The 1998 Tussuads Bidding War

Discussion in 'Talbot Street' started by Bert2theSpark, 25th Jun 2018.

  1. Bert2theSpark

    Bert2theSpark TowersStreet Member

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    I've just stumbled across an article from 1998 when Pearson was selling off Tussuads.

    Link Here

    Interesting to know that Warner Bros and Hard Rock Cafe were part of the bidding war as well as Universal.

    And for those interested that £300 mill back then is worth ~£500 mill (Obviously the asset value has changed since then though).

    I wonder what have happened if Hard Rock Cafe, First Leisure, Warner Bros or Universal managed to get their hands on Alton Towers.
     
    Rob, AT86, CSLKenny and 5 others like this.
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  2. JB1985

    JB1985 TowersStreet Member

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    We shall never know

    Interesting find though - I would have thought Universal would have been amazing
     
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  3. Robert.W

    Robert.W TowersStreet Member

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    I can just imagine it now... "Universal's Alton Towers" or something like that. Kind of glad they never got it though, probably would have had too many IP's for my liking... and I imagine they'd have sold it off at some point, maybe to someone even worse than Merlin... we'll just never know. :)
     
    Joel3 likes this.
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  4. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    Universal would have been interesting but I think it would have taken Alton in a bit of a different direction - who knows! Their foray into the European market was somewhat brief.

    I would have liked to have seen what Granada would have done with Alton, at one time.

    It's difficult to know who was looking with serious intentions of making a bid and who just wanted to glance at the books when they were open.

    There are a lot of companies who have had a romantic view of the industry and have bought into a park or a chain only for it to be a disaster as the complexities and risks became apparent.
     
    rob666 likes this.
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  5. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Would Six Flags' foray into Europe be an example of this?
     
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  6. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    I guess that's the opposite. Six Flags were well versed in the industry. They had a strategy that wasn't working in the US that they decided to duplicate in Europe.

    "Build it (to a level thay you can't afford or maintain) and they will (not) come"
     
    Matt N likes this.
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  7. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Six Flags' strategy back then was to build massive coasters every year, wasn't it, or something along those lines?

    Anyway, it would certainly have been interesting to see what any of the above companies could have done with Tussauds, or whether we'd even have seen the parks bought by Merlin had another company bought Tussauds?
     
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  8. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    Pretty much. And more so, buying parks and throwing $100m at the ride line up for little return. It was insane.

    That's a little harder to call. If a park operator had bought them you'd have to wonder if they would have sold them.

    One of those scenarios that's hard to work through because what happened has happened and everything else is just an assumption or a flat out guess.
     
    Matt N likes this.
    Posted 25th Jun 2018
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  9. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    I'm glad Granada didn't take over...I remember skytrack...what a cock up that was.
     
    Posted 27th Jun 2018
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  10. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    My back has never been the same either, BUT - a company trying to conquer something never been done before, from the epicentre of coaster innovation (Adlington, Lancashire) - it's very much in the spirt of what Arrow did, albeit not quite as successfully.
     
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  11. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    What, you actually got to ride the thing?
    By the time I heard it was definitely open, it was actually closed!
    Throughput of 30 people per hour was the best statistic.
     
  12. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    @rob666 Indeed. I have some video on VHS somewhere, I'll dig it out one day.
     
  13. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    Or Merlin's successful strategy - throw £40m at an esoteric idea for a declining park, in such a way that cannot be maintained because the park's budgets are so squeezed (but that's someone else's problem) and only a few will like it. Ensure every new attraction is grey and serious because that's what the statistics say people want, until you have a grey run down park that fewer people want to visit.

    And don't forget, overcomplicate things that have worked for years by overstructuring how your company designs & develops parks, until in-house projects become unaffordable, then give all decision power to short-sighted marketing departments and they will (not) come.

    :smilecat:
     
    MaxPower, Sauron97 and Bert2theSpark like this.
    Posted 2nd Jul 2018
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  14. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    There's elements of truth in what you say @TakeYourMedicine but a fair amount of enthusiast folklore too.

    If you take Ghost Train as an example, I genuinely think that at its best it's a phenomenal attraction - it certainly has some of the best set pieces ever seen in a UK park. The overall product has a lot of flaws - but I am largely supportive of being bold when it comes to creating new attractions.

    The whole thing stinks of when people deride politicians for a 20 year old decision with two decades of hindsight. Tiresome.
     
    Bert2theSpark likes this.
    Posted 2nd Jul 2018
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  15. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    For Ghost Train, I thought it at the time (having gone in with no hype and an open mind, ready to just have fun), and the redo that didn't tackle the core issues, and it was only a couple years ago, not 20. It turned out exactly as anyone who had looked at the big Merlin projects leading up to then could have predicted.

    Most the public seem to think the same, which is weird because your usual claim is that 'Merlin do what the public want'. Well the ride has just become an expensive white elephant for Thorpe Park, like most Merlin's big projects.

    The concept of the trains and how 'the illusion' and movement was meant to work was amazing, and I'm also really supportive of being bold. That in principle is amazing. But again, arrogant strategy and hurredly making decisions, without really having a handle on the entertainment factor, meant that it turned out poorly.

    Merlin is a financial and marketing company, they operate and develop theme parks because they have to, it's a chore for them and they want to find as many ways to thin it out as possible, ultimately at the cost of the guest experience and value of their parks.

    Wicker Man however I have really enjoyed and funnily enough that's the one that they had to take a leap of faith and ignore the marketing to do.

    But would the parks have been better sold to a different company? I don't know. Initially Merlin taking on the parks from the investment banks is what saved them really. Merlin would have you think the way they run themselves is the only way parks can be successful today, but I think only according to their definition of successful. ie as fuel for their global expansion and biggest response to marketing.
     
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    Posted 2nd Jul 2018
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  16. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    @TakeYourMedicine I think the public like VR, so much so that at Alton they're willing to wait over an hour for Galactica when they could walk right on to Air.

    I'm glad they tried something new, I am disappointed that they haven't found a way to make it perform consistently.
     
    JB1985 and Robert.W like this.
    Posted 2nd Jul 2018
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