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Really good article with Nick Varney here - actually think he addresses what you say about ghost train too!

 

“When the tech works well, it can offer the chance to create “even more mind-blowing immersive experiences”, he says.  However there is a caveat.  “A lot of suppliers out there are not delivering on their promises. You create demand, customers queue up, rides break down, and equipment doesn’t work: you end up disappointing a lot of people.  It was a point I raised at the IAAPA GM’s breakfast.”

 

“We’ve quite had a lot of issues with this.  You want to be innovative but you always have to balance it with how certain you can be of a high level of delivery operationally with new rides and attractions.”

 

https://blooloop.com/features/nick-varney-merlin-entertainments-ceo/

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48 minutes ago, Marc said:

Really good article with Nick Varney here 

Rather interesting article. I've been looking into Merlin's business structure lately and this article gave some good insight.

 

It does give me a bit of concern though with Merlin in the UK. With so much focus on China and development into North America coupled with him just expecting the UK to bounce back the near future, in my opinion, doesn't seem too great.

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“When I started in 95/6 every single SEA LIFECentre was in decline,” he says. But we stopped the decline, and turned it around.”

 

In the latter part of 90s Vardon plc started putting all their money into health and fitness.  “It was a bit like a cuckoo in a nest, elbowing out the others,” says Varney. “We weren’t getting any capex, so it was a good thing to go up for sale.”

 

He could be describing the plight of our parks in the current Merlin Midway empire! We need someone to stop the decline and turn it around, I don't believe Varney will be that someone.

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12 hours ago, Marc said:

Really good article with Nick Varney here - actually think he addresses what you say about ghost train too!

 

“When the tech works well, it can offer the chance to create “even more mind-blowing immersive experiences”, he says.  However there is a caveat.  “A lot of suppliers out there are not delivering on their promises. You create demand, customers queue up, rides break down, and equipment doesn’t work: you end up disappointing a lot of people.  It was a point I raised at the IAAPA GM’s breakfast.”

 

“We’ve quite had a lot of issues with this.  You want to be innovative but you always have to balance it with how certain you can be of a high level of delivery operationally with new rides and attractions.”

 

https://blooloop.com/features/nick-varney-merlin-entertainments-ceo/

 

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...

 

Perhaps as well the urge and desperation to have the latest technology without ensuring it is ready for the real life setting needs to be considered...

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5 minutes ago, Benin said:

 

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...

 

Perhaps as well the urge and desperation to have the latest technology without ensuring it is ready for the real life setting needs to be considered...

 

Maybe so, but i'm sure hes not wrong in what he's saying, when a company like Merlin signs a contract with a supplier, i don't think its unreasonable for them to expect to get what they are promised - latest technology or not, as the consumer its not up to Merlin to say if it will work or not, surely that onus is on the supplier?

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True, but it's down to Merlin to provide a product that suits the price they put on it...

 

None of the parks are worth £50+ (barely any parks are to be honest, and when the parks aren't even worth the BOGOFs based on online reviews there's a HUGE problem)...

 

Note that I also don't think Phantasialand is worth €45 (or whatever it is now)...

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2 hours ago, Marc said:

 

Maybe so, but I'm sure hes not wrong in what he's saying, when a company like Merlin signs a contract with a supplier, I don't think its unreasonable for them to expect to get what they are promised - latest technology or not, as the consumer its not up to Merlin to say if it will work or not, surely that onus is on the supplier?

 

Thing is, lets take Derren Brown, its not the companies behind the implementation of that ride that will get the complaints and a reputation for poor reliability, its Merlin. They can blame the manufacturers all they want, but when it comes to it, Merlin knows the risks and pursues it anyway.

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Surely its good that Merlin are trying out new technologies?? Yeah its a gamble and maybe it didn't pay off, but is that such a bad thing? The parks would be stale and boring if they didnt take a risk here and there.

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1 hour ago, GetEchoes said:

Surely its good that Merlin are trying out new technologies?? Yeah its a gamble and maybe it didn't pay off, but is that such a bad thing? The parks would be stale and boring if they didnt take a risk here and there.

It's that sort of thinking which management is following but is my single biggest issue with Merlin. You don't need the latest technology to have a good attraction. At the end of the day a rollercoaster is a rollercoaster. The public don't know the difference between manufacturers and they don't care how the experience is achieved. They just want a fun experience.

 

Varneys brand/marketing background is showing its colours. New technology is easy to sell initially but nearly impossible to sell later on.

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Didn't read the talk of article but the talk of saving sea life centres from decline is amusing since the theme parks have all declined IMO under Merlin. There approach centre's on short lived fad brands and the latest technology as stated, Thorpe Park being a prime example DBGT, the walking dead the ride and Love Island lates (REALLY!) rather than focusing on fad rubbishy events and the latest technology why not stick with the tried and tested and general upkeep to provide a better experience for customers.

 

I haven't been to a Merlin theme park for 3 years now and I really don't feel like I've missed out on anything at all, I'd much rather save my money and go a theme park elsewhere in the world or blackpool pleasure beach where the industry is competitive and the rides and parks are of much better quality and upkeep IMO. 

 

I totally agree on the prices not being warranted for just over £50 I went to Tokyo Disneyland and that is far superior to any Merlin price, asking the same price as that feels like day light robbery and all the bad reviews show many feel the same.

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5 hours ago, GetEchoes said:

Surely its good that Merlin are trying out new technologies?? Yeah its a gamble and maybe it didn't pay off, but is that such a bad thing? The parks would be stale and boring if they didnt take a risk here and there.

Innovation in the industry is a good thing, but in some cases Merlin are needlessly complicated, look at the Ghost Train!

The heavy reliance on VR makes the attraction incredibly unreliable, and ironically the best parts of the attraction are the non VR sections!

Honestly I think Thorpe could of done a Vekoma Madhouse with a pre-show and that would of been better than The Ghost Train!

Its the more simple aspects of the attraction that are the most enjoyable IMO! Like the theming and final Dungeon style effect.

 

Using new technology and doing different stuff is good, but if the technology is unreliable and inferior to a more traditional ride, then whats the damn point?

Merlin could of easily built a madhouse/tracked dark ride for fractions of what The Ghost Train cost and it would of been more reliable and more enjoyable!

 

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There has to be a balance when using new tech, there’s no doubt a place for it as time and technology is evolves - it’s easy to blame merlin all the time, but without being part of  the conversations between Merlin and the suppliers it’s impossible to know what was promised!

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In the case of Galatica though it’s fair to say it was a failure otherwise they wouldn’t of removed rows of equipment. But now ironically they’ve made VR “exclusive” and people are waiting for VR instead of walking straight on to empty seats for non VR.

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I think they tried to do VR too early. The headsets are very low res. The hardware powering it is unreliable, not built for constant use. The technology is still very new and being developed. IMO, they should have hired a horror game developer rather than Figment to make the content. Also the transit system is just complete garbage. It e-stops if there’s a hair in the way of the sensors. My recent and likely last ride on it was embarrassing, the group I was with still point out how bad it was to me. One said the PS VR is much scarier in comparison.

 

DBGT is still a great concept but it was very poorly executed. They chose the wrong suppliers at the wrong time to do it. They should have built a solid Mack coaster that year and then built DBGT when there’s the well established technology and 4K headsets to do it on a mass scale reliably.

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The recent confirmation of Merlin turning 43 million in the first half of 2018 is deeply concerning, especially when you consider the size of the corporation. 

 

Whilst park numbers being up nearly 10% seems a positive/good news at first glance, I am not so sure. The attractions have been pushing/promoting cheap season passes, potentially meaning the parks still aren’t making much/enough money to be deemed successful. 

 

I hate to see the comsequences but can expect further budgets on operations, investments and more, just so they try and recover quick turnovers. 

 

The parks already have enough areas closed/mothballed and that’s on a peak day, let alone an off peak. 

 

 

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Can someone summarise it so I don't have to give Merlin my details please?

 

If they're struggling to staff parks maybe they should look at how they employ people and try and create a role which is seen as a long term one which can develop, rather than seasonal?

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Call me old fashioned but I always thought it's a good idea confirming you have the staff structure and quantity in place before trying to have the highest number of actor led attractions at a Fright Nights ever... they are still advertising for FN staff now ? (appreciate this is the "summer update" mind you)

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They should look at the pay structure and make significant changes. Merlin pay very poorly especially at management level and are often £6000+ less than what similar roles offer in the south east. There graduate scheme for example pays £19k-£21k while the average for a graduate business management scheme is around £27k. I would have applied for the scheme if it wasn't for the potential 30% pay cut. They must be loosing out on countless motivated highly qualified individuals due to the poor pay. Then the ones they do get are then driven away by the poor corporate structure and lack of direction. 

 

The seasonal work and the poor pay for management means that they get very few career staff. Instead they get people working for them who's sole objective is to earn money with little to no motivation to make an impact. The business structure is rotten and lacks direction. I don't believe Varney is good as CEO anymore and needs to be replaced for the next business phase for Merlin. As for the new director of Thorpe I don't believe he has a clue what the parks history or objectives were and now he's come in and completely changed it to the thing the park was trying to move away from. 

Merlin could be doing a lot better and I feel all of its issues stem from the top.

 

(I feel you are the reason you lost this task and for that reason, Varney, You're Fired.)

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16 minutes ago, Project LC said:

Asfor the new director of Thorpe I don't believe he has a clue what the parks history or objectives were and now he's come in and completely changed it to the thing the park was trying to move away from. 

Merlin could be doing a lot better and I feel all of its issues stem from the top.

 

(I feel you are the reason you lost this task and for that reason, Varney, You're Fired.)

Merlin have got rid of the director at Thorpe, changes are happening. Currently Ian Crabbe from Towers is temporarily in charge of Thorpe while they find a new director.

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7 minutes ago, Ringo said:

Merlin have got rid of the director at Thorpe, changes are happening. Currently Ian Crabbe from Towers is temporarily in charge of Thorpe while they find a new director.

Well I didn't know that. The old guy from the Midway's wasn't around for very long at all. Do you know when was he replaced and if he left or was forced out?

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1 hour ago, Project LC said:

Well I didn't know that. The old guy from the Midway's wasn't around for very long at all. Do you know when was he replaced and if he left or was forced out?

Yeah he managed just under 2 years, It’s only recently become public knowledge but he was allegedly forced out. Only happened very recently. The marketing director has also gone apparently. There are more changes to come.

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I'm not sure how appropriate it is for us to be commenting on specific people and their jobs. People at Divisional Director level are there to take charge of the park, yes, but outside of having their name - and occasionally their face - associated to press releases (where quotes are normally written by someone from the marketing department), their not in the public eye. Seems a bit unfair for us to comment and speculate what is effectively someone's livelihood based on hearsay.

 

Dom Jones had a lot of experience with Thorpe Park, the theme park industry and senior management roles, in and out of Merlin. We simply do not know enough about the situation at Thorpe to form any sort of opinion about it all, in my personal opinion.

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@ChiapasC.I’ve not named him, but you have despite saying you aren’t sure how appropriate it is to comment on it.

 

It hasn’t been denied and the fact TowersStreet posted that Ian Crabbe is currently acting as interim director at Thorpe whilst maintaining his Towers commitment confirms he is no longer the parks director.

 

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