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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:12 am

The park have now filed permits to completely enclose Sand Serpent within a building for 2018!
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:46 pm

Just an add on to the several mysterious happenings going on at the park, Busch Gardens Tampa President Stewart Clark (who previously helped run Discovery Cove) says we can expect big surprises this fall. Not sure if this is talking about 2018/2019 announcements or Howl-O-Scream.....
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:51 am

Busch Gardens Tampa have begun to release details of this year's Howl-O-Scream event. There will be five rides, seven mazes and multiple scare zones available this year. Rides open will be SheiKra, Kumba, Falcon's Fury, Cheetah Hunt, Cobra's Curse and Montu. So far 3/7 mazes have been announced with Unearthed, Death Water Bayou and Motel Hell all returning for 2017!
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:01 am

Merlin are said to be looking into buying the two Busch parks.

Kill me now.

“It takes two parties to do a deal so we do not know what SeaWorld’s intentions are but we do believe that those assets [Busch Gardens] are interesting and we could certainly do a lot with them particularly around accommodation, so to us it’s about having the right discussion with a willing partner and making sure we have the right financial return,” Nesmes [of Merlin] said.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:08 am

Not just Busch the whole of SeaWorld. They are looking into financial advisors to look at the entire company! :P
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:39 pm

I seriously hope not.

From what I've seen, the SeaWorld chain have lately been doing really good at doing two major investments per year: 2016 saw Mako and Cobra's Curse, 2017 saw InvadR and Wave Breaker, and 2018 sees Electric Eel and Infinity Falls. Merlin would not do this; one per year in the group of parks would probably be our lot. Merlin can do good things, but they would absolutely destroy the SeaWorld and Busch parks, especially if they ended up acquiring the Florida parks.

I have faith that the SeaWorld company will stand their ground and hang onto all their parks, as they seem to be doing a greally good job with them. Having had the pleasure of visiting two of their signature theme parks, I love not only the current park lineups, but also the direction the chain is moving in, building up a reputation for world class experiences, rather than their (in the eyes of the general public) controversial marine life. If they don't, I'm sure we can all look forward to the opening of The World's First BUSCH GARDENS Tampa Resort, complete with shipping containers and dark theming ...
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:35 pm

I really hope not as well from a enthusiast's perspective but I would see why from a financial perspective.

Going with what Burniel said about Merlin only doing one large investment a year. This is not true as Merlin have made multiple large investments in one year, 2011 we saw Krake and Raptor and in 2013 we saw Zufari and The Smiler.

I think Merlin would still treat SeaWorld/Busch Gardens with the same amount of investments.

Also I mean these talks don't seem out-of-the blue either. I mean Busch worked with GCI on InvadR and then next year SW8 will open. Galactica's VR was done by Figment and this year Kraken got VR on Kraken. Not to mention Merlin obtained the license for sesame street this year for the furchester hotel.

I might be way-thinking this but it seems to connect a lot of dots.

On a positive note however, this could be good for UK park as Busch/SeaWorld designers would join MMM which could mean more elaborate themes/less dark themes for Merlin's existing parks.

I know that I've had a rant but it would be very sad if Towers wasn't one of Merlin's flagship parks.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:53 pm

Bert2theSpark wrote:
Going with what Burniel said about Merlin only doing one large investment a year. This is not true as Merlin have made multiple large investments in one year, 2011 we saw Krake and Raptor and in 2013 we saw Zufari and The Smiler.

I think Merlin would still treat SeaWorld/Busch Gardens with the same amount of investments.

Yes, Merlin will often have two large-scale investments at their Resort Theme Parks across the globe in a year, or perhaps one large and one medium, but this does not necessarily mean two investments exclusively for the SeaWorld chain. My "one per year" figure was more derived from the idea that Merlin would probably step up to always produce two large investments per year, one in Europe, and one in the US, causing the SeaWorld and Busch parks to drop from two large investments across the five parks to one. I find it unrealistic that Merlin would continue to add major attractions to the SeaWorld chain parks at the relatively rapid rate that we've seen lately in addition to managing their properties in Europe.

Probably should have been clearer about what I meant, apologies. :)

Otherwise, I can definitely agree with you about seeing the positives for Merlin out of this deal and how it may have positive knock-on effects for us in the UK, but I really can't justify putting SeaWorld's flagship parks into what I believe to be peril just for those benefits.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:35 pm

Burniel wrote:
Bert2theSpark wrote:
Going with what Burniel said about Merlin only doing one large investment a year. This is not true as Merlin have made multiple large investments in one year, 2011 we saw Krake and Raptor and in 2013 we saw Zufari and The Smiler.

I think Merlin would still treat SeaWorld/Busch Gardens with the same amount of investments.

Yes, Merlin will often have two large-scale investments at their Resort Theme Parks across the globe in a year, or perhaps one large and one medium, but this does not necessarily mean two investments exclusively for the SeaWorld chain. My "one per year" figure was more derived from the idea that Merlin would probably step up to always produce two large investments per year, one in Europe, and one in the US, causing the SeaWorld and Busch parks to drop from two large investments across the five parks to one. I find it unrealistic that Merlin would continue to add major attractions to the SeaWorld chain parks at the relatively rapid rate that we've seen lately in addition to managing their properties in Europe.

Probably should have been clearer about what I meant, apologies. :)

Otherwise, I can definitely agree with you about seeing the positives for Merlin out of this deal and how it may have positive knock-on effects for us in the UK, but I really can't justify putting SeaWorld's flagship parks into what I believe to be peril just for those benefits.


Merlin resort parks work on Capex investments Large, Medium, Small, Small. And with only 5 parks in the theme park resort chain. There would only be one large investment in most years.

In regards to maintaining the parks Gardaland and recently Towers are maintain a high theming and maintenance standard.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:27 pm

Bert2theSpark wrote:
Merlin resort parks work on Capex investments Large, Medium, Small, Small. And with only 5 parks in the theme park resort chain. There would only be one large investment in most years.

My point exactly. Under Merlin, these parks would receive fewer investments than they currently seem to be, which could be seriously detrimental to some of them, notably the Florida parks.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Merlin doesn't invest properly in their parks or doesn't maintain them or anything. Merlin can do and has done excellent jobs in the past and will do more in the future. But there's a reason why people talk about London Entertainment Resort giving Merlin some steep competition if the project ever comes to fruition: Merlin are in an entirely different league to the big players such as those in the Florida market. Maybe San Diego, San Antonio and (at a push) Williamsburg could be managed, but Orlando and Tampa? No chance.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:45 pm

God! Honestly never thought this would even be considered! This would probably place Towers at 4th or fifth of the Merlin development Choo Choo train, behind SeaWorld Orlando, BG Tampa & Williamsburg. I really hope this doesn't happen, so we get more developments as a whole.

Edit: Wouldn't Ethics also be a problem, with SeaWorld having some Whales, which Merlin don't like or something.
It would also get Merlin Closer to Disney in terms of attendance, but there would still be a gap of over 60 million guests.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:38 pm

I cannot see Merlin taking over the 3 SeaWorld parks. Merlin will not under any circumstances allow cetaceans (whales & dolphins) to be in their parks and it would take an immense (unprecedented really) amount of investment to replace all the cetacean facilities in the 3 SeaWorld parks as well as Aquatica & Discovery Cove.

I can realistically see them taking the Busch parks and their associated waterparks, but not the SeaWorld ones.

I really hope that the Busch & SeaWorld parks stick together whatever the future holds. It is perhaps worth noting that usually companies slow ride investment in parks that they are looking to sell off, but the Busch parks have seen an acceleration in investment over recent years.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:46 pm

I'm fairly confused on the mentality of Merlin here. They're a far superior company to Blackstone who took $610 million in dividends that could (and should) have been invested into a capex cycle. Not to mention whilst they've had a few additions (only recently mind you) they've cut plenty of developments recently including major thrill attractions.

Merlin on the other hand continue to invest in their parks consistently and at a high quality - no matter how many times somebody throws the (fairly redundant at this point) 'shipping container' argument out. The cost cutting business has been occurring long before Merlin took over when Tussauds were running things, and also when Blackstone had large shares within the company. Whilst you can argue Merlin have been cost cutting too that's very much limited to Alton now, as proven by Thorpe Park adding further 10PM dates to the annual Fright Nights event.

You also have to remember the US is a very different ball game and it's important to take all Merlin parks into account. Like it or not Merlin have shown themselves to be a fairly decent company creatively with peojects such as Ghost Train, Oblivion: The Black Hole, Flug Der Damonen and The Gruffalo as well as a more capable business than Blackstone ever was.

It's also worth noting that it's now been revealed SeaWorld has had a net loss of $175.9 million in Q2 this year. That's down from them making $17.8 million in Q2 2016 (a $193.7 million change within a year).

All companies have their faults, Merlin has many but Blackstone has many more and so I have absolutely no issue with Merlin taking these parks over.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:56 pm

Owen wrote:
I'm fairly confused on the mentality of Merlin here. They're a far superior company to Blackstone who took $610 million in dividends that could (and should) have been invested into a capex cycle. Not to mention whilst they've had a few additions (only recently mind you) they've cut plenty of developments recently including major thrill attractions.

Merlin on the other hand continue to invest in their parks consistently and at a high quality - no matter how many times somebody throws the (fairly redundant at this point) 'shipping container' argument out. The cost cutting business has been occurring long before Merlin took over when Tussauds were running things, and also when Blackstone has large shares within the company. Whilst you can argue Merlin have been cost cutting too that's very much limited to Alton now, as proven by Thorpe Park adding further 10PM dates to the annual Fright Nights event.

You also have to remember the US is a very different ball game and it's important to take all Merlin parks into account. Like it or not Merlin have shown themselves to be a fairly decent company creatively with peojects such as Ghost Train, Oblivion: The Black Hole, Flug Der Damonen and The Gruffalo as well as a more capable business than Blackstone ever was.

It's also worth noting that it's now been revealed SeaWorld has has a net loss of $175.9 million in Q2 this year. That's down from them making $17.8 million in Q2 2016 (a $193.7 million change within a year).

All companies have their faults, Merlin has many but Blackstone has many more and so I have absolutely no issue with Merlin taking these parks over.


I would absolutely hate for Merlin to take over BGT or any of the other SEAS parks.

1) I agree, Merlin are better than Blackstone :)

2) BGT has closed Gwazi & Tidal Wave, two of the lowest ridership attractions at the park and two attractions that recieved poor guest satisfaction scores. Gwazi's removal has essentially been cancelled out by the opening of Cobra's Curse in a location that did not house a previous ride. Therefore in net terms the park are down by just Tidal Wave, which I'll admit is not ideal and I was pretty gutted when they closed it! We shall have to see what the future holds but I think these two plots of land won't be sitting still for much longer. Perhaps worth noting that BGT are up on thrill ride numbers compared to 2013.

3) I have to disagree that Merlin have shown themselves to be a good company when it comes to new attractions. What we have seen with SW8 so far looks quite promising, but The Smiler was a complete rushed shambles and is a poorly thought out attraction in terms of number of staff required, the same can be said for Ghost Train, Sub-Terra and many other attractions. Merlin just don't deliver quality for too many of their attractions IMO. (SEAS has clearly also had bad moments as well with Ocean Explorer being the most recent example!)

4) I find it impossible to imagine that Merlin would keep up the standard of conservation involvement and donation that BGT currently have.

5) Merlin don't have the expertise or frankly the will to develop animal habitats (which are very important to Busch Gardens Tampa) on the same level as SEAS.

6) Let's be honest, Merlin would cut the 11pm summer opening hours :P

7) It's very misleading to cite the Q2 net loss as it was greatly impacted by the Goodwill assessment at SeaWorld Orlando, unlike Q2 2016.

If it was Merlin vs Blackstone, I would absolutely side with you and take Merlin. Everyone has different opinions, which is fine, but for me I would not like to see Merlin touch BGT.

We would also lose the Shamu ice cream bar from Busch Gardens which would be devastating!
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:18 pm

So you equate poorly thought out attractions with the number of staff needed to operate it? Ghost Train utilises it's staff as part of the performance, they aren't simply operators - to me that shows that they thought heavily about this and tried to incorporate them into the story, and whilst I haave my own issues with it I'd like to see people tell me with a straight face that Empire of the Penguin is superior to the poorly thought out Ghost Train. The Smiler on the other hand  you can hardly say isn't of a high quality when it's the only attraction in the UK to threaten Nemesis as the top attraction for many people. Quality should be measured once the attraction has broken out of it's teething phases and made a name for itself in the long term, otherwise you can go ahead and say Falcon's Fury is poor quality because of it's opening, or that Universal and Disney lack quality too. Whilst I don't know if Merlin are going to continue conservation saying they won't attempt building new and unique animal exhibits is quite frankly, ignorant. You only have to look at the effort they're putting into Chessington to see that they are focusing on not only offering animals new enclosures, but also trying to integrate them into attractions themselves. Also, as I said originally you are only looking at UK Merlin attractions which is a very different market to the US and so it's important to take all Merlin parks on board. 

What confuses me the most is you say you would worry about Merlin ruining Busch and SeaWorld, but right now all I'm seeing is somewhat poor investments from them (with a few exceptions) while they loose millions upon millions a year - that is certainly not the best. In a perfect world I would have an amazing company that would boost everything about the parks, but in reality there are things that stop this from happening and I'd rather have a decent company take them under thier wing so they don't end up with a worse fate. 

At  the end of the day I, and whoever else agrees with me, will have to agree to disagree and  we will see what the future holds for these parks. :)
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:33 pm

When you want to write a post defending SeaWorld/Busch but then you see MM has done it for you. :P
EDIT: and Owen has already responded to it. Wow I type slowly. :P

I'll gladly admit that SeaWorld is in a whole heap of problems, financially and reputationally. But I have to disagree that, from a customer's perspective, Merlin taking any of the parks is anything other than an absolute disaster. Yes, Merlin invest fairly reliably and can produce stunners, but they're sadly hit-and-miss, with great successes such as Gruffalo, CBeebies Land, and The Swarm being counteracted by things that, although still often high quality experiences, weren't quite what they could have been, such as (in my opinion) The Smiler, DBGT, Sub-Terra etc. Not that SeaWorld doesn't have its occasional hiccups - I think Empire Of The Penguin is pretty terrible to be honest - but the fact that Empire is the only "not as great as expected" attraction that I can think of speaks volumes.

But it's not even that that repulses me about Merlin owning any of the parks. In time, I could look past the investment side of things, as long as the current lineups were well-maintained. It's all the little cringe-worthy things Merlin do that would seriously undermine these parks in particular that gets me. Cutting opening hours (yes, Thorpe saw some added 10pm nights, but across the chain we've seen ~10hrs gain for ~40hrs loss, I would estimate), adding unthemed stands (recent examples include Now TV and Nitrogenie) in areas where they stick out like a sore thumb, cutting back on shows and their frequency, closing attractions without warning and/or leaving them completely up in the air, randomly taking scenery away from a ride without replacement because it's decaying, operating rides on low capacity or just generally having slow dispatches on peak days, and so on. It's these sorts of things that, when combined, can take a park down in the ratings no matter how nice or frequent your new investments are, and they're the sorts of things that, in my experience, SeaWorld do fairly well.

There's also the matter of conservation and animal care, as MM has mentioned. Merlin know how to keep animal exhibits clean and presentable, and sometimes create excellent creations with them such as Tiger Falls, should it go ahead. They also know how to run a small conservation scheme, as demonstrated by Chessington, but SeaWorld and Busch are on completely different levels in both of these fields that I personally can't see Merlin continuing at such a level, mainly because transitioning into that level of work in that area would be difficult for any company, not just Merlin.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:39 pm

Owen please don't resort to insulting people because you disagree with them. Calling me ignorant just because we have different opinions is not a very respectful way to go about things.

I never said that Merlin doesn't invest in animal habitats, I just implied that the quality of the animal habitats is not up to the same level as at SEAS parks.

The number of staff required to run an attraction is hugely important for costing an attraction in the long term when its popularity inevitably declines, it's the sole reason why we don't currently have Sub-Terra at Alton Towers! As for Antarctica, as I alluded to in my previous post, it is one of SEAS' weakest attractions and has many flaws, a high staff requirement being one of them. The penguin habitat is certainly far better than the ride IMO, although many kids do enjoy the spinning :lol

The Smiler isn't high quality. I'm not talking about the coaster itself, you just have to look at the disgraceful state of the queue line & show building and the design flaws are very noticeable.

Saying that SEAS lose millions upon millions a year is quite simply a lie, SeaWorld is a profitable company, it's an undeniable fact.

We'll also have to disagree that SEAS make consistent poor investments at Busch Gardens. Falcon's Fury has been widely recieved as the best drop tower in the world and Cobra'a Curse was very well recieved with an amazingly themed queue line and unique ride system that filled a gap in the park's lineup.

As you say, let's agree to disagree, I just hope all this fuss doesn't derail the 2018 and 2019 projects at Busch Gardens Tampa!
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:44 pm

Burniel wrote:
 The Smiler, DBGT, Sub-Terra etc. Not that SeaWorld doesn't have its occasional hiccups - I think Empire Of The Penguin is pretty terrible to be honest - but the fact that Empire is the only "not as great as expected" attraction that I can think of speaks volumes.

adding unthemed stands (recent examples include Now TV and Nitrogenie) in areas where they stick out like a sore thumb

There's also the matter of conservation and animal care, as MM has mentioned. Merlin know how to keep animal exhibits clean and presentable, and sometimes create excellent creations with them such as Tiger Falls, should it go ahead. They also know how to run a small conservation scheme, as demonstrated by Chessington, but SeaWorld and Busch are on completely different levels in both of these fields that I personally can't see Merlin continuing at such a level, mainly because transitioning into that level of work in that area would be difficult for any company, not just Merlin.

See this I can understand more, although I do have a couple things. Firstly, surely every theme park has attractions that some love and some hate, whilst sometimes I find enthusiasts are way OTT (I'm sure you'd agree) I think any reasonable person can say "Ok I don't like X but yeah it's great for the park". The times are also something you cannot predict, first you have to remember The Smiler was a big part of this, however Merlin park's overseas haven't seen such bad cuts. I am sure it'll get better but we have to hold out. Again like I say the conservation - who knows? they may have some kind of deal beiing a parent company and having the rest run by the same people, but thats a whole other thing.
Now for what I REALLY disagree with you on. Nitrogenie is themed. It's themed to purple and obnoxiously loud pop music? duh.

In all seriousness my point is Merlin is far from the worst option, although there are better, so with that i say... who else would adore if Six Flag's took them over?!  \:D/

EDIT:

MakoMania wrote:
Owen please don't resort to insulting people because you disagree with them. Calling me ignorant just because we have different opinions is not a very respectful way to go about things.

I never said that Merlin doesn't invest in animal habitats, I just implied that the quality of the animal habitats is not up to the same level as at SEAS parks.

The number of staff required to run an attraction is hugely important for costing an attraction in the long term when its popularity inevitably declines, it's the sole reason why we don't currently have Sub-Terra at Alton Towers!  As for Antarctica, as I alluded to in my previous post, it is one of SEAS' weakest attractions and has many flaws, a high staff requirement being one of them. The penguin habitat is certainly far better than the ride IMO, although many kids do enjoy the spinning :lol

The Smiler isn't high quality. I'm not talking about the coaster itself, you just have to look at the disgraceful state of the queue line & show building and the design flaws are very noticeable.
Saying that SEAS lose millions upon millions a year is quite simply a lie, SeaWorld is a profitable company, it's an undeniable fact.
We'll also have to disagree that SEAS make consistent poor investments at Busch Gardens. Falcon's Fury has been widely recieved as the best drop tower in the world and Cobra'a Curse was very well recieved with an amazingly themed queue line and unique ride system that filled a gap in the park's lineup.

As you say, let's agree to disagree, I just hope all this fuss doesn't derail the 2018 and 2019 projects at Busch Gardens Tampa!

MakoMania, saying you are ignorant for overlooking the way Chessington has been handled isn't meant as an insult - so apologies if you took it that way. You can't say attractions are poorly thought out if they utilise staff as actors if that is the way they were designed - what would be an issue is if the actors could be out of character, Sub-Terra was only closed after cuts after The Smiler incident. The Smiler (like all major attractions at major parks) is an extremely high quality attraction, just because you may not like the look of it is subjective.  I don't like the look of the station but I like the queue - quality can't be measured by an opinion. I don't like the look of the queue for Kraken: Unleashed, however I still think it's a high quality attraction (and this also utilises multiple staff). As for Cobra's, yes I agree the queue is well themed - however, if you can say it is of high quality because of it being well received and unique - the same should go for The Smiler. Finally, saying SeaWorld is loosing money is a lie after the Q2 money loss has just came out is a rather odd statement...

Like i say, I can see Burniel's point more clearly as he is seeing both sides - my point is solely that Merlin is an improvement not a burden, but there are better out there.
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:46 pm

Oooooops! My phone has clearly had a moment!
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Re: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:17 pm

Owen wrote:
Firstly, surely every theme park has attractions that some love and some hate, whilst sometimes I find enthusiasts are way OTT (I'm sure you'd agree)

The times are also something you cannot predict, first you have to remember The Smiler was a big part of this, however Merlin park's overseas haven't seen such bad cuts. I am sure it'll get better but we have to hold out.

In all seriousness my point is Merlin is far from the worst option, although there are better, so with that i say... who else would adore if Six Flag's took them over?!  \:D/

I agree, everyone has their opinions, and even the "best" operators can't always be pefect to everyone. But I do think that many would agree SeaWorld average better quality additions than Merlin.

I don't know loads about Gardaland and Heide, but it does seem true that overseas parks haven't suffered quite so much, although I'm not a fan of some of their decisions, with Ghostbusters' exterior and area being a recent example, or the fact that Colossos has gone rogue as another.

I think on the whole, Merlin are indeed better than, say, Six Flags *shudders*, but I just think there are so many other solutions that would work out much better. Maybe I need to accept the idea that whatever SeaWorld needs may not be so great for us based on recent reported financial figures, but I still really hope that selling to someone like Merlin, who aren't terrible by any means, but are certainly a downgrade in my opinion, isn't necessary.

Oh, and thank you for correcting me about Nitrogenie. I now realise obnoxious pop music in immersive areas is exactly what Busch Gardens is missing! :P
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