Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

The Save Dreamland Campaign was launched by Joyland Books in January 2003 and is now supported by several thousand people. This is the place to discuss all aspects of saving Margate's famous amusement park and its iconic , Grade II listed Scenic Railway, Britain's oldest roller coaster.

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Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby SuburbanHomeboy » 23 Jul 2015, 20:22

*sigh*

I really, really want Dreamland to be a success...

Opening day had great signs of promise, despite the closed rides, so I was looking forward to getting back to the park today, especially with the arrival of Littleboy's Speedway and the Grasscutter Twist.

In the carpark, before the security guard let us in to the entrance "plaza", we saw the test "train" going round on the Scenic. Well, the train had three bases running on the bogies, with two makeshift, plywood "seats" behind the brake lever. A very light train indeed, but it was getting round the track smoothly with no sign of the likelihood of a rollback. It looks like they were tinkering with the sensor system today, especially the one that detects when the train has left the second lift hill.

Anyhow - we got let into the park, and Littleboy's Speedway was already going. Hmmm. It was very popular with the youngsters, but the guys operating it didn't seem to have much respect for the machine. Faster, slower, faster, slower. Then they stopped the ride "OK! If you want to go really fast, get in a Chariot". I had to get off the ride, of course, because I was on a Motorbike. Then, they slammed it into top speed. Now, if it's too fast to be safe to ride a Motorbike, then I'd say it's too fast full stop. All you need to do is slip forward as you go over a hill. They closed the ride for half an hour at noon, saying "Oh - it's an old ride! We have to take care of it!" Hmmm. On my first ride, the red-headed lad, who spent most of the day walking the platforms very professionally, kept telling me to hold on with both hands, not just one. On the next ride, which I was watching, he was enouraging the little kids on the ride to do a hand-jive.

[EDIT 25/7/15: I have since found out a little more about the guys running the ride - it is great to know that one of them is a member of the family that once travelled with this very Speedway. Turns out that they understand the ride very well, and aren't just bored local teenagers taking advantage of their newly-found position of authority. Apparently, they were testing out different speeds for different ages - I just hope they agree on a top speed at which they can allow grown-ups to stay on the motorbikes, as that is the whole point of the Speedway. Having said that, my point about the hand-jive still stands, as they shouldn't even start the ride if people do not appear to be following basic safety rules.]

Then you look towards the centre of the park from between the Speedway and the Big Wheel. There's the new Grasscutter Twist. Not in operation. Behind it is the "Kiss Me Quick" Caterpillar. Has never operated. But lo! There's a new Star Flyer ride - it has replaced the Wave Swinger at the back of the park. You know - the Wave Swinger that was riding full on Opening Day. Oh yes - the Star Flyer isn't working. The Jumping Pirate Boats? Not working - there's a bloke sitting on the entrance steps to tell you this, but the ride seems to open quite happily at 12:30pm. And the Spinning Wild Mouse? Well, they tried sending a few cars round the track, but that's as far as they got.

Thank heavens for David Littleboy, I thought. It was the first week of 7-day operation. It was also the first day of the school holidays for many counties. There are some counties still at school, but they had laid on coaches to take their kids to Dreamland for an end-of-term treat.

Now - there were more rides working than on opening day - Dodgems, Jets, Speedway, Big Wheel, Rotor (new this visit), Monotopia, Kiddie Cars, "Big Apple" Coaster, Double-Deck Roundabout and temporary TeaCup ride, Austin Cars, Jumping Pirate Boats (well, after they finally decided to open it up), Helter Skelter, Astroglide, Gallopers, so we are getting there, but replacing working rides with non-working rides (for whatever reason) is really annoying, and that continental Caterpillar ride - is it ever going to open?
Last edited by SuburbanHomeboy on 25 Jul 2015, 07:01, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby kevin » 24 Jul 2015, 10:15

But, of course, your admission charge was pro rata!?
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby porf » 24 Jul 2015, 15:04

I'd stick myself in the same category - I so want it work out well and I'm also chuffed that it's open again and that it's not housing, something the campaign and trust can be proud of. But despite the potential to end up being labelled a "hater" I'm not wandering around in rose tinted glasses.

Scenic aside I think they are now (a month on) edging towards what really should have been there on opening day with the new additions : http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/new-rides-open-at-dreamland-40602/. But that's dependant on having the rides up and running which seems to be an issue on occasions. You're not the only person to have this view this week - there's a few unhappy people on twitter and in the comments section of the above article.

I think this part of the above article encapsulates my views on opening night Hulllabaloo - with the amount of rides not operating, the time we ended up with in the park (queues to get in and then a fire alarm preventing re-entry) and the entry fee charged it primarily was a good evening because it had been saved, not for what was there.
"People have been so supportive. We've had teething problems that we've fixed, but I think people are just so pleased it's open again, people just come with a really positive attitude."

Long term it needs to be better.

I'm reserving my 2nd visit until the Scenic's up and running, hopefully then I can write a lovely review.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby Phillerz » 24 Jul 2015, 21:22

Ive been quite critical of dreamland lately, mostly due to the pricing scheme. But i would like to say that i am surprised at the rides that are turning up. End of last year we had a pretty clear image of what was coming, and i was disappointed. Although there is still things that id very much like - we have seen recent unexpected suprises, IE; Wild mouse, littleboys rides and the chair swing aswell as the temporary side shows being of a larger scale than i expected.

I have said to myself that i will not go until the scenic is open. However each and every day makes me more tempted, regardless of the scenic. Dreamland is growing stronger, i still believe :)
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby SuburbanHomeboy » 24 Jul 2015, 21:43

Well, Phillerz, all I can suggest is that you do wait until the Scenic Railway is running again.

Then, you might see the park in its full glory with all the rides running. Yesterday was a real let-down. I ended up leaving the park at noon and going shopping. I got back, then after another half an hour I went out again to meet a local social artist friend who is planning a great, day-long event that will start on the beach and get people exploring all that Margate has to offer (see #tribevtribe - he also organised the Clear-Up day at Dreamland). We put Dreamland to rights, of course ;-)

Back into the park I tried to get into the spirit of things, but I was sitting in the Food Court at 3pm and it was almost completely silent. No music, no buzz. I am hard of hearing, but I could hear the Speedway rumbling in the distance. When that stopped, all I could hear was the motors whirring on the big wheel, and that was a good hundred yards away. Why? Well the Twist was sitting idle just outside the food court. The "Kiss Me Quick" was sitting idle just behind the Twist. The Wild Mouse coaster was sitting idle to my right.

And to make matters worse, apparently there was a preview performance of the Circus yesterday evening - someone Tweeted about it today. I was at the park all day, and there was no indication that it would take place. I would have loved to have seen that show yesterday - if someone had actually told me that it was on!

Third time lucky?
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby Jim Douglas Jr. » 24 Jul 2015, 21:56

There's a LOT of teething on these things. I'm sure they're overwhelmed.
One little sensor misaligned and a whole ride goes down for a 98% probability of nothing actually wrong.
They'll get there.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby Jim Douglas Jr. » 24 Jul 2015, 21:58

I'm gonna likely have to sit this year out and will try to make opening day next year.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby SuburbanHomeboy » 24 Jul 2015, 22:20

Jim Douglas Jr. wrote:There's a LOT of teething on these things. I'm sure they're overwhelmed.
One little sensor misaligned and a whole ride goes down for a 98% probability of nothing actually wrong.
They'll get there.


Oh I know they'll get there, Jim, but in the meantime, paying members of the public are faced with a park where a substantial number of rides aren't working. When you walk into the park and stand between the four rides nearest the entrance (all working), ALL you can see ahead of you are rides that are CLOSED. The other working rides are round the other side of the Scenic. It is not a good look.

The newly-installed Twist has just finished a full and thorough restoration. It was built up in the owner's yard, when it could have been tested. But no. The Sizzler Twist (which, although a modern version of the ride, was working and capable of keeping large numbers happy) was removed, and the "new" Twist built up. But only THEN did they get it tested, and it failed. They are now working on some modifications to please the testers, but it is static, slap-bang in the middle of the main area of the park, and no-one was working on the ride at any point during the day.

The Wave Swinger was a temporary ride, and was working perfectly, then along came the Star Flyer. Which wasn't working.

The Wild Mouse coaster was having problems on opening day back in June. It looked like it was having the same problems yesterday - over a month later - and they gave up trying to get it going well before noon.

One ride that was working perfectly - the Jumping Pirate Boats - was closed until two and a half hours AFTER the park had opened. No idea why, but they had someone perched on the steps to tell people to go away.

They are fixing the sensors on the Scenic - no problem. I have a big problem, however, with them replacing rides that work with rides that have not even been given a proper UK test certificate yet, hoping that they'll pass first time. I'd have hoped they'd learned by the Big Wheel and "Kiss Me Quick" Caterpillar from opening day - both rides that couldn't open as they needed safety modification to meet UK standards.

Next week, a travelling fair is opening less than a mile from Dreamland, advertising all rides at £1 each. I'll bet all THEIR rides will be in operation from day 1, and they are in Margate for most of August. This is the summer that Dreamland REALLY needs to get into gear - every closed ride is a nail in the coffin when it comes to the average park visitor and word of mouth.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby Vince, Charlie and Sam » 25 Jul 2015, 19:28

SuburbanHomeboy wrote:
Oh I know they'll get there, Jim, but in the meantime, paying members of the public are faced with a park where a substantial number of rides aren't working. When you walk into the park and stand between the four rides nearest the entrance (all working), ALL you can see ahead of you are rides that are CLOSED. The other working rides are round the other side of the Scenic. It is not a good look.

The newly-installed Twist has just finished a full and thorough restoration. It was built up in the owner's yard, when it could have been tested. But no. The Sizzler Twist (which, although a modern version of the ride, was working and capable of keeping large numbers happy) was removed, and the "new" Twist built up. But only THEN did they get it tested, and it failed. They are now working on some modifications to please the testers, but it is static, slap-bang in the middle of the main area of the park, and no-one was working on the ride at any point during the day.

The Wave Swinger was a temporary ride, and was working perfectly, then along came the Star Flyer. Which wasn't working.

The Wild Mouse coaster was having problems on opening day back in June. It looked like it was having the same problems yesterday - over a month later - and they gave up trying to get it going well before noon.

One ride that was working perfectly - the Jumping Pirate Boats - was closed until two and a half hours AFTER the park had opened. No idea why, but they had someone perched on the steps to tell people to go away.

They are fixing the sensors on the Scenic - no problem. I have a big problem, however, with them replacing rides that work with rides that have not even been given a proper UK test certificate yet, hoping that they'll pass first time. I'd have hoped they'd learned by the Big Wheel and "Kiss Me Quick" Caterpillar from opening day - both rides that couldn't open as they needed safety modification to meet UK standards.

Next week, a travelling fair is opening less than a mile from Dreamland, advertising all rides at £1 each. I'll bet all THEIR rides will be in operation from day 1, and they are in Margate for most of August. This is the summer that Dreamland REALLY needs to get into gear - every closed ride is a nail in the coffin when it comes to the average park visitor and word of mouth.


I appreciate your honesty. I have been a supporter of the Save Dreamland Campaign for well over ten years now, and I have serious reservations about what is happening, it's almost as if they aren't trying. I haven't visited Dreamland since it re-opened, the reviews I've read in numerous places have been enough to tell me that it would be a huge disappointment. I really am hoping to visit this year, but Dreamland will seriously have to raise its game before I hand over my money.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby SuburbanHomeboy » 25 Jul 2015, 21:42

Vince, Charlie and Sam wrote:
I appreciate your honesty. I have been a supporter of the Save Dreamland Campaign for well over ten years now, and I have serious reservations about what is happening, it's almost as if they aren't trying. I haven't visited Dreamland since it re-opened, the reviews I've read in numerous places have been enough to tell me that it would be a huge disappointment. I really am hoping to visit this year, but Dreamland will seriously have to raise its game before I hand over my money.


I feel like giving up, I really do. I learned today (Saturday 25th) that they have closed the park for the Saturday AND Sunday because of the bad weather on Friday evening. Pathetic. No reason given, just "oh the weather was bad on Friday night". Look at Twitter - LOADS of people saying they forked out £7.50 to park in the council car park at Dreamland, only to find that the park was SHUT on a SATURDAY.

When I was at the park on Thursday, I Tweeted the official Dreamland account early afternoon, offering to discuss the reasons why I left the park after two hours - but there was no reply that afternoon or at all, since that first Tweet. I knew that all the bigwigs were there, because my Social Artist buddy POINTED THEM OUT TO ME when I met him for coffee at 2pm. They were touring the park.

WHY AREN'T THEY INTERESTED?? I asked their official Twitter account why they weren't interested why a diehard, lifelong (vintage) fairground fan got FED UP after just a couple of hours. I have had NO REPLY to ANY of my Tweets or e-mails.

It may be late on a Saturday night now, but I've just learned that the park is closed ALL WEEKEND and I'm getting really peed off about it all.

Perhaps the bigwigs were just discussing where the [deleted] FLATS ARE GOING TO BE BUILT.

Sorry - perhaps a moderator should just delete my [deleted] account.
Last edited by SuburbanHomeboy on 26 Jul 2015, 08:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby aweber1us » 25 Jul 2015, 22:04

Been twice now and yes they have a few problems , but its been great both times. Not sure how anyone can say Sands have given up they have bought five rides into the Park in the last two weeks.
To me the park is better than i have known in the last thirty years, i was never a lover of Bembons or Goddens era. The staff and the feel of the park are a credit to Sands. As much as the Scenic is a muched loved ride i think what we had may have gone forever. Dreamland has to be about more than the Scenic to keep going.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby SuburbanHomeboy » 25 Jul 2015, 22:12

Five rides into the park - yes - but how many actually WORK?

Star Flyer - not when I was there.

Twist - not when I was there.

Rotor - big whoop!

Yes - it has to be about more than the Scenic. But that means NOT having five OTHER major rides closed.

Plus, the park is now closed all weekend. People weren't told, travelled to the park and are now seriously pee'd off with Dreamland.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby aweber1us » 25 Jul 2015, 22:30

Never mind Shaws Leisure are in town next week you can go and do twenty quid in an hour.Dreamland has looked like a hole for the last ten years so much has been done. Yet we are still not happy, dont get it.
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby EAS » 25 Jul 2015, 22:44

Looks like weather & ongoing bad weather forecast was the reason for closure. Safety of visitors and staff have to be considered. All very unfortunate for all concerned.

I hope rides are not badly damaged.

Yes it's a great shame that certain rides are not operating, but Dreamland is now more than the rides and I do think a great deal has been achieved in a very short time. I'm looking forward to returning.

Update was posted on Twitter 11:28 AM - 25 Jul 2015
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Re: Visit #2 - Thursday 23 July

Postby EAS » 25 Jul 2015, 23:19

Re the Speedway

Anyhow - we got let into the park, and Littleboy's Speedway was already going. Hmmm. It was very popular with the youngsters, but the guys operating it didn't seem to have much respect for the machine. Faster, slower, faster, slower. Then they stopped the ride "OK! If you want to go really fast, get in a Chariot". I had to get off the ride, of course, because I was on a Motorbike. Then, they slammed it into top speed. Now, if it's too fast to be safe to ride a Motorbike, then I'd say it's too fast full stop. All you need to do is slip forward as you go over a hill. They closed the ride for half an hour at noon, saying "Oh - it's an old ride! We have to take care of it!" Hmmm. On my first ride, the red-headed lad, who spent most of the day walking the platforms very professionally, kept telling me to hold on with both hands, not just one. On the next ride, which I was watching, he was enouraging the little kids on the ride to do a hand-jive.

[EDIT 25/7/15: I have since found out a little more about the guys running the ride - it is great to know that one of them is a member of the family that once travelled with this very Speedway. Turns out that they understand the ride very well, and aren't just bored local teenagers taking advantage of their newly-found position of authority. Apparently, they were testing out different speeds for different ages - I just hope they agree on a top speed at which they can allow grown-ups to stay on the motorbikes, as that is the whole point of the Speedway. Having said that, my point about the hand-jive still stands, as they shouldn't even start the ride if people do not appear to be following basic safety rules.]


Many years ago, my husband and I went to Roker illuminations for the evening. There was a funfair operating. There was a Speedway.

It was late evening. We decided to give it a go. Ride was empty apart from us. We had a motorbike each. Then on the ride came a group of teenage girls, and they began flirting with the operator, who was also young.

Obviously the operator decided to get the girls screaming so ran the ride at full speed, and for far longer than I suspect it normally operated.

I will freely admit to being a wimp, but my other half had motorbikes in his teens (his first at 14 which he rode round a field) and at the time held an international motor racing licence (cars) so speed & danger didn't bother him unduly :D (I'm no stranger to riding pillion on fast bikes either, but mainly they go in straightish lines and aren't permanently cornering.)

The Speedway was just plain scary and not at all enjoyable. We were both youngish and fit, but it was extremely hard to hold on and going round in a circle put great pressure on the inside leg. Mine was painful for days after. I really thought at times I was going to be thrown off the ride.

We neither of us would be keen to repeat that experience. Let's hope they get it right at Dreamland! :shock:

Archive from 2000:

http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/loca ... -1-1078977

In June, 1986, an investigation was launched after a number of people were thrown from the Speedway ride.


This blog makes very uncomfortable but possibly essential reading. Not for the squeamish, but a reminder that safety is paramount. Better rides are not working than that they are rushed into operation with half trained operators. The part about the fatal accident is very sad, what a harrowing experience for all concerned, but if you scroll down further the description of operating the Speedway (Ark) ride is fascinating.

http://codexseraphinianuspaulthompson.b ... calls.html

Extract:

This ride was the epitome of cool for a fair lad like me, It was a similar platform than the Waltzer but contained motorbikes and Chariots and the entertainment opportunities were a lot better than the tame Waltzer rides. John told us the ride would reach approx 30- 40 mph when going flat out, and the G force that produced was tremendous, you actually had to lean right into the centre of the ride to stay on, if not you could be catapulted off into oblivion. Health and Safety wasn't taken very seriously in the early 80s as you will see, this actually made our fair lads such a draw for the crowd, we offered a unique sense of danger and excitement with our acrobatics and larking around on the fast rides
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