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WTF Merlin?

Nicky Borrill

Strata Poster
Ohh forgot to mention, whilst we're talking about capacity, the park is not operating at capacity, it's operating over capacity!!!

They have openly announced that they're fully sold out, max capacity, paid tickets, pass pre books, everything...

And yet you're able to enter with a pass and no pre book, as nobody was on the gate checking them ;)
 

Swat

Mega Poster
Ohh forgot to mention, whilst we're talking about capacity, the park is not operating at capacity, it's operating over capacity!!!

They have openly announced that they're fully sold out, max capacity, paid tickets, pass pre books, everything...

And yet you're able to enter with a pass and no pre book, as nobody was on the gate checking them ;)
Ive done Fright Nights yearly for a very long time, this year was the worst I have ever seen the park. From the entrance procedures which are taken directly from Heathrows security set up including sniffer dogs to as mentioned, the park being very over capacity. I went on Friday the 22nd it was always going to be busy but I did not expect fastpass queues to be pushing 30/45 minuites, prebook/timed tickets (Which arent checked at all and you can easily visit outside of your time and re-run through mazes) to be seeing extreme queues and the general park being crowded. I did manage to get most major rides done but my issue more is to do with general operations. Ride dispatches were super slow, the entrance as mentioned took an extrememely long time and well, for a 20 years of Fright Nights it was missing that really special factor. Compared it to Alton you can't even tell its the same company which owns both.

This is not even the biggest issue with Thorpe though, the park is an absolute dive. SBNO rides just left there, every area/every ride needs cleaning, areas painting and its been said time and time again on here, every ride is 'themed' to abandoned/end of the world so it just feels like a dump. I get it from Merlins point of view. Why spend money when there is no competition locally, the park must be making an absolute killing and they have a load of other parks to play with and invest in.
 

Nicky Borrill

Strata Poster
Ive done Fright Nights yearly for a very long time, this year was the worst I have ever seen the park. From the entrance procedures which are taken directly from Heathrows security set up including sniffer dogs to as mentioned, the park being very over capacity. I went on Friday the 22nd it was always going to be busy but I did not expect fastpass queues to be pushing 30/45 minuites, prebook/timed tickets (Which arent checked at all and you can easily visit outside of your time and re-run through mazes) to be seeing extreme queues and the general park being crowded. I did manage to get most major rides done but my issue more is to do with general operations. Ride dispatches were super slow, the entrance as mentioned took an extrememely long time and well, for a 20 years of Fright Nights it was missing that really special factor. Compared it to Alton you can't even tell its the same company which owns both.

This is not even the biggest issue with Thorpe though, the park is an absolute dive. SBNO rides just left there, every area/every ride needs cleaning, areas painting and its been said time and time again on here, every ride is 'themed' to abandoned/end of the world so it just feels like a dump. I get it from Merlins point of view. Why spend money when there is no competition locally, the park must be making an absolute killing and they have a load of other parks to play with and invest in.
Thorpe was bad the previous Monday too, but not on the same level of despair as Towers fortunately. (local school holidays don’t help this week.)

Towers get away with a lot, due to it’s more ‘natural’ setting, and wide open spaces. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan boy, I love the place, but look more closely next time you visit, almost everything looks like it’s being left to rot :/ from coaster track, to buildings, from fences to theming, and shops / stalls with rotten window frames, everything is dirty and rotting… Compared to countless parks over the channel, we (or at least Merlin) somehow seem to have no idea how to keeps things in best presentable condition.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
These queue times are pretty standard for Scarefest. It's their busiest time of the year.
It does beg the question who in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to such insane queuing (answer: nobody). It doesn’t sound fun at all.

I’m not too bothered by what rides I’ll get on, but I’m nevertheless bracing myself somewhat for my upcoming visit.
 

Nicky Borrill

Strata Poster
It does beg the question who in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to such insane queuing (answer: nobody). It doesn’t sound fun at all.

I’m not too bothered by what rides I’ll get on, but I’m nevertheless bracing myself somewhat for my upcoming visit.
When are you visiting @Nitefly ?

I must be the worlds biggest sucker… Back there Friday and Sunday (eve only Sunday) for fireworks 🙈😂
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
When are you visiting @Nitefly ?

I must be the worlds biggest sucker… Back there Friday and Sunday (eve only Sunday) for fireworks 🙈😂
Yup there this weekend 🙈 - I presume you mean next Sunday re: fireworks, unless there are some hidden secret fireworks that unlock if you go on rides in a certain order, or something.
 

Will

Strata Poster
Hmm... no Rattlesnake, no Dragon's Fury and no Zoofari.

Not a great look for Chessie on a busy half term Saturday (which is sad, because I'm really impressed by the progress they've made over the last seven years) - and I gather things aren't a whole lot better up at Alton...
 

emoo

Hyper Poster
Wasn't it always the expectation that these would only last a year?

I'm not against something like this coming back in the future. But for now there is no need for a transportable ride to stay out of action if it can be used or checked over elsewhere.

Perhaps a new crop will have the chance to be in the same place for a while.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
It finally happened then, we knew it would but I'll be sad to see them leave. As per my recent little trip report, I hope Merlin have seriously reviewed their inclusion and popularity and have some plans to bring in some permanent flats in their place as they did have an impact on queues and did diversify the day out.

Bring back Twirling Toadstool, in the place of Roller Disco.
 

Will

Strata Poster
As I've said elsewhere, I was sceptical but I actually REALLY liked Funk 'n' Fly - perhaps it was a bit incongruous in the Valley and I could have done without the SAME SIX SONGS on repeat but definitely preferable to an empty space.

I wouldn't be surprised to see them back, if I'm honest, but they've probably got a slot on the travelling circuit over Winter.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
I did too, way more than I expected to. The theme was definitely not fitting and as I've said before, any permanent replacement really should be themed (Nemesis got a Tentacle loose?). I just look at what Paulton's have done, their new land isn't Phantasialand level of theming (arguably, Windmill Towers looks better than Tikal but I digress...) but it just shows what can be done in the UK, and on a lower budget, and it frustrates me.

Alton Towers is one of the precious few parks that could support something mental like Talocan, and I just don't see that happening under Merlin's tenure.
 

CrashCoaster

CF Legend
Alton Towers is one of the precious few parks that could support something mental like Talocan, and I just don't see that happening under Merlin's tenure.
Well given that Towers ripped out their own Top Spin and so did Chessington a couple of years back, we most certainly won't ever be getting Talocan anytime soon.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Why is the Merlin Annual Pass such grotesquely bad value? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any subscription type service that’s worse. So many block out dates for the cheaper pass and you need to book days in advance… terrible.

I must be in the top 1% of ‘visits per year’ to Merlin Parks at ~4-5, but it doesn’t come close to breaking even.

Compare to the Cedar Fair passes - $202 unlimited entry all year, no fuss.

My favourite MAP perk - 20% of photos for the Shrek Experience.

In all likelihood, 2022 is going to be an ‘off year’ for me when it comes to UK parks. I have done them to death and they simply aren’t good enough to warrant repeated visits, year on year.
 

Nicky Borrill

Strata Poster
Why is the Merlin Annual Pass such grotesquely bad value? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any subscription type service that’s worse. So many block out dates for the cheaper pass and you need to book days in advance… terrible.

I must be in the top 1% of ‘visits per year’ to Merlin Parks at ~4-5, but it doesn’t come close to breaking even.

Compare to the Cedar Fair passes - $202 unlimited entry all year, no fuss.

My favourite MAP perk - 20% of photos for the Shrek Experience.

In all likelihood, 2022 is going to be an ‘off year’ for me when it comes to UK parks. I have done them to death and they simply aren’t good enough to warrant repeated visits, year on year.
Bad value for you maybe, but not for
everyone…

Certainly not those of us who live close to a park and visit regularly… It’s exceptional value for me. I have the Platinum pass, so no blackouts, and I only have to visit 4 times (8 times if you compare to half price tickets) to start saving money… I visit wayyy more often than that…

The free parking, discounted food and merch, and ability to visit the midway attractions are all just nice bonuses.

We have to remember there are many parks out there who do not offer a pass at all, and well regarded parks too!!! The pass is a privilege, not a ‘right.’ And it’s one I’m certainly grateful for.
 

Will

Strata Poster
That's partly why I opted for the Alton pass - living half an hour away, I just like the convenience of being able to go on a whim, even if it's busy and I just walk around the gardens - that's gone up a fair bit, but the value's not bad really. It already saved me £11 just for my Lightopia trip :)

I think there's a fair chance I won't do the Southern parks this year, unless there's an official CF meet - they're effort and major investments coming to both in the future, I gather.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
@Nicky Borrill the buy-in for the platinum pass is an eye watering £299, so on the basis that nobody pays full price tickets it’s about ~9 discounted park visits with parking for a solo visitor to break even and increasingly worse value if you’re sharing a car and parking costs are reducing (maybe ~10 parks for a duo to break even). Even at the renewal rates, it’s an ask.

I’m definitely nowhere close to that level of attendance, but surely very few are?

It obviously suits some, nice to hear that it works out for yourself 👌
 
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