vampirerider wrote:Makes the staff's day better because ideally they'd prefer not to be working.
vampirerider wrote:I hope that when people hear about these cutbacks it stops them from going so that everyone can finish early and go home. I think 10pm was far too late for Thorpe Park to be open on Fright Nights.
These are perhaps the two things which struck a cord with me the most in your post, vampirerider. In the current economic climate (words I hate using, eurgh), I'm pretty sure that many people will want as much money as they can, so ideally, people in a job will want to work as much as they can, without going over the top, of course. To say that that staff would ideally not be working - when so many people are out of jobs and are desparately trying to find a job - is quite frankly ludicrious. Okay, they may not want to be there all day, every day for 8-10 hours, but they'd want to be in a job, earning money. There will be times when people may want to finish a bit earlier and all that, but not to just have a hour's work cut. Also, many people will work at a theme park because they enjoy that sort of thing and atmosphere - would you say that the operators of major rides, who have probably been at the park for a couple of seasons, are working there just to earn a bit of money, or so they can earn money whilst doing something they enjoy? In other words, to say that satff would rather not work all the time is a pretty ridiculous thing to say..
Mentioning about Thorpe staying open till 10pm is an interesting one. Many parks across Europe and the US staying open till then or later, and usually they are less popular / well-known than Thorpe. Normally I hate using comparisons between parks, but it begs the question why do the park need to do this, when so many other parks can do it so successfully, and when Thorpe's target market are the most likely to want to stay out late. Just food for thought there really.
So, just what are Merlin playing at?
Thorpe lost AP day, an hour off of FN, Saw Alive for the main season and apparently all of the actors for throughout the season. They dropped a May-half term event and had to majorly change plans for their under-18 club nights. Really and truly, this is really not a lot, and compared to other parks not bad. Whilst losing an hour off of FN is saddening, it is the quietest hour of the day during FN, and if the park really do need to cut back, then you can't argue that it doesn't make sense.
Chessington lost an hour from HHP, zoo days later this season, having stagnated openings and something else I think which I've forgotten. They do tend to have cutbacks on their projects as well (Monkey Kingdom springs to mind). Legoland also have stagnated openings, and probably more..
Alton have had so many changes and reversals it's unbelievable. The all season closures of Enterprise and Submission, closure of Skyride during off-peak days, stagnated openings and whatever else, all of which have been reversed. I also believe that some food outlets are closed all this season, and many have severely reduced opening hours.
But why is there a need for all of this? Thorpe have added a new £18-20 million pound monster of a coaster, with Alton opening there's next season. Chessington are finally get multi-million pound investment next season (which I've heard is meant to be costing between £8-10 million, though not sure about that?) and Legoland have their new hotel, Atlantis and probably more planned soon. Yet we're experiencing penny-pinching at every corner. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't add up.
Is it because Merlin are ever-expanding, and so by saving the pennies, they can spend the pounds (to put a twist on an old saying, if you will
) all over the place? Are they just slicing UK theme parks down a bit, so they can focus elsewhere, in countries where they have more competition (as a side note, does anyone know whether the likes of Heide Park and Gardaland are experiencing similar cuts?)? Is it simply that they need to make these cuts due to the economic climate, and these ensure that the parks and attractions can continue to expand and develop? Are Merlin actually in a bad fincial place, and are having to make serious cutbacks left, right and centre to ensure they stay alive? Or are they just trying to increase profits?
The thing is, we just cannot know. None of us really know what's going on behind closed doors at Merlin, and none of us are economists (as far as I know at least, correct me if I'm wrong!
), so we can do nothing but speculate as to why we're experiencing such cutbacks. When we turn to AT and look at all the reversals that have been made with regards to their decisions, it rightfully makes people wonder if these cuts are even necessary, if an expected bad response is enough to make management (who are meant to be experienced people who know what decisions to make first time round 99% of the time) change their mind. It's like being allergic to nuts, then buying a product from Sainsburys with a 'May contain nuts' warning, then complaining about having an allergic reaction - it doesn't make sense and is plain stupid.
The unfortunate thing is, deep down, we all knew that sooner or later, we'd seen things like this occur whilst the country was in recession. Everyone is tightening their belts one way or another, and the 'staycation' phase wouldn't be enough at the end to satisfy Merlin, so their belts too needed to be tightened. Perhaps this is just something we, as enthusiats and members of the public, should just lie down and accept, and wait for the recession to eventually blow over and hope that things go back on the up? Though looking at how so-called 'people power' has affected parks - particularly Merlin's UK jewel, Alton Towers - maybe if we shout loud enough, and fair and suitable compromise (if one even needs to occur) will be reached, where everyone can be satisfied. This is something that will play out one way or another, but whatever happens, I'd say we're in for a rough ride when it comes to Merlin's parks.
The one thing I think is a certainty is this. The economy is a roller coaster in itself - it has booms and busts, ups and downs. One minute we may be going up and up and up, before slowly but surely being brought right back down. Sometimes we're accelerating, but not going up or down. There are times when we make progress, think we've reached the top, only to rollback right back where we were again. No doubt that this rough ride will end and the economy will exit out of recession, where we can then have a rest bite on the MCBR of money.
It's when we eventually reach this point where Merlin will either salvage themselves, and bring back the quality of running a park which will all want and love, or have their true colours dragged to light. This is their 'do-or-die' moment, and it that and their decision at this point which I am eagerly awaiting.