UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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James
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 10:27 am

"D4n" wrote:
I saw the Fanta advertising for the first time yesterday... and I still consider the backlash on here to be an overreaction to TTF's part. Nothing has been added that I would say ruins the ride, and the Fanta sponsorship certainly doesn't dominate the area as I had been led to believe. Sure it's not nice to look at, but at the end of the day if it's bringing money in that the park could (and I'm not saying that they will) put into new attractions, then I'm all for it.

:)

*runs from angry mob*

Completely agree. I had a little look at it a few days ago and I personally don't think it's as bad as people are making out. Sure it's bright and detracts slightly from the theme of Oblivion but I wouldn't say it "ruins" the ride at all. It's nothing more than I expect from a sponsorship, the management have clearly been told they need to make money somewhere and apart from the rise in prices, introduction of new passes and higher car parking charges they need to think of a new way to make a good amount of money. Sponsorships are the easiest way to make this amount of money.

Alton/Merlin are clearly in a very difficult financial situation and have to implement these very unwelcomed changes to get out of the mess the park and former Tussauds was left in. Just like any other business, hard decisions have to be made and I doubt they like what they are doing any more than we do.
 
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Mankey
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 10:37 am

Nice to have you back, Liam! :lol: It's posts like that that made me read the forum!

This seems to me like a more permanent McFly Nemesis retheme from back in 2006 (or was it 2007?) The thing is, sure they get money, but that seems to be all they care about now. They'll always get visitors back! Joe public doesn't care about theming sadly! :(

:|
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James6
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 10:44 am

I have to say, I hate the 'it's bringing money into the park' argument and quite frankly I think it's invalid.


With 2.8million guests a year turning up paying entrance fee's, the extortionate parking and fastracks as well as food and merchandise, it's not like the number one UK theme park is short of money, and if it is then something is seriously wrong somewhere. (Possibly Merlin's the cause of this)

I don't understand how much smaller parks, can be better maintained and presented than our Merlin Parks, as it seems the only way we're going to get any form of major maintenance is through sponsorship which is shocking and hard to believe when we're constantly told that they're the second in this industry in the world and aiming for first... It's possible that the money from Fanta may pay for our long-awaited re-paint of Oblivion next year, but why should we have to sacrifice the aesthetics and general reputation of the ride for a year for something that SHOULD be done anyway. Even Six-Flags give there rides more re-paints than Merlin.

Like others have said, why is it felt that once a ride has been installed, it's then invaluable and pointless to keep it in good shape? Do they think people visit just for a single ride or attraction?

It's not so much the Oblivion sponsorship itself I'm complaining about, it's that management either feel they have been forced into it through lack of funds, or decided it would be a good idea... Either one is unacceptable.


Probably a fairly poorly written post as I'm pretty tired. :P
If you go down to the Towers today, you\'d better ride Th13teen. :P
 
Crofty

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 2:02 pm

Sure it's not nice to look at

Sure it's bright and detracts slightly from the theme of Oblivion


Hang about...You do know this is a THEME PARK? :? It's not a local incinerator we are opposing. :P

The ride is meant to be nice to look at and the theme shouldn't be detracted from at all!
 
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captain
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 2:29 pm

"James" wrote:
Alton/Merlin are clearly in a very difficult financial situation and have to implement these very unwelcomed changes to get out of the mess the park and former Tussauds was left in. Just like any other business, hard decisions have to be made and I doubt they like what they are doing any more than we do.

This is ridiculous. Alton make millions every year. With some good business planning and logical investment the "mess" Tussauds left could have been rectified. Instead, there was a period of minimum investment that just rolled out the identikit same attractions found in every Merlin park around the world, with none of the creativity, "magic", excitement and individualness that Alton was built on, and indeed Tussauds for most of the time held these values at the core of the park.

The problem is with Merlin's business strategy, that means the park will suffer. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The business has a colossal mountain of debt. They use their attractions to pay for the interest payments on these debts. This leaves no money to invest back into the park on the fixes that won't raise big money or gate figures. So no repaints, no refurbishments, no non-sponsored rethemes, no creative use of space. Just headline attractions that don't even have the budget they should, that in no way compete with the investment of anything else built in Europe, which are used to bring in guests that otherwise wouldn't have come. It's such a short sighted business plan. There is no incentive for revisits because the rest of the park(s) falls into disrepair. Upselling is present everywhere to aggressively increase onpark spend. Car parking charges introduced and raised because it requires minimum investment for maximum revenue. Fasttracks oversold and introduced on rides that can't handle them (Chessington and Thorpe). Then when Merlin's crazy debts are still present and they wonder why, they buy another attraction or multiple (Australian attractions, Legoland etc) to increase revenue. The problem is that everything else they own now has to pay for these as well, so no more investment again, unless it will dramatically increase gate figures for minimum effort (Thirteen).

Liam summed it up brilliantly in the 2011 discussion:
"Liam" wrote:
It's the nature of companies that are bought out by private equity groups that they become machines that are kept to pay off the debts that bought them in the first place.
It's a spiralling, vicious circle.

The Oblivion branding get's money into the business (that Alton won't ever see) without any improvements having to be done on park, just some cheap stickers up that destroy the character of one of the most ambitious and formerly captivating areas of any park in Europe. Merlin got some more easy money whilst their attractions continue to suffer. I feel sorry for all those working in the middle who love Alton Towers but either have next to no say in decisions or are forced into building identical Sealifes and Pizza/Pasta/Noodle Bars/Grills etc, and attractions with no ambition whilst the park continues on it's downward trajectory and customers give up.
 
CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 2:54 pm

"Merlin" - a name that sounds just as cheap and generic as the company there are, don't you think?
 
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Liam
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 4:10 pm

^ That was a bizarre choice when they took over/merged with Tussauds. Madame Tussauds is a real historic figure and a name that is recognised throughout the world. It has great gravitas, and is totally strange that they didn't take that as the name of the group at the time.

Whilst we're on about branding diasters... In a similar act to the Oblivion sponsership, Merlin have taken on EDF as the main sponser for the London Eye. That's not a problem in itself at all, but then they went too far...
...they've painted one of the capsules bright orange which may not seem horrific at first but the London Eye is now a world landmark, a symbol of the country and an experience in itself. The brash method of sponsership here is also dangerous because the attraction is surrounded by listed buildings and world heritage sites. Things are only allowed to be built here if they are of the finest architectural quality, and the design of the Eye was key in gaining permission to stay here. This odd capule out ruins the rotational geometry and is visible from across the city. I'm not sure what's happened to it at the moment but Southwalk Council are thinking of launching legal action.

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To say they don't get it is an understatement. It's not like the Eye is struggling to make money either. It's one of the most popular attractions on Earth.
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Anthony
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 4:19 pm

They painted only one of the capsules?! That thing looks good because it is all bright white! Call it turn-of-the-millenium minimalist tosspottery (I do), but it looks (looked?) good in spite of it!

They really don't have a clue...
 
.Will

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 4:23 pm

Exactly, I have been on the Eye a few times and there is always a huge queue and it has good through put. It's not like they are going to lose money on that. It does seem they are trying to grab money from anywhere.

:roll:
 
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captain
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 4:39 pm

"Liam" wrote:
It's not like the Eye is struggling to make money either. It's one of the most popular attractions on Earth.

Yep - it's insanely profitable. However, it is Merlin who are struggling for money, so are exploiting all revenue streams available, particularly the easy ones, no matter how short-sighted they are. Another attraction becomes worse off as a result. :roll:
 
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Jonny.F
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 5:48 pm

I cringe to think what the eye would look like if the whole thing was made orange like that. It wouldn't surprise me if they had planned to, but thankfully not.

(Waits for post pointing out the whole thing is turning orange, and then crying in response)
 
Blaze

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 6:37 pm

All of the capsules are being painted, arn't they? Last month one was orange and one had been taken apart, so I assume that was in the process of being painted.

I hope the council do take action, and I hope they win. It's vile, even without the further impact on the wider area.

It wont remove the sponsorship, but it will at least stop them doing any more damage, and make them realise that while sponsorships arn't neccassarily a bad thing, the extent the sponsorships are being deployed is, and hopefully they'll realise the Eye isn't the only attraction they've gone too far on.

Apart from that, the EDF sponsorship, despite being a fairly random choice with no link, actually looks fairly smart and well done. The constant eco-barrage and holier-than-thou message is in bad taste and is incredibly infuriating, but it does at least look clean and profesional.

The gondola(s) and the entire Fanta sponsorship, however...

I think it's down to the contracts; Sonic isn't anywhere near as intrusive or overbearing, yet these two are. I can only guess Merlin were desperate/didn't read the small print when they signed the deals. They arn't even useful; Sonic got a fresh coat of paint and Sonic, being a much-loved character, made the attraction more likeable and interesting, gave it a purpose. Fanta doesn't do anything but make a mockery of it's attraction and EDF doesn't bring anything to it's attraction other than pester it's guests with green propagana.

They need to sort this out. When they do things themselves, they do well, their theming of rides is pretty great, but when it comes to attaching a sponsorship or IP, they fall to pieces (Saw, the Eye, Oblivion, the Shrek debacle...)
 
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 6:56 pm

How Merlin arn't on Watchdog everyweek is beyond me :P
 
AdrenalineAlex

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 7:46 pm

Can someone explain why Merlin are in so much debt? I would of thought they'd be bringing in the bucks with all the attractions they own and the high amount of visitor's to each park? Someone enlighten me.

As for Oblivion's state, I'm hoping it does get the investment it needs after the sponsorship has left because it seems so neglected :(
 
Crofty

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:19 pm

Merlin is owned by a private equity group. (Blackstone)

Normally these groups will buy a failing company and do it up all proper like so they can sell it on for a profit. With Merlin they are using the strong assets (Alton, Thorpe, Tussauds etc) to get loans to buy other businesses which they add to the Merlin group. Like re-mortgaging your home to buy something, they use the profits to fund the debt.
The ultimate aim normally is to sell the new business for a profit which would in turn pay off all the debt and make some in return although they have considered floating it on the stock market.

They obviously think the more locations Merlin own then the more the company will be worth and are less concerned with the actual quality of the service being offered.

This is how I see it anyway, hope that clears it up a little. :)
 
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captain
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:20 pm

OK. Private equity companies such as Merlin and Blackstone (Merlin's owners) generally fund all their huge purchases with huge loans. They aim to increase profit of the property they bought (theme parks) in order to pay for the loan and get a return on their investment.

Take this scenario, very much borrowed and adapted from here:

Merlin want to buy Lightwater Valley, which has assets of/is worth £100. Merlin pay £125 to secure the deal. Merlin get a mortgage on their assets and take a loan of £100. They then have to pay £25 of their own money to complete the deal. The repayment of the loan and interest is taken care of by the cash flows generated from the business. In theory.

So why would Merlin pay more than the price Lightwater Valley is worth? Well, the price at which you purchase a company depends not only on the value of its lands and buildings, but also on many other factors. There are many intangible things, such as the value of the goodwill enjoyed by the company in the market, the future earning prospects of the company, and so on.

So what do Merlin do with Lightwater Valley when they've bought it? They try to turn the fortunes of the company around by providing better management and technical inputs. They are famous—or should I say infamous?— for stripping costs and streamlining operations through hard decisions such as retrenchment of the workforce. Once the company is successful, they float the shares to other investors, mostly through initial public offerings (IPOs). In this manner, they earn handsome returns on their investments.

Merlin are financing their debts by taking on new parks and trying to increase profit. As seen they are doing this with very limited investment - investment in things that will make the most return from the minimum expenditure: car parking charges, selling more fasttracks, poor sponsorship etc. The coasters cost a lot (although much less than their European counterparts pay for decent coasters) but they are the best at improving/maintaining strong guest figures, not to mention increasingly large parts of the budget are spent on marketing as it could be argued this has a greater effect, rather than the actual quality of the coaster itself.

Edit: Crofty got there first!
 
Blaze

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:21 pm

Technically, Alton isn't owned by Merlin, it's owned by a private investor who lends it to them to operate, which makes the whole thing quite tricky.
 
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captain
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Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:26 pm

"Blaze" wrote:
Technically, Alton isn't owned by Merlin, it's owned by a private investor who lends it to them to operate, which makes the whole thing quite tricky.

That's true.
"Wikipedia" wrote:
as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold the freeholds of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury. Although the attractions are owned by Leslau, they continue to be operated by Merlin, leasing each back on a renewable 35-year lease. Chessington World of Adventures (the fifth Tussaud's attraction) was not included in the deal.
So as well as having to pay interest on the crazily large loans, they are also having to pay for the leases of the parks, the leases which they sold to buy the parks. You could argue that that's ridiculous.
 
Crofty

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:29 pm

Edit: Crofty got there first!


I'm just relieved that I was along the right sort of lines lmao :lol: I thought someone would reply telling me I was totally wrong.

We are really going to have to sort this topic out soon. We've drifted way out of just Oblivion now. :lol: I guess is sort of related, it's the root cause of Fanta Land. :P
 
djtruefitt

Re: Oblivion - Now sponsored by Fanta

Sun May 01, 2011 8:31 pm

On topic a bit, with all these Fanta logos its as if someone from Coke/Fanta have walked around and looked for every bit of empty space, measured it up then came back a few days later and stuck the adverts up. Then when he is sticking them up he notices another empty space, measures that up and so on.

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