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AstroDan

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sat May 19, 2012 10:58 pm

Just had a look at the Waterpark hours, which have also been cut.

It just seems to be blanket 6pm closes aside from school holidays. It usually closed later on Friday's and some Saturday's, but not anymore.

I remember when I had the Waterpark AP for a year, and used to travel up a lot on Friday after work for a swim - and it was open till 8pm. No wonder I haven't got a pass these days!
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sat May 19, 2012 11:15 pm

It is fair to say I know minimal about large corporations and the way they conduct business on a large scale but the company I work for expanded too quickly and had to retract and cut losses just as quick as they expanded otherwise it would have gone under. I fear that Merlin are expanding way to quickly buying up every morsel of leisure areas they can to increase their portfolio but at the same time digging themselves further into debt and letting their existing attractions suffer for it.   
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sat May 19, 2012 11:21 pm

Spike wrote:
It is fair to say I know minimal about large corporations and the way they conduct business on a large scale but the company I work for expanded too quickly and had to retract and cut losses just as quick as they expanded otherwise it would have gone under. I fear that Merlin are expanding way to quickly buying up every morsel of leisure areas they can to increase their portfolio but at the same time digging themselves further into debt and letting their existing attractions suffer for it.   


Yes, I fully agree.

I think part of the issue is that Merlin got luck in that it landed some of it's major attractions in one go, what with the acquisition of Vardon, and later The Tussauds Group. However, I don't think it's unfair to say that Tussauds built up a majority of it's portfolio itself?

However, Merlin has simply got it's hands on large number of attractions in chunks, meaning overall the company has grown at an alarming rate. They seem determined to continue this rapid growth though with their various midways and Legoland attractions opening across the world.

I can't help but feel if the company had grown at a much steadier rate they would not only have time to allow funds to amount, to ensure cuts like this need not be made, but also gain valuable experience in running and managing attractions. They could then find the way they feel works best while on a smaller scale, as oppose to doing it on a large international portfolio, and simultaneously have a negative affect on the likes of Towers, Chessie, and Thorpe.
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sat May 19, 2012 11:50 pm

I mean what good is being the 2nd largest leisure operator in the world if you cannot perform to it? Disney don't own nearly enough 'sites' across the world and yet I'm hearing struggles in Paris and in various other parks. So even the kings of magic are struggling to get it right.

Merlin are fast becoming Six Flags, you can even see it in their investments. Their whole buy 2 get one free attitude is massively noticeable across their parks. Did I hear correctly on the grape vine that there's a Terry style ride going into Gardaland themed around Raptor? I mean I can understand the logistical and financial sense in doing things as they don't really cross-contaminate and are in parks far apart from one another, and I know Disney do it also with things like Space Mountain, BTM & RRC but they're buying crap in the mean time. Disney have spent 50+ years perfecting what they do and haven't wasted money on buying failing areas of the leisure industry and trying to make a profit out of them.

I know I live in Blackpool and I think what Merlin have done with the place is fantastic but it feels so desperate and corporate and no amount of Kylie Minogue and the best 4D in the country (IMO :P) can really change that. Warwick Castle was disgusting in the way they'd butchered it. The Castle and grounds are stunning but, shops at every corner and up-sell.

I would really like to see Alton released from the clutches of oppression style greed but, can Alton survive without such a readily available source of cash? I mean SW7 is rumored to be $20million and that is a massive sum to invest in a ride. Would we see this without Merlin? and is the thought of loosing these types of investments canon fodder for their cost cutting?

AstroDan wrote:
Can I just comment that it's great to see some really mature and quality discussion in this thread now.

:D


Yes! I have to agree, this is a breath of fresh air to me. I am actually enjoying reading people's views and the discussion in hand :D

     
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Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 2:00 am

Raptor Genetix is possibly the original idea for an attraction, with a similar type of ride being planned for the black hole tent. However, due to the changed plans for SW7, apparently the unfinished plans for Genetix were turned into Sub Terra. This might all be bull but it would save Merlin some face from doing a six flags... However, despite this I do agree that some elements of their operations are VERY cloned. Such as the midway attractions and use of similar ride types and themes across different parks.

I also agree that they have expanded way too fast. Their expansion is clearly being done to find their debt repayments (in some sort of weird way) but these expansions appear to be impacting severely on the theme park arm of the business. It's been suggested in this thread in the past that the theme park arm is set one budget and this has to be split between parks as opposed to each park getting something tailor made. Clearly the budget is way too constrained and is nowhere near enough to operate any of the parks fully.

I understand that Merlin are clearly under pressure to repay their debts safely as well as satisfy Blackstone - but it appears Blackstone are using Merlin as a cash cow in order to recoup as much investment as possible before floating on the stock market... What is worrying is that in order to make enough cuts to make Merlin an attractive investment, they appear to need to cut budgets so far that the theme parks cannot even function properly.

I'm almost hoping that customer satisfaction and attendance across the parks drops so much that they have to sit up, take note and up their budgets. However, I worry that If this happens - the budgets will just get worse or further closures may take place.

EDIT: I have since read that Genetix may not even be a ride? Therefore this crazy idea I read is a total waste of time xD

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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 7:58 am

Not sure if this fits in with this topic or the Waterpark improvements one, but as Astro said, the operating hours are a joke! The outdoor slides were open for about three hours yesterday - that was it, and whilst in the queue for Master Blaster the amount of people going upto them and then coming back disappointed after 4pm was ridiculous. We stayed in the hotel Friday night and wanted to use the waterpark, but by the time we arrived we only had 30 minutes left to visit as it closed at 6pm and looking from the balcony it was still packed at 5:30pm both days, and then when the announcement played to close the park there was a massive crowd descending on the changing rooms, which I must add were very dirty :(
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 11:13 am

Coke wrote:
Not sure if this fits in with this topic or the Waterpark improvements one, but as Astro said, the operating hours are a joke! The outdoor slides were open for about three hours yesterday - that was it, and whilst in the queue for Master Blaster the amount of people going upto them and then coming back disappointed after 4pm was ridiculous. We stayed in the hotel Friday night and wanted to use the waterpark, but by the time we arrived we only had 30 minutes left to visit as it closed at 6pm and looking from the balcony it was still packed at 5:30pm both days, and then when the announcement played to close the park there was a massive crowd descending on the changing rooms, which I must add were very dirty :(


It is quite simply just not good enough.

Considering the extortionate prices they charge to go in even for paying hotel guests and combined with the fact they will let any member of the GP in now which makes it so crowded to the point it is no longer enjoyable, the opening hours are a complete disgrace.
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 11:19 am

As for Merlin using a concept across more than one park, i think that as long as the concept isn't duplicated in the same terrotory then there is no issue. If you invest time into a concept (such as Sub-Terra) then it makes sense to use that concept with a different theme somewhere else (its really no different than buying 2 wing-riders for different parks).

It really only becomes a problem if the parks are in the same country, and after-all if Garda was not part of Merlin there would be nothing stopping them mimicking terry and no-one would care.
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 11:21 am

It's no different really to what Tussaud's did in the 90s -both Chessington and Alton got Top Spin's within the space of 2 years of one another.
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 12:07 pm

On the subject of the Waterpark. After visiting there last month I will say that the crowds in there are simple insane! I visited during the Easter holidays, which I expect to be busy, although it's gotten to the point that it's no longer enjoyable in there due to the volume of guests.

The crowd outside the Waterpark entrance at opening is unbelievable too, if you want to get down that staircase you have to fight your way through! Much like guests with ERT on the theme park, I was with my family as hotel guests with our wristbands booked as a package and when we were walking past the masses to get into the waterpark we did hear a few comments such as 'why do they have tickets', 'why are they walking past us'. Which were quite annoying to hear.

The Waterpark was designed to be for hotel guests only, it was designed only to handle to footfall of hotel guests. With the huge volume of day guests you get now it feel very out of hand.

After our experience at the Waterpark this year me and my family have decided next year to instead skip it and have a third day at the theme park. Which is a shame, because this year we dropped Extraordinary Golf and now next year the Waterpark will be dropped from our plans. Our third day use to be a 'resort' day, now in future it will be another theme park day. Until Extraordinary Golf is fixed (seriously, if any of you have the chance to go to it, you'll see how it literally is falling apart!) and the Waterpark is sorted I'm afraid neither f these attractions will be getting me or my family's business. 

Why the senior team do not think an extension or any new additions is needed I do not know. I would like to see them stand outside the entrance at 9:45am in the school holidays, then they can see how chaotic things have gotten.

What the Waterpark needs is an extension, new attractions and a new exterior entrance (if possible) so the interior/current entrance is for hotel guests only and an exterior one can be for day guests. Alas, none of this is bound to ever happen.
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 12:15 pm

The easiest thing they could do in the short term would simply be to extend opening hours and offer ERT for hotel guests only, it is simply not fair that hotel guests paying upto £300 per night  have to face this. The hotel also is completely not designed to handle the crowds for the waterpark. You have breakfast, people checking in and out, people leaving rooms etc. on top of waterpark day visitors. I would have described yesterday as an off peak weekend as the park was quiet, but the Master Blaster wait for single rings was over 45 minutes!

Cariba Creek desperately needs an expansion - they could advertise it more, make more money and sell more tickets this way. I cannot imagine the chaos with a third hotel also!
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 12:16 pm

I firmly believe that if you are not staying in the hotels, you should not be allowed access to the waterpark.

If it had been designed to operate as a standalone attraction they wouldn't have built the damn thing in the very middle of a hotel with the entrance being inside that same hotel.

As a paying hotel guest, the last thing you want to see is hoardes of people wandering around a hotel you have paid for the use of. Then, to find out you are entitled to no extra benefits over the waterpark than they are.
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 12:38 pm

CoasterCrazyChris wrote:
I firmly believe that if you are not staying in the hotels, you should not be allowed access to the waterpark.

If it had been designed to operate as a standalone attraction they wouldn't have built the damn thing in the very middle of a hotel with the entrance being inside that same hotel.

As a paying hotel guest, the last thing you want to see is hoardes of people wandering around a hotel you have paid for the use of. Then, to find out you are entitled to no extra benefits over the waterpark than they are.


Yes, I agree with this very much.

My family have been hotel guests since 1997, so we've seen the ups and the downs.

There were so many benefits to be a hotel guest in the 90s/early 00s. Treasure chests/goodie bags, voucher booklets, discounts, Waterpark ERT, free fastrack tickets... the only thing which hotel guests have always had is ERT at the theme park, but even now, offering this to guests that pay for tickets in advance online somewhat has not made it as exclusive.

It's a huge shame because now as a regular hotel guest myself, me and my family do not feel it's as exclusive as it once was. Before you felt special, like the amount of money you were spending meant you were treated as an exclusive guest to the resort, as a thank you from Alton Towers for paying so much money we give you X amount of perks for your custom. Now it does not feel so much like that, big big shame. 
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 12:40 pm

The only real issue I can see with a waterpark extension is that they will no doubt increase their maximum capacity along in line with the new features and expansions, which on some days will not be a problem as the average guest numbers will stay the same and be spread much more thinly throughout the waterpark, but on other days will still have issues with crowding as they will try and fit more people in on top of how many are currently there.

Out of interest does anyone know the waterparks capacity these days, and if it hits it and admissions are halted? Maybe the park should look into revising that before they look at expansion?
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AstroDan

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 1:10 pm

The Skyride is closed today, as the park is on a medium schedule.

Hearing a family with pushchair by steps to Dark Forest:

'How bad was the walk?'
'Awful. Don't do it. It's really steep'
'Ok. Is there another way?'
'I really don't know'

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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 1:22 pm

It brings the question, is there more to this than Merlin making budget cuts though?

Following Drayton Manors announcement that they're dropping their prices on week days to entice more people through the gates and Alton Towers big 40% off online sale, are all our parks struggling to pull people in this year in face of increasing competition from the Capital? After all, everything you read and hear right now is Jubilee this or Olympics that.
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Dormiens-Dave

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 2:16 pm

I don't think its the "London effect", it's just that we have hit a second recession and although the previous one helped UK themeparks as people holiday'd at home. Theme park prices havn't adjusted with the economy and people just can't afford them.

Merlin need to cut not just entrance prices, they also need to cut the cost of food and merch for people to see they can afford a day there. But thats just an outsiders opinion, i'm sure they have their own reasoning.
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 7:13 pm

Probably down to recession, everyones feeling the squeeze, plus awful.. seriously awful weather.

Unsure if they need to cut entrance prices, but far better targetted promotions would be the best way..
 
AstroDan

Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 7:18 pm

For the record, on my quick reccy up there today, I noticed that the Skyride was closed.

I am unsure if it was open yesterday, but I did overhear a few conversations around the entrance(s) to the Skyride. None were positive.

:)
 
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Re: Off Peak Closure of SkyRide and Other Cuts

Sun May 20, 2012 7:20 pm

AstroDan wrote:
None were positive.

Sorry, had to add this here. Surely that's a given? ;)

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