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Burniel
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:23 pm

Owen wrote:
I wouldn’t say a park who have failed to install a brand new coaster for the past 24 years is really anywhere close to ‘leading the way’ in the UK industry.

I think having a preference is fine but it’s undeniable that in reality, as much as some may not like it, Merlin parks are really in another league financially and as theme parks.

But then is that not just a sign of how bad things are getting? With some Merlin parks (in the eyes of many) getting slowly but constantly worse, and Blackpool getting slowly but constantly better, is it so unreasonable to suggest that Blackpool will soon become genuine competition for Merlin (if perhaps not an industry leader)?

On paper, and in terms of potential, Merlin parks are certainly in a different league, but management and so on have a big impact, and while Merlin are suffering the results of putting a marketing man in charge of all the fun, Blackpool is quickly becoming an enthusiast favourite, and there's no reason why it couldn't eventually become a more significant force in the UK industry if the two companies continue with how they're going. Merlin may have the reputation and size, but with the Resort Theme Parks being undeniably one of Merlin's most neglected groups recently and in future plans, the table may be set for a smaller park, putting all their resources and care into their park, to become much more dominant within the industry.

Suggesting that Merlin are untouchable given the current state of events is in itself blinded by preferences in my opinion.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:52 pm

Owen wrote:
MakoMania wrote:
It looks like Mandyland will really be leading the way in terms of UK theme parks before too long.

I prefer it to the Merlin parks already before yet more cuts come to them.


I wouldn’t say a park who have failed to install a brand new coaster for the past 24 years is really anywhere close to ‘leading the way’ in the UK industry.

I think having a preference is fine but it’s undeniable that in reality, as much as some may not like it, Merlin parks are really in another league financially and as theme parks.


You're right, Merlin parks are in another league financially, which makes the way they are operated even more embarassing. It's more than an embarrasment really, it's pretty much a disgrace.

I do though have some good things to say about Merlin, they certainly do theming better than BPB on most projects, they have a talanted marketing team and SW8 looks like it will be a fantastic addition (not as good as Icon mind :P)

But these positives are more than outweighed by the long list of negatives for Merlin, I will try to keep this UK based.

Their parks (particularly Alton & Thorpe) seem to reduce their offering every single year, whether it be the ride lineup (NST, Charlie, Ice Age, Wobble World, Ripsaw, Submission, Logger's Leap, Slammer), the opening times (insultingly disgraceful this year, I mean, 10am-4pm with 90 minute queues, come on!) or Merlin's insatiable hunger for investment in more overpriced accomodation whilst not providing enough rides to last more than a few hours on a quiet day.

BPB on the other hand (whilst they have been through choppy waters) is much better value for money and they are focused on improving their operations and expanding their ride lineup with no SBNO attractions. They also have an passion for guest experience that the high up staff at Merlin are clearly lacking, it's worth adding an extra hour onto a busy day even if it means losing a few quid.

I would also argue that if we take BPB vs Alton Towers capital projects over the past few years, BPB comes out on top.
AT:
Sub-Terra: flopped and closed at 3 years old
Ice Age: closed after a few years
The Smiler: decent ride, has aged badly & ride area is horrible (NEEDS TLC BADLY)
CBeebies Land: Great investment
Galactica: terrible as of 2017, VR is now far worse than video game quality
SW8: looks fantastic, can't wait

BPB:
Nick Land: fantastic, superior to CBeebies Land IMO, but it does aim at an ever so slightly older market
W&G: great family dark ride, still very popular
Sky Force: good ride, much needed flat ride investment, could've been a bit better
Icon: looks incredible, can't wait


BPB is by no means perfect, Merlin's fastrack is far superior to BPB's Speedy Pass for example, but over recent years they have shown a continued desire to improve the guest experience, whilst the opposite is true at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in particular. That's why BPB is by far and away the UK's leading park in my opinion, regardless of how rich they are.


Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, Alton has the potential to be a world class park, I just wish Merlin would invest properly instead of gimmickly, hopefully SW8 is the start.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:00 pm

Merlin have now purchased the rights to Peppa Pig attractions as of the 17th October

Source www.merlinentertainments.biz it's in the news section....... interesting
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:00 pm

MakoMania wrote:
Owen wrote:
MakoMania wrote:
It looks like Mandyland will really be leading the way in terms of UK theme parks before too long.

I prefer it to the Merlin parks already before yet more cuts come to them.


I wouldn’t say a park who have failed to install a brand new coaster for the past 24 years is really anywhere close to ‘leading the way’ in the UK industry.

I think having a preference is fine but it’s undeniable that in reality, as much as some may not like it, Merlin parks are really in another league financially and as theme parks.


You're right, Merlin parks are in another league financially, which makes the way they are operated even more embarassing. It's more than an embarrasment really, it's pretty much a disgrace.

I do though have some good things to say about Merlin, they certainly do theming better than BPB on most projects, they have a talanted marketing team and SW8 looks like it will be a fantastic addition (not as good as Icon mind :P)

But these positives are more than outweighed by the long list of negatives for Merlin, I will try to keep this UK based.

Their parks (particularly Alton & Thorpe) seem to reduce their offering every single year, whether it be the ride lineup (NST, Charlie, Ice Age, Wobble World, Ripsaw, Submission, Logger's Leap, Slammer), the opening times (insultingly disgraceful this year, I mean, 10am-4pm with 90 minute queues, come on!) or Merlin's insatiable hunger for investment in more overpriced accomodation whilst not providing enough rides to last more than a few hours on a quiet day.

BPB on the other hand (whilst they have been through choppy waters) is much better value for money and they are focused on improving their operations and expanding their ride lineup with no SBNO attractions. They also have an passion for guest experience that the high up staff at Merlin are clearly lacking, it's worth adding an extra hour onto a busy day even if it means losing a few quid.

I would also argue that if we take BPB vs Alton Towers capital projects over the past few years, BPB comes out on top.
AT:
Sub-Terra: flopped and closed at 3 years old
Ice Age: closed after a few years
The Smiler: decent ride, has aged badly & ride area is horrible (NEEDS TLC BADLY)
CBeebies Land: Great investment
Galactica: terrible as of 2017, VR is now far worse than video game quality
SW8: looks fantastic, can't wait

BPB:
Nick Land: fantastic, superior to CBeebies Land IMO, but it does aim at an ever so slightly older market
W&G: great family dark ride, still very popular
Sky Force: good ride, much needed flat ride investment, could've been a bit better
Icon: looks incredible, can't wait


BPB is by no means perfect, Merlin's fastrack is far superior to BPB's Speedy Pass for example, but over recent years they have shown a continued desire to improve the guest experience, whilst the opposite is true at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in particular. That's why BPB is by far and away the UK's leading park in my opinion, regardless of how rich they are.


Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, Alton has the potential to be a world class park, I just wish Merlin would invest properly instead of gimmickly, hopefully SW8 is the start.


The way your initial point came across was that it wasn’t based on opinion, it was made as a statement which simply isn’t true at this point and likely never will be. I’m not going to argue about opinions because I’m fairly familiar with your views on Merlin parks, however as I say - Blackpool is likely never going to be on par with Merlin parks, but that’s to be expected because it’s not owned by a multi-million pound company.

Also, I don’t see how it’s fine for Blackpool to ‘go through choppy waters’ but it’s not ok for Merlin parks after they go through a rough patch too?


DavidRock wrote:
Merlin have now purchased the rights to Peppa Pig attractions as of the 17th October

Source http://www.merlinentertainments.biz it's in the news section....... interesting


That is quite interesting... I’m sure we will see something come of this in the next few years...
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:08 pm

Owen wrote:
MakoMania wrote:
Owen wrote:

I wouldn’t say a park who have failed to install a brand new coaster for the past 24 years is really anywhere close to ‘leading the way’ in the UK industry.

I think having a preference is fine but it’s undeniable that in reality, as much as some may not like it, Merlin parks are really in another league financially and as theme parks.


You're right, Merlin parks are in another league financially, which makes the way they are operated even more embarassing. It's more than an embarrasment really, it's pretty much a disgrace.

I do though have some good things to say about Merlin, they certainly do theming better than BPB on most projects, they have a talanted marketing team and SW8 looks like it will be a fantastic addition (not as good as Icon mind :P)

But these positives are more than outweighed by the long list of negatives for Merlin, I will try to keep this UK based.

Their parks (particularly Alton & Thorpe) seem to reduce their offering every single year, whether it be the ride lineup (NST, Charlie, Ice Age, Wobble World, Ripsaw, Submission, Logger's Leap, Slammer), the opening times (insultingly disgraceful this year, I mean, 10am-4pm with 90 minute queues, come on!) or Merlin's insatiable hunger for investment in more overpriced accomodation whilst not providing enough rides to last more than a few hours on a quiet day.

BPB on the other hand (whilst they have been through choppy waters) is much better value for money and they are focused on improving their operations and expanding their ride lineup with no SBNO attractions. They also have an passion for guest experience that the high up staff at Merlin are clearly lacking, it's worth adding an extra hour onto a busy day even if it means losing a few quid.

I would also argue that if we take BPB vs Alton Towers capital projects over the past few years, BPB comes out on top.
AT:
Sub-Terra: flopped and closed at 3 years old
Ice Age: closed after a few years
The Smiler: decent ride, has aged badly & ride area is horrible (NEEDS TLC BADLY)
CBeebies Land: Great investment
Galactica: terrible as of 2017, VR is now far worse than video game quality
SW8: looks fantastic, can't wait

BPB:
Nick Land: fantastic, superior to CBeebies Land IMO, but it does aim at an ever so slightly older market
W&G: great family dark ride, still very popular
Sky Force: good ride, much needed flat ride investment, could've been a bit better
Icon: looks incredible, can't wait


BPB is by no means perfect, Merlin's fastrack is far superior to BPB's Speedy Pass for example, but over recent years they have shown a continued desire to improve the guest experience, whilst the opposite is true at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in particular. That's why BPB is by far and away the UK's leading park in my opinion, regardless of how rich they are.


Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, Alton has the potential to be a world class park, I just wish Merlin would invest properly instead of gimmickly, hopefully SW8 is the start.


The way your initial point came across was that it wasn’t based on opinion, it was made as a statement which simply isn’t true at this point and likely never will be. I’m not going to argue about opinions because I’m fairly familiar with your views on Merlin parks, however as I say - Blackpool is likely never going to be on par with Merlin parks, but that’s to be expected because it’s not owned by a multi-million pound company.

Also, I don’t see how it’s fine for Blackpool to ‘go through choppy waters’ but it’s not ok for Merlin parks after they go through a rough patch too?


DavidRock wrote:
Merlin have now purchased the rights to Peppa Pig attractions as of the 17th October

Source http://www.merlinentertainments.biz it's in the news section....... interesting


That is quite interesting... I’m sure we will see something come of this in the next few years...


I meant choppy waters in terms of finances, not ride closures, should've worded that better, sorry.

We'll have to agree to disagree about my statement that "simply isn't true". There will never be a best park in the UK, just as there will never be a best park in Florida because you will never get everyone to agree, which is natural as people have different likes and dislikes.

I think BPB trounces AT, you think of it the other way round, the world would be boring if everyone thought the same thing :)

I know I have built a bit of a Merlin bashing reputation, but I'm liking what I'm seeing with SW8, I may have to give them some praise when March comes round.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:15 pm

MakoMania wrote:
Owen wrote:
MakoMania wrote:

You're right, Merlin parks are in another league financially, which makes the way they are operated even more embarassing. It's more than an embarrasment really, it's pretty much a disgrace.

I do though have some good things to say about Merlin, they certainly do theming better than BPB on most projects, they have a talanted marketing team and SW8 looks like it will be a fantastic addition (not as good as Icon mind :P)

But these positives are more than outweighed by the long list of negatives for Merlin, I will try to keep this UK based.

Their parks (particularly Alton & Thorpe) seem to reduce their offering every single year, whether it be the ride lineup (NST, Charlie, Ice Age, Wobble World, Ripsaw, Submission, Logger's Leap, Slammer), the opening times (insultingly disgraceful this year, I mean, 10am-4pm with 90 minute queues, come on!) or Merlin's insatiable hunger for investment in more overpriced accomodation whilst not providing enough rides to last more than a few hours on a quiet day.

BPB on the other hand (whilst they have been through choppy waters) is much better value for money and they are focused on improving their operations and expanding their ride lineup with no SBNO attractions. They also have an passion for guest experience that the high up staff at Merlin are clearly lacking, it's worth adding an extra hour onto a busy day even if it means losing a few quid.

I would also argue that if we take BPB vs Alton Towers capital projects over the past few years, BPB comes out on top.
AT:
Sub-Terra: flopped and closed at 3 years old
Ice Age: closed after a few years
The Smiler: decent ride, has aged badly & ride area is horrible (NEEDS TLC BADLY)
CBeebies Land: Great investment
Galactica: terrible as of 2017, VR is now far worse than video game quality
SW8: looks fantastic, can't wait

BPB:
Nick Land: fantastic, superior to CBeebies Land IMO, but it does aim at an ever so slightly older market
W&G: great family dark ride, still very popular
Sky Force: good ride, much needed flat ride investment, could've been a bit better
Icon: looks incredible, can't wait


BPB is by no means perfect, Merlin's fastrack is far superior to BPB's Speedy Pass for example, but over recent years they have shown a continued desire to improve the guest experience, whilst the opposite is true at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park in particular. That's why BPB is by far and away the UK's leading park in my opinion, regardless of how rich they are.


Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, Alton has the potential to be a world class park, I just wish Merlin would invest properly instead of gimmickly, hopefully SW8 is the start.


The way your initial point came across was that it wasn’t based on opinion, it was made as a statement which simply isn’t true at this point and likely never will be. I’m not going to argue about opinions because I’m fairly familiar with your views on Merlin parks, however as I say - Blackpool is likely never going to be on par with Merlin parks, but that’s to be expected because it’s not owned by a multi-million pound company.

Also, I don’t see how it’s fine for Blackpool to ‘go through choppy waters’ but it’s not ok for Merlin parks after they go through a rough patch too?


DavidRock wrote:
Merlin have now purchased the rights to Peppa Pig attractions as of the 17th October

Source http://www.merlinentertainments.biz it's in the news section....... interesting


That is quite interesting... I’m sure we will see something come of this in the next few years...


I meant choppy waters in terms of finances, not ride closures, should've worded that better, sorry.

We'll have to agree to disagree about my statement that "simply isn't true". There will never be a best park in the UK, just as there will never be a best park in Florida because you will never get everyone to agree, which is natural as people have different likes and dislikes.

I think BPB trounces AT, you think of it the other way round, the world would be boring if everyone thought the same thing :)

I know I have built a bit of a Merlin bashing reputation, but I'm liking what I'm seeing with SW8, I may have to give them some praise when March comes round.


That’s not what I’m saying though. I never said I liked Alton over Blackpool or the other way around, I am saying it terms of finance, popularity and ride quality Merlin parks are (quite clearly) leading the UK industry - not which is the best park or not in my opinion.
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:53 am

In my books leading park equates to best park.

In terms of ride quality, the coasters at BPB are far more exciting than the ones at Alton, of course there are exceptions, Nemesis is far superior to PMBO for example.

I can completely understand why someone would prefer a Merlin park over somewhere like BPB, but to say that Merlin are clearly leading the UK industry is not a solid statement anymore given the state that many of their parks are in as of 2017, regardless of how much they've got in the bank.

If SW8 is good and AT get their act together by extending opening times, reopening NST and redoing CCL by 2019, they could well clearly be the leading UK park once again.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:42 am

I’m not talking about one specific park though. The discussion was if Merlin are leading the UK industry, which they clearly are when they have Alton, Thorpe, Chessington and Legoland under thier belts. No matter what my personal opinion is, I can’t deny that the ride quality at these parks is far superior to what Blackpool have been installing, I can’t deny that they have the money to achieve higher and I also can’t deny that the parks are far more popular at this point.

My point isn’t based on my opinions on any of the parks and so I don’t know why you keep bringing it up, it’s based on factors that don’t need any opinion pushed into them. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not the ‘leading’ attraction or company, nor if you love something does it mean it is.

An opinion I would give though is why on earth would you want Blackpool Pleasure Beach being the best we have? On my last visit it was really a seaside fun fair with lack lustre staff and uncomfortable rides, it certainly wasn’t anything to shout about...


Burniel wrote:
Owen wrote:
I wouldn’t say a park who have failed to install a brand new coaster for the past 24 years is really anywhere close to ‘leading the way’ in the UK industry.

I think having a preference is fine but it’s undeniable that in reality, as much as some may not like it, Merlin parks are really in another league financially and as theme parks.

But then is that not just a sign of how bad things are getting? With some Merlin parks (in the eyes of many) getting slowly but constantly worse, and Blackpool getting slowly but constantly better, is it so unreasonable to suggest that Blackpool will soon become genuine competition for Merlin (if perhaps not an industry leader)?

On paper, and in terms of potential, Merlin parks are certainly in a different league, but management and so on have a big impact, and while Merlin are suffering the results of putting a marketing man in charge of all the fun, Blackpool is quickly becoming an enthusiast favourite, and there's no reason why it couldn't eventually become a more significant force in the UK industry if the two companies continue with how they're going. Merlin may have the reputation and size, but with the Resort Theme Parks being undeniably one of Merlin's most neglected groups recently and in future plans, the table may be set for a smaller park, putting all their resources and care into their park, to become much more dominant within the industry.

Suggesting that Merlin are untouchable given the current state of events is in itself blinded by preferences in my opinion.


I think is incredibly unfair to act as though Merlin parks are genuinely getting worse. I don’t know how you can say it’s a bad thing for them to invest in fantastically themed attractions such as Ghost Train, Gruffalo and SW8, improving attraction in a bad state such as Dragons Falls and offering some fantastic guest service (although that really depends on the person serving you). There is a major blip in UK Merlin parks right now however I won’t disclose what I feel that is, however I think it’s what seems to override anything good Merlin do when people don’t look at the bigger picture.

I just really don’t get it, not only in terms of quality but installations. Merlin are always adding to their parks with new and refurbished attractions and experiences that genuinely excite people. In 2018 alone they have SW8, Tiger Rock and whatever Thorpe May pull out the bag. Blackpool on the other hand is getting its first major coaster in 24 years and all of a sudden they’re the best just because it comes from MACK? I’m really looking forward to Icon and it is my sole reason to return to Blackpool (as is the case with a lot of people I’m sure) but as much as I’m excited about it I can’t really say it’s going to be anything ground breaking.
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:08 pm

Saying that BPB is higher quality than Merlin is like saying that Drayton Manor surpasses Europa Park in quality. It makes no sense at all.

The company have done an amazing job since taking over the shambles that was Tussauds from 2002-2007. As a quick refresher of what Merlin have bought about:

Saw The Ride
Th13teen
Ghost Train
Smiler
Gruffalo
Oblivion The Black Hole
Raptor
The Swarm
Mutiny Bay
Flug Der Dämonen
Krake

And that's ignoring a lot more, try comparing that to the investment made to BPB over the last 20 years. But when you consider the quality of a lot of those attractions is when you realise Merlin are actually doing a very good job. Rides like Ghost Train which to many isn't a great ride is possibly one of the most complex ride systems on the planet, the theming is also very impressive in places when looking at rides like Oblivion the Black Hole, The Swarm and even Th13teen. That goes without saying about the fact SW8 seems to be incredibly heavily themed and although the rides layout looks bland to me, the theming I find very exciting.

Once again, I'm baffled as to how any other UK theme park compares to Merlin, let alone Gardaland and Heide Park. The parks are well kept for the most part, rides are maintained very nicely and although there have been some closures there hasn't been anything of major significance removed as far as I'm concerned.

Merlin are definitely not perfect, they are very far from it, but to claim that Blackpool Pleasure Beach of all parks beats anything Merlin has is just gibberish to me when you bring in statistics, investments and general figures, that theme park does not even come close to anything Merlin has. :)
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:18 pm

Nothing more I can add to this point but agree with Owen, that Icon is the one and only reason I'm returning to BPB next year for the first time in well over 10 years. My last visit was before Infusion was built and they've done nothing to entice me to go anytime soon, but Icon will change that.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:03 pm

I can see that Merlin have lots of fans here, so I appreciate that I'm not going to get anywhere.

BPB is the leading UK park IMO, Merlin have slowly destroyed the magic that Alton Towers had. Days at BPB for me are much more enjoyable than days at Towers, and at the end of the day, that's why I prefer BPB, not to mention that their recent investments are superior to those of AT.

Just my opinion, it can easily be argued that AT is the leading park as well.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:42 pm

MakoMania wrote:
I can see that Merlin have lots of fans here, so I appreciate that I'm not going to get anywhere.

BPB is the leading UK park IMO, Merlin have slowly destroyed the magic that Alton Towers had. Days at BPB for me are much more enjoyable than days at Towers, and at the end of the day, that's why I prefer BPB, not to mention that their recent investments are superior to those of AT.

Just my opinion, it can easily be argued that AT is the leading park as well.

There's a difference between saying "BPB is my favourite UK theme park" and "BPB is the leading UK theme park" remember, the latter is provably false, but you're entitled to a favourite obviously. I don't care what other people enjoy, but to claim that Merlin is just downright terrible at this point is a very naive claim.
I've said it before, the people that put Alton Towers in the place it is today is the Tussauds owners from 2002-2007 before Merlin took over. The rise in quality since then seems undeniable to me :)
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:02 pm

Jack wrote:
MakoMania wrote:
I can see that Merlin have lots of fans here, so I appreciate that I'm not going to get anywhere.

BPB is the leading UK park IMO, Merlin have slowly destroyed the magic that Alton Towers had. Days at BPB for me are much more enjoyable than days at Towers, and at the end of the day, that's why I prefer BPB, not to mention that their recent investments are superior to those of AT.

Just my opinion, it can easily be argued that AT is the leading park as well.

There's a difference between saying "BPB is my favourite UK theme park" and "BPB is the leading UK theme park" remember, the latter is provably false, but you're entitled to a favourite obviously. I don't care what other people enjoy, but to claim that Merlin is just downright terrible at this point is a very naive claim.
I've said it before, the people that put Alton Towers in the place it is today is the Tussauds owners from 2002-2007 before Merlin took over. The rise in quality since then seems undeniable to me :)


Oh I agree absolutely, Merlin are much better than the 2002-2007 lot, and I have said that I like some of what they do, but I also hate a lot of it which I think really degrades the parks.
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:18 pm

Merlin are capable of doing some fantastic things. Yes they can fail, Sub Terra for example, but they can also succeed, with the likes of Ghost Train. Their obsession with accommodation is something I'm not a fan of, and I hate to see prices go up while ride offerings go down. But I honestly don't believe any company the size of Merlin is even close to perfect. My main problem with Alton at the moment is CCL. It won't be sorted next year, but if they can use 2019 to fix it up and not throw money at CBeebies then I'll be satisfied. Merlin could be worse!
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:17 pm

I’d keep my eye on CCL during 2019/2020! :P
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm

Well this blew up :lol

Where to start ... firstly I do not want us to find ourselves in a situation where Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the best we have, and I will never say that Merlin produce more bad quality attractions than good, because that's simply not the case. But it's all too easy to point to some of Merlin's more recent successful investments at parks and (rightfully) praise them on such achievements without actually covering the negatives of Merlin Entertainments' operations of their Resort Theme Parks

The issue here is conflating the quality of new attractions with the quality of the parks. Perhaps, as enthusiasts who visit Merlin parks regularly, we tend to be more forgiving and become used to seeing certain aspects of certain parks in poorer condition than they ought to be. Simple upkeep is an area where I genuinely think Merlin struggle for such a commended chain of parks, and perhaps its not surprising, given that they're an huge global company with far more profitable things to do than care for the finer details of their parks in the way that a smaller park might. In order to defend myself against the inevitable tirade of outrage, I will of course say that Merlin don't completely neglect their parks in this sense; the Towers Loving Care scheme is an excellent example of Merlin trying to show the pride they have for their parks, even if it consists mainly of what should really be annual maintenance for the world's second largest attractions company. But that does not forgive some catastrophic failures on Merlin's part that could/can be avoided simply by taking more care for the attractions which might not be at the front of the marketing campaign, but provide a fuller, deeper, higher quality overall park:

Why are flat rides dropping like flies and being replaced by cheap and tacky games? Why are attractions such as Colossos and Loggers Leap SBNO as a result of a lacking in proper maintenace? Why has Old Town been invaded by ridiculously out of place travelling fair rides? Why is a nearly-new multi-million pound dark ride sitting abandoned in Forbidden Valley? Why have more accommodation options been built in the UK in the last five years than large-scale ride investments? Why are opening hours being cut on days where rides are frequently seeing full queues at 5pm? Why is scenery on some iconic attractions disappearing without replacement? Why are otherwise well-themed areas being ruined by installations of things like Nitrogenie in wholly inappropriate locations?

But I digress. I don't want to simply point out what I believe to be Merlin's flaws. It would be incredibly unjustified for me to sit towards the end of another season of several thoroughly enjoyable days at Merlin parks and simply speak ill of the company which, on the whole, provide a fantastic service on a day-to-day basis. Merlin are the best we have (for now) by quite a way, and I'm not trying to argue that. My point is simply that, with Merlin set to press on with "the winners" without fixing some of their prior mistakes, it's not impossible for their customer base to decide that, while Merlin are the most innovative in this country, they might (personally) have a nicer day out at a rapidly-improving smaller park, where the owners demonstrate pride in every corner of their park, and it is not simply (in the words of some of my family who visited Thorpe Park a few weeks ago on a trip to the UK after moving to Australia in the late 00s) "a contest of who has the most money". Is it not possible that the country's medium-sized parks will soon start to become competition as a result of people leaving the stress-filled closure minefield that we've seen of late and opting instead to visit somewhere cheaper, more cared about and more personal?

That's my point. Not that Merlin are bad or don't care. Not that Blackpool, or any other park, is necessarily better. Simply that Merlin are not - as some seem to be suggesting - untouchable in their position as the operator of the UK's four leading theme parks, especially in light of recent events. :)
Burniel | Great at theme park knowledge, not so great at designing signatures.
 
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jackf1tz
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:32 pm

God, we're actually having an argument about which park in the UK is best! AT has always been my favourite, but I'm sick of only having 2 or 3 legitimate options! If we could actually have some decent opposition, like we're finally getting with the likes of Paultons and hopefully Blackpool, then Merlin will get off their backsides and invest in some flat rides, a bin, some more benches, and a pressure washer for the Smiler. If only Drayton Manor could open a new rollercoaster...
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:22 pm

Gotta join in with Burniel on a mini-rant. Why must new rides come at the expense of other rides, and rides with wide appeal at that? No log ride, no indoor boat ride, Hex was closed for an entire season with the excuse of it getting a refurb (which turned out to be a lie, the refurb didn't need a season closure). I did the rapids, the waterfall was turned off, all the squirters were turned off; I get they don't want people getting too cold but it was a pretty turgid ride were you barely get splashed with all those elements off. 

There's also weirdness continuing with SW8 of them closing family rides and opening awkward 'too intense for everyone to ride but not intense enough for enthusiasts'. New rides should always make the park better for as many people as possible and I'm not so sure that's happening with Alton Towers. It's frustrating to see big focuses on new hotels, new rides for 6 year olds whilst you visit Alton towers with a mixed group and find some people have depressingly little to go on.

Final point of annoyance is that you go offpeak, rides open 10-10:30, and you're presented with signs saying queues close at 4pm which really isn't on. Half the food outlets are closed and you're constantly walking past closed drinks/ice cream stalls. It's a bit of a downer on the atmosphere. Tear down the semi-permanent ice cream shacks, replace them with portable units that can be wheeled in on peak days left in storage on days they aren't needed. 

Merlin seem to be in a bit of a weird place at the moment, chasing too hard on the under 12s (not just Alton Towers but their general strategy it seems) and cheaping out too much in the general running of the parks. AT's visitor numbers seem to be sliding (beyond the Smiler effect), this could easily turn into a spiral.
 
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:55 pm

TowersTimes News have reported about Merlin being relegated from the FTSE 100 index. More details in the article
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:52 pm

Sadly this relegation doesn't surprise me. Whilst I'm definitely no expert on the stock exchange and the value of companies, it seems Merlin are just making poor decisions at the moment when it comes to their overall strategy for growing the company.

Yes, accommodation can offer a large return on investment, however in order to fill the additional rooms you also need to invest in capex projects in the parks themselves.to attract people to stay in the new accommodation. Merlin are very much in danger of entering a vicious circle of ever deepening cuts which will unfortunately ultimately prove to be their downfall.

I think 2018 is going to be a key year for Merlin, especially with SW8 opening at Towers. It's going to be interesting to see where things go from here.
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