UK theme parks from another point of view!

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Blizzard
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Mon May 14, 2012 11:48 pm

Dormiens-Dave wrote:
Blizzard wrote:
Anyone rather the park is bought by Disney?

..........


No... next question?

:D

In seriousness we don't want our special unique park doing a disney... it's my one bug-bear of old Europa that it tried to copy Disney too much. We just want it owned by people who look at the whole picture, not just the next new ride.


I was joking about disney, just incase you thought I meant...

:censored:

I think if merlin get the picture that the park needs maintaining, they could do a very good job, they have shown us that with the "Swarm" & such. They have the ideas, but not often do they get realised.

Just by giving oblivion a paint job & adding some theming to air that was in the artist impressions, they could winn the enthusiast community over. Its just getting the message accross...

:)
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Dormiens-Dave

Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Mon May 14, 2012 11:57 pm

At the moment they don't even need to add theming just maintain that which they have.

I hope the message gets through if there's any worth in having forums like this
 
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Meat Pie
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Mon May 14, 2012 11:59 pm

IanBassi wrote:
I think that while most of us love our themed rides, the general public does not, and if you were to have the same rides, without any themeing, I think the general public would still rate them highly.  I think Rita is a great example of this, the worse themed coaster on Park, and the general public constantly rate it highly.  Until the general public start complaining about the lack of themeing, they will continue to do as little as possible with regards to themeing a ride.



I completely disagree with the idea that people don’t value themed rides. If this was the case then Disneyland wouldn’t be popular, Eftling wouldn’t be popular, Gardaland wouldn’t be popular and restaurants like TGI Fridays and Planet Hollywood would not succeed.

Sure if you ask the general public what they want they won't respond with "a well themed ride" but if you had asked the general film-watching public what they want they wouldn't respond "a black and white silent movie set in the first half of the 20th century" and look how amazingly well "The Artist" has done! Rule number one - People don't know what they want until they are given the option.

When it comes to entertainment, people value experience more than anything else. They don’t care how technically advanced something is, it will be valued by how good an experience it was. If themeing is anything it is an experience enhancer. You should read an interesting business book called “The Experience Economy” which proves time and time again that in a competitive market, the product with the best experience will prevail. You can largely attribute the Apple company’s success to their brand experience. What Apple’s customers buy into isn’t just the physical product but the experience of a phone or a computer which has been designed to look sophisticated and contemporary. The Experience Economy also deals with theme parks and all kinds of attractions which occupy a physical space. It proves that themeing is important to a guest and the figures show that in a competitive theme park market, the parks which enhance their experience with themeing prove to be the more popular product over the park’s which do not. A theme park’s themeing is what the aesthetic design of an Iphone is to Apple.

If this was truely a competitive market here in Britain, it would be in Merlin’s interest to create extremely intricately themed rides and keep the rest of the park fresh. Unfortunately that’s the problem though... This is not a competitive market. It is a market dominated by Merlin, and because of this they don’t have to pull out all the stops and they don’t have to make amazing themeing as people will still use their parks because it’s the best they can hope for. Imagine if Apple was the only technology company in Britain? They would stop spending money on making their products as good as they are and they would cut costs. People are still going to buy from them because it’s the best they can get.

If we want improvement, Merlin HAVE to sell at least one park. This would give another company a chance to run a park with the infrastructure available for them to succeed and significantly compete with the current market.  Unless we see another major theme park company create a park here in Britain then that is the only way we will get truely great parks in this country.


Edit --- Re-reading this, I feel that I might come across perhaps just a little bit too critical. I want to stress that I believe that on the whole, people working for Alton Towers and Merlin do really, really care about the theme park industry and want to create the best experiences possible. In particular, the creative teams are fantastic. However somewhere higher up in the company there are people who make the fiscal/business decisions and choose not to invest on the basis that it is unnecessary because it won't effect the profit margin for parks in Britain. It is those people that I am condemning. The creative teams make the best of a bad budget.
Last edited by Meat Pie on Tue May 15, 2012 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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aru
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 12:40 am

You're right, even if the public don't visit parks for the theming they know that it adds to the experience. AT as a theme park can charge more than a fairground as the product is packaged to deliver an experience not just a thill. I feel like I am sounding like John Wardly, but this is the core purpose of a themepark - to put the guest in an immersive story. You could say this has been watered down and therefore the quality has bee lost - call it magic, spark whatever.

AT is as much about it's theming as its setting and it's rides. We wouldn't be having this discussion right now if there wasn't something wrong with that combination at the moment!  :)
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 1:16 am

this is what i like about TT, an intelligent, well informed thread.  Now it time for me to destroy that :D

I when last year with a mechanical engineering mate, Alec. he commented on the poor condition of some areas, air's track was one "does not fill you with confidence in the maintenance when they don't even clean the track"

then there was the toilets. Now I spend a lot of time taking students on trip in a minibus, and i have seen some bad loo. but some of the AT loos take the award, the ones under the sky ride near Nemesis are just, well worse than the old services stations.  when i have to lift a cubical door to close it, let alone lock it. then they don't flush correctly.

Alec's comment on them (i will skip the no loo roll or holder one)"If the loos at work were allowed to get that bad, i and my line manager would have our P45"

I agree with what Alec a general member of public said. " the rides were good, shame I had to stand looking at poor general maintenance of the site. as i was waiting to ride them"

I know I am giving the park a bit of bashing, But I like many that have posted. think it not the staff fault, that are stuck with what the budget holder tells them they can do or can not do.

now i will return you to the intelligent posters.  :)
Last edited by Delta79 on Tue May 15, 2012 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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mezza
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 3:35 am

As ever with these things, there's a lot of talk comparing 'the 90's' with 'now'.

While that's fair to an extent, people have to remember that the park was in a very different phase of its development then to what it is now.

The 'theme park' as we know it today was basically built throughout the 90's.  At the beginning of the 90's, the park was little more than a glorified fairground - no themed areas, cheaper, unthemed 'fairground' style rides, and much fewer attractions than today.  Throughout the 90's, the park invested many hundreds of millions to create a world class theme park - year by year creating new themed areas and adding major attractions at a rapid rate.  That was all part of a plan to create a theme park.  There is no way you could sustain that level of investment in the long term.

Since 2002, with the arrival of Ug Land, the park was effectively 'complete' - all parts of the park were sufficiently themed, and there was a world class selection of rides and attractions, visitor numbers had reached a good level, and there was only limited potential to expand the size of the park.  Since then, the park moved into the next stage of development - which is about maintaining that standard:  New attractions generally replace old attractions, without adding to the number of attractions, and rethemes only happen in order to fit in with new attractions.  Inevitably, investment in the park is going to be at a much lower level that it was in the 90's.

That doesn't mean to say that the park is doing a good enough job at maintaining what's there - they don't - and it doesn't mean to say that new attractions and rethemes should be of a lower quality to what was there in the past - it doesn't.  It just means that it's unrealistic to expect 90's levels of investment to continue forever.
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 3:44 am

CoasterCrazyChris wrote:
^That is just appalling. The dirt is so thick people have written stuff in it!


Ironically, the only person who could have written anything on the track there is a maintenance person!
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 4:10 am

mezza wrote:
Since 2002, with the arrival of Ug Land, the park was effectively 'complete' - all parts of the park were sufficiently themed, and there was a world class selection of rides and attractions, visitor numbers had reached a good level, and there was only limited potential to expand the size of the park.


Ug Land opened in 1999 not 2002.  Hex arrived in 2000, followed by Air in 2002, and then Splash Landings & Cariba Creek Waterpark in 2003.

The end 2003 was really the cutoff point for major investments with great theming. It was also at this point that entertainment started to go into decline. In fact, it was evident right until that last few nights of the season, as that years firework display was the last of the big budget, special effects driven shows, and also the Ice Tent shows went into decline. From 2004 we started to see budgets being tightened and maintenance was not such a high priority anymore. The start of the dark days.

I remember one night in 2005 standing in the hotel bar with my girlfriend, we'd been chatting to one of the barmen about the cancelled halloween event and other little things that were being withdrawn. We actually said "it feels like this place is loosing its magic" but at the time we couldn't really understand what that meant as the differences were small, it was more a figure of speech. It wasn't until later years and up to today that I realised how different the park/resort had become.
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 8:40 am

Surely the loss of the Fireworks show was not directly Towers' fault though? Wasn't it around then when the court cases came properly thick and thing?

Mezza makes an awesome point though, we really cannot expect the same level of investment as the 90s because back then they were building the park... It'll be like in say 10 years and Thorpe's level of investment drops off (which it will) and people say "Oh they don't invest as much in as they used to", it's because they don't need to build as many big budget coasters anymore, especially when they already have 3 of the most well known rides in England...

I just seem to be one of these people who can ignore the upselling and stuff really... I've never really had a problem with the toilets at Towers (then again, this might be another, "I'm used to Chessie" situation), nor really the upselling, as that is really the only way for them to justify having such things and those kind of things happen across near enough every major park in the world, Disney included... Just different levels of subtlety...

As for maintenance and lack of painting... Oblivion doesn't look anywhere near as bad as other Merlin park rides (see: Colossus, Vampire, Fury, Inferno), so it could be a lot worse... Unfortunately it seems a very British thing that we don't have to repaint the rides after opening... If they brought in a sort of rotational period for repainting every 2/3 years for each ride/area (so for example, next year they could focus on X-Sector and Adventureland/Farm, then for 2014 Dark Forest and Cloud Cuckoo, and so on), it could potentially work and would probably end up better than trying to get the entire park done in one close season...

It's a long process to repair a park really... But I must ask would we rather have DIC still, who near enough introduced at least half of these measures people complain about, from upselling and car park charges, or Merlin?
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 10:33 am

With regards to upselling having "different levels of subtlety" - that's exactly our point!! Merlin, Towers in particular at the moment, are hell bent in being IN YOUR FACE with everything from candy floss, fast track and useless tat to blooming 'lucky Buddhas' at the till points! It makes peoples lives a misery when they want to leave the park having to dodge the many pain in the rear carts, and it piles pressure on parents who are mithered by their kids for 'shooty foam rocket things' and the such like. I'm aware business is businesses, but its damn shameful.

There is no excuse for Britain's top theme park to be in such a sorry, dilapidated state.

I'm fully aware that Merlin have put the squeeze on the many pots of pennies that have to be divvied up around the park, but its unfair to say 'well it'll run itself'.

Why aren't management pushing for money to help with upkeep?!

I'm serious when I say ask for volunteers - it must be a viable option for closed season! Keep the level of staff they employ for winter work (I'd hate to think voluntary work would do someone out of a job), but give volunteers a scrubbing brush and let them do the Air track!

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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 10:46 am

i actually like that idea, if i lived anywhere near the park, i would gladly give up some of my pointless free time to repaint the nemesis monster, among many other things that need doing.
it shouldn't be happening though, not with the amount of money merlin has. enthusiasts maintaining rides :P it shouldn't have to come to that and i sincerely hope it doesn't.
after all we all pay good money to use the park, and i hate to think that all that money just goes in Merlin's back pocket, just so they can say "we make lots of money!". pointless capitalism is what is currently running our beloved AT, and it shows! :x
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 12:02 pm

I totally agree with Woodcutters being freezing.. I know the weather hasn't warmed up much yet but I was sitting with a coat on the whole time! Trouble is when people queue they keep the door open. I asked one guy at one point to close it.. ! It does need some heating!! either that or could people just SHUT THE DOOR!!!! :shock:
Overall I did notice this time that  round the areas there was a lot of paint peeling off and it does need some loving I think.. I will say though they have always been good at keeping the litter of the ground, it was very tidy in that respect last weekend!
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 12:06 pm

Lucieloo wrote:
I totally agree with Woodcutters being freezing.. I know the weather hasn't warmed up much yet but I was sitting with a coat on the whole time! Trouble is when people queue they keep the door open. I asked one guy at one point to close it.. ! It does need some heating!! either that or could people just SHUT THE DOOR!!!! :shock:


What? :?
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 1:41 pm

Benzin wrote:
Surely the loss of the Fireworks show was not directly Towers' fault though? Wasn't it around then when the court cases came properly thick and thing?

It wasn't directly Towers' fault, although that is not what Pete's post concerns (if this was in reply to Pete).

It's the fact that 2003 was the last 'golden' year, everything declined so quickly... the lack of theming attention, lack of maintenance, entertainments decline (probably the worst hit department at the resort), removal of Halloween event, fireworks show removal. Everything stopped in the space of 3 years.

I agree with that the 90s was the era of 'building the theme park' and they do continue to invest which is good, I think we are rather greedy as enthusiasts to expect a new attraction/ride/'product' year on year, the uproar last year was outrageous, we should applaud Alton Towers/Merlin for continually investing and creating new attractions for the public year on year.

However despite the level of investment declining since the 90s. There is no excuse whatsoever for the decline in the QUALITY of new additions. Alton Towers is a premium product, they should retain this premium feel and make sure rides and attractions stay in a suitable condition.

Oblivion
Dark Forest
Air
The Flume
Nemesis Station
Ripsaw
Twirling Toadstool
Towers Street

Just a number of parts of the park that so not look like the premium product that Alton Towers is. Extraordinary Golf is another attraction that is appalling, not sure if they've done anything since but in 2011 the whole thing was falling apart (literally!), theming ripped off, overgrown weeds everywhere, paint peeling off, no fountains working, speakers broken, pond filled with rubbish and filthy... I've stopped visiting Extraordinary Golf, since it opened Alton Towers have done nothing whatsoever to maintain it, therefore if they can't be bothered to keep it looking good then I can't be bothered to give them my custom for this attraction. It's need a complete revamp, along with replacing some of the holes such as the Tea Cups and then rebranding it as an improved attraction one year. 
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 1:42 pm

Dingerbell wrote:
Lucieloo wrote:
I totally agree with Woodcutters being freezing.. I know the weather hasn't warmed up much yet but I was sitting with a coat on the whole time! Trouble is when people queue they keep the door open. I asked one guy at one point to close it.. ! It does need some heating!! either that or could people just SHUT THE DOOR!!!! :shock:


What? :?

Not sure what you dont get? People queueing at woodcutters and keep the door wide open.. therefore it never heats up!
Back on topic I'm going again in July and will go again in October. It would be really good to see some money spent on areas that are really in need of a touch up, but as many say there isn't that much money anywhere these days.  I did notice how tatty Nemesis station has become.. and the restraints are just so worn.. I'll happily join the paint brush team!!
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CoasterCrazyChris
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 2:03 pm

Nemesis would look awful with another coat of paint slapped over the station.

The layers of paint need stripping back, then it needs to be textured properly (to at last half resemble a living organism) with all the detailing such as the veins. You can't do this with just a pot of paint and a brush. It is very expensive work.

Oblivion would not be as difficult, but it would still require a lot of work.

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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 2:56 pm

I'm happy with the work and odd little improvements they do make from time to time but the rate of decay is higher than the rate of refurbishment. If they keep up this pace, the park will deteriorate exponentially. I get the feeling that restoration is on the bottom of the priority list. It's like they have the annual budget, divide it between the 'important areas' and then look at what's left. "What can we do with that?" "Few tins of paint I suppose... and we might be able to squeeze in some Duel repairs"

It's for this reason I see no or little improvements being made to Oblivion when SW7 comes along. That, and the fact that next to nothing was done to Nemesis when N:ST was built.
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[Archive]

Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 3:24 pm

Mi-Nigle wrote:
I get the feeling that restoration is on the bottom of the priority list.
It seems many people think this way. Because there are still obvious glares like Oblivion going yellow and all the rest, people are perhaps unnecessarily jump to the conclusion that nobody cares or that Alton Towers is run only by money-grabbing morons.

But they probably know a lot more about what is wrong with the park than we do! They are not blind to the upkeep problems and there are probably many attempts across the park to improve things. It is never as simple as "just buying a few tins of paint" as some people suggest. From the little I have seen or heard, the management do care a lot about these things and are fully aware. But for the minor things, the budget either isn't there or are not enough people. A whole department dedicated to 'theme maintenance' requires a lot of decision making, from people who have the power and the money. It would take a lot of consideration to establish. But I would much rather wait for professional refurbishments than the 'improvements' they have tried at Chessington, for example. Abdab.

And there's no point blaming Merlin all the time either, though thankfully there seems to be less of that on here now. Remember when there was an outcry about the Oblivion sponsorship, and it turned out that Nick Varney was not even aware; as soon as people got involved, Oblivion was reverted. Could you see possibly something like that happening during the 2004-07 period?

As for my last post, moaning about the magic has lessened the topic so most of what I was saying then has become a bit irrelevant. Nor was it aimed at everybody who was complaining; at least some people have balanced viewspoints.
Last edited by [Archive] on Tue May 15, 2012 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 3:41 pm

I think what some people are claiming to be "magic" is back since 1997 the park grew and big rides started to appear replacing old ones and expanding the park (giving the allusion this park is awesome)  Now the park is full (ride wise) new ownership has taken place, the corkscrew gone and has also been replaced by what i thought was quite a good roller-coaster (13). What else is their for Merlin to do??

SW7? I went their yesterday and was delighted to see SW7 fences in x sector. Whilst on oblivion you can clearly see that over the fence a big new John Wardley creation is being built for 2013. The space looks big and i can see this being huge success for the park. Also yesterday their were no ques for 13, and nemesis, this shows that people need something more. Its not just paintwork and little touches (yes to me also it looked like ug land was appearing again through the cheap paintwork) but i think people need more than a little 10ft drop creepy coaster and relying on an old 90's coaster to make Alton Towers so much better.

And i agree oblivion to me looked like the brakes would fail at any moment, Merlin obviously look after Nemesis so much better than oblivion.
 
AstroDan

Re: 2012: Neglect, decay - demise?

Tue May 15, 2012 3:50 pm

It's nothing to do with the magical marketing style of the 90s. I think most marketing for Alton is both appropriate and effective.

It's to do with maintenance and refurbishment budgets for headline attractions. Or simply improving existing infrastructures etc.

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