Sadly the park has been on a slippery slope for at least five years.
Some will say The Swarm was unsuccessful because it didn’t increase visitor numbers and attendance continued to decline. However it must be kept in mind 2012 was not a great year for park attendance industrywide as a result of the olympics and (proper) bad weather.
There comes a time when attractions reach a glass-roof on attendance figures and for Thorpe that time was around 2011/2012. In it’s current footprint the park realistically probably can’t hold much more than around 2 million visitors.
With this in mind, the park should’ve intended to maintain gate figures as opposed to increasing but instead counted Swarm as a failure and made some questionable decisions (not saying they had already done-so before 2012).
Some of the reasons the park has has fallen so much includes (but is not limited) to the following:
Inconsistent marketing- family advertising years x&y, Thrill z&a, Park decisions contradict this
Lack of direction- Towers is for everyone, Chessington a theme park zoo, Thorpe doesn’t know what it is
DBGT- dubbed as the future of theme parks with one of the biggest budgets and marketing of any attraction, still a drastic failure that didn’t improve anything
Cheap attractions- Angry Birds, IAC, Timber Tug, Lumber Jump, quick cheap shoe-horned attractions that were just ‘plonked’ into what was available without really improving the product offering
Neglect and lack of TLC- many areas of the park still look a mess, rundown and dilapidated with little in the form of fun or escapism, ironically the dark themes seem better kept than the few happier ones,
Loggers Leap- still one of the most iconic and enjoyable attractions in it’s final years, the attraction was just abandoned with no clear future until the park bluntly confirmed it’s closure three years later
The Smiler Crash- affected park attendance across the industry
The previous decade saw much growth, progress and expansion to the park. Whether this was all sustainable and long-term thinking remains questionable as few parks can realistically continue adding hefty additions every year.
Unfortunately I think the next decade of the park will be one of disappointments and further stagnation if current trends and operation continue. It is likely Merlin see the park as a resource drainer currently. However rather continuing to invest, it is expected the park is being managed on minimal funds making Park spending more difficult and we probably won’t see any noticeable investment for several years at least.
The park has seen several directors come and go in short time and most of the park’s mid-higher management leave or sacked.
It will take a while before the park moves forwards again (if it ever moves forwards again).