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The Next Big Thing

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We know there were significant changes in the upper management at Thorpe last season, would it be likely the new guy has come in and pulled whatever plans his predecessor had in the works so they can make their own mark taking the park in their chosen direction?

 

Would make sense if things appear to have ground to a halt. If that is what's happened I hope it doesn't result in any replacement development being rushed to hit the same opening season with a delayed starting point.

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On ‎2‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 12:23 PM, pluk said:

We know there were significant changes in the upper management at Thorpe last season, would it be likely the new guy has come in and pulled whatever plans his predecessor had in the works so they can make their own mark taking the park in their chosen direction?

 

Would make sense if things appear to have ground to a halt. If that is what's happened I hope it doesn't result in any replacement development being rushed to hit the same opening season with a delayed starting point.

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..

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I like that way of thinking, sort the park out properly and then invest in something big once its ready - if that's what they're doing then fair enough.  Should've happened years ago, mind.

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I don't think sprucing up the park would come at the expense of a major attraction. Small years, sure, but big years? Especially when they haven't had a coaster since 2012.

 

Feels like a shot in the foot, and too little too late.

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18 hours ago, JoshC. said:

I don't think sprucing up the park would come at the expense of a major attraction. Small years, sure, but big years? Especially when they haven't had a coaster since 2012.

 

Feels like a shot in the foot, and too little too late.

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..

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16 minutes ago, Benin said:

If they strip the deadwood out of Thorpe there won't be much park left though?

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.

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19 hours ago, daboywunda said:

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.

But there's the other side of the coin - why will people come in the first place? They've introduced big new attractions which haven't had the instant impact for different reasons.

 

Swarm was coming off the back of two of the busiest and most successful years of the park, and in a year where there was more interesting things happening outside of theme parks (Olympics for example). It would have been incredible for the park not to suffer a drop off in 2012. To this day Swarm remains one the most popular rides on park (in terms of guest feedback), so it's had the lasting success. It just failed short-term. DBGT is of course a whole story in itself.

 

But yes, neither of those worked as hoped. And they've done improvements to them the year after they opened, again with little success. So the current offering isn't working on getting people into the park. Solely focusing on the current offering will of course help improve satisfaction and return visits of those who do go, but if that number dwindles, it doesn't help surely?

 

19 hours ago, daboywunda said:

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..

It'd be interesting if Towers went for SW9 for 2021. Following Merlin's 4 year investment strategy, 2021 would be Chessington's big thing, and Towers would be 2022 in theory. Though of course Towers is thrown off by Wicker Man being a year later... Personally I think it's better not having Towers and Chessington share a major investment year, but maybe Merlin want to get the shift back to how it was.

 

I don't hold out hope for anything major any time soon either tbh. Which is a shame and a worry. Thorpe aren't in a position where they can go years and years without investing in new things. Rethemes can help, but they'll only take the park so far. 

 

I'm all for the park taking stock and improving what they have, making the park look nicer, improving reliability, etc. But it has to be balanced with new additions. They shouldn't do one without the other. The park went through the phase of adding new additions left right and centre without really taking care of the park. They're now bordering on the other extreme, and it's really no better for the park.

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2020: A Mack Wild Mouse themed to Operation Yewtree 

2021: A children's playground with year round live scare actors 

2022: "The Thorpe Park Dungeon" 

2023: The Octopus Garden rides return in the Saw area 

2024: The whole "resort" falls apart from neglect, Merlin assure everyone that they are looking into options and that despite nothing being open, there are tons of events to look forward to on the beach this summer, including The Cannibal Holocaust Experience and the return of Love Island (which got cancelled in 2022) 

2025: The Thorpe Housing Estate 

 

The worrying thing is that whilst I'm exaggerating, it's not by much. Merlin really do need to go. 

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1 hour ago, Lewis. said:

Merlin really do need to go.

*Invest more. I'm sure without the backing of a large company like Merlin Thorpe would be much more afraid to invest in new coasters or rides for fear of going bankrupt in case one of them doesn't work.

We've already seen in BPB the effects of financial strain on a single park after a large investment that wasn't an immediate hit (or maybe they just weren't ready yet, who knows? I'm only speculating).

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If Thorpe were owned by another company though they'd probably be able to invest in the things they NEED; rather than some nonsense USP that doesn't actually work or make sense in terms of the park's goals... 

 

Might be too early to judge the effect Icon has on Blackpool, especially when it's not helped by their own operating practices... But how come all these independent parks (or parks with general smaller budgets in group owned places) can afford to construct half decent attractions with relatively unique and strong themes without reverting to IPs?

 

Wickerman PROVES Merlin can do it... They just don't know what to do with those middling additions between the big stuff... 

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I find it funny how, generally speaking, people criticise Merlin's approach of needing major attractions to be instant success to be viewed as good or not, yet moan when they feel other parks' major attractions aren't an instant success. I know there's different things to consider and stuff, but you can't have it both ways surely?

 

If Thorpe were to be taken over by a new company, they would have a lot of money. And they would understand they'd need to invest heavily to compete against the Merlin parks, as well as Paultons, and keep the likes of Blackpool and Flamingo Land in mind as well. 

 

Just look at the Netherlands over the past few years. 3 parks (Efteling, Walibi Holland and Toverland) have been competing against each other with offering huge new attractions, even though Efteling is miles ahead in attendance, and Walibi and Toverland aren't even in the 3 most visited Dutch theme parks.. It's one of the most exciting markets to watch right now. Imagine if Thorpe, Towers and Chessington were owned individually - you can have some amazing competition!

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New management at the park started this year I believe. The last MTDP was released in 2010! I highly doubt the park will just abandon the concept of MTDPs (it's like a fast track for planning permissions) so it's becoming abundantly clear 2019 will be used as a year for the new management to "settle in" and finalise their MTDPs for the next 5 years. So even if a 2020 coaster planning permission won't be released (Project 2020 I believe was a plan from the previous divisional director who has now left hence why I think the coaster aspect has been delayed/scrapped) we can still get excited for the release of the MTDP in the next few years (if we're lucky, even at the end of the year) which will tell us what to look forward to (and why it's not what the park needs).

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I don't think we're seeing a new coaster for a while tbh.

Swarm was a great addition but as others have said it was a failure for attendance but obviously there was a lot of others factors in 2012 which play a role to why they suffered a slight drop.

 

DBGT is probably the biggest thing since and look how that panned out- a massive and expensive liability of a attraction..

I think when we do eventually get a coaster hopefully it'll be on the same level as Wickerman or Smiler, but for now I honestly see Alton and Chessington being much higher up on the pecking order than Thorpe.

 

Remember when Thorpe used to get coasters every few years? I think those days are over..

 

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I get the impression we won’t see a major addition I.E major coaster added this side of 2022. 

 

Thorpe once received the lion’s share of investment through the late Tussauds and early Merlin days. However in the last few years this is definitely the case.

 

Through a combination of wasted/short sighted investments and Merlin clutching more from their pursestrings, the next few years look bleak. We might see some small touch ups and events, but I’ll count my lucky stars if I see a new ride soon, let alone a coaster!

 

The last decade was exciting, optimistic and prosperous, but for the next decade I only see doom and gloom for the park, unless they receive miraculous guest increases. 

 

When Merlin said they were reducing theme park capex for the coming years, they were basically saying Thorpe will receive minimal investment because it is the least successful park.

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19 minutes ago, James Allgood said:

Looks like the hotel might be the next thing on the cards! 

 

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That exact question has been on the surveys for the last 3 or so years now... would be nice mind if it did happen!

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Some people may be aware that a couple of weeks ago, TowersTimes had a Q&A session with Thorpe. An brief summary from someone who attended, found on CoasterForce:

 

Quote

Right, quick report on what was said during the TTSP event at Thorpe over the weekend (the same event that the 2020 concept art was shown off at two years ago). It seems that there's a lot of changes in the pipeline for Thorpe, with the new divisional director taking the park in a new direction and a new LTDP in development. This new trajectory has set back plans for their next ride back a bit and at the moment, nothing is finalised. That said, the long-term goal is for the park to be unrecognisable from its current state in 10 or so years.


There was also talk of moving from the darker themes a little bit, in addition to Fright Nights exploring other elements of horror instead of just lumbering zombies and grunting actors. The marketing lead in particular seemed enthusiastic about bringing in the families, while still keeping the park focused on the thrill market. I've been very critical of Thorpe recently but I hope this is a turning point for them because I really want them to succeed (mainly because of my selfish want of an incredible park within a 40-minute drive of me to be fair).

 

So it certainly seems like the 'next big thing' is a while away. 

 

It's no secret that Thorpe's non-big things over the past decade have left a lot to be desired, so it'll be interesting to see if they can change that. And also it's questionable whether the park can truly remain fresh and exciting without adding a major new addition for so long.

 

And forgive my pessimistic scepticism, but I see little to be excited about. The park have see-sawed between families and teens/young adults again and again it makes you wonder if they'll ever get the balance right. Saying the park will look unrecognisable in 10 years time is a bold claim which requires a substantial amount of money to back it up (Walibi Belgium are doing something similar and spending at least 100m euros) - and this is during a time when Varney has said that Merlin will be investing less money in theme parks. 

 

It all sounds very much like Thorpe have been looking through rose-tinted binoculars and what the future could be like. 

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I assume going for a family friendly approach will involve getting rid of Walking Dead cred then?

 

Constant reactive decisions aren't helping, and as soon as changes are made and aren't successful in a season (because a massive change like target audience takes time) they'll revert back...

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So the park will be unrecognisable in 10 years? Maybe under water then.

 

I would like to think good things will come, but I just cannot see it. Especially as the park has often promised remarkable things which never happened and with Merlin seeing the park as a failure also. 

 

I could be wrong, but I just don’t see it!

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