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WTF Merlin?

Tonkso

Member
Me too, but this one could be fundamental issues with the ride itself. I'm very critical of Merlin (because I love the parks, nothing else, I just want them to do well) but this might not necessarily be on their heads.
 

Crazycoaster

Active Member
If it’s down to the design, it’ll be because they only brought Wardley in at the last minute to fix the atrocious layout the ride was supposed to have. Stop me if I have this wrong, but I believe the footers had already been poured before they brought him in to consult, so the footprint couldn’t be changed (Hence the boring corner), but he reprofiled the first drop and twisting dive, to actually give it some forces. So if indeed that part is the problem, then it is STILL Merlin’s fault, for not having Wardley in from the beginning, where this issue could have been rectified in the drafts.
 

zazobo

Member
Me too, but this one could be fundamental issues with the ride itself. I'm very critical of Merlin (because I love the parks, nothing else, I just want them to do well) but this might not necessarily be on their heads.
Completely agree. I have such a soft spot for merlin parks, they were my childhood/teenage years and I still love (some parts of) their parks.
 

Nitefly

Member
There are so many reasons why I hate this comparison with merlin parks, but also I think it's important. Just a few reasons off the top of my head as to why the experience of availability and attraction quality varies between the parks:

1. The vast majority of rides at Europa, the owners of the park literally created and ingrained into the park to run as a show piece to sell them as units. If they're not operating correctly at its home park, who would want to buy it?

2. Culture. British culture is totally different to German culture. Entitlement. Expectations. Efficiency.

Things like breakdown information should be no different from park to park to be honest, it is a matter of an employee getting on a microphone and updating everyone, however when you have a lot more people to control, people asking you whats going on who're higher up, and things to get on with yourself, simple things like communicating with guests can simply slip your mind. The best excuse here is some parks simply do not distribute their PA systems properly and some attraction queues are speaker-less, but also priorities in these moments lay elsewhere, right or wrong.

And point 2 up there^ applies to guests and employees too. If you're told as a worker you'll close your gates at 5, you make plans. If you are then told that park opening is extended by an hour on the day, you will obviously be somewhat upset. Parks like Europa which don't set their closing time until the day don't set up this expectation for their staff.

3. This is the big one - procedures. The way Europa is ran is (i'm fairly sure) unlike most parks. From what I know each major attraction permanently has an engineer stationed at the ride, along with at least 1 team leader, and the attractions team are given a lot more responsibility than those found at other parks. Troubleshooting before there is even trouble. This means things like E-stops can be reset in a matter of seconds, rather than in comparison at merlin parks where it must be overseen by a member of rides management and/or engineer, and potentially park management. Trains can be added or taken off without you even noticing. Paperwork is much more simplified due to the procedures that take place through day to day operations, and there just seems to be more trust and freedom for employees to get on wither their job compared to the scripted out roles found at many other parks. Rather than a group of roaming engineers and park management who's responsibility lays across the park, this constant presence of relevant employees at places where they MAY be needed works much better than those who wait about until they ARE needed, and then may fall in demand if they're needed in more than 1 place at once.

4. Finally, Merlin was a floating company up until recently. Europa is family owned. The quick business angled investments of merlin were never going to satisfy us as nerds, they were made to make money. Europa makes rides to showcase what they can do for other investors in the industry, and to maintain their families established quality in the industry. The way the parks are ran follows a similar ideology. Of course ultimately the aim is the same; to attract guests to the park to spend money, and come back in the future, but ultimately the way about it is where a lot of the difference lies.
So in summary, Europa Park is better because it’s much better 😅
 
I think Towers has more potential otherwise I wouldn't care, I just wouldn't go.
I took my niece and her friend to Towers last year. They live in The Netherlands and thought Towers was more impressive than Efteling and Walibi Holland in fact. But they were baffled when I told them the park was closing on 4pm that day. Phantasialand definitely shows what Towers can do moving forward despite the ridiculous building height restrictions.

I think some of the theming is actually stellar, especially on the likes of Wicker Man and Hex.
Disappointing that Wicker Man has so many problems so soon regardless what the reasons are. If people come for the first time they should be able to ride it.

I think it may make a woodie at Thorpe less likely now with all this trouble.
Definitely would like to see Towers and Thorpe get a modern Vekoma each. The usually good reliability from that company with new rides is probably what both parks could do with to some extent.
 
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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When the sisters, from Greater Manchester, went to go on the Smiler ride, a park worker shouted "she can't walk" to another co-worker, "embarrassing" them by shouting about it "across the ride for a crowd of people to hear".
They arrived at another ride, Rita, where workers watched as Ms Cheetham carried her sister to the ride.
Once strapped in, they were then told they were not allowed on the ride due to health and safety.
The sisters went to a further ride, Duel, as it has disability access, but were later told by a member of staff the disabled access was not there anymore.
Three pretty shocking indictments there.
 
Do you still have to pay full price even if you can hardly get on any rides? It seems a bit ridiculous. I really think the lack of flat & track type of rides at Towers and Thorpe is a big problem when one considers disabled access.
I don't see why someone with Cerebral Palsy can't ride Duel. Having no disabled access seems a disgrace. Furthermore quite a few times I've been to Towers I have also seen that ride closed, not broken down, just closed like they can't be arsed. At the moment Enterprise is closed too. So it is mostly just a coaster park at times. If you can't ride any of the coasters due to the walking requirement that doesn't leave much.

Derren Brown is another ride where the people who concocted that ridiculous idea obviously disregarded disabled access too. You literally have to run during the experience. Should have just built a track(less) dark ride that would have lasted decades and could have been enjoyed by more people.

Disabled access seems poor at UK parks if you compare it to the likes of Disney but I have heard my favourite park Phantasialand has problems in that area too so it's probably not just something that should improve at UK parks only.
 
Could it be that due to Covid 19 disability training and / or disability access has/have taken a backseat?
The fact that she writes they have been to Towers before but only now had these problems may indicate that.
 

Tonkso

Member
The thing is, that isn't an excuse. We have strict laws in the UK about disabled accessibility and equality, and whilst I understand not letting people ride when missing a limb (a question of restraints), there is no logical reason to deny her access to any of these rides, especially Duel ffs.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Duel's disabled access used to be through the ride exit. That's been stopped so the exit pathway is only one way to help with social distancing, etc. With no other way to the ride it does mean that people with a disability cannot ride it. I can certainly understand why they've done it, but can't help but wonder if there's anything more they could do to try and make it accessible.

The Merlin parks' rules on guests with disabilities is reasonably good in my opinion. They do seem to regularly review and update it, and do their best to be inclusive from my experience. The issue with someone who cannot walk is what happens in an emergency, when they need to get people off a ride (perhaps stuck on a lift hill, say) quickly. It's all well and good having extra equipment which can help, or a carer who lifts the person, but that's a lot of responsibility on staff member's shoulders when they could be 50ft in the air with a 20+ worried anxious guests around too.

Obviously the parks can do more and should look at being more inclusive, but there's a lot of variables and what ifs to be considered.

The worst thing about this particular situation is the way most of the staff have handled it. No sensitivity, no consideration and a lack of information, on top of people not taking responsibility to check if a person can ride before boarding. It's stuff like that which isn't difficult to get right either. Explaining at the start of the day what restrictions are in place and why. Handling things with a bit more privacy and decency, and talking to the person who is disabled, as well as the carer. Hopefully Towers do go about ensuring that there's increased awareness on how to best ensure disabled guests get the most out of their day.

I don't know how feasible it would be, but it would be great if the parks were able to offer an online 'quick check' to give people a loose idea of what rides they can go on before visiting. For example, having check boxes that ask 'can you walk unaided so many steps', 'can you brace yourself', etc. Common restrictions on rides. That way they can at least have a vague idea of what they might and might not be able to go on before visiting and make a slightly more informed choice.
 
I don't know how feasible it would be, but it would be great if the parks were able to offer an online 'quick check' to give people a loose idea of what rides they can go on before visiting. For example, having check boxes that ask 'can you walk unaided so many steps', 'can you brace yourself', etc. Common restrictions on rides. That way they can at least have a vague idea of what they might and might not be able to go on before visiting and make a slightly more informed choice.
I think that is a super idea actually and something quite easy to have on a website rather than some boring long winded document that in essence says the same stuff.
 

Will

Active Member
To put this in perspective, over the last 5 years, I know that a paraplegic is fine to ride Helix & Balder, everything at Alton except Smiler (that one, for whatever reason has always been the rule) and everything at Canada's Wonderland aside from Behemoth, Leviathan and Time Warp (lucky escape on the latter!)

I can see that it's problematic if this has been allowed to slip recently.
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
Would expect Alton to have very clear, pragmatic, lawful and reasonable policies in place to cover this sort of thing. It just seems that these policies were not being followed well in this instance....

....Alton has a bit of a history of that sort of problem doesn't it?
 

Tomatron

Active Member
Would expect Alton to have very clear, pragmatic, lawful and reasonable policies in place to cover this sort of thing. It just seems that these policies were not being followed well in this instance....

....Alton has a bit of a history of that sort of problem doesn't it?
Yet again, this all comes back to management ensuring that staff are trained and capable of carrying out these policies.
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
^ indeed, a local management failure that (in the earlier example) had big implications.
The fact things like this are still happening is woeful.
 

Robbie

Active Member
It's been a few years but when my girlfriend became disabled we looked at the options for visiting theme parks (because she doesn't want to go on many rides) and, really, for the faff and effort at Alton it's easier and cheaper to book 2-for-1 tickets. However, Chessington and Legoland were super-helpful, providing clear instructions about access and levels of ability needed to do certain things, along with special maps and information.
 
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