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1 minute ago, Ivsetti said:

out of interest why are Phantasialand able to invest ridiculous amounts of money but Merlin, "2nd only to Disney" not?

Merlin Parks aren't just able to invest money at will, without a business case, which is what they did in the early 2000's era.

Currently Merlin's interests are in Asia as that's where the emerging markets are.

If the British consumer, spent more money in the parks, and stopped complaining about the excellent value of the MAP looking for the cheapest options to the point of Merlin practically giving tickets away, share the fun, trade, promos etc, then perhaps they would invest more into the UK markets but currently Lego is the asset with the greatest return, hence why it will be getting a new land next year.

 

On the second to Disney comment, it's the truth however you have to look at the business as a whole for example the Midway clusters and Legoland parks generating millions in weekly revenue.

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10 minutes ago, Glitch said:

for the cheapest options to the point of Merlin practically giving tickets away, share the fun, trade, promos etc

I mean it's pretty obvious Merlin's strategy at the moment is attempting to get swathes of guests through the gates in the hope enough of them buy overpriced items on park to turn a profit. I've always wondered if it wouldn't just be wiser to reduce the number of promos and sales. I for one would be happy to pay (slightly) more if it meant my day was substantially improved (plus cool news rides with actual theme park theming). And being completely honest, I've always wondered how on earth they do turn a profit given how many promos they do on their tickets. 

Anyhow, I'm glad there's places like Phantasialand that can actually turn a profit despite insane levels of very expensive theming and for a reasonable price for us as guests.

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I'm really excited to visit Phantasialand this year. I adore Europa Park for it beauty and its charm and Phantasialand doesn't seem any different.

40 minutes ago, Glitch said:

If the British consumer, spent more money in the parks, and stopped complaining about the excellent value of the MAP looking for the cheapest options to the point of Merlin practically giving tickets away, share the fun, trade, promos etc, then perhaps they would invest more into the UK markets but currently Lego is the asset with the greatest return, hence why it will be getting a new land next year.

I disagree for the most part. Look at Alton Towers, this park gets tons of investment and is very likely to receive the next coaster within the UK parks.

Why is this the case? Competition.. Blackpool, Drayton, Flamingoland, LV, any trace of competition in UK market is in the North, hence why Alton still receives the biggest investments.

Merlin know they have to invest in Alton to keep the park at the top of the market, the other parks promote Alton to be the best it can be.

 

Chessington and Thorpe don't receive investment because what is their competition? Paulton? Dreamland? Lol. They rule the roost in the south, they could add nothing in the next 20 years and still be the best parks in the south.. Merlin just don't care, why should they invest in two parks that will still turn tons of profit without any investment whatsoever. Legoland is the one exception to this, but that park is a absolute cash cow and every new ride is a new shop full of profit to be made waiting to happen..

 

I think people spending more cash at Merlin Parks isn't the solution, its having more competition in the south to actually make Merlin care about their non Legoland-southern parks..

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I wonder if it also had anything to do with profit, cash and spreading themselves thin. Merlin might be 2nd largest in size to Disney, but that doesn't mean their profits and cash are proportional.

 

If Phantasialand makes money it is spent on Phantasialand. If Merlin parks make money it has to be spread out and budgeted across numerous other parks, and I would surprise me if that money was proportionally lower than that of Phantasialand.

 

E.g. if Phantasialand makes £1 million then it gets to spend it on itself. If Merlin makes £10 million, but has 20 parks (for the sake of this analogy) then each has the equivalent of £500k, but Merlin might choose instead to reinvest that in their 21st park instead.

 

With the above example Merlin are still 'larger' and more profitable than Phantasialand overall, but not per park.

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8 hours ago, JoshuaA said:

they could add nothing in the next 20 years and still be the best parks in the south.. 

 

I wouldn't say that out loud if I was you!!! 

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9 hours ago, JoshuaA said:

they could add nothing in the next 20 years and still be the best parks in the south

they could be but if people get bored of visiting they're not going to return which = lower cash flow which is probably the only reason Merlin probably give Thorpe any budget at all let's be honest - to maintain their standing and stop rides falling into disrepair (but even then that's too much - Loggers being one example). Thorpe is the park after all that didn't have the money to finish painting railings on Nemesis Inferno's exit walkway. That said if The London Resort gets approval the Merlin Parks in the south will probably have dwindling visitor numbers = Merlin cancels their contract and returns the parks to their owner.

 

Still Phantasialand is an excellent park and the better German/ European theme parks are definitely the quality I'd like to see here in the UK.

 

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9 hours ago, Ivsetti said:

out of interest why are Phantasialand able to invest ridiculous amounts of money but Merlin, "2nd only to Disney" not?

@Hethetheth makes a fantastic point about why Phantasialand are able to invest in greater depths compared to Merlin parks. But even then, it's not just Phantasialand that are able to do this: look at the likes of Liseberg, Hansa Park, etc - independent parks that are able to invest in large amounts on a regular basis. (I'm ignoring Europa and Efteling because of their other means of incoming).

 

A better question to specifically ask is simply how are Phantasialand able to invest ridiculous amounts of money? Klugheim was said to cost something in the region of €60-70m. Rookburgh is rumoured to be a larger investment. Maus au Chocolat (2011) and Chiapas (2014 but should've been 2013) cost another €60m between them. The Deep in Africa land (2006) was another €30-40m. That's insane, and beyond anything that most companies could invest in several parks, let alone one company in one park.

 

How they manage it is still mysterious. The park is owned by the Löffelhardt family, who co-started the park originally. Clever entrepreneurship meant they were able to continue to invest. They also bought Mirabilandia in Italy (they were in charge at the time the park added key rides like Katun), before selling it in 2006 (which no doubt was a big helping hand) in the future. From there, it's simply a case of having ownership that knows how to do business and how to cleverly invest in the park. There's a lot of passion within too which is great.

 

In some ways, I guess their situation could be likened to what we're seeing at Energylandia. They're owned by someone who is wealthy and already has a great deal of experience in running a business, but also someone who is deeply passionate and wants something they can be proud of. The difference there is they very openly receive EU grants and the like to help accelerate their development, and are going for size and quantity over details and quality (of theming). The amount the park have invested on new rides between 2018-2020 probably could have seen them invest in something of similar depth and quality to any of Phantasialand's investments if they wanted to.     

9 hours ago, Glitch said:

Merlin Parks aren't just able to invest money at will, without a business case, which is what they did in the early 2000's era.

Currently Merlin's interests are in Asia as that's where the emerging markets are.

If the British consumer, spent more money in the parks, and stopped complaining about the excellent value of the MAP looking for the cheapest options to the point of Merlin practically giving tickets away, share the fun, trade, promos etc, then perhaps they would invest more into the UK markets but currently Lego is the asset with the greatest return, hence why it will be getting a new land next year.

Let's not pretend that the UK are the only place that is thrifty. Everywhere in the world is. 

 

The trouble is, Merlin have dug themselves into a hole. They set high prices and then give out a ton of promos. So of course people in the UK are then going to dig for the best deal. They'll naturally end up complaining that something doesn't represent a good enough value because, simply put, they've be trained to think they can always get something for next-to nothing. Merlin give tickets away because they chose to. Now they do it because they have to.

9 hours ago, Ivsetti said:

I mean it's pretty obvious Merlin's strategy at the moment is attempting to get swathes of guests through the gates in the hope enough of them buy overpriced items on park to turn a profit. I've always wondered if it wouldn't just be wiser to reduce the number of promos and sales.

This is a very common tactic. Have a low entrance cost and hit visitors with high secondary spends. Look at Vue cinemas - many of them have decreased their standard price significantly (my local one is £5 for any film). But then they can hit you with upgraded seats, high costs of drinks and snacks, etc. And people are more willing to do that because they feel they've 'saved' money for their ticket to watch the film, even if they haven't.

 

Heck, even Phantasialand do this over their winter event. They usually have strong price integrity, so their pre-book online price is only a couple of euros cheaper than buying on the gate, and have very few promotions (and their entrance price is high, around €50). But over Winteraum, especially later in the event, they sell tickets online for €24. Why? Because during the event, they have lots of pop up stalls serving various food and drink (almost like a mini Christmas market), which are extremely popular. People spend a lot of money there and the park recoup any losses they may make from reducing the entrance price. 

8 hours ago, JoshuaA said:

I disagree for the most part. Look at Alton Towers, this park gets tons of investment and is very likely to receive the next coaster within the UK parks.

Why is this the case? Competition.. Blackpool, Drayton, Flamingoland, LV, any trace of competition in UK market is in the North, hence why Alton still receives the biggest investments.

Merlin know they have to invest in Alton to keep the park at the top of the market, the other parks promote Alton to be the best it can be.

I'd hardly call any of those parks competition. Drayton is dying. Blackpool ticks along, but when they invest in a brand new coaster, don't market it and then don't see suitable increases, you have to wonder how big a threat they are. And the Yorkshire parks are hardly competition when they barely invest (bar this year).

 

Towers sees the most investment because Merlin know it's their crowning jewel. It's the UK's biggest park. It's the park that can easily get the highest attendance. It's well known abroad. It has hugely popular and well-known rides like Nemesis and Smiler. Plenty of legitimate world records / firsts that people are actually intrigued by. Towers receives the most investment because it's the safest bet to get a return.

8 hours ago, JoshuaA said:

 

Chessington and Thorpe don't receive investment because what is their competition? Paulton? Dreamland? Lol. They rule the roost in the south, they could add nothing in the next 20 years and still be the best parks in the south.. Merlin just don't care, why should they invest in two parks that will still turn tons of profit without any investment whatsoever. Legoland is the one exception to this, but that park is a absolute cash cow and every new ride is a new shop full of profit to be made waiting to happen..

 

I think people spending more cash at Merlin Parks isn't the solution, its having more competition in the south to actually make Merlin care about their non Legoland-southern parks..

I don't get how you can laugh at Paulton's as being a competitor? They have made very wise investments and continue to do so. They're improving and growing constantly. They're a very legitimate threat to Chessington, whether Merlin admit that or not.

 

Thorpe is different because of its target market. But it's clear to see that its numbers have been falling and popularity has decreased. It and Chessington benefit from location of being so close to London. But Thorpe needs to really push the boat to remain in a profitable state, because they're really sliding. It's a similar situation to where Chessington were 5-6 years, except Chessington were at least slowly retheming rides to bring them to standard.

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Rumours are circulating around that FLY has made it's first test run this week.

 

Still no word on an opening date of course. But I'd reckon either start of season (April) or June are the most likely times right now.

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6 hours ago, JoshC. said:

Rumours are circulating around that FLY has made it's first test run this week.

 

Still no word on an opening date of course. But I'd reckon either start of season (April) or June are the most likely times right now.

2020 Or 2021?

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