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Rank the Merlin theme parks

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Matt N

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Hi guys. I know I’ve created a lot of ranking threads over the years I’ve been here, but I thought it might be interesting to rank the theme parks operated by a theme park operator very close to this site; Merlin Entertainments! Merlin operate numerous different parks across the world (even if a large percentage of those are Legolands), but I thought it might be interesting to discuss how we’d go about ranking Merlin’s theme parks.

I’ll get the ball rolling with my personal ranking of all the Merlin parks I’ve visited (only the 4 British ones):
  1. Alton Towers - The park that started it all for me, and it just had to be on top of my list! The ride selection is one I’m a huge fan of; Wicker Man is one of my all-time favourite coasters, and the rest of the selection is great too, and even in terms of non-coasters, the park has quite a bit to offer; rides like Hex, Duel and Congo River Rapids also add some variety and round the selection out. Regardless of age, Alton Towers truly offers something for everyone! I think the park also has some great theming in places, and I think the forest setting and Victorian ruins really add something to the whole experience! Overall, I think the park has a huge amount to offer!
  2. Thorpe Park - For all the flack that Thorpe Park often gets, I have a huge soft spot for it; it grows on me every time I visit! The park has a lot going for it from my perspective, because the coaster selection is great, and they also have quite a few filler thrill rides too; the flat ride selection is pretty good and varied, and they also have 3 water rides as well! I’ve also got to say that I do think Thorpe Park, although possibly lacking some of Alton’s grandiose, still has a nice vibe, in my opinion, with some very nice theming and landscaping; even though the park doesn’t really go down the areas route, the ride theming is fantastic on some of their rides, and I’d actually argue that it might be stronger than that of Alton Towers’ (Wicker Man aside); Saw and The Swarm in particular are fantastically themed, in my opinion, and rides like Colossus and Nemesis Inferno also have really nice landscaping! However, I think the park does lack the grandiose and quantity that Towers does, and I’d perhaps argue that Towers possibly has a more well-rounded lineup of rides. I do definitely have a soft spot for Thorpe, and I think it’s an absolutely fantastic park, seemingly in contrast to the status quo!
  3. Chessington World of Adventures - Now I haven’t visited Chessington since 2014 (I’m hoping to revisit in the not too distant future, so I can gain a new perspective), but from memory, while the park was nice for a park aimed at young children, it didn’t really live up to the hype for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Chessington was quite nice for what it was, but it didn’t really blow me away. Even for family attractions, nothing there really hugely stands out in my mind as something I really enjoyed. The park has some great family rides; Dragon’s Fury was pretty good, from memory, and ZUFARI was a nice safari ride, but Vampire really disappointed me, from memory. The theming was, I’ve got to say, pretty good, and the park had clearly defined themed areas, and the zoo was quite nice too, but again, it didn’t really stand out to me from a visual standpoint either. It might simply be that there wasn’t much there for my age range and personal taste in rides (and to be fair, I don’t think the park even tries to cater to thrill seekers; I’m not sure my review of Chessington can be entirely fair, as the park is very much centred towards young children), it might be because I went 6 years ago and my memories of it are getting a little hazier, but while it was perfectly nice for a park aimed at young children, Chessington didn’t really live up to the hype for me. Maybe revisiting it and viewing it through an older pair of eyes might make me view it more favourably?
  4. Legoland Windsor - Now again, Legoland is not a park aimed at my demographic, so my review might not be entirely fair. Also, circumstances on the day of my visit in 2017 (namely the combination of huge crowds and my mum in a wheelchair with a broken ankle) will probably have discoloured my view of Legoland somewhat. I must admit that I did not have the most pleasurable of experiences at Legoland, however; while the park seemed like a really nice park for young children, with nice landscaping, a lovely location, and a good selection of family rides, I struggled to enjoy myself somewhat because the crowds made me very anxious (being autistic, I’m someone who gets quite anxious in huge crowds), and combined with wheeling our mum around the park proving easier said than done, my time at the park was quite stressful. I’ve got to admit, the park itself was very nice, with good theming, a nice selection of family rides (Dragon, which was the only ride I went on, was a real pleasant surprise, I must admit!) and lots of brilliant LEGO (Miniland was huge, with quite a few impressive models). However, while I’ve been to busy theme parks before, it’s the only time I’ve ever been to a park that’s literally overwhelmed me with how busy it was; it seemed like it was at bursting point. I’m revisiting the park in October, so hopefully I can gain a fresh perspective and be able to give a better review of the park.
But how would you personally rank Merlin’s theme parks, of the ones you’ve been to?
 
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