The Sinking Ship: (Un)Love Letters to Merlin

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Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Disney are the most ruthless, minimum wage paying, rule exploiting, lobby influencing, upsell driven, merchandising machine there is, but they sprinkle a little fairy dust and you use them as examples of how they care about guest experience. They are no different from Merlin.

I do actually agree with this, to an extent. Merlin and Disney are operating on vastly different scales and Disney's theme parks are far superior to anything that Merlin could even dream of. However Disney are the leaders in ensuring they get every last penny out of your pocket and their current leadership are more than happy to make budget cuts when things aren't looking as good as they could be.

Of course Disney have the back up that their parks contain world class rides, they are generally kept up to an expected standard, entertainment is plentiful and there is great variety in F&B.

They do care more about guest experience than Merin do, not least becuase they have a reputation and brand standard that they have to meet. And of course back in the day when Walt Disney started it all at Disneyland guest experience was of utmost importance.

:)
 

RoyJess

TS Member
Merlin HAVE invested in AT and the signs are that they will continue to do so. Expansion of the Enchanted Village, and launch of the Cbeebies hotel will not see a return on investment if there are not genuine incentives to visit, and Merlin would not make this investment if they expect no bums on seats.

Some of Merlin's The investments have been questionable. Thirteen?, I love it, but £15 million? Seriously!

Don't forget that Alton have also heavily invested in wooden fences over the last few seasons :rolleyes: ;)
 

jon81uk

TS Member
I do actually agree with this, to an extent. Merlin and Disney are operating on vastly different scales and Disney's theme parks are far superior to anything that Merlin could even dream of. However Disney are the leaders in ensuring they get every last penny out of your pocket and their current leadership are more than happy to make budget cuts when things aren't looking as good as they could be.

I think that sums it up. Both groups are making cuts as parts of their theme park divisions aren't performing as well as they could be. But Disney's parks are of such a higher standard than Merlin's to start with, the cuts are less noticeable. Whereas when Merlin parks didn't offer much live entertainment in the first place, a cut to it really stands out.
 

Rick

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Crux
What @Altonadvocate1 said.

I'm not going to spend my evening writing a long post, I've retired from those. But - I would say that each visit that I've had this year has been fine. Sure, I've missed Hex - but I have seen relatively good operations (far better than Thorpe or Chessington), food has been good and the hotels fine too.

I can't get on board the negativity train, I'm afraid.
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
What @Altonadvocate1 said.

I'm not going to spend my evening writing a long post, I've retired from those. But - I would say that each visit that I've had this year has been fine. Sure, I've missed Hex - but I have seen relatively good operations (far better than Thorpe or Chessington), food has been good and the hotels fine too.

I can't get on board the negativity train, I'm afraid.

Ultimately, I agree. I've had some fantastic experiences at Towers this year and am fairly positive regarding the future of the park. I can, however, empathise with a lot of grievances raised in this thread.
 

Martin

TS Member
I think we all have good times at Towers still but that doesn't make it ok. I'd probably have a good day at Flamingo Land, doesn't make it a good park. Each season Towers seems to get in a worse state and letting the standards we expect slip with it is not something we should be doing as fans of the park. We should constantly demanding better, not settling for ok.
 

Rob

TS Team
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Steel Vengeance
Yes days out at Towers are generally "fine". However do you go to Atlon Towers for a day that is just fine? You probably do now but you didn't used to. Maybe fine is all Merlin want though, fine gets satisfying numbers through the gate, fill enough hotel rooms and ensures enough F&B is sold. Any more than fine would result in a cost that they can't or don't want to justify.

For me the problem is that over the last few years Alton Towers has been going in one direction and it most certainly is not up.

:)
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Yes days out at Towers are generally "fine". However do you go to Atlon Towers for a day that is just fine? You probably do now but you didn't used to. Maybe fine is all Merlin want though, fine gets satisfying numbers through the gate, fill enough hotel rooms and ensures enough F&B is sold. Any more than fine would result in a cost that they can't or don't want to justify.

For me the problem is that over the last few years Alton Towers has been going in one direction and it most certainly is not up.

:)

It's subjective of course. Personally, my days at Towers in 2016 have been a lot better than just "fine".

I think we all have good times at Towers still but that doesn't make it ok. I'd probably have a good day at Flamingo Land, doesn't make it a good park. Each season Towers seems to get in a worse state and letting the standards we expect slip with it is not something we should be doing as fans of the park. We should constantly demanding better, not settling for ok.

Fair enough. It depends on what your expectations actually are though. For me, the main attraction of Towers has always been the coasters, way before anything else. I definitely consider myself a coaster enthusiast over a theme park enthusiast. And I still think Towers has the best line up of coasters in the country, so in that respect, standards haven't slipped. I've never gone to theme parks to watch parades or sit through shows, no matter how good they are.

I see the closure of rides as a very bad thing, but from a purely selfish point of view, I was never *that* bothered about any of them, bar Hex. My day at Towers certainly isn't any worse now that Wobble World is closed. I don't like the message closed rides sends out, and I do understand the major grievances enthusiasts are having with Towers right now, but speaking purely for myself, the standard of my day at the park is basically no different to how it's always been.

Plus the coasters at Flamingoland are generally rubbish, so I doubt I'd ever be able to have a good day there.
 
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Matt.GC

TS Member
I would never say a day out at the park wasnt enjoyable. I also still enjoy it personally (although it was a massive let down for my kids this year). But it is a fact that from the number of attractions, to opening hours and massive lack of family attractions this season (don't even try and label cbeebies as a family attraction, it's a pre school area) the park has never offered such a downgraded offer since its formation in the early 80's.

As for earlier posts about Merlins response when challenged, I wouldn't say they're in "denial" about the state of things at all. You'd hardly expect them to write back saying "Yeah you're right mate, park's a right bin".
 

Martin

TS Member
A year or two they'll start closing the coasters, at least on quiet days, and people will still say it's fine. It's just another little step down after all. But these little steps add up. In 2010 if they said half the rides would be closed for a year or more no one would have accepted it, even if it was just the kids rides, but by chipping away bit by bit it becomes acceptable because no one really notices that big of a decline from one trip to the next until suddenly it's obvious how far it's come.
 

venny

TS Member
Alton and Merlin theme parks have, after 10 years of being a passholder, now reached the point for me where I will not be renewing my pass for the first time ever. Like many others, I still love Alton, but I just don't enjoy visiting like I used to, as a result of the continued decline in quality and service. I'm now a Pleasure Beach convert and they will be getting the majority of my money next year.
 

rob666

TS Member
Well Venny, hang around Mme Crevettes Bar on a wet weekday afternoon off peak next year and me and "Dipper Dave" might just buy you a pint!
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
A year or two they'll start closing the coasters, at least on quiet days, and people will still say it's fine. It's just another little step down after all. But these little steps add up. In 2010 if they said half the rides would be closed for a year or more no one would have accepted it, even if it was just the kids rides, but by chipping away bit by bit it becomes acceptable because no one really notices that big of a decline from one trip to the next until suddenly it's obvious how far it's come.

I'd say that's hugely unlikely. I know it seems like Merlin are just doing this for the Hell of it, but of course they're not. This is all a knock on effect from the crash (I don't for one second believe they'd have closed so many rides in one go had the crash not happened), and they chose the rides they considered "mid-way attractions". These were Varney's exact words when addressing the ride closures at a shareholder convention (someone mentioned this months ago in the forum, can't remember who). None of the coasters could be considered "mid way", as they are the main attractions of the park and what most people think of when Alton Towers is mentioned. CBeebies has the BBC license, so that's safe - it's the attractions like Duel that are most at risk. Coaster closures on quieter days is one thing (albeit still unlikely), but having even one of them SBNO for a whole season is something I really doubt would happen. And if it did, I for one certainly wouldn't say it was fine. But let's not pretend closing Nemesis or Oblivion is the same "little step down" that closing Charlie and Driving School was.

I was never addressing standards as a whole, I was referring to my personal standards. Whilst not the only thing I go on, the coasters are the main attraction and they remained untouched in 2016. Therefore, the standard for me was largely the same.
 
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rob666

TS Member
Didn't they open Dark Forest later a couple of seasons ago?
Wouldn't surprise me if they did ride rotation during the low season, rides in each area opening for a couple of hours, rapids and mine train rotating, Nemesis and Galactica, Rita and Thirteen etc.
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Didn't they open Dark Forest later a couple of seasons ago?
Wouldn't surprise me if they did ride rotation during the low season, rides in each area opening for a couple of hours, rapids and mine train rotating, Nemesis and Galactica, Rita and Thirteen etc.

Opening rides later in the day is millions of miles away from not opening rides at all. Yes, in 2015, parts of the park opened at 11 instead of 10, but it would be completely wrong to assume that the next natural step from this was to leave rides SBNO all season (I'm not saying you personally are saying this, just in general). Merlin parks are stingy with operations no doubt (as are many non-Merlin parks), but I doubt we'd ever have seen five SBNO rides in one season had the crash not happened. I've seen it mentioned that Merlin used the crash as an excuse to close so many rides, but I genuinely doubt that.

As for your rotation theory, I doubt that would happen. The visitor numbers are gradually improving, and will continue to improve, so I doubt they'll feel the need to do anything so drastic. I can't see a situation where Nemesis is open and Galactica isn't.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Several smaller parks operate rides on rotation to save staff costs. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Merlin do that.
 

John

TS Member
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Steel Vengeance
Generally it's only minor rides than run on rotation, with coasters open all day. Now that Towers have so few 2nd tier rides in any given area I can't see them running them on rotation - they're not likely to have (say) blade open for a couple of hours then move over to enterprise, it just doesn't make sense. It could be a possibility at Thorpe with the lost city flats + slammer though
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Several smaller parks operate rides on rotation to save staff costs. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Merlin do that.

I can't see them doing this with the major coasters. Rapids and Mine Train, Battle Galleons and Marauders, all the remaining CCL rides, possibly. But I genuinely doubt it.
 
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