UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Tom G
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:35 pm

James, our minds are in complete harmony over this, ha ha. I look at some posts here and just think I can't be arsed to reply to that, but you always take the time to write out detailed responses which I always agree with.

I've not received the following additional e-mail, someone at guest services must have been reading.

Dear bitcher,

We can get away with increasing our prices because in reality most people just turn up on the day without researching what things cost, with many having not visited for a few years and are turning up horrified. Indeed, if they were to read our website, it still says it costs a fiver to park anyway. There's very little other options than to use our car park, so we know people on the whole will bear considerable price hikes.

Our car park is also positioned that far away from the entrance, popping out for sandwiches or other food brought from home isn't really an option, unless you want to get even less out of your dearer-than-last-year admission fee. This is why we have increased our food prices by so much.

We obviously don't advertise negatively-perceived changes, people can just discover them for themselves and put up with it, or just not notice if they're rich enough. People like yourself however that notice us sneaking in the removal of annual pass holder perks etc and bringing it into the wider public's awareness, is not appreciated.

Now do one,

Nicky Varney n Co.
 
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Superman
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:04 am

What alot of people forget is that parking used to be included in the attraction. People are becoming more aware of add-on prices look at the the Super Complaint from Which today about card / booking fees.

Alton might see the side effects next year or later in the season when:

a) Guests don't return for a second visit as the last memory they have is yet another charge.
b) Merlin pass sales go down as people want an inclusive pass and cant justify a premium pass.
c) Sales at other Merlin attractions go down as they start getting a reputation of being over priced. Thorpe & Chessington both have parking prices but at least some of the money at CWoA goes to a charity.

Its sad that the park obviously think from your email that parking charges are to pay for new attractions. In all honesty i am glad those locals rattled the cage of the mighty over fireworks as the locals lives have been made a misery at times because of the lack of investment the park promised over a new road and better public transport.
 
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Dylan
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:55 am

Think £6 is bad. I've just paid for my Glastonbury ticket and a parking ticket is £20.00! For parking in a field!
 
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Tom G
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:21 am

That's a one-off event on a farmer's land attended by fewer than 200,000 people.
 
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ynwa19
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:04 pm

I visited AT with the wife and 3 kidson 31 Mar and 01 Apr. We took our own food which we left in the car in cool bags (enough for two days), and made it back to the car each day to eat. We are quite lucky that we have an Annual Pass and therefore didn't pay for parking which is a rip off! We are seriously considering getting a premium pass when we renew in July as the parking is still covered.

Merlin have started charging parking at Chessington as well now which was the one place that you never had to pay for. Crazy charges and had it not been for our passes, there is no way that we could afford a couple of days out there.
SIT BACK - IT\'S FRIGHT TIME
 
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Themeparksandy1981
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:43 pm

Soon it will be roughly the same price parking as it is in Disney World and Universal parks.
 
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James
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:05 pm

As most of you know there was a mention of the car parking charges at Alton and the other Merlin attractions on Watchdog on BBC One this evening. Even though there was not much coverage on these car parking charges there was a quote by the presenter at the end of what Merlin has to say on the matter.
"Merlin Entertainments" wrote:
A significant number of visitors to Alton Towers, Legoland and Chessington don't travel by car and we encourage the use of other transport. Our charges are nominal and well below other equivalent attractions and sporting venues.


I still see no real justification for the car parking charge apart from it being an easy wallet filler for Merlin. That's about the most we'll get as far as official statements go from Merlin/Alton Towers.
 
AstroDan

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:27 pm

Nominal? Do they know what nominal even means?

Public transport? That's a joke!

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Doopy Dan
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:46 pm

A significant number of visitors to Alton Towers, Legoland and Chessington don't travel by car and we encourage the use of other transport. Our charges are nominal and well below other equivalent attractions and sporting venues.


If thats what they say then I would like to hear their explanation of the reason for the gigantic car park at Alton Towers. I suppose half of them cars parked their on peak days must be theming of some sort that magically vanishes once the park closes and returns the day after. I suppose the huge ques of traffic through Alton village on peak days must also be for Alton castle then.
 
Skumfidus

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:16 am

Merlin are well within their rights to place the charges associated with running a car park onto the people who use it, as do any other operator of car parks...or any other service! No one is forced to use the car park, they make a decision to use it and as such it is perfectly acceptable for them to pay for the service the park is providing.

Why are motorists so blind to the impact they have on our environment, and I'm not talking emissions or noise pollution (though I certainly could!). Motoring has dominated public space for too long now, people who choose to drive believe that they have a God given right to park where they like free of charge, well they don't.

If you wish to have exclusive use of a piece of land belonging to someone else for a certain amount of time, expect to pay for the privilege - are people that daft?

Alton Towers is actually really easy to get to from many places via public transport, thanks to a West Coast mainline train station with a frequent bus service - getting to the park from places like Birmingham and Manchester can often be quicker and cheaper via public transport! Unfortunately it has not been well advertised, but the park is getting better (public transport is the default option on the website!)
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:29 am

The park is very unaccesable by public transport on Sundays unless you like staying on platforms for hours on end trying to get the connection

Lots of TTFers use public transport to get to AT so its not actually an unknown quantity and its not that easy.

If it was for the benefit of the envornment i would feel happier but its just money making and when the rest of the park is so expensive it hardly seems right... no one questions Merlins right to do this, they just dont like it.
 
Skumfidus

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:14 am

It isn't for the benefit of the environment, but peoples choice of transport can be, and people who choose an alternative shouldn't foot the bill for people who feel totally attached to a car - we all already pay the costs for road maintenance, pollution and the increased casualties caused by motorists.

And a) Sundays are 1 in the 7 days of the week. b) most ATT services are the same on Sundays, and train services from Manchester and Birmingham (and the places inbetween - quite a large catchment area) can still get you to the park for opening and home after closing.

Many people seem unwilling to even check to see prices/times for public transport, especially on a Sunday, but it is available.

People may not be happy about being charged to use a service, and it's easy to use phrases like 'money grabbing'...but Alton Towers are offering a service/product (in this case the renting of space) for a fee...it's called business and it happens in every aspect of our life.

Car parks at supermarkets are often larger then the store - double the amount of space needed for the store is removed from our public space and that has costs, these costs are transferred to our shopping bills and it's not fair any more. Motorists need to start paying for their impacts, we need to bring back road tax for maintenance of roads and charge more for renting space to park.

The car parks at towers are the most ugly areas of the entire park, they take up a hell of a lot of space which could be utilised for new attractions and developments and are not the only option for visiting the park for a large amount of people - if it were my choice the car parking fee would be a hell of a lot more and the cost (both in terms of available room, aesthetically and financially) would no longer be hidden within the entrance fee.
 
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Sam
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:26 am

Skumfidus, I completely agree with you. Actually the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of parks shifting some of the entry cost from gate price to the car parks, to try and encourage more people to go my public transport. I don't drive and I don't plan too.

BUT...

I think that public transport is a joke. If I could drive, I would to Alton Towers. Public transport is absurdly expensive, relative for what you're getting, and just totally crap to get to Alton Towers with. I think you can place the blame for that squarely at Merlin. If private companies aren't willing to provide the transport, then they should. A shuttle bus to and from Uttoxeter station every half hour all day, and to Stoke please.

Since the Tories privatised public transport, it has gone up to pure extortion. Someone should be prosecuted for how expensive it is. So yes, I agree with you totally about rewarding people for helping the environment by using public transport. But only if that public transport wasn't a disgusting extortionate JOKE.
 
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Rob L
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:01 am

Thing is, say I wanted to get to Towers using public transport. The easiest way for me to do this would be to get a train from Leicester to Derby, another train from Derby to Uttoxeter and then a bus to Towers. This is all very well and good, I'm helping the environment and saving the cost of parking my car. But hang on a minute, I don't live next to Leicester train station, and there is no bus stop near my house with a bus that could take me to the station. I suppose I could take a 20 minute walk, get the bus to the wrong side of Leicester, and walk across Leicester to the station to get my train, but by doing all of that I'd have to leave the house before 6am to be there in time for my entitled ERT. So my other option is to drive to the station when driving is what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I then have to pay even more to park my car at the station.

You can see the big problem here, driving to Towers is quite simply by far the easiest and quickest way to get there. It gives you full flexibility in terms of timings, no worrying about missing your train or bus. I fully understand why Towers charge for parking and I'm not totally against it, to be fair it is expected these days. I'm just making the point that it is unfair to expect people to rely on public transport if they don't want to pay to park at Alton Towers.

:)
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Sam
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:07 am

What the park clearly should do (and the council should force them to do) is build a sodding huge car park on the outskirts of Stoke, and then have shuttle busses every 5 minutes to the entrance plaza (like the Monorail now). And demolish all the park's current car parks. Then you'd get rid of the problem of residents complaining about congested country roads and create acres more space for expansion in one fell swoop. :)
 
Skumfidus

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:40 am

I usually have quite pleasant experiences with public transport, and most people plan trips to Alton Towers way in advance - usually meaning dirt cheap prices that can beat the cost of petrol alone. Add the fact that motorists pay for tax, insurance, maintenance and the cost of the vehicle itself, adding on the £5 return to a couple of pounds of train fare is actually a really good deal.

I know I use the examples of Brum and Manchester a lot, but they are huge populations and half the population of Manchester don't even have a driving license - travelling from Manchester means a ride on a 125mph Pendalino in a reserved seat from Piccadilly to Stoke station, both of which are clean, safe and attractive, then a bus ride from right outside the station to right outside the turnstiles into the park - the price? £11 with a rail card (£15 without) and takes an hour and 45 minutes.

The same 50 mile journey by car means 2 motorways and miles of winding roads, a queue onto the car park, a car park fee, a queue for a monorail and the actual monorail journey. £20 petrol, £6 parking and an hour and 20 minutes, reaching 2 hours to accommodate morning traffic and the extra faff needed to get to the park itself.

Sam, though the true cost of car ownership is obscured behind the media attention given to petrol prices, we must not forget that the true costs are evident in the tarmacking of our nation, the countless deaths on our roads, the tonnes of CO2 expelled into our atmosphere and the nasty, unsociable environments that roads are filling our spaces with (A classic one is "I daren't let my kid walk to school...the roads are bad")...and all these costs are paid for by every citizen of this country, including those unable to drive.

If I can spend my mornings with a book, or talking to my friends across a table with a cup of coffee while watching the countryside fly by, or by not shouting and screaming because someone is driving at 35 in a 30 and I want to hit 50...then I'd pay triple...luckily I only pay a quarter and don't expect my fellow citizens to foot the social and environmental costs.

Yes public transport isn't perfect, but improvements are being made. Not too long ago it was much harder to visit the park using public transport. Most services into Stoke are served by new, clean, fast and punctual trains and the ATT buses are well maintained and comfortable (when not packed!)

---- Post Info Added ----

"Rob" wrote:
I'm just making the point that it is unfair to expect people to rely on public transport if they don't want to pay to park at Alton Towers.

:)


I don't think it is unfair in a lot of cases - the fact that the journey from your home to Alton Towers would take twice as long on public transport as by car is unfortunate, and a 3 hour journey is not going to be anyones cup of tea if they had the choice between the two, but almost 60% of the population have direct access to a train station so are in a different situation to you.

Your predicament has been exacerbated by the motorisation of this country, but the more we move away from using cars for unnecessary travel the more public transport will grow and be able to fulfil our necessary transport needs.

It isn't all about the benefits of public transport though, that's just one of a whole bunch of reasons why Merlin are in the right to charge - the main one being you are renting premium land off of them for a whole day!
 
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The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:07 am

What about people living further afield? Reading to towers for me is ~150 miles.

The cheapest I've ever got a return ticket from Reading to Stoke on Trent is about £40, well in advance. Then add bus from my home to Reading station (£3) and from Stoke to Towers (£3 iirc?), so around £46.

A return journey in my car costs around £45 (maintenance, insurance etc. I'd lump in with work expenses, seeing's I have a 35 mile journey that's un-commutable by public transport).

So, on the face of it the two options are fairly equal. However, there are two problems with the train option, and one massive benefit with the car:

A) If I get the cheapest train tickets, I have to get them well in advance, and I'm stuck with them. They're non-refundable. If for reasons beyond my control I have to change my plans, I've lost my money. Not so with the car - I only loose the money when I actually make the journey.

B) I'm at the whim of the various timetables - that means, for example, having to leave Towers by a certain time to ensure I don't miss the last train, which is really not that late.

C) If I can find just one person to share the car trip with me, then the price is instantly halved for both of us, and becomes the much cheaper option. Find two or three people and I'm laughing. Definitely not so with public transport.

Convenience is infinitely greater in a car, and cost can also often be much less.

All in all, though it's a noble idea to try and use public transport in preference to a private car, it just really isn't anywhere near as feasible as you seem to think.
 
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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:58 am

What also amazes me is that Alton's revisions to their bus timetable hardly support their pro-public transport excuse. The earliest train from Weston (roughly 150 miles away) means that from Stoke-on-Trent I don't get on park until 10:30, meaning the inconvenience of missing ERT, and on a TTF meet the inconvenience of everyone being somewhere else in the park. Travelling to Uttoxeter is even worse, as if your service arrives any time after 9, the next bus is at 2pm!

One thing I did notice at Opening is that there's an advert in the Stoke busses for a theme park/bus combo ticket, at around £30, which seems very good value, but if Alton are trying to endorse public transport this should be reflected in their provision as well as the cost.
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AstroDan

Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:08 am

When I lived in Birmingham, if I wanted to be at Alton for ERT, I used to:

Leave home 6.15am
Train from selly oak-new st 6.35am
Arrive new st 6.46am
Train from new st-stoke 7.03am
Arrive stoke 7.58am
Bus from stoke 8.20am
Arrive Alton 9.15am

Total costs on a weekday morning back then were around £16 for the train and £5 the bus.

£21.

And It took three hours!

The only days its reasonable price is Saturday and Sunday but it would still take three hours and on Sunday you are lucky to get to Alton before lunch. And Uttoxeter hasn't even got trains till 3pm on Sunday!

I am so glad I now have a car!! Where I now live is 35 minutes from Alton, costs around £8 in petrol return. Via train and bus would take over two hours and cost £13!!!


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Re: The annual car park price hike. 2011 edition.

Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:00 am

For me, using public transport to get to Alton Towers is not really an option. It involves 3 changes of train and a change in to a bus. Total cost is £20.00, an journey time would be in excess of 4 hours. 4 hours to travel 60 miles? Even getting the first train of the day at 6am, I would not get to park until 10.30. Also, the only cheap advanced fares would be available between Chester & Crewe, so any savings here would be nominal. By car, normally takes 70 minutes, If I travel on a weekday around 90 minutes, and at a slightly lesser cost than using public transport, even less again if anyone travels with me.

It is a similar situation when travelling to Thorpe Park. Journey time in excess of 7 hours and 5 changes of train. I would not get on park until 1pm and would have to leave a 3pm.

The only park that is reasonably easy to get to by public transport for me would be Pleasure Beach. Whilst it would take around 50 minutes longer than using the car, once you add in the high cost of parking in Blackpool, the cost of using the train is very reasonable. However, fancy going on a Sunday? Nice try, come another day.

It has to be remembered not everyone lives within a convenient catchment area for getting public transport to certain places. What may be an easy option for one person may be an impossibility for someone else.

Also, lets not tar all drivers with the same brush as being selfish and reliant on their car. I know some people will use their car no matter what the alternatives, but not all of us do. I do use my car to travel to Theme Parks etc, and have no problem with being expected to pay for the privilege of using the roads. If there are reasonable alternatives available, then I will use them. Example yesterday, I travelled to Liverpool, then to Southport, then to Chester, then back home to Ellesmere Port. I used the train. Total cost? £4.50. Had I of been a selfish driver as we are all tarred with, the same journey with petrol and parking costs would of been 4 or five times that price. Also, on short journeys of a few miles, I will often walk. So please, don't tar us all with the same brush.
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