UK Park Closing Times

Sunday, April 29, 2018 4:18 PM

Here's something I've wondered about for a while...

In the US, it's longstanding tradition that most amusement parks are open from morning until dusk or later every day during peak season. (Much to the chagrin of seasonal employees.) Even smaller parks, such as Holiday World and Lagoon, are open until 9, 10, or even 11 during the height of the summer. Most trips to parks become the sole activity for the day.

While not a patron of UK amusement parks, I've researched them out of curiosity and have been shocked at how short their daily operating hours are. Alton Towers is open 10-6 for most of the season and 10-7 during peak days towards the end of the summer. I know they have some interesting restrictions based on their location, but they are far from the exception. Chessington closes no later than 6, Oakwood at 6 except for approximately 10 days in the summer, Thorpe 6 except for a few dates in August, and Blackpool starts closing at 7 except a few dates in August as well.

I thought this might be a European thing, but Port Aventura, Europa Park, Wailibi Belgium, and Parc Asterix seem to have hours more in line with what we'd expect in the states.

What's the reason for the difference in hours for UK parks? Cultural? Regulations? As someone used to Kennywood being open to 10 nightly and CP even later, I can't imagine going to a park like Alton during the summer and getting kicked out before dinner time.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Sunday, April 29, 2018 4:19 PM
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Sunday, April 29, 2018 5:16 PM

Alton sometimes closes as early as 4:00pm – and they do staggered openings too.

It's a damn nuisance for those of us trying to plan UK park trips :/

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Monday, April 30, 2018 9:27 AM

I think it's largely down to culture - but the location of some of the parks is probably a factor.

Late closes are saved for (and I hesitate to use this word) 'special' occasions, like Halloween & fireworks events. It's a key part of the marketing message for those events and I guess it would be less of a draw if it was the norm.

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Monday, April 30, 2018 2:29 PM

When I went to Alton Towers last May I found it very odd that the hours of operation were so short compared with those at parks in the USA. The park closed at 5pm on the day I was there and I had to really rush to grab a final ride on The Smiler before exiting. Am going back there this year and visiting Thorpe Park for the 1st time; will encounter the same situation at both. I wonder to what degree economics enter into the equation. If guests arrive early it clearly isn't cost-effective to pay ride ops and other staff to work longer hours unless the park expects that people are going to stay late and spend a lot on food, drink and merchandise if the hours are extended. Still, b/c I went on a bank holiday weekend it struck me as odd for the park to close so early, as that was a time at which guests could easily be induced to stay late and add to the park's revenue.

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Monday, April 30, 2018 3:26 PM

That is weird. So many of my visits to Cedar Point pre-children were spur of the moment after work trips. Can't do that when a park closes so early. Even now in May and early June if the kids have no homework I consider a CP trip after school and work an option. Do UK amusement parks cost less per day in comparison to US parks? Or do they go on a per ride and wrist band basis making the potential hours available mean less when it comes to cost?

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Monday, April 30, 2018 3:35 PM

Alton Towers is almost $75 USD if you buy tickets at the gate, though they appear to offer a sizable discount if you buy online in advance. Second day tickets are $10 USD so you can see they are trying to get people to stay multiple days. (Not surprisingly, they have an on-property hotel.)

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Monday, April 30, 2018 3:41 PM

I visited parks in Netherlands and Germany in September and those all had closing times around 6. I also noticed that they had close to year-round calendars with big winter festivals too. I believe Efteling has gone to 365, or very close.

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Monday, April 30, 2018 5:01 PM

When touring in Europe it is advised to check for calenders of all parks you want to visit before making reservations to a hotel orso.

Sometimes during the season some parks are fully rented out to a compagny, Six Flags Belgium does that a lot !

Also some parks have days of no operation even during a "regular" season from April to October. Alton Towers is closed on Monday to Wednesday for many weeks in the beginning and in the last part of the season.

Efteling has gone for 365 days for many years now, however they don't offer all the rides in the winterseason and also openingtimes are different ! During the summer there are 7 weeks that the park stays open untill late in the evening.. they used to be open 7 Saterdays in a row untill midnight.

Europapark uses flexible openingtimes, during the summer they open at 9 am and normal operations are to 6 pm, however based on weekend or more visitors they add 30 mins or more ( on big signs in the park you can read the closingtime for that day, ussally it is known at 1pm ) it is not uncommon that during summerholiday the park closes at 9.30pm or even 10pm. On one Saterday each year the park stays open untill Midnight , that is basically the birthday of the park. In winter they open at 11 am and stay open untill 7 pm , and again add time when needed. Intersting fact since last winter Silver Star has been added on the list of rides that are open during winterseason.

Phantasialand ussally opens at 9am but most rides at 10am ! from July 7th untill August 26, 2018 the parks is open untill 8pm ( normal 6pm) , during winter it's 11am to 8pm

Last edited by Pieter Peeters, Monday, April 30, 2018 5:03 PM
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Tuesday, May 1, 2018 2:06 PM

@PhantomTails: Not sure how much of a discount this is. I already booked and paid for my trip to Alton Towers way in advance; the total for 2 days' park admission, 1 night at Alton Towers Hotel and Fasttrack came to £260.95 or $355.46. This was the best deal I could get. I wonder how this compares with the cost of a day at Cedar Point, a night at The Breakers and Fast Lane Plus. I may not even need Fasttrack; I didn't last year, as most of the coasters have single rider queues and these move fast but with Wicker Man having recently opened I decided to get it.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018 10:40 PM

Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, LegoLand, Holiday World, Animal Kingdom (until recently,) Universal Orlando and Hollywood, and Busch Gardens Tampa all historically close relatively early most of the year. Lets not all act like closing after sunset is expected at all US parks either.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 5:23 AM

@Bobbie1951 - all single rider queues have been removed at Alton, so fast track is perhaps wise.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 1:57 PM

@Rick_UK - What??? How could they do this? People like me who usually travel solo rely on this. I remember asking the girl at the entrance to Smiler how long I could expect to wait in the single rider queue and she estimated 45 minutes. As it turns out, she could not have been more wrong, as I was on the ride within 5 minutes! There was one coaster that at the time didn't have a single rider queue - either Rita or Thi3teen, most likely Rita.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 3:24 PM

And at Europa it was hit or miss. They were good about advising folks that the single rider line may not be faster but groups of people got in it anyway. Grrrrr....
On Blue Fire it paid off. As a single rider I made good time onto the ride, ahead of riders who entered standby at the same time.
On Wodan Timber Coaster not so much. On one early morning ride I decided to go through stand-by, really just to experience the fantastic queue, and the person they pulled from the single rider line to sit with me turned out to be our Pieter Peeters. So that worked out.
Silver Star didn’t have much of a line so it didn’t matter. And the park wasn’t extremely busy those days anyway so I didn’t waste much time fretting over whether I’d done the right thing or not.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 5:31 PM

Touchdown said:
Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, LegoLand, Holiday World, Animal Kingdom (until recently,) Universal Orlando and Hollywood, and Busch Gardens Tampa all historically close relatively early most of the year. Lets not all act like closing after sunset is expected at all US parks either.

Expected, no. Preferred, definitely... I was pleasantly surprised to find out Kings Island closed at midnight the Saturday we have targeted to visit.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018 1:56 PM

There are quite a few operational changes at Alton this year, the SRQ is only one of them. Notably, there is now staggered opening of the coasters whereby Smiler, Oblivion & Wicker Man open at 10 and Nemesis, Galatica, Th13teen & Rita open at 11 (as well as a lot of other rides).

I think they're hurting and cutting costs wherever they can. Not sure if these will stretch out into the summer.

By all means PM me if you have any other questions.

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