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Ask the Team

by lewis97 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:44 pm

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As we prepare to celebrate 15 years of TowersTimes.co.uk in 2017, we want to give our members and readers the opportunity to ask the TowersTimes & SouthParks Team (some of whom have been around since the very beginning) any questions that you may have!

Whether it be the management of the TTSP Forum, the work that goes into the websites, perhaps even to find out more about the TTSP Team on a personal level or something else that you’re curious about – the more original the better!

Check out our Team page for a quick rundown of everyone’s roles and potential inspiration for what to ask. You can also make sure you’re not asking us about something that’s already been revealed for all of the internet to see.

To submit your questions, you can either PM myself with the subject line 'Ask the Team Questions' or head over to the TowersTimes website and just fill in the form there. While all questions will be read by the TTSP Team, naturally we request that you use your judgement to only ask those which are appropriate. We will also be unable to respond to questions that would involve revealing information that we deem to be sensitive or would jeopardise our relationship with any of the resorts that we cover. Although the TTSP Team will be aware of who's asked what questions, they will be reposted anonymously and similar questions may be combined.

We’ll provide answers to all suitable questions in a single post in this topic in a few weeks time, but for now we look forward to hearing what questions you have!
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Re: Ask the Team

by lewis97 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:24 pm

Thank you to those members who've submitted questions so far! If there are others who are still yet to ask questions there's still time for to do so, just see the above post for details of how to go about it :)
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Ask the Team - Answers

by lewis97 » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:52 pm

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions over the last six weeks. As a team I believe we've managed to provide answers for pretty much all of them! We hope that the responses given below will make for some insightful and perhaps interesting reading on an all manner of subjects.

With the 2017 season now well underway, we wish everyone an exciting year (hopefully filled with theme park visits), and look forward to seeing many of you at Alton Towers Resort for TTSP@15 in a little over a month's time. If you haven't already, head over the TTSP Events website now to purchase your tickets!

How many parks have you visited worldwide and how many coaster creds do you have?
Ladyofthelake - 4 UK parks (kind of ashamed that I've never been to my nearest Park, Drayton Manor, or Blackpool); 7 European Parks (plus another 3 in April); and 7 US parks (although these are all in Florida). Unique coaster count currently stands at 81.

Michelle - 8 UK parks, 5 European parks (adding another two this April too)
Unfortunately I have no idea of coaster count!

Rob-TT - 5 UK parks, I have no idea of coaster count I'm afraid.

Tom-TT - 8 UK parks, 4 European parks (more soon!). No idea of my coaster count, I stopped keeping track of it several years ago.

hursty – 5+ UK parks, 5 European Parks (Liseberg, Tivoli Gardens, Efteling, Walibi Holland, PortAventura) Not a clue about coasters

lewis97 - 5 UK parks and that's it. Like most of the others, I haven't kept track of my coaster count!

Baffles - I've been quite lucky as I started my theme park hobby at a young age. I am a little geeky when it comes to stats and log my park and coaster count on Coastercounter.com, which is a useful tool. Currently at 112 parks and 603 coasters.

Adz - I'm currently at 46 parks in total, I don't really count coaster credits but I'm lucky enough to be able to say I've been on some of the more unusual stuff, like Eejanaika and Dodonpa in Fuji Q, Japan.

Any particular parks you want to visit?
lewis97 - I'm shamefully not very well traveled when it comes to theme parks, having not visited any outside of the UK, so I've got quite a long list that I want to visit. I definitely want to get to Florida in the future and tick all those parks off, but some of the European parks such as Europa Park, Liseberg, Phantasialand and Efteling may be more doable in the meantime.

DannyG - I also have a rather long list but I'd love to visit Cedar Point. I'd consider it to have one of the best roller coaster line ups, including an Intamin Giga and soon to have an RMC - both of which I have never had the chance to experience.

Michelle - I feel I've been quite fortunate visiting some of the European parks since joining TTSP but I am absolutely desperate to visit Europa Park. I would also love to return to Efteling for a more thorough visit and naturally the ultimate goal is to get to the American parks one day.

Ladyofthelake - I'd love to do some American parks outside of Florida as there are so many incredible rides out there. Another thing I'd like to do at some point is visit at least one of the Asian Disney parks. Whilst I have been fortunate enough to do a few European parks I'd really like to return to Efteling and also Phantasialand - it was so frustrating missing Taron and Raik by just 10 days!

Rob-TT - I've always wanted to visit Disneyland and the Universal parks, hopefully one day.

Tom-TT - Numerous European parks need visiting, I'd also like to revisit some to spend more time there. Of course America needs to be done at some point, also Japan and China where some of the decent parks seem to be opening some nice coasters (Mack, B&M, Intamin) lately.

hursty – Kolmården (for Wildfire), Europa, then some American parks

Baffles - Too many to name - I have the whole of Asia and Australia to conquer yet.

Adz - A big american roadtrip is currently being planned to tick off those next on my wishlist like Great Adventure and Cedar Point!

Favorite snack to have at parks?
Dom - Nitrogenie. It would be rude not too!

DannyG - Personally I love the Pizza Pasta Buffet's when visiting Merlin Parks, but I can't resist some sweet treats such as sugar donuts and a pix n mix!

Michelle - Ooh Nitrogenie is a strong choice Dom, but I think I'd probably go for a chocolate pancake to be honest! Only when they cook them right though ...

Ladyofthelake - I'm not really a huge snack person, however I will admit that Nitrogenie is my go to for a treat on park, the only trouble is deciding which flavour!

Rob-TT - Donuts! Can't have a theme park visit and not have donuts.

Tom-TT - The waffles at Liseberg were epic, they need to exist at all parks.

hursty – The knockoff KFC at Alton Towers

Baffles - Also a waffle fan - the best I've had is at Europa.

Adz - This is a difficult one as it varies from park to park, but my all time favourites are the Harry Potter based snacks and confectionery in Florida. Though I do have a soft spot for the Merlin Millionaire Shortbread.

What do you do as a Team TTSP member?
lewis97 - My main responsibilities are in relation to the TowersTimes & SouthParks websites, in terms of ensuring the information they contain is up to date as well as transferring content from the old version of TowersTimes to our new format (which is actually almost complete). However, I'm also involved in the moderation of the TTSP Forum, alongside the rest of the TTSP Team, as well as assisting with our social media channels, which includes keeping our Instagram account active. In addition, I produce a variety of graphical content for use across our websites, forum and social media channels.

DannyG - My general duties include: monitoring posting and new members on the forum, assisting members with any account queries/name change requests, keeping the forum tidy, dealing with spam and any disruption. Most recently I've worked with Dom to clear the TTSP Forum of any unnecessary topics.

Ladyofthelake - My main role is to manage, co-ordinate, and produce the content for TTSP's news and social media channels. This can mean anything from writing an article about the latest planning application or ride announcement, to visiting the parks to provide live coverage. It's a role which can be very full on, especially around times such as the start of the season and Halloween, however my main aim is always to try and bring our followers the most detailed, comprehensive and interesting coverage possible so you can keep up to date with what's going on all year round. I also provide the social media updates throughout the day of a TTSP event, right from the start of the day with the group photo, through to the very last moment of our awesome exclusives. Of course I couldn't do what I do without the help of hursty and his amazing photography, and other members of the TTSP Team keeping an eye out for any announcements from the parks. I've been very fortunate to cover a wide range of things for the site and hope you all enjoy the updates. When I'm not busy with the latest news I also lend a hand with the moderation of the forum, just to make sure everything is ticking along nicely.

Tom-TT - My main role is that of taking photos around the parks and maintaining the galleries. I am also supposed to be in the process of updating TT's video content and adding it to our YouTube channel, however that's been on the back burner for a while now. I've also been known to get the spanners out at times when the server isn't playing ball.

Michelle - Currently, I am partly responsible for events (along with Rob-TT and Baffles) and press enquiries. Events involves some contact with the parks and plenty of admin beforehand to make sure people's payments are received and itineraries are sent, plus answering any queries people have. On the day its all about checking everyone is where they need to be, happy & having fun! Occasionally this involves bribing you with sweets ;) My press contact role usually involves speaking to the parks to try and ensure we get coverage of the things you all like to read about, and answering any requests we get about using our wonderful site content. Oh, and most importantly of course, head of Team Wuss twice a year.

Dom - I do the quizzes and look after the forum in general.

Rob-TT - As well as site administrator my role on TTSP has two additional aspects. As Events Manager North, I am responsible for putting together & running events based in the North, primarily Alton Towers. I like to start planning events early and this will start with an itinerary proposed to the team for their feedback and ideas. Once I have a draft itinerary for that event I will contact Alton Towers Resort with an event date and the draft itinerary. The event will then build from there. Sometimes it's not always possible to get our first proposed event but we work with the Resort to produce a lineup that creates a fantastic event. Special Projects manager currently involves the TTSP Store where I am responsible for sourcing, ordering and distributing items we sell there. So if you've ever order anything from our store its been delivered from sunny Glasgow.

hursty – Shutter monkey, wave a camera around, pretending I know what I’m doing. Try to capture the parks and attractions in beautiful ways. Cover construction and openings as well as event photography. Needlessly fiddles with Katie’s live posts and provide photos to fit social media plans and news articles.
Occasionally dances. The rest, well that's classified…

Baffles - Support this lovely lot. I guess a site owner's responsibility is to make sure everything runs smoothly, and to provide each team member with the tools they need to do their job. I am a firm believer that the website should be a welcoming place that is fully inclusive of anybody who is a fan of theme parks, and it is my job to make sure this vision is carried out. I also manage the Southern events and ensure our relationship with the parks is a strong and amicable one.

Adz - I'm in charge of the overall content across all of our network and the forum itself. I also look after the TTSP Brand and support the social and event teams with all the imagery and logos as required. Along with MiniMurderDoll I'm also the primary technical person behind our vast network, making sure our server can cope with the huge volume of visitors we receive. I'm lucky enough to have been involved with TTSP in some way for well over 10 years now and can confidently say I've never worked with such a brilliant and organised team.

Best project that you have followed?
lewis97 - Well it was SW7/The Smiler that brought me into the TTSP community so I think it has to be that. Even though it may not be everyone's favourite ride, the anticipation that consumed the community in the run-up to its eventual opening was certainly exciting.

DannyG - SW7/The Smiler is also the reason I joined TTSP so it really is the obvious option. It is definitely one of my all time favourite rides, and I found following construction from the moment the perimeter boarding went up to riding it on opening day to be incredibly exciting.

Tom-TT - It was the construction of Air and Rita that really first got me interested in Alton Towers and theme parks in general. However, after several dull years of very little being added to UK parks it was SW6/13 construction that really grabbed my attention again.

Michelle - 13 for me! I guess I have a soft spot for it because it's the project that brought me to the forum originally, it was the first ride that I followed for the majority of construction and therefore made me aware of how much marketing and 'other stuff' was involved in bringing a ride to the parks. Although its not thought of too highly by the thrillseekers, I would still class it as my favourite ride at Alton.

hursty – Either TH13TEEN which was the first I really followed, or The Smiler which I started my site photography on.

Baffles - For me, it would be Colossus. At the time, Thorpe Park was my local park, and it was the first major ride project that 'The Thorpe Park Guide' covered. Not only did I visit the park most weekends throughout the season to cover the construction, I attended a backstage tour of the construction with the ECC when the trains first arrived, featured on Tomorrow's World, and then the actual ride advert for TV. Back then Social media did not exist, so the website did so well and received so many hits, it shortly after turned in to 'SouthParks', where we then covered all of the Southern parks and their relevant construction.

Adz - I've been involved in a few and it's a tie between Rita and The Smiler. Rita was fun because it come out of nowhere and started construction without any fanfare or announcement and the community at the time were completely in the dark as to what was going on. As for The Smiler, I had an absolutely crazy few months liaising with Alton Towers over what they wanted us to show and what our amazing aerial photography was revealing, learning that the manufacturer were using our images to project manage the construction has been a particular highlight in my time on TTSP so far.

Any attraction that you think was overrated or disappointing?
lewis97 - Along with many others, I was underwhelmed with Derren Brown's Ghost Train last year. However, it's definitely improved this season, although I'm still not sure it quite warrants its price tag.

Tom-TT - Thorpe's recent additions of I'm a Celebrity and Derren Brown's Ghost Train are in my eyes very disappointing. I do hope that with the work that's gone on with DBGT that it is improved for this season. After riding the new iteration of DBGT, I feel that whilst it has no doubt been massively improved, I still feel that it falls short of being a truly great ride.

Michelle - Without a doubt this has to be I'm a Celeb at Thorpe Park. The money spent and time involved (and my gosh, the time spent queuing!)... Totally not worth it. Unfortunately I never got a run through of the attraction where all the effects were working, and the staff often seemed fed up. Such a shame as it had the potential to be truly hilarious.

Ladyofthelake - Whilst there are a few Merlin rides which I have been underwhelmed by, I think the attraction I've most recently been disappointed with is Expedition G Force at Holiday Park in Germany. I'd seen so much about this coaster before I visited, especially about how it had topped many polls as the best coaster, however, although it did have good moments, it fell far short of my expectations and I wouldn't even place it in my top ten.

hursty – Probably TH13TEEN due to its poor marketing pitch (psycoaster, disclaimers etc), although with that mostly forgotten, it's a great fun ride. Alternatively, I'm a Celeb (for the elements removed / staff cutbacks) or Derren Brown (which despite being impressive, wasn't ready technologically)

Baffles - Derren Brown's Ghost Train. Although it has been improved this year, I'm still not a fan - and do not believe VR is the future of amusement park rides.

Adz - I'm A Celeb and Sub Terra stand out to me as the biggest wastes of time, money and effort. There are many others but these are the two that stick out the most.

What do you have to do to become a member of the TTSP Team?
The exact process varies depending on the role in question, although usually those interested in a vacancy will be required to answer a number of questions to determine their suitability. In the case of roles which involve content creation, there is usually the opportunity to demonstrate the relevant skills, whether that be producing some graphical work or a mock news article. The successful applicant(s) will then be invited onto the team for a trial period, and provided that all goes smoothly, which it usually does, they will continue on beyond this as a member of the TTSP Team.

Baffles - I like to get to know a potential team member either through their regular contributions on the forum, or from meeting them at events. The most important aspect of being a TTSP team member is having the passion for what you do.

Adz - Like Baffles, it's all about getting to know the person through their contributions to the community and the passion they show for the industry plus what they can offer in terms of skill-sets, whether that's a forum role or something more specialist like photography or social media.

What have been the best/worst moments on this site?
Baffles - My favourite moment (or moments) so far has been the successful introduction and execution of TTSP events. Seeing some events completely sell out within a couple of hours, and witnessing some incredible relationships form from members meeting one another at the parks, is certainly a rewarding feeling. I don't think a community can really show their true values until you meet them face to face, and as the events have increased in popularity over the last few years, we have shown we are lovely people! :)

lewis97 - I think attending my first event, Nemesis@20, is especially memorable as it meant that I finally got to meet all the people I'd interacted with on the forum over the previous year and a half. It really showed what an awesome community I had stumbled upon in late 2012!

Adz - I have seen both the best and the worst this community has offered over the last 15 years, and the best moments always eclipse the bad ones by far. Our events in particular I'm very proud of, we have reinvented the way enthusiasts can enjoy the theme parks and we will continue to push forward and carry on with this.

Any other hobbies?
DannyG - I am a big animal lover and have worked with all kinds of farm/zoo animals for the past 4 years. I also love scare acting and have worked on events for the past 3 Halloween seasons.

Tom-TT - As part of my interest in photography I got involved in the world of urban exploring several years ago, it's taken me to all sorts of interesting places and got me into plenty of messy situations.

hursty – More photography and some theatre stuff

Baffles - Not a gym fan as I prefer team sports. I play badminton twice a week in a league.

If you could take ownership of one park in the world, what would it be?
Adz - Lightwater Valley. It's an amazing little park that has suffered from very poor investment choices and leadership over the last 10 or so years. It's my current local park and sadly I don't see it lasting much longer unless they radically change their current business plan.

If you could install one major coaster type at Alton Towers, what would it be?
lewis97 - It's hardly original, but it would probably be an RMC of some description seeing as I haven't been able to see what the hype's all about yet. Having one at Towers would certainly make it easier to do so!

DannyG - If I had the choice I would install a Mack Multi-launch. Based on current examples they seem to have speed, inversions and ride time on their side, which I feel is most important. Although I haven't ridden a Mack, Cheetah Hunt is one of my favourite rides for the above reasons, so I'm looking forward to getting to BPB in 2018 to try one out.

Tom-TT - A Mack Mega Coaster or an RMC would be great additions. Ideally Towers need a new dark ride to replace CATCF so something using modern technology would be fun.

Michelle - a Mack mega coaster would be the dream for me. If I could choose a non coaster then something like Valhalla would be perfect now we've lost the flume.

Ladyofthelake - For me it would have to be a decent dark ride. Whilst the park does have Hex, I feel it needs something else to complement what is there already and an excellently themed dark ride could do this. With Efteling building Symbolica, perhaps Towers could look at something similar and create an outstanding immersive experience for an indoor coaster (just no more VR please!)

hursty - Family water ride intertwined with SW8, perhaps with a bathtub theme, I’ve even thought of a name, "The Flume", I think it would catch on.

Baffles - I wish SW8 was an RMC, as they make some of the best coasters in the world! We do need to give GCI a chance as I am sure it will be great, but their coasters are a little more family friendly. I'd also like to see a Mack launched coaster or a Nemesis style B&M Floorless. The UK still does not have one!

Adz - Prior to SW8 being announced the answer would have been simple - an RMC but with a wooden coaster already on the way now I think the park needs to look towards a fully immersive indoor coaster. Similar to Revenge of The Mummy or Escape from Gringotts at Universal Orlando.

How does one go about turning Michelle into the Incredible Hulk?
Michelle - (messing with my event paperwork is a good start...)

Can we have SW8 ERT before it opens?
Rob-TT - We always try and add new attractions to our events when they open but unfortunately due to operational reasons at Alton Towers this isn't always possible. We do however try and work around this by getting the first ride of the day, like we did with Galactica.

Baffles - Would be nice! ATR did not allow any ERTs on The Smiler for the first two seasons, so here's hoping SW8 does not follow suit.

When will you next upload to the TowersTimes YouTube channel?
Tom-TT - Sometime in the next decade. The TT archives contain loads of videos from Towers attractions past and present which will eventually be added to the YouTube channel. Additionally it would be nice to add new content too, however as always it's just difficult to find the time to do it.

Baffles - Once TT V3 and the SP website have been completed, we will move on to further projects like YouTube. The GoPro is ready!

What would TTSP like to achieve in the next 15 years?
Rob - To continue what we currently do best. Provide the best informative website, a friendly forum, unbeatable news & social media coverage and amazing events.

Baffles - As above, well said Rob.

lewis97 - And with a bit of luck, complete the TowersTimes 'V3' website and perhaps even make a start on the SouthParks site too ;)

Adz - We have a few exciting projects on the way but I'd love to see our events expand to cover more parks and I'm sure when the time is right they will do.

What's been your favourite TTSP event to attend?
lewis97 - It's hard to pick a specific event, as all those I've attended have been enjoyable, although ScareMazing North 2015 & 2016 were both good fun if incredibly exhausting!

DannyG - My favourite event must be my first which was SMS 2015! We had an amazing day with some great exclusives, and I finally got to put names to faces and build some amazing friendships. SMS 2016 is definitely a close second which was my first Face it Alone experience!

Michelle - This is a hard one as the events are all great in their own way, but for an event exclusive its been tough to beat the original Summer Sizzler and it's Berry Bish Bash takeover. It was my first meet with the site and I still maintain that that was the best team building activity ever :lol

Ladyofthelake - This is such a hard one to decide! SMN 2013 will always be a very special event for me as that was my first TTSP event and proved to be the start of some incredible friendships. It was my very first Scarefest and I couldn't have asked for a better way to experience it. I almost bottled out at the last minute as I was walking from the car park to the entrance plaza but I'm so glad I didn't let my fear get the better of me and carried on to the event! Last year's Southern Screamer has to be up there too just for the amount of fun we had (Lakey Tidal Wave sandwich anyone?) and I particularly enjoyed the Nemesis Inferno BTS we got.

Dom - I'm going to be different here and say that the first Southern Screamer was probably my favourite. Yes the Scaremazing events are epic, but for me, nothing has beaten that first SouthParks event. The Saw ERT may have been painful, but we got to experience it with the lights on, which was different and memorable. Then the BTS of Saw was really interesting and the first BTS on a coaster i've ever had. Thorpe Park then threw in the two extra's that were the Angry Birds Land first look, which was awesome and the walk along the Canada Creek Railway, (Basically Platform 15 in reverse, minus the scares) and a look inside the train shed. Being able to see Saw and Loggers Leap from different angles was weird, yet just so fascinating. It was just an incredible event.

Rob-TT - It's really hard to pick out one event as being the favourite as each event is different but as I know the line up for TTSP@15 i already know this will be my favourite event for reasons that will become clear when we launch ;)

hursty - Too hard to choose. Great memories of Thorpe Park’s amazing BTS (Saw, Stealth, Nemesis Inferno) and scaremazes. Or Alton’s amazing scaremaze BTS.

Baffles - The first Summer Sizzler event at Alton Towers was memorable as we knew we were on to something great.

Adz - Like Baffles for me it's the first ever event we did. We were nervous and apprehensive as to whether our new direction would work, but we knew halfway through the day we were onto a winner. Now 5 years later we're getting ready for our biggest and best event so far.

What has been your favourite ride launched in the last 15 years?
Michelle - Within Merlin either TH13TEEN or The Smiler, in Europe it has to be Helix with Shambhala a close second.

Ladyofthelake - You mean I have to choose just one?! Within Merlin I'd have to go with The Smiler. Elsewhere, I'd agree with Michelle about Shambhala, but if I were to recommend a hidden gem it would be Karacho at Tripsdrill. It's an awesome ride and who knew Gerstlauer could build a smooth coaster!

Tom-TT - Difficult to pick a single coaster as there have been countless excellent additions over the last 15 years. If I limit it to those that I've actually ridden then these would be my top 5, really enjoyed following the construction too! Helix, Shambhala, The Smiler, Baron 1898 and Joris en de Draak.

hursty – what Tom said.

Baffles - I guess it is my favourite coaster - El Toro.

Adz - An incredibly difficult question so I'm going to have to default to a 'favourite coaster' answer and that would be Eejanaika in Fuji Q Highland, Japan.

How many different sources, or groups of theme park enthusiasts do you keep track of?
We couldn't possibly give a number as there's certainly quite a few given that TowersTimes & SouthParks reports on developments at Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Legoland Windsor Resort and London Paramount Entertainment Resort! However, our information sources largely consist of the resorts' websites and social media channels, the respective local council's planning portals and mainstream news outlets. Generally we are committed to reporting on information from official sources and not based just on the postings of other theme park communities, seeing as we are unable to confirm the accuracy of such reports and it wouldn't be fair to post someone else's information as our own.

Is there any specific 'routine' you follow in order to gain information about upcoming rides, improvements, events, BTS footage etc.
There's no routine as such for keeping on top of all the latest developments, it's just a case of monitoring things like websites, social media channels and local planning portals for anything new. It's sometimes the case that members will spot something before we do and post on the forum, alerting us to it!
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