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Daniel.S313

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Merlin didn't create paid for Fastrack...

I'm not even sure if Tussauds did... But unfortunately some person a couple of years ago before Merlin realised it would work to gain extra income to enforce a paid system rather than the original free Disney-like system...

Why? God knows, maybe they'd been to a Six Flags or sommat... Seen it done over there and the money side of their brain (it WAS the DIC era I think, which makes Merlin look like Disney) clicked and we result in this system today...

Merlin of course, haven't improved the system, but are the numbers sold down to them, or the parks themselves? As Towers rarely oversell theirs as commonly as Thorpe's, same for Chessie, and their systems only really fail (at Towers and Chessie) on the exceptionally busy days, when it's not a surprise lots of people are buying it...

I dunno really, it's not going away (and as mentioned Europa are planning on doing it soon, and that's deemed as the best park in the world at times) so what can the parks do? Limit the stuff so that the impact is as minimal as possible... But it seems like they don't want to do this for some reason... The only people who know are the Retail mob, because it's their decision, as quite often their over-selling has caused much tension between them and the Rides department...

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Merlin didn't create paid for Fastrack...

But they have the power to remove or run it in a more fair way....

The problem with Fasttrack and car parking charges is once they get this income, the shareholders expect a good return on investment, so for Merlin to suddenly say they are going to drop their income by 20 million or something, the share price will crash and investors will not invest as they will not get a return on investment.

The only solution is to get the right balance, which Thorpe never seem to manage.

If there is a 40 min queue for a ride, don't stand outside the main queue selling fast tracks!

if you are going to have guests queue for long periods of time, have clean and tidy queue lines, have the audio work properly, Saw for example, create an atmosphere. Guests don't mind standing in a queue if they are entertained or the queue moves at a good pace, but by having audio not working correctly, queue line TVs not functioning, queue kiosks closed, when it rains the queue lines flood does not give a good impression.

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Merlin of course, haven't improved the system, but are the numbers sold down to them, or the parks themselves? As Towers rarely oversell theirs as commonly as Thorpe's, same for Chessie, and their systems only really fail (at Towers and Chessie) on the exceptionally busy days, when it's not a surprise lots of people are buying it...

http://www.towersstreet.com/talk/general-discussion/fastrack-farce/msg29659/?boardseen#new - Seems towers are catching up quickly enough.

To put into perspective Fastrack over the last 2 years probably paid for the swarm, aslong as people are willing to pay merlin will be willing to sell. Obviously id like it if there was none atall, but IMO its just a way of life and how things in this world seem to work now everywhere

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I completely agree with Marc, the more you pay the better the service. Whilst the situations vary greatly the principle is still the same, and whilst the outcome differs depending on the service it all applies in the same way. Those who pay more get more, simple.

Going back to the amazon situation, the principle is the exact same! You pay the standard:

1. Amazon - normal delivery rate

2. Thorpe Park entry - normal queue times

That comes as a standard or you pay a premium rate:

1. Amazon - faster delivery rate, usually next day delivery

2. Thorpe Park entry + fastrack - faster/speedier queueing rate.

All in all the more you pay the speedier the result.

Same with transport, you pay more for a high speed train and get there in half the time or less or you pay standard which obviously is lengthier travel.

In regards to 'over selling', they have a dedicated amount of tickets for each 30 minute slot from 11am to one hour before park close. What may visually seem like overselling is usually the result of people not following their allocated slot. What you will find is a very large percentage of the guests purchasing fastrack do not follow the time slot given to them ( even though they choose the slot themselves!) and as a result they clash with other time slots.

As a result the fastrack queue is double the length it should be if people followed the slots.

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Christ on a bike you people make my head hurt. Yeah, the more the pay the better your service with many many things in life. That is not disputed nor is it a problem in any way, shape or form.

Fast track IS different. The cheaper service is caused to be poor by the 'better' paid service existing. Lots of people on a high speed train do not make the slow train slower. Lots of people paying for next day does not (in my extensive experience) make your cheaper parcel get significantly delayed.

Whether you agree or not that that fast track having the effect it does on regular visitors is a problem (which clearly I think it is) is one thing. Trying to say it is the same as what happens elsewhere is another.

To further put into context my openness to fair tiered services based on payment, I have no problem at all with exclusively paid for mazes on fright nights. I would see no problem if all the mazes were a paid extra with a time slot, as long as the park advertised that that was the case. They are afterall very expensive actor heavy and over and above what the park normally offers for (roughly) the same price. The park can still make their money but it is the same, and fair, for everyone. Advertising that the entrance fee includes access to all rides, and then effectively withdrawing that on the day if enough people pay to jump ahead of you (which is exactly what is happening, no one ever knows how busy it will be) is morally wrong in my eyes.

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http://www.towersstr.../?boardseen#new - Seems towers are catching up quickly enough.

To put into perspective Fastrack over the last 2 years probably paid for the swarm, aslong as people are willing to pay merlin will be willing to sell. Obviously id like it if there was none atall, but IMO its just a way of life and how things in this world seem to work now everywhere

What's that? Marc didn't notice my post mentioned that the other two parks' Fastrack fails on the busy days so links me to a topic I've already read and exists because of Towers' system failing on the first Saturday of Half Term?

Yeah, I know Towers' system fails, and Chessie, but not on the consistently regular basis that happens at Thorpe...

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From reading through the topic its been geting worse at alton for a while though not just the first Saturday of half term....

It depends what you class as failing really dont it, because if fastrack was as bad as people made out people would vote with their feet and simply not buy it, but they do so some people must like it.

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because if fastrack was as bad as people made out people would vote with their feet and simply not buy it, but they do so some people must like it.

People may well feel it is a necessity when they see the queue times, doesn't mean they are pleased to be purchasing though. If they feel they have no choice but to pay to have something close to a good day out then they will.

But many people will realise that they have been ripped off in paying twice. The rest of the people will realise they have been ripped off by paying once for access to something then being denied that access whilst a steady stream of payers wilks right passed them. How likely do you think those people are to come back?

The (admittedly huge) profits they are making in the short term will look like very poor value indeed when in the long term, after feeling ripped off over and over, no one wants to come back. It will get harder and harder, and more and more expensive in marketing, to get people to want to return. They will be voting with their feet, but not on the day. It'll be in the months and years ahead, but it'll be too late by then, the parks reputation will be gone.

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It depends what you class as failing really dont it, because if fastrack was as bad as people made out people would vote with their feet and simply not buy it, but they do so some people must like it.

What is this tomfoolery? These people are clearly dumb or unaware of the alternatives. And since when does people liking it have anything to do with it being a fair system? Maybe we should just abolish the abolition of Apartheid.

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What you will find is a very large percentage of the guests purchasing fastrack do not follow the time slot given to them ( even though they choose the slot themselves!) and as a result they clash with other time slots.

As a result the fastrack queue is double the length it should be if people followed the slots.

Simple answer to this, if your not there during your time slot, you don't get in, you have to re-apply for another slot from the Fasttrack kiosk. It may sound harsh, but if you don't follow the rules, your poor time keeping impacts not just on other Fasttrack customers, but the normal queue who gets the brunt of the delay.

If they are not happy with this they can obtain a refund and join the main queue line.

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Recently when I end up finding that fast track has been oversold (especially on the larger rides), I'll ring up the Sales department and ask them to stop selling. I know I'm not the only operator to do this, I've seen others do it too.

What I've also noticed recently is that the sales department have sold fast-track for a time period that has already expired. I don't think they quite realise the effect that over-selling has on both the main queueline and fast-track. Staff also feel a need to bias the guests allowed in to fast-track otherwise guest services ends up giving out more priority passes and fast-track just to deal with complaints. It's a lose-lose situation for everyone.

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The problem with being strict with timeslots is that timekeeping at theme parks is difficult. Thorpe would rather just let you use your ticket than refund it or switch it for another slot, as either way your ticket cannot be resold. It's far less hastle and more profitable to let people in after their slot has expired.

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I've known the sales department in the past have had competitions to see who can sell the most fastrack on quiet days. Great one.

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Just as an inside thing about towers - fastrack hasn't increased this year, it hasn't really been any worse. Only times it fails is when hotel fastrack is included, or a major ride breaks down. Which, if you read into that topic on towers street, is what they're actually moaning about.

Thorpe, on the other hand, is more than happy to sell fastrack when they don't have staffing levels to cope with it (on the "quiet" days for instance). There's a huge, huge, change in attitude and approach to fastrack between both parks.

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I've always found that ironic considering Alton Towers has the rides to cope with fastrack whilst Thorpe doesn't.

@JohnD

As an aside point, how long a slot do you get with fastrack. Disney stopped you using your fastpass any time after your pass expired. You have to be there when your slot is or you don't get to use it. They allow you an hour. What does Thorpe do?

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No idea, I've only bought fastrack at Thorpe once and that was for FN mazes back in 2007. I guess a possible (partial) solution could be to sell more tickets in earlier time slots and fewer later on in the day to try to compensate for people missing their slots.

My worst experience with fastrack was when a salesperson arrived at the Inferno entrance shortly after we'd joined what looked like a 45min queue. The sudden spike in fastrack users caused the main queue to slow to a crawl and it took 70 min to get on the ride.

The amount of people willing to buy fastrack on off-peak days further shows how ingrained the idea the idea has become. I saw someone try to use fastrack during ERT at Alton Towers once (on Nemesis) - the trains were being sent half empty at the time.

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Because it's a paid system, they generally accept the tickets anytime after the time slot, just not before. Hence problems being created, if they do go back to sales & info to change the ticket, it'll just be written on, rather than changing the allocation quota.

However the system definitely does seem ingrained. The amount of people who ask where to buy fastrack when the queue board extremely clearly says "5 minutes" is ridiculous.

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Right, to avoid a long and rambling post something which will leave many people uninterested and bored, I've got a blog entry about Fastrack - http://forum.maniahub.com/blog/10/entry-349-how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-fastrack/

For those who don't want to read a long, possibly boring, rambling entry with a fair bit of maths, basically what I've done is worked out how on The Swarm, if there are just one or two Fastrack groups on a ride, it can increase queue times for the main queue quite dramatically. Furthermore, it shows how the current system of Fastrack slots not being strictly adhered to makes the problem much worse. All of this seems obvious and already known to a degree, but it shows just how bad it is.

I've also given a couple of suggestions on how to improve the Fastrack system, and quite simply, I think the best one is to make Fastrack time slots much stricter, give verbal information about if you miss your ticket slot without good reason, you won't be able to use it, and thus make the system work and flow better, and make the numbers at any given point more predictable.

However, one thing which always needs to be thought about is how Fastrack is a premium service, and a balance needs to be made so that this premium service does deliver to those who are willing to pay, and I think that is a lot harder to achieve than most people may think..

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Of course Fastrack increases the queuetime, the evidence is clear when after queue close what was a 60 minute queue gets finished in about 30-45 minutes...

I think the main issue is Retail tbh, and the lack of proper serious communication between the various departments, because what do Retail care if they technically oversell, they don't have to deal with the queues, that's for Rides... Maybe some proper interlinking between departments is needed...

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Universal LA is a pretty good example of a premium fast track option. My memory is little hazy but I went on the VIP tour and was told this was one of the busiest days of the season (people were getting rammed into each other on the escalators because the exits were blocked by the sheer size of the crowds). The Mummy gave the front row of every other car to Express pass so essentially an eighth. The Simpsons Ride has 2 screens, each with 12 cars. Express only get access to one side and 2/3 cars of that. Jurassic Park was more dodgy with giving 1/2 rows per boat but most of the time there was no Express queue so I guess there was no reason to batch.

The longest we had to queue was less than 10 mins for The Simpsons Ride which had a 90+ min queue all day.

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^Is that in favour of fastrack, coming from a fastracker then? Getting front row of every other car is awful.

Don't blame poor retail benin, fastrack come under Marketing dept in all the parks bar lego, where it's concessions. Poor guys.

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Well yes when I go to a park as far away as America because its cost is small compared to flights, hotels, etc and especially if I'm not going to be back there soon. I'd rather pay more but get a better service.

Debatable. Mummy was the only ride to do it and it's all indoors, mainly dark and most theming is to the side or above you.

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Here's Guest Services' response to my complaint about Fastrack overselling:

Our Fastrack units have high tech systems in place that take into account the current queue time of each ride, its operational capacity and the number of tickets that have already been sold. There is no specified restriction on the total amount of tickets that can be sold per hour or per ride but are sold to represent a percentage of the overall waiting time for that ride. Here at THORPE PARK we do our best to allocate a certain proportion of tickets per time slot in order to reduce the queuing time for those who have purchased tickets. In light of the information provided above, if the queue times increase, then ultimately so does the number of allocated tickets for those wishing to purchase Fastrack. As previously mentioned Fastrack does not guarantee you access straight on to the ride but acts as an optional service to reduce your wait and I am advised that they are suggested to amount to a third of the queuing time compared to that of the main queue. These figures are constantly monitored and adapted when necessary.

So essentially Fastrack tickets are unlimited - the busier the park the more their systems are set up to sell, watering down the benefit for people who have bought them and making things hell for those who haven't.

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So that's why they have problems then - at least both Towers and Chessie have maximum limits, and do actually sell out of tickets etc, particularly time slotted ones.

Shame/weird.

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