squarely at the way the park is managed now and what it COULD achieve, versus what it DOES achieve.

    They're just based on facts not opinion. I adore the place. It is indeed my fondness for it that fuels my rage of it's current treatment and mismanagement.

    EDIT:
    I thought I'd add, some people probably think I am Anti-Towers, I am not, I am an absolute fan boy that gets irritated with apologists for it's current overall state and direction whom cannot appreciate or perhaps didn't experience it's development. Indeed it's felt like a home from home for me for a number of years, I adore the place, it's extremely special.

    The way Merlin have treated it in my opinion equates to them rocking up with filthy muddy shoes, slap their feet on the furniture, run mud up my stairs, and feel it's ok to do so because they bought a bottle of Lambrusco
     
    Last edited: 18th Dec 2014
    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #8
  9. kydog1299

    kydog1299 TowersStreet Member

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    I share a different opinion.

    I think height does add more to a coaster, in the sense it makes it more intimidating. If I were to look at Air's height, or Nemesis' height, compared with things like Shambhala, Kingda Ka, TTD, even Windseekers (not a coaster, but it does get to a vast height), then there is a clear difference.

    I feel the taller a coaster is, the more intimidating it gets, thus adding the sense of fear and excitement to a coaster for me. Going up a long lift hill or looking at what you're about to be launched up in height really is intimidating for a variety of people.

    I saw The Swarm as more intimidating before I rode it than what I felt when The Smiler's track was installed, because of it's height and the way the height is really stood out clearly. The Smiler doesn't really entitle much height, hense I didn't have that same feeling I had with The Swarm or Shambhala in 2012 when I visited PortAventura.

    I personally don't think Alton Towers is world-class anymore. Merlin have allowed too many parks to catch up and over-take, leaving Alton in a bit of a state and dropping pretty quickly. There is no sense of magic or wonder/originality at Alton anymore, which other parks fuel from.

    If you can keep a guest satisfied or happy for most of the day based on what you offer, you've done a successful job as an Entertainments venue. I have to rely on who I go with to provide that excitement or 'joy' when I go to UK parks now, because almost everything (some things are still very good) is lack-luster, has no originality or is just nothing special, compared with other parks in Europe and further. I have to admit, Alton do a good job at creating that magic and originality at Fireworks, but apart from that it's lost. Scarefest did use to have it, but that's just too stale now.

    I just feel Merlin as a business, aren't here to create a 'world class experience' for their guests, they just want whats in your wallet, and that is evident from the way things are ran by Merlin, and their methods such as cost-cutting and etc...
     
    Last edited: 18th Dec 2014
    TheMan likes this.
    Posted 18th Dec 2014
    #9
  10. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    @kydog1299 you mean like this:

    [​IMG]

    Hansa are doing what Towers used to do.

    Creating something that makes you just go - how on Earth did they do that? And who came up with that idea?!

    The Smiler may have more LOOOOPZ but that's going to utterly dwarf it in terms of outright intimidation and wow factor.

    That's got the Oblivion fear factor. That's got Lap Bars as well remember...

    This thread will be short on reasons why Alton Towers is world class anymore, because there's ways to dwarf it even with "smaller" parks.

    Alton is just another park in a cumbersome corporate giants portfolio of money making destinations, that's what they've reduced Towers to...

    A glorified cash cow.
     
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  11. Coaster

    Coaster TowersStreet Member

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    No. Not at all.
     
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  12. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    I guess I'm just not scared of heights. Whenever I do a high coaster I invariably feel that everything is an anticlimax after the first drop. I never get that feeling with Nemesis, and to a lesser extent The Smiler.

    I'm not into the rose coloured glasses thing. I can think of plenty of things that Towers have done badly or could have done better.

    I regard Merlin as both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because Alton would never have received the investment that it has without being part of a larger group... A curse because of a continuing focus on gimmicks over substance, an inability to take the right kind of risks and the failure to finish the last ten percent of the job, and maintain what they allready have. I disagree with the The Man as I think AT is truly world class in so many ways, but I also agree with him that with a different way forward it could be truly exceptional.

    RITA and Spinball are not worthy of the other coasters on the park and Sub Terra was I agree a lightly themed off the shelf attraction. CBEEBIES land does not appeal to me, but maybe it would have 40 years ago... but when I go though THOSE gates, when I see THAT view, when I hear HOTMK, when I FEEL the Nemesis roar in my chest,, when I view the incredible surroundings... I may be a sucker, but it gets me every time.
     
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  13. Ted

    Ted TowersStreet Member

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    For me, the short answer is no. But generally, I think the park has absolute potential to be one.

    Let's see, we have Oblivion and Nemesis, which giving the themeing and overall creativity for both rides, they are definitely world class. Then there's the setting which contribute to the creativity due to the height restrictions, it's a theme park located in the middle of the Staffordshire Moorlands with mostly greenery for miles outside the park. It has two really good hotels, and a decent water park.

    However, it is let down is by its flaws. It's pretty damn obvious how Merlin haven't attempted to install attractions in the same way Tussauds did in the 1990s. Not saying Tussauds aren't guilty of this themselves, thinking about Air's appearance pales in comparison to the two other B&Ms (although the ride hardware was very innovative at the time). Where Merlin went wrong was the fact they have neglected the overall escapism of the park (with Thorpe and Chessie having the same problem). Nemesis's themeing is falling apart, Dark Forest is an utter shamble, and whilst The Smiler is a great ride, it's hardly an innovation that the B&Ms are, because it's just a Eurofighter.

    Now my point I'm trying to get across is that imagine if all of the major coasters at the park had the creativity that Nemesis and Oblivion had, that is what would make the park world class. But it isn't just that, the themeing on the rides needs to be kept maintained, the upselling on Towers Street needs to stop, and the overall feel of escapism needs to stay in the park. That is what makes it "world class" to me.
     
    Last edited: 18th Dec 2014
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  14. Sam

    Sam TowersStreet Member

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    It's difficult not to describe a park that has an Intamin rapids, a B&M dive machine, an Intamin free-fall drop, a Gerstlauer Infinity, a B&M flying coaster, a Mack mine train, an Intamin accelerator, a B&M invert, a Maurer spinner and two hotels as 'world class'.

    They have a more formidable hardware line-up than any park in South America, Australasia, Africa and the entirety of Asia. If they aren't considered 'world-class' then the term is meaningless.
     
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  15. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Gates, view, ITHOTMK, Nemesis, surroundings...

    That's what I call "classic Towers".

    That's the world class bits left over from when the park was. I totally agree with you on those.

    How about a revised view? (Welcome to the Forum by the way lol, I am trying to add good debate to your thread, I hope I don't put you off! :D )

    Walk through those gates...

    Wow... look at that...

    "WANT YOUR PHOTO TAKEN MATE?"
    "ARE YOU BUYING ON RIDE PHOTOS TODAY?"
    "UNLIMITED DRINKS ALL DAY"

    Fast track adverts.

    Negotiate Camden Market Towers Street... THEN appreciate the view.

    Remember you're here.

    Get on Skyride, if they've opened it, actually realise it's not bombarding you with adverts and they have actually done something decent with the audio! How much of a surprise this is, says it all.

    Head off to Nemesis, realise the fountains aren't coloured anymore because someone apparently made a "mistake" and now they can't use it. Get up close to the beast, notice she's covered in moss and falling apart... but still, that roar, that landscaping, absolutely world class.

    Then the ride, get off remembering just what an absolute delight it is.

    Get off... crap food establishments, up sells everywhere, stickers/posters for fast track this photo pass that, notice it's gone up in price again.
     
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  16. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Good points, and humorously made.

    Is there a shiny knight on a white steed to protect us from this overindulgence of greed, up selling and commercialism.

    Don't worry, here come the Americans!
     
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  17. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    So you're saying we need Wardley to roll up a paladin character and save us all?
     
  18. Tarin Maria

    Tarin Maria TowersStreet Member

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    Maybe I don't get it the same way that some of you guys do, because AT isn't my childhood, but it isn't world class anymore. Once upon a time, I don't doubt it was, but now it is not. At the end of the day, it has two world class rides and one beautiful bit of architecture, and if you were to take any of those three things away, the park loses such a huge chunk of its personality and quality. Yet, if Europa were to lose Silver Star, Blue Fire, Wodan or Arthur, it would still be a world class park.
    For world class the park must have: a selection of good rides; a management who understand how to make money but also ensure that guests have a great experience; and good value for money. The aesthetics of the park are also very important.
    Unfortunately, Towers only have a couple of outstanding rides, and a few good ones. They have almost none of those other things, the park also looks fairly run down and in some places quite dirty.
    It seems that Chessie and Thorpe have also suffered in this respect under Merlin.
     
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  19. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Alton Towers is ostensibly a world class theme park.

    It has many elements that are outstanding - from the physical geography of the site to the quantity of unique attractions.

    However, there are 3 major factors which keep Alton Towers from the top brass parks.

    1. The park is generally quite grimy and rides are not kept looking their absolute best - even newer rides look worn and unclean. The park lack the capital to spend on this kind of thing for which I blame Merlin Entertainments.

    2. The park lacks entertainment beyond either childrens shows or basic street entertainment. This also includes a lack of seasonal events in the theme park beyond Halloween and Fireworks. The easter and summer periods are inherently ignored. They weren't in the old days.

    3. The theming in the park is a mixed bag. Whilst there is some reasonable theming in places, other areas are downright vile (Rita, Sonic Spinball). Too much of the major ride theming is 'negative'. Take for example Nemesis, Rita, 13, Oblivion and The Smiler. All of these are in some respect 'sinister'. It is as if Merlin do not know how to deliver a thrill ride apart from being themed in this way.

    I would like to think that even the senior Alton Towers executives would agree with points 1 to 3.

    :)
     
  20. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Okay let's discus this shall we:

    Battle Galleons - question building one in the UK but it's a MACK who make the best example of this kind of ride.

    Th13teen - still the neatest example of a coaster drop system, the Zierer model though good looks messy.

    RITA - wasn't an off-the-shelf model, it's been cloned since but hey ho. Accelerator coasters are incredibly complex, well regarded rides.

    Smiler - Massive upgrade to the Gerst product, it was badly installed and the theming is naff (as I suggested in my original post).

    When you consider what MOST parks install towers does well for Hardware, as for sub-terra not every installation has to be a Mercedes class ride. EP, Disney ect use cheaper hardware at times, they just theme it better, Hell liseberg who built Hrlix are installing an old cheap flat ride next year, which is fine, parks are allowed to do that.

    If Towers had the same ride hardware but had actually built and themed them well we wouldn't be having this debate.
     

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