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Whats your favorite Merlin Park?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by Chris Brown, Jan 19, 2017.

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Whats your favorite Merlin Park?

  1. Alton Towers

    31 vote(s)
    68.9%
  2. Heide Park Resort

    8 vote(s)
    17.8%
  3. Gardaland

    3 vote(s)
    6.7%
  4. Thorpe Park Resort

    3 vote(s)
    6.7%
  5. Chessington World of Adventures

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Legoland (state which location)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown Mr CoasterForce 2016 CF Award Winner 2016

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    So, simple one really, whats your favorite Merlin Park?

    I've listed the poll options based on number of creds at the park.

    Ive visited Alton, Thorpe, Chessie, Legoland Windsor and Gardaland so am only really missing Heide from the big parks. I must say from a distance Heide probably looks like the most appealing of the bunch, I'd argue that Towers should really blitz this but given its current state thought it'd be worth debating. Heide arguably has the best coaster line up with Colossos, Krake and Flug all looking rather decent, but its easy to overlook parks like thorpe and alton because you've visited them way too many times.

    If you havent visited many just say which one you'd like to go to most regardless of whether its feasible or not!
     
  2. Hixee

    Hixee Moderator Staff Member Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Heh, I've actually been to all of them except Legoland (last time I went to Legoland was before Merlin). I'll list them in order, from best to worst:

    1. On paper, Alton is the best. That said, as you rightly point out, their current state of affairs isn't desperately appealing. That said, Alton is the nicest park in terms of it's landscape, and it still feels reasonably magical to me cornering the house and seeing Oblivion, or hearing Nemesis roaring through trees.

    2. Heide is really nice. Probably the best selection of coasters on average (Colossus, Krake and Flug are all pretty great and the bobsled is really cool), and a nice layout with some nice areas and things.

    3. I went to Gardaland before Raptor and Oblivion, and at the time I remember thinking it was a little lacking in ride quality. Sure, Mammut was good fun, but the rest was reasonably average. With the addition of those two B&Ms though, I suspect it's up there now.

    4. Thorpe is good and has a decent selection of coasters and other rides, but I've never really liked the place. Something just doesn't quite work for me.

    5. Chessington is okay, but felt a bit tired last time I went.

    Doesn't seem fair to comment on Legoland. But Lego. <3
     
  3. DelPiero

    DelPiero Well-Known Member

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    I voted Heide.
    We went midweek a couple of years back and queues were minimal, staff were friendly, food was ok, angry German man didn't kill us.
    It has one of the best drop towers around, Scream is brilliant, still my fave drop tower. Colossos is easily one of the best coasters in Europe, and 2nd to only Wildfire in the woodies. Krake is one of the best Dive Coasters imo, forceful and pretty. The rest range from good(Flug&Bob) to gash(Big Loop&Limit) and there's a good selection of flats.
    It's significantly better than Thorpe, Chessie etc and better than Alton in it's current state.
    I haven't been to Garda yet but I don't think the lineup is as good as Heide.
     
  4. Howie

    Howie Well-Known Member

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    I can see this becoming one of those Return Of The Jedi moments.... but I'm voting for Thorpe Park. There, I said it. (Now watch Furie go and pull an Ewok out of his ass!)
    Yes, Thorpe Park.
    Ok, so last year they installed what is without a doubt the worst attraction in the history of theme parks, but let's ignore that for a moment. Apart from that, I just really, really like the ride line-up. I really like all 5 of the big coasters. I really like all the flats. I even like all the crappy filler attractions like Depth Charge, Storm Surge and the Dodgems.
    I also like the fact that the park is compact - the way you can see the entire park laid out in front of you when you come through the dome. Great atmosphere builder, that.
    And, as a gardener by trade, I also really like the way the park is landscaped. Now Thorpe Park is not exactly well known for its landscaping but trust me, it's a lot better than most people give it credit for. Next time you're there, take a closer look - all those exotic trees, tropical palms and bamboos and stuff. Just keeping those things alive in the UK climate is a challenge, let alone getting them to flourish.

    I'm not getting into operational issues in this thread - we all know the place goes to pot when the crowds show up - but I always go on quiet days so it doesn't matter.
    So yeah. Thorpe Park for me.

    Yub nub.
     
  5. davidm

    davidm Well-Known Member

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    ^ Alton's got some gardens too you know? ;)

    Alton for me though, Heide is probably better objectively at the moment, but Alton is my "childhood park" so that counts a lot.
     
  6. Howie

    Howie Well-Known Member

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    ^I know where you're coming from with the whole childhood park thing, and sure, Alton has the Towers and the gardens and valley and the scenery and the skyride and the monorail n stuff... but these days, I can't ignore the fact that there's literally f*ck all to do there.
     
  7. zazobo

    zazobo Well-Known Member

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    I voted Alton. Purely for the nostalgia and magic feel to it. I know it's gone to :emoji_poop: a bit recently but it's still a fun weekend away for me. Thorpe is my home park and while I appreciate the varied ride line up (flats/coasters etc...) it's still a bit of a dump.

    Honorary mention to LEGOLAND- love that place.
     
  8. witchfinder

    witchfinder Well-Known Member

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    Alton, though it was better when Merlin didn't own it and it actually had some filler rides rather than just coasters and upcharge :emoji_poop:. :(

    Haven't been to any of the non-UK parks and have only been to Thorpe once so my opinion may change after revisiting there...
     
  9. Ben

    Ben Well-Known Member CF Award Winner 2016

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    1. Alton - sure it's going through a rough patch but it's still by far and away the best.
    2. Heide - It's got Colossos and the B&Ms are fab but the park is weirdly bland? It's nice but not amazing.
    3. Thorpe - It's got Stealth and Swarm and Inferno yay.
    4. Gardaland - It's basically Thorpe but with not as good rides. Though Blivs TBH is fab.
    5. Chessington - Dull, rundown, mundane. Dump.
    6. Legoland - They're all just the same and all eh.
     
  10. ATTACKHAMMER

    ATTACKHAMMER Social Media Team Staff Member Social Media Team

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    From the parks I have done:
    1: Alton - Great park and it will hopefully return to the golden years
    2: Gardaland - Fabulous Raptor and Oblivion TBH! Also the great heavy metal shooter
    3: Thorpe - Home of the wonderful Colossus
    4: CWOA - Needs some love, Vampire is a personal favourite
    5: Legoland - Bland.
     
  11. NeoXIII

    NeoXIII Best Newcomer 2016 CF Award Winner 2016

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    Been missing out on CWOA, Legoland and Gardaland, but Heidepark is for me the best Merlinpark. Maybe because Merlin isn't as prominent in Heide as in the other parks, but it does feel like they had the least influence in there for now. Up until a few years ago I didn't even know they were bought by ME to begin with.
     
  12. GuyWithAStick

    GuyWithAStick Captain Basic Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Being Captain Basic, I've only done one of those indoor Legoland Discovery Center things, so that by experience.

    But from what I've seen, I think that Heide is the best Merlin park simply due to the higher amount of quality rides. Colossos looks fabulous, Flug looks like a nice little wingrider, Krake seems like a great dive machine, and the park looks really nice too.

    Alton is a close second with the creativity behind everything from the ride design to the landscaping. A world class theme park being built under the treeline is quite a difficult task. The rides aren't as good compared to Heide, though. Nemesis looks incredible, Smiler could be hit or miss for me, Oblivion looks alright, but the rest do seem kinda meh. Also, the current state of affairs kept it from #1.

    Next on my list is Thorpe. To me, Thorpe is all about the "good" rides with less attention to detail than the other two. Kinda like a Six Flags park if you will? Stealth looks great, as does Swarm, Nemesis Inferno, and maybe even Colossus. Good coaster selection, but could use a bit of thematic work.

    Next is Gardaland. This park doesn't really scream out anything other than Raptor and Obliivion TBH tbh.

    CWOA- I get this is a family park, but it seems like Merlin kinda just forgot about it? A Gravity Group family woodie would do wonders to the park.

    Legolands- Need I an explanation? I love Lego, but as a theme park, it's definitely sub-par.
     
  13. furie

    furie SBOPD Staff Member Administrator Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Actually, I reckon Thorpe is more of A New Hope to Alton's Empire. It's still bloody good, despite the fact that it's just kind of fallen together almost by accident.

    I can't vote for Thorpe though LOL My problem with it is exactly the same reason you like it Howie. It's so compact that after two hours (on a quiet day), you've done everything, realised nothing is actually that reridable and sit around bored. Thorpe isn't unpleasant to hand around, but it isn't as nice a place to chill out as Alton is.

    The when it's packed, it falls apart AND you've got rides that are all okay, but never worth the huge queues.

    Having said that, the Live there last year was just right. With the fast passes, we managed lots of rides mixing queuing and skipping, not so many that the rides lose their appeal and not enough waiting to make you wish that you'd just sat and had a coffee instead of another dreadful ride on Colossus.

    It also has the best selection of flats of all the Merlin parks, run on the worst, lamest cycles of any of those versions in the world. Thorpe always leaves me feeling like I've almost enjoyed myself, but the enjoyment was snatched from me the moment I had it in my grasp.

    I like Legoland (Windsor), but the place is an utter chore when it's busy. It's horrible. Full of brats and brats hating the huge queues and the fact they've only been on two rides in 7 hours. Awful place.

    Then you go when the schools are in and it's fab. Well, kind of. Obviously it's kiddy central, but it's really excellent. However, it's become a bit grotty and bland over the years. The lego models looked a bit old and dirty the last time I was there and there was a bit too much cardboard rather than plastic.

    Chessington is similar. It's a park that has been badly Merlinised over the years, with what was once a wonderfully presented park becoming much less themed and much more "PAY US!!!!!!" It used to feel immersive and special, now it feels cheap.

    Which brings us on to Alton... Suffering the same as both Chessington and Thorpe - Chessington for the cheapness of the place and how it's lost what made it special and Thorpe for the fact that in reality, there's not a great deal to do and you're bored.

    The difference is that Alton is still gorgeous. It's still a lovely place just to hang about. I've done a speed run on a quiet day there and it's difficult to justify rerides on things. You do have the advantage of a 10 minute walk between areas to break things up, but when you've done the entire park in three hours with multiple rerides per area, it shows that there's not much there. It's a park that works best when you need to queue a bit. However, it's a park I could spend all day at not riding anything, just for a day out. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. I like just spending time at Alton NOT riding. If I go "just to ride" then I find it a bit lacking (with a couple of notable exceptions), but to have a picnic or explore The Towers or stand by Nemesis for an hour? It's great :)

    Literally couldn't have said it better myself :p
     
  14. Will

    Will Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to start kicking puppies every time somebody who's been to more than one park votes for Thorpe...

    I've not been to either of the European parks since 2009, so I don't know what's happened to Gardaland since it got good. I've also seen what's happened to Alton and Chessington since they stopped being good. As such, I'm leaning towards Heide, but not going to vote for now, in case Merlin have managed to turn that into a tragedy as well. That said, I'd rather have Colossos, Krake, Flug der Daemon and some support rides than Nemesis, Oblivion, Galactica and a rapidly decreasing number of support rides.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  15. jayjay

    jayjay Well-Known Member

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    Of those I've visited (excluding Legoland, because I was about 10), it's a toss-up between heide and Alton Towers. Alton has the natural landscape advantage and lots of very good installations in the 90s and 00s. In contrast to others, I rate Rita and Smiler highly. Heide had less to start with, but their recent installations have also been decent. There was decent effort that went into Flug der Dämonen for instance.

    After that, Thorpe then Chessington. Thorpe suffers from a cramped, flat plot of land, but still has a decent line-up of consistently decent coasters and flat rides (yes, even Saw and Colossus). Chessington's got its moments. The Aztec restaurant and nearby play area show that Chessington can pull great things off if they get the resources, but the stagnation elsewhere is sad to see.
     
  16. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown Mr CoasterForce 2016 CF Award Winner 2016

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    I was doing a bit of reading about the Merlin Parks in an attempt to form an argument that Merlin have improved their European Parks significantly whilst their UK ones have regressed (bar Thorpe) and stumbled across the fact that Merlin don't actually own Alton and Thorpe? Have i been living under a rock or is this just not common knowledge? The parks are owned by Nick Leslau and leased back to Merlin entertainments, the lease lasts 35 years and began in 2007.
     
    nadroJ likes this.
  17. Will

    Will Well-Known Member

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    ^
    I'm no expert on property law, but please tell me this doesn't mean we're doomed to the Merlin quagmire until 2042?!

    Also, I'd argue Thorpe have regressed immeasurably since the brief ray of hope that was 2012 - likewise Chessington and 2010. Alton's decline wasn't entirely their fault, but their actions before and after Smilergate cannot be ignored.
     
  18. nadroJ

    nadroJ Well-Known Member

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    Yep it's true. It's all rented land.
     
  19. furie

    furie SBOPD Staff Member Administrator Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Yeah, it's a real oddity. To be fair, it's very similar to how Blackpool Pleasure Beach ran Southport and Morecambe though, leasing their land and plots to other businesses. That's why Pleasureland changed in 1999 or so (whenever Traumatizer was built). It's because the decades long leases to other operators had all finally run out and BPB could finally do what they wanted with the park. Still the same there now actually, with Southport Council leasing the land to whatshisface who puts on New Pleasurleand.

    Details here from 2007 - Merlin don't own much in the way of Tussauds property at all:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20070930...ndent.co.uk/business/news/article2779452.ece/
     
  20. davidm

    davidm Well-Known Member

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    Yeah but the Alton thing was a money raising/freeing up exercise - Merlin did own it all but chose to sell / lease-back it pretty soon after they took over (rather than it being a long-term lease under an attraction). Its not unusual of course, how many high-street shops own their sites (or company headquarters/offices even) - virtually none I would suggest.
     

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