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Marley

I'm a bad enthusiast (theme park fatigue thread)

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Not sure why I felt the need to post this tbh.

The thought suddenly hit me. I lurk a here lot for some bizarre reason but the last time I actually visited a theme park was ~5 years ago, that being Thorpe Park. I have not visited Chessington for almost 10 years and Alton in over a decade. I live a bus ride away from london winter wonder land but can never be bothered to visit. I got into theme parks around 15 years ago. As a child, my parents would take me at least once a year to one of the tussauds parks and enjoyed those times very much.

 

Nowadays, with the rising admission prices and crucially, what you get for that price. I just cannot justify going to theme parks for another decade or so.

 

Does anyone else here feel the same way?

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Yep. I am utterly disillusioned with all things Merlin, which can pretty much be read as UK theme parks. I'm happier not giving them my money than I am getting a few rides but being generally pissed off with most things in the park while I'm there. I find myself enjoying the physical sensation of the rides, but very little else (what else is there now?!) and the way the parks are run makes me want to sit down and cry the rest of the time I'm there. It's like they actively want me not to enjoy myself.

 

I've NEVER been to Legoland. The shame!

 

Paultons gives me hope for being fabulous, it's a bit far away though. Fortunately I have a 6 months old daughter, so will have all the excuses to go there frequently soon enough. I'm also a Pleasure Beach fan, but Blackpool is to far for now with her in tow.  

 

I didn't visit any Merlin park last year, they don't deserve me. Two major new rides open in the UK and I've done neither of them. Unthinkable a decade ago.

 

I get my thrill fix from passing visits to Adventure Island, Carter Steam Fair and Winter Wonderland. That'll have to do for now. 

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I could see why you wouldn't want to visit in the current Merlin Monopoly..

If I was closer to Paultons or BPB  I would honestly just live there, Merlin Parks are either starting to lose their magic or have lost their magic (Thorpe Park)..

There has been glimmers of hope like Icon and Wickerman, but overall I do feel when I visit Thorpe Park these days the park has no immersion or magic at all.

There is no soul, there is no immersion. Alton Towers I would say is probably the the park with the most soul but The Dungeons certainly re-affirms Alton is still a Merlin Park..

 

Oh well, at least we're not in Spain. Merlin Parks are run like crap but I would take Merlin's crap over Portaventura's any day of the damn week.

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1 hour ago, JoshuaA said:

Thorpe Park these days the park has no immersion or magic at all.

I hope the resort begins to regain the magic. Trying to incorporate an "island soundtrack" and repainting the rides so the park looks less tired are all steps the park has taken in an attempt at regaining its former magic (I feel) so hopefully in the future your statement won't be true.

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Are the spanish parks that bad? I've been to port aventura with school a decade ago (furous bako was the new ride) I remember enjoying it but that could be the great spanish weather informing my opinion.

 

3 hours ago, pluk said:

Paultons gives me hope for being fabulous, it's a bit far away though. Fortunately I have a 6 months old daughter, so will have all the excuses to go there frequently soon enough. I'm also a Pleasure Beach fan, but Blackpool is to far for now with her in tow.  

The only park I would really wanna go to is Lightwater Valley but likewise, it's he other end of england.

 

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3 hours ago, Ivsetti said:

Trying to incorporate an "island soundtrack"

By jamming a (pretty overblown) theme down your throat and trying very hard to be dramatic as you walk down a concrete path to nowhere. Honestly the old music had more character at the end of the day.

 

The amount of times a new park marketing director (or whoever) comes in and says, 'you know what will turn around this park? New font, new catchphrase and new music!'

It's just papering over massive cracks at the moment.

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6 hours ago, Marley said:

Are the spanish parks that bad? I've been to port aventura with school a decade ago (furous bako was the new ride) I remember enjoying it but that could be the great spanish weather informing my opinion.

Portaventura looks fab, has fab rides, and is in a hot location.

But the operations IMO are probably hands down the worst I ever seen- the place is run so badly it makes me appreciate the Merlin Parks.

4 hours ago, Wumbamillio said:

It's just papering over massive cracks at the moment.

^^ The park is currently a mess full of half baked areas and shoved in IP's, some new music on the bridge might be neat but it certainly is just a small plaster on a stab wound..

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If the UK parks upset you, there are SO MANY parks to visit abroad... Literally just throw a dart at a world map and look up whatever's near...

 

At least 75% dump all over the UK attempts these days...

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With the exception of Paultons, Blackpool and the smaller/further parks from home, I generally visit the UK parks just to see and catch-up with mates. 

 

I’m slowly visiting more parks (especially outside Europe) and try to rotate Phantasialand, Efteling, Liseberg and Europa so I am visiting at least one of them a year! 

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In all fairness, I myself am also highly fed up with M£rlin right now to the point where I’ve decided to vote with my feet when my annual pass expires this December. I simply do not want to be one of these people that constantly make out that M£rlin are the second coming of Satan but then continuously pump more money into their pockets and visit their attractions pretty much multiple times a month. There are plenty of great parks to visit across Europe and indeed America where you will see parks operated to their full potential with some real top quality attractions,great operations,great opening hours and in general just blow our parks clean out the water. Failing that then parks like Pleasure Beach and Paultons Park could also be worth a visit as an alternative :)

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Didn't intend for the thread to become specifically about merlin but I'm happy for it to go down that path.

 

Out of the 3 merlin parks (no, legoland doesn't count). Chessington is the biggest disappointment of them all. As mentioned, I haven't visited in almost a decade. I think wild asia was the new thing at the time. What have we seen since? Zufari, which is a glorified jeep ride and a handful of rethemes. Ride reliability is apparently awful. Themeing has gone down the toilet. Overcrowded it seems. There used to be an undeniable charm about chessington around 15 years ago but has steadily gone down hill. 

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I think a partial reason why people are experiencing fatigue with the UK parks, and in particular Thorpe/Merlin, is due to the complete change in pace of investment.

 

Look at Thorpe in the 2000s - large investments regularly, and good mid-sized investments every year. It was unsustainable in my opinion - in that they couldn't continue doing that indefinitely - but it's now gone the other way and the investments are small and feel short term (even the likes of Ghost Train 3 years later feels ultimately limited in life span now). Really, what have you missed if you haven't visited Thorpe in the past 5 years?

 

Chessington has always struggled with new investments: 3 *new* rides since 2005 (I think?) in Peeking Heights, Kobra and Zufari (excluding shows and Adventure Tree, since that was a like-for-like replacement of a carousel). Everything else has been a retheme, which can only captivate people so far, even if the quality is great. Again, compared to the early 2000s, and the promising resort developments it made in the early 2010s, it's a shame.

 

Towers has been topsy-turvy, not helped by Smiler, though I do feel that the crash at least masked some problems which were coming their way anyway.

 

Legoland is the only one in recent years that's made more captivating investments imo. Mia's, Ninjago, Monster Party have opened the park up to a wider audience, and despite their problems, I think it's a positive on the whole. On the other hand, they still have limited appeal as a park.

 

And aside from Paulton's (which, in fairness, has been rather child-focused until very recently) and Icon, this past decade has been very meh in the UK. And compared to last decade, where Drayton, Flamingo Land and Blackpool had some decent-ish investments, it feels a bit worse. You then only have to look across into Europe to see the quality and quantity invested by parks of similar (or smaller!) sizes to feel all the more disappointed. 

 

I think the UK is on the up though. Paulton's is growing into a true family park. Flamingo Land might be throwing themselves back into the mix. Dreamland is making a slow recovery for itself. Yes, Merlin still have their problems, but there's still rays of sunshine in their dark clouds. 

 

So yeah, rambling post I know. But I guess yeah, I can see people's disappointment and fatigue. But equally, I think there's cause for - cautious - optimism for the future.

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On 3/26/2019 at 6:51 PM, Marley said:

Not sure why I felt the need to post this tbh.

The thought suddenly hit me. I lurk a here lot for some bizarre reason but the last time I actually visited a theme park was ~5 years ago, that being Thorpe Park. I have not visited Chessington for almost 10 years and Alton in over a decade. I live a bus ride away from london winter wonder land but can never be bothered to visit. I got into theme parks around 15 years ago. As a child, my parents would take me at least once a year to one of the tussauds parks and enjoyed those times very much.

 

Nowadays, with the rising admission prices and crucially, what you get for that price. I just cannot justify going to theme parks for another decade or so.

 

Does anyone else here feel the same way?

 

It's not even a theme park fatigue. You've just grown out of theme parks.

 

16 hours ago, Marley said:

Didn't intend for the thread to become specifically about merlin but I'm happy for it to go down that path.

 

Out of the 3 merlin parks (no, legoland doesn't count). Chessington is the biggest disappointment of them all. As mentioned, I haven't visited in almost a decade. I think wild asia was the new thing at the time. What have we seen since? Zufari, which is a glorified jeep ride and a handful of rethemes. Ride reliability is apparently awful. Themeing has gone down the toilet. Overcrowded it seems. There used to be an undeniable charm about chessington around 15 years ago but has steadily gone down hill. 

 

Thats the rose tinted glasses. Back when Dragons Fury opened, the period between 2005-2009 was its darkest days. The only new addition being Peeking Heights but we had Bubbleworks trashed, theming ripped off Dragon Falls and minimal investment across the Zoo. Whilst you say a handful of re-themes, we've seen refurbishments of Flying Jumbos and the Berry Bouncers, Runaway Train into Scorpion, Bubbleworks into the vastly superior Gruffalo, Buccaneer refurbished, Dragon Falls refurbished, re-themed and new systems in place this year, Room on the Broom and the Zoo area significantly expanded and improved. Wanyama Village is one of my Chessington guilty pleasures. And finally, I didn't realise this that Chessington has the longest season openings of them all with Winter offerings (Xmas 2018 had Vampire, Seastorm, Gruffalo and Buccaneer available).

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20 hours ago, Martin Doyle said:

In all fairness, I myself am also highly fed up with M£rlin

 

 

Still don't get this, money grabbing argument. An  Annual pass for any of the theme parks will cost you £50-£80, so overall admission has been getting cheaper especially now with the pay monthly scheme.

Look at any other park season pass Blackpool (£100), Paultons (£125), Drayton Manor (£110) and you would see the value of both the Merlin pass and theme park passes have exceptional value.

 

Once in the parks, customers are literally taking hotdogs in flasks to save money but yet are expecting Wickerman style projects of investment into the parks on a yearly basis and still are saying everything's overpriced, even with all there discounts applied. 

 

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I can't blame people for taking hotdogs in flasks when Thorpe now charge obscene prices for them.

 

£12 for a hotdog and chips now.  In the same venue that used to sell an entire (amazing) BBQ meal for about £7.50.  And they had music.  A hotdog on its own was £7.00 and people wonder why they're considered a rip off.

 

On the whole my issues with Merlin aren't the frequency of the investments, but the overall quality that goes into the parks in terms of customer experience. 

 

Also, many of the investments that have been made were (IMO) not where the priorities should have been in terms of ensuring the parks offer a well rounded day out for visitors.

 

Wicker Man is an exception and it has clearly done very well for Alton, which is fantastic.

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3 hours ago, Glitch said:

 

Still don't get this, money grabbing argument. An  Annual pass for any of the theme parks will cost you £50-£80, so overall admission has been getting cheaper especially now with the pay monthly scheme.

Look at any other park season pass Blackpool (£100), Paultons (£125), Drayton Manor (£110) and you would see the value of both the Merlin pass and theme park passes have exceptional value.

 

Once in the parks, customers are literally taking hotdogs in flasks to save money but yet are expecting Wickerman style projects of investment into the parks on a yearly basis and still are saying everything's overpriced, even with all there discounts applied. 

 

 

What's the point in getting tonnes of MAP holders though (for any park), odds on are they are the least likely to spend those extras that the parks are basically positioning themselves into...

 

Indeed, the season passes are only so cheap so that Merlin can show rises in guest numbers... But the parks seem to be unable to cope with crowds that mattered little a few years ago (Chessie is especially bad now)...

 

I'll be interested to see what the costs are of Towers in 2 weeks... But I paid about £16 in Coasters for two meals at Blackpool; £12 for one hot dog meal shows why people are "sneaking" in their own food at Merlin...

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