Crealy Adventure Park

Crealy Great Adventure Park operates two theme parks in the southwest of England. Devon’s Crealy is based at Clyst St. Mary on the outskirts of Exeter and Cornwall’s Crealy is based at Tredinnick in between Wadebridge and Newquay. The Crealy group entertains over ¾ million visitors every year.

Crealy Devon was founded in 1989, with the aim of building a park that re-created the memory of a country childhood, Crealy Cornwall was later introduced in 2005. Both parks have won many awards over the years and between them now have over 80 rides, attractions and live shows, included in these are thrill rides, roller-coasters, splashing water rides, indoor play zones and outdoor adventure play areas. Crealy Meadows Caravan and Camping Park located at Devon’s Crealy, was launched in 2012.

The Devon Park opens 361 days a year, whereas the Cornwall Park closes on weekdays throughout the winter months. The opening/closing times and number of rides & facilities on offer vary according to the season and can also change according to the day of the week.

Steve Carthew
Crealy Adventure Park

As Payroll is our highest cost we were looking for a system that allowed us to set strict daily budgets for our Heads of Departments.


Crealy employs approximately 60 full time/permanent staff, of which 80% are salary and 20% hourly paid, we also employ from 25 to 250 temporary staff who are all hourly paid and range between 16 and 65 years of age.

We were doing our best to manage Crealy’s staff with cardboard swipe cards, these were then manually typed onto spreadsheets and fed into the payroll system.

Thinking Software’s Solution

With payroll as our highest business cost we were looking for a system that allowed us to set strict daily budgets for our heads of departments, review the cost and potential profit of each ride/facility offered, each staff role required to support it, the required staffing start/finish times and the hourly rate for the grade of staff needed. When this had been determined we then needed to be able to roll that detail out according to the season/day. Then, as the Season progressed to fill those positions with named staff and then to ensure that those selected staff are only paid for the actual hours worked based on their clock-ins if they were within the authorised times set.

Crealy looked at a number of rota systems and then selected Thinking Software as the system best suited to control our extremely variable staffing needs.

crealyimages54Over the past 9 years we have developed a rolling 12 month review/rollout process, with park managers establishing detailed annual budgets with their heads of departments, the accountant rolling out the detail to Rota Horizon, the heads of departments filling positions with the appropriately skilled staff and then monitoring actual activity based on their staff’s clock-ins, the Park Manager reporting weekly costs against budget and the accountant finally sending the locked down position to automatically populate Sage Payroll for the wages run.

The change to Rota Horizon has been a major revelation to us, providing our key staff with absolute detail regarding staffing for both financial and legal purposes.

Initially we did lock down the managers to a fixed rota but we have now been able to evolve our use of Rota Horizon over the years to change the level of lock down to match the individual skills of each head of department, allowing them to react to last minute changes in rides, special events and even employees extra opportunities for sales.

Over those years we have established strong links with named Thinking Software staff, some of whom have been with us since inception, the support staff at Thinking Software are always promptly available online and by phone to help.

The change to Rota Horizon has been a major revelation to us, providing our key staff with absolute detail on our staffing for both financial and legal purposes.

More recently we have made use of the email option to send our staff their rotas for the next month ahead and used the texting option to remind staff that they are due in next day and for the head of department to check if they are available to work an unfilled spot.