Merlin would love it if everyone thought this way. It's the wrong way round, gate numbers won't increase until they increase regular investments in the place. But they'll carry on blaming local authority planning restrictions and the crash for the underperfomance of the park when it's their management and lacklustre investment in the park that's to blame.
The removal of the monorail (which I don't think is as imminent as has been made out) and unceremoniously dumping some turnstiles behind Galactica would epitomise the way the park has been run this past decade.
I agree that Merlin need to take a fare share of the responsibility and that there have been some extremely poor decisions relating to money wasted on relative!y poor and short term attractions... However...
I recall the local authority capping the number of visitors that AT could aim to deliver a few years ago, siting the NIMBYS, the environmental impact and the capacity of the road network ( which is slightly easier to justify).
They wouldn't dare attempt to cap the number of visitors that Blue water or Meadowhall, or major airports receive, but AT and Legoland amongst others are fair game.
Build a 910 metre sky scraper in Central London (fine). Whilst limiting the ability to build a rollercoaster above a quarter of that a Thorpe park.
Build huge stadiums around the country for the Olympics (at a cost running to billions not millions), many of which will be never be used to their capacity again (fine). But Legoland can't build a Haunted House.
Build a huge China Factory in Stoke on Trent near existing housing occupied by people who cannot afford exhorbitant legal costs (fine) But don't build a rollercoaster 5 feet above the treeline at AT because it will spoil the view of NIMBYS who can provide the legal! Costs, despite owning multiple homes around the country.
Hell, if this attitude pervaded a couple of century's ago , AT in any form would not exist...
Oh don't build those artificial gardens spoiling the natural beauty of the area.
Don't build those towers - they will be a carbuncle on the landscape..
Fast forward a couple of century's... Don't build tacky theme park attractions... It will spoil the towers and gardens.
Nobody wants to see AT concreted over ( I know... Merlin... The Smiler), but it was investment and risk taking that made AT what it is... All over the world their are sites of great beauty and majesty, where theme parks can build amazing attractions without having to worry about going 2 feet above the treeline, and where the aforementioned investments look amazing,, complimenting what is already there (just as the gardens and the towers complimented a beautiful part of Staffordshire several century's ago).
But forget the jobs, the opportunities, the amazing talents that exists to make what is great, still greater. Let's just impose huge restrictions far greater than they have anywhere else... Let's make it more expensive to create something than anywhere else... Got to keep those Rich and powerful NIMBYS and jobsworths at the council happy.
The world is full of examples of great theme parks in beautifully locations that do not detract from the natural beauty of the area... Shortsightedness and preferential treatment offered to those with money prevent the same creative energies here.
Merlin are the beginning of the problem, but the other issues are far greater.
Oh and the Monorail... It is definitely needed.
When I'm Prime Minster things are going to be different!