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  1. Hi guys. During the coaster consultations in 2021, Merlin released an attendance graph showing all their parks' attendance figures since the early 1980s. I had some time on my hands yesterday evening and decided to try and extrapolate some slightly more precise guest figures for each park from this graph to try and determine the precise(ish) attendance trajectory of each UK Merlin park from the earliest year listed here (1984 for Alton Towers and Chessington, 1983 for Thorpe Park, 1987 for Windsor Safari Park and 1997 for Legoland Windsor). For some idea, this is the original graph I was working with: https://www.cwoa-consultation.com/proposals?lightbox=dataItem-komw1163 To make things easier for myself, I divided each million on the graph into 8 rows (thus leaving ~125,000 guests per row, as my rather crude MS Paint annotation indicates): As such, I then decided to extrapolate a precise(ish) figure from the graph by looking at what row each park's figure fell within. All of these figures are rounded to the nearest 31,250; I know that sounds oddly specific, but it's 1/32 of a million, and a quarter of one of these rows, so it's the most precise figure that remains easy to determine by eye. It also keeps the margin of error to only 1 or 2 percent in most cases. The precise(ish) trajectories that I managed to extrapolate for each park, including percentage increases and decreases for each year, were as follows: Alton Towers - opened 1980, first year on graph 1984 1984: 1,843,750 (first year, #1/3 on graph) 1985: 1,812,500 (-1.7%, #1/3 on graph) 1986: 2,250,000 (+24.1%, #1/3 on graph) 1987: 2,312,500 (+2.8%, #1/4 on graph) 1988: 2,875,000 (+24.3%, #1/4 on graph) 1989: 2,412,500 (-16.1%, #1/4 on graph) 1990: 1,912,500 (-20.7%, #1/4 on graph) 1991: 1,843,750 (-3.6%, #1/4 on graph) 1992: 2,625,000 (+42.4%, #1/4 on graph) 1993: 2,843,750 (+8.3%, #1/4 on graph) 1994: 3,312,500 (+16.5%, #1/3 on graph) 1995: 2,843,750 (-14.2%, #1/3 on graph) 1996: 2,875,000 (+1.1%, #1/3 on graph) 1997: 2,875,000 (0.0%, #1/4 on graph) 1998: 2,906,250 (+1.1%, #1/4 on graph) 1999: 2,593,750 (-10.8%, #1/4 on graph) 2000: 2,412,500 (-7.0%, #1/4 on graph) 2001: 2,187,500 (-9.3%, #1/4 on graph) 2002: 2,687,500 (+22.9%, #1/4 on graph) 2003: 2,562,500 (-4.7%, #1/4 on graph) 2004: 2,125,000 (-17.1%, #1/4 on graph) 2005: 2,187,500 (+2.9%, #1/4 on graph) 2006: 2,218,750 (+1.4%, #1/4 on graph) 2007: 2,250,000 (+1.4%, #1/4 on graph) 2008: 2,593,750 (+15.3%, #1/4 on graph) 2009: 2,687,500 (+3.6%, #1/4 on graph) 2010: 3,062,500 (+14.0%, #1/4 on graph) 2011: 2,687,500 (-12.2%, #1/4 on graph) 2012: 2,406,250 (-10.5%, #1/4 on graph) 2013: 2,593,750 (+7.8%, #1/4 on graph) 2014: 2,312,500 (-10.8%, joint #2/4 on graph) 2015: 1,937,500 (-16.2%, #2/4 on graph) 2016: 1,750,000 (-9.7%, #2/4 on graph) 2017: 1,875,000 (+7.1%, #2/4 on graph) 2018: 2,218,750 (+18.3%, #1/4 on graph) 2019: 2,500,000 (+12.7%, #1/4 on graph) 2020: 912,500 (-63.5%, #1/4 on graph) All-Time Peak: 3,312,500 (1994) All-Time Low (excluding 2020): 1,750,000 (2016) Peak Within Merlin Era (2008 and later): 3,062,500 (2010) Low Within Merlin Era (2008 and later, excluding 2020): 1,750,000 (2016) Chessington/Chessington Zoo - opened 1931, first year on graph 1984, first year as CWOA 1987 1984: 625,000 (first year, #3/3 on graph) 1985: 562,500 (-10.0%, #3/3 on graph) 1986: 500,000 (-11.1%, #3/3 on graph) 1987: 875,000 (+75.0%, #3/4 on graph) 1988: 1,187,500 (+35.7%, joint #3/4 on graph) 1989: 1,250,000 (+5.3%, #3/4 on graph) 1990: 1,062,500 (-15.0%, joint #3/4 on graph) 1991: 1,437,500 (+35.3%, #2/4 on graph) 1992: 1,218,750 (-15.2%, #2/4 on graph) 1993: 1,531,250 (+25.6%, #2/4 on graph) 1994: 1,687,500 (+10.2%, #2/3 on graph) 1995: 1,875,000 (+11.1%, #2/3 on graph) 1996: 1,812,500 (-3.3%, #2/3 on graph) 1997: 1,843,750 (+1.7%, #2/4 on graph) 1998: 1,843,750 (0.0%, #2/4 on graph) 1999: 1,656,250 (-10.2%, #2/4 on graph) 2000: 1,562,500 (-5.7%, #3/4 on graph) 2001: 1,531,250 (-2.0%, joint #3/4 on graph) 2002: 1,281,250 (-16.3%, #4/4 on graph) 2003: 1,312,500 (+2.4%, #4/4 on graph) 2004: 1,250,000 (-4.8%, #4/4 on graph) 2005: 1,093,750 (-12.5%, #4/4 on graph) 2006: 1,000,000 (-8.6%, #4/4 on graph) 2007: 968,750 (-3.1%, #4/4 on graph) 2008: 1,281,250 (+32.3%, #4/4 on graph) 2009: 1,343,750 (+4.9%, #4/4 on graph) 2010: 1,437,500 (+7.0%, #4/4 on graph) 2011: 1,500,000 (+4.3%, #4/4 on graph) 2012: 1,406,250 (-6.2%, #4/4 on graph) 2013: 1,531,250 (+8.9%, #4/4 on graph) 2014: 1,562,500 (+2.0%, #4/4 on graph) 2015: 1,437,500 (-8.0%, #4/4 on graph) 2016: 1,468,750 (+2.2%, #4/4 on graph) 2017: 1,500,000 (+2.1%, #4/4 on graph) 2018: 1,593,750 (+6.3%, joint #4/4 on graph) 2019: 1,687,500 (+5.9%, #3/4 on graph) 2020: 500,000 (-70.4%, joint #4/4 on graph) All-Time Peak: 1,875,000 (1995) All-Time Low (excluding 2020, including pre-CWOA years): 500,000 (1986) All-Time Low (excluding 2020 and pre-CWOA years): 875,000 (1987) Peak Within Merlin Era (2008 and later): 1,687,500 (2019) Low Within Merlin Era (2008 and later, excluding 2020): 1,281,250 (2008) Legoland Windsor/Windsor Safari Park - opened 1970, first year on graph 1987, first year as Legoland Windsor 1996 1987: 812,500 (first year, #4/4 on graph) 1988: 875,000 (+7.7%, #4/4 on graph) 1989: 968,750 (+10.7%, #4/4 on graph) 1990: 1,062,500 (+9.7%, joint #3/4 on graph) 1991: 1,031,250 (-2.9%, #3/4 on graph) 1992: 968,750 (-6.1%, #4/4 on graph) 1993: 937,500 (-3.2%, #4/4 on graph) 1994: N/A (-100.0%, N/A on graph) 1995: N/A (0.0%, N/A on graph) 1996: N/A (0.0%, N/A on graph) 1997: 1,468,750 (first year as LLW, #3/4 on graph) 1998: 1,312,500 (-10.6%, #3/4 on graph) 1999: 1,500,000 (+14.3%, #3/4 on graph) 2000: 1,687,500 (+12.5%, #2/4 on graph) 2001: 1,531,250 (-9.3%, joint #3/4 on graph) 2002: 1,593,750 (+4.1%, #2/4 on graph) 2003: 1,437,500 (-9.8%, #3/4 on graph) 2004: 1,437,500 (0.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2005: 1,500,000 (+4.3%, #3/4 on graph) 2006: 1,625,000 (+8.3%, #3/4 on graph) 2007: 1,500,000 (-7.8%, #3/4 on graph) 2008: 1,875,000 (+25.0%, #2/4 on graph) 2009: 1,906,250 (+1.7%, #3/4 on graph) 2010: 1,906,250 (0.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2011: 1,906,250 (0.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2012: 2,031,250 (+6.6%, #2/4 on graph) 2013: 2,312,500 (+13.8%, #2/4 on graph) 2014: 2,312,500 (0.0%, joint #2/4 on graph) 2015: 2,343,750 (+1.4%, #1/4 on graph) 2016: 2,187,500 (-6.6%, #1/4 on graph) 2017: 2,312,500 (+5.7%, #1/4 on graph) 2018: 2,125,000 (-8.1%, #2/4 on graph) 2019: 2,062,500 (-2.9%, #2/4 on graph) 2020: 656,250 (-68.2%, #2/4 on graph) All-Time Peak: 2,343,750 (2015) All-Time Low (excluding 2020, including pre-LLW years): 812,500 (1987) All-Time Low (excluding 2020 and pre-LLW years): 1,312,500 (1998) Peak Within Merlin Era (2006 and later): 2,343,750 (2015) Low Within Merlin Era (2006 and later, excluding 2020): 1,500,000 (2007) Thorpe Park - opened 1979, first year on graph 1983 1983: 843,750 (first year, #1/1 on graph) 1984: 1,031,250 (+22.2%, #2/3 on graph) 1985: 1,093,750 (+6.1%, #2/3 on graph) 1986: 1,093,750 (0.0%, #2/3 on graph) 1987: 1,093,750 (0.0%, #2/4 on graph) 1988: 1,187,500 (+8.6%, joint #3/4 on graph) 1989: 1,343,750 (+13.2%, #2/4 on graph) 1990: 1,000,000 (-25.6%, #4/4 on graph) 1991: 968,750 (-3.1%, #4/4 on graph) 1992: 1,093,750 (+12.9%, #3/4 on graph) 1993: 1,281,250 (+17.1%, #3/4 on graph) 1994: 1,218,750 (-4.9%, #3/3 on graph) 1995: 1,125,000 (-7.7%, #3/3 on graph) 1996: 1,187,500 (+5.6%, #3/3 on graph) 1997: 968,750 (-18.4%, #4/4 on graph) 1998: 875,000 (-9.7%, #4/4 on graph) 1999: 906,250 (+3.6%, #4/4 on graph) 2000: 937,500 (+3.4%, #4/4 on graph) 2001: 1,187,500 (+26.7%, #4/4 on graph) 2002: 1,437,500 (+21.1%, #3/4 on graph) 2003: 1,531,250 (+6.5%, #2/4 on graph) 2004: 1,468,750 (-4.1%, #2/4 on graph) 2005: 1,562,500 (+6.4%, #2/4 on graph) 2006: 1,812,500 (+16.0%, #2/4 on graph) 2007: 1,843,750 (+1.7%, #2/4 on graph) 2008: 1,843,750 (0.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2009: 2,125,000 (+15.3%, #2/4 on graph) 2010: 2,187,500 (+2.9%, #2/4 on graph) 2011: 2,125,000 (-2.9%, #2/4 on graph) 2012: 1,843,750 (-13.2%, #3/4 on graph) 2013: 1,786,250 (-3.1%, #3/4 on graph) 2014: 1,843,750 (+3.2%, #3/4 on graph) 2015: 1,531,250 (-17.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2016: 1,625,000 (+6.1%, #3/4 on graph) 2017: 1,562,500 (-3.9%, #3/4 on graph) 2018: 1,593,750 (+2.0%, #3/4 on graph) 2019: 1,500,000 (-5.9%, #4/4 on graph) 2020: 500,000 (-66.6%, joint #4/4 on graph) All-Time Peak: 2,187,500 (2010) All-Time Low (excluding 2020): 843,750 (1983) Peak Within Merlin Era (2008 and later): 2,187,500 (2010) Low Within Merlin Era (2008 and later, excluding 2020): 1,500,000 (2019) To sum up each park's trajectory: Alton Towers may have been top dog for the bulk of the years since 1984, but it has also had the most volatile guest figures. It has had peaks as high as 3.3 million in 1994, but also troughs of only slightly above 2 million in the mid-2000s or even slightly below in the early 1990s and mid-2010s, with a nadir of 1.75 million being reached in 2016. At that point, it was well away from #1 and almost rubbing shoulder to shoulder with #3 park Thorpe. Interestingly, its peak was early, in 1994, and only 2010 has ever come close to that since. Merlin have attained fair growth at Alton Towers; between 2007 and 2019, attendance grew by 11.1%. Chessington started off fairly well, attaining steady growth from 1987 up until 1994, where it stayed at its peak until about 1997. However, attendance dropped through the floor from 1998 onwards, hitting a low of under 1 million in 2007, so it's fair to say that Chessington's trajectory has been far from uniform, although things improved notably under Merlin. Interestingly, Chessington is the park that has thrived most under Merlin, with attendance having grown by 74.1% between 2007 and 2019. Nonetheless, the high water mark was hit quite early on at Chessington, with that near 2 million peak guest figure being all the way back in 1995, and no year post-1997 has yet come close to it. Legoland Windsor has had the most consistent growth trajectory of all the parks. With its low back near opening in 1998, its peak in 2015 and no particularly catastrophic attendance drops (COVID aside), it's grown fairly consistently over the years. It's also a park that has thrived pretty well under Merlin; between 2005 and 2019, attendance grew by 37.5%. Thorpe Park has had a bit of a roller coaster of a growth trajectory. The 80s and 90s were a little bit choppy at Thorpe Park, with peaks of close to 1.5 million and lows of under 1 million. The park really hit its stride from 2001 onwards, maintaining a near perfect growth trajectory right up to the park's 2.2 million peak in 2010. However, things have been a bit of a struggle since then, with guest figures having almost consistently declined since 2011 right back to a low of 1.5 million in 2019. The park has comparatively struggled under Merlin, with attendance having fallen by 18.6% between 2007 and 2019. I hope you find this interesting! If you don't agree with something I've done or notice any errors, however, don't be afraid to flag them to me.
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