British theme parks lack the land and the financial clout of Disney and the big American operators. This has basically meant that it is very difficult for any of them to be all things to all people. They feel that they are forced to configure their parks to cater for one demographic or another and Thorpe Park has very much gone down the route of adult thrills.
There are few attractions for young kids at Thorpe and all of the headliner rides have a height restriction of 1.4m. The park has gone all out for the young adult market with thrill rides and roller coasters dominating the offering and most of the kid’s rides they did operate have been removed. The result is many disgruntled guests with kids in tow who find that there is little or nothing to entertain them for the day. Whilst I fully appreciate the challenges with space that Thorpe Park have to deal with, I believe that throwing all of their eggs into the basket of the young adult market is a mistake.
Many of the people they are aiming to attract are the very ones who have young families. To add insult to injury there is an entrance fee for kids over 1 metre in height and yet the vast majority of the rides have a minimum height requirement of 1.1 metres or more. At the very least the park should surely raise the height under which kids go free.
A better policy for both families and the park’s future would be to invest in attractions that the kids can enjoy. This would keep the customers happy and attract many more visitors, thereby increasing revenue. In addition to the fact that there are currently few rides for youngsters there isn’t anything else either. There are no play areas, no characters and no parades. Shows are limited to brief periods and are frankly rather poor and the shopping experience for kids is restricted to sweets and small plastic rubbish that you can buy anywhere. There is little in the way of ride souvenirs or kids clothes to shop for and rarely ice cream vendors to enjoy.
The major attraction for toddlers is the beach but that is only an option on warm days. This park needs to install some rides for small children and they do have the space to do it. At the back of the park there are large areas which now lie redundant following the closure of Fungal Safari and the Canada Creek Railway, two of the rides which were aimed at the kids. This land could be redeveloped into a child friendly area to rival Paultons’ Peppa Pig World and would provide a haven for young visitors whilst the adults take on the coasters.
Come on Thorpe, please see the light! Young adults have children and they want to enjoy their days out with their families. A new area for children, a good playground and some child friendly merchandise is all it would take to make a huge difference to the guests and probably to make more money!
Article by Sally Stacey