2013 for me has been strange. The delay of the Smiler is obviously the most significant event and in turn responsible for the massive, capacity bursting crowds of the summer. This was due to straight forward building delays, weather, big holes full of water etc, unfortunate but true, so I won't dwell on this in particular, however, in a round about way, the knock on effect was huge.
I believe the massive investment in the Smiler, building, promotion, staff and obviously buying the thing from Gertslauer in the first place has been kind of detrimental to the rest of the park.
I understand that the cycle of investment is a big ride every 3 or 4 years, and then some smaller rides/experiences in the years in between, stuff like ice age etc. Also, the plans for this winter are really welcome. The face lift in Old McDonalds farmyard is much needed as there has been a bit of under-investment in the younger kids stuff over the years. A calculated risk possibly, as under 10's rarely dictate the choice of theme-park for a family visit.
The park in general does need some paint and a bit of TLC. Particularly in Mutiny Bay (Tired Looking), Fountain Square, (The same) but mainly in the entrance area.
Over a few visits also there are some really basic maintenance issues I have noticed which would be easy enough to fix, considering some of the amazing engineering that goes on at AT.
Trommel working intermittently in Duel, (granted a 21 year old attraction)(Could do with a re-theme)
Left hand hypnotiser wheel never working on the Smiler (Brand new)
Fluorescent lights on in tunnel on RMT, (an oversight surely)
Lights on in Crypt on Thirteen (interesting for me but a bit of a magic remover for the general public)
General maintenance on rides in general, (in five visits down time on Thirteen, Sonic, Smiler)
It seems that B & M have the edge for reliability.
I hope the next big investment is the removal of the Flume and an outstanding new water ride built in its place. Perhaps B & M should have a crack at one of them......or a woodie.
It will be interesting to see what springs up at other Merlin parks in a year or two as roller coasters are cheaper when more than one are purchased at the same time and built a year apart (Maurer: Sonic & Dragons Fury, Intamin: Rita & Stealth, BM: Krake in Germany & Swarm, BM Air & Nemesis Inferno etc) Wouldn't be surprised to see another Gertslauer pop up somewhere.....they make a very good looking spinning coaster with inversions.
Despite all the the speculation about the Smiler, it was a predictable choice really. No Gertslauer in the park and already a B&M in X Sector. Couldn't be too high so no Intamin giga-coaster. Needed to be compact, Eurofighter! But you can't have a beyond vertical drop stealeing the thunder of the mighty Oblivion. Infinity coaster then. (Correction courtesy of Danny.g97) Better still, join two together. World first. Sorted.
I hope this closed season, they give it an overhaul. Maybe getting it open was a rushed job. I don't know. But it doesn't seem to be wearing terribly well. Rough on the track and a bit jerky, for one so young. Also the track looks very distressed already. Maybe new wheels? If you're buying wheels....get some for Rita and Nemesis too.....although I kind of like Nemmy's slightly rough ride that's developed with age. Most of all with the Smiler....sort out the maintenance.
I think it would also be a better ride if it had the toboggan style cars like Saw and every other Eurofighter. Less lag on lift hills, quicker into inversions and more gut wrenching over the smiler's second awesome bunny hill. You could still load them in pairs like Saw, just separate them during dispatch. Loading trains in pairs is how Oblivion keeps its queue short and processes nearly 2000 people per hour. No reason why queues should be affected.
I travel from Southampton for AT and even with vouchers etc it is not a cheap day out. I normally eat on park and pay express parking. I do however feel it represents value for money, although less so in peak season, but you make your choice. I do however see though, that Joe public often feels ripped off when things are scruffy, breaking down and poor value. I think Alton Towers could do with appearing a bit less money grabbing and a bit more fun/customer focused. I don't mean drop prices, I mean just be a bit more subtle. Happy people spend money. Also, they need to stop showing prices without VAT, as if they are cheap and it's the government that are mean..........We all have to pay VAT......everywhere. I find it frustrating to read TripAdvisor and see people complaining about the £46.80 entrance fee (£39.00 plus VAT!). Who ever pays full price?? Anyone who does is a fool.
It remains to say that I love the park. It is further from me than Thorpe, Chessington and Drayton Manor, but I am always happy to travel the extra distance. Paultons Park is my closest theme park and whilst for younger kids, the up keep and maintenance is the best I have seen anywhere....better than Disney. Alton Towers, despite all my opinions, is an amazing park, no question. I want its owners to love it as much as me.
Just my opinion. Enough from me.
Last edited by markclo
on Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.