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We need to talk about Drayton...

jjwitton94

New Member
Everyone really needs to remember that Drayton Manor has had a rough few years and the fact that Drayton Manor took risks with rides like G-Force which didn't pay off sadly after 13 years. If I'm honest the problems started with G-Force although unknown until a few years later, then the Hotel costing £14 million which frankly was not needed at that time. Although granted the Hotel has since become a success that level of cost as an investment was frankly ridiculous, draining the park of much needed investment into the Park and Zoo.

I feel the park then neglected it's rides and park became an absolute state and don't get me started on the Zoo, which frankly was shocking to see! This has hurt Drayton over time as they have had to invest larger amounts into repairing and updating them which you can see taking place now. For me the rides, park and zoo look in great condition compared to early 2011 when they were neglected but the park invested in the mega priced Hotel. Priorities all in the wrong place. The Hotel probably should have come some years later maybe 2018 to 2020 season.

Now Thomas Land was a success but for me has become the devil in disguise as everyone says it's become a huge success so Drayton should build solely upon that including Drayton. The problem is that's the only investment Drayton have made in the last few years that has been a success! That doesn't mean they should only invest in Thomas Land though. I feel the decisions in the late 00's and early 10's were not the best for the park and far too risk and investment intensive give the parks size and ageing rides at the time. New rides and maintaining the Zoo should have been the priority not a hotel.

That said, given all the problems Drayton Manor have had the Park can still turn around, if they manage to sell G-Force for at least above a £1million in spares or whatever they decide, carry on maintaining the park to the quality it currently stands at (Which I feel is the best it's been in years!) and keep their nerve by trying to avoid risky investments (No Hotels). All while maintaining visitors numbers above or around the million mark through 2019 and 2020 should see Drayton Manor whether the storm.

Then the 2021 season could see some big investments! If I was Drayton Manor I would take a calculated risk on getting a roller coaster from a defunct park a bit like Flamingo Land have done and give it a good theme. I would imagine Splash Canyon will reopen in the 2020/2021 season with new safety improvements made and the obvious theme improvements/refreshing Drayton Manor are conducting which will prove successful. Then maybe the reopening of the classic that is Pirate Adventure which was always brilliant will keep Drayton Manor open. Let's face it the days where Drayton were a pretty good competitor to Alton Towers are long over in the short term but careful planning for the next ten years could see Drayton Manor bring something like a B&M coaster or an RMC to Drayton Manor. Firstly they need to be cautious as one bad investment could kill them as a park. This is my view of things anyway, interested to hear what others think.

By the way Drayton is one of my favourites parks so I hope it continues. If not, anyone wanting to buy a theme park with me? haha
 

Ben

Social Media Team
Social Media Team
I do love how people are like ‘you can’t survive being a younger family park who’s gonna go!’ - when one of the most financially successful parks in the country is... Legoland?

It making good business sense and being whet YOU want is two different things, and there’s obviously plenty of people who would take their kids to Drayton as it stands.

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to suddenly turn to a thrill ride to ‘diversify’ when their core offering now isn’t thrills, that’s not really how parks work? They should continue to focus on the younger audiences, make more smart decisions like Thomas, and they’ll be good. Sadly bUiLd An RmC!! isn’t always the answer.
 

jjwitton94

New Member
I do love how people are like ‘you can’t survive being a younger family park who’s gonna go!’ - when one of the most financially successful parks in the country is... Legoland?

It making good business sense and being whet YOU want is two different things, and there’s obviously plenty of people who would take their kids to Drayton as it stands.

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to suddenly turn to a thrill ride to ‘diversify’ when their core offering now isn’t thrills, that’s not really how parks work? They should continue to focus on the younger audiences, make more smart decisions like Thomas, and they’ll be good. Sadly bUiLd An RmC!! isn’t always the answer.

I think everyone would love to see Drayton Manor become both and why not. It already has thrill rides, granted not a large selection like it once did but still a good variety. Of course it wouldn't make much business sense to start adding expensive thrill rides if Drayton Manor never had them in the first place or even now given their position at the moment but in a few years they could certainly add some new ones. I think everyone has to understand Drayton Manor needs to improve on and stabilise what they already have as I said before. Bringing a major new coaster next year or even the next 5 years at great cost is unfeasible but in 10 years time maybe not.

Although comparing Thomas to Legoland is very different thing as they are very different brands. Lego is the biggest toy company in the world and one of the strongest brands globally with a much stronger market than Thomas. LegoLand can very easily stand on it's own as a Theme Park. I don't believe Thomas Land has that capability to do the same. If it is so strong as a brand now why isn't their one now? What happens when the IP licence runs out? What does Drayton Manor do then?

Diversifying as a park is what they did in the 90s and early 00s which was successful. Family friendly is not just Thomas Land but the whole package, Thrills, Zoo, events and yes Thomas. And yes, a major coaster would be fantastic but unlikely given the circumstances but not entirely impossible in the future perhaps. This year you are seeing investments in the Zoo and the existing thrill rides which is brilliant to see finally. I just don't see only Thomas as the way forward.
 

Ben

Social Media Team
Social Media Team
I think everyone would love to see Drayton Manor become both and why not.
Because money is required to buy things.

As a business you put the money in the things that stand to make you the best return.

For Drayton, that's not thrills.

Although comparing Thomas to Legoland is very different thing as they are very different brands. Lego is the biggest toy company in the world and one of the strongest brands globally with a much stronger market than Thomas. LegoLand can very easily stand on it's own as a Theme Park. I don't believe Thomas Land has that capability to do the same.
Thomas Land... isn't its own theme park? So I'm not sure why it needs to be able to stand on its own? It fits in as part of the overall park, and is great for that. And to say that you don't think it's a strong brand is a bit silly, because you can see how well it has done for them.

If it is so strong as a brand now why isn't their one now?
No-one is saying make it a Thomas only park?

What happens when the IP licence runs out? What does Drayton Manor do then?
Renew it? What makes you think the IP are unhappy with them? What happens when the IP lapses on Potter at Universal? Or the hundreds of other parks with these arrangements.

Family friendly is not just Thomas Land but the whole package, Thrills, Zoo, events and yes Thomas.
Again, just because they're going for younger families rather than rounded families doesn't make it a bad strategy. You have the Legoland example but then you also have an even better example - Paultons. They go for younger families and they're literally smashing it. For Drayton a Mack Spinner would actually be perfect, not an RMC.

I just don't see only Thomas as the way forward.
You've really confused a shift to a younger family target audience with 'just build more Thomas' and that's not correct.
 

jjwitton94

New Member
I've explained about money with regards to Drayton Manor in my first paragraph of my second post, stating it would be nice to see but given the circumstances I don't see it happening in the short term at all neither do I expect it to happen.

As a business you put the money in the things that stand to make you the best return. For Drayton, that's not thrills.
I agree but how do you know that thrills don't make Drayton Manor the best returns? To say that you would need to know the exact KPI for each ride. The opening of bigger rides were clearly profitable and brought significant returns for Drayton and still do as these rides wouldn't be still standing in the park today or seeing refurbishments. Unlike G Force who's constant high maintenance cost and riders lack of enjoyment meant the park decided to sell the ride as it simply wasn't cost effective to keep in the park. That is why I've said Drayton should invest in other areas of the park for growth and not huge schemes.

Thomas Land... isn't its own theme park? So I'm not sure why it needs to be able to stand on its own? It fits in as part of the overall park, and is great for that. And to say that you don't think it's a strong brand is a bit silly, because you can see how well it has done for them.
To say it isn't as strong as a brand to Lego isn't wrong to say, as Lego is the largest toy company in the world. What I was referring too is how you said previously LegoLand is one of the most financially successful parks in the country. That is in part due to it's allure as a brand that appeals across a massive range of audiences. Yes Thomas does this also but not near enough to the scale or size of Lego. Citing why I feel Drayton Manor should diversify into other areas of the park not just Thomas but The Zoo, Pirate Adventure, the old Excalibur and Splash Canyon as examples.

Renew it? What makes you think the IP are unhappy with them? What happens when the IP lapses on Potter at Universal? Or the hundreds of other parks with these arrangements.
It's not always as easy as that, as many reasons could prevent renewing the IP Licence, potentially could be too expensive or the IP may decide they don't want Drayton Manor to have it any longer giving it to another park, as possible examples. Things totally beyond Drayton Manor's control. That's why I feel Drayton should look at other parts of the park and market for growth.

Whereas the likes of Merlin's licence of the Lego IP with the Lego company is far more secure due in part to the Lego Company owning a share of Merlin. Protecting this IP, seeing much larger investment guaranteed for LegoLand. The likes of Potter at Universal is different as these parks have fast amounts of cash and resources to change over the IP minimising their risk, compared to that of Drayton. I also never said the IP of Thomas were unhappy with Drayton Manor.

Again, just because they're going for younger families rather than rounded families doesn't make it a bad strategy. You have the Legoland example but then you also have an even better example - Paultons. They go for younger families and they're literally smashing it. For Drayton a Mack Spinner would actually be perfect, not an RMC.
I think your right with regards to something like a Mack Spinner coaster which actually I think would be great for Drayton Manor. I never said to get a RMC immediately it was more of a long term suggestion maybe coming into the ten year plan the park have spoken about recently. This could be a nice investment over a longer period of time but not a necessity. You mention Paultons which is a great park but so is Flamingo Land which is also smashing it and is very similar to that of Drayton Manor's target audience with it's Thrill rides, Kids rides, family rides and it's Zoo.

You've really confused a shift to a younger family target audience with 'just build more Thomas' and that's not correct.
I wasn't saying building more Thomas Land was wrong I said that 'Family friendly is not just Thomas Land but the whole package, Thrills, Zoo, events and yes Thomas. I just don't see only Thomas as the way forward.' I see the focus as family friendly like that of Flamingo Land not just aiming at younger families. Drayton Manor would be killing off a part of it's target audience by moving into younger audiences and ignoring a target audience that still visits the park for thrills or much bigger rides at Drayton. Investing in these audiences make sense as both perform well for Drayton. Also as my first post refers to, Pirate Adventure and Splash Canyon reopening which are very family friendly rides would be great to see renewed and reopened as they appeal to younger and older audiences. Seeing more investment into these types of rides I see as a brilliant step forward for the park.

I think the improvements the park are making with the Zoo and existing rides is a brilliant start as my visit last week was really enjoyable.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I definitely agree with where @Ben is coming from, personally. I don't really think that us thrillseekers are who Drayton wants to cater for anymore.

Thomas Land has been massively successful for Drayton Manor; every year they've invested into it (apart from the Splash Canyon incident in 2017), they've had a record breaking year for attendance and profits. The park's last thrill ride, however, was Air Race in 2014; this generated them a loss. Drayton has clearly worked out that family investments are more successful for them; in the last decade or so, the investments that have made Drayton the biggest returns are the ones aimed at families. The park has been in a somewhat precarious financial state since the Splash Canyon incident in May 2017, so they may as well stick to the investments that they know will do well for them.

I personally think that the way Drayton will ensure it's longevity as a theme park is to aim at the younger family audience. I know many cite American Adventure as an example of where this ended badly, but it is worth noting that:
  • There are also many successful attempts at theme parks that have aimed solely at the young family audience; look at the likes of Legoland, Chessington and Paultons Park.
  • American Adventure did not have a gold mine IP like Thomas on their side.
  • Would I be correct in trying to argue that the UK theme park market has changed significantly since American Adventure closed in 2006? I ask this because I would like to argue that the UK theme park market has become somewhat more family-orientated on the whole, despite still having parks that build thrill rides.
 
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I definitely agree with where @Ben is coming from, personally. I don't really think that us thrillseekers are who Drayton wants to cater for anymore.

Thomas Land has been massively successful for Drayton Manor; every year they've invested into it (apart from the Splash Canyon incident in 2017), they've had a record breaking year for attendance and profits. The park's last thrill ride, however, was Air Race in 2014; this generated them a loss. Drayton has clearly worked out that family investments are more successful for them; in the last decade or so, the investments that have made Drayton the biggest returns are the ones aimed at families. The park has been in a somewhat precarious financial state since the Splash Canyon incident in May 2017, so they may as well stick to the investments that they know will do well for them.

I personally think that the way Drayton will ensure it's longevity as a theme park is to aim at the younger family audience. I know many cite American Adventure as an example of where this ended badly, but it is worth noting that:
  • There are also many successful attempts at theme parks that have aimed solely at the young family audience; look at the likes of Legoland, Chessington and Paultons Park.
  • American Adventure did not have a gold mine IP like Thomas on their side.
  • Would I be correct in trying to argue that the UK theme park market has changed significantly since American Adventure closed in 2006? I ask this because I would like to argue that the UK theme park market has become somewhat more family-orientated on the whole, despite still having parks that build thrill rides.
American Adventure were one of the early uk IP trend setters, they had JCB digger land, which was actually quite successful in drawing in smaller children who wanted to use the big ‘diggers’ like Dad, or Uncle John.

The problem is, and everyone who’s commented so far claiming to know business has avoided this completely, that businesses generally need to slowly grow, or at the very least maintain current trading to be successful. Drayton Manor are without a doubt heading down a path that will reduce their customer base. There is no denying or doubting that. Even if you think this is a good business move for them, you cannot deny that they will lose a portion of their current customer base if they continue. So their business is set to essentially shrink, or downsize.

Except in a few rare examples, in the long term, that usually leads to collapse. As I say, not always, not if researched, planned and executed perfectly, but generally a shrinking business is a bad sign.

Edited to add: comparisons with Legoland don’t wash with me either. Legoland is a massive IP, and a park wide theme, similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, to Disney. Almost every kid grew up with Lego in their lives at some point, so for that reason every kid wants to visit, and every parent, more than willing to relive their own childhood, is happy to oblige, despite Legoland Windsor having one of the lower customer satisfaction ratings in the UK. Thomas is not nearly on the same level, for starters it’s somewhat gender specific. Before you shoot me down, I’m more than aware that some little girls like Thomas, but it’s definitely generally more aimed at boys. And of my son, and 2 young nephews, neither has really like Thomas. 2 nephews were more into dinosaurs, of any sort in general, and my son has ALWAYS been Marvel, DC, and earlier on, Ben 10 mad (now it’s all football and Playstation.) They all have, however, enjoyed Lego, Ninjago, and the Lego Movie!
 
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What are we thinking then in terms of predicting a ten year strategy like they are planning. It's apparently perfect for their target audience, so not sure what rides they'll add or change or remove...
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
What are we thinking then in terms of predicting a ten year strategy like they are planning. It's apparently perfect for their target audience, so not sure what rides they'll add or change or remove...
Well, G Force is being replaced with a new family track ride and a seaside-themed area, for starters. I could also see some sort of new family coaster replacing the Buffalo; they were allegedly planning some sort of S&S family suspended launch coaster to replace it for the 2018 season, but the plans fell through after the Splash Canyon incident.
 
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Well, G Force is being replaced with a new family track ride and a seaside-themed area, for starters. I could also see some sort of new family coaster replacing the Buffalo; they were allegedly planning some sort of S&S family suspended launch coaster to replace it for the 2018 season, but the plans fell through after the Splash Canyon incident.
Interesting 🤔 there are many areas that need work. Splash Canyon reopened, Excalibur, Pirates Adventure... I also think Mack Twist n Splash, a couple of thrill rides, family rides and at least a coaster. I am worried that Shockwave will either be transferred to a Floorless or removed for a 10 Looper or Mack Family Launch Coaster

Well, G Force is being replaced with a new family track ride and a seaside-themed area, for starters. I could also see some sort of new family coaster replacing the Buffalo; they were allegedly planning some sort of S&S family suspended launch coaster to replace it for the 2018 season, but the plans fell through after the Splash Canyon incident.
They also have the 75th and 80th anniversary celebrations too...

MOD EDIT: Please don't double post
 
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news9

New Member
I've heard talk about a new Thomas ride a while back but i thought nothing of it and now I've seen this on wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Land_(Drayton_Manor). I know not a reliable source but it say's it will be called Skiff's Water Ride Adventure and apparently it Opened in 2019. Was at the park a few weeks ago and didn't seen anything. Any ideas? True or False?

Also Skiff is a water sailing boat. Maybe a small water ride who knows.
 

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I've heard talk about a new Thomas ride a while back but i thought nothing of it and now I've seen this on wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Land_(Drayton_Manor). I know not a reliable source but it say's it will be called Skiff's Water Ride Adventure and apparently it Opened in 2019. Was at the park a few weeks ago and didn't seen anything. Any ideas? True or False?

Also Skiff is a water sailing boat. Maybe a small water ride who knows.
Very false, cause no where else is saying this. However, that would be a good ride, probably a relocation of the Seastorm ride near Pirates Adventure for this theme, but would work
 

UKCoasterFan

New Member
Since they already have a relationship with Vekoma (and considering Vekoma's excellent safety record which is what the park needs), if Drayton got a copy of Lech coaster AND Formula from Energylandia, I'd probably visit this place the most for the foreseeable future.

But I agree with many posts here, they are simply en route to chase the family with small kids market.

I doubt Drayton, PWH and LWV will all survive for another 10-15 years if none of these get a new decent coaster. But location and infrastructure wise I think Drayton has the strongest possibility to attract a new investor. The other two I'm not sure will make it.
 

news9

New Member
Very false, cause no where else is saying this. However, that would be a good ride, probably a relocation of the Seastorm ride near Pirates Adventure for this theme, but would work
Thank you for your reply. I thought so, although i wouldn't mind seeing another water ride at Drayton Manor.

I have to agree with the sentiments with regards to Drayton Manor needing another rollercoaster. Would be great to see a family Vekoma or Mack spinner ride and focus on creating another cracking themed area not just Thomas all the time.

Also an issue I have with Thomas Land is why don't they connect to the back of the Zoo where they have other Thomas attractions. I have NEVER made my way to that way of the park until recently when I was told about the Thomas & Friends Exhibition (Yeah 11 years late to the party). Wow was I shocked at this little gem! Granted it needs a lot of work to make it look more professional and to repair the models but I loved it. I always find that DMP have good ideas but then they poorly execute them (apart from Thomas Land) which is a really shame. I feel the rest of the park is about all over the place and doesn't follow as it should, too many dead ends.
 
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