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JoshC.

The Alton Towers Dungeons - New for 2019

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Having now done all the UK dungeon attractions aswell as Amsterdam and being somebody who is actually quite a big fan of the dungeons, I can quite categorically say that this is easily the worst of the dungeons by a mile. First off I will start with the positives and say the acting quality was strong as was the final scene with the haunting. HOWEVER and without given much away,I find the amount of black walls and blank corridors between the scenes to be absolutely horrendous. Half the joy of the other dungeons in the UK (which gentle reminder, premium pass holders get FOR FREE!!) is the level of detail and immersion that guests get. This dungeon however I can honestly say that when it comes to detail, it makes Charlie and the chocolate factory look like Pirates of the carribean and I am not even close to joking. In terms of the whole “it’s not finished” malarkey I have heard, well if it’s not finished then don’t have the cheek to open it unfinished and then have the nerve to charge extra for what frankly is a very half heartedly executed experience. Again I reiterate that there ARE positives with the acting ability on display as well as the finale. However that does not save an otherwise lacklustre and needless addition to Alton Towers.

 

Honestly I know I could say “it’s better than nothing”, but in this instance I genuinely think I would prefer literally nothing.

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11 hours ago, Martin Doyle said:

Having now done all the UK dungeon attractions aswell as Amsterdam and being somebody who is actually quite a big fan of the dungeons, I can quite categorically say that this is easily the worst of the dungeons by a mile. First off I will start with the positives and say the acting quality was strong as was the final scene with the haunting. HOWEVER and without given much away,I find the amount of black walls and blank corridors between the scenes to be absolutely horrendous. Half the joy of the other dungeons in the UK (which gentle reminder, premium pass holders get FOR FREE!!) is the level of detail and immersion that guests get. This dungeon however I can honestly say that when it comes to detail, it makes Charlie and the chocolate factory look like Pirates of the carribean and I am not even close to joking. In terms of the whole “it’s not finished” malarkey I have heard, well if it’s not finished then don’t have the cheek to open it unfinished and then have the nerve to charge extra for what frankly is a very half heartedly executed experience. Again I reiterate that there ARE positives with the acting ability on display as well as the finale. However that does not save an otherwise lacklustre and needless addition to Alton Towers.

 

Honestly I know I could say “it’s better than nothing”, but in this instance I genuinely think I would prefer literally nothing.

9

Very strange. I would expect it to be one of the worst of the Dungeons brand considering that it is not standalone. However, going into an attraction with the mindset of looking for every blackwall possible, rather than where the show lights want you to focus, to slate the attraction is not the mindset of a regular guest rather one just looking to find every negative in an attraction they don't want to like from the outset. All reviews I have seen from day guests have been quite positive so far. 

 

The attraction itself is not needless, it adds to the Alton Towers RESORT portfolio, of things for hotel guests to do whilst enjoying their short break, also have you considered that extra ticketing revenue could be used to develop future projects?

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11 minutes ago, Glitch said:

Very strange. I would expect it to be one of the worst of the Dungeons brand considering that it is not standalone. However, going into an attraction with the mindset of looking for every blackwall possible, rather than where the show lights want you to focus, to slate the attraction is not the mindset of a regular guest rather one just looking to find every negative in an attraction they don't want to like from the outset. All reviews I have seen from day guests have been quite positive so far. 

 

 

Perhaps you missed the part where I said I’m “actually a big fan of the dungeons” (matter of fact, Edinburgh and Amsterdam are my two favourite M£rlin attractions) so yeah I think it’s safe to say I gave this every chance possible and wanted it to succeed.

 

For the record, I DID focus on what the show lights wanted me to see... however when the lack of theming in the walls and roofs stick out like a sore thumb (you don’t really have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot them!!) it is quite difficult to turn a blind eye to it ESPECIALLY for somebody who as he has just said, has done every other UK dungeon plus Amsterdam so I would like to think I have a rough idea of what the dungeons are capable of as thematic experiences. I went into this with an open mind hoping for it to be good however I’m sorry but on this visit, it fell flat. I don’t care if “other opinions are positive”, this is MY opinion which I feel I’m entitled to regardless if it differs from the majority or not :) 

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2 hours ago, Glitch said:

have you considered that extra ticketing revenue could be used to develop future projects?

Merlin have enough money to build as is, the profit from Dungeon will be going straight into the bank. It's probably ticketed to  cover costs of the actors. They managed to build big projects for 20 years without replacing free major attractions with ticketed ones.

If the lighting and sets did their job right, you'd be naturally misdirected and wouldnt notice what you're not supposed to anyway. Guests shouldnt' have to actively focus on only where the lighting 'wants' you to, it's a subliminal thing. Not unless you purposefully turn around and look where you wouldnt think to, which I don't think is what the poster was doing.

If the sets are done in such a way that you notice these things, then something's up. It won't be a major complaint from guests obviously but it all adds to the overall experience

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Just out of interest, do we know what isn't finished (if it is indeed unfinished)?

 

As for the unthemed areas - as has been mentioned, everywhere will have unthemed stuff, but you're simply (and subliminally) drawn away from it. Will be interesting to see how big an issue it is (as most reviews I've seen haven't commented on unthemed walls - how much of that is down to new thing hype and influencers not commenting on negatives, however, remains to be seen)

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51 minutes ago, Wumbamillio said:

Merlin have enough money to build as is, the profit from Dungeon will be going straight into the bank. It's probably ticketed to  cover costs of the actors. They managed to build big projects for 20 years without replacing free major attractions with ticketed ones.
 

 

And that is precisely why I did not even bother to think about this abomination “funding future projects”

 

I think it’s safe to say Alton Towers make enough money with

 

1. Food

2. Merchandise

3. Ticket sales

4. Fastrack

5. On ride photos

6. Parking

7. Hotel prices

 

and much more for them to NOT have to start opening damned upcharge attractions... especially upcharged attractions where you can get longer and better versions of them for free!!

 

Assuming M£rlin decide to actually give the money raised by those actually to Alton Towers and not towards building another 1 million Legolands!!

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1 hour ago, Ringo said:

Are the Dungeons at Towers run as a midway or are they “Alton Towers presents The Dungeons”? 

I think as far as guests are concerned its just an attraction at Alton Towers that you have to pay extra for. It's like Merlin are franchising their own 'brands' within their own theme parks, like calling the park's aquarium 'Sea Life'.

Merlin are all about brands. Now they're using brands to make people pay extra and as an excuse to not come up with new attractions.

I think that's the worst aspect of it, even if the finished result had been really good, it's just another step in the death of new ideas and taking creative 'risks'. I thought Wicker Man would prove otherwise, but all they did was copy that theme for Heide Park and turn it into another 'formula'!

I heard there might be a backdoor arrangement that Merlin's midway division part-funds the Towers Dungeon to exclude from the park's operational cost. So yes, but how budgets are divided  internal to Merlin doesnt really matter outside the company.

 

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The project was dealt with by the same people who deal with midway investments, designed by the Dungeons team, etc. In that respect, it was dealt with as a midway.

 

However, midways are usually separate entities - things like the Sea Life Centre at Gardaland for example are completely separate to the park. As the AT Dungeons at within the park and you can't do it by itself, Merlin won't view it as a 'midway'.

 

I imagine Merlin will pick and choose how they view it. If its KPI scores improve the overall Dungeons KPI score, for example, they'll include it within the Dungeons/midway data. If it improves to overall Alton Towers KPI, they'll include it there. Equally for spend per head, ROI, etc. If it doesn't, they'll probably just leave it limbo or exclude it and call it a joint venture so can't be properly placed.

 

In this this, I am under the impression that those who decide the worthwhileness of midway attractions weren't consulted about the AT Dungeons in any way, so I'd be surprised if, officially/publicly, any of the financial stuff came via midways, even if there are backdoor arrangements.

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I did the Dungeon this week. It is what you'd expect - a mini version of any other Dungeon. And I enjoyed it. 🤷‍♂️

 

There biggest issue is black walls between scenes. You literally leave one scene, go through a black corridor, and into the next scene. Didn't even hear any audio. There's no atmosphere there and, for me, it just didn't work. The scenes themselves are great though.

 

As mentioned above, a couple of scenes do have black walls behind you (ie away from where you should be looking), but that only detracts from your experience if you're looking for things to detract from your experience imo. 

 

All scenes were well acted and the boat ride as good fun. 

 

So yeah, this is literally as you'd expect: a lite version of the Dungeons which is nicely themed and well acted. In itself, it's a solid, fun experience.

 

Of course, this isn't what Towers needed right now, and I question how successful it'll be. I know there's been plans to add a Dungeon to the resort for ages now, and this is in some ways a test of the water. But it's still the wrong time and arguably not necessary anyways.

 

 

As a side note, the Dungeon opening hours have been shifted back, meaning it opens later (noon) and closes later (I believe it still operates for the same amount of time). As a result, the actors roam outside the Towers in the morning, interacting with guests, encouraging them to visit, etc. And as they're in character, they work perfectly for roaming characters - the right amount of dark humour that the park should be aiming for!

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Short review:

 

I went in the dungeons last weekend and I enjoyed it. It felt worth the £5 I spent and I had fun.

 

Long review:

 

I'm conflicted to an extent with this attraction. It is a shame to have lost a 'free' ride for this paid experience, and it feel a bit poor to pay to do an attraction in a park I've already paid to go into. I'm not sure I was completely pleased to pay to take 45 minutes out of riding rides I'd paid for with the entrance fee. However, the £5 entry did feel about right for the length of time and quality of the experience.

 

In terms of the actual experience (ignoring cost and the circumstances), it was actually very good. The black walls were noticeable, which is day was the only downside. I hope Merlin do improve this in time. However, in most scenes the black walls are behind you and unless you are looking for issues they are not that noticeable. It was really on the station for the boat ride and in corridors that I noticed it being an actual issue. The rest of the theming was pretty good really. Not the best of all the Dungeons though (that goes to York) but still well decorated.

 

The biggest praise for me goes to the fantastic staff and actors. I mean it with the utmost sincerity that these actors really were the best I've had in a dungeons attraction. They were funny, scary and really putting a lot of effort into it. I wonder if it's because they're still fresh and new, but whatever the reason they really made the attraction exceed my expectations.

 

I've done a fair few Dungeons, and I'd rank them best to least good as follows:

 

York

Alton Towers

London

Hamburg

Amsterdam

 

Alton really shot up on the strength of the acting and price-wise it felt more reasonable compared to the near £20 cost of the others. I think the big shame is that it's not an attraction outside the park (something to do after closing) and that the black walls feel bare in places. Other than that it was a good laugh really.

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66530518_2763386507065109_43682647998516

School kids get £2.50 entry to the Dungeons at the moment.

 

Equally I believe that there is (or at least, was) an offer through the app which meant AP holders could get a Dungeons ticket for £2.50.

 

The sign of a popular attraction no doubt...

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Is there any way they're turning a profit on it even if it runs at capacity at £2.50 a ticket?

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2 minutes ago, pluk said:

Is there any way they're turning a profit on it even if it runs at capacity at £2.50 a ticket?

Group sizes are about 20.

20 groups in a day.

=£1000 a day

 

Say actors get paid £9ph. Probably 8 actors a day for Dungeons working 7 hours a day, £504 a day.

 

Plus ride staff to operate the boat ride (they won't be actors, just ride staff in a character), engineers/technicians getting the ride ready, plus the actual running of the attraction probably adds another £100-150 in simple terms.

 

So yeah, it'd make a couple of hundred quid if it ran at full capacity.

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