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Ranking The Merlin Parks


JoshuaA
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So due to boredom I have decided to make a thread to rank the Merlin Parks. This will be by recent investments and just how each park fall in the hierarchy.

I think this will be a lot harder than Cedar Fair and Six Flags as Merlin is pretty even with their parks tbh.  I'm gonna be ranking all of the abroad parks but I will lump the Legoland's into one category because ranking them individually would take a while. 

 

A Tier: Alton Towers

Easily the most loved Merlin Park. When this park receives a coaster, its usually very high quality and unique.

They usually have good in between years to boot, with constant money being thrown into their hotels, the resort, and into their family and kiddie offering.

This year's addition is a real good example of a solid intermediate investment and Wickerman back in 2018 was an amazing investment for the park.

This park is only behind Legoland in attendance in the UK, and with that you can expect a great new coaster here soon.

 

B Tier: Legolands (all of 'em)

These parks are absolutely everywhere. There is 9 currently, and more are coming. They are really a strong point for Merlin, they draw in a lot of families and must make the company a stupid amount of money. They have a simple but fun IP, and they usually receive a fair amount of investment to keep the masses of families coming in. These usually are not coasters, but if you look at Legoland Windsor's investments in the past 10 years its surprisingly respectable. A bunch of brilliant medium sized investments that give the park a pretty decent lineup of dark rides.

As stated, Legoland Windsor has the highest attendance in the UK, these parks bring in the crowds.

 

C tier: Gardaland

I was going back and forward for this placement, but then I saw Gardaland's attendance and nearly spat out my coffee.

I think this park gets kinda overlooked due to its shaky coaster lineup, but Gardaland drew in 2.9 million people in 2018. That is a incredible amount in comparison to other Merlin Parks.

The park hasn't received a big coaster since 2015, though the additions certainly haven't been bad either and I could see this getting some good investment in the future. No wonder the park decided to add 2 B&M's to this place with gate figures like that..

 

Heide Park:

This park has had decent investment in the past decade, actually pretty much ditto to Gardaland. Other than that they revived their Intamin pre-fab woodie, so that was cool I guess.

I think with Colossus back this park is very ready to continue to compete with Hansa down the road. Though it is lower than Gardaland due to its attendance not being as impressive.

 

D Tier:

Chessington:

Chessington have had a decent enough past 5 years or so to keep them out of rock bottom. Now this park just generally is a smaller park and I think is seen as such by Merlin.

Recently they have been improving their old rides (bar Tomb Blaster) and dragging them into the modern era. Tiger Rock is a fun redo of Dragon Falls, and Gruffalo is much better than Bubbleworks was in its final years. They received a mini log flume this year, and next year they are replacing the problematic Rameses with a fun looking drop tower. Overall Merlin seems to be interested in keeping this park decent and fresh enough. Even if its just with small rethemes or small additions. Either way its a much better position to be in that the park below it.

 

F Tier:

Thorpe Park:

If I made this list in 2012, this would be A Tier. Every investment they have gotten since then has lead this park to its current state. 

What has the park done since 2012? Added a huge failed mess of a dark ride, added another room to it that sometimes works as a good finale? Lost their best family ride in Loggers, lost their second best family ride in X by converting it to something scary which now means their mild Vekoma coaster is now back to low ridership..

Basically a whole lot of nothing. And the park seems really like the last in the queue for any major investment in the future. It is a shame as the park has a pretty relaxed location when it comes to permits, and the park has a fair amount of space they could utilise if they wanted to. But this park I think will remain the park that receives small investments that fail in the long-haul (Black Mirror next yay!)

 

Anyway feel free to rank the parks,

I'm interested to see what people's opinions are. I think Merlin parks are actually quite hard to rank tbh, as investment wise they kinda spread out their money. Like Thorpe is at the bottom of my list but that could change big time in 5 years.

 

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A tier . None of their parks fall into the A tier category.

 

B tier . Chessington. Unlike the other Merlin parks, I feel like there is love for this place. The staff do care about what happens to it, the park has charm and atmosphere. A lot of the last decade has been spent refurbishing and bringing attractions back to life.  Out of all the Merlin catalogue, this is the one that I can safely say compares to some of the European parks out there and for me there is nothing better then sitting in the Hotel bar overlooking the Savannah and seeing the Zebras and Giraffes roaming.

 

C tier - Alton Towers - Without that coaster line up (which is the best in Europe don't hate me), this park has a lot missing and not a whole lot going for it. Rubbish opening hours and not enough filler in-between the top stuff means that a day here can easily drag by if you like variety in your day. Points forward are Hex and Katanga Canyon, points against are Spinball Whizzer, what they did with the Ripsaw space and Sub terra being abandoned.

 

Heide Park - Suffers from a lot of the same problems as Towers but without the rollercoasters. I like Flug, Krake is okay and the bobsleigh is class but the rest of it is dross. Vekoma SLC and looper as the support coasters don't help and whole areas of the park are behind wooden walls. 

 

D tier - Gardaland Similar problems as Heide Park except somehow it has an even worse SLC, a pointless Intamin water ride (which goes on for what feels like hours). I like Oblivion and Raptor but frankly, Miribilandia is a much better theme park. 

 

F tier - Thorpe Park has become a nightmare. The park that was full of ambition and intent and drive in the early 00's has become a shell of what it was trying to achieve. Full of dark themes, run down areas, conflicting ideas of what its identity is and lots of attractions thrown at the place to drive attendance has meant Thorpe Park is well short of what it wanted to be. I like The Swarm, Inferno, Stealth and Detonator but the rest is soul-less garbage. Who builds an 85 water chute ride then hides it behind loads of game stalls. Ridiculous. Charmless. Lost. 

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Interesting discussion point.

 

A Tier- sorry don’t have anything here currently.

 

B Tier- Chessington, I’ve always loved Chessington and I think it captures a great selection of attractions for people to enjoy. I would’ve once put this in the F tier, but I am quite happy with a lot of the things they have been doing the last few years. Re-theming an ageing dark ride, giving their flume an update and also putting in some family rides amongst (hopefully) a new pirate ride. The place has been getting some new life recently.

 

C Tier- Alton Towers. They have an impressive coaster line up (bar Rita) which is amongst one of the best in Europe IMO. They also have some beautiful grounds/landscaping and two decent dark rides. Unfortunately  they seriously lack shows and support attractions, which is greatly noticeable when several major breakdowns occur. The removal of flat rides over the years has taken it’s toll.

 

D Tier- Legoland Windsor- Currently Merlin’s gem and flagship asset (mentioning all Lego parks here). Most people on here aren’t the target audience, but they seemto be doing well for what they are offering. The park have definitely been receiving hefty investments with their Monster Party ride, a tiny coaster and a new area next year (supposedly). The only things that drag the park are it’s hefty queues and the landscaping isn’t as good as it used to be. However the TLC the park has received recently is refreshing to say the least.

 

F Tier- Thorpe Park- Surprise Surprise? No one is really surprised. This was the place to be in the noughties with it’s great choice in investment. Skip ahead ahead a decade and I can’t say the same. Poor choice of additions, consistency, TLC and direction have put the park in a stagnant position. Half the place is themed to horror and one of the best former family attractions Is little more than a statue behind a fence. It says a lot that the best attraction the park have added since Swarm is a set of bumper cars and that they now receive the mouse’s share of investment.

 

I haven’t been to Garda or Heide yet, but might well do one day. 

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