Going back to the Congo River Rapids discussion, it seems that filming and photography has always been allowed on the Congo River Rapids, according to ride operators (and the sign at the entrance). If you read the entrance sign properly, you'll see on the right hand said there is a list of things which you are not allowed to do on the ride (red circles with crosses going through them) and photography isn't mentioned there, however, the part of the sign that does address on-ride photography specifically just warnings guests that they do it at their own risk of their equipment being damaged.
And despite this, there are areas of the Alton Towers website that state there are no filming allowed on any of the rides at the park at all. TPW actually did nothing wrong yesterday, because on-ride photography has actually always been permitted on the Rapids, and the social media team obviously didn't think to check before calling TPW out on this.
The area of the website that states photography on filming on all attractions is prohibited should be enough.
Maybe it was because it was the Rapids, and the fact that another park had a fatal accident on a Rapids ride just last year, that caused them to publicly call Shawn out. I know the boat was crammed full so there was little risk of anyone standing up, but we know how health & safety conscious the parks are now so, as I’ve already said, I’m fully behind the park with their stance on this.
My point only is that to a regular Park guest, they will go by what the sign says, and do what the staff at the park tell them they are allowed to do. If guests then do these things (like film on the Rapids) because they were told whilst at the park that they could, it's not fair whatsoever if the park then call them out on social media about it.
My point really is that if this rule does now exist, then staff have to know about it, so they can enforce it, and all the signs have to be up to date so people will actually know about the rule. You simply can't tell someone off for breaking a rule which the park don't tell guests about, or staff even know about, let alone try and enforce it.
I've just seen this noted elsewhere and have gone through it myself to check, but it appears the park terms and conditions of entry don't actually state you can't use cameras on rides. What it does say is that: you must respect others privacy; not take pictures for commercial gain; and follow any restrictions that are in place at specific parts of the attraction.
Not saying that this justifies anyone to go out and film where they like, but Alton really do need to get their rules straightened out so they have a single clear concise message.
A little off topic, but one interesting thing I did note whilst reading the entry terms, was that they claim they can use any pictures they take of guests for marketing purposes and hold them in perpetuity. They make the claim that by entering the park you are deemed to have given consent to this. Now given most people won't have read the terms and there being a requirement of getting explicit consent now, I think if someone complained about this, Alton could find themselves in data protection trouble with the GDPR coming up.
Last year, the staff at Spinball Whizzer were looking for on-ride photos, to use as an example on the small screens at the on-ride photo shop. My brothers on-ride picture was pretty good, and they asked if they could use it. My mum had to fill out this form to say that it could be used for marketing. They actually used the photo as well!
Theme Park Worldwide are now reporting that they've spoken to park senior management and have been told that photos and video can be taken on the rapids, so long as everyone remains seated and hold on at all times.
Complete mess of conflicting statements coming out of Alton. Hopefully this means management will now go away and tidy up the rules that appear online, on ride boards and that are directed from staff so that they all agree.
There never was anything wrong with the rules and signage around the park to be honest. The problem was that the social media team were telling people off when they hadn't actually broken any of the rules. The sign at the Rapids entrance was perfectly correct, as were the ride staff. But as usual, Alton Towers social media team were just being difficult and unprofessional.. If anything, social media need to be under review now.
I'm not sure its overly fair to lay the blame with the social media team. No doubt they relayed the information about park rules that they had been given and which was stated on the website's FAQs. As a member of Alton's staff, they have a responsibility to speak up when seeing things that may impact guest safety as much as any other staff member.
With the public FAQs not matching what is reported to be management's view, then if anything it would look that management have done a poor job in communicating attraction policy to both staff and guests.
I still think the social media team did the right thing and hope they aren't put off calling out issues if they see them in the future.
I mean, even though it is their responsibility to call out any wrongdoings, they way in which they did it was extremely rude, which was unnecessary. I just think that on a whole, this year, the professionalism, knowledgeability and customer service has all declined, for whatever reason..
Really annoyed with the staff running the ORP sales at Towers today.
A standard digipass is £30 for the day, me and my friends (group of 6) use this to get all of our photos for the day at a reasonable price. Today, apparently we have to pay an additional £10 for 2 more wristbands. This has never been the case for the 2 years we have been doing it and wasn't the case at Thorpe Park when we visited a few weeks ago. So what's the sudden change in rules where we need additional wristbands because we are in a group of 6? Espically since it's only a month or 2 into the new season and this rule change has only just came into action.
Has anyone else had this problem recently? Really quite annoying as the system worked well as it was and now are asking for more money.
Edit: After talking to a member on the Spinball ORP sales desk, they agreed to sell me the normal £30 digipass with 2 wristbands like normal. I tried using it at the smiler but was told I would be able to unless I had a 3rd wristband. I told the memeber of staff what was agreed but they refused. I'm really shocked and disappointed by this.
Honestly, those numbers seem pretty low to me. Phantasialand is quite a bit smaller than Thorpe and Alton and is getting similar numbers through the door. The average ticket prices are higher too. Sure puts the lower spend by Merlin into some context.
I have to admit, whilst I obviously wasn't expecting sky rocket attendance figures at Alton Towers, I am still a little disappointed. I had though that they would have been just that little bit higher than 2M. Having said that, the TEA report does suggest some reasons for the lack of growth in the UK as a whole, so it's maybe not so fair to say that Alton specifically didn't do well in 2017.
I am pretty optimistic that Alton will achieve a higher increase in attendance this year. I'm predicting that they'll at least be over the 2.3M attendance mark, or if things are very good, maybe even 2.5M attendance.
Also interesting to see that two out of the three parks to see a decrease in overall attendance in 2017 compared to the previous year are Merlin parks.. so yeah, the lack of investement is definitely showing.