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WTF Merlin?

CrashCoaster

Well-Known Member
I've been browsing TowersStreet and those guys have all come to the conclusion that it is due to Merlin's budget cuts, close the attractions that are most likely to go unnoticed to save money (the two Intamin's both have heavy maintenance costs, Rita especially, representing 40% of the park's total maintenance costs). Most other parks with similar ride types to what Alton have reopened those attractions, proving it isn't necessarily due to social distancing. @Matt N, you are right about Thirteen requiring at least 18 riders per train, which are required for the ride to clear the second lift hill (which in my opinion is a design flaw).

On another note, Blade is back open.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Certainly could be budget cuts for closing Rita, especially given it helps them shut off a large part of the park as a result, meaning that manpower can be concentrated elsewhere. I had been under the impression there was also some sort of technical difficult, but not certain there.

The barriers they've put up are very easy to remove though (I believe they used them in the past when Dark Forest and Cloud Cuckoo Land opened at 11am), so they shouldn't be used as an indicator for how long the area is out.

^Couldn't sandbags be used just as they are in Blackpool for the Big One together with actual guests, and on plenty of other coasters worldwide, to make up the weight required?
From my experience, Merlin don't like running rides with a mixture of people and sandbags / water dummies. That's just the way they seem to operate.

@Matt N, you are right about Thirteen requiring at least 18 riders per train, which are required for the ride to clear the second lift hill (which in my opinion is a design flaw).
I think the issue was when the ride opened, it ran too fast effectively, and would go through that second lift hill too quickly. That's why some extra trims had to be installed (this was still in early 2010). But that then brought about the 18 person rule. Some sort of Intamin screw up somewhere along the line.

---

Shall we have a Thorpe WTF moment now? Yes? Great...

The back of the arcade in the centre of the park has had some, ahem, redesigning..

Before:
1593886075522.png
After:

Second image from here: https://live.themeparkguide.biz/

For those struggling to place this exactly, this is opposite Ghost Train, down a very major walkway of the park.
 

Will

Active Member
^
Ah, marvellous, I was waiting to hear how many sins Thorpe had committed.

Going back to Alton, with most of those rides, I can kind of understand why (and tbh, I don't care if Rita never runs again), I'd been wondering for a while how on Earth they were planning to re-open Duel & Hex while the social distancing bandwagon keeps on rolling

My complaint point would be that surely they knew this in advance and could have avoided complaints and managed expectations by making this known in advance.

Thirteen closure is particularly unfortunate - and on top of that, with a big chunk of the park closed, it's harder to disperse crowds!
 

JoshC.

Active Member
In fairness to Thorpe, some of the rebranding they've done is pretty decent, but that wall and the increased blandness of the Dome is rather sinful.


Duel I imagine is off-putting for Towers with the mixture of the omnimover station and queuing indoors, especially since Chessington have been able to open Tomb Blaster. I wonder if they could do a batching system: have people queue outside, then send groups in. When a group reaches the station, send another group in. Keeps social distancing and all that, and wouldn't be impossible to keep guns clean or manage.
 

BlueSonicHD

Member
They have no issues with people queuing in the indoor smiler building. I see no reason why Duel should be any different.
1 group per car.
But cut backs. And only limited people in park so reduced revenue there are not enough staff to operate all the rides
 

vaugc002

Member
Give the amount of time theme parks have had to plan for this, and how long social distancing has been in place, I would have thought Alton could have produced a solution for the rides in the Dark Forest area. Granted the goalposts have changed quite a few times, but all theme parks now operate within these measures (certainly in the UK). Just seems somewhat lazy from Merlin but I shouldn't be surprised. I presume it's full price still?...
 

JammyH

Member
I was scrolling through Chessington reviews on Tripadvisor (they are all terrible) since reopening with the new Covid measures, but this one stood out to me in particular. Did make me chuckle a little, although I am concerned for the animals welfare if this is really the case.

"Avoid at all costs. Over priced, tired and dated. They should have stayed closed until they could open properly.

They wouldn’t discount the tickets we bought In February, despite their product being vastly different post covid.

One positive was the Zufari, after queueing for an hour with a 3 year old and 2 x 4 year olds, it was so ridiculously poor it was funny. I had never imagined seeing a group of giraffes in what looked like a gravel car park!

A fitting end to an extremely bad customer experience".
 

Nicky Borrill

Active Member
Thought I'd mention Rita and Thirteen are back open, along with the Skyride I believe, at Towers.
Skyride and Rita have been open since last week at least... (they were open on my visit) Thi3teen opened today :)

I think they’re now operating almost all rides... Hex is closed, and the Dungeons... Are there any others?
 
Merlin's track record seems very poor if we look at the number of deals with Intamin since they took over 5 major theme parks in Europe.
Intamin by far is my favourite coaster manufacturer. I love Stealth, Rita and Taron is easily my #1 coaster. My number #1 anticipated steel coaster is not an RMC or B&M, it is in fact Hyperion. My most anticipated wooden coaster is Balder hence why I am looking at this.

From what I can see on Wiki it seems Merlin have only worked with Intamin on 1 new coaster project: Th13teen at Towers and they were also involved with the Derren Brown project. Maybe I'm getting this wrong and overlooking something. I am assuming we can count out Desert Race as it opened in 2007 when Merlin acquired Heide Park so must have been ordered well before Merlin had anything to do with it.

Perhaps cost or maintenance issues are a reason why Merlin won't go near Intamin for new coaster projects at the moment or it is just not on their agenda for another reason. It could simply be the complete lack of coasters we have seen from Merlin since the Smiler accident I guess and the somewhat obsession with having wing coasters in 3 of its parks just before that.

But considering that Intamin often pushes the envelope in many ways, what is going on makes me sad and worried we won't see a ground breaking ride especially at the UK parks. It is not just coasters but also a ride such as Chiapas which I think is stunning.
 

Trax

Member
Maybe this question has already been answered on the last 42 pages, but I am too lazy to read all of them :)

Why does Merlin (and only Merlin) run a coaster on 2 trains, while only filling one train with guests?

I see the argument "if it gets busy later", but why do they keep the second train empty, even if the ride has a decent queue? It just feels like yet another middle finger Merlin puts in the face of their customers. I actually have the theory that Merlin wants customers, but no happy customers. Just imagine, people coming back and riding your attractions. All the maintenance needed...
 

CrashCoaster

Well-Known Member
Maybe this question has already been answered on the last 42 pages, but I am too lazy to read all of them :)

Why does Merlin (and only Merlin) run a coaster on 2 trains, while only filling one train with guests?

I see the argument "if it gets busy later", but why do they keep the second train empty, even if the ride has a decent queue? It just feels like yet another middle finger Merlin puts in the face of their customers. I actually have the theory that Merlin wants customers, but no happy customers. Just imagine, people coming back and riding your attractions. All the maintenance needed...
It's not just Merlin who do it, I've seen Blackpool do it several times. If the queue is walk on but it is likely to get bigger at a different point in the day, then it makes sense to only fill one train as you can send it full, but if a decent line develops, then we'll send both.
 
I'm sure I remember seeing that with Rita, a completely empty train and only filling one for ages.
With the Big One I've only ever seen a half a train sand bagged setup with the sandbags getting removed later on in the day usually, which can take some time as they are all individually tied down. Sometimes even de-sandbagging a few rows or a carriage at a time. Obviously weight is the reason there. With Rita it just seems nonsense, unless there is a technical reason for it surely.
 

Trax

Member
I don't blame parks if they do this when it's walk on, but very likely to get fuller later. I do blame the parks, when the queues are there and they still load only one train. I've seen it recently in Heidepark at 30+ minutes queue time, and last year in Thorpe park with 15 minutes queue.

Most parks simply load both trains, or remove the second train and add it again when it's needed later. But of course, depending on the park, this might require a technician, so I understand when this does not happen instantly. Djurs Sommerland started with 2 trains on all rides on what was close to a walk on day, and they managed to add or remove a second train with a technician when needed.
 

UP87

Member
Most parks simply load both trains, or remove the second train and add it again when it's needed later. But of course, depending on the park, this might require a technician, so I understand when this does not happen instantly.
If I remember correctly at Merlin parks only technicians are allowed to add or remove trains since the Smiler incident. A new train added by the ride ops without proper communcation was one of the causes of the disaster. The other one was overwriting the safety systems without any proper checks.
 

Dar

Member
Can't sell fast track if there's no queue!

And by the time you've got a tech down (because of ^) to add/remove a train, the queue will have changed, so they'd be chasing their tail all day adding and removing trains to match the queue
 
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