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The question that will change the UK thrill ride scene ... for better or worse

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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Sorry for making a long post, but I realized the other day that the UK amusement park scene is due for some massive changes in the near to medium-term future. Unfortunately, I don't know if they will be for the better or worse. But I'm pretty sure that that the current situation is not going to hold. Specifically, thrill rides are facing a very uncertain future.

The TL;DR is as follows: Essentially, the 1990s and early 2000s were a huge experiment for the park industry. Many actors poured millions into parks and coasters, hoping that they'd draw large crowds and earn big money in ticket sales. Now we're about to learn whether it paid off, and whether it's worth doing again. Whatever the answer is, it will change the amusement industry dramatically.

Let's quickly recap the status quo: Thrill rides are currently scattered in parks all over the country, with the Merlin parks tending to have the most of them in one place. If I'm counting RCDB correctly, 12 parks currently contain coasters with inversions, or coasters RCDB classify as "Extreme": Adventure Island, Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Brean Theme Park, Brighton Pier, Drayton Manor, Fantasy Island, Flamingo Land, Oakwood, Pleasurewood Hills, Southport Pleasureland, and Thorpe Park. In total, 26 "Extreme" coasters are operating in the UK at the moment. An additional 19 parks have coasters classified as "Thrill", too many to list here. These are 37 of those coasters, making it 63 in total between the two categories. Presumably, the situation for flat rides is comparable, but stats are harder to find there. Let's focus on coasters for the time being.

Most of these coasters were built during a period that roughly spanned from 1990 until the financial crisis of 2007. Of the 26 Extreme coasters, only 6 were built in 2008 or later: Saw, Mumbo Jumbo, Swarm, Smiler, Hero, and Icon, the latter of which is the only one built after 2013 (although it should be noted that Flamingo Land's new 10-looper will add another to the count).

On the Thrill side, things look better, with 20 coasters opened after the financial crisis. However, if we look at relocations and manufacturing dates, the picture is a little different: Only 10 of the coasters were actually manufactured after the financial crisis. 4 of them have been relocated at least once since they were first built. Only three were custom made for their park, and one of those is a Wiegand Alpine Coaster (the other two are Thirteen and Wicker Man at Alton Towers).

Or in other words, the rate of new constructions on this scale has slowed dramatically in recent years, and the existing stock of thrill coasters is aging. It seems completely unthinkable these days that a small country park could build the longest coaster in Europe, or that a seaside park would buy a pair of 40+ meter tall Vekomas. Even a small park like Pleasurewood Hills acquiring a Boomerang would be extraordinary. I mean, the biggest and most exciting new acquisition in a UK park in the past three years has been a cloned spinning coaster at Paultons Park. There are many parks that currently have thrill rides, but few parks that build them. Even the ones that do, largely rely on cloned models designed to be easily disassembled and sold on to somebody else. Even the biggest parks are mainly building family attractions or temporary attractions (if they build anything at all), while relying on the old "crowd pullers" in the thrill category.

However, this situation can't continue forever. At some point, the "crowd pullers" will become too old to operate, and because of the relative lack of investment from 2008 onward, the parks currently have nothing like them to fall back on. The parks would have to replace the coasters "as they fall", or live with the loss. Since most of them were built in very short order, the wave of retirements will be similarly big. Just look at Thorpe Park, which had more than half of its attractions built between 2001 and 2006. In the 15 years since then, they've effectively built only four new rides.

And that's pretty much the case all over the industry. Parks are relying on the old thrill rides, without building new ones on the same scale, and the day will come when the old rides will be so old they must be retired. The parks are currently operating below the sustenance limit, meaning there will have to be a reckoning quite soon.

I see four possible ways out of it, and they all hinge on one question: Are big thrill coasters worth it? Are thrill coasters, like the ones installed in 1990-2007, profitable? All things considered, does it pay off to cater to the adrenaline junkies? In the age of excellent video games and home streaming of any movie you can think of, amusement parks face stiff competition as a spare time activity. It is relatively expensive and requires travel, and you risk spending most of your day standing in line. Meanwhile for parks, big coasters are a huge expense to plan and build, require lots of staffing for operation and maintenance, regular inspection, specialized spare parts, and so on. They don't want to put down that sort of money for an attraction unless it draws in a lot of people. But do the numbers add up? Would it be worth it to rebuild, say, Fantasy Island tomorrow, if it vanished today? Or would it be better to build something less wild, that appeals to a wider audience? Or just using the land for real estate development instead?

The answer to this question is literally make or break for the UK amusement park scene like we know it today. The wildest coasters are aging, their "replace-by" date is coming up, and parks will have to make the decision whether to replace them or go for something more family-oriented instead. Or just go out of business altogether, once the current "inventory" of attractions becomes too old to continue operation.

There's also a question of what the parks are able to afford. Here are the four scenarios I think are the most likely, ranged by how optimistic they are:

1) A renaissance. Thrill coasters are worth it, and the parks can afford to replace them. Coasters like Nemesis, Avalanche, Colossus, and Millennium meet their eventual end, and their replacements are up and running shortly after. Even coasters at minor parks, such as Shockwave or Megafobia, are carried on in spirit through their successors. Parks like Alton and Thorpe renew their entire flat ride lineup and are almost unrecognizable within a few years. The current scope of the existing parks is largely retained as it is, but the rides will become a lot more modern.

2) Competitors take over. Thrill coasters are worth it, but the existing parks cannot afford (or won't risk the cost of) the required renovations. Instead, other parks spring up to take over their market niche. Some regional parks close, but new ones are built and thrive. Old iconic coasters at old iconic parks close, but new ones are built in new locations. The current scope of the industry is retained, but shifting to different parks.

3) Downsizing. Thrill coasters are not worth it after all, and once the existing ones are too old to operate, the parks replace them with something smaller and more widely appealing. We see family woodies where we wished for RMCs. Vekoma Rollerskates instead of B&M multiloopers. SFCs instead of SLCs. Thorpe and Alton commit to relying on escape rooms, temporary IP attractions, and events on a permanent basis, alongside some cheaper mechanical attractions. A few thrill coasters are still built, but smaller than the coasters they replace. Forget Intamin Blitz coasters, a mid-sized Gerstlauer Infinity is the biggest you're getting. Only a tiny handful of parks will ever build non-cloned attractions. The existing parks reduce their scope, but retain their grip on the market.

4) Mass extinction. This is the scary one. Thrill coasters are not worth it, nor is it viable to operate a park without them. Caught in a negative spiral of aging rides --> dwindling income --> less maintenance --> aging rides, major parks struggle to stay afloat, or they try to milk their existing cash cows for as long as possible until one day the inspector says they can't open and there's nothing left to fall back on. Unable or unwilling to bear the cost of renewing the thrill coasters, parks go out of business and sell their land to real estate developers. Some parks become the sites of temporary funfair attractions, but house no permanent infrastructure or themed lands. The public fail to turn up in the numbers needed to sustain anything more than that, with parks being seen as an expensive novelty of a bygone era. The whole concept of amusement parks is deemed nonviable on a regional scale, leaving only a few parks to operate thrill attractions across the country, and to do so on a vastly smaller scale than before.

As it currently looks, I think we're looking towards a future in the lower half of the list. Parks like Lightwater Valley and Oakwood are pretty much doomed, Drayton appears to be abandoning the thrill segment, and there doesn't seem to be any great appetite for anybody to fill their gaps. Covid left a gaping hole in both the revenue and reputation of amusement parks. The London Resort is either a joke that won't go anywhere, or at least the parks aren't gearing up to face the competition. We haven't even seen mid-term development plans for any of the biggest parks for a while. And Icon famously did little for BPB's numbers. I'm not sure if we'll see mass closures, but it seems like the UK has passed "peak coasters" already.

Also note that this is not exclusive to the UK. Parques Reunidos is facing the same dilemma with a shrug. Six Flags has the mother of all time bombs coming up when their 50-odd thrill/extreme coasters built between 1995 and 2006 hit the "best served before" date. The Danish parks haven't built an "Extreme" coaster since 2008. Cedar Fair is barely giving crumbs to invest in their second-tier parks. There is some activity in the thrill ride scene of parks in some European countries, but overall we're not seeing as much as we used to, and I wonder if we ever will again.

Or am I being overly pessimistic?
 

Nitefly

Member
In the US, I genuinely think it is a ‘golden age’ of ‘new’ coasters for enthusiasts, probably sparked by the rise of RMC. The amount that is opening that is ‘ultra high quality’ is really impressive. The abundance of options within the country allows it to create more of an ‘enthusiast market’ than here.

The UK parks, as with the US the parks, are squeezed more than ever on shareholder expectation on profits (driven by cutting costs) and with the abundance of cheap and readily available entertainment. We all have an ‘Amazon Prime expectation’ (we want it now) and theme parks do struggle against fierce competition from other forms of entertainment.

I’m not sure what will happen but I think the UK parks really do need to double down their efforts and investments in order to survive. Paultons Park has absolutely smashed it with Tornado Springs - we need more of that and less ‘Walking Dead: the Ride’.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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In the US, I genuinely think it is a ‘golden age’ of ‘new’ coasters for enthusiasts, probably sparked by the rise of RMC. The amount that is opening that is ‘ultra high quality’ is really impressive. The abundance of options within the country allows it to create more of an ‘enthusiast market’ than here.

The UK parks, as with the US the parks, are squeezed more than ever on shareholder expectation on profits (driven by cutting costs) and with the abundance of cheap and readily available entertainment. We all have an ‘Amazon Prime expectation’ (we want it now) and theme parks do struggle against fierce competition from other forms of entertainment.

I’m not sure what will happen but I think the UK parks really do need to double down their efforts and investments in order to survive. Paultons Park has absolutely smashed it with Tornado Springs - we need more of that and less ‘Walking Dead: the Ride’.

To clarify, I also think that the quality of the top-notch coasters these days are miles above what used to be built around the turn of the millennium. Coasters are generally both smoother and more exciting, and new coasters that can be considered directly bad are few and far between.

However, it's the quantity I'm concerned about. It seems like fewer and fewer parks are affording the highest tiers of coasters these days. Parks like Drayton Manor affording a prototype of a new coaster model, or Southport Pleasureland building a multi-inversion inverted coaster, seems exceedingly unlikely today. What I'm questioning is whether it makes sense for such parks to build such coasters - and what will happen when their existing ones become too old to operate. If coasters like that are financially viable, the industry is headed for another boom period. If not, it will be ruinous.
 
To be brutally honest, the coasters in this country are so crap that the public don't actually realise what they're missing out on.

This is all a random theory on my part but hear me out. There are little to no memorable coasters in this country and certainly nothing that would encourage multiple visits throughout a season.

I often think this when visiting Phantasialand. I've no data to back this up but Taron has clearly been a game-changer for them. The queue is always a solid 45-90 minutes and is full of families and mixed groups, even now 5 years after opening. A coaster that good can leave a huge impression on people and turn those once a year visitors into 2-3 times a year regulars.

Stealth for example is excellent at what it does but don't have as much mass appeal as a world class, modern all rounder like Taron.

Perhaps I'm being naive here but I think a simple good quality coaster could reignite the much needed spark over here. Walibi seem to have recognised this and have installed Untamed and Konda recently. The likes of Wicker Man and Icon look the part but the actual ride experiences are just not that interesting.
 
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I think the UK is one of the most interesting countries with theme parks- it certainly is dominated by Merlin. I think that 'spark' is not completely gone, i remember Wickerman. Everyone around me (just general non enthusiasts) were talking about how they wanted to ride that cool looking wooden coaster at Alton Towers (even though we are 4 hours south of Alton Towers and much closer to Thorpe Park). I think that 'spark' really drastically varies park by park, in some parks it is completely dead.

For the parks that are looking up, Alton Towers is the big one. They have 3 reliable B&Ms that are unlikely to bite the dust for a long time, and the rest of their coaster collection is fairly new and they get coasters every few years. They also have the best collection of coasters at a UK park, i actually think they have one of the strongest lineups in Europe. Nemesis and Smiler (feat Wickerman) is nothing to laugh at. Throw in Galactica, Oblivion, Thirteen, Spinball, Rita. It is very well rounded.

Paulton's Park is another great example of a flourishing theme park. The dual vekomas, the themed lands, and now Tornado Springs. The park seems to be growing at a fast pace, and the reception seems to only get better. They also seem to get rave reviews from the general public. The park is also far enough from the Merlin Southern Trio to have to compete much. It gives Chessington a run for its money anyway at this point. I see the park growing more in the near future.

Flamingoland gets a mention as well, the park has added some truly awful rides. But that new Intamin, sure it is a relocation. But the park is adding stuff, a Intamin 10 looper with lap bars sounds good to me. Legoland also sits in the looking up camp, mostly as it prints money.

Parks in between.
Chessington comes to mind here. They are not quite Paultons or Alton, but they do get investments, and a coaster is seemingly not so far away. The park does have an aging headliner though, but i do believe the park is doing well for itself. Even if we are getting re-furbs and flat rides on a small scale.

Drayton Manor
This one may look bad. But they just changed hands, and it looks like the park is firmly sticking to a niche that works well- Thomas Land and families. They know they are never going to build coasters on the scale that Alton can afford, but they can bring in the families with a great IP. Like Chessington, i think this is a stagnant situation. Nothing is going to get worse, or better.

Okay these parks are doomed
Thorpe Park.
This one is under Merlin, so it will not go bust anytime soon. But it just is soul-less, and hopeless with new additions. This would of been higher than Alton in 2012, but the failure of the Ghost Train, consistently bad additions since 2014, and rides being left derelict and to rot has made Thorpe into a park that gets worse year on year. Merlin generally seems disinterested in this property at this point, so i would not expect anything more than a walk through or a SBF Visa Spinner here.

Lightwater Valley
This one in my opinion is actually hopeless. This is an Defunctland video waiting to happen. All their major rides are currently SBNO, they have been spiraling downwards for the past few years. The writing is on the wall for this one.


EDIT: I forgot to mention BPB. Which is firmly in the 'looking up' category in my opinion. Its a solid park.
 
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Matt N

Well-Known Member
Interesting thoughts, and an interesting topic to discuss!

One thing I would say, though, is that I don’t think rides necessarily have a rigid “shelf life” in the way that you suggest. There are all kinds of ways that you can keep a ride going for years and years for little cost without needing to remove it. As much as many might assume that all rides need to be removed after 30 years or so, there are rides out there that have been knocking about for absolutely years, with no sign of them going anywhere any time soon. Take Cedar Point, for instance; Corkscrew is 45 years old, which is comfortably past what many would presume to be the end of the ride’s shelf life, and has been eclipsed by numerous bigger, more advanced rides in the same park, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it going anywhere any time soon. Ditto with the likes of Cedar Creek Mine Ride and Blue Streak, both of which are over 50 years old, I believe? Not to mention the likes of Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s heritage rides within the UK; Big Dipper is still going strong at 98 years old, and the Flying Machines are 117 years old!

As such, I don’t necessarily believe that the likes of Thorpe are necessarily a “ticking time bomb”, where the bulk of their rides will suddenly all need replacing at once. I think it’s a little more nuanced than that, and the process of replacing the rides will happen far more gradually, and be a more manageable financial outlay for Merlin or whoever owns Thorpe by then; you can in theory prolong a ride’s lifespan for as long as you like with some simple maintenance. Look to parks like Cedar Point for evidence that even steel coasters can have very long lifespans. Or Blackpool Pleasure Beach, or the Disney parks, to name just a few. Equally, some rides’ life spans are also cut short for whatever reason; look at Drayton Manor’s G Force, for instance.

Also, it’s worth noting that some parks in Britain are already thinking about the long-term future of their headliners. Look at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, for instance; they’ve begun a multi-phase retrack of the Big One with Taziker, which should ensure that the ride has plenty of life left in it yet.

In terms of why less parks in Britain are building large rides, and why large rides are coming less often; I think that it’s partly because other parts of the world are experiencing a huge boom of their own, like what Britain had in the 1990s/2000s. Look at Asia, for instance; it feels like you can barely move without hearing of a big new Asian park or insane new Asian ride getting built! Also, I think you could argue that Australia might be having a bit of a boom again after a few quieter years; since DC Rivals was built in 2017, there’s arguably been somewhat of a coaster renaissance over in Australia. 5 new coasters are opening there in 2021 alone, 3 of which are large thrill rides, and there are rumblings that WBMW might be cooking up a new coaster to replace their SLC within the next couple of years!
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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One thing I would say, though, is that I don’t think rides necessarily have a rigid “shelf life” in the way that you suggest. There are all kinds of ways that you can keep a ride going for years and years for little cost without needing to remove it. As much as many might assume that all rides need to be removed after 30 years or so, there are rides out there that have been knocking about for absolutely years, with no sign of them going anywhere any time soon. Take Cedar Point, for instance; Corkscrew is 45 years old, which is comfortably past what many would presume to be the end of the ride’s shelf life, and has been eclipsed by numerous bigger, more advanced rides in the same park, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it going anywhere any time soon. Ditto with the likes of Cedar Creek Mine Ride and Blue Streak, both of which are over 50 years old, I believe? Not to mention the likes of Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s heritage rides within the UK; Big Dipper is still going strong at 98 years old, and the Flying Machines are 117 years old!

As such, I don’t necessarily believe that the likes of Thorpe are necessarily a “ticking time bomb”, where the bulk of their rides will suddenly all need replacing at once. I think it’s a little more nuanced than that, and the process of replacing the rides will happen far more gradually, and be a more manageable financial outlay for Merlin or whoever owns Thorpe by then; you can in theory prolong a ride’s lifespan for as long as you like with some simple maintenance. Look to parks like Cedar Point for evidence that even steel coasters can have very long lifespans. Or Blackpool Pleasure Beach, or the Disney parks, to name just a few. Equally, some rides’ life spans are also cut short for whatever reason; look at Drayton Manor’s G Force, for instance.
It is true that maintenance can prolong a ride's life significantly, but over time wear and tear will make things very expensive. At some point a major investment will be required, maybe comparably expensive to building a new ride. The park will have to make a costly investment in either case, it's just a matter of what they're spending it on. If Thorpe wants to retain its current ride lineup for many more decades through maintenance, they could probably do so, but eventually it would become more expensive than replacing the rides.

To continue on the specific situation at Thorpe: By 2035, 17 of the park's current 22 rides will be more than 30 years old. Replacing only half of them by then would require the construction of a major-ish ride every two years. The current pace of construction at Thorpe is one major-ish ride every five years or so. At that pace, it would take them until 2055 to renew one third of their attraction lineup, most of which would be pushing half a century of operation by then. That doesn't sound like a feasible situation. It has to happen faster, if the park wants it to happen at all.

In the end, the same problem would present itself: Investment would be required to repair or replace the thrill rides, whether it's in 10 years or 30 years, something will have to change from the status quo at some point. The current rate of construction is below the sustenance limit, even if you assume incredibly long lifespans for the rides. Most of the parks would have to build more thrill rides than they have in recent years, or learn to live without them.

In terms of why less parks in Britain are building large rides, and why large rides are coming less often; I think that it’s partly because other parts of the world are experiencing a huge boom of their own, like what Britain had in the 1990s/2000s.
How would that be influencing the situation in Britain? I understand that the fast pace of construction in China can make it feel like things are happening more slowly in Britain by comparison, but we can look at the British situation in isolation and still see one heck of a slowdown. Again, British parks built 12 currently operating "Extreme" coasters in the six years of 2002-2007. In the eight years of 2014-2021, there has been one.
 
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cocoa

Member
my hunch is that the general public has enough of a craving for thrill rides to justify 1-2 amusement park visits a year per person, just vaguely based off the people I know IRL who aren't enthusiasts at all. In fact, I've had multiple people tell me they didn't enjoy disneysea because there weren't enough thrilling rides and they didn't care about themeing (ridiculous). maybe the UK is more complicated because its so small and the population distribution is very different to the US, but I would expect any decent sized city (say, 1mil+ or so) to be able to sustain a theme park with thrill rides which can build a new one maybe every 4-8 years.

It feels to me that the UK struggles with a number of historical issues. For one, the biggest parks are in slightly strange locations with respect to cities, being sort of roughly in between big population centers. I guess Thrope is roughly the 'London' park and blackpool is roughly the 'manchester/liverpool' park? Its a bit hard to say. They're all decent drives from each other but not insurmountable, so they all compete in a more unusual way for the same groups of people. They also seem to be subject to quite strict council/planning restrictions which adds an extra barrier to large projects, especially after things like the smiler/tsunami/etc accidents. Then you have to lump on average weather year-round, strange operating hours, ...

anyway, my gut feeling is that thrill ride based parks are in fact sustainable and profitable, but the UK has ended up in a slightly wet quagmire. if there was a hersheypark-quality park near London, I wonder how competition from that would effect the others. I suspect the population could absolutely sustain it.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I think one key reason for there being less is neighbours of the parks.

The reason that I say neighbours of the parks have stopped thrill rides from being built in the quantity that they once were is because when the thrill rides that you mention in the opening post were built, many of them were met with fierce opposition from the people living around the park, who hated the noises and sight lines they were generating. Take Chessington, for instance; when they built Vampire back in 1990, the locals complained about it hugely, and that meant that the council imposed a restriction on Chessington telling them that they were not to replace Vampire with a ride of equivalent scale or something like that. This is in large part why Tussauds was driven to purchase Alton Towers, and is also why we haven’t seen much, if anything, built on Vampire’s scale since. There are plenty of other examples, too. It doesn’t help that UK parks don’t usually tend to be on big slabs of flat land in the middle of nowhere like parks in America (as an example) often tend to be. Many of our parks are in greenbelt areas, many of our parks are on historical sites, most of our parks are within walking distance of large suburban areas. Ultimately, planning restrictions in these kinds of areas have become harsher since these rides and the parks themselves were built, and locals seemingly have far more of a voice.
 

Jared

Member
Take Chessington, for instance; when they built Vampire back in 1990, the locals complained about it hugely, and that meant that the council imposed a restriction on Chessington telling them that they were not to replace Vampire with a ride of equivalent scale or something like that. This is in large part why Tussauds was driven to purchase Alton Towers, and is also why we haven’t seen much, if anything, built on Vampire’s scale since.
That's not strictly true. Chessington had restrictions imposed, but there's nothing preventing them from removing Vampire and replacing it with a similarly scaled ride. Vampire has operational restrictions limiting to operating within certain hours, but nothing further than that. The ride cannot operate past 10 pm.

The reason behind the change in investments was due to Tussauds taking on Alton Towers and investing large amounts of capital in the park, leading to a stagnation of investments into Chessington. This later happened with Thorpe Park, and during the Dubai Investment Capital Tussauds ownership, CAPEX was massively slashed. Chessington now has a strong investment plan due to the ongoing threat of Paultons Park, but that discussion is likely best for another topic. ;)
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
That's not strictly true. Chessington had restrictions imposed, but there's nothing preventing them from removing Vampire and replacing it with a similarly scaled ride. Vampire has operational restrictions limiting to operating within certain hours, but nothing further than that. The ride cannot operate past 10 pm.

The reason behind the change in investments was due to Tussauds taking on Alton Towers and investing large amounts of capital in the park, leading to a stagnation of investments into Chessington. This later happened with Thorpe Park, and during the Dubai Investment Capital Tussauds ownership, CAPEX was massively slashed. Chessington now has a strong investment plan due to the ongoing threat of Paultons Park, but that discussion is likely best for another topic. ;)
Ah, apologies; I thought the issues with Vampire and Chessie’s planning restrictions were supposedly the reason for Tussauds buying Alton Towers in the first place. I seem to remember John Wardley saying something along those lines, anyway?
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
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I wonder if the shift towards more family friendly operations is anything to do with the advent of low cost airlines. Before, or in the early days of cheap flights, younger adults with no commitments and some disposal incomes may have spent that cash on visiting parks. Nowadays, younger adults probably want to spend their dosh going to new places or having a few days away from the UK. Not only is that possibly true for the wider public at large, but also includes us UK goons who can now easily travel to European theme parks for thrills. Cheap flights generate choice and opportunity.

Since then, the trend has slid towards family rides and family appeal over thrills. Thrill rides are still a big draw at any park, but it seems that the "family Pound" is worth more the "thrill Pound". Families are possibly a safer bet and with the 2008 Financial Crash in mind, it's probably better to reduce the risk of investing in something safe. I don't blame the parks for this at all. Gullivers and Paultons are doing nicely out of families and seem to be successfully expanding to meet that market. But if we look at parks previously know as thrill parks - Drayton, Lightwater and Oakwood - they did take their eyes off the thrill seeker ball to the point of neglect, and are now going through several restructures. That's a shame from a personal point of view. What is concerning, is other parks might view such restructuring as a litmus test. If successful, then it could give other thrill parks the confidence to do the same. Yikes!

Getting rid of old rides is nothing new. Amanda Thompson took chainsaws to two wooden coasters in recent years. Merlin/Tussauds dumped off old rides at Alton to make way for Air and Rita, and filled a black hole with Smiler. It's likely the Ultimate will never reopen. Poke is right, at some point, decisons will need to be made about the longevity of some rides. I can only but hope that the current custodians of some of the iconic UK coasters appreciate and understand their cultural and historical value beyond the running costs.

Personally I think the outlook for the UK is "steady as she goes". We'll get new rides, solidly safe investments, that have a suitable middle ground appeal to thrill seekers and families, with the occasional big new toy for goons to play with.
 
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