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. Ketz

    Ketz TowersStreet Member

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    I don't think BPB class themselves a themepark. Plus if we are considering the quantity of rides most local fairs have some great thrilling rides that even light up at night!
     
  2. Coaster

    Coaster TowersStreet Member

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    I just meant park in general, theme/amusement. The thing is, (in my opinion) BPB have a lot of good rides, there's no point having loads of rides if they aren't good.
     
  3. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I walk away from
    BPB feeling like I've had a good day. I leave Alton Towers having had a great day. I don't know what it is, but there is something about it.

    I still think AT is the best all round theme/amusement park in the UK. BPB is better for wooden coasters but AT is better as a general family park still.
     
    James likes this.
  4. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    T
    This is why I think 2016 will be make or break for Merlin UK. Shrek at County Hall and the Thorpe dark ride could really show off what Merlin Magic Making can do. Or show how "lazy" they are. MMM is capable of world class attractions. Consisdering how many waxworks they make a year they should be able to do something else decent...
     
  5. Coaster

    Coaster TowersStreet Member

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    Yeah, I'm the other way round but it's just down to personal preference really. I'm not saying that everyone should think that BPB is world class, just that I do whereas I don't find AT world class in the slightest (although it is a good park).
     
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  6. BigT

    BigT TowersStreet Member

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    If Alton had the travel connections that DLP has it would attract a lot more people.
    Let's face it the trip on Eurostar is better than all the rides at the park when you get there.
     
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  7. Scott

    Scott Former TS Team Member

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    Christ this thread became a bit of a car crash didn't it...

    Anyhow, I still maintain what I said before. It's possible to be world class without being the best of the best. Alton is easily good enough to be world class provided we aren't narrowing the definition of the term to Disney, Universal and Europa. If that's the case then the answer is no for Alton and for any other park in the world and we may as well not bother lol.
     
  8. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    I don't agree with that, well, it's certainly not my point anyway. I think it was a world class park, the thing is it's not even being run close to it's own potential never mind in competition with other parks.

    It wouldn't be fair to judge it acre for acre against those parks as they're absolute behemoths, but just step back a moment and imagine Nemesis looking great, Oblivion isn't too bad, The Smiler not being a water trough full of grime, imaginative and varied food offerings, air being finished properly, scaffolding being replaced and DF being remodeled into something more than something dank and morose.

    The Hotel with a bit of spark back, service improved, care for guests etc - then you have the makings of a magical world class park, so it's there, it's covered up with crap theme, grime, posters etc.

    I know even @Rob agrees with me ;) when it comes to the fact it doesn't make you want to spend anymore* (*The Smiler did for me though, love that logo lol).

    So in present state and direction it's nothing like world class, that doesn't mean it cannot be, but again I refer to Merlin...

    We all know what they're like for ULTIMATE this tripe, yet not even they go round shouting that Alton Towers is a world class attraction, they carefully use "second only to Disney", not we have one of the best parks in the world in our portfolio, and go around shouting about it.

    Why?

    Because they know it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    It could be a real flagship park, a jewel in the crown, where they just go to town because they CAN - but they wont, and don't, and it gets worse each year.
     
    jon81uk likes this.
  9. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Great to see such a mix of opinions and strong feeling. There is clearly a lot of passion on Towerstreet forum.

    The various arguments and positions have really made me think so here is my revised opinion.

    On the one hand I believe we have a fantastic theme park in what I believe to be a world class setting. We have a collection of roller coasters that I believe ANY park in the world would be glad to have on their books with Nemesis being the jewel in the Crown (sorry Rita, but you don't do anything for me). I maintain that the setting is in many ways unrivalled, to the extent that no matter how much money PP throw at the London site on theming and intellectual property, it will not be in the same league.

    BUT,we also have a park whose future growth potential is limited by its location, mainly due to poor transport links, but partly down to planning restrictions.

    We have a management company that likes to invest in gimmicks, and that sometimes fails to complete the last ten percent of the job. Merlin should remember that a racehorse who runs just 1 second faster can be worth many times more.

    We have increasing levels of up sell and for want of a better word Americanisation which I believe effects almost every park on the planet, often on a far worse scale.

    We have catering that fails to provide a quality to value ratio that would compete with for example wetherspoons, but which represent better quality and value than cinemas, bowling alleys and other places with a captive audience. I don't believe that other theme parks are any better in this respect, but surely the whole idea is to eat quickly to maximise ride time.

    And we have PP on the horizon that will have an almost unlimited budget in comparison and few planning restrictions. I still maintain that if you think that commercial action at Alton is bad, it will be nothing compared to what the Americans do.

    I enjoy my day at Alton from the moment I arrive till the moment I leave. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling and a great adrenaline rush.

    It is unique, special and amazing in so many ways,:and I fear for its future against PP, not because it is inferior but due to a belief that a fickle British public are easily blindsided by hype over substance.

    Some of the criticisms of recent developments are valid, but I believe in the place and want it to succeed. It remains in the top echelons of parks for me, but Merlin need to raise their game in the future.

    I HOPE THEY DO!
     
    James, DiogoJ42, jon81uk and 2 others like this.
  10. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    I agree with everything you've said.

    Oh, and you're post to "like" ratio must be higher than anyone on the forum... impressive.
     
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  11. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Other than the Rita comment, and one or two minor things, I am with you 100% @Altonadvocate1

    I would also rather be outspoken and vocal as to why it isn't world class RIGHT NOW, in the stupid hope someone somewhere may sit up and realise what disservice they are doing such a magnificent natural wonder and glorious old folly of the most exquisite nature! Not the mention the sheer brilliance of a certain man and team for whom Towers became about creating something absolutely unparalleled and simply without peer.

    It is majestic, it is beautiful, and it is truly unique and right now it's going the wrong way.

    With Merlin's budgets and size and the creative teams that exist within, it's simply inexcusable and I find it utterly bewildering.
     
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  12. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Aw shucks, you're embarrassing me!
     
  13. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Welcome to TowersStreet, your premier Alton Towers community.

    ;)
     
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  14. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Now how about building that G Suit coaster LOL
     
    Last edited: 19th Dec 2014
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  15. shakey

    shakey TowersStreet Member

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    Sorry, I have to disagree that AT is a better family park. The 1.4m height restrictions mean there is very little for 7-10 year olds to do.

    Blackpool has far more rides for the whole family with kids being able to get on most of the bigger rides.
     
  16. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    It's ridiculous how people can be comparing and saying that Blackpool is better than Towers. It's not that I disagree with those that do, but more a "it's ridiculous" aimed at Towers. Towers SHOULD be the UK's #1 park in all aspects, but it's really not, and this just shows from people saying that they think Blackpool is better than them in some ways.

    Edit: And let's face it, Blackpool is supposed to be a generic pleasure beach on the seaside, whereas Towers should be what I've said above.
     
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  17. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Nickelodeon land looks great for the little ones, and BPB has at leat two truly great wooden coasters, but I hate having my bags searched by the bald headed bouncers to ensure I have not committed the cardinal sin of smuggling in a sandwich. Some great rides, often let down by poor maintenance in recent years, but it's proximity to the stag and hen party capital of Britain takes away any sense of escapism for me.

    Respect to the history, some of the rides and the fact that it is as British as fish and chips, but as a family destination I don't get it.

    Too much drunken and poor behavior within a short distance for a family audience in my view.

    To be fair only the council can fix this.

    I love the Blackpool of the 1970's and if you go with an open mind and don't take it seriously, you can have a great long weekend as I do in October each year, but I wish it would clean up its act.
     
    Last edited: 19th Dec 2014
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  18. Rose Of Dawn

    Rose Of Dawn TowersStreet Member

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    I would consider Alton Towers to potentially be a world-class theme park. It has an awful lot going for it, and to this day I'd still consider it to have world-class rides. It's a shame that standards across some of the resort's most important aspects - the hotels and the food in the park - seem to have slipped in quality in recent years.

    As recently as 2010, I thought the food there was fantastic. It's disgraceful how what was one of the best theme park eateries I've been to, the Mexican Cantina, now has only one option - which is rubbish. Even Pizza Pasta dropped in quality over the course of the last season, although to its credit Burger Kitchen has gotten better, albeit slightly.

    For me, the hotels still have a nice atmosphere, although I'll admit ATH has always given me major nostalgia, and always will. But there's no denying the actual quality there has taken a nosedive - even the new Smiler room looks fairly worn, and it costs an arm and a leg to stay there for one night!

    When considering whether Alton Towers is a world-class park, you need to look at the competition. I'm sure some people here would say that Six Flags parks are 'world class', but really this is only in terms of their hardware. Frankly, the food at Magic Mountain wasn't brilliant, and there was less actual theming in the park than a duck wearing a hat. Certainly, if the likes of Nemesis and Oblivion don't make Towers 'world class', then neither do Goliath and Viper.

    If Merlin poured more money into the upkeep, I'd consider Towers world-class, easily. Until then, it just has the potential to be, and that's more than most parks.
     
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  19. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Ok it's analogy time.

    Disney and Universal are the Apple of the theme park industry. Everybody wants to be them, everybody wants to use them, but most people don't know why. They have a perceived reputation for superior products and indeed they do have some fantastic products, but that perception of superiority is based upon the strength of the branding won through enormous advertising budgets and subliminal advertising through other media. Some great products, some average products dressed up as better than they are, premium prices all round, and a failure by often intelligent people to understand that there are equivalent and in some ways better products out there.

    Six Flags / Busch gardens / Cedar point are Marks and Spencer. It's not just a rollercoaster, it's the longest, fastest, tallest rollercoaster. It looks great, it's well marketed and it seems classy. You just have to try it, but examine it closely and that doesn't always make it the best. Underneath that shiny packaging is a pie made by a company that makes the same pies for all the other supermarkets.

    Merlin are Wetherspoons - How can you do a chicken ticka massala of that quality with rice, poppadoms, nan bread, onion bhaji, vegetable Samoa, mango chutney and a pint for just £5.25? How can you give me a day at a theme park for just a few copies of the sun? - I feel dirty). But wait, want another pint - it's nearly as much as your full meal. Want to come back in the evening... Cocktail pitchers £11.99. Want to try something not on the club menu? Far more expensive. Why not upgrade to a large curry for only a pound extra. Want to come back at busier times... We reserve the right to refuse admission... unless you pay. You could win £20 on the slot machine. Something for the weekend? There's a machine in the gents at three quid a pop. One or two stand out meals and a lot of very ordinary ones. Don't forget to tell us what you think by completing a customer questionnaire for entry into a prize draw. Oh and by the way, we will be opening another 8 pubs / midway attractions near you!

    But that chicken tika massala makes it all worthwhile.

    This links in with Merlins business strategy. Many of the costs associated with running a theme park are fixed, in other words they don't vary with the gate. So give away lots of free sun tickets on quiet days when most people are working. When they get there bombard them with up sell. We took no money on the gate, but that family needs feeding and that toy from the CBEEBIES shop will appease tears from the kids.

    If you want to go on a day of your choice you need an annual pass or a half price ticket. Most of us fall into this category. Once you are in the park, the queue may be huge as a result of the legions of sun readers who got in for nothing. Gonna need some fast pass tickets.

    Finally we get the people who are prepared to, or can afford the premium experience. Merlin loves these as they can sell all inclusive VIP experiences at far greater profits per visitor.

    Result - money made from 3 demographics, but.

    Group one hates the queue jumping of group 2.

    Group two hates having to buy fast track having allready paid to get in because the park is full of group one.

    Groups one and two hate the privileges and preferential treatment enjoyed by group 3.

    Group three use up a disproportionate amount of the resources per user.

    Merlin promote up sell to all 3 groups.

    This as I understand it is the cause if many of Towers problems.
     
    Last edited: 20th Dec 2014
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  20. Alastair

    Alastair TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Going back a bit here but I'm afraid I'd have to disagree with that. Disney's rides are beyond the simple coaster. I'd take ToT over Smiler, Indiana Jones over Rita, the ride systems on their own would be more enjoyable than their boring Staffordshire steel counterparts. In my view, whilst Towers has some good coasters, simply buying expensive steel contraptions and half heartedly theming them does not make the park a good theme park. More effort needs to be put into the overall atmosphere and aesthetics, and that comes before a whole host of separate attractions and entertainments improvements that could and should be made.

    Even the most cold, heartless thrill junkie can't fail to walk around a park like Universal, Europa, any Disney park and unequivocally feel that it is not even in the same dimension as Alton Towers theme park wise.
     

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