Opening Weekend: The Inquest Begins

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Benjsh

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
You could be right. I'll be trying the same. You may have an unwanted surprise however ;)

I have a hunch they may even try and close it after Easter to get it working correctly if thats what you're eluding to. That would obviously make me delay my next visit.

Will have to wait and see what they do. GCI will no doubt be on site next week at some point. Clearly been a cock up.
 

Dave

TS Founding Member
The wickerman issues are bad luck but the rest of the parks omnishambles is well and truely due to budgets. They needed to come out all guns blazing this season and instead they have proved the negative opinions to be correct.

I put the blame fully at Merlins feet.
 

Yalnix

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Helix
All of this makes me incredibly sad. Another thing I'd like to throw in is the handling of the Season Pass. You got a temp ticket which you then had to make into a plastic ticket at the Box Office. Why?

Could of the printed ticket from online been used to get into the park?

Seems like that would have vastly cut the queues at the ticket booth at the entrance plaza.
 

Burbs

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Untamed - Walibi Holland
Off peak?

Also I'm not surprised by that one bit. EP is well known for being the best park in Europe if not the world. German efficiency for you.
Off peak I have managed 46 rides in a day before. The idea is that if the park is busy, the capacity of rides and length of time the park is open will increase accordingly, so you should in theory get on the same amount of rides. If I spend the day just doing rides then I will get somewhere between 30 and 40, but if I take it easier, spend time eating and taking in the park as a whole, I usually get around 25.

It would seem that most park operators, including Merlin, don't see this.
 
I find it crazy how different the experience seems to be from Thursday to Sat/Sun.

Me and my fiancée did Wicker Man five times, whilst still having multiple rides on Nemesis, Galaxtica, Oblivion, Thirteen and Rita (and one ride on Smiler and...everything else like Duel, Blade, RMT etc). This isn’t a bragging post, it’s more to highlight how much of a struggle the Park seems to have when it gets busier.

Clearly the strategy for customers is to go like I did, midweek when it’s unlikely to be hot and not in any kind of summer holiday/half-term. The fact that the above is possibly the only way to now have a ‘full’ day at Alton Towers and get through every ride (and do re-rides) and still have time to not rush your dinner is going to be a serious, serious issue when we get the truly hot weather.

One would assume the teething issues on Wicker Man will be sorted, and Nemesis running on two trains - those things alone won’t compensate for the issues being raised above and on Twitter. It’s clearly a case of operations not being quick enough to deal with the general public anymore, particularly on park entry.

I have such a desire to get back on Wicker Man I was considering driving over Easter Monday week, but this puts me off. I think I’ll wait till I get confirmation on Wicker’s teething issues being sorted and again look for a random mid week day to book off work. Worrying times for Towers when a ride as good as they just opened should be re-capturing the public imagination and faith that has been lost or faded since 2015.
 

Thomas5

TS Member
Interesting. We're stopping over tonight (I'm currently drinking a £10 bottle of awful wine from a mug in Enchanted Village), and I'm really intrigued to see how tomorrow compares to today.

My main thought today is that there seemed to be no overall management of communication or "strategy", which led to huge problems in flow of punters around the park. There was one point today where the Thirteen queue was just HUGE, and this was entirely a product of the distribution of closed rides around it. A totally manageable situation.
 

Rose Of Dawn

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Eejanaika (Fuji-Q Highland)
This weekend was the first time I’d been on park since 2015. In that time, I’ve visited so many different parks in mainland Europe. Naturally I wouldn’t expect Disney or Europa-Park levels of quality, but I’d hoped that the three year break, combined with a new Secret Weapon, would mean that I’d return to a park that’s had the worst years behind it.

Judging from this weekend, it’s far from the case.

The entrance plaza palaver was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Half-hour queues to get tickets, followed by another long wait just to get through the turnstiles is mind blowing in its incompetence. They need to find the budget to allow guests to get into their theme park easily. That should be common sense, but not to Merlin. “Second only to Disney” indeed!

I also share the sentiment regarding the lack of communication for Wicker Man. Waiting two hours in a queue that was only moving because people were leaving, yet constantly getting messages about a “temporary delay”, is frustrating. Combine that with the constant sending of empty trains, and it gives guests the impression that the ride could start working any minute. A good portion of my day gone with nothing to show for it.

The staggered openings are also ridiculous. Because of constant downtime, and that Merlin don’t like investing in rides that aren’t ‘world first’ coasters, the initial offering was minuscule for anyone over the age of 10. This morning saw just Oblivion and Spinball operating for the first 40 minutes. When guest numbers are already in the thousands by 10am, that’s just not good enough.

The Smiler’s entire ride area is disgusting. It makes Fuji-Q look like Phantasialand by comparison. I love the coaster itself, but everything else needs gutting and starting from scratch. But then, if they can’t afford to open more turnstiles, there’s no chance of a clean happening.

The food situation felt identical to how it was in 2015; not much in terms of choice or variety. I don’t go to Towers expecting the culinary delights you would find at Europa, but I did notice that your choices mostly come in bun or wrap form. But I won’t expect that to change any time soon (or at least until Merlin disappear).

I will be visiting the park later this year - but mainly to see everyone from the TST community. It’s just sad that one of my favourite places from my childhood - a park that should be one of the best in Europe - has ended up in this sorry state.
 

Rose Of Dawn

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Eejanaika (Fuji-Q Highland)
Like others have said. Apart from anything else, how can you have guests waiting for these ridiculous amounts of time just to get through the entrance?

What a terrible first impression for any tourist attraction anywhere. It is pretty shameful in all honesty.

The only park I’ve seen that even comes close is Tokyo Disneyland. But that had far, far more people outside, and got everyone through the gates unbelievably fast. Though you would expect that from Disney.
 

RandomCamden

TS Member
Evening all. Came on here to have a moan about the general state of the park... Entrance plaza, lack of skyride, lack of rides open at 10:30...etc, but found the OP has done my job for me and everyone else has agreed. Really sad, as like a lot of you, I love this place. It's just a chore getting in and around at the moment. So sad to see.
 

John

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
The entrance is a mess at the moment as you have AP holders mixed in with non-AP guests in each queue due to the lack of clarity as to where people are supposed to queue, but passes don't scan at the turnstiles. This holds up the queue for everyone but with so many more AP holders this year due to the cheap season passes, the turnstiles are hardly being used whilst pretty much everyone waits for their passes to be scanned at the gates.

I'd take a Thorpe style maze of barriers over the current mess, at least that way people would get into the park in roughly the order they arrived
 

Jonathan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Helix <3
The one thing that would improve guest flow from the entrance plaza into the park is allowing annual passes to be scanned on the turnstiles. There must be a way in which it's possible to do that...
 

Dave

TS Founding Member
Indeed the fact that they are pushing annual passes yet AP’s can only be scanned at 3 points is getting idiotic. They need to get over the fact that people may abuse the passes and allow turnstyle access or stop wanting passes to be the major ticket option.

Or invest in tech that solves both problems (biometric)
 

bluesonichd

TS Member
They can be scanned at the turnstiles. Or at least they could last time I had a priemium Pass a couple of years ago. Things can’t have changed that much.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Biometric‽ Awwwwww HELL no! Like I didn't need any more reasons to never go near the place!
 

MaxPower

TS Member
The TripAdvisor reviews are a sad indictment of what the place has become, but can anybody honestly say they didn't see this coming?!

Wickerman looks a solid addition, the best for quite some time, but as long as the park is run in such a way it will always be overshadowed by all the negatives that have resulted from Merlins budgetary constraints.

Does anyone really think Merlin care about the 'overall' guest experience once they've got your money? Moaning on here or on TripAdvisor whilst continuing to put figures on their spreadsheet won't do anything, apart from make us feel slightly better about ourselves.

The only way to change anything is to stop giving them your money!
 

venny

TS Member
Every year we think it can’t get worse, that it would be ridiculous for any more cuts to be made, that a corner has been turned...

What actually happens is that a couple of ‘improvements’ are made whilst at the same time swinging cuts are made everywhere else.

The overall experience gets worse and it just makes us angry that was once a wonderful place has fallen further into its spiral of decline, worthy of a mid-2000s Six Flags.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Does anyone really think Merlin care about the 'overall' guest experience once they've got your money? Moaning on here or on TripAdvisor whilst continuing to put figures on their spreadsheet won't do anything, apart from make us feel slightly better about ourselves.

The only way to change anything is to stop giving them your money!
Unfortunately it seems the vast majority of people won't stop handing over their money any more than they will quit facebook. Modern corportations have mastered the art of manipulating addiction.
Me? I keep my addictions old school.
*Lights a spliff and swigs a beer*
Enjoy your long, miserable lives, suckers!
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
For most of the issues I put the blame with Merlin and their desire to perform budget cuts that ensure that park simply cannot operate as it needs to.

However there is one major issue where, in my eyes, the blame sits solely with Alton Towers management. The farce of the entrance plaza. Okay they cannot open all of the gates because of Merlin's cuts, but Merlin's cuts have nothing to do with not allowing annual pass holders to use the actual turnstiles rather than the gates that were originally designed for pushchairs.

It was never a problem until two or three years ago, and it is not a problem at Thorpe Park or Chessington who use the same turnstiles. So why on earth do Alton Towers insist that all pass holders must use the three gates rather than the turnstiles? Where is the common sense? I was predicting this chaos last year; big new rollercoaster + lots of MAP holders wanting to get their early to ride = very frustrated guests. Then the fact that Wicker Man is on ERT and Towers are pushing their own Season Pass so heavily only makes matters worse. ERT is a write off unless you are right at the front of the queue to get into the park.

If they insist on the current system then they at least need to open the gates at 9am, half an hour before ERT starts, to give people a chance to get into the park.

I know Towers management read this forum - this is something that you can look into yourselves without needing more money from head office. It baffles me that they did not forsee this really.

:)
 
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