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LWV confirm removal of several rides

Peet

Active Member
Yeap this reminds me very much of the final throes of American Adventure when they closed the Missile, the Log Flume, and the rapids, and the whole park closed down a year or 2 later.

I only hope the Ultimate gets to run again and I might get some final rides on it when I'm (hopefully) in the area for the new FL cred. Sad times.

Enclosed creds really seem to have fallen out of fashion in the UK; we've only got "Astro Storm" and "X: The Walking The" (pretty sure that's correct?) left now, Raptor Attack was pretty good - especially the entry down the sewer. I expect the cred will find new life, shouldn't be difficult to transport, in fact maybe they intend to sell it to help stay afloat.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
According to a Facebook message someone was sent by LWV, the Ultimate will “stay at the park, but will not be operating in 2021”.

In the short term, the future certainly doesn’t look that great for Lightwater Valley, I’ll admit. Removing a large number of their largest rides at once is a clear sign that they’re really struggling, in my opinion.

However, I don’t think I’m quite ready to call this the certain death knell for the park just yet, particularly in the longer term. They are still installing attractions, so these removals could have just been to raise some capital for whatever new things they’re building this year. I know that the new additions are substantially smaller in scale than the rides they’re “replacing”, they still cost money to build, and I can’t imagine the rides being removed were worth too much, having operated for pretty long periods of time in many cases.

If they survive, and their transition to under-10s works well, I could possibly see them downscaling to become something similar to Sundown Adventureland in the long term, in a very best case scenario. While I admit that in the long term, the park closing is probably the more likely option based on the park’s well-known struggles over the last few years, I’m not sure I’m ready to 100% declare the place a goner just yet.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Let's face it, if the park are going for the under 10 market, there's no point in having Ultimate any more. It's probably 'staying' because it's too expensive to remove, rather than it having any chance of opening.

Also, going for the under 10 market pretty much puts them in direct competition with Gullivers Valley, which is about an hour away by car (plus the competition from Flamingo, which has the added benefits of a zoo and camping/caravan site). Sure, Gullivers Valley looks terrible, but it's go the name behind it, and is more likely to do more good than LWV atm

Writing's really on the wall for the park tbh.
 

SilverArrow

Active Member
Playing devils advocate here for a moment.

I've seen lots of enthusiasts say that this is the end of the park etc but if it was a choice between trying to drag on with expensive thrill attractions that they clearly have no money for after their reputation was tarnished by the accident (and let's face it they've clearly been struggling for years) or change direction with a rebrand to save the park, the latter seems like a sensible business choice. Obviously it's not going to please enthusiasts but if they can save the park instead of closing it completely that's something.

The young family market is a big market and lots of amusement and farm/animal parks do very well focusing on this demographic so IF they can pull this off it might be good for the park's future as an operating attraction. The next couple of seasons will be critical. I think the damage was done from years of underinvestment and now they're having to recover their losses in any way they can to save the park from closing completely. Any major thrill investment would have had to have come years ago and the lack of investment and upkeep of the big rides has just gone on too long. I only visited once a couple of years ago but it seemed like such a shell of it's former self and in need some drastic help.

I'm not saying it isn't disappointing or a shame for the park and us thrill ride enthusiasts but I can definitely see the decision making process behind it and to be honest, was kind of expecting this. Perhaps if they can build on their food, animal and retail offerings and make the park a nicer, more rounded destination to relax at it might do well again. It may be a total flop but they could pull it out of the bag. Maybe.

Hoping to see Raptor Attack stay in the UK as it's one of only two Schwarzkopf coasters left here but not sure we can expect that in this climate. Hopefully they will sell it though, I expect it's very much worth the effort.
 
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Ian

From CoasterForce
Staff member
Administrator
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Happy to see the end of Eagles Claw, but gutted about Raptor Attack. There was something special about the ride, as the Rat and then as RA.

Interesting discussion which way the park will go. A refocus on the target market may be a good idea, but it’s always going to be in competition with Flamingoland which caters well for the young and those who like a thrill. Unless the open Ultimate again, chances are I will never visit the park again.
 

cocoa

Member
****, I was meant to get out there last april, and then covid cancelled all that. I'll be gutted to miss out on ultimate... I seem to keep just missing rides (still crying about dueling dragons, orient express,...)
 

Nicky Borrill

Active Member
It's definitely the end... We've seen it all before... (as @Peet pointed out) Thrill rides being removed, others SBNO, no investment for years...

For this to work there'd need to be some money to invest in the under 10's target audience, some new rides, a themed area, IP etc... That money is clearly not available.

Just look at Drayton Manor pre takeover... To be fair, they'd invested heavily in the young market, but were still struggling and have now handed over the reigns to somebody else. Many of us said that they were headed the same way, and were going to struggle, (others denied that) but it looks like that was very much the case (https://www.insidermedia.com/news/midlands/drayton-manor-owed-more-than-20m-before-sale) If they struggled to make a change of demographic work with all of their, let's be fair, reasonably well executed investment, what chance does LWV have?

Sadly, barring any takeover, new investors etc, this probably marks the final few years for LWV.

Fs in the chat :(
 

witchfinder

Member
For this to work there'd need to be some money to invest in the under 10's target audience, some new rides, a themed area, IP etc... That money is clearly not available.

The announcement does state they are opening 5 or 6 new rides, so they must have some money, be that from selling off the other rides or otherwise.

It would be a shame to see The Ultimate go and Raptor Attack was pretty good, but otherwise there was nothing at all at the park to make it stand out so it's no shock that they're struggling. I could see RA and Eagle's Claw going to somewhere like Southport or one of the parks in Cornwall or Devon.
 

Nicky Borrill

Active Member
The announcement does state they are opening 5 or 6 new rides, so they must have some money, be that from selling off the other rides or otherwise.

It would be a shame to see The Ultimate go and Raptor Attack was pretty good, but otherwise there was nothing at all at the park to make it stand out so it's no shock that they're struggling. I could see RA and Eagle's Claw going to somewhere like Southport or one of the parks in Cornwall or Devon.
It does, but I really don't think the investment is going to be on the same level as Thomas Land, regardless of where the money comes from :( I could be, hope I am, wrong however.

Thomas Land didn't work for DM, The American Adventure purchased kiddie rides, including a kiddie coaster and a new themed land, we know how that worked out for them. I just can't see LWV investment into that demographic surpassing DM or even the AA... History repeats itself.

However... Putting a positive cap on for a minute... If they do get through the first few years, with some good investments in a themed kiddie land etc... What competition is there in that demographic in their catchment?

Paulton's is a LONG LONG way away, BPB 2 hours away, and AT 2.5 hours... IF they can find the investment, I feel like they're in a better location, in terms of local competition, to make it work, than others have been. Although I'm not sure about the population factor.

Both the previous mentioned parks had multiple competitors, within 2 hours, (and at least 1 strong competitor less than an hour away) who had good kids offerings and much more for the whole family besides. LWV have Flamingo Land as far as I can tell, which has a reasonable kids offering, but not on the scale of Thomas Land, Cbeebies or Nick Land. But it's also much further than say AA to AT or DM to AT for example.

(Feels nice to force myself to think positively for once in a while in the current climate, 🙈 😂 )
 

furie

SBOPD
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Personally, I think this is the beginning of the end.

If you look at the "family" market, there's a very clear way that parks like that survive. I think Paultons is an excellent example of the way it should be approached, Drayton a warning and LWV how not to do it.

Paultons started as a small park. It was always focussed on the family market and build on its success, but never moving from its core. Having a strong IP built the success of the park massively, but the entire park was a great accommodation for the family market. Everything at Paultons has always been clean, bright and well looked after. It's an attitude of pride that shines through, and it really does encourage repeat visits.

Drayton realised that they couldn't compete with the bigger thrill parks (Alton, Blackpool and even Thorpe), so they diversified and went the IP route. While it worked for them for a short while, it wasn't sustainable. The Thomas area is small and cramped and outside of it, the park is a bit rough. The biggest issue though is that there isn't a clear message to visitors. You enter the park and Shockwave dominates the skyline, taking up as much room as Thomas Land with its footprint. Is the park a thrill park or a family park? Is it a zoo? The investment outside of Thomas Land was thin, and then they doubled down on the Thomas Land success with a very expensive hotel.

I don't know how many of you are aware, but Drayton used to host a lot of shows on the land the hotel sits on. Car shows and the like. People would pay to camp there and also pay to go into the park as part of their weekend festivities. That all stopped with the hotel. Again, doubling down on the idea families would pay for Thomas Land, when in all honesty, it's not worth a two-day visit.

So, you have diminishing returns. The park just isn't consistently special enough across the entire site to encourage return visits. Thrill seekers no longer wish to go due to no investment for them. Families don't get enough out of what they're offered. It's the worst of both worlds.

Flamingoland have covered this excellently (as much as I despise the place). They have invested really well (if not in staff and maintenance) on attractions across the board. There's something for everyone in a family to enjoy all day, and their zoo is fantastic. They've covered all bases really well. They also have the advantage of being a well known holiday destination for the local area.

Then we have LWV. Well... They're not Paultons. The park is okay, but it sprawls and is very "bitty" in terms of quality/neatness. There's no consistency or flow with the family visitors in mind. It has the millstone of its chequered development around its neck. LWV has always reminded me of a garden centre with a massive miniature railway stuck onto it, and they let a travelling fair company set up rides here and there. They're in a worse place than Drayton is, and they're doubling down on their family attractions, which have never been any good.

And that's where the problem lies. They just aren't the tight, well run park they need to be to keep the returning family visitors. Kids will get as much from other local farm/play parks. There's no wow, no memories to be made.

It's a shame, as I've never had a bad day at LWV. I don't rate it as a great park, but I've always enjoyed myself there. Considering I think FL has a better collection of attractions and have hated every visit there.

Anyway, unless LWV can really pull something incredibly special out of the bag, it won't work. They need to landscape. They need to properly clean up. They need to pull the rides into a consistent collective to create a narrative for the day's visit. There's so much work to be done to grab those repeat visits, to make it worth people's time and money. I just can't see it happening unless they completely change their approach.

TL;DR - They're a dying thrill park, not a rising family park.
 

rob666

Member
The park started to rot 20 years ago, when they failed to follow up on the Rat and Ultimate.
They promised lots of big new rides on the open field sites available, they promised the holiday village, but nothing exciting was built, and the holiday lets didn't happen, despite planning permission being given.
Investment was never sought, and the death knell for me was the loss of the "Pub in the Wood" and the dodgems in the same year.
Sunday drink driving for fun killed off in a stroke.
Really enjoyed taking my closest friends kids to the Valley for years, but now the Ladybird is the top attraction, we won't be going back.
T'Ultimate is now dead sadly in my book. The brambles through the second half would cost many thousands to remove after two closed seasons, I bet the track is barely visible already.
 
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