you are anything like me, you would have been screaming at the
television a year-or-two back when a stereotypical family visited Alton
Towers in the summer holidays, arrived mid-morning and complained when
they only got a couple of rides in immediately declaring it Britain’s
Worst Day Out.
it’s easy to forget the plight of Joe Public. As an enthusiast, we
have a rough idea of what rides are the busiest, how best to avoid
queues, when to visit and – more to the point – when not to
also well aware of incentives like Fastrack and Single Rider Queues and
how to use them, both valuable ways to avoid the great unwashed, yet
while the same schemes are available to Johnny and Sally Come-lately, it
is easy to either not understand how to use them to your advantage, or
miss the fact they even exist while being bewildered by other
information prior to your visit.
it is in the best interests of a theme park to make sure everybody’s
visit is a pleasure that shouldn’t need to be organised with military
of the battle plan for visitors is research. No wars were won fought
blind, so it is important that from the moment a visitor expresses an
interest, they do everything in their power to make their ride as smooth
as possible – at least getting to the park, anyway.
you’re an enthusiast, you need to be told how to suck eggs, so it’s
easy to forget that someone – somewhere – will probably be tearing
their hair out as they try and find a piece of information that to us is
think if a park wants your custom, you should be able to phone up with a
question – however silly – and have it answered.
also think that if a park wants your custom, their website should be up
to the job of answering your question, and if not, at least give you a
way to get that information by calling up or e-mailing.
lest we forget those who don’t have online access. Well, I guess we could
seeing as they can’t read this article and they’d be none the
wiser, but of course, parks must consider those still living in the 20th
century. If you can’t phone up and ask for a leaflet, you might as
well just give up from the outset.
as Easter approaches, I decide on Friday 18 March that me and my
fictional family want to go to a theme park. But where to go? Our parks
are as varied as our green and pleasant land, so it’s probably best to get a pile of
leaflets and have a good-old discussion with my imaginary family.
start from the bottom up. Thorpe Park. Being supremely efficient, yours
truly decided to kill two birds with one stone by calling the Thorpe
Park ‘call centre’ (their words, not mine) to find out about the
delayed Slammer and also to request a leaflet. Before it could ring, a
robot answered listing a series of options, none of which mentioned Slammer (or the fact it was
delayed) and none of which gave me the option to request a leaflet.
the website referred to this number as a call centre, I am somewhat
surprised that it is impossible to speak to a human. You’re given park
information in great depth by a recording of an animated young man which
is all very well if you want information on the given topics, but
useless if your line of enquiry veers beyond these frequently asked
questions, then the internet is the only way to get this information.
And you still can’t get a leaflet via the website.
calling Oakwood was less like calling the talking clock, and more about
providing the targeted customer service I expect. Answered by a human
within a few rings, I could quickly ask questions about whether my
fictional child could ride Hydro and request a park leaflet.
what’s more, if listening to robots is your prerogative, then Oakwood
also provide a recorded information line and even the option to pre-book
your flights on the park’s Sky Coaster, Vertigo.
stop, Blackpool. With nearly 7 million visitors a year, this is one of
the biggest tourist attractions in this kingdom. Of
course, the larger the company, the more ‘advanced’ (read:
‘obstructive’) their phone system, so it was a pleasant surprise to
actually get through to a human, in this case called Victoria.
request for a leaflet was even more efficient than Oakwood’s enviable
efforts thanks to the wonders of postcode lookup, and after giving my
name, postcode and house number, I was assured a leaflet with
information on the park, wristbands and shows was winging its way
“recorded information line” is far more helpful than most, going
through a list of six or seven options before reassuring the
disillusioned that they can press 7 to speak to reception.
call transfer later, and a helpful operator is writing my name and
address on an envelope bound for East Sussex with a park leaflet
enclosed for my perusal.