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LWV confirm removal of several rides

Professor

Previously AndrewRollercoaster
Glad I managed to get on the Ultimate a few times on a day in 2019 and also rode Raptor Attack.

I agree with many thoughts in the thread. To appeal to families with young children the park would need to invest in landscaping to look good I think. They probably won't do exactly that even if the park gets some more cheap fairground style rides for young kids in the mean time.

The park looked quite shabby when I was there. The men's toilet (on a hill for some reason) not far from the Ultimate was embarrassing. People could literally see the urinals passing by outside. A large tent style eatery was closed. The Ultimate was a good experience and the mini golf course was a bit of fun but really the whole place was just not good enough for any target age.

There are several ironies with regards to Lightwater Valley I think:
1) It is one of the very few theme parks in the UK that has masses of land for expansion to turn it into a proper resort with lodges or a hotel. Given its location, I really think it's perfect for an over night's stay for many and then head back south or north on the M1 the following day. The lack of close by neighbours possibly makes it ripe for further coaster build without too much protesting.
2) It has the longest roller coaster in the UK / Europe / Not East Asia (let's face it, most of us will never go there). This legacy will probably just get flushed down the toilet. As was pointed out, it's perhaps already overgrown in the forest area. It will most likely never run again.
3) The daughter of the guy who owned the park for decades and who built the Ultimate ironically is one of the few people who could easily get investment together for a massive leisure project. (she's part funding and heavily involved in the proposed £300+ million takeover of Newcastle United). If I were in that sort of financial position I'd definitely try to take over or at least fix my dad's legacy as much as possibly and not see it squandered. But then I'm a coaster enthusiast and totally not a football fan.

The park won't make it beyond a few years I think. The lack of IPs that attract families and probable lack of beautiful landscaping that a park such as Paultons has just doesn't make it viable. I bet there will still be many open spaces and shabby areas going forwards or at least people will be able to see what was once there and that won't look good.

I think it's somewhat sad the UK is losing theme parks and not investing that much in coaster projects compared to other European countries and other places further afield. See tiny Belgium opening two massive coaster projects this year. Yes we had 2018, but that was after decades of no coasters in BPB going up and a somewhat disappointing short woodie for a massive park (in my opinion, though the theming is stellar). We seem to be quite accepting of losing former glories or at least not building upon these and I guess instead buying into the media frenzy fear of when things go wrong. The comments of the average person "the place needs shutting down" are sad to read when in reality families run much more risk travelling to a park or any other place than when spending time there. The scariest part I reckon when going to Towers or Blackpool is driving on the "smart" motorway stretches. I've never seen the word "smart" in fact mean ultra stupid before I think.

It also seems a vicious cycle: invest less -> less reliable or less safe attractions (or lack of training / man power whatever the reasons, they usually seem to involve lack of money to me) -> incidents -> bad press -> invest even less -> closure

At least Drayton Manor was saved but it does indeed have an identity crisis. I'm guessing DM will focus also a bit more on the family market and we will probably see Shockwave and the other extreme thrill rides eventually disappear. The Looping Group doesn't really seem to be famous for building new roller coasters as much as I respect a buyout by industry professionals. Their company name is somewhat ironic in that respect.

Shame.
LWV is an example of the somewhat sad state of the theme park industry in the UK I think. There are a few gems still there, notably Paultons' approach seems very exciting and inspirational. Perhaps its location in a somewhat more affluent part of England plays a part too and of course having a very strong IP.

Hopefully the London Resort will actually happen (I can't believe 10 or so new coasters in the mockups) and get the competition ball rolling with Merlin having to do a bit better.

In the mean time mostly ageing coasters from the last century and endless scare mazes in the UK will most likely mean I will have to travel abroad to mostly get my coaster fix whenever we can travel again after Covid.
I appreciate times are extremely hard right now for the leisure industry, but LWV's and DM's destinies were already set in stone well before the pandemic accelerated these.
 
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Professor

Previously AndrewRollercoaster
A big new coaster at Blackpool meant no new punters to the park at all.
New rides don't always pull in the punters, sadly.
True. But NO new rides also won't pull in punters. It seems Wickerman was marketed better than Icon, at least I saw some stuff externally from the fan pages I visit. But Merlin is a much bigger machine obviously with better marketing links.

I think with Blackpool location is an issue as it had been losing heavily since the 90s to cheap holidays abroad (also before that, but it wasn't until the 90s that you could get sub £100 airlines fares). Most people of my age and younger I speak to have all been to Spain but most not to Blackpool.

Saying that, the likes of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Thorpe Park DO still get similar amounts of yearly visits as Phantasialand where tens of millions has been invested in new rides and large themed areas. There are probably other factors at play; reputation, demography and wealth of people in the immediate area. Saying that, London on your doorstep; you would have thought Thorpe Park could do better? This is perhaps where the London Resort, if it happens, might shake things up.


I wish LWV the best and perhaps the new strategy will save them as the current owner did buy the park for millions. Probably the land is worth a huge chunk if things don't work out as with American Adventure Land and Camelot.
 

Robbie

Hyper Poster
A big new coaster at Blackpool meant no new punters to the park at all.
New rides don't always pull in the punters, sadly.
To be fair to Blackpool, the closure of the train line came at the worst possible time and the whole town took a hit (Grand Theatre Panto sales were down massively, for instance). Once the trains were running again, things seemed to be picking up.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Why is it that LWV were never able to properly follow up on the Ultimate? Did it not deliver financially in the way they’d hoped or something? You’d think that a park with Europe’s longest roller coaster would have had far more financial success than Lightwater has, at least in the last few years.

LWV has a rather odd history, in my opinion. From an outsider’s perspective, it kind of feels as though they started out as a fairly small park with fairly small additions, then there was a blip year in 1991 where the world’s longest roller coaster was built almost by accident, and then the year after up to now, it resumed being a small park with fairly small additions.
 

SilverArrow

Giga Poster
Why is it that LWV were never able to properly follow up on the Ultimate? Did it not deliver financially in the way they’d hoped or something? You’d think that a park with Europe’s longest roller coaster would have had far more financial success than Lightwater has, at least in the last few years.

LWV has a rather odd history, in my opinion. From an outsider’s perspective, it kind of feels as though they started out as a fairly small park with fairly small additions, then there was a blip year in 1991 where the world’s longest roller coaster was built almost by accident, and then the year after up to now, it resumed being a small park with fairly small additions.
Someone suggested on another discussion platform that perhaps the park could never really afford the Ultimate in the first place and overspent on it thus condemning the park to a future of trying to claw back funds, paying that money off and never being able to properly upkeep it (or other big rides). There was a suggestion that they had got carried away trying to compete with Flamingoland and other parks in the late 80s/90s with coaster booms but perhaps the site was never really sustainable as a big thrill park and thus never received the funding that it deserved. I thought it was an interesting take.
 

MouseAT

Hyper Poster
I can't help but feel like I'm writing something of an obituary for my local park here. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the park, both from occasional visits as a child, where I'd enjoyed riding the train around the park and vaguely remember watching insane people riding the Soopa Loopa, and then later in the mid 90s, where I'd watched friends ride The Ultimate, and reached my personal thrill ceiling with the likes of The Rat and Devil's Cascade.

It's also the park that kickstarted my journey as an enthusiast around 2007, and led to me discovering CoasterForce as I was trying to figure out what I was letting myself in for. It's the park where I attended my first Live back in 2008, and a park that seemed to consistently deliver a solid day out whenever I'd visit with friends or family.

It's a real shame that it has come to this. I got the impression that the park was at least making profit, albeit by a fairly small margin, and there was certainly a period where there were some really great people working for the park, trying to move things forward. Unfortunately, the parent company seemed reluctant to make any sort of worthwhile investment in the place, the people with the vision moved on, and the park started to feel like it was being left to deteriorate. Clearly the owners felt that they could just let the place tick along without any real effort, until COVID hit, and suddenly everything fell apart for them.

There's a certain logic to some of the ride removals. The star flyer was rented, so it would cost the park money to keep, even if it's SBNO. I think the Schwarzkopf Wildcat was also on long term lease as well; I think I vaguely remember some discussion from years ago, where the low throughput was mentioned, and somebody mentioned something about Lightwater Valley not wanting to pay to upgrade the block system on a ride that they didn't own. If true, that means SBNO Raptor Attack was potentially another big drain on finances. The inverting pirate ship seemed to have a few mechanical issues, which even if they weren't a safety concern probably wouldn't paint the park in a good light after what happened with Twister. Get rid of those thrill rides, and you've only really got The Ultimate and Eagle's Claw left.

From my personal viewpoint, the park may as well no longer exist. I have fond memories of the place, but all of the reasons for said memories have now gone. Can the park survive in spite of these losses? That's a more complex question. The park has basically abandoned families with older kids, so their potential market has now shrunk substantially. They're not near a major population centre, so it's not as if they've got loads of potential customers right on their doorstep. They don't have the opportunity to spend a lot of time building up a new brand ahead of time, in the way a new park aimed at their demographic would. I think we can safely assume that their visitor numbers and income will be reduced as a result of these changes, and are unlikely to recover. I guess the question is, can they save enough money through the removal of their more expensive attractions and through other cost cutting measures to offset the losses and remain profitable in the medium to long term? I'm honestly sceptical at this point, but I doubt even the park management will be able to answer that question until restrictions start to lift, and they start to get an idea of what visitor numbers will be like going forward.

Someone suggested on another discussion platform that perhaps the park could never really afford the Ultimate in the first place and overspent on it thus condemning the park to a future of trying to claw back funds, paying that money off and never being able to properly upkeep it (or other big rides).

I think that is a fairly accurate assessment. It certainly never seemed like the park could dig itself out of that hole without assistance. Part of me wonders what the park would have looked like if the parent company had actually invested in the park, and tried to lift it out of the rut. If the park had put in some quality, curated attractions over the last 10 years or so, instead of fencing off areas of the site and relying on whatever second hand stuff they could get their hands on, I wonder whether they'd have been any healthier than they are now, or whether they'd just be facing a bigger loss as the park circles the drain.
 

Tomatron

Giga Poster
Someone suggested on another discussion platform that perhaps the park could never really afford the Ultimate in the first place and overspent on it thus condemning the park to a future of trying to claw back funds, paying that money off and never being able to properly upkeep it (or other big rides). There was a suggestion that they had got carried away trying to compete with Flamingoland and other parks in the late 80s/90s with coaster booms but perhaps the site was never really sustainable as a big thrill park and thus never received the funding that it deserved. I thought it was an interesting take.

I remember an interview from Colin Bryan of Drayton Manor talking about when the park's owners invested in the shopping village, and that nearly sent them over the edge about 20 years ago, so this is a bit of a running theme for the park, whoever's in charge of it.
 

rob666

Hyper Poster
They didn't have the money to buy the ride, or the credit to borrow for purchase.
So they dug a hole, built a shed, and put a rented coaster in it as a medium term solution.
Same as people rent accommodation instead of buying...not much choice sometimes.
 
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