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YAY Merlin!

JoshC.

Giga Poster
Double post but oh well..
Usual cheap looking (expensive to buy) flat 2d tacky pins, but better than nothing.
There is also a 3D Creek Freak Massacre one made out of wood:

CreekFreakPin2_720x.jpg
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
Putting this in the YAY thread and not the WTF because today's visit to Alton was the first time I've felt the magic in a long time, Merlin have clearly made some real changes in some key areas and it's showing. Did all the biggies and flats (skipped Runaway Train by choice), including 3 rides on Nemi and two on Wicker Man. We've not visited since 2019 and were surprised at how good the retro-squad was and how they actually compliment the permanent line up (seriously Merlin, take note, especially as they all had consistent queues).

Now, you're going to see some pretty horrendous things on social media about today from other people's experiences in the park, and unfortunately I believe it as I saw some atrocious behaviour myself. I'll explain more of what I personally witnessed tomorrow once I've slept, but none of this was the fault of the park or staff. The staff were put through hell today by a large number of park goers yet dealt with it admirably.
 

Will

Strata Poster
I've had the misfortune to visit two or three times on the infamous first Sunday of Scarefest, so I think I know exactly what you mean...

Sounds like it was even worse than usual this year though. I can't entirely fathom why it's still allowed to happen at a 'family' resort!
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
Okay, now I've had time to sleep, digest what happened yesterday and have some coffee, here's what happened. Now again, I'll preface with the fact we had our best day at Alton in years, the rides were reliable, the new flats added some long needed variety, the gardens night-time light walk through was excellent (I highly recommend it, it's not an upcharge either), the staff were great and we got so many rides in including my first ride on Hex in about 16 years.

Now, the bad stuff, and this is in no way shape or form the fault of the park or park staff, I cannot stress that enough.

People were violent. There were a large number (hundreds) of unaccompanied young teens causing havoc. These were kids as young as 11-12 smoking in queues, swearing at staff, assaulting guests and staff and damaging the park. I heard some really bad stuff yesterday and I don't know how much I would believe if I hadn't witnessed some of it with my own eyes.

What I actually witnessed:

- A girl being pushed repeatedly in the Smiler Queue, probably somewhere in the range of 17-19 years old, she was in the queue behind us with her (presumably) boyfriend causing nobody any trouble. Then, these kids who had pushed through the line to get to the front finally reached us, they weren't letting them through and neither were we. So they began shoving her with both hands, calling her names and sorry, at this point it's genuine physical assault. We step in, tell them to get the &%*£ off her. What the hell just happened?
- Verbal abuse given to the staff, and this wasn't just from teens. Some of these were adults and there's even less of an excuse for it.
- Teens pushing in on Enterprise, again we didn't let them pass, we get abuse, they eventually leave the queue. Approximately 20 minutes after this the tweet appears with the large crowd of teens being broken up around Mix Tape and Enterprise, we're certain the troublemakers we encountered are in that group. Reports of a fight are heard.
- Teens kicking over bins in two areas, first on the path (near Roller Disco) that run along the top of the gardens to meet the 'bridge'. Second incident in the car park.
- Teens pushing in and threatening people in the queue for Hex. Security got rid of them.
- Teens pushing in on Spinball, the staff refused their rides (brave, given the scenes we'd seen elsewhere).
- Smoking in almost every queue, teens as young as... well not teens.
- Littering. Nothing compared to sexual assault, but I saw entire meals worth of rubbish (paper plates, cups etc) just discarded as soon as they were finished with, mere metres from bins.

What I heard, but did not directly witness:

- Sexual assault in the first room of Hex, in the dark. I have no reason to believe something a serious as this would be made up, and this is absolutely vile. Nothing on this list is nice, but this one takes the piss.
- Damage to theming. Given what I'd seen some rampaging groups do to bins, I don't doubt this for a second.
- Staff physically assaulted. Yeah, I'd seen it given verbally by a few, and some of these were in their 20s. Not to forget what I saw in the Smiler queue.
- Drunks, violent drunks. I never saw this myself but I guess that's why Alton had a dry day, they know it happens and want to do something to try and prevent it.

We knew something was odd when we arrived in the park and there were a lot more security guards than we expected, plus at least 3 groups of police officers wandering round... still, we didn't let this ruin our day and I hope most others didn't either, though some people experienced things that you just can't ignore (and we're happy to say we stepped in when we witnessed anything). Weirdly, the chaos never seemed to touch the Forbidden Valley, at least never when we were there anyway. We left the park thinking we'd had a genuinely great day, and for the most part loved it, unfortunately it's when we passed the turnstiles when it went really badly for us.

So, the monorail had finished for the day by the time we got their. We'd managed to get on Wicker Man at about 9.30, so by the time we'd made our way to the exit, the shops were shutting and the monorail had sent its last train loads. We had to do the walk, not a problem usually, we tend to walk it anyway.... yeah, not tonight. The teens were running rampage in the car park, the older ones were speeding through the car park, back and forth back and forth, not a damn given to the people trying to reach the relative safety of their cars. One van driver genuinely drove right at us. Why? Who knows, maybe they just thought it was funny... we didn't. There were crowds of idiots running round kicking all the bins over, shouting at people just trying to go home, and I began to worry about the car. I also felt awful for the staff manning the barriers out, yes they had security with them but that cannot have been a pleasant experience. Anyway, we get out of the car park and make our way to the A50 (one seriously dodgy dangerous overtake happened here), we're planning on having a quick McDonalds before the 2 hour drive home as we've not eaten since lunchtime... yeah, no. Lots of the same faces have met up at McDonalds, they're blocking most of the ways through the car park, there's rubbish everywhere and people shouting at each-other. The McDonalds isn't that important, we left immediately. We did stop at the next services to grab something quick from the BP garage, there are a few faces there too causing trouble and speeding around the car park, but only two cars. We quickly eat, then get the hell out of their. From leaving the park until getting a few miles down the A50, that was the first time I'd genuinely felt threatened in a very long time.

I'm sorry to dump this, it just had to be said. Some will probably wonder why I posted this in the YAY not the WTF thread, well because none of this was Merlin's fault. The park is actually looking its best in years as far as my experience goes, and the ride reliability was exactly what I'd expect from a major amusement park which is the first time I've been able to say that after a visit to a Merlin park in years. If you ignore the bad bits, the park felt magical for the first time in ages, the rides were reliable, the extras were really good, the food wasn't bad value for a park, the staff were jolly and the rides ran brilliantly.
 

rob666

Hyper Poster
Think you have missed the point...it was "Travellers Family Day" at the Towers.
Lots of people of Romany/Gypsy heritage meet at the Towers, usually on the first Sunday of Scarefest, and act like naughty people, with "safety in numbers...you can't nick us all" attitude.

Alton should be a little more honest about when it is going to happen, so punters can avoid the grief.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
I really don't think Tik Tok has anything to do with this. This is just feral little ****s (and older ****s) who've never been told no or faced any consequences for their actions. There were teens like that in my school too, but not to the extent we saw yesterday, yet still these sorts of people have existed long before social media.

The sexual assault was because some people are pieces of ****, have no respect for women and girls and think they can do what they want.
 

holtjammy16

Roller Poster
But my best guess is again potentially TikTok influence; with young people uploading these dancing trend videos in as little clothing as possible.
These trends do seem to be devaluing the persons worth and give people the false idea that their bodies are just objects? Just objects that people can sexually assault because they saw their bodies online?
Sorry but no lmao

you could have a social media of completely nude pictures and that is not any kind of excuse for someone to think that gives them permission to sexually assult someone
 

Nicky Borrill

Giga Poster
Maybe it’s time for AT to just say No!

Make that weekend passholders only, or just close!!! Sure the money isn’t worth the hassle?
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
A few other positives from Sunday:

Nemesis was a capacity machine, and was running absolutely brutally. The last two inverts I'd ridden were Black Mamba and Inferno and whilst both good rides, just do not have the lethality that people love about the early inverts. It had a 0 minute queue for most of the day, but a constant stream of riders, occasionally getting up to 15 minutes at times so this wasn't down to lack of interest. The station ops were absolutely throwing trains out, I've genuinely never seen dispatch so good anywhere before.

RITA was actually good. I've never really been bothered with RITA, I enjoy it but I won't choose it over another ride. It absolutely HAULED on Sunday and there was even a bit of airtime to be had. It was down for the morning with something severe enough to prompt the closure of the whole area (inc 13) for an hour, but whatever they did to get it back online they did well.

Clever planning and solid tactics let us get The Smiler queue done in 25 minutes, when it had sat at ~80 all day. I'm wondering if the queue time is just grossly over-reported though, as it said 45 for us. Given much of the trouble was in the X-Sector, that was good for us.

Effects were working throughout the park, the only one I didn't see working was Duel's spinning tunnel, which needs replacing anyway as most of us know. Hasn't worked for a fair few years.

Dispatch on 13 was solid.

Gardens are looking incredible, see my previous comments about the night time walks.

Sonic Spinball staff were on point kicking queue jumpers out, can't blame those who didn't push back but the Spinball ops weren't taking any crap. SS itself could do with a repaint though, most of the coasters could but it really stands out on SS. The whole theme set is due some attention from the TLC program. The ride itself was running very well though with throughput as good as you're gonna get from a Maurer Spinner.

The Retrosquad was genuinely a good move from Merlin, and I really hope they're looking at investing in some full time replacements when the lease expires. Mix-Tape and Funk'n'Fly with custom ride skins would work very well in their respective lands. A proper replacement of Twirling Toadstool would be a better compliment for the Dark Forest, but otherwise still fun.
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
Maybe it’s time for AT to just say No!

Make that weekend passholders only, or just close!!! Sure the money isn’t worth the hassle?

I think it should be remembered that it is still a minority of the Traveller community that cause trouble. To an outsider or someone who doesn't know, it can feel threatening to be around them, and think it is an overwhelming majority who are causing the problem. But in reality, it is a minority, but the rest of the community are more used to what happens and don't understand what the problem is.

With that in mind, is it right to say that Towers (or other parks) should just point blank refuse anyone who could be related to the community entry? How far removed is that from taking of a mindset of 'If black people cause problems, no black person should be allowed to enter the park'? That's an extreme comparison, yes, but still not exactly much different.

If they make it passholder only or close on the day when it traditionally is, they'll just visit on a different day.

Alton should be a little more honest about when it is going to happen, so punters can avoid the grief.

I don't disagree per se, but they have to manage that carefully too. I think it was last year when Adventure Island sent out a tweet saying something along the lines of 'We are experiencing issues on site today due to travellers' (or words to that effect). Uproar followed. Again, to use the extreme but not-too-dissimilar comparison, imagine if they sent out a tweet saying 'We are experiencing issues on site today due to black people'...

Towers in particular don't serve alcohol on the day, but I don't know how well advertised that is prior to the day? That's something they should do imo, but then to those unaware, it doesn't inform them.


I've been at parks on days when there's been "Traveller Days", both as a guest and as someone working there. On more occasions than not, those days have been fine - yes, unfortunately there are incidents, and it does involve and affect more people than on other days. But a park that is prepared can manage and minimize the impact and number of these incidents, and do so so that everyone can still enjoy their day.

In honesty, it sounds like Towers had a bad day (though that's not a dig at the park, nor anyone working there, as I'm sure they did their utmost). These things still happen, and there's lessons to be learnt still. Equally Thorpe had a similarly bad day last Fright Nights. Adventure Island had the aforementioned bad day last year too. But equally, the parks have also managed these days very well in the past, and will continue to learn and improve to ensure that everyone can have a enjoyable, and safe, day.

I guess the point of this post in short: Yes, these incidents are scary and totally not acceptable, but blanket ideas like 'Don't let certain people in' or 'Warn people that certain people are visiting' are not the right answer imo.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
With that in mind, is it right to say that Towers (or other parks) should just point blank refuse anyone who could be related to the community entry? How far removed is that from taking of a mindset of 'If black people cause problems, no black person should be allowed to enter the park'? That's an extreme comparison, yes, but still not exactly much different.
It's absolutely not right to exclude an entire community and I wouldn't support any measures to do so, your comparison there is apt in my opinion. There is however a serious issue in that community, and it needs to be dealt with. I don't really know what else Towers could have done, and Staffordshire Police were on site all day... perhaps more of a zero tolerance approach with more police, but then who picks up the bill? I don't think it's fair to charge Alton when it's not them causing the trouble... hefty fines perhaps? But then it's mostly minors causing the aggro, unless the parents are on the hook.
Towers in particular don't serve alcohol on the day, but I don't know how well advertised that is prior to the day? That's something they should do imo, but then to those unaware, it doesn't inform them.
I didn't see that advertised, at lunch I was actually a little disappointed that I didn't get to try some of the nice craft beers that would have otherwise been on offer on the lawn. Then again, I am a responsible drinker who would have either had just one, or two halves (to sample the variety) and that's it. I totally understand and support Alton's decision there, and I don't get why some people can't enjoy their day without alcohol.
 

rob666

Hyper Poster
You can give legal notice of "Travellers days" if you use the correct terms...
"We would like to advise all pre booked customers that the day you have booked is likely to be very busy, with large groups of young people moving around the park.
No alcohol will be served on park that day, and we cannot guarantee you our usual family atmosphere.
If you would prefer to rebook for another date, when large groups won't be roaming the park, we will be happy to arrange this without charge."

Legal, decent, honest and truthful.
And when you currently have to prebook, there is no reason not to.
These problems happen every year, and aren't going to go away.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
I've been on these forums for over 15 years, and for all the times it gets discussed, I've never understood "travellers days".

Are they always the same days? If so, why? How would Alton know they're coming on any given day?

The whole thing bemuses me...
 

rob666

Hyper Poster
Usually, the first Sunday of Scarefest and Easter Sunday.
There is liason between the Towers, formal traveller groups, and the police, but there are often last minute changes...depending on the Utoxetter race meeting.
Always avoided it, it causes many problems for "mainstream" visitors, and the travelling/Romany youth use it to meet other people they know, but haven't seen in a long time, due to the wandering habit of their lifestyle.
 

bob_3_

Giga Poster
I've been on these forums for over 15 years, and for all the times it gets discussed, I've never understood "travellers days".

Are they always the same days? If so, why? How would Alton know they're coming on any given day?

The whole thing bemuses me...

They're very specific days that line up with a local horse racing event in Uttoxeter. The travellers are a very close knit community so they have this as almost a tradition to meet up at the park, its more about seeing each other than actually riding coasters.
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
I've been on these forums for over 15 years, and for all the times it gets discussed, I've never understood "travellers days".

Are they always the same days? If so, why? How would Alton know they're coming on any given day?

The whole thing bemuses me...

The set up at Towers as rob666 describes is similar to that at Thorpe too. Thorpe liaise with local groups and the police to know when large groups are planning on visiting on the same day. I don't know if Thorpe's ones coincide with any other local events though, but they have been known to change the day reasonably late too.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
There's seems to be some sort of irony (?) in the organisation of chaos. :D

But thanks everyone, TIL.
 
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