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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Europe Coasters, Parks & Attractions > Look at How Far We've Fallen

Look at How Far We've Fallen

Posted: 9/4/07 at 7:20:12 PM
Views: 1851

I've spent the last few years, since 2004 at least, moaning that the UK theme park industry was going downhill. Well, this isn't really a moan - I've long since accepted it went downhill - it's more of an acknowledgement.

In the early '90s we got incredible visions such as The Vampire and The Ultimate. In 1994, the unbeatable year, we got Nemesis, Shockwave and one of the biggest and first hypercoasters, the Big One.

In 1996, Wales received Europe's first CCI. In 1998, Alton built the first B&M dive machine, Oblivion. In 2002, it almost rivalled 1994, with the "ambitious" Colossus, Jubilee Odyssey and Air, B&M's first flying coaster.

In 2003, not only did the very solid Nemesis Inferno open, but Alton submitted a plan for the most delicious woodie ever imagined. Said to open in 2005, coaster enthusiasts speculated that the Alton woodie, combined with Blackpool's Project 2005, would even beat 1994 as a year!

Then it all went wrong.

We just don't believe anymore. Can you imagine today's enthusiasts getting their hopes up for anything like that? We used to believe that Alton, combined with John Wardley, was powerful enough to debut brand new types of B&M, or open giant woodies. Now we don't even believe they could manage a 50ft family coaster!

People are honestly disillusioned and disenchanted. Maybe we're in a sort of recession, even though the media does not claim so?

I really do class two periods: pre-2003 and post-2003. When the woodie failed, we stopped believing in grand, well-themed, well-designed products. Don't get me wrong, there have been very entertaining rides opening almost every year since, but we don't believe in that magic.

It all seems so effortless elsewhere - see the product, build the product. Canada has built/is building two B&M hypercoasters (Goliath and Behemoth), both of which are probably better than any ride in the UK. European parks, too, seem very able to order new coasters, especially woodies. I never thought GCI would come to Europe, but they have now and we don't even get a look-in. After all, can you imagine one being built in the UK? I can't. This from the nation that pioneered the CCI in Europe.

2008 looks pretty bare at the moment, apart from Brian's Dubious Flight. ;)

My point? Simply that we're now at the stage where Fraser gets over-excited at the Tripsdrill thread! ;)

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Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Cal at 9/6/07 8:52:02 AM

I do think the 90s were a golden age for coasters. The last few years haven't been wonderful, especially with the loss of parks like Southport and American Adventure, and several woodies. I hope it picks up again, I really do, but with the current economy making house prices so crazily expensive we now have a generation of 30-40 year old still living with their parents, spare cash for theme parks isn't in abundance.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Graeme Graeme Profile at 9/6/07 9:21:38 AM

> I do think the 90s were a golden age for coasters. The last
> few years haven't been wonderful, especially with the loss
> of parks like Southport and American Adventure, and several
> woodies. I hope it picks up again, I really do, but with
> the current economy making house prices so crazily
> expensive we now have a generation of 30-40 year old still
> living with their parents, spare cash for theme parks isn't
> in abundance.

Oh yes, it's definitely just a symptom of the rest of our woes. War, terrorism, crime, lawlessness... I honestly think the last ten years have been the worst I've ever known Britain. I don't want to be political, but it does all coincide with Tony Blair and the Labour Party's reign - 1997-2007!

As for individuals and their spending money, well yes, I agree somewhat, but I think people still find money for leisure, especially if it's well-publicised, such as the Tussauds parks or, say, the iPod or iPhone. I think the real problem is tax rates for businesses - I'm behind John Redwood on this!

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Corkscrew_Foley Corkscrew_Foley Profile at 9/6/07 1:20:25 PM

The Golden Age was the nineties for us as well over here. Yes there are coasters still going on each year, but not as much. I do believe it's the Second Coming though for woodies, seeing as they have been popping up more than the steelies.

The beauty is now, we still have steelies, but they're smaller, just as much fun as their bigger and faster cousins, but are still as intense, such as the products Gerstlauer has been putting up.

Tim.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by britcitchris britcitchris Profile at 9/6/07 7:15:34 PM

I would have to say our climate is a huge enemy for the theme parks. Our bad weather means less customers for the parks, high maintenance costs and a limited season. It's not entire doom and gloom though, this decade has brought to the u.k. world firsts in the form of Valhalla (biggest dark ride), Colossus (first 10 inversion coaster) and Infusion (first coaster entirely over water).

What we need now is a world record shattering woodie but where in the u.k. could provide it? Blackpool don't have the space, Alton has too many resident enforced restricions....My hope lies with Thorpe but they will probably go for another B&M steelie. Still, one can hope.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Cal at 9/7/07 9:42:24 AM

Apparently Thorpe's land is not suitable for a woodie (it's a gravel pit after all). I'm not sure why it can support steeles but not a woodie, though. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but then I'm no engineer.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Corkscrew_Foley Corkscrew_Foley Profile at 9/7/07 11:22:45 AM

It's too bad Flamingoland's not getting that woodie, or not yet anyways. I think Oakwood's next coaster should be wood, but I think they're the only park that would build another wood.

Tim.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Graeme Graeme Profile at 9/7/07 12:01:24 PM

Thank you everyone for indulging me in my rant and not having a go at me. I was happy in June/July (ironically during the floods etc!), but I've been less happy during August/September and I suppose I just had to let off steam!

Chris:
> What we need now is a world record shattering woodie but
> where in the u.k. could provide it? Blackpool don't have
> the space, Alton has too many resident enforced
> restricions....My hope lies with Thorpe but they will
> probably go for another B&M steelie. Still, one can hope.

See, to me, I don't think we need anything record-breaking. I think any new coaster at Thorpe could be good, especially if it's B&M. I also think Alton could fit something in, but they don't seem to work in the same way they used to (mega-intricate plans by John Wardley etc). But yes, they do all have a lot of genuine problems.

What I'm really envious of is not the record-breakers, but the way American and European parks seem to be able to put up normal, good rides, such as Renegade, Hydra and Goliath.

Cal:
> Apparently Thorpe's land is not suitable for a woodie (it's
> a gravel pit after all). I'm not sure why it can support
> steeles but not a woodie, though. Doesn't make a lot of
> sense to me, but then I'm no engineer.

I never used to understand it either, but the best explanation I've now heard is that it's because woodies' supports are closer together than steelies' and this can't happen at Thorpe because the ground is "soupy". This does at least fit in with what John Wardley said about why they could only dig 20ft down for Colossus.

The funny thing is, this actually makes me happier! I like working within limitations. If you can only build steelies, fine; you can make sure they're good ones! :) Thorpe could still benefit from a good Hypercoaster, Flying and Floorless (I think).

Tim:
> The beauty is now, we still have steelies, but they're
> smaller, just as much fun as their bigger and faster
> cousins, but are still as intense, such as the products
> Gerstlauer has been putting up.

You're right. Let's hope there continues to be a scattering of decent rides like that.

> It's too bad Flamingoland's not getting that woodie, or not
> yet anyways. I think Oakwood's next coaster should be wood,
> but I think they're the only park that would build another
> wood.

Yeah, this is probably the best example actually. Flamingo Land - you think you're going to get a woodie and then it all goes quiet.

It's not even just the rides I miss, but the fact that parks don't seem to have "John Wardley" figures working for them anymore. I also wanted to point out that enthusiasts don't seem to think about theme parks in the same way they used to.

Anyway, thanks everyone for listening and your constructive comments.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by leon leon Profile at 9/7/07 2:29:02 PM

Is John Wardley dead?! I know I might sound a little un-optimistic or un-realistic, but It seems that he's not 'in the news' anymore, or featured building rollercoasters/dsigning them!?

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Graeme Graeme Profile at 9/7/07 7:49:56 PM

> Is John Wardley dead?! I know I might sound a little
> un-optimistic or un-realistic, but It seems that he's not
> 'in the news' anymore, or featured building
> rollercoasters/dsigning them!?

I hope not. The last thing I heard about him was a First Drop article that revealed he was in semi-retirement. It just doesn't seem a fitting fanfare when you consider how things used to be...

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Mikey_Mad Mikey_Mad Profile at 9/7/07 10:30:29 PM

Its just a thought, but how about getting Richard Branson to purchase or build an amusement park. That guy has no end to his imagination, and tends to do whatever he can imagine. I would ride a coaster called "The Virgin". What say you?

On the more practicle side, we just love what The Gravity Group has done with "The Voyage". Its a woodie on steroids! Also newly opened in 2007 is Cedar Point's "Maverick". Its a steel coaster with nice a great theme and an awesome set of elements. I think the only thing needed there is perhaps some fresh blood.

PS I'd come back to the UK just to goto Alton. Just need someone to host.

Mikey Mad

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Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by andy777 at 9/10/07 7:40:42 PM

perhaps flamingo land is one hope, if recent investment continues another couple of years could see a really good park start to compete as top boy in the uk ,plus it seems to have space around it and the restrictions dont seem as bad ,i might be wrong on that point though.
as for alton they always seem to fall short,they build a good ride that could quite easily of been better ,always a nagging feeling of being slighty short changed.
blackpool seem to have given up nowadays with infusion being pretty poor to be honest,a thirteen year old nemesis is by far and away a better ride.
i've never been to been to thorpe so i cant comment on that ,hoping to visit next year though.
drayton manor is promising but judging by certain press releases looks set to concentrate on a hotel.
anyway thats my little bit .

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Graeme Graeme Profile at 9/10/07 7:53:43 PM

> anyway thats my little bit .

And thank you very much for that.

Fraser put it more succinctly than me, but I think in 2008, Alton, Thorpe and Flamingo Land may all announce good rides for 2009.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Corkscrew_Foley Corkscrew_Foley Profile at 9/10/07 9:48:02 PM

> Its just a thought, but how about getting Richard Branson
> to purchase or build an amusement park. That guy has no end
> to his imagination, and tends to do whatever he can
> imagine. I would ride a coaster called "The
> Virgin". What say you?

> On the more practicle side, we just love what The Gravity
> Group has done with "The Voyage". Its a woodie on
> steroids! Also newly opened in 2007 is Cedar Point's
> "Maverick". Its a steel coaster with nice a great
> theme and an awesome set of elements. I think the only
> thing needed there is perhaps some fresh blood.

> PS I'd come back to the UK just to goto Alton. Just need
> someone to host.

> Mikey Mad

Mikey, the UK is loaded with fantastic parks, their coasters aren't as big as they might be here in North America, but from what I've read and seen over the years, they're just as charming.

Tim.

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Mikey_Mad Mikey_Mad Profile at 9/28/07 11:31:41 PM

>
> Mikey Mad

> Mikey, the UK is loaded with fantastic parks, their
> coasters aren't as big as they might be here in North
> America, but from what I've read and seen over the years,
> they're just as charming.

> Tim.

>I can't argue. I bet the parks are wonderful! I was just responding (at least I think I was) to the theme that UK's parks are going downhill. In fact, I would love to visit Alton Tower and had it on my list of things to do when I was in London in 2006. I wasnt certain how to get there and it was mid April so the weather was chancy. I sent an email to Alton Tower's asking for a better map (the one on the site is cartoonish and inexact).
I would not mind visiting Blackpool if you recommend the trip.

Mikey Mad

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Cal at 10/1/07 8:39:36 AM

Despite all the latest contraversy, Blackpool is a must visit. I think it has lost some of its charm with the removal of rides like the Whip and Turtle Chase, but there's still much to enjoy here. It is a unique park, with five wooden coasters and a lot of history. Fieldings, round the corner, also does the best fish and chips in the world. According to me. :D

Re: Look at How Far We've Fallen by Graeme Graeme Profile at 10/1/07 9:52:21 AM

> Despite all the latest contraversy, Blackpool is a must
> visit.

Yes, I agree really. Despite me moaning about the UK, I will not deny that Blackpool, Thorpe and Alton are great parks, as well as some others. I'm not really moaning that we don't have good coasters; it's just a bit disappointing when, well, there hasn't really been anything to light my fire since 2003 (Nemesis Inferno - whee!)*, and no real sniff of any new-for-2008 or -2009 rides yet either.

*Oh, I did like Cobra as well. ;)