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  1. Couldn't agree more Joshua. You hit it on the head. Thorpe need to become a "good amusement park" rather than a theme park. Hit the Six Flags / Cedar Point model and you're onto a winner by being different enough to Chessie and LEGOLAND just around the corner..
  2. You also have an element of Global business strategy going into play here too: 1. Nick V will only invest if it guarantees 25% return on investment (as quoted in an interview he did last year). This was not the case for the last 2 big investments, so there is an element of caution with Thorpe. Once bitten, twice shy, third time reluctant. 2. The strategy of Merlin is to add bedrooms and hotels. This is where the majority of the investment is happening because this is where the majority of the capital comes from - the rest of the investments are kept low key where possible and the parks hardware investment has ground to pretty much a halt except for special circumstances. It is safe business / revenue generation. Thorpe is limited to what it can do in this space because of location, available space etc. Compare Thorpe Shark to the hotels at Windsor, Chessie, Alton and Gardaland. As a result, you have a park that seems neglected because they aren't getting huge investments for hardware (other than DBGT) nor are they getting the hotel investments either. 3. IP's generally work. When you get the right one. Peppa Pig in Europe has been a massive hit at the parks and the World Of Play new openings are huge around the world. Sadly, Merlin will never have the UK license so has to settle for other IPs instead. Saw broke the mould and was a success. But piggy-packing on some-ones IP is less risky than creating your own - arguably the lazy, "quick win" option, but if it works you're a fool to not exploit it. 4. Thorpe seem to be becoming the Six Flags option of Merlin. They are going down the generic, lifeless, soul-less way of running a park as an experiment because they have no specialism - Chessie with the zoo; LEGOLAND with, well, Lego; Alton and the Towers, Gardaland being a bit like Disney, Heide Park being beautiful etc, Thorpe has no anchor and while it is so close to Chessie and LEGOLAND I don't think it ever will have one. But, they are now stuck in a rutt of this way of working doesn't work andno-one is willing to give up the capital to break them out of the cycle because of the toxic "you must perform financially in order to be given money to better yourself" attitudes that modern businesses have. I'd love it if Merlin were to just say "Right, here's £100 million. Sweep the entire park and make it great again within a year so that we can ramp up profits next year" but it won't happen. 5. I have a feeling that the new "owners" will not be as restrictive as playing shareholder politics. They are going to be investing for the strength of their business and not the perceptions and opinions of shareholders. This may see an uplift in investments in due course. But, don't hold your breath 6. MMM seem to play it safe with investments and there are no rumblings anywhere of us working with pioneering or elite ride manufacturers. And while Merlin have the perception that rollercoasters bring in more people than flat rides (which are by large more expensive to maintain for the investment they require in comparison), we will always see the decline in flats and ramping up of coasters of varying quality. Maybe if they were more daring, we would see an RMC spring up at Thorpe.. or a Mack Launcher at Chessie.
  3. I don't think the park are struggling as much as people may think they are.. Perceptions are only part of the truth. However, pulling the 8pm closes is a good decision. The few I've been to this year have all been dead by 6 - even when the queues throughout the day were 60+ mins. I've arrived at 5pm to a sea of people leaving because that is just the behaviour and habit of the locals (and in general the UK). It took Thorpe THREE simultaneous events last summer to get even remotely decent numbers in past 6pm: "Summer Lates", "Love Island" and "Ministry". And even then it was akin to one of the quieter off-peak days. It's just not viable and we just don't seem to have the desire, demand or culture to accommodate late theme park openings here. Look at Gardaland in Italy - they're open until 11pm every night between June and September - because their culture and offering supports it. You can look at queue times, see "10 mins for their headlines rides" and think that it isn't viable for them to do it.. but they get 2 waves of people going to the park - one in the morning and one around 5pm. They can still see upwards of 20,000 through the gates and maintain 10 min queues on their headline coasters. Over here, we just don't have that type of offering. Even the seaside ones struggle after "tea time" - BPPB (excluding their fireworks nights), some of the piers, Fantasy Island and so on. It isn't exclusive to Merlin parks. We just simple have a culture of "tea time is here, get home, get fed, get the kids to bed". No amount of coaxing people to stay has worked and for that reason Thorpe are right to ditch something that isn't working... Now to just convince them the same of DBGT..
  4. I think this is ultimately the point at the bottom of it all. Although people would happily argue that it breaks the Lost City emersion, it isn't taking a ride or attraction away to be there. Slammer and Loggers were already gone and who knows, this could be an experiment or future investments to see what works with the GP outside of expensive hardware - which some people seem to forget that Merlin don't OWN the land and so have to first seek permission from the owners to install. Yes, something big and shiny will be coming along soon - the Loggers / Slammer site can't stay as it is forever; nor can the island behind Swarm. But, just throwing new rides and coasters at the park doesn't work in 2019 - it did back in the early 2000s because that was the worldwide theme park culture back then, but not now. It's no longer about parks being ride / coaster count heavy, it's becoming more about park-wide experiences. Ask yourself - outside the community, was Steel Vengeance or Valravn a success for Cedar Point - did it engage visitors and increase their numbers massively? The 2018 TEA report would suggest not, whereas Gardaland added Peppa Pig and increased their visitors by around 10% (the exact figure escapes me) - it's nothing new or shiny. It's a well done retheme with a successful IP. And let's be honest, the park this year is operating on a much higher level than previous years. It seems to be slicker, more care put into appearance (look at the park last weekend for the birthday - the only effect not working on any ride were the skimmers on Swarm) and actually more professional. All of this seems to go unnoticed by any-one quick to criticise. They literally can't win.
  5. Jeez guys, this is one echo chamber full of negativity - talk about "love us, hate Merlin" sometimes. So, no. Bouncezilla isn't a multi-million pound rollercoaster or flat ride. No it isn't an immersive dark ride. No it isn't long term. It is as every bit garish, loud and obnoxious as it suggests. It actually does what it does well and although the location isn't perfect, it's something different to do in the park (along with GameFX and the Lunar cinema too). At the moment, there are lots of rides and games stalls, but very few attractions or experiences. So, it's nice that Thorpe are exploring the possibility of things outside of rides. It's just a shame that some people interpret this as cheap, low effort and poorly thought out. Ultimately, this seems to be popular with the public and I guess that matters more to Thorpe than some die-hard forum keyboard warriors out to criticise every aspect of the park and Merlin. People seem too willing to pick them apart for every tiny detail not to their taste, but seem to be unwilling to recognise when they do well or congratulate them for at least trying something new. Given that DBGT and The Swarm didn't generate the ROI they had hoped for, allowing Thorpe to explore other aspects of their park and guest profile is actually wise. But of course, Thorpe could build an RMC to rival Steel Vengeance or a Hyper that would challenge Hyperion and they would still rubbish it "because it is Thorpe".
  6. Personally, I love it. I frequently go on my own.. Probably because I'm a billy-no-mates who likes rides a little too much haha. As Pluk says above, you can just get on with your day and selfishly do Thorpe in your own way, own time, without any politeness needed. Want to go on Swarm? Go. Want food? Go. Want the loo? Go. Want to go home at midday? Go. Eventually, if you go enough, the staff will recognise you and you'll end up making "friends" with them and your day doesn't feel as lonely or empty any more. There's one particularly great lady dispatching Detonator at the moment, who I'm sure must think "God, do you have nothing better to do than come on your own?" but she always says hi and recognises you. If you people watch, you will also find loads of others that are there on their own too and suddenly being there on your own isn't embarrassing or pathetic any more.. The parks are also trained on how to spot and look after lone guests (once they have determined that you're not a threat in any way). so even though you won't know it, staff will have your back. Hope you enjoy your lone day!
  7. People assume that this is a cash grab - but in reality it has more to do with discouraging driving to the park because the local roads are already stretched... Future developments such as rollercoasters will always have an increase in traffic accounted for within the planning application and at some point Runnymead Council will have a tipping point to saying "no" because the local infrastructure can't cope with an increase. So, how do you curb that and keep it below that tipping point....? Discourage driving and promote free transport from public transport hubs...
  8. Wow! Some people on here are pretty dismissive of any-one who wants to spend the money on the pass.. Surely it's down to the OP to decide how their £400 is best spent and I note that at no point did the OP ask for opinions on the pass, just how it worked? My understanding is that it works the same way as the DigiPass and VIP Annual Pass (and the once-collected Ultimate Fast-Track bands) - you rock up and have it checked. For the record, I'm also doing the same - I live about 20 mins away from the park and am looking forward to being able to just get up on a weekend and hit the park for a few hours knowing that I don't have to even check how busy it is - I can just go, do what I need to and come home again - no wasted time, no disappointment because Swarm has a 2 hour queue and no planning needed for Fright Nights too...
  9. Probably why they should take stock of what they have already... IAC was always on its way out, Loggers won't return regardless to what theory can be put forward and so they now need to focus on what they have that works well to fix that, rather than concentrating on upkeep of outgoing end-of-life attractions.
  10. The issue that Thorpe have is that they had their fingers burnt with DBGT.. Spent a LOT of money on something that didn't return investment. The same argument could be said about The Swarm - a lot of money for little return in business terms. (Swarm is my fav coaster at Thorpe by the way). So, launching a big attraction off the back of these before getting the park in a state that it's ready for it is a bad move and wouldn't secure the capital for it. This isn't a Field Of Dreams "Build it and they will come" situation - They have to make people want to stay by focusing on their offering. No point attracting people to the park if the offering when they are there isn't good. Thorpe have a lot of work to do to discover who they are again, reassess their strategy, decide new plans etc. That's why I think this year will be the year of stripping out the dead wood and ramping up preparations for their next investment. I'd also expect Alton to be ramping up SW9 for a potential 2021 launch, so they'll probably want to work around that.. In other words, I wouldn't hold out much hope for anything coaster related at Thorpe until 2022 - allowing for this year to be a write-off (in new attraction terms), not enough time to plan for next year while analysing this year's success and Alton taking the light in 2021..
  11. It's a woman I believe. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd expect there would be an element of holding back while they take stock of everything and decide a way forward. It seems that this year there is a focus on what they have now rather than something new and shiny - as evident in the Winter updates where they make a big deal about uncovering the old theming on Colossus, the new grass and some changes to Nemesis Inferno. Ultimately though, I expect that Magic Making would be involved in the process of any planned new attraction. Would be interesting to see whether Magic Making would press on regardless or whether they'd wait to see where the land lay first. Either way, I think this may be a quiet season for developments as much as I'd love to see surprise planning permission for a major investment..
  12. Hardly nonsense.. It's business sense.. Every business will consider an ROI on every decision they make. It's just whether that business deems "customer experience" an investment worth investing in if something else will generate bigger returns.. Of course, every business gets to a point of having to take stock and re-focus before moving into the next investment..
  13. I'd love to see a Lech-style Vekoma coaster at Thorpe. It's pretty compact, fast and from reports is smooth.. That would fit quite nicely if we aren't going to see an RMC or GCI...
  14. Don't hold your breath for anything new in 2019... I think this might be a regroup and reconsider year - Events and licks of paint. Expect focus to be on presentation and operations rather than new and shiny. They'll be focusing on getting it right for the visitors they currently have before trying to attract new ones.
  15. Probably safe to say that with the success of the events over this year and it being a potentially low cap-ex year, we will see some form of refit to allow better events.. such as Neptune's Beach (most likely) or Old Town (least likely). Thorpe are probably holding onto the Old Town area for the next high cap-ex cycle but I think there are other plans a-foot first. It'd be nice to see the rumoured re-configuration of the entrance area to include shops, restaurants, "Second Gates" like SeaLife, Dungeons etc that can be open all year round (that also supports the hotel too), but I doubt we will see that.. I think there's a lot of excitement brewing about "Project 2020" or "ProjectZero", but I can't see any signs in any of the financial reports that can verify this sort of spend. I think fingers have been burnt with DBGT and Swarm.. Remember that in an interview Nick Varney said that unless there is a 20% return on investment it doesn't get built... I think Swarm and DBGT have some way to hit that point. Until then, I doubt funds would be released.. So, for now, I think a focus on entertainment and retail offerings will be in the pipeline before any significant investment..
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