UK theme parks from another point of view!

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Russell
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2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Sun May 13, 2012 7:53 pm

It is with a strong sadness that I feel I have to type this but I can’t keep it in any longer. This season it seems that whatever remains of the ‘magic’, for want of a better word, is starting to seep away from the park. Sorry for the mega post that follows!

I can appreciate what they have tried to do with the two new investments, Nemesis: Sub Terra and the Ice Age 4D cinema but both are lacking. I can cope with the cinema having a really lack lustre film, what is essentially a Frankenstein of the third IA film, as the effort they have put into the retheme of the theatre is fantastic, but with the amount of parks this film has gone into it would have surely been relatively cheap to create a better film, such as one based around Scrat who is extremely funny. However, what the park opened for N: ST was atrocious. Granted the park seem to be making improvements but it really was a joke on opening day and not what anyone expected. I still think the park should have taken the decision not to open the ride as it really wasn't ready. That said, I can put these both aside, as they are new and seem to be getting improved, but what really saddens me is the state of the park in general.

To put it bluntly, the park is rotting. Paint is flaking, theming crumbling and what they have touched up this year they have done so half heartedly. In Forbidden Valley, Nemesis' station is slowly crumbling, the wood showing through on the fake sections of track and holes in the monster itself. Air's track is in desperate need of a clean at the very least as it is so covered in algae it’s untrue. Yes they have repainted the 'gun' that sits at the N: ST end of the valley but it’s been repainted all one colour so that the detailing on the 'veins' has been lost.

Moving over to Dark Forest, which is only in its third season, you can already see Ug Land shining through. The blue paint of the shops is starting to shine through, the ivy has turned a glowing blue from being exposed to the sun and worst of all the red, yellow, and blue paint of Rita's original colour scheme is glaring from the operators cabin stairs. It's ridiculous that the area was rethemed in such a way that it has only lasted two full seasons before getting like this.

Over in Cloud Cuckoo Land the integration of Ice Age into the area is fantastic with the 'freezing' of a few of the buildings and the wonderful entrance feature but yet again Twirling Toadstool has been overlooked and the operators cabin is moulding. At the end of last season the coloured dino footprints were showing through on the platform but I can't comment as to whether or not this has been repainted this season.

As for Oblivion well we all know the state of it! We would all love a repaint as the faded, scuffed grey looks terrible! I really don't see it happening and as long as the station gets the TLC it deserves then I can live with that as it's another thing that is just rotting away, paint peeling and the render bubbling. I for one hope that some money has been set aside with SW7 for a touch up next year.

Just last week I went on Hex and noticed that part of the themeing in the vault has been patched up with silver coloured tape. This is just crazy, I wouldn't expect this of a smaller end park let alone one that claims to be a world class resort! Also what is with the pointless fence in the rapids queline? It serves no purpose and is a waste of money that could have been better spent on a tin of paint!

I understand that the park doesn't have an infinite pot of cash but to let the park get into such a state of disrepair is only going to cost more in the future! But, with all the recent theme's used in Merlin parks it seems this is the shape of this to come, dark over grown themes that can be left to rot until such a time that it is removed/ rethemed. With the park not getting anything new last year I think we all hoped that some money would be ploughed into a spruce up of the park but alas that didn't happen.

While I'm on a roll I think it’s about time the park put some money into sorting some of the essentials if it wants to push towards a '365' opening. The toilets are in desperate need of attention as many have said many times before! They need some heating, taps that have warm water and actually stay on and some decent hand dryers wouldn't hurt! If they are worried about wasting heat then surely they could just have doors on the toilet blocks? Also get some heating in Woodcutters! It was bloody freezing in there the other week!

I know I don't post very often now, and this seems like one hell of a moan, but it's just that I care so much for the place that I don't want to see it completely rot away and become a place I don't want to visit anymore. It holds too many great memories and has the potential to create a whole load more for me and many many others and I don't want it to lose that spark completely! Maybe it’s just me but I wanted to get my feelings across and see how you guys felt?
Last edited by Russell on Mon May 14, 2012 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sam
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 7:55 pm

I haven't read this yet. Just letting you know I'm going to go put a brew on and get a biscuit, because this one looks like it's going to be a cracking read. :P
 
PeteB
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:04 pm

Oh, another "magic" topic!

I can't read this either for fear I might go off on yet another rant about Merlin and Alton Towers management.

I shall be waiting for the stereotypical comments from the 10 year olds on here. Such classics are:

1. "teh madjic iz still there now excepts for a little bit different"
2. "magic was teh 90's, its outdated "
3. "merlin are so amazing, much better than tussauds"
Last edited by PeteB on Sun May 13, 2012 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Tom G
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:16 pm

Pete, a forum of this subject matter is by its nature going to attract children, we should remember that. I often take a moment to check someone's age before I write a strongly-worded response to some posts lacking common sense.

I cannot be bothered for yet another debate over the park's decline, but I'll just repeat one of my trademark warnings: It will get MUCH worse once Merlin floats on the stock market and they have shareholders to answer to.
 
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NastyPasty
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:20 pm

Yay! More post-Magic discussion! :D
To be honest, it's not exactly clear what 'the magic' was. I can't pretend to know much about the park so commonly referred to in these posts, but to me it seems like I've missed something very special. People are still captivated by the park and as I say, I'm in no position to judge, but what exactly is all the fuss about? I love the place, honestly, it's true escapism - so why do people perpetually post on these boards that the park is lacking? Sure, it's become more business-minded, but hasn't everything? Maybe that's what I'm missing, people dislike the more financial-focused aims of the place. Somebody, please enlighten me. What was 'the magic'?
Keep on whistlin', folks.

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Russell
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:24 pm

So let me get this right, you have judged my post on the name alone? That's a really grown up thing to do isn't it? ALso if you can't be bothered to read a topic then why bother posting in it in the first place?

In regards to the 'magic' i only used that for want of a better word. I'm merely commenting on the state of the park in general as outlined in the initial post
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PeteB
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:25 pm

Tom G wrote:
Pete, a forum of this subject matter is by its nature going to attract children, we should remember that. I often take a moment to check someone's age before I write a strongly-worded response to some posts lacking common sense.


I was having a sly dig at those insisting the park is magical at the moment, I didn't literally mean 10 year olds lol!
 
AstroDan

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:26 pm

This really follows on from last years "honest truth" - and sadly, in spite of new attractions, if anything' it's worse now.

The fact is, Merlin have asked the parks to cut a significant amount of money this year. This is at the expense of the guest experience. Alton Towers can try as hard as they like, but they lack the flexibility to act as the UK's leading park.

I blame Merlin for the most part. They simply do not provide the budgets that the park require to keep everything in as great as shape as possible. Damn them.
 
Blaze

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:31 pm

It's part Merlin, part the parent company wanting to sell them on and make a profit.

We can but hope that whoever buys them after the eventual floatation are better than Blackstone, and that hopefully the new owners will give them more freedom, and they put new people in place who know what they're doing, and can run the company and parks properly and keep the books looking good at the same time. At the moment it seems they can only do one of those things at a time. Can anyone guess which one it is more often?

Anyone got any ridiculously rich uncles or something?
 
DiogoJ42

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:32 pm

NastyPasty wrote:
Yay! More post-Magic discussion! :D
To be honest, it's not exactly clear what 'the magic' was. I can't pretend to know much about the park so commonly referred to in these posts, but to me it seems like I've missed something very special. People are still captivated by the park and as I say, I'm in no position to judge, but what exactly is all the fuss about? I love the place, honestly, it's true escapism - so why do people perpetually post on these boards that the park is lacking? Sure, it's become more business-minded, but hasn't everything? Maybe that's what I'm missing, people dislike the more financial-focused aims of the place. Somebody, please enlighten me. What was 'the magic'?

I believe the phrase is "you weren't there, man!" :lol:

A brilliant post on a terrible subject, Russ. The sorry state of the park these days really is shameful. I long for the day Merlin are gone, but sadly I can't see it heppening any time soon. They simply do not care about the upkeep of their parks. All they are interested in is money.

A thought occurs regarding the potential of them floating on the stock market: I'm not sure how these things work, but if we (the enthusiast community) were to buy as many shares as we can, then club together, would that mean we could have some say in the way things are done? :?
 
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Russell
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:36 pm

Exactly Dan. I understand that the park don't have the cash to do everything but when it's left with a half rotten park guest satisfaction is going to go down and then visitor numbers drop off. It seems that the theme park industry is suffering this year with the combination of the bad weather and the recession but what people want from a day out at a theme park is escapism and they wont be able to get that if the place looks like a dump!

I don't think Merlin are entirely to blame to be honest. Whoever owns the park is going to be looking to turn a profit and at least Merlin do push big attractions every few years, whether we like what they install or not. I think an big part of the problem comes with wrong priorities being chosen on how to use the budget they have got.
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Rob L
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:44 pm

I agree that the park is in somewhat of a sorry state at present, not all of the park, but some areas such as Dark Forest and Oblivion in particular look awful. I actually referred to the Dark Forest as the Ug Forest the other day due to the old Ug Land colours becoming very very visible.

Clearly money is not being spent on unkeep and this is a serious question. The annoying thing is that we don't really know who is accountable for this. Is it Towers management for not doing it and spending money elsewhere? It is Merlin not proving money for it or not allowing Towers to undertake general upkeep? Or is it Blackstone? Or even a combination of the three. I really don't know what it is but it needs to change. New attractions like Ice Age may look great when they are new but we don't want these attractions looking worn after a few years.

I genuinely believe that many of the people running the park really do care about the park and this confuses things further as surly they can see first hand that things are looking worn. It is a real shame but I don't see money being spent on upkeep in the near future, especially when cuts are being made at pretty much all the Merlin parks.

:)
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Blaze

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:46 pm

As great as Ice Age is, would any of us missed it if the couple million it cost was spent on tins of paint, fibreglass etc?

I seriously doubt it.
 
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Russell
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:48 pm

No we wouldn't but families would as it's a great addition to the line up even if the film is awful!
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:49 pm

Russell wrote:
...even if the film is awful!


To which I will add:

...and the screen is too small!
 
AstroDan

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:54 pm

Ice Age is a good addition and has been very well received by the public.

Alton barely have a budget at all - because whatever they plan to spend, ends up going elsewhere. Money is ploughed into marketing, to get the guests into the park in the first place - money is not put back into the existing rides and attractions. It's all about either the new attractions or something that will see a direct return on the expense. If it wasn't for the spirited and hard working middle management and lower management, doing their bit to improve Duel (coloured gels, reducing the number of targets) or the excellent customer services that many of the staff offer - then the park would be hitting a literal brick wall, where improvements are just not made.

Towers Street is once again a barrage of sales opportunities.

Quenchers, Photo passes - right the moment you come in the gates. Not a moment to take in the view. No -it's SELL SELL SELL.

And, at ride close - Towers Street is literally BLOCKED in places now by street sellers.

:P
 
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Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:56 pm

There was actually a barricade on Towers Street when I left the park last Sunday, it was shocking! 3 different stands all next to each other blocking pretty much all of the right hand path up Towers Street!

:)
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AstroDan

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:58 pm

It almost seems like it's time to give up ever expecting anything more out of Merlin. Yes, they'll spend on new attractions (which I am very happy about, obviously) but I am afraid the rest will be left to rot. They simply do not provide the funds to maintain existing hardware as well as it should be. Which is a terrible shame!
 
Blaze

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm

Russell wrote:
No we wouldn't but families would as it's a great addition to the line up even if the film is awful!

I don't think you understood what I meant. I meant that if they never bothered doing it and instead carried on with an in-house show or kept Go!Go!Go! on, and spent the money on upkeep, I can't see anyone thinking "This place desperately needs a 4D theatre". Obviously, if there was nothing there or it was sold, families would suffer, but if it was never built, it wouldn't exactly be something that had to be done, certainly not a bigger priority than upkeep.
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: The death of the (remaining) magic

Sun May 13, 2012 9:14 pm

I think people have seen the title and not actually read the origional post which isn't a lament over the lack of Henry Hound but a genuine well constructed post about the poor state of the park which is often very true.

The park is in parts looking really run down at the moment, all of the areas Russell mentions are really looking shocking and the fact is its not just us noticing. A friend of mine went the other week who goes most years and the first thing they said when they saw me after the trip was "how tired" the park is looking.

I don't fully agree with Russell on Ice Age as i think the show is fine (i'm no big fan of 4D cinema's anyway but i see their value at a theme park) and it is only a filler which has been done very well, i completely agree with Sub-Terra though, although they are clearly keen on making improvements that ride should never have opened as it did.

The Towers street retail barricades are really annoying at the moment, maybe i;m not typical of the general public but the in your face method of selling things puts me completely off ever buying from them. Great theme parks like Europa and Disney just offer the opportunity to buy something and more often than not i will.

Its odd really Towers always seem to take two steps forwards one step back... During feb half term i was excited about the potential for a clean up after the Marauders platform got its repaint and a few other little things got done, and it can't be denied Sub-Terra's internal theming and the whole presentation of Ice Age are really good. Its just seeing Nemesis and Oblivion (their two best rides) rotting is horrible for enthusiasts and general guests
Last edited by Dormiens-Dave on Sun May 13, 2012 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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