What's new

WTF Merlin?

Matt N

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.
With regard to the bolded, Alton Towers’ opening hours as of late have mostly been between 6pm and 8pm. Admittedly, they have been extending very close to the day on many 4pm days, but I don’t think the close has actually been 4pm on the day for a while.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
With regard to the bolded, Alton Towers’ opening hours as of late have mostly been between 6pm and 8pm. Admittedly, they have been extending very close to the day on many 4pm days, but I don’t think the close has actually been 4pm on the day for a while.
Thing is, in my mind that's stupid logic. I simply wouldn't visit at all with the park posting a 4pm close. If they decided not to extend, that's a spitefully short day at a big park. May feel like a nice bonus to those in the park, but I wonder how many people are put off even going in the first place?
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Thing is, in my mind that's stupid logic. I simply wouldn't visit at all with the park posting a 4pm close. If they decided not to extend, that's a spitefully short day at a big park. May feel like a nice bonus to those in the park, but I wonder how many people are put off even going in the first place?
They’ve often been extended a couple of days before to 6pm or so, but I’ll admit that the initial 4pm close listed on the website may put people who plan further in advance off going. I still think you can get plenty done in 6 hours if you play your cards right, though…
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
I still think you can get plenty done in 6 hours if you play your cards right, though…

That's the main problem - if you play your cards right. If you play your cards wrong, you end up with a terrible day.

If you don't know the park, or just go to the wrong ride at the wrong time, you can lose a third of your day focusing on one ride. It's a dreadful experience.

Of course, if the park is truly quiet and most rides have next-to-no queues, 6 hours is plenty. But if it's vaguely busy, it's a nightmare.


On the positive, it's good to see the parks extending opening hours. But ultimately yes, Towers' 10-4 days have long been silly and really, 10-5 should be the minimum for the park. I've also never liked the logic of announcing planned extended opening at the last minute - surely you want people to know your opening hours in advance?! Fine if they decide to extend on the day because it's busier or reliability was poor, but if weeks in advance the park know "We're going to close at 5 this week", why wait until the weekend before?
 

Furiustobaco

Mega Poster
Honestly i used to like Europa's system where they would have like 9-6 as a minimum, but very often would wait until midday to announce the offical closing time. When Midday hit, the park would have the closing times on boards around the park. Usually it was extended if the park was busy enough.

Alton Towers honestly should not close at 4pm ever, it is a major park and i believe it is silly hours.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
6pm is the absolute earliest it should close. 8 hours should be the minimum park hours for any park Alton's size, ideally 10.
I'm still a bit gutted that my visit to Blackpool (not Merlin, I know) is 11-5 this Friday.
 

Satanspropaganda

Roller Poster
That's the main problem - if you play your cards right. If you play your cards wrong, you end up with a terrible day.

If you don't know the park, or just go to the wrong ride at the wrong time, you can lose a third of your day focusing on one ride. It's a dreadful experience.

Of course, if the park is truly quiet and most rides have next-to-no queues, 6 hours is plenty. But if it's vaguely busy, it's a nightmare.


On the positive, it's good to see the parks extending opening hours. But ultimately yes, Towers' 10-4 days have long been silly and really, 10-5 should be the minimum for the park. I've also never liked the logic of announcing planned extended opening at the last minute - surely you want people to know your opening hours in advance?! Fine if they decide to extend on the day because it's busier or reliability was poor, but if weeks in advance the park know "We're going to close at 5 this week", why wait until the weekend before?
It always irks me that towers is one of the most spacious parks too, so counting for ride queues + approx 45 mins - an hour of walking between them, even a slightly busy day ends up with you only getting 4 or 5 rides in. We did last November midweek and we only got 6 rides in due to the 6 hour opening times + downtime on Wickerman and Smiler
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Ditto - I wouldn’t visit a theme park on a 4pm finish. I’ve actually just purposefully booked up for Blackpool PB on a date exclusively on the basis of a 10pm finish.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
View attachment 12141

Nah - Even with low queues the time taken to get from ride to ride makes for a burdenous day! You could possibly get away with it at thorpe if queues are less than 15 minutes!
In fairness, I might have a different definition of “plenty” to most of you; I’d personally class 5-6 rides as plenty. My parents and I have basically accepted that we won’t get on every major ride in a theme park visit. At Alton or Thorpe, we usually just pick the rides we fancy going on on that particular day and go on those; we know that it’s not possible to get on everything in one visit.

To be honest, I’m grateful if I go to a park and can get on anything! Of course, I try to get as much in as I can, but getting everything done usually isn’t possible unless it’s a very quiet day or you’re going for 2 days.
 
It always irks me that towers is one of the most spacious parks too, so counting for ride queues + approx 45 mins - an hour of walking between them, even a slightly busy day ends up with you only getting 4 or 5 rides in. We did last November midweek and we only got 6 rides in due to the 6 hour opening times + downtime on Wickerman and Smiler
Bloody he'll I've been on an April weekday on my tod and done the whole park twice plus had lunch by 1400. No running involved, everything was a walk on but even so.
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
The day before I would have gone (when I would have had to book tickets) it still said 4pm close. A few friends had been the week before and said they were queuing for at least an hour for every ride.

Extending the hours on the day or when you're in the park is great for those there - but as others have said it's of no benefit to those like me who have been put off by the advertised hours.
 

Bentleya

Mega Poster
I completely agree, and it’s the main reason I’m not prepared to organise a visit - when you add it all in, the risk of only getting 6 hours in the park and I don’t feel getting just 6 rides in as good value for money.

I’ll just save my money and wait to it’s suitable to head over to Europe.
 

Chris Brown

Mr CoasterForce 2016
It’s clear Alton are trying implement some kind of system that minimises loses / running costs on poor weather days.

There’s a tricky balance to be found in having longer hours to get the punters in but not having them so long that on quiet / bad weather days the park ends up staying open late despite being dead. I agree that deciding opening times a few days In advance, most likely depending on weather / ticket sales, isn’t the best way to go about it as it doesn’t give enough notice but what are the options if they’re tying to cost save? Maybe show a time period that the park may close and caveat that its dependant on weather / attendance. Open at 10 but close between 4 and 8 dependant on the above factors. This then causes an issue with staffing and guests may feel short changed if it closes earlier than expected. Bit of a lose lose really.
 

Trax

Mega Poster
Honestly, I wouldn't mind a 4pm closure if the park is a) really empty and b) has short enough paths to be able to get around easily.

When I visited Alton Towers 2 years ago, I planned in 2 days, to accomodate for the huge distances between some rides. First day was Sunday with (I believe) 5 pm closure and the second day was a 4pm one.
The interesting thing: Sunday was the better day at the park. The attendance on both days was around the same, but they operated their rides on a way higher capacity on sunday. Both stations on Air, double loading station on Oblivion, 4 trains on Smiler, 2 on Wicker Man, Nemesis and even Rita.
The queues were still there, but with some intelligent planning (and one one-time fast pass for Spinball) we got plenty of rides in. And the following monday, felt more like a Merlin park. 1 train service on most rides, resulting in longer queues and way less rides on that day.
We used the time to relax a little bit, but if that would have been our only day, we really would have to have rushed through everything to have a chance to get the creds.

I had a similar experience at Heide-Park last year (June). First day, a sunday saw quite short queues and 2 train service on everything (except Krake and Bobbahn, which ran more). My friends and I really enjoyed that day. Second day, one train on everything except for Colossos, and nearly double the queue times.

I like Europas approach of guaranteeing a decent amount of time, but extending it on a usual basis to accomodate for the visitor numbers. Most days at Europa, even quiet ones, they extended the opening by at least half and hour, usually 1+ hour.
 

Coaster

Mega Poster
Merlin are objecting to the London Resort planning application;


My thoughts on this?

Merlin need to do one. They have strangled the life out of the UK theme park industry for so long now, with them owning the monopoly yet having such low standards in their parks, with no real drive to improve.

Their model of "slap an IP on it" whilst neglecting rides and basic infrastructure has killed the offering at their parks and, if the London Resort was to happen, their short termism would most likely come back to bite them. My view is that they feel threatened by the prospect of a company coming in and doing a really good job with a park, as it would shift the public perception of Merlin being "the expected standard" in the UK

Merlin are a company that call themselves second only to Disney, yet they copy-paste ideas across the world, copy Paultons with Peppa Pig world (albeit not in the UK, as they can't) and they can't even invest satisfactorily in their major parks in the UK. Thorpe hasn't seen solid investment since 2012 despite supposedly being the UK's "thrill capital". London Resort would challenge Merlin, which they clearly don't want.

In my opinion, London Resort is exactly what the UK industry needs for it to thrive, some healthy competition which would force Merlin to act. Look at America, there's a rivalry between Cedar Fair and Six Flags, or the European parks which are all owned by different companies. It's much healthier and means that parks have to be at the top of their game to stay in competition.

The fact that Merlin are making a fuss over this this says everything about them as a company, second rate and not willing to adjust and improve their offering to compete.
 

davidm

Strata Poster
^ from that article they are not objecting to the application itself specifically (yet), just objecting to a technicality in the reason for the 4-month extension to the submission (caused by that environmental thing that came up).

But STILL.... such a low move (just trying to delay/scupper the competition I guess)

Not a good look Mr Merlin, not at all.
 

spicy

Giga Poster
Yea that’s extremely poor show from Merlin there, clearly very happy with their UK Monopoly.

Maybe the London Resort planning has a bit more weight about it than suspected if Merlin are willing to go out and make themselves look a bit silly here. They may know something we don’t.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Strange, I'd have thought it would be the other way. With Merlin laying the bar so low, London Resort would have all sorts of excuses to play it cheap and deliver the same bare minimum, if it ever came to fruition.

Still, I guess there's limited room for players in the game on that level too.
 

FistedColossus

Hyper Poster
Hardly surprising tbh, no business is going to welcome direct competition with open arms. See Mocha Joe Vs Larry David.

But yeah, Merlin can still do one.
 
Top