Tourists blast Stonehenge visitor experience

TOURISTS have blasted the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre for ruining Wiltshire’s ancient monument and said the new Stonehenge experience is a rip off.

Since the new £27m visitor centre opened four weeks ago, visitors have taken to review websites like Trip Advisor to complain about a range of problems, particularly the transport taking the tourists from the visitor centre to the stones and ticketing.

One reviewer called the centre a “monstrously ugly carbuncle” and said the whole place seems “devoid of character”, while another said “the whole experience feels like a scam”.

People reported having to queue for over an hour for the land train – three carriages pulled by a Land Rover – and those who braved the mile-and-a-half walk had to dodge the transport as there is no separate footpath.

With only two land trains, which can carry up to 45 people at a time, English Heritage has had to draft in coaches hired from local bus companies to pick up the slack, and concerns have been raised about how the site will cope in the busier summer months when thousands of people visit the World Heritage Site every day, with neither the car park or the transport to the stones looking able to meet demand.

Many people were also unimpressed that the entry fee had doubled in price with the opening of the new centre and said the ticket office was open to the elements in what is essentially a “wind tunnel”.

A couple from Barnstaple said: “This new attraction was over ten years in the planning, how could they have got it so wrong?”

Before the new visitor centre opened, ratings on Trip Advisor were consistently good for Stonehenge. But since the new centre opened the positive reviews have plunged to less than half and the negative reviews have risen to a third.

Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager, admitted there had been some teething problems. “This is a brand new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre and naturally, during these early days, there have been some issues. But we are solving them – we have increased our shuttle service taking people to the stones and from February 1 our timed ticketing system will swing into place.

“The majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; visitors have been fascinated by our new exhibition and love the sense that the stones are now reconnected with the wider landscape. We appreciate all the feedback and would ask people to be patient while we iron out the few remaining issues.”

She also said they had experienced numbers similar to peak summer season over the festive period, with 5,000 visitors on one day.

Comments (11)

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6:08pm Tue 14 Jan 14

gingin says...

Oh for goodness sake get it right, this new visitors centre has been long enough in the planning and building so employ enough staff and have more land trains to cope. Don't try and justify mistakes and the ineptitude of a simple policy to cope with an increase in visitors which is the whole point of this exercise.
Oh for goodness sake get it right, this new visitors centre has been long enough in the planning and building so employ enough staff and have more land trains to cope. Don't try and justify mistakes and the ineptitude of a simple policy to cope with an increase in visitors which is the whole point of this exercise. gingin
  • Score: 22

7:21pm Tue 14 Jan 14

cactus Joe says...

I've been to the new visitor centre and really enjoyed it, it was a great experience. Sounds like it's been a bit of a victim of its own success though with everyone wanting to go. I'd definitely recommend going (but perhaps wait until the queues have died down!)
I've been to the new visitor centre and really enjoyed it, it was a great experience. Sounds like it's been a bit of a victim of its own success though with everyone wanting to go. I'd definitely recommend going (but perhaps wait until the queues have died down!) cactus Joe
  • Score: -7

8:50pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Bournemouth Ohec says...

When will the queues die down?
When will the queues die down? Bournemouth Ohec
  • Score: 11

8:57pm Tue 14 Jan 14

UKD003 says...

After all the planning, just another fine example of a well thought out plan by an out of touch committee.

I read tripadvisor and the comments don't lie. and even more funny are ther response comment by English Heritage trying to explain their problems.
After all the planning, just another fine example of a well thought out plan by an out of touch committee. I read tripadvisor and the comments don't lie. and even more funny are ther response comment by English Heritage trying to explain their problems. UKD003
  • Score: 22

10:37pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Bournemouth Ohec says...

I also note that the phone line for booking tickets is a notorious high cost 0870 number.

That is adding insult to injury.
I also note that the phone line for booking tickets is a notorious high cost 0870 number. That is adding insult to injury. Bournemouth Ohec
  • Score: 20

12:44am Wed 15 Jan 14

karlmarx says...

I had a sneaky suspicion that the distance between the visitor centre and the stones plus, the Noddy road train ride would be a turn off for the general public. How about a another park and ride site?
I had a sneaky suspicion that the distance between the visitor centre and the stones plus, the Noddy road train ride would be a turn off for the general public. How about a another park and ride site? karlmarx
  • Score: 10

8:32am Wed 15 Jan 14

hillyanne says...

I enjoyed it.Went on the Stonehenge bus from Salisbury on a lovely sunny day.(Journey back down Devizes Road was great.You just don't see the sweeping fields when you go by car.)
The new centre is great;shop and café too.What an improvement on the dump we used to visit!(I was so ashamed when I took foreign visitors there.)
Yes the queues are a pain;especially when the wind gets up(the gap between the buildings is a wind tunnel!) Sure E. H. will be getting it right before the season really starts.Most new things need time to bed in.
I enjoyed it.Went on the Stonehenge bus from Salisbury on a lovely sunny day.(Journey back down Devizes Road was great.You just don't see the sweeping fields when you go by car.) The new centre is great;shop and café too.What an improvement on the dump we used to visit!(I was so ashamed when I took foreign visitors there.) Yes the queues are a pain;especially when the wind gets up(the gap between the buildings is a wind tunnel!) Sure E. H. will be getting it right before the season really starts.Most new things need time to bed in. hillyanne
  • Score: -6

7:30pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Schoolmum999 says...

I've just had a look at trip advisor and the reports are not good. However, you have to read this one, it made me laugh: http://www.tripadvis
or.co.uk/ShowUserRev
iews-g528762-d188527
-r190873866-Stonehen
ge-Amesbury_Wiltshir
e_England.html#REVIE
WS
I've just had a look at trip advisor and the reports are not good. However, you have to read this one, it made me laugh: http://www.tripadvis or.co.uk/ShowUserRev iews-g528762-d188527 -r190873866-Stonehen ge-Amesbury_Wiltshir e_England.html#REVIE WS Schoolmum999
  • Score: 2

9:55am Thu 16 Jan 14

Lady Tinky Winky says...

Most locals knew it was all wrong and predicted how it would be ,but then who listens to the locals!
Whoever thought of the land train must have done a business plan but obviously their maths skills were not up to much, as any child could work out that a land train that takes 45 X 2 is not enough for the number of visitors that visit in a day.
If it like that now what will it be like in the Summer!
Most locals knew it was all wrong and predicted how it would be ,but then who listens to the locals! Whoever thought of the land train must have done a business plan but obviously their maths skills were not up to much, as any child could work out that a land train that takes 45 X 2 is not enough for the number of visitors that visit in a day. If it like that now what will it be like in the Summer! Lady Tinky Winky
  • Score: 13

5:24pm Fri 17 Jan 14

IanMcL says...

"Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager, admitted there had been some teething problems. “This is a brand new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre and naturally, during these early days, there have been some issues"

That is the worst answer ever given. 45 a time? The old place was teeming with coaches and one coach takes more than that!

Appalling planning of the very worst kind. Whoever made the decision should be removed....and their bosses for permitting it.
"Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager, admitted there had been some teething problems. “This is a brand new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre and naturally, during these early days, there have been some issues" That is the worst answer ever given. 45 a time? The old place was teeming with coaches and one coach takes more than that! Appalling planning of the very worst kind. Whoever made the decision should be removed....and their bosses for permitting it. IanMcL
  • Score: 8

6:48pm Sun 19 Jan 14

karlmarx says...

First impressions make all the difference and on this point English Heritage have failed miserably.
£14.90 each to sit on a wooden bench in a Micky Mouse train?
What's going to happen at the Solstices, will there be more Micky Mouse trains laid on?
First impressions make all the difference and on this point English Heritage have failed miserably. £14.90 each to sit on a wooden bench in a Micky Mouse train? What's going to happen at the Solstices, will there be more Micky Mouse trains laid on? karlmarx
  • Score: 4

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