Will Alton Towers' visitor numbers ever return to their pre-Smiler levels?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Matt N, 6th Jul 2019.

  1. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Hi guys. As many of you may know, last year was a reasonably successful year for Alton Towers, with the opening of Wicker Man bringing 200,000 new guests to the park; 2018's attendance figure was 2,100,000, whereas 2017's figure was 1,900,000. However, it should be noted that this is still quite some way lower than the sort of figures that the park was getting prior to 2015. For example, 2014's figure is listed as 2,575,000 in the TEA attendance report. Admittedly, the park apparently did quite well in 2014 with the opening of CBeebies Land and to a certain extent The Smiler pulling in crowds, but even if you look at the park's attendance figures in the decade prior to 2015, the lowest they ever got to was 2,400,000, a figure attained in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012. This is still 300,000 above the park's 2018 figure. So my question to you is; do you think that Alton Towers' visitor numbers will ever return to pre-Smiler levels?

    As for my opinion on the matter; I think they will, but I think it could take a little time. The park has already gone some way towards recovering their lost visitors, but they still have quite a way to go. I personally see another increase in attendance coming this year, so if the park continues its present upwards trend, I could easily see attendance returning to pre-Smiler levels within the next 5 years.

    But what are your thoughts on this matter?
     
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    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  2. AGL

    AGL TowersStreet Member

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    Last year was propped up by wicker man and giving out season passes.

    I expect this year will see a similar number.
     
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  3. Skyscraper

    Skyscraper TowersStreet Member

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    I think the "bring a friend for £15" Season Pass offer has helped as well. :)
     
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  4. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    With 4pm closes and lack of whole family rides, no they won't return to pre Smiler levels.

    The crash is now yesterday's chip paper. The measly 200k extra visitors last season were mainly gained by virtually giving away season passes. So that gives me zero confidence that if the park opens up next March as it is this season and with similar opening hours, why would they get back to regular levels?
     
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  5. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    I don't expect a major change to hours until about 2-3 years after the deal goes through, then I can see slightly longer hours having an impact on visitor numbers.

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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  6. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    I don't expect the deal will take that long to go through. If it's already rubber stamped, it's just due diligence left to do now. That said, you have a point. Budgets for 2020 may well be signed off before the deal goes through so I suppose it depends on what the new owners want to do with the place.
     
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  7. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    No. The damage is done. All is lost. Waste not your cares.
     
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  8. HermanTheGerman

    HermanTheGerman TowersStreet Member

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    Far too much faith is put into those TEA reports. The Merlin parks don't publish their attendance figures, the numbers in the TEA index are only estimates. Estimates which in recent years have been a fair way off.
     
    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  9. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    I don't expect it to be long for the deal to go through but changes take time.

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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  10. yoursilentface

    yoursilentface TowersStreet Member

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    I don't believe visitor numbers only increased around 10% last year
     
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  11. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Well if today on park is anything to go by.... Yes! It's packed today with hour queues for most things
     
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  12. spinba11

    spinba11 TowersStreet Member

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    Anyone know 2016 gate figures?
     
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    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  13. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    No one really knows any figures as they are never published. TEA is a guess, a lot of parks don’t give the real numbers out.
     
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  14. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    Great question

    I've given them some stick where they deserve it, but I want the park to do well.

    As I've said many times, I think it's a great theme park, I love it and I've never failed to thoroughly enjoy my day there.

    I think we are lucky to have it in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. It's location is both a blessing and a curse. Great architecture, gardens, views and landscping, but too remote to attract the number of guests needed to get that hundred million pound dark ride that people want.

    Never ceases to amaze me how many people will pay 100 quid for a two hour concert, 15 quid for an hour at the pictures, 60 quid to see an hour and a half show, 50 quid just to hire gear at an artificial ski slope, yet think AT is poor VFM. Personally, I think the season pass is amazing VFM, even with the legitimate issues that exist.

    The world is a different place now. I think the days of 3 million visitors have gone. World travel is easier and there are more things to around the country. In time, I think they will get 2.7 million in SW years and 2.4 million in non SW years.

    A whole seasons entertainment for one price with some world glass rollercoasters, architecture Iand gardens) I don't know what people want for 55 quid (or far less if you do it the right way).
     
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  15. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    Don't you think that's the problem though? Baragain basement prices for a bargain basement experience? You can buy DVDs from the bargain bin in Asda for £2 but its only a good deal if the movie is OK.

    Towers is an incredible and unique park. Other theme parks have to spend millions on theming to get what Towers have naturally. I love the place dearly, which is why it breaks my heart to see what it has become.

    People are coming for a cheap day out, nostalgia or because they haven't been in a while. If they charged £150 for a season pass and £45 entry with deals and coupons but offered a Europa Park style experience (which they could do with some investment), then there's no reason why they couldn't go over 3 million plus per year. But they don't. The park has one of the best settings in the world for any theme park. So seeing it run as a fun fair is cringe worthy.

    It's a race to the bottom. Relying on the parks good name and image of yesteryear mixed with heavy discounting to drive people in. It's a recipe for short term gain with long term terminal decline.
     
    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  16. RoyJess

    RoyJess TowersStreet Member

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    I agree that Alton is great value for money.....

    ....but despite the great rides and great settings, but you also get what you pay for...

    ........ poor service
     
    Last edited: 6th Jul 2019
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  17. Thameslink Rail

    Thameslink Rail TowersStreet Member

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    Visitor numbers will not reach pre-Smiler levels until management changes because recent investment and planning has been for 2 million per year therefore opening times have been shortened and the park is open on fewer days.
    The park's reputation took a massive hit in 2015 but the reputation hit should have recovered by now if they had invested in the park properly in the last three years; although Wicker Man was a good investment, short opening hours and staggered openings put people off.
    There are significantly fewer rides and shows than before especially for the 5-9 age range. What Alton Towers needs now is management who are willing to push the boat out and spend more on the park knowing that it will lose them money in the short term but the decrease in profits will be more than made up for by the long term increase in visitor numbers.
    Their position in the Staffordshire Moorlands is both a blessing because they can use the picturesque scenery and interesting heritage to draw people in but it is also a hinderence because it is notoriously difficult to get to especially by public transport.
    British tourists can get to Disneyland Paris faster and cheaper than to Alton Towers despite the longer distance because of the Channel Tunnel and budget airlines straight to Disneyland Paris or CDG airport whereas getting to Alton Towers requires multiple changes on public transport or if you choose to arrive by car then some of the roads leading to the park will damage your car so Alton Towers also have to win back the government (and especially the Transport Secretary).
    The only draw in for foreign tourists is the Smiler because of its world record but the nearest airport (East Midlands) is at least 1 hour away by taxi and the website is only in English which makes it harder for Europeans to visit.
    Overall, in the modern day, Alton Towers will only recover in visitor numbers if
    1. Management invests in longer opening hours and more rides.
    2. Transport to the park is improved so it is easier to get to from London that Disneyland.
     
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  18. Altonadvocate1

    Altonadvocate1 TowersStreet Member

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    I agree with you on most things, but I suspect that the price elasticity of demand is greater than we think and that Merlin know this. I believe that an increase in price of the type you are talking about a would result in a drop in visitor numbers, that would more than offset the increased average revenue per visitor of those that do attend.

    Merlin will have estimated what they consider to be the optimum compromise between visitor numbers, and average revenue per guest.

    Whilst the 2 for 1 discounting culture is probably, the cause, I don't think it can be changed now. For what you get with a season pass, AT is too cheap, but they daren't rock the boat and this prohibits Universal and Disney scale investments.

    Personally, I don't think they need them.
     
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    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  19. AGL

    AGL TowersStreet Member

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    Why would people go to towers from the south? For thrills, they have Thorpe. For family, they have Chessington, LLW and Paulton’s.

    I think towers have lost their way and therefore a decent slice of the market.
     
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    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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  20. Thameslink Rail

    Thameslink Rail TowersStreet Member

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    I was not trying to talk about just the south, the UK's top 10 airports all have direct flights to Paris CDG which has good transport links to Disneyland Paris.
    Scotland (for example) has one local theme park that I am surprised is still going, for a larger park, you could go to Disneyland on an easyJet flight which will get you there faster than Virgin Trains and local buses can get you to Alton Towers.
     
    Matt N likes this.
    Posted 6th Jul 2019
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