UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Mark-Cal
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:42 pm

I had another quick visit to the park today after a morning in Splash Landings and have to say I'm still happy with the VIP package and how it's handled by the front line staff at the Towers.
Our VIP packages arrived yesterday so my daughter and I decided to wear the lanyards to see if it made a difference to our visit.
A few staff around the park saw us wearing them and actually went out their way to ask how we were enjoying our day and how we were finding the VIP package which was nice.
We were quite happy to use the Fasttrack entrances, now it's been established that's what we need to do and never had to wait more than 15 minutes, which can't really be complained at.
Dark Forest certainly seem to go that bit further to make pass holders feel welcome, including on occasion asking if we had any seat preferences when they noticed the lanyards.
So I think anything offered to VIP pass holders above what is offered in Merlin's terms and conditions should be considered a privilege and not a right.
 
markfranklin
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:14 am

Does anyone know what happens after the first year of VIP pass ownership?

- Will the renewal price be higher? (This year's wording was "Introductory Price")
- Will discounts be available? (as in the half price sale they sometimes do in January / use of Tesco points)
- Assuming all 1,000 sell this year and then someone does not renew, will they re-sell that VIP pass number to someone else?

Cheers
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:20 am

Another great visit to Thorpe Park yesterday, parked at Hotel as instructed and the first time we've been given VIP wristbands! VIP host confirmed the same as every other visit, ask if you want to sit somewhere, use exits on certain rides.

No catering staff asked for 75p for refill so seems that message has got through to the team.

Great to see a month on and the experience and consistency is the same every visit, well done.
 
stageshoot
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:47 am

Paul_richard wrote:
Another great visit to Thorpe Park yesterday, parked at Hotel as instructed and the first time we've been given VIP wristbands! VIP host confirmed the same as every other visit, ask if you want to sit somewhere, use exits on certain rides.

No catering staff asked for 75p for refill so seems that message has got through to the team.

Great to see a month on and the experience and consistency is the same every visit, well done.


Second that, was a good experience at Thorpe Park yesterday, Crowds were not too bad, even managed some Swarm Stay on runs on the rear seats during normal opening hours!!!

Did you do the summer nights hours?.. It was really dead, although Stealth was playing up and running really slow,

The only difference we had was that we were not told about using exits (Unless the fastrack was closed). Which rides di they tell you that you could use exits on?.
 
Paul_richard
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:12 am

stageshoot wrote:
Paul_richard wrote:
Another great visit to Thorpe Park yesterday, parked at Hotel as instructed and the first time we've been given VIP wristbands! VIP host confirmed the same as every other visit, ask if you want to sit somewhere, use exits on certain rides.

No catering staff asked for 75p for refill so seems that message has got through to the team.

Great to see a month on and the experience and consistency is the same every visit, well done.


Second that, was a good experience at Thorpe Park yesterday, Crowds were not too bad, even managed some Swarm Stay on runs on the rear seats during normal opening hours!!!

Did you do the summer nights hours?.. It was really dead, although Stealth was playing up and running really slow,

The only difference we had was that we were not told about using exits (Unless the fastrack was closed). Which rides di they tell you that you could use exits on?.


Didn't stay for Summer Nights (went last Saturday and it was also empty, walk on every time)

Yesterday was told Nemesis Inferno, Stealth and Colossus. We enjoyed a few goes on Slammer yesterday, it's great to see it running so well.

I'm very impressed at the effort Thorpe Park have made in such little time, the staff on a whole now also appear happier, like they actually want to be there and engage with customers unlike previous years where some couldn't really careless.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:18 am

Paul_richard wrote:
stageshoot wrote:
Paul_richard wrote:
Another great visit to Thorpe Park yesterday, parked at Hotel as instructed and the first time we've been given VIP wristbands! VIP host confirmed the same as every other visit, ask if you want to sit somewhere, use exits on certain rides.

No catering staff asked for 75p for refill so seems that message has got through to the team.

Great to see a month on and the experience and consistency is the same every visit, well done.


Second that, was a good experience at Thorpe Park yesterday, Crowds were not too bad, even managed some Swarm Stay on runs on the rear seats during normal opening hours!!!

Did you do the summer nights hours?.. It was really dead, although Stealth was playing up and running really slow,

The only difference we had was that we were not told about using exits (Unless the fastrack was closed). Which rides di they tell you that you could use exits on?.


Didn't stay for Summer Nights (went last Saturday and it was also empty, walk on every time)

Yesterday was told Nemesis Inferno, Stealth and Colossus. We enjoyed a few goes on Slammer yesterday, it's great to see it running so well.

I'm very impressed at the effort Thorpe Park have made in such little time, the staff on a whole now also appear happier, like they actually want to be there and engage with customers unlike previous years where some couldn't really careless.


Cheers, Yes on the whole the staff seem a lot more animated there recently.

I went on Colossus early (Before 11) so the fastrack was not open, used the exit and asked if I could sit front row but was told there was no choice of where to sit.

I went on slammer a couple of weeks ago, yes its good its working again, I went to it yesterday but while waiting at the exit there was a puke fest on board! One started and several others followed suit, so it shut for cleaning and I never made it back,.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:25 pm

Just returned from Heide Park (spent
The weekend there, and in Phantasialand) and had a mixed "VIP" experience from the get go. Someone asked earlier about using the passes in foreign lands, so here's the lowdown...

The chap in charge of taking €6 for parking (only €6? ;-)) spent quite a lot of time insisting on the money and saying my card was worthless. I was eventually allowed in for free but I got the impression that was bedsuse he couldn't be bothered to debate it rather than because he truly believed in the status...

At the park entrance there was a lot of inspecting of the card followed by the suggestion that I should go to the ticket booth for 50% off. I had to load up the web page stating "global admission" before I was allowed in!

I then headed to the fasttrack booth and asked for the Ultimate one, as is included with my pass... They spent a very long time inspecting it (and asking how I got in in the first place and where I got the card from!), and then (presumably) called Thorpe Park who (presumably) told them that Fastpass was only for the UK parks and attractions. I was offered 10% off any fastpass I chose as "once only goodwill".

I was a little disappointed with the fastrack since it's not made at all clear that it's restricted to UK parks only, and I was looking forward to using it abroad. In fact foreign parks are where it's arguably most useful, as you only have a limited amount of time to explore the attractions and likely won't return any time soon! And I don't think it would have cost Merlin that much to simply include it - it's not like VIPs visiting their foreign thrill-based parks (all 2 of them!) are going to break the bank with their use of unlimited FastTrack and I think it leaves the wrong impression from the product, especially so given it wasn't made clear it was UK only. I guess "technically" I shouldn't have got free parking either? One thing's clear - obviously not many (or any?) UK VIPs have visited the park before!

Amusingly they balked when I mentioned that the pass cost (the equivalent of) €600 - and they asked what on with I get with it that justifies all that money! They're trying to sell their own "Merlin" standard/premium pass product over there - which is significantly cheaper than ours (although, of course, they have fewer attractions!).

In the end I left it, which was just as well as queues for most rides were under 10 minutes and Flug der Daemonen had an almost-instant Single Rider line (on which I got Front Row twice - score!! Lol). FdD is in my opinion a slightly less intense ride than Swarm, but a lot more fun - though I was a bit shocked at how worn the track looked given how new it is (maybe white just shows it up more!). Colossus was unique and fantastic. Krake doesn't hold a candle to Oblivion though - the drop feels way less intense (although that may be psychological!) and the story/theming seems more pedestrian. [OT: As for Phantasialand... "Black Mamba" surpasses Nemesis, and it's not a close thing either.]
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:45 pm

That would be me!

Thanks for the report newrider, really interesting.

Merlin will have to watch themselves with this and probably need to clarify the situation fairly quickly: stating that the pass is global then having others within the group assert that it isn't is worrying on two fronts: 1) Worse case scenario it looks like miss-selling / misrepresentation of the product and 2) It looks really embarrassing from a corporate governance point of view if parts of the business are disagreeing with themselves.

I think anger would also be justifiable given that you seem to have been given the tenth degree when all you were doing was asking for something that you already paid for.

You may already have done so but if you haven't an email to Merlin would probably be in order. They really need to know that one of their sister / subsidiary companies is de-valuing a premium product and not treating guests with sufficient respect. Its important for any large company to work in a joined-up manner.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:01 pm

Well the reason I didn't go all the way with it is because somewhere (even earlier) in this thread, someone asked Merlin if FastTrack was global and was told "no". But I was hoping it would be a different story once I turned up, and with nothing official in writing to the contrary.

At the very least, they need to make the limitations to the "Global" privileges clear. But the conversations I was having were on a completely different level - starting with "do we even recognise this pass at all?", rather than "do we give FastTrack with it?" - which was disappointing.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:29 pm

Interesting experience.

It has always been stated quite clearly on the website that FastTrack is included at UK theme parks only, it even specifies each park. I can understand the confusion as to where the 50% came from as Merlin Annual Passes are entitled to 50% off at Heide Park, but it doesn't really excuse the fact they didn't recognise the pass. Realistically, they only need to scan the barcode to see its validity.

I agree with people above, definitely drop the VIP team an email outlining it. The VIP email team are generally very prompt and they really appreciate any feedback as to how they can improve the service.
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:02 pm

On another tangent entirely:

Is there any synergy with the VIP pass with any Merlin Events night outs / events? I know that they do quite a few fun events in London (including one where they added a scare maze to Sea Life). Is this just for corporate clients of Merlin Events? Would maybe make sense for VIPs to be invited as an extra perk. Presumably wouldn't cost much as these kinds of events invite a lot of people......
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:21 pm

I'm not sure it's worth emailing anyone to be honest... realistically, the international frontline staff are not going to see an awful lot of these passes, so it's probably overboard to suggest they retrain every person who could be manning the turnstiles to recognise the pass.

I guess that that's the only "actual" wrong encountered - the parking person not recognising it is perhaps legitimate, since it can be argued that (just like FastTrack) free parking is not a global benefit, and I should have paid for parking there.

Interestingly, the VIP Pass Terms & Conditions (which I've only just bothered to read - yes, I know...) make no mention of global entry or admission to other parks around the world - let alone other international benefits like fasttrack (of course...).
 
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Dan
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The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:36 pm

newrider wrote:
I'm not sure it's worth emailing anyone to be honest... realistically, the international frontline staff are not going to see an awful lot of these passes, so it's probably overboard to suggest they retrain every person who could be manning the turnstiles to recognise the pass.

I guess that that's the only "actual" wrong encountered - the parking person not recognising it is perhaps legitimate, since it can be argued that (just like FastTrack) free parking is not a global benefit, and I should have paid for parking there.

Interestingly, the VIP Pass Terms & Conditions (which I've only just bothered to read - yes, I know...) make no mention of global entry or admission to other parks around the world - let alone other international benefits like fasttrack (of course...).


No but it does say on the VIP main page that it gets you "unlimited access to more than 100 of Merlin's Worlds across the globe" and it also details in the VIP pack all the attractions that you can use your VIP pass to gain entry to.

You would have thought that the company that consider themselves second to Disney would have briefed ALL attractions (be it UK or not) that fall under the pass on how to deal with guests who present them.
Last edited by Dan on Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:45 pm

You would have thought that the company that consider themselves second to Disney would have briefed ALL attractions (be it UK or not) that fall under the pass on how to deal with guests who present them.

Funny you should mention that - the Disneyland Paris Annual Pass's "Global Disney Store Discount" regularly gets strange looks in the further reaches, and (on the other side of the coin) I got free parking in Disneyland Anaheim with it which I technically shouldn't have received.

I think keeping track of (and training staff on) all these countless variations of cards is almost impossible, and even harder when that training doesn't get reinforced by seeing the card regularly...
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:02 pm

newrider wrote:
I think keeping track of (and training staff on) all these countless variations of cards is almost impossible, and even harder when that training doesn't get reinforced by seeing the card regularly...


It is hard for staff to keep track of several different ticket types, however it sounds like there does need to be something in place informing staff which passes entitles guests to what form of entry.

The simplest solution I can think of is a simple information sheet. All it would need is a picture of each ticket/pass type with the name of the ticket/pass and a brief description regarding what entry the passholder is entitled too. This could easily be kept in the ticket offices and by turnstiles for staff to refer to if they're unsure.
E.g:
Merlin VIP Annual Pass = Free Entry
UK Premium/Standard Annual Pass = 50% discount

As others have posted, I would suggest dropping an email to the VIP team just to make them aware of your experience.
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:31 am

Our passes are around the 550 mark and love them :)

We always wear outer lanyards , I thought I might feel a bit daft but after hour at AT I decided to wear it with pride and got picked out of the queues and more staff took notice of us

We back off to AT this week,

I have been to sea life manchester and legoland Manchester and nearly all the staff which saw our lanyards commented they were the only vip passes they had seen so I guess not many of you visiting sealife and lego centre manchester !

Although my youngest daughter is only 4 so these attractions are great for smaller guests

Then

Legoland Windsor & chessington in august.

Question

We are going legoland Windsor with friends. Which queue do we use, the Q-bot lane? Our friends are buying ultimate q-bots. Anyone know anything about this??
 
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chrish
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:17 am

Momoffour wrote:
Our passes are around the 550 mark and love them :)

We always wear outer lanyards , I thought I might feel a bit daft but after hour at AT I decided to wear it with pride and got picked out of the queues and more staff took notice of us

We back off to AT this week,

I have been to sea life manchester and legoland Manchester and nearly all the staff which saw our lanyards commented they were the only vip passes they had seen so I guess not many of you visiting sealife and lego centre manchester !

Although my youngest daughter is only 4 so these attractions are great for smaller guests

Then

Legoland Windsor & chessington in august.

Question

We are going legoland Windsor with friends. Which queue do we use, the Q-bot lane? Our friends are buying ultimate q-bots. Anyone know anything about this??


I used the Q-bot entrances on my visit to LL. Although when I got to the front on the log flume I was told I should have used the exit, but that was the only one.
 
Momoffour
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:31 am

Thanks. That will be great we will use the q-bot entrance then as we can go on with our friends who have bought them for the day :)
 
Momoffour
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:22 pm

Going to Alton towers in the morning :).

So. What's the latest. For 13. Is it ride exit. Or fast pass :-/ Would feel awful if went to exit and they shooed me and the lads away :cry:

Am stupidly excited to go tomorrow. Can't wait. Only second trip there with our VIP passes.

And yes. I will be wearing lanyards :lol
 
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Re: The Merlin Annual Pass

Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:25 pm

Momoffour wrote:
Going to Alton towers in the morning :).

So. What's the latest. For 13. Is it ride exit. Or fast pass :-/ Would feel awful if went to exit and they shooed me and the lads away :cry:

Am stupidly excited to go tomorrow. Can't wait. Only second trip there with our VIP passes.

And yes. I will be wearing lanyards :lol


Best Current advice seems to be Fastrack line unless its closed then use the exit, before 11am the fastrack normally seems to be closed on 13 and Rita, Saying that it could change again.. Did not try either today as stayed with Vicky at the smiler.

Good Luck tomorrow and report back how you get on.

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