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WTF Merlin?

Nitefly

Mega Poster
@Joey - you’re language in a couple of places was a little... loose, as was acknowledged in part with your reply, so rather than repeat the exercise and embroil ourselves further, I’ll just leave it there.
 

oriolat2

Giga Poster
And the reality is that you're wrong anyway - free fast pass persists at Disney for a reason. The goal there is to keep people out of queues and instead in shops and restaurants.
This. A million times.

If you look at the top 5 most visited parks in Europe, none of them have a paid fastpass system. It is a smart business decision to have people in and out of your rides as fast as possible so that they are both happy (thus, more inclined to spending money while in good mood) and so that they can explore your park walking to their next attraction and possibly spending time at shops or restaurants. In fact, a big share of a park's profit comes from in-park food and merchandise.

Making people pay for something that should be granted with their entrance ticket (decent operations to make the most of their money) is basically extortion. Other silly business decisions like having early closing times like Alton's in recent seasons is another way of giving the finger to customers. They know for sure that patrons are not going to be able to do everything in a single visit. There is something money can't buy, and that is the sense of fulfillment of someone that has been able to do everything they were promised. This is what grants happy customers, more willingly to have repeat visits and even recommend your park to their friends.

How would a park / company be so short-sighted not to see this?
 

rollercoasterfan71

Roller Poster
Had to make an account just for this thread, but WTF Merlin.... I guess viewership numbers means more than reputation. I guess the events of last year have just all been swept under the rug and let go.
It saddens me to see that he still gets an invite to these events yet small content creators some of which seem to put out Merlin positive content on a weekly basis don't get an invite, which may even help them to grow and make better content.
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On a sidenote, seems to be a good filler attraction Thorpe have created here, lets hope it gets a Fright nights overlay.
 

Trax

Mega Poster
You can't blame the park for wanting to get the most attention.
It is way easier for a park to give one Youtube with 100k+ permissions, than 20 smaller ones. Most parks require a certain amount of subscribers to cooperate with you in the first place.
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Despite all the negativity towards TPWW, people still follow, watch and comment on it. If people were really offended they’d ignore and block it. My eyes roll whenever people take time out to slag somebody off...just turn off and stop giving them airtime, watch figures and attention.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
I'd have assumed that was a photo of an old, half abandoned seaside town if I didn't know it was one of the UK's top attended theme parks.

I wonder what the original design team make of all this? I know we lost a lot of this area in the Thorpe Fire, but that was 21 years ago...
 

chainedbanana

Mega Poster
I'd have assumed that was a photo of an old, half abandoned seaside town if I didn't know it was one of the UK's top attended theme parks.

I wonder what the original design team make of all this? I know we lost a lot of this area in the Thorpe Fire, but that was 21 years ago...

It felt like a Blackpool backstreet! - I couldn't think of a more depressing sight - considering Surrey is a lovely county - with lots of pleasant views and walks and countryside - it seems at odds that someone would pay to go into a place of this quality (yeah i know people go for the rides.... but)

That building used to house carousel kingdom and Space station zero before and had paladian style terraces outside with hanging baskets etc - and it's right in the heart of the park.....grim! As Silverarrow said in her report - hire a graffiti artist to do an interesting mural or something!
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
I've criticized M&D's for not having a single permanent structure in the park, but if it had one, I think it would look something like this.

I don't know what's worse. The expanse of patched asphalt, the drab, greige building stripped of all decoration, the general misery of the facade, or the long row of claw machines - widely known (but not widely enough, apparently) - to be money-sucking total scams. There is an algorithm that determines how often the claw will apply enough strength to grip an item, so even with perfect skill you're not likely to ever get a prize. Usually it's cheaper to just buy the prizes online anyway.

Yeah, I think that's the worst thing. That Thorpe stripped down the facade of the building to a colourless husk, but let the claw machines remain on prominent display. They've taken away the ornaments and decoration there once was, and set up a row of scam boxes instead. It so clearly screams "This area is not here to improve the visit you've paid for - its only purpose is to suck more money out of you while lowering the costs for us".

I noticed on my trip two years ago that Thorpe has a lot of those claw machines. Like, a lot. Evidently they must make money, so Thorpe's spamming them like a kid who's gaming a parameter in a videogame. There are dozens of them around the park, four on every corner. Which is okay enough if they blend into the scenery, but when the scenery looks like the back of an abandoned mall, they don't really enhance the overall impression. The way the area used to look (center of the picture below), the claw machines looked like something you could hit up for fun while standing in the shade of a lovely veranda. Now the area could illustrate the dictionary entry for "cheap cash grab".

LOpF95i.jpg
 

Will

Strata Poster
I thought that was an old picture and they'd have done something with it by now - not good...

By contrast (and yes, in the wrong topic) - after a seven year absence, I couldn't believe how clean and shiny Chessington (with the possible exception of Transylvania) was looking. I've been overlooking the place as they'd not really added anything 'for me' but while I admit it's hardly Europa or Phantasia, it's still clear where the cash has been splashed :)
 

Fluorineer

Mega Poster
I noticed on my trip two years ago that Thorpe has a lot of those claw machines. Like, a lot. Evidently they must make money, so Thorpe's spamming them like a kid who's gaming a parameter in a videogame. There are dozens of them around the park, four on every corner. Which is okay enough if they blend into the scenery, but when the scenery looks like the back of an abandoned mall, they don't really enhance the overall impression. The way the area used to look (center of the picture below), the claw machines looked like something you could hit up for fun while standing in the shade of a lovely veranda. Now the area could illustrate the dictionary entry for "cheap cash grab".

These Grab-a-Prize-machines are a Merlin-staple though. Heide Park has them spread around the resort as well. Depending on what part of the resort you book, a clawmachine might be the only amenity that is available 24/7 :p

My last stay was also dirt-cheap though, so if it helps pay the bills, why not. As long as a certain standard is met, I rather have the parks and resorts be as cheap as possible, especially because Merlin would not be capable to compete in the higher-priced tier of theme park resorts anyway.
 

Rupert

Mega Poster
because Merlin would not be capable to compete in the higher-priced tier of theme park resorts anyway.
I know what you mean but I don’t buy this at all. Merlin not only have a colossal investment firm behind them but also make a decent yearly profit. Looking at what many other European parks do with lower attendance and revenue (Hansa, Toverland, Tripsdrill; hell even the parks owned by the other multi-national operators like the Walibis, Gröna Lund etc), Merlin could easily spend more on upkeep, maintenance and theming to give a good enough experience they can push into the top, and yes higher-priced, tier of theme parks.

They currently don’t offer the top tier experience that warrants the higher price but they certainly could with some investment and some effort. The rumours always seem to be that the parks themselves want to but Merlin head office don’t give them the funds to do so. Whether this is because of the lack of UK competition, or the UK public perhaps not demanding high enough standards (maybe a function of the same problem), or Merlin continuously devaluing their offering with non-stop buy-one-get-one-free entry vouchers, I’m not sure.

We always seem to discuss that parks like Disney, Universal, Europa, Phantasialand et al generate so much money because when guests aren’t queuing or riding coasters they are spending money on refreshments etc and spending time taking in the good atmosphere and environment. I certainly do when I’m at the mainland European parks because I find them such nice places to be. I have no desire to at Merlin parks (especially Thorpe and Chessington to be honest) because the setting just feels more rundown and cheap. Even in Gardaland with the beautiful surroundings the park didn’t feel like somewhere I wanted to chill out too much between rides.

Anyway I’ve written too much to say I don’t think the parks feel cheap to be in when you consider what you’re spending to be there, but also that perhaps if there was competition or they simply tried/gave the budget, Merlin could have a set of really quite great parks with good theming and atmosphere that are in a top tier. At the moment they feel quite far away from that.
 

Furiustobaco

Mega Poster
By contrast (and yes, in the wrong topic) - after a seven year absence, I couldn't believe how clean and shiny Chessington (with the possible exception of Transylvania) was looking. I've been overlooking the place as they'd not really added anything 'for me' but while I admit it's hardly Europa or Phantasia, it's still clear where the cash has been splashed :)
I heavily agree with this- i think Chessington has been a sleeper park in the past few years. It has been refurbing the crap out of stuff and taking a new direction. Croc Drop says it all- okay lets remove a unpopular and unreliable flat ride (i'm sorry, Ram fans) and replace it with a new good looking flat ride.

It is a smaller scale park that will never seen huge gate figures. But for what it is, right now it is a neat park and better than Thorpe up the road IMO.
Every visit i have had recently has been hugely positive- good operations, good staff. And the park overall looking sharper than ever (probably not as the 90s but still). That new coaster on its way could really push Chessington to actively compete with Paultons. Which would be great for us, as both would strive to outdo each other.
 

MouseAT

Hyper Poster
Merlin like to pretend that they've got you covered if they can't operate their rides, but it turns out that unless you bought your ticket directly from them, in advance, online, at full price, you're completely out of luck. Of course, they don't actually publicise this anywhere at the park, as that might result in lots of angy people at guest services.

Merlin Entertainments said:
The Island Return Guarantee excludes the following ticket types:
Car Park tickets, Accommodation (including THORPE SHARK Hotel stays), Fastrack, Bounceback or VIP Experience tickets, any THORPE PARK Resort or Merlin Annual Passes visits, Schools, pre-organised events, corporate discounted tickets, park buy-outs, Merlin's Magic Wand tickets, open dated tickets, two day open-dated tickets, 1 Day Tickets purchased on the day of your visit, tickets purchased using third party reward loyalty points and pre-booked coach trips.

Not offering any sort of concession with discounted tickets might be reasonable if it wasn't for the fact that Merlin's entire business model is designed around charging extortionate prices for "regular" entry, and then offsetting that by flooding the market with offers to make the parks look like a reasonable deal. On top of that, it's not like Merlin haven't had over a decade to get their affairs in order at Thorpe Park; If they can't operate rides reliably, and have to operate a returns system because of it, it's unreasonable to penalise those taking advantage of Merlin's own offers for Merlin's own screw-ups.
 

GregBoxall

Roller Poster
Bit of a joke at Legoland today, feels like we're being forced to buy their coke freestyle bottles. Lots of the refreshments kiosks have been gutted to house the machines, and half of the remaining drinks shops are closed. Even trying to use a vending machine to get a bottle of water is pointless as they're all "sold out". Great job Merlin 👍
 

LaurenceUK

Roller Poster


Anyone know if park capacit has been increased recently following the Government relaxation? Surely with everyone having to prebook, this sort of thing shouldn't be happening.
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
People leaving war-torn countries are fleeing, not Sally and Bob storming out of the queue for Vampire because Timmy has wet himself.

Been a depressing read catching up on this thread. I was after a theme park fix the other day when in the Peak District for a few days but couldn't justify the cost of visiting Alton for a 10-4 opening and knowing that the rides were iffy. And seeing the state of Thorpe above rules that out.

Bring on my second vaccine and trips to Europe again.
 
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