Paultons Park: General Discussion

Matt.GC

TS Member
I'm off to Paultons next week and thoroughly looking forward to it. But booking through the website makes me wonder why they still hammer the point home of having Peppa Pig World there? I get that it's a gigantic IP for them and is probably the making of the park, but all these years after it opened to great success do they need to push it as strongly as they do and could it be potentially damaging the park and discouraging visitors rather than attracting them?

Some examples, you'll never see Paultons advertised anywhere without the tag "the home of Peppa pig world" and her character featuring prominently next to the logo. When you book tickets online, they even feel the need to state 'Ticket is valid for a single day's entry to Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World' as if Paultons is a tag on to PPW. If my kids, all of whom have long grown out of PP didn't know what Paultons was like and weren't aware that PPW was just 1 area within a fantastic park, they wouldn't want to go if I showed them the advertising or the website.

Of course you'd want to market the hell out of an IP that's arguably been more important to the park than the likes of CBBL, Thomas Land and Nickelodeon Land have been at their respective parks. But surely the quality of Lost Kingdom and Tornado Springs should have a stronger emphasis in the marketing? Is it healthy to sell your park so hard to families with preschoolers for them to discover the excellent family attractions they have elsewhere in park?
 

pluk

TS Member
I'm off to Paultons next week and thoroughly looking forward to it. But booking through the website makes me wonder why they still hammer the point home of having Peppa Pig World there? I get that it's a gigantic IP for them and is probably the making of the park, but all these years after it opened to great success do they need to push it as strongly as they do and could it be potentially damaging the park and discouraging visitors rather than attracting them?

Some examples, you'll never see Paultons advertised anywhere without the tag "the home of Peppa pig world" and her character featuring prominently next to the logo. When you book tickets online, they even feel the need to state 'Ticket is valid for a single day's entry to Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World' as if Paultons is a tag on to PPW. If my kids, all of whom have long grown out of PP didn't know what Paultons was like and weren't aware that PPW was just 1 area within a fantastic park, they wouldn't want to go if I showed them the advertising or the website.

Of course you'd want to market the hell out of an IP that's arguably been more important to the park than the likes of CBBL, Thomas Land and Nickelodeon Land have been at their respective parks. But surely the quality of Lost Kingdom and Tornado Springs should have a stronger emphasis in the marketing? Is it healthy to sell your park so hard to families with preschoolers for them to discover the excellent family attractions they have elsewhere in park?

I've wondered this too. My guess is they are trying over time to achieve the opposite; so many people know it simply as Pepper Pig World and haven't heard of Paultons or know the main themepark exists at all that they are trying to link the two together in people's minds.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
I've wondered this too. My guess is they are trying over time to achieve the opposite; so many people know it simply as Pepper Pig World and haven't heard of Paultons or know the main themepark exists at all that they are trying to link the two together in people's minds.

Yeah I've heard many people say "we're going to Peppa Pig World" when referring to the entire park. You could be right. This could be planned as they've found themselves in a place where PPW put them on the map, but they're trying to build a quality park around it for the longer term. A PPW is here and draws them in, but Paultons in general is not finished yet kind of deal.

The fast pace of quality growth at the park certainly suggests they're in it for the long game. I also noticed their website is pushing short breaks heavier than I've seen them do before.
 
I been to Chester to see friends for the weekend and I was showing them Paulton’s park as they not heard of the park. I showed them the rides on the app and while I was on there most of the Peppa pig rides were 30 mins to a hour with the rest of the park was walk on or up to 20 mins and this was roughly 2pm.
 

RicketyCricket

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Taron
When does the Peppa Pig license expire? I could be wrong but I think they got in there relatively early when the IP was nowhere near as popular as it is today. Don't blame them for absolutely rinsing it while they can.

It's actually what puts me off visiting there, would be a bit weird as a fully grown man with no kids.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
When does the Peppa Pig license expire? I could be wrong but I think they got in there relatively early when the IP was nowhere near as popular as it is today. Don't blame them for absolutely rinsing it while they can.

It's actually what puts me off visiting there, would be a bit weird as a fully grown man with no kids.
You don't have to step foot in that area, plus it's the busiest section of the park anyway. The rest of the park is suitable for virtually anyone, so you shouldn't feel out of place. :)
 

Alsty

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Shambhala
I agree with the above. I went to Paultons for the first time this year and it wasn't a problem at all. It's just like a "normal" theme park and you won't look or feel out of place, unless you step into Peppa Pig World.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
@RicketyCricket I had a similar concern before I visited, but I can only really attest to what the others have said; it was fine, and in all the non-PPW areas, you won’t feel out of place at all. It’s a park where I’m convinced just about anyone could go and have a good time!

I’ll admit that I am growing a little concerned for Paultons, however. As much as they’re absolutely nailing their target audience, I’m excited to see what they come up with next and I think they have a very bright future ahead of them, I’m worried that Tornado Springs hasn’t done that well for them (queue times are very short, and the park did not seem very busy when I went), and based on the other small parks in the UK and their spending habits, I fear that Paultons may eventually suffer financial problems from spending above their means without this spend wielding the expected returns.

Are my concerns justified?
 

pluk

TS Member
Are my concerns justified?

I don't think so. Exactly the same phenomenon as when Lost Kingdom opened and that still did well enough to justify and fund Tornado Springs.

The park is running at capacity most of the time, so they making money alright. Don't forget, it's a one fair price ticketing strategy with no discounting and they haven't sold any APs for a year an a half, so the spend per head will be large.

As I understand it they are actually surprised at how popular Cyclonator is. Peppa Pig is choc full of low throughput rides too, when everything in the new areas are queue eaters in comparison.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
When you book tickets online, they even feel the need to state 'Ticket is valid for a single day's entry to Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World'
Alton Towers used to get a lot of questions as to whether CBeebies was a separate upcharge ticket. A lot of people seem to think single IP lands are additional tickets.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
The park is running at capacity most of the time, so they making money alright. Don't forget, it's a one fair price ticketing strategy with no discounting and they haven't sold any APs for a year an a half, so the spend per head will be large.
So Paultons has no BOGOFs like the Merlin parks do? If you put it like that, a day at Paultons would probably cost more than a Merlin park day for your average family (Paultons’ entry fee is around £30-40, isn’t it? In spite of the Merlin parks having on-the-day prices of £50 or more, most families get in for somewhere closer to £25 each due to their pre-book prices and BOGOFs reducing entry price for the vast majority.), so they could probably make a similar amount of money out of less guests than your average Merlin park.

In that case, would I be right in saying that Paultons runs a different business model to the Merlin parks, where they try and make more money from less guests?

Out of interest, does Paultons release annual visitor figures? I know it hit 1 million yearly guests when PPW opened in 2011, so I’d presume it’s one of the busier non-Merlin parks in the UK, but I’m unsure whether visitor figures have increased at all since 2011. (Pre-PPW, attendance was apparently only 500,000, with PPW roughly doubling park attendance)
As I understand it they are actually surprised at how popular Cyclonator is. Peppa Pig is choc full of low throughput rides too, when everything in the new areas are queue eaters in comparison.
Ooh, that’s promising! Based on what the park have said in past interviews, could Cyclonator’s popularity possibly lead to something slightly more thrilling in the future, maybe for the park’s next area? (I believe the park said that Cyclonator was a litmus test for future thrill rides or something along those lines)

I did think of another potential reason why the park might seem so deserted; I know it seems like a long shot, but could the lack of Fastrack be reducing queue lengths and adding to the illusion of a quiet park?
 

AT86

TS Member
Looking at the accounts filed at Companies House for the latest period which covers until Nov 2020 (so the 2020 season essentially) it seems Paulton’s are in a very stable financial position.

Despite all the issues of last year with visitor numbers down 47% on 2019 they still turned a profit of £630,000. Down on the £5.1million of 2019, but all things considered pretty good achievement.

They have no long term debts and over £19million of reserves that have been built up over the years from profits they have made.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Looking at the accounts filed at Companies House for the latest period which covers until Nov 2020 (so the 2020 season essentially) it seems Paulton’s are in a very stable financial position.

Despite all the issues of last year with visitor numbers down 47% on 2019 they still turned a profit of £630,000. Down on the £5.1million of 2019, but all things considered pretty good achievement.

They have no long term debts and over £19million of reserves that have been built up over the years from profits they have made.
Wow, they make a lot more money than I’d thought! I thought UK parks typically only made £500,000-£1m profit in a typical, non-COVID year? £5.1m seems very, very high; I could have sworn someone even said that Alton Towers’ operating profit was only about £500,000, and even the most profitable Merlin park only made around £1m?

Heck, even 2020’s £630,000 profit is incredibly impressive given the circumstances! Didn’t most parks make losses in 2020?

And with that £19m of reserves, as well as a hopefully heftier profit in 2021 what with the opening of Tornado Springs as well as the easing of COVID restrictions, I should think they’ll have no trouble pulling off another great area to follow up Tornado Springs when the time is right! I don’t see that being any time too soon, what with COVID and all, as well as the fact that Tornado Springs is still brand new, but I could certainly see another new area opening by 2025 at the latest; if I had to guess, I reckon it’ll be the area by Cobra, Magma & Edge that’s next on the agenda!
 

pluk

TS Member
I thought UK parks typically only made £500,000-£1m profit in a typical, non-COVID year? £5.1m seems very, very high; I could have sworn someone even said that Alton Towers’ operating profit was only about £500,000, and even the most profitable Merlin park only made around £1m?

Merlin are a huge company with I'm sure a very 'efficient' tax structure. If you look at what the companies own subsidiaries charge themselves you'll see where the true profit has gone. It makes money alright.

So Paultons has no BOGOFs like the Merlin parks do? If you put it like that, a day at Paultons would probably cost more than a Merlin park day for your average family (Paultons’ entry fee is around £30-40, isn’t it? In spite of the Merlin parks having on-the-day prices of £50 or more, most families get in for somewhere closer to £25 each due to their pre-book prices and BOGOFs reducing entry price for the vast majority.), so they could probably make a similar amount of money out of less guests than your average Merlin park.

In that case, would I be right in saying that Paultons runs a different business model to the Merlin parks, where they try and make more money from less guests?

I did think of another potential reason why the park might seem so deserted; I know it seems like a long shot, but could the lack of Fastrack be reducing queue lengths and adding to the illusion of a quiet park?

They basically don't pull any tricks to rip of their guests. They charge one fair price for everyone over 1m and there is basically no upcharge on anything for a true quality product.

Merlin entice with marketing, offers and low headline price then rip you off for parking, fastrack and with a product that doesn't deliver. And yes, fastrack generates the queues that buying fastrack jumps. Without it the queues would move at around twice the speed. It's a self fulfilling rip off people seem happy to fall for.

Paulton's certainly do operate a different model, a fair and decent one. I love them for it.
 
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AT86

TS Member
Wow, they make a lot more money than I’d thought! I thought UK parks typically only made £500,000-£1m profit in a typical, non-COVID year? £5.1m seems very, very high; I could have sworn someone even said that Alton Towers’ operating profit was only about £500,000, and even the most profitable Merlin park only made around £1m?

I’m not sure where you have that info from, but it doesn’t seem right to me.

When it comes to Merlin specifically it is pretty impossible to know the profit each park makes because they don’t report performance at that level.

The closest you can get is at Resort Theme Park level which is six attractions (Towers, Thorpe, Chessington, Warwick Castle, Heide Park and Gardaland). There are also different levels of profit so it’s important to compare like with like.

The Merlin accounts for 2019 show an operating profit of £76million for the RTP division, so about £12.5million per attraction if you divide it by 6, but of course in reality some attractions will be bringing in more profit than others.

The comparative figure for Paulton’s Park - operating profit for 2019 is £6.6million.

Again these figures aren’t perfect and aren’t the final level of profit for each year, but they are a guide.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
So Paultons has no BOGOFs like the Merlin parks do? If you put it like that, a day at Paultons would probably cost more than a Merlin park day for your average family (Paultons’ entry fee is around £30-40, isn’t it? In spite of the Merlin parks having on-the-day prices of £50 or more, most families get in for somewhere closer to £25 each due to their pre-book prices and BOGOFs reducing entry price for the vast majority.), so they could probably make a similar amount of money out of less guests than your average Merlin park.

Chessington is probably most comparable to Paulton and is £48 on the gate, so £24 if you have a voucher, or £34/39 for online pre-book.
Paulton is £37.75 online or £45.50 on the gate so comparable prices but just no vouchers.

I do get the feeling Merlin is trying to get less reliant on the vouchers. The Kellogg’s ones have a lot more exclusion dates now and the days they could be used in the school holidays got fully booked.

The £34-39 price now seems to be the standard price with all the Merlin parks, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Paulton all in that range. Drayton Manor is a little cheaper at £27 for under 11 and £31 for adults.
 
Correct me if I am wrong (probably am) but I always thought Merlin just wanted to get as many people in to the Park as possible (hence the 2 for 1's etc everywhere). Once the Park was packed, they then could make a killing on fast tracks etc. Human nature probably makes it an easy sell as:
1) people think they need it to do everything
2) they got a discount to get in so feel it is ok.

It definitely looks like they are trimming back on them and probably can as the demand for staycations is sky high.

By all accounts, as Paultons don't do any of this, they probably make good money with lower visitor numbers. They also seem to have a lot more rides than some other Parks to spread queues etc.

As for Tornado Springs 'not being busy' think that is more down to buying high capacity machines vs the catalogue stuff they have in Peppa Pig World.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
As for Tornado Springs 'not being busy' think that is more down to buying high capacity machines vs the catalogue stuff they have in Peppa Pig World.
That’s very true, in fairness; Storm Chaser at very least has a higher throughput than the park’s other coasters (I don’t know what anyone else has measured, but SC was getting around 700pph when I timed it on my visit, compared with around 500pph for the other 3 big coasters).

However, the actual queues themselves didn’t seem to have many people in them. Cyclonator had a few, but Storm Chaser never seemed to be queueing further back than just before the steps into the station.

Some of the other coasters had more of a queue, however; Pterosaur seemed to have a reasonable queue on all 3 of my rides, if not a huge one by any stretch. Velociraptor was walk-on both times I did it, however, and Cobra didn’t have much of a wait (maybe a few cars’ worth) either.

One thing I will say about Paultons is that the operations seemed very slick; the queues all seemed to move very quickly given the rides themselves don’t have the highest base capacities!
 

pluk

TS Member
Some of the other coasters had more of a queue, however; Pterosaur seemed to have a reasonable queue on all 3 of my rides, if not a huge one by any stretch. Velociraptor was walk-on both times I did it, however, and Cobra didn’t have much of a wait (maybe a few cars’ worth) either.

The park is a bit geographically imbalanced now. Peppa Pig is undoubtedly still the big draw for a high proportion of visitors, and having the big new area right next to that does concentrate a lot of guests to one area of the park. There's not so much to draw visitors over to the Cobra side, it can feel a bit dead over there.

One thing I will say about Paultons is that the operations seemed very slick; the queues all seemed to move very quickly given the rides themselves don’t have the highest base capacities!

Answering your own Fastrack question there!
 
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