UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
Islander
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 2339
Joined: March 2009
Location: Space Station Mir
Contact:

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 9:11 am

^I think, unless I've massively misunderstood lozzyhickers' post and specifically the part that she quoted in bold, that she is referring specifically to the 'loud fooling around' on rides like Hex and Sub-Terra, which you confirm that you don't like. I think it's an important issue - I don't think some of it is fair on other guests at all (though the vast majority of it off-rides is harmless) - but I do think it's a fairly separate issue.
 
User avatar
Spike
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 4557
Joined: March 2007
Location: Curled up in Nemmies claws. Sound asleep and purring like a kitten.

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 10:17 am

James wrote:
I can't post much now as I'm not near a computer or laptop.

However my comments regarding bandwagons is not to say everyone in here is on the bandwagon. So Adz and Diogo, I don't think you two are a part of this 'bandwagon', you both have shown a disagreement towards the operations and workings of Merlin for a long while.

My comments refer to those who do not post their views freely on here, as I said, in fear of being lynched or attacked by the majority. Some of these members even pretend to agree with the majority, joining the bandwagon for the sake of it purely because they feel in certain topics they cannot post their true views, how they really feel about the topic in hand.

It has happened in this topic. I'm not saying that everyone is following each other like a herd of sheep, I'm not saying that everyone is following a bandwagon. I'm simply saying that some members are following the majority for the sake of it, for whatever reason.

Since this is now highly off topic (yes I know I'm guilty of beginning this off topic-ness) it's time we get back onto the topic of the Skyride.

If any of you wish to continue the bandwagon debate then feel free to make a new topic in one of the relevant forums. Or if you wish to reply to my post then send me a PM.


*jumps on the bandwagon*  :P

Pretty much summed up my views and what I was getting at.  :)
Image
MY HAND IS A DOLPHIN!!! >:O
*Honest Cint!*
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 12:12 pm

Islander wrote:
^I think, unless I've massively misunderstood lozzyhickers' post and specifically the part that she quoted in bold, that she is referring specifically to the 'loud fooling around' on rides like Hex and Sub-Terra, which you confirm that you don't like. I think it's an important issue - I don't think some of it is fair on other guests at all (though the vast majority of it off-rides is harmless) - but I do think it's a fairly separate issue.


Based on the quote in lozzys post i read it different but if thats the case i apologies. I have edited the post in order to give the benefit of the doubt

That said a lot of moaning about the negativity is going on and i think the point still stands and meets are a hell of a lot more civilised than they used to be :D
Last edited by Dormiens-Dave on Fri May 18, 2012 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
Sam
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 5557
Joined: May 2008
Location: People's Socialist Republic of Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 2:23 pm

I think, like most other people, my views on this issue have mellowed since I first heard about it. It's better than having actual rides shut, I guess. At the end of the day (or at the end of the season, should I say!) we're getting a massive huge new multi-million lots-of-loop-de-loops ride next year.

I still maintain though that this basically stops people in wheelchairs coming to the park on all but the busiest days.
 
User avatar
lozzyhickers
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 237
Joined: July 2011
Location: London

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 2:59 pm

Dormiens-Dave wrote:
Based on the quote in lozzys post i read it different but if thats the case i apologies. I have edited the post in order to give the benefit of the doubt

That said a lot of moaning about the negativity is going on and i think the point still stands and meets are a hell of a lot more civilised than they used to be :D


Sorry for the ambiguity Dave, but Islander interpreted my post correctly :)
 
iNemesis

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 5:17 pm

Just FYI - The Skyride page on the AT Website now displays the following message;

Please note - The Sky Ride may be unavailable on some days throughout the 2012 season.

Best regards,
iNemesis
 
User avatar
captain
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 1130
Joined: December 2009
Location: Manchester

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 5:22 pm

Nice and specific there. Really helps to plan when you visit. :no:
 
cybermen39
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 163
Joined: July 2009

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 5:34 pm

I have telephoned the Towers today and the skyride will only open on peak periods. As an older guest who does not ride the white knuckle rides, wants a little more out of the day than walking miles and miles and i have told them so today on the telephone. We have been visiting since the early 80's but will think twice with such stupid cut backs, and after yesterdays visit i think the price now is utterly wrong as the park is getting worse every time we visit.

I know a lot of people who post on here are a lot younger but when you go just for a decent day out you get to notice how bad and run down the place is looking.  I'm not looking to be pessimistic i'm telling the facts and to say a new coaster will make things better next year is total rubbish, you've got to keep good what you've got also not let it go to rack and ruin.

We spoke yesterday to 2 young people and asked them if they had been on Nemesis Sub-Terra as it was closed yesterday when we were there, they said they had been on it earlier in the year. I told them it was closed for improvements and the responce we got was improvements! it needs knocking down, its rubbish and thats coming from people who do not use this site. Just a piont of view but I don't think we're alone in our thinking. Plus i don't think we have seen the place so empty.
Last edited by cybermen39 on Fri May 18, 2012 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 6:48 pm

So this topic has drifted a bit away from just the SkyRide which i think was a natural progression, therefore the topic has been split from the point where the closure was first indicated (the earlier stuff being generally about the SkyRide).

If you have any general comments about the SkyRide the topic is here
 
AstroDan

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 6:55 pm

The current wave of cuts which are being experienced across the Merlin parks in the UK, are clearly caused by a downturn in guest numbers at the parks.

In particular, I would point at Thorpe Park as an attraction which I have now been to 3 times in 2012, and for the most part, it has been quieter than at any stage in my 7 years visiting the park.

Indeed, I was shocked that, at 2:30pm on a Sunday afternoon, Colossus, widely lambasted for its dire throughputs and "99 minute queues", was entirely walk on, to the point where a re-ride was possible by remaining in the train. Of course, Thorpe Park remove(d) trains from rides which were quiet, and then queues crept up to 20 minutes or so (old habits die hard, eh :P ).

However, this really brought home the realities of the 2012 season. It's also noticeable that Drayton Manor seem to be experiencing difficulties. And, the fact I haven't yet been to DMP yet this season, in spite of living just 25 minutes away from the park. Their hefty gate price enough to put me off just now - they did have a £10 Facebook offer sometime last week, but it was a weekday and only published online an hour or two before the day began. A little last minute.

I would imagine that Merlin are now on "plan C". At least, I would assume that as a massive, internatonal corporation, they had the foresight for these years following the initial banking crisis - where pay is frozen, employment is up, and people generally... don't have the money. The parks aren't cheap. Even at 1/2 price, for a family of four, with food and the rising costs of petrol, you'd be talking well over £100.

I would love to know what guest figures actually are. Is Alton Towers down even further from the terrible start to the 2011 season? Or is it stable? Or up?

:)
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 6:58 pm

I just don't get why they don't cut the ticket prices, every other industry did to maintain a flow of customers but theme parks (as its not just Merlin) seem to like to increase prices during inflation but not decrease them during a recession.

I'm no economist so if we have one on the forums is this normal behavior?
 
Jordan

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 7:10 pm

I think the unprecedented economic situation we're in has caught a few independent theme parks off-guard - I think they're just blindly following Merlin's lead on the pricing strategy right now. I mean, I can't see the likes of Camelot thinking that doubling their gate price is a genuinely good idea, unless someone is there in the boardroom (or shack, in Camelot's case) claiming that it would work "because Merlin have been doing it for the last 3 years or so".

However, there's little to suggest the buy-one-get-one-free strategy actually works in times like this. I assume quite a few people perceive the price as higher, and instantly write-off all theme parks as being expensive days out.
Last edited by Jordan on Fri May 18, 2012 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 7:14 pm

They know they are expensive when you get as well, especially as you now have to literally climb over the sales carts to get out of Towers Street

:D
 
User avatar
James6
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 794
Joined: May 2009

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 7:20 pm

^^ Had an economics exam today actually :L

It's probably nothing to do with it, but I assume it's just Merlin/ Theme Parks believing that demand is fairly Price Inelastic/ Income inelastic (in that there is very little fall in demand to increases in prices/ falls in income), therefore continuing to rise prices.

Not exactly the most advanced economist so that's just a VERY basic idea. :P
If you go down to the Towers today, you\'d better ride Th13teen. :P
 
User avatar
captain
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 1130
Joined: December 2009
Location: Manchester

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 7:45 pm

I know a lot of people on here really don't like LWV or their Facebook statuses, but can we refrain from this indignant, PBE-style remarks which are no better?

We know LWV is a worse park, we know it has failings, we know that their level of investment is far lower than Alton's, we know the infrastructure is at breaking point. But we also know that it too has a parent company which gives it very little money to spend, they are trying to improve the atmosphere and aesthetics of the park, their customer service is good and you actually get personal responses, they offer an enthusiast ticket price of £13, and they actively encourage visitors to contact their staff directly for feedback.

Personally I don't have an issue with a small park, which needs every guest they can get, highlighting failings that just shouldn't occur in a the country's leading theme park, owned by a group that in 2011 earned revenue of £928.4 million, of which £222.5 million was operating profit - a group which instead of spending a little of that £222.5 million profit on some basic refurbishment and improving the guest experience, reduces the budgets of its parks, forces them to open later, shut earlier, close swathes of the parks, individual attractions and ramp up prices.

If I worked at a small park which received just 300,000 visitors a year, just 10% of AT's, and was looking for any positive publicity, I also would highlight any area in which my park was doing better than supposedly the UK's best. So would any other company in any other sector.

I find it surprising that people that people will spend 17 pages voicing their indignation over this "disgusting" decision, but when a small park, 200 miles away with a different catchment area, different target market and considerably lower profile does the same, people are up in arms and dismiss it as 'childish', 'worryingly desperate', and 'petty'? I don't really get it - it feels exactly the same as when we criticise the attractions at Blackpool, and an unnamed forum respond by saying how crap AT is. Only in this case nobody is saying that LWV is a better park with better attractions or management, but highlighting that they are not making cuts to ride openings, park opening hours and are in fact putting on more offers than ever before, compared to Alton who are lessening the guest experience.

This is by no means a defence of LWV, I recognise it is a far worse park in comparison, but it would be nice to see some rational thought instead of mounting an all-out attack describing how lame it is - you could simply let them score their points to please a few of their fans, accept they have a point, or just ignore them.




All that said - I find it staggering just how strapped for cash Merlin parks seem to be. So short of disposable income that they are having to cut operating costs by closing transport systems, shaving hours off park/area/ride opening times, and at the same time raising ticket prices and increasing upselling. And allegedly Alton Towers had "particularly strong performance during 2011" somehow (source: Merlin Entertainments Annual Report and Accounts 2011 - same for the figures above and below). It's madness.

It feels so shortsighted, because not only are they suffering surprisingly large public backlashes at every cost-cutting decision they make, guests are put off by the entry prices and put off returning because the experience is slightly worse. The notion of perceived value for money is so important, but it is really being chipped away to the point where you have to question the value for money these attractions give, especially when entry prices go up yet attractions close.

I'm well aware that there is substantial investment in ride hardware, but something said over and over - when Merlin build big, marketable attractions, it is to ramp up attendance and create the kind of statements that look fantastic on their annual reports: "gate figures up 5.4%, revenue up £128.4 million, operating profit growth of 7.2%." It's such a sketchy business model, because it hides the fact that much of that comes also from reducing maintenance/reduced costs associated with closing more etc., and despite the parks getting new investment in rides (we'll ignore Chessington), the maintenance and upkeep of the parks is shocking. It looks great on their financial reports, but whoever buys the parks after Merlin blows them a kiss goodbye is in for a slap in the face when they realise how much Merlin underspend on operating costs, just to make their balance sheet look like a wonderful investment prospect.

I really hope the future owners, which look to be coming sooner than later, take park operations seriously, and don't continue the unsustainable "build-something-new-and-they-will-come, ignore-maintenance" approach that is destroying the parks. After SW7, I would be happy for a couple of years of no new rides if they did what Blackpool, and to a lesser extent Drayton and LWV, are attempting to do - investing in the aesthetics, maintenance and reliability of what they have, thereby improving guest satisfaction, reducing complaints and making the parks fantastic places to visit. I don't mind not having a new ride if I/my family/friends/anyone can go on everything we want  to, when we want to, in surroundings that aren't falling apart and not be assaulted by people selling us stuff.

I think the best we can hope for is for the stock market float to happen as soon as possible - not because Merlin don't invest, but because whoever next acquires the parks will hopefully have a longer term approach than the 'ramping-up profit margins just before we sell to get the maximum share price' approach that Merlin go for. Look at new acquisitions by Plopsa and Parques Reunidos - there's regularly big investment in infrastructure, aesthetics, entertainment and all of the features that improve a day out, and improve guest satisfaction: sustainable business models that promote genuine growth, return visits and further investment.

One can hope.
 
User avatar
Spike
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 4557
Joined: March 2007
Location: Curled up in Nemmies claws. Sound asleep and purring like a kitten.

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 8:02 pm

AstroDan wrote:
Of course, Thorpe Park remove(d) trains from rides which were quiet, and then queues crept up to 20 minutes or so (old habits die hard, eh :P ).


This also happened last Tuesday, everything bar Colossus was on full capacity. After Lunch The Swarm & Stealth reduced their capacity creating a 20mins queue for Stealth & a queue for The Swarm we didn't want to touch lol 
Image
MY HAND IS A DOLPHIN!!! >:O
*Honest Cint!*
 
User avatar
Colossus
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 166
Joined: May 2003

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 8:43 pm

The big problem with Merlin which does seem to be overlooked is the level of debt.

In 2011 it was £1,094.1m
In 2012 it is £1,209m

So that makes Merlin Entertainments 1 Billion in debt... 1 BILLION IN DEBT...  Basically the operating profits are not enough to pay the interest on the debt, so the company is losing money....  Even though profits are increasing, the most important thing is that debt is increasing.  The cost cutting exercises are all aimed at reducing operating costs and therefore increasing profit and margin to help reduce debt.

Why do they want to float on the Stock Market? To raise money... To pay off thje debt.

Just because they float does not mean they will get new owners.  %'s of ownership are transferred into Shares, then new shares are generated to the public or other companies.

Why go public?

To raise capital

Flotation provides broader access to the raising of capital for several reasons:

The IPO itself generates a large amount of capital for the company. This is often a way of generating a return for those (owners, venture capitalist, etc.) who provided the initial capital. Becoming “liquid” is a big reason for going public – investors need to get paid back.

For private companies with debt, selling shares is a cheap source of capital because money is raised without incurring interest payments (as with loans etc.)

Going public makes alternative sources of capital available. For instance, the public debt markets are more accessible to public companies than to companies without a listing.

Going public generally improves a company’s debt to equity ratio and may enable it to borrow from more conventional sources (ie: banks) on better terms in the future.
Last edited by Colossus on Fri May 18, 2012 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 8:58 pm

The amount of Debt isn't what you need to look at, its the post re-payment post tax profit. Merlin bragged about massive profit after paying these fee's so i don't think their debt is a major cause of this problem.

Oddly enough it seems most companies work in massive debt, just so long as their profits cover the payments.
 
CoasterCrazyChris
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 2885
Joined: July 2008
Location: Bristol

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 8:59 pm

James6 wrote:
^^ Had an economics exam today actually :L

It's probably nothing to do with it, but I assume it's just Merlin/ Theme Parks believing that demand is fairly Price Inelastic/ Income inelastic (in that there is very little fall in demand to increases in prices/ falls in income), therefore continuing to rise prices.

Not exactly the most advanced economist so that's just a VERY basic idea. :P


Oh yes the joys of that exam today...

Clearly the demand for theme park days out is both price and income elastic. As real disposable income falls, family days out are the first things that are cut (or more realistically, you would just not plan to have any days out).

:)
 
User avatar
captain
TT Member
TT Member
Posts: 1130
Joined: December 2009
Location: Manchester

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Fri May 18, 2012 9:02 pm

Colossus wrote:
The big problem with Merlin which does seem to be overlooked is the level of debt.

In 2011 it was £1,094.1m
In 2012 it is £1,209m

So that makes Merlin Entertainments 1 Billion in debt... 1 BILLION IN DEBT...  Basically the operating profits are not enough to pay the interest on the debt, so the company is losing money....  Even though profits are increasing, the most important thing is that debt is increasing.  The cost cutting exercises are all aimed at reducing operating costs and therefore increasing profit and margin to help reduce debt.

That is a good point but 2011 saw them spend £102 million on the Sydney Attractions group, spend money refurbishing Blackpool attractions (admittedly the council paid for a large part) and also refurbished Cypress Gardens/Legoland Florida, not to mention the miscellaneous midway attractions which opened - these are the key reasons why their debt level soared over £100 million in 2011.

However, their ability to repay that debt, through increased revenue streams, more profits generated and costs cut, should be improved, and as a result they are a more attractive prospect for investors, and as long as the debt is manageable/offset by increased revenue/the level of debt repayments is less than profit, then the company should be in a stable position.

You're right about them not necessarily getting new owners per se, but I think that can be used as an analogue for the new investors who will hopefully want a long-term growth strategy in place, rather than the short-term, boost-share-prices, underspend-on-maintenance etc. approach we are seeing now.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Morgan and 128 guests