What do UK Theme Parks do better then their European competitors?

pjanvil

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Valhalla
I'd say Valhalla is a good example of something creative since there isn't a dark ride like it anywhere else. Although appreciate that was a long time ago and can't think of anything as creative more recently.
 
UK queueline closes taken for granted in the UK???
I don't, I'm a season ticket holder at BPB.
They shut the queueline at any time in the last half hour if there is no actual queue.
"Breakdown mate".

Yes but BPB are a rule unto themselves, in many, many ways, as has been discussed in the BPB thread many times, and hence why I’ve not bothered to visit the place for more than a year.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Less smoking in queue lines.

The afformentioned queue line closes. Although that's majoritly a Merlin thing.

I would say dirt cheap entry, but then you pay for it with hotel stays.

The fact this is the best we can all do speaks volumes about the state of theme parks in the UK.
 

SuperMuscleMan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Colossus
Hmm I thought of innovation and creativity too with lack of space like Nemesis Oblivion and Icon but it does seem the UK industry has stagnated compared to Europe in recent years. Any thoughts why the UK seems to be doing badly compared to things in Europe where climate are economies are similar?
Lack of competition... Monopoly
 
I think the smaller uk parks are better than the smaller European parks. I not been to many theme parks in Europe but I enjoy the parks round Cornwall and Devon are they look miles better than what I seen from the small European parks shawn’s visited this year.
 
I think the smaller uk parks are better than the smaller European parks. I not been to many theme parks in Europe but I enjoy the parks round Cornwall and Devon are they look miles better than what I seen from the small European parks shawn’s visited this year.

I would very much disagree if I’m honest, but having said that, it depends what you mean by small, and how small.

I’d say that the likes of Tripsdrill, Fårup, BonBon Land, Isla Magica, and Tibidabo for example, are far better than the parks in Devon and Cornwall.

Or do you mean smaller parks than the ones I mentioned. I don’t watch any TPWW vlogs so have no idea where he’s visited, so I don’t really have a point of reference.
 

Tim

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Air / Blue Fire
Tripsdrill is an interesting one, I went there 10 years ago and I'd have definitely called it a small park (with a few larger rides on the far field).
But it's been so successful I'd class it as a medium sized park now.
So on that basis I'd say Europe has some fantastic small parks that have managed to become larger attractions because of the high quality.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Each to their own, of course, but I’d definitely disagree on smaller parks being superior in the UK, from what I’ve seen and visited.

Many of Europe’s small to mid tier parks are churning out things that give the big parks a run for their money, and even some properly low tier parks have surprisingly impressive attractions given their calibre compared to UK equivalents.

I’d also argue that America’s small parks are more prosperous as well. For instance, the Fun Spot parks in America are probably no larger in calibre than the likes of the Blackpool piers or Brean Theme Park, yet the two Florida Fun Spots have cracking compact woodies, and the newly acquired Fun Spot in Georgia is building a whopping great RMC! The parks of that calibre in this country don’t seem to extend beyond Pinfari and Reverchon for coasters.
 
Tripsdrill is an interesting one, I went there 10 years ago and I'd have definitely called it a small park (with a few larger rides on the far field).
But it's been so successful I'd class it as a medium sized park now.
So on that basis I'd say Europe has some fantastic small parks that have managed to become larger attractions because of the high quality.

That’s a very good point. Small parks on the continent have gone from being small parks to medium sized ones, thanks to their high quality investments and great attention to detail. Whereas in the UK, I can’t think of any parks except Paultons, which have significantly changed in their level of notoriety.
 

neil_wilson

TS Member
I don’t normally post on here using my real name. I signed up for Towers Street using my real name because I wanted to promote a book I’d written. I have a load of half written books including one about why Europa Park’s successful, and this thread ties into the research I’ve done for that. I thought I’d share a few of my findings, as I think it applies to a lot of other European parks.

The UK theme park industry really isn’t doing very well these days. To be fair, there probably are quite a few European countries where the theme park industry’s no better or weaker, but we’ve certainly fallen behind the top ones. Particularly Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. Things used to be a lot better, particularly at the Tussauds parks. They were building unique coasters when a lot of European parks were building SLCs, and really cool dark ride concepts when a lot of European parks were still doing rides closely inspired by Disney. But that was a long time ago now.

The countries with the best theme parks aren’t necessarily the ones with the best weather. In fact, they’re almost certainly not. And it’s certainly not because they have weaker employment laws and lower labour costs. The UK pretty much has the weakest employment laws in Europe. I’m not sure the tax argument is particularly strong either. Looking at the different European countries, the biggest factor in predicting how successful a country’s theme parks are, aside from population/population density, is the strength of the economy.

Although the UK has a big economy overall, when you adjust for GDP per capita our economy is the 14th biggest in Europe. The UK economy is particularly reliant on high house prices, which inflates our GDP. Other economic measures put us lower than 14th when you adjust for population size. In fact, the UK is particularly unproductive as a country. For example, money laundering makes up a bigger proportion of our economy that any other country bar the United States. A weak economy isn’t good for the theme park industry. Our economy has been falling behind other European countries for a long time, but this has accelerated since Brexit.

In most countries the economy is strongest in the capital. Germany is an exception. But in the UK wealth is particularly concentrated in London and the area around it. Away from London the UK has a lot of very deprived areas. Deprived areas aren’t good for theme parks. By several major measures, the UK is the second most unequal country after Portugal, although a lot of studies exclude a few countries like Russia and Belarus. We certainly have more inequality than almost every EU country. A combination of a weak economy and high inequality are really bad for the theme park industry.

A weak economy, high inequality, and too much money concentrated in London, is a big problem for the UK theme park industry. But going back to the original question, what do we do well?

In terms of heritage attractions, I suppose we’re lucky with some of the museums, like Dingles, Folly Farm, Hollycombe, Scarborough Fair and Thursford. I know Carter’s are finishing, but there are quite a few vintage rides that go to things like steam fairs. We’re also really lucky with the steam fairs. The Great Dorset Steam Fair is particularly impressive.

The UK does have a lot of Halloween scare attractions now. I don’t know how it compares to other European countries, but we do have some really good ones.

The UK climate doesn’t lend itself to outdoor water parks, but we do have some decent indoor ones, like The Sandcastle and Splashdown. Maybe nothing on the scale of Rulantica, but some of ours do hold up pretty well against a lot of them.

We also have a really good enthusiast community. I don’t exactly how they compare to other European countries, but certainly the RCCGB and ECC have tended to attract members from other European countries, which suggests they have a good reputation.

Winter Wonderland may not be as big as the Oktoberfest in Munich, but it does stand out as one of Europe’s premier traveling fairs. There aren’t many fairs around Europe that are as good, and it is one of Europe’s premier Christmas events. It is worth noting that two of the best examples of UK successes are Paultons Park and Winter Wonderland, both located in the most affluent parts of the UK.

Although our theme park zoos aren’t perfect, there probably is more awareness around animal welfare, and we are ahead of some other countries with things like removing dolphin shows.

We do have some of the best schools packages, partly because our parks are particularly reliant on school visits. Some of our biggest parks have education officers and a package of schools workshops. Very few parks outside the UK do that.

But when it comes to major theme parks, most of ours are struggling. Some of it might be due to a lack of competition. In a way Merlin are just being Merlin. The easiest way to compare Merlin is to look at the Legolands, and these seem to build similar attractions in each country. Some of might be due to a national shortage of engineers, and we do have some poor management practices and a lot of short termism. The UK weather probably doesn’t help, nor the fact that the UK parks are more heavily influenced by the UK school holidays. In mainland Europe parks near borders can attract people from different countries with different holiday patterns, whereas the UK parks are very reliant on the school holidays. But I do think a combination of a weak economy, wealth being concentrated in London, and very wide inequality, are the biggest culprits. Would Europa Park have been anything like as successful in a less prosperous part of Europe? Possibly not.
 

Tim

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Air / Blue Fire
Neil makes a good point about scare attractions. I've not done any in Europe yet (roll on October!), but based on what I've heard the UK scare events focus a lot more on atmosphere and suspense which I find far more appealing.
Walking through Alton Towers on a chilly and foggy night can't be beat. And I love the way the mazes lean into this instead of constant jump scares.
 

Poisson

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Giant Squid
Traumatica has a very good atmosphere, the mazes however were a bit meh compared to something like SS:TEG
 

NuttySquirrel

TS Member
From my experience, dietary advice. UK parks generally have separate menus for those with special diets and even some fast food outlets are allergen-friendly. Also they're providing a lot more vegan options as well. Europe is still lagging behind, though that might be the case generally, not just at parks. In NL there were alternatives available but they just weren't advertised anywhere, and in Germany all allergens are listed but adapting a meal to make it suitable just wasn't a thing. It's no good having allergy advice when all it does is confirm that you can't actually eat anything!
 
I’m a bit late, but a massive thank you to @neil_wilson for that really detailed analysis of the situation in the UK. You’ve more than hit the nail on the head.

There’s so many good points in there, that it’s very difficult to discuss each on in details, but the one where I agree with you the most is regarding the weather.
I hate it when people try to excuse the UK parks’ piss poor performance and operations by saying we have worse weather here.

It’s a lazy, cop-out excuse, and when compared with the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia, our climate really isn’t that much worse. Yet these countries still operate their parks better, and in many cases, manage to get decent winter events, which our theme park operators always claim aren’t possible due to our UK climate, something which I’ve always thought is nonsense.
 

QTXAdsy

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Black Hole
If you want to create a 'bruh' moment for this topic to try and find something the UK does better then it's simple.

Renamed the topic to 'What do English parks do better?' Then just say our parks are better than those in Scotland and that's yer lot! :p
 

Jb85

TS Member
Advertising….. although depends where you sit with this.

If there is a major coaster in the UK, you can guarantee everyone knows about it
 
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