UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Thom
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What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:15 am

It's fairly clear from recent changes that Alton Towers need to save on operating costs around the theme park. Regardless of who is calling for operational cuts or why cuts need to be made, it is pretty obvious that Alton cannot sustain their full operating costs at the moment.

Thus far this season we've witnessed proposals to first close Enterprise and Submission and then to close the Skyride on off-peak days, both later unsuccessful. However the changes being proposed now, not opening several rides, including two very popular headline coasters, and the closure/reduction of several food outlets and shops, are by far the most drastic seen to date.

I was on park last Tuesday (12th) and noticed that the closure of the food outlets and shops had already taken place. Whilst it wasn't a particularly busy day on park, several areas (Gloomy Wood and Adventure Land in particular) looked practically like a ghost town, helped significantly because Waffles & Ices and Spinball Noodles were shut. In my opinion, I think these recent closures are a bad move. Whilst these outlets may make a loss of off-peak days, surely the profit they would have no doubt generated on busy summer days would balance this out? With Nemesis Sub-Terra requiring around a dozen members of staff to operate, why are money-generating outlets requiring just 1 or 2 members of staff being shut?

Now obviously, I'm not suggesting that the operational cuts that Alton need to make can be done easily and that we hold the answers, but with different measures being trialled/introduced every couple of months, I think it's clear Alton are trying to find the best ways to cut operating costs whilst minimising impact on guests.

Which brings me to my question: what cuts do you think Alton should make?

For example possible cut backs could be:
- Run less popular rides in rotation (Submission in morning, Enterprise in afternoon)
- Close children's areas early at 3-4pm
- Run water rides during peak hours only (12pm-4pm)
- Start ERT at 9:30am
- Increase attendance on off-peak days with reduced prices (as done before 2005)
- Try and reduce staff numbers across all food outlets/shops (so all remain open on skeletal staff)
- Cut Sub-Terra actors/some ride hosts on off-peak days
- Limited Skyride/Monorail operation

I'd love to hear your ideas...  :)

Thom...
 
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Rollermad
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:32 am

I think the Sky-ride really should stay open. Its so useful!
The monorail should be only 8:50 - 10:30 and 5:00 - Closing time. Or in Scarefest 5:00 - 6:30 then later at 30 minutes before closing for night.
The Restraunts and snacks trailers should be open. (11:00 till 2:00) and the trailers all day long.
I think rotation is a good idea with submission and enterprise. (But more fairly as morning shorter.)
Water rides not on unless over X Celcius. (Apart from Summer.)
The Farm, Gloomy Wood and Cloud Cuckoo should be closed at 4pm. ( Gloomy Wood not on Scarefest closing at 4pm Dur!) :twisted:
Reduced staff operating rides, Less at 13. (Although normally every ride in the park has 2 people because they don't like to be apart!)
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Rob
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:20 pm

I would reduce the monorail operating times and close less popular rides early. I would also close less popular food outlets early after lunch time.

If main rides need to open later I would close a whole area towards the back of the park and direct guests from the entrance to a particular side of the park. Therefore creating a busy area of the park allowing the other side of the park to open 30 min / 1 hour later.

To increase numbers on the park I would run various promotions with reduced ticket prices on off peak days.
Last edited by Rob on Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Thom
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:22 pm

Rob-TT wrote:
If main rides need to open later I would close a whole area towards the back of the park and direct guests from the entrance to a particular side of the park. Therefore creating a busy area of the park allowing the other side of the park to open 30 min / 1 hour later.


Actually, am I right in thinking that Disneyland Paris stagger the opening of the different lands after park opening?

Cloud Cuckoo Land and Hex could easily be left closed till 11-12...
 
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Queenmaya99
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:32 pm

I really don't know what I'd do...
I'd  probably do something with Submission/Enterprise and Ripsaw/the blade, maybe have one open for 2 hours, then shut it and have the other open for 2 hours.
This is just an idea, and probably sounds really rubbish, but maybe give the guests a card depending on what things they enjoy, with times to go in an area, like if it was a group of thrill seakers, they'd have a card like

10-12 AM- Dark forest
12-2 PM- Forbiddon Valley
2-5- anywhere else
(df & fv could be swapped for other guests)
or for a group with kids

10-12 AM- The farm SB land and AV
12- 2 - CCL
2- 5 anywhere else
( again 1st 2 could be swapped around)

Then, Places like Muitiny Bay and X- sector wouldn't have to open until 2.
Sorry for my bad idea, It just sprung to my mind as I was typing the 1st bit.
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Delta79
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:42 pm

I would go to 3 Market Close, Poole. and cut some of the suits in the plush offices.
 
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jackgcse
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:57 pm

Not to stir it up, however all your ideas would cause friction and more controversy on these as well as other sites! Just to point that one out, what works for you, would never work for someone else! However, there are tones of tings they can do to cut, but what actually is the best solution!?
Thats why Alton are trialing new ideas!
 
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Thom
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:02 pm

jackgcse wrote:
Not to stir it up, however all your ideas would cause friction and more controversy on these as well as other sites! Just to point that one out, what works for you, would never work for someone else! However, there are tones of tings they can do to cut, but what actually is the best solution!?
Thats why Alton are trialing new ideas!


Oh definitely, I said in my original post it's not as if we can come up with a perfect solution in this case, Alton have shown how hard it is to balance cutting costs and maintaining a good day out for guests. It would be good to see though if there's some cuts that could be made that would be less impacting than the ones imposed...
 
Adam
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:08 pm

Not that I agree with ANY budget cuts from a company as big as Merlin, sometimes it's inevitable...

The only thing I can think of that wouldn't affect the guest too much on a day-to-day basis would be to get rid of the staff members that stand on ride entrances on off-peak days. (if they haven't already...)

Sadly, I can see more drastic cuts to be made as the season goes on. Which is a shame.
"It would be spiteful to put Jellyfish in a trifle..."
 
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ImURNemesis
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:43 pm

It's really sad to see a top UK theme park make such cut backs.  :( This isn't something that I wish to consider but, increasing prices and lowering wages could be on the cards. This wouldn't suprise me if Merlin inplument this soon.

A real shame!
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bohoboy
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:00 pm

I'd cut the assumption that shareholders should receive an increased dividend on their investment year on year. Profit should be generated from money left over after providing a service. Profit shouldn't be earmarked for a pocket and then the service decided upon by what is left over. Everything is so backwards now.
 
PeteB
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:03 pm

It is likely that these cuts have something to do with Merlin wanting to float. It's been talked about a lot lately they are going to do this soon.

If they're having a bad year with attendance figures then they've probably made the cuts to make it look like profits are soaring on paper.
 
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The Terminator
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:13 pm

bohoboy wrote:
I'd cut the assumption that shareholders should receive an increased dividend on their investment year on year. Profit should be generated from money left over after providing a service. Profit shouldn't be earmarked for a pocket and then the service decided upon by what is left over. Everything is so backwards now.


Whilst not wishing to disagree with you if it was my money I would also wish for a return on my investment.
You have to remember investors make investments to make the most money in the shortest time possible and without this investment there would be no SW7.

This maybe a stupid idea but how about cutting losses and closing one day of the week during term time.
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haydn!
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:01 pm

The thing is, when people buy stock, they don't just look at profit, they look at turnover as a whole and long term sustainability, so cut backs to make profits appear better won't cut it. Merlins cutbacks will be merely to combat the down turn in the economy. There isn't a major business in the UK that isn't suffering and having to make similar changes to their operating model.

If it were up to me, I would certainly be looking at head count. Alton Towers employs a lot of people, and that's likely to be it's largest expenditure. There are bound to be areas were numbers can be streamlined, for example retail, catering, etc without there being too much impact on guest experience. Move more people to shorter/part-time contracts and have them only work peak days/times.

On a similar level, do all the catering and retail outlets need to be open on off-peak week days? Probably not, and like already posted, certain areas, Cloud Cuckoo Land, Hex, possibly even the Flume and Rapids could be opened later without much impact on guest experience.
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Tom G
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:34 pm

Instead of the previously-announced cuts.

Operate Nemesis on a single train on all days during March-June and September-November (barring Fireworks).
Delay the opening of Hex, Blade, Ripsaw, Duel, Charlie and Enterprise and Submission until 11am.
All rides to have a minimum pre-dispatch waiting time of five minutes if vacant seats remain.
Have Spinball Noodles open 11:30am-1:30pm daily.
Play Burger King off against McDonalds/Subway for competition over the contract for that building.
Increase individual ride photos to £10 and flood the park with 50% off vouchers.
Have Sonic Spinball, Sharkbait Reef, Oblivion and Nemesis open during ERT only.
Reduce the number of actors outside Nemesis Sub-Terra.
Enforce a 10% pay cut on all staff working above minimum wage, 20% for managers and accountants etc.
Not a cut, but increased utilisation of Facebook and Twitter promotions to drum up interest.
 
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Queenmaya99
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:18 pm

Tom G wrote:


Have Sonic Spinball, Sharkbait Reef, Oblivion and Nemesis open during ERT only.


I agree with all of you ideas, but this, really?
Three of the busiest rides, and then another good family attraction open for an hour a day, and not even  to all of the public?
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cubwolf
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:28 pm

I am guessing he meant just these rides as part of ert rather than only opening then
 
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:25 pm

I can't answer this question. Making cuts seems to mean job loss unless you cut stock and as someone on the side lines just shouldn't be shouting one way or the other.
I'd find it much easier to think of ways to raise extra money but is this just to accommodate and reflect the lesser amount of money people are going to spend?
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AirFAN
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:17 pm

Alton Towers have a number of ways to reduce costs, at front of house (i.e. measures that guests will notice such as closing a ride) but they will mostly be behind the scenes.

Alton Towers needs to concentrate on becoming more of a lean business. Unlike with retail, they're unlikely to be affected by adverse changes in demand and therefore can plan their merchandise ranges well in advance and benefit largely from economies of scale (which I'm sure they do at the moment) - for example, purchasing the same mug and printing on it in a variety of ways instead of purchasing various mugs for different rides.

Staff costs is something the park can also look at. Training people to be able to do more than one thing (dual roles) as well as employing more part time staff will improve staff flexibility - the latter ultimately increasing the staff pool the park has at its disposal. The park could also monitor the times of day each area is at its busiest and adjust staff cover accordingly - operating on the bare minimum number of staff required. As a result, better staff training should be implemented so staff are able to cope with a faster pace and increased pressure.

Specific areas of interest (i.e. food) is better when grouped together from an operational point of view. It makes the supply of goods easier and enables less staff collectively to operate a number of food outlets.
 
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haydn!
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Re: What Cuts Would You Make?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:03 pm

Tom G wrote:
Enforce a 10% pay cut on all staff working above minimum wage, 20% for managers and accountants etc.


You do realise most of the staff at Alton Towers will already be on minimum wage, or very little above it? That's the nature of tourism and seasonal work. Plus, you'd never get management to accept a 20% pay cut, unions would never allow even a 10th of that, and they shouldn't.  :roll:
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