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John Wardley


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There seems to be some definite sadness and regret in how he speaks of pretty much the whole of the second half of his career, such a shame. Doesn't strike me he is proud of the smiler at all really.

The more he speaks of Nick Varney the more he comes across as a bit of a tit. If the criteria for new investments is 'how well can we market it' and an afterthought is 'how good can it be' that goes a long way to explaining some of the mess we have here. It is another shining example of short-termism, what matters is getting people through the doors and not actually pleasing them when they get there, so they don't want to come back, so you have to work harder with more 'marketable' rides to persuade them back and so the spiral continues.

I wish someone would ask him at one of these things how Nemesis got built. If we don't get wood now because it is perceived as dangerous by a focus group what on earth would such a group have made of the dangley legged like nothing seen before extreme monster that was built, which was then marketed with a story rather than being the first of anything much? I'm going to guess they simply trusted him. Why did that trust stop and what would our parks look like today if it didn't?

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Fantastic video, thanks to Theme Park Worldwide for hosting the video. It's a rather telling video and there are a few points that really strike me from it.

-His love for Megafobia and wooden rollercoasters in general. He quite rightly should be proud of Megafobia, one of the under-rated gems in the UK. It says a lot about him as a person that he prefers rides to be about adventures of experiences and not flash in the pan marketing speil.

- His dissatisfaction working on the Smiler. It speaks volumes that a ride creator prefers his 19 year old rollercoaster because of the values it was built upon. Not to be the highest or the biggest but to be the best it could be. Merlin could learn a few lessons from that.

- His respect for people like Candy Holland and the way the Smiler was marketed. Clearly, Merlin has some amazing staff that just aren't allowed to reach their limits because of silly rules from up above.

- Marketing gets in the way of brilliance. When he describes Saw the ride as successful from IP more then ride, it really says a lot about the way the company is run. Especially when he talks fondly of Thirteen working (one remembers that rides open day very vividly), you can see that John Wardley thinks of a ride as more then just the ride hardware but every element that goes into it.

I've so much respect for him. He speaks so candidly and honestly in that interview and you can't help but feel the what if's when you listen to him.

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He clearly loves wood and clearly does not hold the purse strings. His comments show that though he understands what the rider wants, it is the commercial side that decides, not necessarily wins.

I wonder if there is anybody in the industry within the UK who may follow his footsteps; there is much more liaison between the manufacturing side and individuals, rather than companies.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's been known for a few weeks now and is apparently well written and interesting (with some nice big pictures of the ride). I haven't read it myself yet, but I know all the work this guy put into researching the ride. Here's the website in case you haven't seen it! John's (short) foreword was written two years ago and he mentions the book in his autobiography.

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Okay, I've read it...

It's an interesting read for sure. It's quite a short book, and lots of the pages are taken up by some amazing (colour) pictures of the ride, during construction and after it had been completely. It is well written (though there's a couple of typos; though that's not really a big deal to be honest), and it explains everything really well.

I wouldn't call it a must read, but if you're interested in The Haunted House in any way, shape or form or want to reminisce over it, I'd highly recommend it! :)

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