UK theme parks from another point of view!

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Crofty

Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:34 pm

I'm not excited by this news ATM Another investment company taking over doesn't mean they will be flooding anywhere with new attractions. Most investment companys just want to squeeze as much money out of the business before they sell it on just like DIC and the guys that owned Tussauds before them I believe.
I hope this company are here to stay for the long term, If they aint we will see very little change.

:D :D
 
Joel

Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:54 pm

"Titler" wrote:
So now it goes :

Merlin : Legoland, Sea Life, Garda Land
/
Tussauds : Tussauds Studios, Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds, London Eye, Thorpe Park etc


No - after re-reading this a few times and on different sources, it suggests they are merging Tussauds into Merlin Entertainments - so Tussauds will no longer exist in theory, with just Merlin Entertainments in charge of everything instead and being the brand for the 'new' company (which DIC will own 20% of)

e.g.

Blackstone -> Merlin Entertainments -> Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, London Eye, LegoLand, Sealife etc etc

I guess we'll have to wait for the exact clarification of how its going to work though.
Last edited by Joel on Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:58 pm

"Crofty" wrote:
I'm not excited by this news ATM Another investment company taking over doesn't mean they will be flooding anywhere with new attractions. Most investment companys just want to squeeze as much money out of the business before they sell it on just like DIC and the guys that owned Tussauds before them I believe.
I hope this company are here to stay for the long term, If they aint we will see very little change.

:D :D


I'd have to agree with that and go a bit further.
Am I the only one to see this as bad news?

The Blackstone Group are in if for the money just as the DIC were, except from my point of view, it looked like the DIC had the ability to put huge investment into the parks with it's oil revenues. The more attractions that get put into the same pot will probably mean less imagination for all of them, tighter budgets and tougher targets.

It works well at Disney because they have a united brand - what are they going to do here? There are so many differences across the whole company that I feel there will still be no more increase of quality or investment into every single park. It would be terrible to brand everything Merlin - the mark of quality they appear to possess is low imo.

Plus, Merlin seem to have very little experience at all - they were only formed in 1999 and have only had the Legoland Theme Parks under their control for just over a year and a half.
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:00 pm

They may leave Tussards as the 'owners' because people are familiar with it. Tussards will be owned by Merlin entertainment, so it wouldn't be an expansion as such, but just left as Tussards as people recognise it. Thats how Myspace.com works anyeway. Fox owns it, yet it is owned by the 'news corporation', which is owned by Fox, as people recognise the news corporation. I'm probably wrong though haha!

Off to do headboy speech at opening evening :shock:
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Joel

Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:06 pm

"Liam" wrote:
The Blackstone Group are in if for the money just as the DIC were


I hate to say it - but any business is 'in it for the money' - thats the nature of businesses. They will ensure that theres enough funding put in to keep the business viable, attractive and profitible.

As to the little experience - there are members of ex-Tussauds joining the new company, so some experience of running parks will still be there. I would highly doubt Blackstone would let Merlin run their investments into the ground purely because they didnt have the experience either ;)
 
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:11 pm

I think this is nothing but good news? DIC wern't experience with theme parks, they didn't invest enough into the attractions and wouldn't care less. This was obvious from the cuts around the parks and lack of investment in new attractions/

Merlin on the other hand have had experience in running attractions. Seeing the Tussauds attractions they take on will be bigger than anything they own in the UK, im sure they won't just take this fact for granted.
 
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Liam
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:29 pm

"Joel" wrote:
I hate to say it - but any business is 'in it for the money' - thats the nature of businesses. They will ensure that theres enough funding put in to keep the business viable, attractive and profitible.

Yeah Joel, that's what I meant. Blackstone are no better than the DIC in my eyes. For example a while ago the group bought part of Six Flags and sold it again after 2 years, sound familiar? lol I wouldn't expect any change for the better as far as more investment and new rides is concerned, they'll just want to make sure the parks continue to make the profit and instead of investing heavily in them, will want to expand and build more parks elsewhere. More Legolands are already planned.

My point about the managers was that wouldn't it have been more logical to put the existing Tussauds bosses in charge of Legoland(s) and the Sealife centres rather than the other way around. I'm pretty sure Merlin was the smaller company of the two by 1:2.

"Muggins" wrote:
DIC wern't experience with theme parks, they didn't invest enough into the attractions and wouldn't care less. This was obvious from the cuts around the parks and lack of investment in new attractions/

They currently have more experience than Merlin do. Merlin have only just got to grips with any theme park in the last year or so. And the cuts around the park I don't think were a direct result of the DIC's takeover.

And the DIC still have their owe in, taking a still rather large stake in it all.
It does all make perfect sense in business terms, but in my view nothing will improve in terms of the individual parks.

I know I'm going against the grain, but just because something is new or has changed doesn't mean it will be any better.
Last edited by Liam on Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sir John Talbot
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:30 pm

I guess it depends entirelly on the amount of money Merlin are willing to put forth to Alton Towers, and the ideas they expect, ect. Alton Towers are capable of producing some very good plans (and sometimes not so, as we've seen with Rita, Charlie and Spinball).

I think it's unfair to blame the DIC for some of Alton Towers latest failures. I mean, Charlie had the budget to be a world-class dark ride, 8mill is a lot of money, but they wasted it on Rahl contracts and not so impressive 'Bluescreen' technology (I'm yet to see what's so revolutionary about the lifts). Yet the plans we've seen from Alton Towers for such things as Towers Street rethemes, Alton Woods, and their work towards the Driving School have all been very good. I can't get my head round how they missed the nail so blatantly with Charlie when all the money and themeing potential was there :?.

'tis a tricky business. I don't think there's anything strongly depicting what the quality of future attractions will be. Good budgets from Tussauds come and go. Good concept plans from Alton Towers come and go. Why the latter haven't combined to make a exceptional quality attraction in the past 3 years bemusses me, and it's quite scary to think what the future of Alton will be if this quality continues TBH.
 
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:35 pm

hmm...

Yeah, it looks like the Tussauds name and branding is going to remain, at least for the time being (so the people currently putting the finishing touches to TussaudsTimes can breathe a sigh of relief..!).

I think this will be a good thing in terms of the resources that can be shared - such as development resources for new rides and attractions, marketing resources etc. It may mean we'll see even more 'cloned' rides appearing in more than one park at the same time (such as we have seen amongst the Tussauds parks).

It means the group will be even more dominant in the UK theme park market - less competition can mean higher prices, etc, but can also lead to cost savings.

I don't think we'll see any drastic changes in the short term though.

Merlin's website says:

"Merlin Entertainments Group is a leading name in location based, family entertainment. Its aim is to deliver unique, memorable and rewarding experiences to millions of visitors across its growing estate, and it achieves this objective largely thanks to the commitment and passion of its managers and employees. Merlin’s brands, while being household names, will never fail to be distinctive, challenging and innovative. They will, in short, have attitude! They will deliver the best financial returns in the sector and demonstrate a record of growth in market share that will be unrivalled. In every respect and to every group of stakeholders Merlin will always be an exciting company to be involved with."

All that points to a good future for Alton Towers, long term, and now Alton Towers is owned by Merlin, maybe we'll see the 'magic' return...? :P
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:50 pm

What a very interesting, yet unexpected move.

I would be very interested to see what happens next with the Tussauds brand.

In many cases when a company is taken over the new owners have to cease use of the original brand. Now, this never seems to have happened before with Tussuads and its several owners recently but who knows what the future can hold.

From a business, and customer awareness point of view using the Tussuads brand over the Merlin name would be a much wiser decision as this a fully established UK brand, where as Merlin, yes a very succesful company is a pretty much unknown brand in the public forums.

Imagine adding the name Tussuads to things like the Sealife Centre, or LegoLand and instantly it gets wider recognition.

Or, the companies could continue to operate as individual enterties which is most likely the case with DIC retaining a fairly large share.
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Big Dave

Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:11 pm

Couldnt be bothered to read all the posts above but from what Im hearing, it seems like it is a merger and that the Tussauds group in effect wont exist. So it would say something like "Alton Towers - A division of the Merlin Entertainments group".

I also want to point out the Merlin Entertainment own more than just Legoland. They own all the sealife centres and have a few parks abroad. I also believe they have television connections but might be wrong (will check on that).
 
Joel

Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:22 pm

Yeah, it looks like the Tussauds name and branding is going to remain, at least for the time being (so the people currently putting the finishing touches to TussaudsTimes can breathe a sigh of relief..!).


That hasn't (from the news I've seen) been confirmed or even mentioned in press releases though yet - in fact no name has been decided for the new group?

So wheres that come from now?

It wouldn't suprise me if Merlin want to get their name on things - I'd actually be suprised if Tussauds does keep its name as "the ownership/operating company" - only remaining as references on objects that won't be updated yet.

A lot of people outside of these type of forums don't know what Tussauds do - I've had hundreds of discussions with people at my workplace about the "Tussauds Annual Pass", to which most people thought it was a pass to get into Madame Tussauds, not Alton Towers or the likes etc - so I don't think the Tussauds brand is that synonymous with the brands it owns by that many people.
 
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haydn!
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:29 pm

After reading a number of the news reports. The impression I get is that the Tussauds group will be merged into Merlin, however the Tussuads brand will remain.

For example, Merlin Entertainment, trading as Tussuads. The company name is officially Merlin, but the public brand perception will remain with much familiar Tussuads name.

Though I could be wrong, and until the sale is actually authorised and completes we won't know.
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Kaz
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:15 pm

My point about the managers was that wouldn't it have been more logical to put the existing Tussauds bosses in charge of Legoland(s) and the Sealife centres rather than the other way around. I'm pretty sure Merlin was the smaller company of the two by 1:2.


I don’t think you understand nothing in the Tussauds chain will change as of get. The current managers aren’t going to be laid off, the brand name isn’t going to change, it will all say the same. The only difference is that the overall targets and finance will be overseen by Merlin/Blackstone. The Tussauds name will also not be laid off, it will simply come under the name of Merlin Entertainment which in turn comes under the name of Merlin/Blackstone.

May I also view my opinions on the people who are going “There only in it for the money” and smirk at them. These people simply do not understand the workings of a business. Who ever take over Tussauds aim is going to be to maximise the total revenue, they don’t do it for fun do they? Businesses are there to make money therefore you can’t slate one for doing just that. That’s just totally pointless.

Another thing a few of you are talking about is that now they own so many parks they aren’t going to be given individual attention. This is not true, the Alton managers and executives are still going to have full control over what is installed, where, by who and when. The power and investment capital will remain within the Alton bank accounts and it will be up to them how this is spent. This means that they are still going to be able to make quality attractions with the much needed detail.

Personally I think this take over is a good thing; all it means is that they are going to throw money at the parks and invest in them heavily in an attempt to boost attendance and profits. No doubt once this goal has been reached and the park looks great on paper Tussauds will once again be sold off.

Please, also remember DIC are not totally out of the picture. They own a 20% stake and that’s a large percentage. Their voice is still going to be heard!

Thank you and goodnight,
Kaz

Just thought, wouldn’t it be funny if Tussuads became Merlin Entertainment, Adams much loved site TussaudsTimes would be rendered useless!
Last edited by Kaz on Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:24 pm

BlackStone Say:

THE PERFECT COMBINATION - MERLIN AND TUSSAUDS - CREATING THE WORLD’S NO 2 VISITOR ATTRACTION COMPANY
London, New York, Dubai – Monday 5th March 2007: 8.30am (UK)
Merlin Entertainments Group (“Merlin”), controlled by the Blackstone Group (“Blackstone”), and The Tussauds Group (“TTG”), controlled by Dubai International Capital LLC (“DIC”), are today announcing a partnership of two rapidly growing businesses. This brings together some of the biggest brand names in the global theme park and attractions market and positions the combined Merlin Entertainments Group as the world’s second biggest visitor attractions operator after Disney.
DIC will receive £1,028 million cash and retain a 20% stake in the combined company, investing alongside majority owner Blackstone and LEGO Holding/KIRKBI Groups.
Transaction highlights:
• Merlin Entertainments Group and The Tussauds Group combined welcomed over 30 million visitors to their 50 attractions and four hotels in 2006. Globally they operate in 12 countries and across three continents (Europe, North America, Asia); employing over 13,000 staff
• Combines some of the world’s best-known attractions brands, including Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE, British Airways London Eye, Gardaland
• Enlarged portfolio of market-leading, resort-led theme parks, including Alton Towers in the UK; Gardaland in Italy; and the four LEGOLAND parks in USA and Europe
• Expanded management team will see Merlin’s Chief Executive, Nick Varney, as CEO of the enlarged group, with Tussauds’ Chief Executive Peter Phillipson becoming non-executive Chairman of the enlarged group; Merlin’s Andrew Carr as Chief Financial Officer of the enlarged group; and Tussauds’ CFO Rob Roger leading the integration project. Other senior appointments will be announced in due course
Commenting on the transaction, Merlin’s Chief Executive Nick Varney said, “The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people, and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global entertainment company. With such iconic brands, the expanded Merlin will not only have strong development potential, but also an amazingly robust and high value portfolio. Our ambition is to build on this to become the world leader in location based, branded, family entertainment.
“The deal is a major strategic move for Merlin which has already seen the most successful and dynamic growth in the sector over the last five years. It not only expands our business both geographically and demographically, but also underlines our objective to build a balanced portfolio. The combined Group also has the resources and expertise to focus on accelerating current expansion plans for all the brands, particularly in North America.”

Commenting, Peter Phillipson, Tussauds’ Chief Executive said "Under DIC’s ownership, we have continued to make significant progress against our strategic objectives. We have acquired the British Airways London Eye, continued the international roll out of Madame Tussauds, and the construction of hotels at Chessington and Heide Park is progressing well.
“Joining forces with Merlin represents a very exciting opportunity to develop these brands as part of the world's second largest visitor attractions business. The combined group will be in an excellent position to continue the development of
The London Eye and our theme parks
, as well as accelerate the rollout of Madame Tussauds around the world. I am very much looking forward to working closely with Nick Varney to build a great business for our staff, customers and shareholders.”
Merlin is majority owned by Blackstone who purchased the company for £102 million in May 2005. Since then it has worked with management to complete the acquisitions of the LEGOLAND chain of theme parks (August 2005) and Italy’s biggest theme park, Gardaland (October 2006).
Commenting, Joseph Baratta, a Blackstone Senior Managing Director, said “We are proud and pleased to have been able to support Merlin management in building this extraordinary business. This situation is a perfect example of the benefits of private equity ownership. Both Merlin and The Tussauds Group have grown significantly as a result of the support of their private equity owners. Blackstone and DIC have made substantial capital investments in these companies over the last few years and have enabled them to become market leaders. We believe the combination of Merlin and The Tussauds Group creates a European champion in the global leisure industry. Blackstone and the LEGO Holding/KIRKBI Groups welcome our partnership with DIC.”
Sameer Al Ansari, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dubai International Capital, said: "We are pleased with today's announcement. It is in line with DIC’s strategy that involves backing incumbent management and investing in the businesses we acquire. As responsible long-term investors, we believe that this is an excellent deal for Tussauds. Under DIC’s ownership and within two years, Tussauds business has grown significantly, making the Tussauds brand a truly global one.
“This deal is a natural evolution for the Tussauds Group as the combined firm will become the world's second largest leisure operator. We are looking forward to partnering with Blackstone and LEGO Holding/KIRKBI Groups to help the business take the next step in its development. Tussauds and Merlin are very complementary businesses and there is an obvious commercial logic in bringing them together. As a reflection of our confidence in this deal, DIC will retain 20% of the larger business and we hope to share in the benefits of its future profitable growth."
- ends -
For further information contact:
Merlin Entertainments + 44 1202 666 900
Nick Varney, Chief Executive
Penny King /Sally Ann Wilkinson + 44 20 8948 4225 or
+ 44 7887 542 490/
+ 44 7774 415 372

The Blackstone Group +44 20 7451 4276
Joseph Baratta
The Tussauds Group +44 20 7404 5959
Peter Phillipson, Chief Executive
Robert Roger, Chief Financial Officer
Citigroup +44 20 7986 7012
Anthony Gutman
Brunswick +44 20 7404 5959
Simon Sporborg / Jemma Hill
Dubai International Capital LLC
Hazar Al-Zaki +971 4 362 1840
Brunswick +44 20 7404 5959
Craig Breheny / Ash Spiegelberg
Please note:
For interview requests with Merlin Entertainments Group please contact
Penny King/Sally Ann Wilkinson on + 44 20 8948 4225 or + 447887 542 490 /
+ 44 7774 415 372 respectively
Photographs of Merlin key personnel and the attractions are available from Penny King or visit the Merlin website at:
http://www.merlinentertainments.biz/en/ ... tures.aspx.
Broadcast quality footage of Merlin attractions is also available. More detailed company backgrounders will be supplied on request.
Notes to Editors
1. The major shareholder of the combined company will be Blackstone, with DIC, LEGO Holding/KIRKBI and management team retaining significant minority investments
2. Debt financing has been committed by Goldman Sachs, HVB and Lehman Brothers. The combined group will be refinanced following the close of the transaction
3. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval
4. Blackstone was advised by Goldman Sachs
5. Merlin were advised by Lehman Brothers and UBS
6. DIC and Tussauds were advised by Citigroup
About Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments is a leading visitor attraction operator in Europe, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth in the sector over the last five years – both through organic roll-out, and by strategic acquisition. It operates 38 attractions across 11 countries under the LEGOLAND, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, SEA LIFE, Gardaland, Dungeon, Earth Explorer brands. In 2006 Merlin welcomed over 16 million visitors to its attractions;

and the company has an EBITDA which has risen by over 10 times in the same period (18% in 2006 alone - excluding acquisition)
Merlin’s attractions appeal to a broad customer base of families, teens and young adults. The group operates in the following countries: UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, USA.
About The Tussauds Group
The Tussauds Group is one of Europe’s leading visitor attraction businesses and has achieved compound organic EBITDA growth of over 14% over the last six years. This has been supplemented by the rollout of Madame Tussauds, and acquisitions of The British Airways London Eye and Heide Park resulting in EBITDA compound growth of 21%. In 2006 the Group achieved around £100m of EBITDA. Over the period, under Charterhouse and DIC’s ownership, Tussauds has increased employment from around 2000 employees to over 6000 employees, and consistently improved both staff and customer satisfaction scores. Tussauds attracts over 14 million visitors a year to its famous attractions around the world.
The Tussauds Group consists of City Centre Attractions (Six Madame Tussauds – London, New York, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Hong Kong; The British Airways London Eye and Warwick Castle); and Theme Parks (Alton Towers; Thorpe Park; Chessington World of Adventures in the UK and Heide Park in Germany).
About The Blackstone Group
The Blackstone Group, a global private investment and advisory firm, was founded in 1985. The firm has raised a total of more then $67 billion for alternative asset investing since its formation of which approximately $30 billion has been for private equity investing. The Private Equity Group is currently investing its fifth general private equity fund with commitments of $15.6 billion, and has 78 experienced professionals with broad sector expertise. Other private equity investments in the leisure sector have included Universal Studios in Orlando, and Six Flags Theme Park. Blackstone’s other core businesses include Private Real Estate Investing, Corporate Debt Investing, Hedge Funds, Mutual Fund Management, Private Placement, Marketable Alternative Asset Management, and Investment Banking Advisory Services
About Dubai International Capital LLC
Established in 2004, Dubai International Capital LLC (DIC) is a Dubai-based international investment company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai Holding. DIC manages an international portfolio of diverse assets that provide its stakeholders with value growth, diversification, and strategic investments and relationships.
DIC’s investments have included: US$ 1.23 billion acquisition of Travelodge (UK), Britain’s fastest growing hotel company, US$ 1 billion stake in DaimlerChrysler, the world’s second largest carmaker and the US$ 1.2 billion acquisition of Doncasters Group (UK), an industrial manufacturing firm that produces precision engineering components across various industrial sectors.
DIC is a substantial investor in the Middle East. Investments include Ishraq, a US$150 million investment company that was formed to bring the Holiday Inn Express brand of hotels to the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries; and MENA Infrastructure Fund, a US$500 million fund targeting investment opportunities in infrastructure projects in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2005, DIC launched Jordan Dubai Capital, a $300 million investment company that targets private equity opportunities in the Jordanian economy.
Additional information about Dubai International Capital is available at: www.dubaiic.com

About LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 4,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries. LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2006 The LEGO Group.
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Crofty

Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:30 pm

May I also view my opinions on the people who are going “There only in it for the money” and smirk at them. These people simply do not understand the workings of a business. Who ever take over Tussauds aim is going to be to maximise the total revenue, they don’t do it for fun do they? Businesses are there to make money therefore you can’t slate one for doing just that. That’s just totally pointless.


Of course all businesses are in it for the money, the point is Investment businesses are nearly always in it for the Short-term money. merging call centres brands and general cutting of costs is what we normally see. Once this iis done then they can make a quick buck and get out with the profits.
This is great if your in that Business but not so great if you don't get any long term investment.

I thought DIC would be around for the long term, turns out they are just as bad. IMO Tussuads needs to be run as a PLC this gives long term commitment to the parks.

:D :D
 
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:02 pm

Judging by the information given, there isn't actually much about the park itself are changing. Assuming that the people who actually deisgn and produce the ride will still more or less have the same people hired, the fact that the companies name isn't really relavent. Unless Merlin will have total control over all the details from groundbreaking project sharks, dolphins, whales, octopuses, and all equatic life in general, to things like making sure a certain wonky sign in the entrance plaza is removed I doubt there will actually be a great deal of difference. Yes, the funding and materials may indeed alter for the better as it will be a massive company, which way lead to better developments, but at the end of the day its not these people that make the themeparks magical.

My initial response to the letter that is was going to be another large company buying out others and making them all the same in a way

(if anyone has seen that episode of South Park where they all get posessed by the Wall Marts you can see why I am paranoid...)

Disney Parks are a massive chain, but it was a company of films beforehand so of course their parks are going to be of an extraordinarily high standard. But when you look at disney parks, they are practically all the same, all with the same label. In this case, that's a great thing as you know when you visit any disney park you will have a top class day out. In this instance, however, I can't see an ever growing company taking over others being a huge improvement if you ask me. I hope against hope they keep the tussauds label.

Just my ideas, I'm sure it won't effect it much.
And "Merlin" is quite a nice magical name I suppose.
Onwards and upwards!
As long as they don't produced mucked up rides like the DICheads
:P
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:59 pm

Hopefully more investment now :D. But now there is like 3 companys all involved with either Alton or tussards. just hope there is no clash of heads.
 
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Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:01 pm

Well, this has sure pis*ed on my fire.... :lol:

I guess as long as they don't invest less then already is, it will probably just be the same, maybe with the added bonus of new attractions added to Dream Tickets and season Passes.

*Adäm x
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Joel

Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:14 pm

Connected to whois.nic.uk

     No match for "merlintimes.co.uk".
 
     This domain name has not been registered.
 
     WHOIS lookup made at 21:13:25 05-Mar-2007


*sniggers* ;)

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