UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Mark-Cal
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The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:28 am

I wrote an E mail to the VIP pass team with some of my first impressions of using my pass, good points and bad and received a reply yesterday and wasn't really impressed with it.
I did state that I was fully aware the Pass didn't give me instant access to the rides nor did I expect it to but that I was rather disappointed by how Alton Towers runs its FastTrack compared with PortAventura.
They replied:
Due to the extremely high popularity of rides at our theme parks there will sometimes be queues even in the fast track line to which again we are unable to foresee and control however whenever possible staff will enable guests and our V.I.P’s access to the ride as quickly as possible for them to enjoy


So there you are, Alton Towers can't foresee or control the amount of people who queue for their rides, personally I wouldn't think predicting and preparing for busy days and running an efficient FastTrack system would be that difficult but I guess it is. 8-[

Overall I'm very happy with my passes, I guess any new system is going to have its teething troubles but Merlin have had plenty of time to get this right before launching, and as someone said earlier, perhaps the VIP branding confuses people as to what they're going to get from it. A better name would be Ultimate FastTrack pass I think.
 
stageshoot
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:23 am

Paul_richard wrote:
It's not that people are expecting too much from the VIP status, it's the conflicting information people are getting.

Take yesterday as an example, stageshoot's trip to Alton Towers. He was told by staff at Rita not to use the exit (despite other trips being told to do so) then later he goes back for another ride and he uses the fastrack queue and the staff tell him he's to use the exit as he's a VIP. That then causes a problem when you next ride as you would go to the exit as that's what you been told to do in the past.

It's those issues which are causing the negative comments, there is no consistency to what the procedures are.


Exactly, it is just a case of consistency. I want to know where to go on a ride each time I go to it. Of course if I go to the fastrack queue and the gate is shut (as it is on Rita and the Water rides at AT on slower days), then I know to go to the exit on those rides thats not the problem.

The problem is when you go to the fastrack line (Rita) and are told to go to the exit, and then the next time you go to the exit and are told to go to fastrack. "You already get eyes buring the back of your neck when you wander up the exit line, and feel like a right muppet when the ride op then decides you are in the wrong place and sends you off with a flea in your ear...

I have no issue with the fastrack lines at Alton, OK Yes Nemesis is a PITA but OK I live with it I bought a pass with fastrack and that is the fastrack on that ride and always has been I dont expect any different treatment from other fastrack users.

As someonone else said there is no quibble over the value of the pass.

First month we have hammered ours probably 50% more than we used our old premium passes on average

11 Visits to AT
6 Visits to the Waterpark (Late afternoon visits after being at AT)
2 Viists to Thorpe Park

Have another visit to AT later this week, TP on Sat and London Attractions on Sunday.

The only thing I am not really doing with the passes which I expected to is going ot AT at weekends, I figured with the fastrack I would go there more on Sat/Suns but so far have stuck to my odl routine of going in the week. Will have to see if that changes later in the year.

V to the I to the P wrote:
As many have said it's not the VIP that's the problem it's the fast track queuing on some / most rides at AT (cannot comment on thorpe / Chessington as not been yet). Regardless of the VIP, how would you feel if you had just purchased a fast track for oblivion and when you got there half the people in that queue hadn't purchased one. Also I bet when Joe blogs buys a fast track to Rita or nemesis they don't realise they are not being fast tracked to the ride, but just closer to the ride, and not that close in my opinion. Plus if you purchase a 1 day Vip experience you get on the rides at the front every time. So what's the difference from their's to ours. Apart from the price obviously


Thats the problem with the "VIP" name on the pass, you are NOT buying VIP privs, as per the T&CS on the pass purchased you are buying an annual pass with the added feaure of UNLIMITED FASTRACK, thats the same as the £92 a day fastrack wristband, which just gives unlimited normal fastrack.

The VIP Daily packages are a different item and differnet price band, and yes they do allow all day front row riding, at a much higher daily cost, but the VIP name on the annual pass seems to be confusing some people into thinking that is what they should be getting. Its Not!
Last edited by lewis97 on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merged with double post
 
markfranklin
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:44 am

Another thing I would like to ask them about is the drinks capsules that come with the VIP Annual Pass. I've never had these before and my points are:

1. I hate carrying round these things all day, and would prefer to go a a drinks stall as and when and just ask for a small cup of Coke etc.

2. My wife would always prefer a cup of tea although this is not included. Her argument is that a tea bag and some hot water is no different in price than a huge vat of Coke.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:19 pm

markfranklin wrote:
Another thing I would like to ask them about is the drinks capsules that come with the VIP Annual Pass. I've never had these before and my points are:

1. I hate carrying round these things all day, and would prefer to go a a drinks stall as and when and just ask for a small cup of Coke etc.


that would be a good idea, saves carrying it round all day, have you emailed the VIP team to see if its possible.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:31 pm

markfranklin wrote:
Another thing I would like to ask them about is the drinks capsules that come with the VIP Annual Pass. I've never had these before and my points are:

1. I hate carrying round these things all day, and would prefer to go a a drinks stall as and when and just ask for a small cup of Coke etc.

2. My wife would always prefer a cup of tea although this is not included. Her argument is that a tea bag and some hot water is no different in price than a huge vat of Coke.



With regards the soft drinks I doubt you will get anywhere as there is no other precident for it. It's always been quencher or individual purchase on all the annual passes. I doubt they will ever change that

With regards the hot drinks, I asked at AT and they said there was no facility at all for anything other than the daily free refill cups @ £7 a day for hot drinks, although they have given me the daily hot refill cups free at customer services on the couple of occasions I have asked about it as I don't personally drink fizzy drinks so the quencher is not a lot of use to me.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:55 pm

stageshoot wrote:
With regards the hot drinks, I asked at AT and they said there was no facility at all for anything other than the daily free refill cups @ £7 a day for hot drinks, although they have given me the daily hot refill cups free at customer services on the couple of occasions I have asked about it as I don't personally drink fizzy drinks so the quencher is not a lot of use to me.


I did try for a hot drink at one of the refill stations and was declined.

http://www.merlinannualpass.co.uk/capsule.aspx wrote:
Can you only use it for fizzy drinks?
Funny you should mention that. Some customers told us that not all of you want to drink fizzy drinks. So as part of these magical improvements, we’ve added a non-fizzy-soft-drink option when you refill your quencher. You’ll be able to find these unfizzy refills at designated refill stations throughout all of our UK theme parks.


I also tried to request a non-fizzy drink at a few locations and was also turned down.
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:02 pm

hursty wrote:
stageshoot wrote:
With regards the hot drinks, I asked at AT and they said there was no facility at all for anything other than the daily free refill cups @ £7 a day for hot drinks, although they have given me the daily hot refill cups free at customer services on the couple of occasions I have asked about it as I don't personally drink fizzy drinks so the quencher is not a lot of use to me.


I did try for a hot drink at one of the refill stations and was declined.

http://www.merlinannualpass.co.uk/capsule.aspx wrote:
Can you only use it for fizzy drinks?
Funny you should mention that. Some customers told us that not all of you want to drink fizzy drinks. So as part of these magical improvements, we’ve added a non-fizzy-soft-drink option when you refill your quencher. You’ll be able to find these unfizzy refills at designated refill stations throughout all of our UK theme parks.


I also tried to request a non-fizzy drink at a few locations and was also turned down.



Hot Drinks. I was given the hot drinks cup by the manager at the customer services where you pick up wristbands. I don't think you will get one free anywhere else

Free non fizzy drinks. Oasis still is available but only at 2 outlets at AT the hydration stations with the ice machines but both have had no stock of It since last Friday. Said been none on deliveries and don't know when it will be back 8.
 
markfranklin
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:03 pm

Good idea nuttyslack, I will email the VIP team later on, and will post the response when I get it.

On Saturday at Chessington, I asked for a non-fizzy drink for my daughter as she doesn't like the fizzy ones, and they said no problem and filled it up with Oasis. They did say I could also have tap water.

Cheers
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:48 pm

Yeah my understanding is they can do tap water too but then you could get that free with whatever cup/flask you bring.

Also Im not sure they could do the plastic/paper cup as it will come at a cost and there's people who would exploit it and get drinks for friends etc (I know you could do same with the quencher but if you could get paper cups that easily they would lose money.

It's a pain carrying them around all day though but can't think of many better systems unless you can drink from a paper cup at the station but them cups cost money. We use them at my work
And it's cost £3k so far this year and we have no more than 30 staff a day using then so imagine the cost at somewhere like Alton Towers. They wouldn't even consider it.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:53 pm

I was given tap water in my quencher from the station in Gloomy Wood on Sunday.

No one can turn round and decline you tap water, it is free after all, it just so happened to be my choice that I wanted water as I wanted to stay hydrated.
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thedman31
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:05 pm

I noticed that part of the vip annual pass is that you get fast passes for alton, Chessington and thorpe. Are these ONE fast pass for one single ride at each park or something else?

Oh and has anyone visited a foreign park and tried using VIP?
Last edited by Ladyofthelake on Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merging triple post into one single post
 
Paul_richard
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:29 pm

thedman31 wrote:
I noticed that part of the vip annual pass is that you get fast passes for alton, Chessington and thorpe. Are these ONE fast pass for one single ride at each park or something else?


The fastrack is unlimited and unrestricted. Ride as many times as you like!
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:02 pm

Great. Does anyone know how many are left?
 
Alex
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:44 pm

I would guess roughly 375
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chrish
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:32 am

Thinking about the Rita queue line and maybe others it could be handled much better imo. Rather than keeping the main queue moving towards the ride it would be much better to hold that back where the ride host is and just have 2 -3 cars of people queuing at the station. That way the FT people would be put in the queue line much further up. Just my opinion though. Then when Rita thunders over head let another train load of people towards the station.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:26 am

chrish wrote:
Thinking about the Rita queue line and maybe others it could be handled much better imo. Rather than keeping the main queue moving towards the ride it would be much better to hold that back where the ride host is and just have 2 -3 cars of people queuing at the station. That way the FT people would be put in the queue line much further up. Just my opinion though. Then when Rita thunders over head let another train load of people towards the station.


I can't remember the layout of Rita but the way Stealth at Thorpe Park works is good. Three queues all meet at the station, still individual queue lines and then the ripe op just opens the chains to let each queue then start queuing at the gates.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:40 am

Paul_richard wrote:
chrish wrote:
Thinking about the Rita queue line and maybe others it could be handled much better imo. Rather than keeping the main queue moving towards the ride it would be much better to hold that back where the ride host is and just have 2 -3 cars of people queuing at the station. That way the FT people would be put in the queue line much further up. Just my opinion though. Then when Rita thunders over head let another train load of people towards the station.


I can't remember the layout of Rita but the way Stealth at Thorpe Park works is good. Three queues all meet at the station, still individual queue lines and then the ripe op just opens the chains to let each queue then start queuing at the gates.


Rita has the standard queue line, which snakes around the ride towards thirteen and then it heads towards the station. The FT queue meets a good distance before the station. When I used the VIP pass to get through the FT entrance I was still queueing for a good 30 minutes.

I really think the ride host should be holding back the main queue because they are really just there and they just let the FT join the queue, so the main queue is always flowing. I would not be happy if I'd purchased a single fast track or a pack of fast tracks and was still waiting for 30+ minutes. I'm not too bad because I have the VIP, but if buying on the day it is not very good.
 
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Dan
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:04 am

The thing to do is go and give feedback to the VIP team in the Box Office at the end of the day.

Every morning they all have a big meeting and any issues such as this are discussed.
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:14 am

The fastrack queuelines have been the same for years, why all of a sudden has it become an issue?

The whole idea around fastrack is that it "reduces your queueing time" and the fact that the fastrack queue merges with the main queue relatively close to the ride means you skip a good chunk of it, which is exactly what fastrack is designed for. The only time this becomes an issue is when the main queue doesn't reach the merge point, but at times like this the fastrack queue will be closed (RITA is a good example) so we will then use the exit.

There will be days when we are waiting 10/15 minutes to get onto a ride, but if the main queue is over an hour I don't think that's at all bad.
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Aidan Lowe
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:35 am

You basically joined at a point in the queue someone may have waited 50 minutes to get to that point. The queues will not change, in a day using my fast track I've had a good 25-30 rides on coasters alone and I'm happy with that. Nothing will change regarding queue layout, smiler is the best because they know they have a cash cow on their hands.

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