There's still magic somewhere...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by LordOfDarkness, 4th Dec 2019.

  1. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    Even if Merlin hadn't bought Tussauds I think we would have people nowadays talking about the "corporate stain" of the Tussauds group. There has been a focus on the profits of the group since Charterhouse bought the group in 1999, then Dubai Investment Capital bought the group in 2007 before Blackstone bought Tussauds and merged it with Merlin. The investment in the parks around 2007 was already very poor. Its not Merlin, its any owner that concentrates too much on profits and cuts rather than investment to get returns, doesn't matter if its investment capital or shareholders. Hopefully now the owners of Merlin are back to Blackstone and Kirkbi we may see the right sort of investment again.

    The leadership of Alton Towers definitely seem to be trying recently, Smiler was almost great and Wickerman is fantastic. It just seems that Chessington is focusing too much on small-scale rides and Alton Towers on large-scale when both parks need a bit of both!

    For me Wickerman brought a lot of "magic" into the park and so did CBeebies five years ago. Its just a shame that the cuts following the Smiler incident have caused off-peak days to be so limited.

    But as a TL;DR, even without Merlin and Tussauds merging, I think we would still of had complaints about profiteering in the parks as this started 12-15 years ago.
     
    Mikw likes this.
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #41
  2. TakeYourMedicine

    TakeYourMedicine TowersStreet Member

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    We already were complaining about Tussauds, I remember it feeling quite bleak and people disliking the direction the park was heading in.

    Air was unfinished, Duel happened, Black Hole closed with no replacement, Toyland replaced by lifeless Charlie, entertainments cut, Rita hastily wrecking Ug Land and the big new plan being some kind of spa aquarium and a zip wire off the Towers??

    Fans were very excited when Merlin took over and built a themed ride (Battle Galleons), everyone was very optimistic, but soon problems began to creep in.

    Merlin already had a track record with their style of development and management, it made its mark on the Towers even though it was an improvement on the DIC type era. I remember realising Merlin werent all they said they were when Thirteen opened.

    DIC were never going to last running the show for long, they were never interested and seemed to mistakenly think they could sit back, relax and let the billions roll in.

    Tussauds under Pearson were also very profit motivated, but they appeared to do things a different way, they made better longer term investment without being painfully tied to short sighted marketing policies. They were smaller and perhaps managed things as less of an ungainly global tangle that Merlin is, and they werent a monopoly!
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #42
  3. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I think the floatation on the stock market was probably the worst thing they could do in terms of guest experience vs profits and that's when the real bad set in. Its no surprise that the larger shareholders decided to take Merlin back into private ownership.

    I think late-90s Tussauds although not a monopoly they were easily the market leader in themed attractions in the UK, They had two major theme parks (AT and Chessington) and bought Thorpe Park in 1998 giving them three parks plus Madame Tussauds, Warwick Castle a stake in Port Aventura and plans to expand Tussauds sites and soon the stake in London Eye too.
    In 1999 when Tussauds were operating three theme parks they were already holding a near-monopoly on UK theme parks as only really Drayton Manor and BPB were close in terms of scale per park.
     
    Matt.GC likes this.
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #43
  4. Ethan

    Ethan TowersStreet Member

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    The magic is in the way you move baby. Oh wait we're talking about theme park magic. Well I would go to Alton towers to look but that would make me look stupid wouldn't it
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #44
  5. Themeparksandy1981

    Themeparksandy1981 TowersStreet Member

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    I think Merlin removing attractions (Wave swinger, Ripsaw, Submission, Nemesis sub Terra, 4D cinema ) and only replacing Charlie with a up charge attraction really has taken magic away for me. They look at big coasters and think of the £££ getting earned with Fast track tickets.
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #45
  6. Benjsh

    Benjsh TowersStreet Member

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    Location:
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    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance
    Don't really miss any of the flat rides if I'm honest as 1) I don't really like them and 2) The ones Towers had weren't great anyway. Ripsaw was good for a while I suppose but needed to be retired.

    Would have been nice to have a few more dark rides coming in to replace the outgoing flats though. And Sub Terra was such a cool concept and ride that was just badly executed. It had 'Alien Encounter' potential but was sadly done on the cheap and with a lousy gimmick that forced the ride to close.
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #46
  7. Britford

    Britford TowersStreet Member

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    Maybe it's just me, but I'm noticing a link between this issue, and the dilution of thematic integrity...like, CCL (despite all misgivings with the theme itself) only really started to go sour once they got ice age and completely abandoned the whole snorlax and co, after that, everything just fell apart.
    Same with the hotels...

    With splash, the original theme was specifically designed to be all rusted and worn as to give the feeling of an actual building in the actual caribbean...but...oh no! rust=bad...so they repainted everything to fit the corporate standard "vibrant" and "fun:)" TropicalTM theme...and while they're at it...why not completely get rid of the paradise plumbers, they're weird and might invoke those ungrateful cattle to unfairly DEMAND MORE!!!! Originality!

    Over in ATH, while it has held on a bit better than splash, even that is having its OG theme watered down and is slowly but surely being changed from traditional Britishness (I suspect, because, in the corporate mind, British=colonialism=controversy)to just generic dark steampunk and the less said about what they are doing to the character of Sir Algernon, the better...
    It's also worth mentioning...I only really stay in ATH at scarefest (but based on the more steampunky style of the Moon Voyage and Arctic Explorer rooms, it seems that this criticism still holds up.)
     
    Poopoohead likes this.
    Posted 6th Dec 2019
    #47
  8. TakeYourMedicine

    TakeYourMedicine TowersStreet Member

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    I dont think theres any conspiracy behind good themes getting weaker and lost. More just bad scenic maintenance and low budget /dull remarketing of hotels as "the kidde ONE" or "the posh ONE" instead of their original more scenic and themed styles. It's a real shame what happened to Cariba Creek and Splash, dumbed down.
     
    Alsty, Brad97, speedy and 3 others like this.
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #48
  9. Kraken27

    Kraken27 TowersStreet Member

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    All I'll say is I distinctly recall a conversation I had with a manager I worked with at Towers (he is still there, so I can't name him! Suffice it to say he's been there a long time and has seen all the change the park has gone through).

    I was discussing theming & quality of new attractions at other parks I've visited - his response was "yes, we used to that, years ago". Enough said.

    Whilst I know a Merlin park (with seasonal operation) cannot hope to match the investments other companies make... wasn't Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure something like a $100m investment alone? Even John Wardley went on record saying it was the best ride he'd ridden - and he loves his coasters as much as any of us. What to Merlin wheel out? A typical £6-8m investment in a "big" new ride, with the press release normally just being a re-hashed version of the last £6-8m ride investment too.
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #49
  10. bluesonichd

    bluesonichd TowersStreet Member

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    but they deemed there was no point continuing as it brought nothing of importance to the park only a extra cash burden of having to keep the theming and quality up o_O
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #50
  11. speedy

    speedy TowersStreet Member

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    To try and pump some positivity back into this thread, In my opinion, you don't need big investments or super immersive themes to create a "magical" experience.

    I still get a magical feeling if:
    • I'm in a good mood and/or with the right people
    • Good quality of attractions (in terms of theme but more importantly thrill)
    • Friendly staff
    • Not feeling rushed, having time to relax and still enjoy re-rides
    So there's certainly magic left in Alton Towers for me. Main bummer is the short opening hours and lack of public transport.

    I think it's partly due to the fact I don't own a pass and rarely visit theme parks. So as long as it's a nice environment and good rides, any theme park trip can feel magical.
     
    jon81uk and Matt878787 like this.
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #51
  12. Kraken27

    Kraken27 TowersStreet Member

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    I bet this makes uncomfortable reading for Mr Varney...

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/10502487/theme-park-disney-london/

    An operator could finally be about to challenge his dominance of the UK market, with a built from scratch park (i.e. not a park like Towers that is relying on core infrastructure that is close on 40yrs old).
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #52
  13. shawnoc

    shawnoc TowersStreet Member

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    For me hearing ITHOMK does it for me, it just works when walking down towers street. Yes the park is tired in places but still get a buzz as I don’t go nearly as much as I used to.
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #53
  14. speedy

    speedy TowersStreet Member

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    Why do you still go and choose to stay in their hotels if you hate the place so much? Genuinely curious
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #54
  15. D4n

    D4n TowersStreet Member

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    Oooh not heard about this one yet. Hope it has investors.
     
    Islander and WillPS like this.
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #55
  16. bluesonichd

    bluesonichd TowersStreet Member

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    well I only tried to stay once in the hotel last season, out of connivence, being fireworks weekend and all ... and we all know how that ended !
    https://towersstreet.com/talk/threads/disaster-of-the-towers.5280/

    why else would you want to stay?
    for the entertainment ...:joycat:
    for the delicious food...:joycat:
    for a relaxing peaceful night sleep...:joycat:
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #56
  17. speedy

    speedy TowersStreet Member

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    So it's not really "a cesspool of despair, disappointment and distaste" then
     
    MattyH and Godscrasher like this.
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #57
  18. Matt878787

    Matt878787 TowersStreet Member

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    The only bad time I’ve had at Alton towers is when it was travellers weekend and enough said about that.

    it’s worth going just to go on Nemesis alone (for me anyway)
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #58
  19. Stuie

    Stuie TowersStreet Member

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    I doubt he’s losing much sleep over it!
     
    Posted 7th Dec 2019
    #59
  20. TheBolt

    TheBolt TowersStreet Member

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    • Wickerman in the dark
    a ride clearly designed for the evenings, in a park that is generally not open at night was a strange choice.... but the ride is magical when it is open i. the dark.​
    • Furchester Hotel
    There are still pockets of entertainment at AT, but they are mostly in CBeebies. This show is a high quality, litle magical gem for its target audience.
    errr... struggling now
     
    Posted 8th Dec 2019
    #60

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