CV, I'm pointing out that you seem to have some sort of vendetta against Merlin despite them doing a lot of things correctly as of recent. Everyone been begging for a wooden coaster? Bam, they got a wooden coaster.
They don't appear to have a Merlin vendetta and they are just expressing their opinion as a paying guest.
Personally I woudn't say "Bam" - this wooden coaster has now taken 20 years to materialise, since a wooden coaster was first designed for the park. It has taken an enormous amount of effort to get the project approved by Tussauds (then under Charterhouse) & Merlin, who have put enormous obstacles in its way and chosen to build pretty disappointing gimmicky things like in the meantime. Even now, the coaster finally being made is a far shorter, less thrilling version of what could have been.
Everyone been begging for a quality dark ride? Bam, they chucked around £40 Million at one.
I don't think anyone ever wished for the Heath-Robinson style dark ride that is Derren Brown, which may have cost an extortionate amount to produce, for relatively little result. It's essentially the world's most complicated sit-down VR demo, which is already very dated in what VR could have been used for. A more dynamic simulator and more effects and theatricality would've been better, instead the most dramatic part is a cardboard train and an actor tapping your knee. It's still a decent attraction, but shockingly poorly produced for what it was supposed to be.
Everyone wanted proper maintenance of rides? Bam, TLC Program launched.
I can tell you (as disappointing as this is to hear) there is nothing different about this "TLC" thing as to what the park was doing before. Merlin does not and never has budgeted proper money for effects, scenic and show maintenance. Some parks have one or two technicians for maintaining such effects, which has to be paid for by the Attractions budgets, which already has to pay for the cost of operations. Either that or the park entertainments teams will try and apply for a budget from Merlin to fix up attractions as best they can themselves, like what happened with Hex - they did a fairly good job with most of it, but the time and money was still very limited. Really, professional FX and scenic contractors should be used, who do those things for a living.
Nemesis station wasn't even given enough budget to repaint the whole thing in one go. They painted it all in one go in 1994 when it opened, now they have to save up across 4 years worth of scenic budget.
In honesty, the only "TLC" thing that was launched was a logo and a Facebook page to address people's concerns, but there is no real "programme" because there is no protocol or dedicated budget, and only a small team who aren't often given the proper resources to complete those things.
Most other parks will service and repaint things every year. Disney service their effects every week, now - we can never be Disney, but - to put it in perspective, I worked at one Merlin park that hadn't professionally serviced its big effects in a very well-known ride for about 15 years.
None of this is to do with having an agenda against Merlin, but - when it's justified and reasonable - I think people should be allowed to express their criticism of Merlin's or Alton Towers' practicises. What saves them money shouldn't be any of our business, all we as guests should be concerned with is the value for money we've paid for. I don't believe, with neglected rides such as Duel (which won't be getting a "massive" redo as some have suggested), that we're getting the best value for money.