UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Corkscrew Lover
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Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:49 pm

Please Let Me Know Because Back In The Days It Seemed It Was :)
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:59 pm

Its strange because in the Tussauds days they were a lot more focussed on guest experience, from entertainment (summer events, live shows, street acts), to the Big Rides (nemmie, Oblivion..) and they looked after the park aswell as investing in new attractions. So it was Good in the past, but then everyone saw how things started to get worse, and if Merlin hadn't stepped in imagine where it would be now...
With Merlin, i see them still trying to get around the park, and clean each area up bit by bit, alas we don't have the guest experience in terms of entertanments that were around from tussauds days, but its in plans so you never know. At he end of the day i can see Merlin getting back to the Tussauds ways, but it takes time & money.. Something which towers aren't given a lot of from Merlin.
When Merlin finally give Alton the Budgets they need for the size of the park for entertainment, and allow they to build proper venues, have events throughout the year, then ill say its back to how it used to be..
So to answer the question, it was better in previous years, but its slowly getting back year on year..
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:32 pm

Well, I have to say yes it was better back in the day. But a lot of people are confused about what "back in the day" actually was.

For me it was when Pearson owned Tussauds. This was the period from the early 80's but they didn't actually buy Alton Towers until around 1990 and began heavily investing in the park for the next decade. From what I understand the company was led by a bunch of people very passionate about "experiences" and guest satisfaction. The focus was on magic, they were almost emulating Disney at one point but had put their own British twist on it. I think it worked beautifully.

When Charterhouse bought Tussauds in 2000, this is when things started to change, but only slightly. Despite most of the directors and John Wardley resigning the focus was still on magic it seemed. Hex (2000), Air (2002) and Splash Landings (2003) were all products in development from the Pearson era so it still felt like they were going to great lengths to provide a magical experience for their customers. No choke from Charterhouse it seemed.

Although there was a slight dip quality it wasn't until 2005 when Tussauds were bought by Dubai International Capital that things really took a turn for the worst. Major budget cuts and a total rebranding of the park away from "magic" just killed it for me. Thankfully this only lasted until 2007 when Merlin Entertainments came along. But it's not all rosy. While Merlin seem keen to invest in the park, they also want to squeeze every penny out of it that they possibly can, hence why they're dubbed "M£-rlin" by fans. Entertainment, guest experience, and maintenance all went out of the window along with any sense of humour the park had. This is exactly why, I feel, the park is such an unbelievable mess at the moment.

One thing I also really hate about Merlin is the fact they killed the "Tussauds" brand. A very recognisable, very British brand. If you've ever looked at the Tussauds Group logo, you'll see it represents everything Tussauds were about - it's a performer taking a bow in the shape of a T for Tussauds - i.e. they're all about entertainment.  What's Merlin's logo then? It's just a generic "M".  No wizards... no magic... say no more!

I'm still a fan of the park but in answer to the original question, yes the park was better than it is now. I'd far, far rather have a Pearson/Charterhouse Tussauds park, than a Merlin Entertainments park.

Rant over.  :D
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:35 pm

I agree with every word of the above :)
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:59 pm

A prime example of Merlin cuts was at the start of the year we had Ice Age 4 open, we have the character and the 'nut' character, then they cut the 'nut' out. I mean really, now much does it cost to have somebody walk around in a costume, but for the guests it means so much more, lots of photo opportunities.

If Merlin had their head screwed on they could have a PicSolve photo booth where families and kids can have their pics taken with the characters and they could charge the price of a picture(or a tab on your photo pass) for each picture, which in itself would either break even or make money. Then guests can have their picture on the standard photos, keyrings etc
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:14 am

No doubt about it Alton Towers was the best in the early to mid 80's it was like a small Disney to us kids growing up in the uk it is sad  to see how it is now :-(
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:32 am

I always thought in the old days the park was always ever changing. I know they didn't have many coasters back then but I felt I got good value of money. Just look at the park map of 1997 http://old.towerstimes.co.uk/history/maps/1997map.jpg look how many attractions were in festival park. Now if u notice forbidden valley have just added sub terra in the past 10 years,dark forest is now down to 2 rides,X sector took 12 years to get a new attraction. The farm/story book land has been the same for 17 years with just a minor update of the canal boat ride and the dung heap added. The other areas have just really seen rethemes and rides getting a new theme ie the haunted house,flume and the tea cups. Heave Ho was a second hand ride from Drayton Manor and seeing what replaced the swan boats makes me feel sad. I also loved just chilling rowing a boat across the lake. Also seeing the Black Hole tent closed for 8 years and with the Beastie just blocked off&the nick building used as storage I feel Alton Towers is a shadow of it's former self that's when the magic was truly alive and kicking with street entertainment,live shows all over the park.
Last edited by Themeparksandy1981 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:45 am

PeteB wrote:
Well, I have to say yes it was better back in the day. But a lot of people are confused about what "back in the day" actually was.

For me it was when Pearson owned Tussauds. This was the period from the early 80's but they didn't actually buy Alton Towers until around 1990 and began heavily investing in the park for the next decade. From what I understand the company was led by a bunch of people very passionate about "experiences" and guest satisfaction. The focus was on magic, they were almost emulating Disney at one point but had put their own British twist on it. I think it worked beautifully.

When Charterhouse bought Tussauds in 2000, this is when things started to change, but only slightly. Despite most of the directors and John Wardley resigning the focus was still on magic it seemed. Hex (2000), Air (2002) and Splash Landings (2003) were all products in development from the Pearson era so it still felt like they were going to great lengths to provide a magical experience for their customers. No choke from Charterhouse it seemed.

Although there was a slight dip quality it wasn't until 2005 when Tussauds were bought by Dubai International Capital that things really took a turn for the worst. Major budget cuts and a total rebranding of the park away from "magic" just killed it for me. Thankfully this only lasted until 2007 when Merlin Entertainments came along. But it's not all rosy. While Merlin seem keen to invest in the park, they also want to squeeze every penny out of it that they possibly can, hence why they're dubbed "M£-rlin" by fans. Entertainment, guest experience, and maintenance all went out of the window along with any sense of humour the park had.

One thing I also really hate about Merlin is the fact they killed the "Tussauds" brand. A very recognisable, very British brand. If you've ever looked at the Tussauds Group logo, you'll see it represents everything Tussauds were about - it's a performer taking a bow in the shape of a T for Tussauds - i.e. they're all about entertainment.  What's Merlin's logo then? It's just a generic "M".  No wizards... no magic... say no more!

I'm still a fan of the park but in answer to the original question, yes the park was better than it is now. I'd far, far rather have a Pearson/Charterhouse Tussauds park, than a Merlin Entertainments park.

Rant over.  :D


Agree'd
the park doesn't seem to have as much of the mischievous, fun factor anymore. I remember (back in the day) going up to where cloud cuckoo is now and seeing a random clown chasing after a paper bag, it amazed me (although after i was told it was just a remote control car under a paper bag). Could do with a few more random characters/mascots woddling around the park, in each sector, to give it that real Magical Feeling. Fin the shark doesn't make up for the loss of this randomness, unless he had a light sabre :D
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:18 pm

PeteB wrote:
Well, I have to say yes it was better back in the day. But a lot of people are confused about what "back in the day" actually was.

For me it was when Pearson owned Tussauds. This was the period from the early 80's but they didn't actually buy Alton Towers until around 1990 and began heavily investing in the park for the next decade. From what I understand the company was led by a bunch of people very passionate about "experiences" and guest satisfaction. The focus was on magic, they were almost emulating Disney at one point but had put their own British twist on it. I think it worked beautifully.

When Charterhouse bought Tussauds in 2000, this is when things started to change, but only slightly. Despite most of the directors and John Wardley resigning the focus was still on magic it seemed. Hex (2000), Air (2002) and Splash Landings (2003) were all products in development from the Pearson era so it still felt like they were going to great lengths to provide a magical experience for their customers. No choke from Charterhouse it seemed.


That's very insightful!
And I agree a sense of humor is very important in the park...You can buy that though, I guess.
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:12 pm

The time when the Alton Towers was willing to invest money in whatever idea John Wardley had is over. It ended about a decade ago. The UK theme park industry is established now and needs to act like a serious business to do well. I don't think Merlin should be blamed for "squeezing money"; yes, they have made things much more expensive than in ye olde days but in return they have injection loads more investment that everybody can enjoy. It's how most businesses work these days.

It's a shame that the golden age of Alton Towers is gone, but it could not last forever. Alton Towers was growing at a fast rate because the concept of a theme park was still relatively new to England. And Merlin was far better in terms of new rides than the awful, clinical years of the late Tussaudes dark ages. Imagine if we were still getting Ritas and Spinball Whizzers plopped onto any available piece of land. And there was that awful generic branding that they rolled out to replace the "magic" branding of the 90s, thank goodness that has been reversed. They even brought back John Wardley and the Secret Weapons, as a nod to the years gone by.

But I'm saying this retrospectively; I never visited Alton Towers or Chessington during their young theme park years when imagination seemed to have priority over business... But I still think it is unfair to compare then with now and decide Merlin have sucked the fun out of everything, without considering how vastly the times have changed.

And what about before Alton Towers was just a big amusement park? In the 1980s, I mean, when it was run by John Broome. There were more rides and rollercoasters installed during that period than any other. But nobody usually reminisces about those times.
Last edited by electricBlll_Returns on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:19 pm

One thing I thought today is, Is it still as good for kids as it has been?
I think its important for the kids to enjoy it.
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:03 pm

The old Logo has a hint of irony based on this title thread.

" Where the magic never ends "................. Until now.


Out of curiosity, does anyone know if JW got any involvement in this new SW7 project ?
Last edited by CA2000 on Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:19 pm

I believe he did the track layout. Explains why it is so good, I suppose.
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:51 am

Yeah he does layouts but I think he is also functions as a consultant across the general projects? Think he would have been involved in Sub Terra?

In a recent video, when asked about the future of AT he said "(we have) lots of ideas" - so thats why I think he's quite involved still.
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:52 pm

Themeparksandy1981 wrote:
I always thought in the old days the park was always ever changing. I know they didn't have many coasters back then but I felt I got good value of money. Just look at the park map of 1997 http://old.towerstimes.co.uk/history/maps/1997map.jpg look how many attractions were in festival park. Now if u notice forbidden valley have just added sub terra in the past 10 years,dark forest is now down to 2 rides,X sector took 12 years to get a new attraction. The farm/story book land has been the same for 17 years with just a minor update of the canal boat ride and the dung heap added. The other areas have just really seen rethemes and rides getting a new theme ie the haunted house,flume and the tea cups. Heave Ho was a second hand ride from Drayton Manor and seeing what replaced the swan boats makes me feel sad. I also loved just chilling rowing a boat across the lake. Also seeing the Black Hole tent closed for 8 years and with the Beastie just blocked off&the nick building used as storage I feel Alton Towers is a shadow of it's former self that's when the magic was truly alive and kicking with street entertainment,live shows all over the park.



It's amazing looking at the 1997 park map how many flat rides they had crammed into Festival Park (now Dark Forest) Immersive theming in areas can be a good thing, but it can also take away a lot of potential space for the smaller rides. I think that map is a perfect example of this, if you were to compare it to Dark Forest now.
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Re: Was Old Alton Towers Better Than Present Day

Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:45 pm

IMO the best year of the park was 2002. The  park looked amazing and properly maintained.  Ug land still looked amazing. Black hole was still there, as was the original haunted house. Boneshaker and dynamo, whilst not amazing rides, were still really good fun to ride, and IMO were well themed. Submission still worked. Air had just been installed. Swan boats were still there. And there wasn't the eyesore of spinball whizzer from the park entrance.

If Towers add 2 new thrill, or exciting family flats to the dark forest, and repair/paint/tidy up the neglected areas of the park (that includes rides,theming,buildings, and general stuff), then I would be happy to say the magic is back.
I just don't see it happening :cry:

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