Off Topic - Pleasureland Southport to close

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.

Moderators: dave771, porf, Sarah

Postby uvegotmale2000 » 06 Sep 2006, 17:42

Pleasureland was opened in King’s Gardens, Southport, in 1912 with a Helter Skelter and figure eight rollercoaster. By 1924 the addition of a water chute, boats on the Marine Lake and a Hiram Maxim Flying Machine meant the park had outgrown its site and the rides and attractions were re-located to the park’s present site on the beachfront.

In its new location the park continued to flourish with the addition of the

River Caves, Caterpillar, and two wooden coasters - The Scenic Railway and Mountain Caterpillar, both of which sadly no longer with us. In the 1930’s the park was re-furbished, the Ghost Train and Crazy House (now the Haunted Inn) and Cyclone wooden rollercoaster were added and the Park was given the name ‘Pleasureland’. However, the Second World War meant that amusement parks and other activities took a back seat as the country devoted its resources to the war effort. As a result Pleasureland was closed during the war and the site was used by the Air Ministry as a parking ground for aircraft, fuselages and wings shipped over from the USA. After the war Pleasureland was re-opened and soon regained its pre-war popularity.

As post-war Britain got back on its feet, so did the leisure market. Pleasureland in the 1950’s saw a boating lake, a completely re-built Fun House (originally called the “House of Nonsense”) and the Queen’s Horses (now the Gallopers) and Bowl Slide were new attractions to the park. The Bowl Slide being for many years the only one of it's kind in operation in Britain. During the 1960’s came the 1001 Troubles Mirror Maze and Haunted Swing, both still operational and enjoyed by our present day visitors as “Abdullah’s Dilemma”. Other rides added during the ‘70’s and still retained at Pleasureland include the Wild Cat steel rollercoaster and the Sky Ride cableway, whilst the the Pinfari Big Apple junior steel rollercoaster was added in the 1980’s. Many attractions are no longer at Pleasureland ­ some were only ever here on a temporary basis whilst others have simply moved on or been sold. A few names include the Speedway, the Rainbow, the Hanseatic swing boat, the Hurricane Jets, the Astroslide and the Looping Star.

During the 1960’s came the 1001 Troubles Mirror Maze and Haunted Swing, both still operational and enjoyed by our present day visitors as “Abdullah’s Dilemma”. Other rides added during the ‘70’s and still retained at Pleasureland included the Wild Cat steel rollercoaster and the Sky Ride cableway. The Pinfari Big Apple junior steel rollercoaster was added in the 1980’s

The Log Flume, a major attraction for the park, was shipped over from Myrtle Beach in the USA in 1991 and rebuilt at Pleasureland. In 1993 Pleasureland created a young children’s area called Sultan Towers incorporating 10 juvenile rides and The Moroccan Crazy Golf was built around the Log Flume at the entrance to the Park. During 1994 the council demolished their outdoor swimming pool and Pleasureland purchased the water chutes. The chutes were re-built on the Park, a hydraulic water system was installed, boats were added and the ride was renamed the Waterboggan. 1995 saw the addition of the Pavilion, a canvas dome which plays host to Pleasureland’s summer Circus.

In 1997 Pleasureland purchased the last remaining ride tenant on the park, and this finally paved the way for some major changes. With the tenanted rides gone there was not only more space available for new attractions, but also more freedom to rearrange the existing rides and make the best use of the space available. Four new rides were added this year, the Tidal Wave swing boat, the Bumper Boats, a new Ghost Train and the Mistral Flying Machines. Sadly the original Ghost Train was demolished due to the poor condition of the building, however many of the elements were transferred to the former Journey into Space ride which would become the new Ghost Train

For 1998 a Chance Chaos was brought to the park from America, the first Chaos in Britain and a fast and furious ride that flips and spins until riders don’t know up from down! This was the first year of significant investment, with the addition of the Challenger Go Karts and major ground improvements. Work continued through the winter, with several rides relocated and refurbished to make room for Pleasureland’s biggest attraction ever..

Visitors in 1999 were greeted by the awesome sight of the TRAUMAtizer, the UK’s tallest, fastest, suspended looping coaster, built at a cost of £5 million by the Dutch company Vekoma. Other new attractions included the Desert Camels children’s ride and a junior Go Kart track. Pleasureland also opened its new entertainment centre - Casablanca, with bar, restaurant and games area. The following year saw the arrival of Pleasureland’s fifth rollercoaster - King Solomon’s Rides, a wild ride in an out-of-control mine cart. This is another historic ride, having previously been situated at Morecambe Frontierland. The Fun House was refurbished, with new attractions and a new entrance, and all the park’s toilets received a major facelift!

In 2001 the park continued to grow and improve, with a new games plaza to replace some of the older buildings and extensive landscaping around the car parks and 2002 saw an exciting new attraction ­ the Lucozade Space Shot, which launches thrill seekers 120 feet into the air! This was also the year that the much delayed Ocean Plaza development finally opened in Southport, bringing increased levels of trade to Southport’s seafront.

Abdullah’s Dilemma, a £250,000 walk-through attraction combining the Haunted Swing and 1001 Mirrors, was opened in 2003 by arch TV prankster Jeremy Beadle. 2003 also saw significant developments behind the scenes, firstly the leases on the last few tenanted properties expired, secondly Pleasureland acquired the lease for the land occupied by Southport Zoo. This increases the land available to Pleasureland by about 1/3, and brings with it much scope for development in coming years. As a result of the changes a new main entrance was built, whilst the River Caves was refurbished as the new Lost Dinosaurs of the Sahara attraction. The Desert Rescue ride was extended whilst Sandstorm was the new white knuckle attraction for 2004.

2006 saw Pleasureland announce 3 new attractions. The first of them being the 60ft Big Wheel, which unlike most conventional Big Wheel rides is also capable of spinning on it's base, offering guests a 360 degree look out over the park. Chair-o-Planes were also added to the park, suspending guests by chains whilst rotating them at speeds of up to 25mph around the central pillar. Expansion also continued in the former zoo area as Pleasureland began the move in to the newly aquired land by introducing the highly popular Kombat Zone Paintball Arena. The arena is split into five sections allowing guests to take on five different scenarios. This arena is also available for private hire, and so adds further to Pleasureland's reputation of being #1 for party venues! Expect to see even more improvements over the next few years, as Pleasureland continues to grow and expand
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Postby Bob » 06 Sep 2006, 18:08

Neil wrote:I agree that this all looks like a big fix, but logically power lies with the staff at Blackpool Pleasurebeach. Normally when there's a large number of redundancies it's soon followed by a strike. If all the permanent staff at Blackpool Pleasurebeach (those that have not yet been got rid of) go on strike the park can't open. This would not only mean tremendous national publicity, but would bring the company to its knees.

If large numbers of staff belong to a union it is possible to do a lot, but unfortunately I'm more left wing than a lot of today's society and many people will not do this. Seriously though, this is a perfect example of why people should belong to a union. I guess some will. I'm sure the union will do all they can, but it's difficult without 100% of staff belonging to it. Anyway, that's enough of my plug for union's. It will be intersting to see how the media, union's and council respond to this.

Realistically if Amanda seriously wanted to sell the park she would not go on about how it's losing money (which I gather is merely a manipulation of statistics) and instead give the place a more glowing a description.


It is purely down to market forces. The demand for the traditional seaside amusement parks has been declining for over 30 years and costs have risen considerably. This situation is unlikely to change even the one might Blackpool is suffering badly. The combination of cheap holidays abroad with better weather and facilities and the competition from large well located major theme parks are something the seaside resorts cannot compete with. It is sad to see the end of the era of Seaside resorts but you cannot change it. Seaside resorts are no longer the atraction they were. Most attract very few vistors and then only in the high season.
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Postby Sarah » 06 Sep 2006, 19:27

Bob! What took you so long?!

This has nothing to do with market forces. But if you know anything about Pleasureland, you will already be well aware of that.

Guess I can't blame you for trying.

Sarah
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Postby David Ellis » 06 Sep 2006, 19:56

Bob wrote:It is purely down to market forces. The demand for the traditional seaside amusement parks has been declining for over 30 years ...Most attract very few vistors and then only in the high season.


This is not the reason Bob.

From Sarah's post it is clear that the demise is not a 30-year decline in numbers but a one-season decline primarily because of the introduction of an admission charge.

To drop in one season from 2.1m visitors in 2004 to 500,000 in 2005 is not evidence of a gradual decline in the park. Parks do not lose 75% of their custom overnight without there being a specific reason. The data does not show any trend that supports your argument. If you have data for Pleasureland over a longer time period then maybe you could plot a trend line, but I was of the understanding that park attendances had actually increased over the last 10 years. 2.1 million visitors in 2004 is a lot of people.

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Postby Bob » 06 Sep 2006, 21:02

David Ellis wrote:
Bob wrote:It is purely down to market forces. The demand for the traditional seaside amusement parks has been declining for over 30 years ...Most attract very few vistors and then only in the high season.


This is not the reason Bob.

From Sarah's post it is clear that the demise is not a 30-year decline in numbers but a one-season decline primarily because of the introduction of an admission charge.

To drop in one season from 2.1m visitors in 2004 to 500,000 in 2005 is not evidence of a gradual decline in the park. Parks do not lose 75% of their custom overnight without there being a specific reason. The data does not show any trend that supports your argument. If you have data for Pleasureland over a longer time period then maybe you could plot a trend line, but I was of the understanding that park attendances had actually increased over the last 10 years. 2.1 million visitors in 2004 is a lot of people.

David.


The figure you give are not correct. Certainly there was some drop in numbers but previously many who visited never actually spent a penny in
the park. The real fall in numbers was quite modest.

Whilst you may regard £2,000,000 as a lot of money that is only revenues not profit. It is also not a lot given the levels of investment needed

There are at least another two amusement parks that are in serious dange of closing in the next 12 months.
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Postby Stephen » 06 Sep 2006, 21:21

Bob you must think we are stupid do you really expect us to believe that out of every four visitors only one went on a ride.
The visitor numbers are recorded and have dropped dramatically. The admission charge being a major cause.
For example Grandparents dont like paying just to take the children in when they will be spending money on rides and other things.
It is very clear things have changed in the last two years and it is an extremely sad day for Southport.
It is good to see that Sefton Council and the local MP are supportive and looking at ways they can help and meet the needs of their town.
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Postby RowBot » 06 Sep 2006, 22:52

LOL@Bob

I see you got you're figures from:
http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100 ... _page.html
But if you read carefully everyone seems to think this entry fee killed people coming to the park!

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Postby uvegotmale2000 » 06 Sep 2006, 23:25

£2 admission chargei didnt get charged to get in
just £10 for all day wristband
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Postby Stephen » 07 Sep 2006, 08:56

The admission charge was for NON- riders. The ones that bought the wristbands for their children/grandchildren, paid for the refreshments and souvenirs etc etc
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Postby Zoidstar » 07 Sep 2006, 09:27

Be intresting to see what happens to the rides, demolished or sold I cant see the council taking on the cost of operating them
Zoid on!
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Postby uvegotmale2000 » 07 Sep 2006, 11:13

i think the site will be sold to a new operator quite quickly
that park has good potential in a great location
i bet in the next few weeks we will find out southport will be back in business for 2007:)
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Postby Neil » 07 Sep 2006, 15:13

Firstly I do not see why people wandering off the beach to use services is seen as a major problem. If they're local then businesses often try to build good public relations locally. If they're tourists it's highly likely that on another day of their holiday they'll be patronising the park.

Secondly let's remember that 500,000 visitors is still significant, expecially if they are all paying. Last year Oakwood, one of the UK's most popular theme park got just over 400,000 visotors. I can assure Bob that Oakwood is not struggling, especially in light of a massive new roller coaster this year.

As has been said the closure has little to do with viability, and anything it does have to do with viability is due to Amanda Thompson's bad management. It is not normal to close a tourist attraction at such short notice, as normally the attraction slowly declines with the management spending several years trying to improve things. Anyone in business will tell you that you don't suceed by throwing in the towel after one bad year which is largely due to changes in operation.

i think the site will be sold to a new operator quite quickly
that park has good potential in a great location
i bet in the next few weeks we will find out southport will be back in business for 2007:)

Hopefully, but as had been mentioned Amanda will try to avoid another operater taking on the site at all costs as she won't want another company operating a rival to Blackpool Pleasurebeach. If your house has dry rot you don't immediately try to sell it with 'dry rot' in big letters on the advert. Instead you sort out the dry rot and then sell it. No one wants a house with dry rot.

Poor management has caused Pleasureland to crash and now Amanda is doing all she can to publicise this.

Do people feel we should write to the Council? I'm fully convinced that the council will do all they can, however if I was on the council I might appreciate people writing letters giving encouragement. I'm keen that the park has the best possible chance. I realise that this is an entirely different situation to Dreamland, yet this may not mean there's nothing we can do to help.
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Postby Bob » 07 Sep 2006, 17:04

RowBot wrote:LOL@Bob

I see you got you're figures from:
http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100 ... _page.html
But if you read carefully everyone seems to think this entry fee killed people coming to the park!

Ian


That is complete nonsense. The charge was a modest £2 hardly a great sum of money. It costs almost that to buy a Sunday newspapers. The £2 admission charge also entitled them to sum discounts.The charge was as well only applied to those that did not buy wristbands which was a very small number.

The reason for the decline is the decline in visitor numbers to the resorts. It is quite likely another two or three will close within 12 months.
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Postby Gary » 07 Sep 2006, 18:27

Bob said: The charge was a modest £2 hardly a great sum of money. It costs almost that to buy a Sunday newspapers. The £2 admission charge also entitled them to sum discounts.The charge was as well only applied to those that did not buy wristbands which was a very small number.

Bob, what discounts were these then? Seriously, I'm interested.

My family took my dad not long ago and he had to pay the £2 fee - No evidence of money off elsewhere in the park.

You miss the point about the entrance fee being a modest £2 - It's the very fact that there was an entrance fee at all for people who didn't want to ride the rides that put whole families off - including those who would normally buy the wristbands.

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Postby Bob » 07 Sep 2006, 20:00

Gary wrote:Bob said: The charge was a modest £2 hardly a great sum of money. It costs almost that to buy a Sunday newspapers. The £2 admission charge also entitled them to sum discounts.The charge was as well only applied to those that did not buy wristbands which was a very small number.

Bob, what discounts were these then? Seriously, I'm interested.

My family took my dad not long ago and he had to pay the £2 fee - No evidence of money off elsewhere in the park.

You miss the point about the entrance fee being a modest £2 - It's the very fact that there was an entrance fee at all for people who didn't want to ride the rides that put whole families off - including those who would normally buy the wristbands.

Gary


£2 is not going to put of anyone of. It is certainly not going to put many off. Entrance fees are quite common. There were certainly discounts available for people who had not bought wristbands
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