Merlin Entertainments installed a basic parking system in 2009 across several of their UK theme parks.
Ten years on, they issued a tender to update the method of operation with a more integrated and technologically advanced solution using ANPR.
The Name Plate (or License Plate, as in LPR) serves as a virtual ticket, and grants free-flow access, preventing stolen cars or ticket swapping. Since ticket and license plate have to match at entry and exit, it is almost impossible to pursue fraudulent behaviors.
Merlin’s requirement was for an ANPR ticketless system that would integrate into the existing park ticketing system which was supplied by Accesso. The requirements of the system were to facilitate entry and exit for pre-booked ticket holders, and any other tickets purchased (e.g. VIP tickets, annual tickets, ...) and thus allow a single online booking/purchase operation to issue a single and unique ticket (barcode associated with car license plate) to pass both in the parking lot and to access the attractions of the amusement park; all this, without forgetting those who purchased tickets on site at the Access kiosks and occasional visitors with payment at the exit. Payment on site had to be with the existing payment service provider Adyen.
In 2020 HUB Parking Technology announced a global framework agreement with Merlin Entertainments.
Merlin Entertainments is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment. As one of the world’s largest attraction operators, they create and deliver memorable, immersive brand experiences for millions of guests.
Their parks operate around the world and include Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, and Legoland New York Resort. The vehicle traffic to these parks varies depending on the day of the week and the month of the year, with highest peaks during the school holidays.
A combination of different user types need to be managed on a daily basis: transient users, passholders and pre booked ticket holders. Getting a comprehensive picture of the car park through accurate analytics and custom reporting becomes fundamental: clear-cut users’ insights grants smooth and efficient operations.
Parking can leave a lasting impression for a guest visiting any resort, it’s the beginning and very end of a guest’s experience. Merlin Entertainments had a very clear vision on how they want to use technology to enhance the overall guest experience at all of their parks and locations.
The investment in new parking technology would result in a smooth, efficient and effortless experience when visiting. The car parks’ upgrade project started in the second half of 2019, when integration discussions between HUB UK and Merlin began, supported by HUB HQ in Bologna, Italy.
Development was required on both sides to achieve the required integration with Accesso/Merlin which was all completed on time ready for the scheduled park opening in March 2020.
The degree of openness of HUB’s platform architecture proved pivotal in moving forward with the integrations: the ANPR ticketless system swiftly communicates with the existing park ticketing system (Accesso) thus facilitating entry and exit for pre-booked ticket holders, and visitors with any other pass that includes a barcode issued by Accesso.
On site, the exit plaza was redesigned and resurfaced to incorporate an additional exit lane for the main car park and create a new exit lane for the drop off area.
HUB constructed these lanes and worked with the Merlin contractors to complete the installation, which was finalized and ready for the March opening - however due to COVID-19 this was postponed until July 4th, 2020.
Ahead of the 4th July opening HUB UK carried out two weeks of intense testing before the park opening, which was fully supported by the HUB engineering team.
The project won UK Sceptre Award for the best car park in the year 2021.