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UK Merlin park attendance through the years

Matt N

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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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I've always loved that graph. It puts a lot of things into perspective. Nemesis just was the ride that completely changed Towers. Look at that massive jump in attendance, something Towers has never managed to reach since. Wicker Man did a lot of good in recovering attendance after the Smiler crash.


Rameses at Chessington was such a hit back in '95 and it remained quite consistent up until Samurai. But the lack of investment and rubbish kids rides really didn't do much especially when big rides weren't forthcoming. The shoddy way Dragons Fury was marketed as well didn't help.


Thorpe doesn't surprise me, the massive investments in the 00's was always going to be a problem when it stopped. The new ride doesn't fill me with confidence that they can reverse the decline. It's a plaster to a much bigger issue.

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3 hours ago, Mark9 said:

I've always loved that graph. It puts a lot of things into perspective. Nemesis just was the ride that completely changed Towers. Look at that massive jump in attendance, something Towers has never managed to reach since. Wicker Man did a lot of good in recovering attendance after the Smiler crash.


Rameses at Chessington was such a hit back in '95 and it remained quite consistent up until Samurai. But the lack of investment and rubbish kids rides really didn't do much especially when big rides weren't forthcoming. The shoddy way Dragons Fury was marketed as well didn't help.


Thorpe doesn't surprise me, the massive investments in the 00's was always going to be a problem when it stopped. The new ride doesn't fill me with confidence that they can reverse the decline. It's a plaster to a much bigger issue.

The interesting thing I noticed about Nemesis’ opening year is that the park was unable to sustain those guest figures into 1995. Chessington, Thorpe and Legoland all managed to sustain their peak figures for a good few years after they were initially attained, but the peak stimulated by Nemesis was literally a one year only event; seeing as 1995’s guest figure was exactly the same as 1993’s, it’s fair to say that Towers was literally back to square one in Nemesis’ second year, and that any attendance growth it stimulated was short lived. The peak generated by Thirteen (the only other time the park has ever exceeded 3 million guests) was eerily similar; attendance shot very high for the ride’s opening year, but these gains were entirely wiped out by 2011, with 2011’s attendance figures being exactly the same as 2009’s…


Out of interest, what do you feel that Thorpe’s “bigger issue” is? And why do you not think that Exodus will solve it?

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1 hour ago, RobF said:

Thorpe needs something, but what is it? 

it has a good rides selection for teens which is also a poor target audience, that directly causes other issues.


presentation/maintenance/vibe etc


there isn't an easy fix to make the park bounce back.

One thing I would say is that I don't think thrills necessarily only appeal to teens and young adults. Thorpe may have a big selection of thrill rides and quite a heavy focus on the thrill market, but I don't think that's necessarily the architect of the park's recent struggles. A look at my data suggests that the extremely thrill-focused 2000s were very successful indeed, and the park actually rode that wave of success right up until 2011; they experienced sustained growth for the best part of 10 years under a thrill heavy strategy. Park attendance grew by 133.3% in the decade between 2000 and 2010, and the park's growth trajectory was a near perfect upward curve for this entire time.


I don't think thrills and teens necessarily go hand in hand perfectly. Appealing to the teenage and young adult market doesn't necessarily mean appealing to thrillseekers and vice versa; the thrill market encapsulates a surprisingly wide range of people. It includes people like older families and adults as well as teenagers and young adults. Appealing to the teenage/young adult market can also be done in ways aside from building thrill rides.


I'd wager that Thorpe's issue is one of recent investments and target market rather than ride lineup, in two senses.


The first sense is that the park in recent years (under Merlin) has tried to go for too much of a niche part of the thrill market, in my opinion. The bulk of the park's additions within the last decade have not been traditional thrill rides, such as coasters and thrill flats; the only investment that would fit either descriptor is Swarm, which only narrowly makes it into the last decade having been built 10 years ago in 2012. Many of the park's recent attempts at thrill have not been "traditional" thrill rides with wide appeal; the bulk of Thorpe's recent thrill investments have been very "edgy", scare based, horror themed attractions with quite niche appeal. In my view, something like DBGT is aimed at a very specific, niche corner of the thrill market and will have far less universal appeal than something like a roller coaster. Ditto with the likes of Walking Dead; the IP is undeniably popular, but an attraction in the style of TWD:TR will appeal to a much smaller subset of thrillseekers (only teens and young adults, really). These investments undeniably appeal to the teen and young adult market very well, but attractions like these don't really open themselves up to the other (arguably more lucrative) corners of the thrill market, such as older families and adults.


The second, and arguably more important sense in my view, is that the park seems to have struggled to target towards anyone in recent years. From Swarm onwards, and particularly strongly in the years following DBGT, the park has given off the impression that it has been somewhat paralysed by indecision about who its target market actually is. It seems to have been a fun family park one minute, but a hardcore horror park the next minute, and then a fresh-faced thrill park focused on coasters the next minute after that. The park arguably hasn't made an overly committal move towards appealing in any particular direction since DBGT back in 2016, and any attempts at appealing to one particular market have not been very sustained. In 2014 and 2015, the park went pretty family-based... before going hardcore horror in 2016 and 2017. The park rethemed X to appeal to families in 2013... before retheming it to appeal to hardcore horror fans, arguably reversing the effects of their prior move and then some, in 2018. The park started 2018 off by saying it was "The Year of the Walking Dead" and appealing to hardcore horror fans... before changing tack mid season and going for a more light hearted vibe with all the Love Island stuff to appeal primarily to teens and young adults. 2019 and 2020 were then relatively family-based... but the park went back to horror with Black Mirror in 2021. I get that it is difficult for Thorpe to pick a target market (I'm terribly indecisive myself...), I get that the park has had many different managers with different ideas in recent years, and I do understand that a public business with shareholders will likely find it difficult to have an overly long term view, but my view is that Thorpe would be a fair amount more successful if they took one particular path, properly ran with it, and made some properly decisive moves towards cementing the park as a destination for that particular target market. I think Exodus could well solve this issue (a 230ft hyper is certainly a pretty decisive move towards appealing to the wide subset of the thrill market who like roller coasters), but it does appear that recently, particular paths taken by the park haven't really been given enough time to succeed before the park moves on, and the moves towards these paths haven't been overly committal. The park in recent years has seemed somewhat "on the fence" about who its target demographic actually is, and quite uncommitted towards any particular path. I feel that if the park were to take one path and properly commit to it, they would be a fair bit more successful.


Those are just my thoughts, though. I could be very wrong.


I apologise, as I know I probably shouldn't question their decision making given that they have the KPIs and charts and things to back up their decisions and I don't. I also know that I'm being a massive hypocrite talking about indecision seeing as I'm pretty indecisive myself... so I should probably stop there seeing as hypocrisy is not a hill I wish to die on. I fully understand how difficult it can be to make a decision and stick to it sometimes.

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I can only speak from where I stand on it. Massive investment in 2000's is one thing but for that target market (thrill seekers, up for it families), that investment can't just stop. it has to keep going. The park also has to continually re-invest in the older rides to keep everything fresh. Colossus and Inferno in particular are not new rollercoasters anymore and look their age. That isn't acceptable anymore.


Thorpe is also obsessed with walk throughs, horror mazes and psychological experiences. None of these are reasons to visit a place, they compliment existing attractions. Somewhere in a board room, the Thorpe execs thought Black Mirror was a revolution but it isn't. 


Family rides are an issue at Thorpe because they are either over 25 years old at this point or aren't main events. There's absolutely no reason why a family ride could fit the bill in the park but they don't ever pursue it. X was a great example of a short sighted decision.


I'm not convinced by Exodus, it's just another thrilling rollercoaster in a park that relies heavily on them already. It will have an amazing first year and then what. How can they sustain it? It's not going to convince anyone that wouldn't already go there for the thrill rides. it's why I think a B&M hyper is a better option, that ride is the ultimate crowd pleaser and has near 25 years of success already.


Back in the 00's there was a balance, even if slightly skewed. Things like Eclipse, Flying Fish's refurbishment, Quantum and Tidal Wave appeal far more to a wider range of people. I mention Tidal Wave because even though themed to a catastrophe, it has a fun, cheeky theme to sell it. All of this is just my view and I'm glad I'm not in charge because I don't really know how to rescue Thorpe from its lull.

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Moving forwards in my view, 

it needs a 8 Million spent just tarting up attraction’s cosmetically, and Colossus new trains.


Itneeds to continue to invest in thrills but also needs to re introduce theme park staple attractions that are suitable for the whole family, 


Something similar to Wicked witches haunt re-imagined, a decent family area. I am probably in terms of GP among a large proportion of perspective customers who have younger children, and quite simply haven't been to thorpe in 2-3 years (other than for the beach this summer) for the simple fact its not fair on the kids they have 3 rides suitable for my eldest. And absolutely nothing for my youngest.


I get it’s a Thrill Park, but to have a family day out we need to cater for whole families to have a good day aswell.


I will use Adventure Island as a perfect example it’s primarily a thrill park on the Coast, but it caters for everyone and does it well. 


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Personally, I think thorpe shouldn't try to appeal to young families, especially not in the half hearted fashion of adding a playground, realistically why would you go there when you have the likes of chessington, legoland and paultons as alternatives with a lot more available for kids? It just leads to a day of saying 'sorry you aren't tall enough for that ride'. Frankly there isn't enough space to make it a park that appeals to literally everyone and I think that would be a waste of time and effort. 


I think there is nothing wrong with thorpe focusing on families with older kids, teenagers, adults etc. There is a market for that, but having said that they are harder to impress and with the lack of any decent additions over the past 9 years I'm not surprised by the attendance figures. Agree with above- black mirror and derren brown were way too niche to appeal to the majority of adults/teens and wouldn't be enough to draw someone to the park that wouldn't have been going annually anyway. 

I think exodus with the right advertising will bring people to the park, and hopefully will have results that demonstrate to management that the park should focus on these sorts of things that will appeal to its main audience- adults, older families and teenagers.


On chessington- I'd be interested to see how these figures compare to paultons, having been to both I think a day at paultons is much more pleasant, much shorter queues, and plenty of rides for kids of all ages, so without hesitation I'd recommend to families with kids <10, I just wonder why chessington struggles so much more with queues. 

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2 hours ago, jessica2 said:

On chessington- I'd be interested to see how these figures compare to paultons, having been to both I think a day at paultons is much more pleasant, much shorter queues, and plenty of rides for kids of all ages, so without hesitation I'd recommend to families with kids <10, I just wonder why chessington struggles so much more with queues. 

I struggle to find figures for Paultons, but most seem to suggest around the 1 million mark (I think I read 1.1 million somewhere, but don’t quote me on that one).


I think Chessington’s capacity struggles are compounded by a combination of the fact that it’s on the MAP (I seem to remember hearing that Chessington is considered one of Merlin’s most valuable assets due to how many MAP visits it attracts) and the fact that it’s in London with a huge population on its doorstep.


The graph suggests that figures spiked fairly significantly in 2008 in spite of no especially significant investment that year, which I think could have been at least partially caused by the conception of the MAP.


By comparison, Paultons is more remote in location and doesn’t have a similarly lucrative annual pass product to boost its figures. Based on my own experience there, I’d also wager that a notable percentage of its visitors spend their time mainly in Peppa Pig World, which could help the queues stay low in the rest of the park.

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Really interesting - thank you for posting this!


The very obvious and self-inflicted rise and fall of Thorpe Park, and the reputation damage following the Smiler crash are the standouts for me.


Its also mad how erratic Alton Towers’ attendance has been over the years compared to the others.


I echo what’s been said above - this is evidence that the public want to come and see new coasters and rides - NOT walkthroughs and stupid gimmicks. Semi-regular ride additions appear to increase attendance according to this graph.

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