The life and times of the man who created Pleasurewood Hills
24 November 2013
Read about how Pleasurewood Hills
American Theme Park was born, and the trials and tribulations
along the way, in this
new book from the man behind the theme park, Joe Larter.
is about far more than the American-style theme park.
There's growing up during World
War II for young Joe. The struggles of setting up business, the
successes and the downfalls along the way. After creating East
Anglia's No 1 visitor attraction, including Woody Bear, Joe went
on to create Norfolk Sealife Centres, the Bure Valley Railway,
Ripleys Believe It or Not! and The Village Experience, plus
involvement with attractions and businesses around the world.
This is a fascinating story about one of the biggest names in
the UK's theme park industry.
23 November 2013
Oxfordshire's newest visitor
attraction - Fairytale Farm - is launching its first ever
Christmas event on weekends from 30 November to 15 December and
daily from 21 December to 24 December. Called 'Christmas
Fairytale', children will be able to meet Santa in his brand new
grotto and will receive a gift from Santa's Workshop. With lots
of activities (not to mention mulled wine and mince pies for
parents), it will be a magical day out for all the family.
The animal areas and adventure playground
will be open until dusk, then after dark the
Enchanted Walk will be illuminated, with
hundreds of twinkling lights, creating a
magical festive scene.
tickets are £4.95, plus normal admission,
and this includes Santa visit, gift,
Christmas cookie decorating plus the mince
pie and mulled wine for the parents.
Non-farm visitors can still meet Santa for
£7.50. The farm is located on the A44 just
outside Chipping Norton, and more details
are on our website: www.fairytalefarm.co.uk.
Click here for more information.
Click here to buy tickets online.
full story behind Britain's most famous theme park
23 November 2013
Two hundred years ago, a wealthy
earl began the transformation of a barren patch of land in rural
Staffordshire into the site of a stunning gothic mansion
surrounded by eye-wateringly beautiful gardens. Mocked and
ridiculed by his peers for his strange tastes and outlandish
ideas, he nevertheless succeeded in attracting people from far
and wide to come and marvel at his creations.
As well as documenting – for the
first time – the full and fascinating history of Alton
Towers, the new book
Tales from the
Towers by Nick Sim also explains exactly how the park’s
most popular rides – such as Nemesis, Oblivion and The Smiler –
were created. It even takes an in-depth look at rides that were
designed for the park but never built, enabling you to take a
voyage of discovery and imagine what might have been.
feature Battersea Funfair
21 November 2013
BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live will
feature an item about lost sites of London. One of the sites
featured will be Battersea Fun Fair. Discussing the long lost
amusement park will be author Travis Elborough, journalist John
McCarthy and author of a
on the Funfair, Nick Laister.
This episode of Saturday Live will
be broadcast at 9am this coming Saturday, 23 November.
Click here to
updated and reprinted
9 November 2013
DVDs journey through the history of two famous Disneyland rides
8 November 2013
Two new DVDs have been released
chronicling the history of two famous Disneyland rides. Theme
Parkology takes you on a journey throughout the
Tom Sawyer Island,
sharing with you the history that ranges from the characters of
Tom Sawyer to the antics of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Theme Parkology has also just
released the first of the new 'Forgotten Attraction' series
looking at Disneyland ’s
Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. This DVD covers
the historic telling of one of Disneyland’s vintage attractions.
We sell numerous other DVDs on
famous Disneyland rides, including
The Haunted Mansion,
The Jungle Cruise,
The Submarine Voyage
history of great amusement park
6 November 2013
Comprehensively documented and
Francisco's Playland at the Beach: The Golden Years by
James R Smith is the definitive and authoritative look at one of
America’s landmark amusement parks, Playland at the Beach, a
glamorous park that is still revered by San Franciscans more
than 40 years after it closed. A dearly loved part of old San
Francisco, the park incorporated rides, dining, sight-seeing,
socialization, and its pioneering attractions inspired the
designers of the amusement parks that followed. A companion
piece to San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach: The Early Years,
this keepsake covers the years 1945 to 1972.
The Southend our parents knew
12 October 2013
The back cover of this great new
DVD features a large photograph of the Southend Cyclone roller
coaster at the town's famous Kursaal amusement park. The Kursaal
was part of a Southend that has now largely slipped into distant
Southend Past: The Town
Our Parents Knew is a new DVD that takes a journey back
in time to visit the town as it used to be. From German air
raids to holidays on the beach, see the bygone years come back
to life, including: The visit of the Royal Navy in 1909, scenes
of town life from the 1900s to the 1960s, holidays by the pier,
Ecko electronics factory and Southend Airport in the 1960s.
This DVD is the latest in a
large selection of products available at Joyland Books that give
an insight into Southend's history. Other recommended items
include Southend Memories
Vol 1 and 2,
Southend and South Essex on
Film, By its Dome
it's Known and the book
The Haunted House of
22 September 2013
When the UK theme park Alton
Towers invested millions of pounds in their ground-breaking
Haunted House, a new era of dark rides was born. The spectacular
attraction amazed and spellbound theme park enthusiasts and dark
ride fans for many years, with its breath-taking illusions and
state-of-the-art technology. The original concept was retired in
2002 to make way for the interactive zombie blaster, Duel.
However, the Haunted House left a lasting impression on some of
those intrepid riders who braved the Poltergeist Room and were
scared witless by the Grand Hallway's grinning demon. Michael P
Eley was one of those riders. Through the pages of
Smoke and Mirrors: the Haunted House of Alton Towers,
Eley will guide you back into the darkness, offering
behind-the-scenes insights into the making of creator John
Wardley's 'laff in the dark' attraction, as well as serving up a
brief history of dark rides and haunted houses.
Adventures of a
22 September 2013
A new fairground storybook for
children has been released by Kay Townsend, author of many
popular fairground books such as
Townsends: A Showman's Story,
Fairgrounds at War,
of Dorchester and Their Steam and
at War. The book is called
Charlie and his Fairground Adventures and it is a set of
three lovely bedtime stories for children.
From the back cover: "Who is
Charlie Chaindrive? Charlie is a lorry that travelled around the
West Country fairgrounds and belonged to my grandfather, Richard
Townsend, who purchased him new in 1946. Underneath his chassis,
Charlie has two large chains which drive his rear wheels; hence
his name, Charlie Chaindrive. I used to ride in this lorry when
I was a little girl and now I'm taking Charlie on adventures, so
children will love him just the same as I did."
Drayton Manor founder dies
20 September 2013
George Bryan OBE, who with his
wife Vera founded Drayton Manor Theme Park in 1949, has died
William was famous for his penny arcade slot machines, and Vera
helped her father run his amusement park in Wokingham called
California in England.
When the couple took over
Drayton Manor in Tamworth, it was a crumbling ruin which had
formerly been the site of the ancestral home of the famous Peel
borrowed money to buy the derelict site that
had been used by the army during the war,
and began the task of reconstructing the 17
army huts, installing a few simple rides and
digging a kiddies’ boating pool, to open for
the first time in 1950.
Manor is home to some of the best rides in
the world, including Shockwave, Europe’s
only stand-up roller coaster; the G-Force
coaster with its special hip restraint;
StormForce 10, the UK’s fastest wet-knuckle
ride; and Apocalypse, the world’s first
stand-up tower drop.
Bryan's story of how he created and
developed Drayton Manor into the major theme
park it is today is told in a book:
Drayton Manor: George and Vera Bryan's
Memories of a Family Fun Park by Fred
Bromwich, which is
available from Joyland Books.
development for West Midland Safari Park
18 September 2013
The Express & Star newspaper is
reporting that plans for a new £20m water park, hotel and
conference centre at West Midland Safari Park has moved a step
closer this week, with the planning brief for the site being
approved by Wyre Forest District Council yesterday.
impression of part of the proposed
250-bedroom safari hotel.
Councillor John Campion said it was a
"framework to deliver jobs and growth" in
the district. We want it to be a roaring
success”. He added – with a light-hearted
reference to the amusement park section of
the safari park – that it had been a
"rollercoaster" ride to reach the stage of
having a masterplan for the future of the
supports hundreds of jobs and millions of
pounds of investment,” he added.
director at Planning Consultancy RPS, Nick
Laister, who produced the brief on behalf of
the park, said: “We are delighted to be
taking the next step in this major project.
We look forward to being able to submit a
planning application for the project later
this year.” Read more about the development
here and about councillors' comments
Autobiography of the man who brought the theme park to Britain
15 September 2013
Our featured book is
Creating my own
Nemesis by John Wardley, the autobiography of the man
who designed Alton Towers' big rides and brought the theme park
to Britain, now available at a £3 discount from Joyland Books.
John was instrumental in the
master planning and detailed design of Chessington World of
Adventures in Surrey, the considerable success of which led to
its owners, the Tussauds Group, subsequently acquiring Alton
Towers in Staffordshire. He was then involved in the Group's
major development program at this attraction, including famous
rides such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. He has subsequently
created award-winning rides and attractions for theme parks
around the world. Click
more details of this book, and
here for an article by John Wardley on themagiceye.
The greatest free show on
11 August 2013
Following her successful
book on the
history of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Professor Vanessa
Toulmin has produced a book celebrating 100 years of the
Illuminations: The Greatest Free Show On Earth is a
large, sumptuous book, packed full of beautiful colour
photographs and original artwork. It tells the full story of the
Illuminations, including sections on the switch-on ceremonies,
illuminated trams, designing the lights, and photos of various
features that have appeared in the Illuminations over the years.
For more information,
The Imagineers of Main
4 August 2013
The creator of themagiceye, Gary
Radice, has launched a brand new website called
The Nice Rooms.
This features a fascinating article called
The Imagineers of
Main Street, which takes a journey around the wonders of
one of Europe's most popular theme parks, Diseyland Paris.
Check out this website regularly
as there are some great articles on the way.
The Nice Rooms.
Rare seaside and
fairground books added
18 July 2013
Offer: Black Country cinemas and theatres
5 June 2013
Now available on Joyland books are
two companion books describing every
in the Black Country and South Staffordshire, written by Ned
Williams. Both books are large, hardback A4 titles, and Joyland
already sells them at £20, instead of the recommended retail
price of £25. But if you but both books together, we are
offering them at only £35, a saving of £15 off the cover price!
thrilling photographic ride
28 April 2013
by Thomas Crymes is one coaster enthusiast's photographic
journey across the USA in search of the next great thrill. From
Massachusetts to Florida, from New Jersey to California, this
book contains adrenaline-inducing images of more than 100
different roller coasters from 21 different parks in 12 states.
And for the adrenaline junky searching for that perfect ride,
this thrilling look at American coasters also covers nearly 40
featured coaster profiles complete with all the vitals and a
brief commentary. More...
22 April 2013
The autobiography of the man who
brought the theme park concept to Britain, and created some of
the world's most thrilling rides and attractions, has been
released. In Creating my own Nemesis: The autobiography of the man who designed Alton Towers big rides, and brought the Theme Park to Britain,
talks about his early beginnings in the
theatre, circus and magical cabaret, his time working on some of
the most incredible special effects in the James Bond films
(including the famous bus crash scene in Live and Let Die), and
how he became associated with Madame Tussauds, the world's most
famous wax museum. This led to the development of Chessington
World of Adventures, then Alton Towers. The book answers many
questions about how enormous theme park rides are conceived and
developed, and the fascinating stories behind them, including
his most famous ride "NEMESIS" at Alton Towers.
New book amusement
park book released
14 April 2013
It isn't every day that a brand
new book on the subject of amusement parks is released. Jim
Hillman's new book, simply called
captures the sights, smells and continuing vitality of a grand
Jones’s Woods, America’s first amusement resort, to Coney Island
during the golden age of the mid-1900s, and well beyond into the
twenty-first century, the thrills of the amusement park have
been a treasured part of childhood for Americans from coast to
coast. Though many of the country’s grand amusement treasures
have now vanished, and many other parks are struggling for
survival, their memory and legacy are very much alive: there
will be a fascination with these American classics as long as
the clatter of the old coaster cars and the thumping of the
carousel band organ remains.
Discount theme park tickets
24 March 2013
As Easter approaches, we have
Discount Theme Park Tickets page with some of the best
deals we can find. If visitors to the page know of any deals we
have missed, please contact us
and let us know so that we can share them.
The voice of
travelling fair people
18 March 2013
Despite a tide of interest in
travelling communities, there hasn't been a mainstream work
about showmen for 40 years.
For over 800 years, showpeople
have brought their rides and stalls to towns and villages across
the country: travelling fairs are as much part of England's
cultural history as steam trains and cricket on the village
Showmen: The Voice of Travelling Fair People by Sally
Festing brings the scene up to date with a book that explores
the place in modern Britain of a close-knit 17,000-strong band
battling to combine tradition with novelty. In an independent
personal exploration that enquires rather than romanticises,
these people speak for themselves about their values and pride
in their way of life. About the prejudice they encounter from
the larger society they both belong to, and are distinct from,
struggle with, and humour.
14 March 2013
One of the best books published on
the seaside is Peter Williams's colourful 2005 book
Seaside. Well after years of being out of print English
Heritage has produced an
updated second edition
of the book, and it is out now.
There is a powerful sense of place
at the seaside. Certain seaside towns have just about
everything: Weymouth, for example, has a grand parade of hotels,
a wide esplanade and a small fishing village. Blackpool has more
of everything - three piers, miles of hotels, the Tower, Winter
Gardens, trams, illuminations, pleasure beach - but no fishing
and no castle!
Peter Williams's evocative
photographs in this fully revised edition of his acclaimed book
will make you want to rediscover what a fantastic place the
seaside is - full of character, charm and 'Englishness'.
"Colourful": The English Seaside by Peter
John Wardley: From Bond
24 February 2013
Well known theme
park concept designer John Wardley has written an article for
themagiceye at Joyland,
the website that celebrates all that is great about amusement
park history. In
From Bond to Barry: Creating Uncle Frankenstein's Scream Machine,
John tells of how Barry Island Pleasure Park owner John Collins
asked a budding young special effects designer if he would be
interested in completely refurbishing an old Supercar
double-decker ghost train at the famous Welsh seaside park. John
remembers how the creation of a new spin on the dark ride
formula started his long and successful career in theme park
Where it all started. John Wardley's Scream
Machine dark ride at Barry Island. Photo:
Pennsylvania's Picnic Groves and Trolley
5 February 2013
During the past
two years, prolific writer for amusement park nostalgia website
themagiceye, Phil Gould, made a couple of US road trips through
Pennsylvania and New York State. The main reason for the jaunts
was to look at the amusement parks that still survive in
this region. While he did stop off at a few of the large
corporate theme parks his primary interest lay in finding the
old trolley parks and picnic groves that had
survived into the 21st century. Phil takes a
look at the amazing attractions on offer at
the parks in Pennsylvania.
Quintessential British piers
20 January 2013
author and broadcaster Chris Foote Wood
achieved a lifelong ambition - to visit
every seaside pier in England, Wales and the
Isle of Man - all 56 of them! This odyssey,
plus copious research, has provided the raw
material for his new book,
Walking over the Waves.
longest pier to the shortest, the oldest to
the youngest, the finest to the most
mundane, they are listed. "Each pier is
different, with its own individual
personality," Chris enthuses, "some piers
are still much as they were when they were
built in the Victorian and Edwardian eras,
while others are wholly given over to
entertainment and modern amusements. Most
are a mixture of the two".
through two world wars
12 January 2013
A new book has
just been published about Proctors Fairs.
Written by Albert Proctor, father of current
proprietor of Proctors Fun Fairs John
Proctors Fairs Through Two World Wars
tells the story of his life and the
fairground through the two World Wars and
Proctor family has been providing fun fairs, predominantly in
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, for over 100 years. The founder of
the business was John Albert Proctor, whose family were circus
entertainers. His son was Albert Proctor who, in the 1970s, wrote a
book about his life on the fairgrounds through the two world wars
and some of the hardships and tragedies that befell the family
during this time. This book is his story, as he wrote it.
Contrasting old and new
5 January 2013
obscurity just over 150 years ago, Blackpool
- Britain's best-known seaside resort -
nonetheless has an impressive record of
innovation, worlds firsts, development and
progress. The first British electric street
tramway opened here in 1885, whilst the
first electric street lamps were switched on
here, starting a tradition of lighting
displays that came to be the world-famous
Blackpool Illuminations. Opened in 1895,
Blackpool Tower was an instant success,
whilst the Pleasure Beach has passed its
centenary yet is still drawing visitors
Blackpool Then & Now by John Burke
is a delightful and nostalgic tour,
containing a wonderful collection of old
Blackpool postcards compared and contrasted
with modern day photographs.
Click here for more information or
here for an exclusive interview with the
New Disneyland DVD
30 December 2012
The latest in
the Themeparkology series of Disneyland DVDs
has been released,
Disneyland 1980-1989. This
documentary covers the history of Disneyland
as it continued to grow and change
throughout this colourful decade.
the Bovarian-style reconstruction that
Fantasyland underwent in 1983 and learn why
Bear Country was changed to Critter Country
in 1988. There were also several new
attractions such as Pinocchio's Daring
Journey, Splash Mountain, Star Tours and
minute documentary really captures the
essence of Walt Disney's magical theme park
through the eighties and will explore some
of the inventive parades through Main
Disneyland DVDs reduced!
30 December 2012
of the Caterpillar ride continues...
18 November 2012
from the fantastic first book
Greens for Caterpillars, the second
book on these memorable rides written by
Tommy Green covers the period from 1950
until 1976 when the last Caterpillar ride
As well as
details of the rides and the fairs the rides
Greens for Caterpillars Part Two
features copious details of the vehicles
used for transport, and the changing traffic
legislation which took place throughout the
period. There is also a section on the other
rides travelled by Greens, and the other
enterprises they operated in Lancashire and
Click here for details...
60 years of Danter's fun fairs
15 November 2012
(and in good time for Christmas!) is a brand
new book on the history of the Danter
family's fairground transport across 60
Danter’s Travels 1952 – 2012 by
Steve Perry is a pictorial history of the
transport of the Gloucestershire Showmen.
is close friends with the Danter family,
having met founder Billy Danter when he was
a boy. The family has run funfairs in
Gloucestershire since the 1940s.
photographs in the book trace the journey of
the family from 1952 to 2012, with pictures
donated from residents in Tewkesbury, the
family and personal photographs taken by the
author himself. The photographs were
collected over a three year period.
Camelot Theme Park
closed for good
3 November 2012
Evening Post is reporting that Camelot Theme
Park has closed for the last time, blaming
bad weather and the Olympics for a
"particularly challenging" 2012 season. The
park narrowly missed closure in 2009, when
owners Prime Resorts went into receivership,
but Knights Leisure (headed by former Prime
Resorts Chief Executive Roy Page) took a
lease on the site from owners Story Land and
were able to keep the park open.
Scenic Railway at Barry Island
27 October 2012
has pulled a fantastic article from the
archive for November.
Following Dave Page's summer visit to Barry
Island Pleasure Park in the September 2001
issue of TheGalloper.com to see one of the
park's newest rides, Nick Laister took a
trip back in time to look at the park's
biggest ever attraction: the much missed
The Beast of Barry: The legendary Scenic
Railway at Barry Island can be
New documentary on one of Disneyland's famous attractions
1 October 2012
Disney decided to build his magical theme
park in 1959 he wanted to build an
adventurous land, a land with a thatched
jungle filled with animals. The idea was
inspired by the success of Disney's 1948
television series, The True-Life Adventures,
which was a series of short documentary
films of live animals roaming about within
their natural habitat.
With the help
of landscape architect, Bill Evans, and
mechanical wonders, Bob Mattey and Bob Gurr,
the jungle came to life on the park's
The new DVD
Jungle Cruise, ventures through the
ideas and landscapes of Walt's man-made
fun-filled trip back in time through arcade history
22 September 2012
Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games
by Bill Kurtz is a fun-filled trip back in
time to the colourful arcades of the 1970s
and '80s. More than 600 photos present the
dot-munching PAC MAN, bomb-dropping SPACE
INVADERS, and other favourites.
comprehensive reference presents photos of
every popular video game manufactured, along
with some long-forgotten machines and even
some you've probably never heard of. You'll
also find information about the
manufacturers who produced these classic
games, a section about video game
collectibles, and information on how to
locate your favourite games and start your
coaster to be rebuilt at The BIG Sheep
25 August 2012
'New Roller Coaster', which operated for 20
years at the Metroland indoor amusement park
at the Metro Centre, Gateshead, until the
park closed in 2008, will be rebuilt at
Devon's popular visitor attraction The BIG
Sheep following the granting of planning
permission by North Devon District Council. The roller coaster, as yet unnamed,
will be Devon's tallest, and will be the
latest ride to be added to this rapidly
expanding adventure park. The BIG Sheep's
owner, Rick Turner, said it was expensive to
remove from Metroland: "We had to remove the
whole side of the centre to remove the
columns and track." No opening date has been
coaster operating at Metroland.
127 years of madness, sadness and scintillating thrills!
18 August 2012
Read about the
history of roller coasters down under in a
brand new book,
The Story of Australian Roller Coasters by
Edwin Dickinson. This is a
fascinating story that spans the late 19th,
20th and early 21st centuries.
understand that Joyland Books is the only
retailer that is currently importing this
book into the UK, and buy importing a number
of copies at once we are able to keep the
price as low as possible.
18 August 2012
compulsory purchase approved
17 August 2012
public inquiry, Thanet District Council has today received approval from
the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the
compulsory purchase of the Dreamland site.
Chair of The Dreamland Trust, Nick
Laister, said: “The Dreamland Trust is ready to make a
start on site and we hope to have Stage One of the project fully open by
Dreamland Trust plan to repair the Scenic
Amusement arcade treasures
15 August 2012
Arcade Treasures by Bill Kurtz is
now available at Joyland Books. This book is
filled with 447 colour photos of the
greatest games ever to hit the arcade scene
- the earliest arcades' strength testers and
fortune tellers, perennial favourites like
baseball games and SKEE-BALL, wild pinball
games from the middle of the century, and
modern electronic video game like PAC MAN
included are a section on novelty products,
a detailed discussion of the development of
different game trends, a history of
significant manufacturers and designers, and
a thorough price guide.
Click here for more details.
Alton Towers guidebook added to Secondhand Shop
11 August 2012
We have added
an extremely rare and very detailed 112-page 1986 guidebook
Official Guide & Souvenir, which provides a
detailed look at the Alton Towers of the
mid-1980s, with ride specifications, a tour
of the different areas within the park and
behind the scenes information.
Chapters include: Kiddies Kingdom; Alton Towers Today; Alton Towers in the Past; Nature Trails; Shopping; Eating; Live Entertainment; Exhibitions,
etc; Natural History; The 'Little' Rides and More; The Big Rides; Behind the Scenes; Cinemas;
Big rides featured are: Grand
Canyon Rapids; Log Flume and Dinosaurs; Four Man Bob; Ferris
Wheel; Octopus; Spider; Pirate Ship; Wave Swinger; 1001 Nights;
Enterprise; Black Hole; Corkscrew; Turbo Star.
At the back of the book is a
fold-out map of the park in 1986.
Click here for details.
Adventure site to be redeveloped
8 August 2012
Councillors at Derbyshire County
Council approved a masterplan for the redevelopment of the site
of the former American Adventure Theme Park last week.
The Council's preferred developer,
Waystone, has been working on the plans for nearly four years.
Waystone plan a major mixed use development incorporating a
hotel, retirement village, a variety of housing, light industry,
leisure and offices. The company denied rumours, fuelled by an
article on the
BBC News website at the end of July, that 500 homes are
planned for the 114-acre site.
that no details of the plan will be revealed
until a three to four-month consultation
with Amber Valley Borough Council was
completed. The company will then consult the
public on the plans before submitting a
planning application to Amber Valley Borough
Council later this year.
Fair vows to
continue after cable theft
5 August 2012
Operators of ‘The Worldwide
Travelling Theme Park Experience’, which is operating at The
Strand in Gillingham, Kent, have vowed to continue to open
today, following the overnight theft of all the electrical
cables that are used to connect the rides to their power source.
The theft was discovered when the
operators at the Kent coast entertainment complex arrived to
commence their daily pre-opening safety checks.
All the power leads to these
attractions, as well as domestic cables were cut in the night,
between the park’s closing for the night at 9PM and 8AM this
morning (Sunday 5th August).
The park has been popular with
families drawn from across Medway since the start of the school
holidays, as it is each summer, and the operators have vowed
that this setback will not prevent them from continuing to
entertain the public.
Therefore, a reward of £2,000
(two thousand pounds) has been offered for information leading
to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of the theft.
Coney Island: 40 Years
5 August 2012
Since 1970, when world-renowned
photographer Harvey Stein first turned his discerning eye toward
Coney Island, his love affair with this New York beachfront
amusement park began to grow. In
Coney Island: 40
Years by Harvey Stein, over 200 compelling black and
white photos tell the tale of his 40-year romance with this
iconic locale. Entering Coney Island through his lens is like
stepping into another culture, capturing the lives and times of
those who work and play there. There is a sense of adventure, a
thrilling escape from daily worries, and much pleasure, whether
riding the jarring Cyclone roller coaster, walking the
boardwalk, viewing the Mermaid Parade, or sunbathing on the
beach. Coney Island, America's first amusement park, is
to Cyclopark with Joyland Books
8 July 2012
Joyland Books has teamed up with
Kent's newest attraction - Cyclopark - to give you a
discount on entry for up to 5 people. This £8 million,
43-hectare facility near Gravesend opened in May this year and
includes road and BMX tracks plus mountain bike trails. Hailed
as Europe's largest cycle park, Cyclopark features a six-metre
wide, 2.9 kilometre road cycling circuit, a 340-metre BMX track,
6 kilometres of mountain bike trails, a cycle playground and
skate park all in landscaped grounds. It is a great family day
To claim your 15% discount,
off this voucher and take it with you to Cyclopark.
Joyland Forum update
8 July 2012
Books Forum has been given a new look. Everything should
operate the same as before, but please note that the Forum is
currently being tested and it is possible certain features will
not work at all times during this period. Our current tests show
that everything but the search function is working as normal,
but please contact us if you
find something is not working as it should.
If you have
not joined our forum yet, you can do so
here. To view the Forum,
New British book
on amusement park rides
4 July 2012
Rides by Martin Easdown is a brand new book outlining
the history of roller coasters and other amusement park rides.
From the first mass-produced rollercoaster, the Switchback
Railway, through to the giant wooden coasters of the inter-war
period, the author uses historic postcards and photographs to
chart their development and that of other amusement rides
including revolving towers, aerial rides, Ferris wheels and
water chutes, all of which were produced from the late Victorian
era in myriad forms. Essential to the very existence of such
amusement venues as Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Southend's Kursaal
and Margate's Dreamland, these much-loved rides are not so far
removed from their modern-day equivalents as they might at first
appear. Out on 10 July and available for pre-order now.
history of the British fairground and its people
28 June 2012
Since its first publication in
1986, Frances Brown’s
Fairfield Folk has been acknowledged as a fairground
classic. Secondhand copies now fetch high prices. Halsgrove has
just published an updated edition with new information and many
more photographs, bringing the story of the Matthews family
This book not
only traces the way of life of a travelling family, but charts
the changes and developments of the British fairground. It
should have wide appeal as it provides many personal insights
into the travelling community, and records the development of
their early rides such as the famous steam driven roundabout
filmed in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and Half-a-Sixpence.
Amusement parks from
the past on DVD
16 June 2012
Joyland Books presents a European
exclusive, with two DVDs both featuring compilations of historic films
showing some of America's favourite amusement parks as they were
in the past.
The Past Volume 1 and
contain scenes from many famous Amusement Parks, including
Denver's Elitch Gardens, Hershey Park, Dorney Park, Playland
Park, Palsades Park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Belmont Park
and New York's Coney Island. Features point of view film of
rides such as: Elitch's Wildcat and Mr Twister; the Silver Beach
Comet; the Hershey Park Comet; Santa Cruz Giant Dipper; Coney
Island's Cyclone, Thunderbolt and Tornado; and Euclid Beach's
Thriller, Flying Turns, Racing Coaster, Over the Falls and
Tumble Bug; and much more.
A journey with the Wall
6 June 2012
Inland parks: before
they were famous
27 May 2012
Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye launches a major new article this month. Inland Parks: Before They Were Famous, written by deputy editor of OK! Magazine Phil Gould, takes you back in time to the inland
amusement parks of the North West and Midlands. Read about Alton
Towers and Drayton Manor before they became
nationally famous, when they featured small amusement parks. Find out about the small amusement park at Trentham Gardens and its Alton Towers connection. And remember long
lost inland parks Pickmere Lake and Belle Vue, forever consigned to the 'where are they now'? label. A truly fascinating read, which covers a previously overlooked area of amusement park history. Read on...
theme park tickets page re-launched
23 May 2012
We have re-launched our Discount Theme Park Tickets page.
Joyland Books constantly searches for the best deals on theme park tickets, whether they be discount vouchers or cheap online tickets. We put the best offers and deals we can find on this page and we keep it updated.
Some of the best offers we have tracked down include almost 38% off tickets to Camelot Theme Park, up to 40% off two-day tickets to Thorpe Park and over 20% off two-ay tickets to Alton Towers. Click here for more deals.
The Story of Alton Towers
7 May 2012
Hot on the heals of the re-release of Alton Towers Past & Present by Michael Fisher (see news item dated 15 April 2012 below), we now feature the re-release of a hugely popular Alton Towers DVD: The Story of Alton Towers.
The DVD has been re-released with a new cover and is available again. This was the first DVD to tell the story of the theme park, and was produced in association with Alton Towers. It includes archive film of the Brian Collins fairground of the 1950s, BBC archive footage of the construction of the Corkscrew, as well as extensive cine shots of the amusement park as it developed through the years. It also takes a ride on some of the park's most famous rides, and includes fascinating insights from those such as roller coaster guru John Wardley. More...
Alton Towers Past &
15 April 2012
Alton Towers Past & Present by Michael Fisher has been out of stock for some time but we have tracked down a large supply of new copies and have made them available again. We cannot guarantee how long this title book will remain available as the original publishers have ceased trading.
Reputed to have been the largest
privately-owned house in Europe, Alton Towers is now known to
millions as the picturesque backdrop to one of Europe's most popular
theme parks. Researched from original sources and complemented with
nineteenth-century drawings and photographs, this book traces the
amazing history and development of this great Gothic-revival mansion
and its fabulous gardens, right up to the present day. More...
Story of well-known West Country show family published
15 April 2012
Author Kay Townsend says of her new book: "I am often told stories from the past and one of these I would like to share with you. The Herberts of Dorchester are a well-known West Country show family".
"They started with horses, progressed to steam haulage and brought up sixteen children along the way! Jack Herbert, a well-respected showman, transported his rides and snake show, experiencing many extraordinary incidents which came with owning traction engines."
Townsend describes her new book, The Herberts of Dorchester and their Steam, as "a delve into the past". More...
By the dome it's known
1 April 2012
The Kursaal at Southend-on-Sea was the largest amusement park in
the south throughout much of the twentieth century. Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye has dug deep into the archives again and has found a gem of an article. Local Southend historian
Ken Crowe tells us a little about this great place in an article called By the Dome it's Known.
Once you have read the article, visit themagiceye's Kursaal photo gallery, and then top it off with a read of Ken Crowe's great 2003 book, Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park.
Chine and Robin Hill change owners
31 March 2012
Simon Dabell, Managing Director of Blackgang Chine fantasy theme park and Robin Hill Adventure Park on the Isle of Wight is stepping down as the ownership of the parks move to a different part of the family. Simon Dabell's cousin, Alec Dabell, will take over as MD. Alec is the son of retiring chairman Dick Dabell (87), and returned to the business last year. There has been no announcement yet on whether the change in ownership and control will mean changes at the popular theme parks. Blackgang Chine was established as an attraction by the Dabell family in 1843 and is often described as the world's first theme park.
amusement park figures die
28 March 2012
Two of the UK's most well-known amusement park figures died last night. Jimmy Jones MBE, owner and former managing director of Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, died on Tuesday night. He was in charge of the Pleasure Beach from 1975 to 1992, after which he handed over to his son Albert, but took a close interest in the park right to the end.
The former owner of Dreamland Margate, Jimmy Godden, also died last night following a long battle with cancer. In addition to Dreamland, he also previously owned Dymchurch's MW's, Folkestone's Rotunda Amusement Park and Ramsgate's Pleasurama Amusement Park. Only MW's continues to operate, under new ownership.
Above: Amusement park legend Jimmy Jones MBE
A journey through liquid
11 March 2012
In 1959 Walt Disney expanded his Disneyland Park with three new attractions: the Alweg Monorail, the Matterhorn Bobsled and the Submarine Voyage.
The Submarine Voyage was a journey through the underwater depths of the Disneyland Lagoon, which gave guests a rare look into the world of the dark abyss. It ventured alongside many wondrous sea life, discovered lost treasure, witnessed the lost city of Atlantis and even came face to face with a sea serpent.
The underwater attraction closed in 1998, and a new DVD The Submarine Voyage explores the history of one of the world's most loved and missed attractions. More...
A Few Useful People for the Ghost Business
14 February 2012
Randall Williams was born in Liverpool in 1846. His career as a showman began with a small magic act, but he was soon doing well enough that in 1873 (when he was just 27) he was able to start his own ghost illusion show. That was a type of stage show that combined theatrical representations with the optical effect known as 'Pepper's Ghost.'
Randall toured with his 'Great Ghost Show' for more than 25 years. It was part ghost illusion theatre, part variety show, and was just the type of light entertainment that appealed to working class audiences. Randall was also one of the first travelling showmen to exhibit films in his show.
The highlight of his career, however, was when he was
invited by the famous showman-entrepreneur, Imre Kiralfy, to
exhibit his show at the Victorian Era Exhibition at Earl's
Court in London in the summer of 1897. Randall's "original
Pepper's Ghost" thrilled audiences the entire summer and led
to him becoming known as 'The King of Showmen.'
for more details of a brand new book on the story of this
The life and
legend of Wall of Death pioneer
5 February 2012
In 2008, 80 years of the Wall of Death was celebrated in Boxford, Suffolk, the home town of George William Smith. Tornado Smith, as he was famously known, was the son of the landlord of the White Hart public house in the village. He is now a big part of local legend and has been acknowledged by the British motorcycle industry as the first Englishman to perform the spectacular and highly dangerous form of entertainment, the Wall of Death, in this country - at the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend. The DVD Tornado Smith: The Wall of Death Pioneer films the celebration weekend and looks at the life and legend of Tornado Smith. It includes interviews with Neil Calladine, Alan Ford and members of the Smith family. With film and photo archive from the 1930s the DVD looks back in time to see why Tornado Smith is remembered with such affection as the British Wall of Death Pioneer. More...
To tie in with this DVD, amusement park nostalgia website
a visit to the Ken Fox Wall of Death at Carter's Steam Fair
in 2004 in an article called
Butlin's: 75 Years of
7 January 2012
After successfully developing a series of funfairs, Billy Butlin progressed to opening holiday centres and hotels across the UK to provide families with an inexpensive but entertaining holiday. Over the years these centres first expanded and then declined in number due to changes in our preferences for types of holiday.
The new book Butlin's: 75 Years of Seaside Fun! by Sylvia Endacott and Shirley
Lewis illustrates the history of the various camps and hotels, including all of the things we associate with this most British of establishments. From Redcoats to amusement parks, and from the Glamorous Grandmothers competitions to National Talent contests, this book provides an enjoyable and nostalgic trip down memory lane for all who know and love Butlin’s. More...
Voices from the Fairground
7 January 2012
A completely new version of the 2005 book Voices from the Fairground by the Laisterdyke Local History Group has just been published. The book is based on extensive interviews with showpeople and offers some fascinating insights into fairground lives and livelihoods. Several 'voices' are heard, including that of Jimmy Williams, who travelled the Yorkshire fairgrounds as a boy, and later set up a successful one-man business making "targets for shooters" and miniature fairground organs. We also hear from John Hale, who ran fairs in the Bradford area, and from his sister who provides a woman's eye view of fairground life. Dennis Dibb writes about "the lure of the fairground", to which he succumbed as a young boy; and Arthur Spence describes how his parents sold brandy snap while he and his brothers lived with friends so that they could get a better education. There are many more photographs to accompany the text and and "lure of the fairground" is eloquently expressed throughout the book. More...
The rides of
Orton & Spooner
18 December 2011
Spooner was one of Britain's greatest amusement ride
manufacturers, formed following the amalgamation of two
separate firms in 1925. Orton's produced numerous rides,
from early switchbacks and bioscopes to ark/speedways,
ghost trains, even roller coasters.
In a new
The Rides of Orton & Spooner, amusement park and
rides nostalgia website
themagiceye takes visitors on a tour of
some of the most popular rides produced by the company.
Click here to view...
Dreamland Remembered reduced
23 November 2011
It was announced yesterday that Dreamland Margate has received a grant of £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This completes the funding necessary to build the first phase of the proposed amusement park of historic rides at Dreamland, which will cost £10.4m in total. Work has already started on the Cinema building and work on the park itself should start next year.
To celebrate we have reduced the book Dreamland Remembered by Nick Evans to only £11.99, a saving of £4.00 off the recommended retail price. This edition of Dreamland
Remembered, updated and expanded to celebrate the park’s 90th
anniversary, contains a nostalgic collection of nearly 250
illustrations from its earliest days to the latest ideas to create a
heritage theme park. Click here for more details.
Dreamland Remembered 90th Anniversary Edition
Tale of a
13 November 2011
Venture through one of Disneyland's most popular attractions, The Haunted Mansion, in a brand new DVD. The Haunted Mansion documents the beginning of the manor, telling the stories, the rumours and sharing the spectacular art work from the Disney team. Narrated by Bryan Simmons, and featuring interviews with Disney legend Bob Gurr and doombuggies.com creator Jeff Baham.
This fantastic DVD also includes a bonus feature with up and coming voice over actor, Raymond Macias, who lends his vocals to introduce various characters within the Haunted Mansion.
You don't want to miss this spooktacular disc. Details here...
Historic Tale of Universal Studios Released
23 October 2011
Our friends at Theme Parkology have just released The Historic Tale of Universal Studios, a brand new DVD. Learn how an empty property became one of the world's most loved theme parks, featuring a rare interview with imagineer, Bob Gurr, as he talks about his work on the Conan and King Kong attraction.
Now you can relive the history of Universal Studios in this 60 minute DVD that shares photos and footages of many of the attractions and exhibits. See how the lot blossomed since its opening day in 1912, visit the first GlamorTram in 1962 and journey through the lot, visiting such legendary props and special effect exhibits as the Bates Mansion, the Flash Flood, the Parting of the Sea and the Runaway Train, to name a few. More...
Dark rides of
the north west
2 October 2011
In the build-up to Halloween, amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye features a unique look back at the dark rides of the north west coastal resorts. The article, by Liverpool resident Tony O'Keeffe, looks at rides - many now long gone - in Blackpool, Morecambe, Southport, New Brighton and Rhyl. It covers ghost trains, river caves and all other forms of dark rides operating in parks such as the Tower Pleasure Grounds in New Brighton and Southport's Pleasureland. Click here to the read the article.
amusement park owner dies
30 September 2011
Harold Robinson, the former owner of the Ocean Beach amusement park in Rhyl has died at the age of 69. Mr Robinson arrived at Rhyl at the age of 10 with his parents' family rides at Ocean Beach Fun Fair in Rhyl. He would eventually take over from his parents, operating rides such as the Bumper Boats and Go-Karts. His big break came in 1997, when Ocean beach's owners, First Leisure (which also owned and operated Blackpool Tower at the time) decided to put the amusement park up for sale. Mr Robinson, alog with his brothers and a business partner, bought the park. They ran the park for 10 years, after which they sold it to a developer for redevelopment. Mr Robinson donated the remains of the Water Chute to the The Dreamland Trust in Margate.
of the Rotunda Amusement Park, Folkestone
10 September 2011
**Please note that
this limited edition book has now sold out - sorry for any
The Rotunda Amusement Park, Folkestone, is one of a number of seaside amusement parks - see also Dreamland in Margate; Frontierland in Morecambe; Pleasureland in Southport and Spanish City in Whitley Bay - that have sadly closed in recent years.
When the local history writing partnership of Martin Easdown and Linda Sage - authors of Mr Warwick's Revolving Towers - began in 1996, the Rotunda was one of Folkestone's seaside attractions that they were particularly interested in and they took a number of photographs in 1998 and 2002. The site of the Rotunda has now been levelled in preparation for residential and leisure development. The authors hope that the new limited edition book of only 69 copies, The Demise of the Rotunda Amusement Park, will serve as a record of its final years.
winds of change: Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the 1960s
1 September 2011
Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye has dug deep into the archives this month for an atmospheric article on Blackpool's Pleasure Beach in the 1960s. The park was just entering a further period of major change and was a very different place to the Pleasure Beach of today.
The article, which first appeared on thegalloper.com in January 2003, is available to view by clicking here.
father of Pinder's Circus
27 August 2011
A limited edition book has been released on the subject of Thomas Ord, known as Scotland's greatest equestrian and the founding father of Pinder's Circus.
Thomas Ord: Circus Proprietor by Stuart McMillan is about the son of a minister who ran away and joined a circus. By around 1804 he had his own travelling circus. Although he built wooden circus buildings in Biggar, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Preston, Whitehaven, and Wick he was known by everyone in Scotland for his open-air shows. These shows he prepared by lifting the turfs of grass in a circle which were piled up around the diameter forming a circular bank of turfs. These were known as 'Ord's Rings' and could be seen all over Scotland in towns and villages. More...
Back by popular
24 August 2011
Out of print for a number of years, but now reprinted with new photographs, more pages and in hardback. Townsends: A Showman's Story by Kay Townsend is
the fascinating story of the Townsend family.
Richard Townsend & Sons were West
Country showmen and this book is about how their life evolved and
how a young man called Richard met a young lady called Kate Forse,
and their struggle to build a business through two World Wars and
It also includes details and images of their
Click here for details.
20 August 2011
A brand new book detailing the histories of the Warwick Revolving Towers at Great Yarmouth, Morecambe, Scarborough, Southend-on-Sea, Douglas and Cleethorpes has been released.
At 72 pages, Mr Warwick's Revolving Towers by Martin Easdown and Linda Sage includes many illustrations and is a limited edition of only 200.
The first tower at Great Yarmouth in 1897 was constructed by Jessop and Appleby of Leicester, which also built the one at Southend the following year. Thomas Walker built the towers at Scarborough and Morecambe in 1898, and at Douglas the following year. More...
9 July 2011
The magic of the circus has for many years been captured in the bold, brilliant posters that were plastered all over a town to let everybody know the circus was coming to town.
Circus Posters is a brand new CD-ROM, imported from the USA. This magical collection of circus posters also covers the Wild West Shows, World Circus and over 250 high resolution graphics for the circus fan. Plus 376 pages of sideshow freaks and more. Click here for more details.
2 July 2011
2008, Joyland Books' exclusive amusment park nostalgia website themagiceye copied an obituary on amusement park pioneer Karl Bacon, co-founder of famous roller coaster builder Arrow, and posted it on a web forum. themagiceye wasn't expecting the reply it got from one reader -
Carolyn Anderson Moyer - who quite rightly took umbrage with some of
its accuracy. Carolyn just happens to be the daughter of Arrow co-founder Angus Anderson, and has now provided themagiceye with the real truth behind the birth of the most influential roller coaster company in history. Read on...
January to June
January to June
July to December
January to June
July to December
January to June
July to December
January to June
July to December
January to June
July to December
January to June
July to December
January to June
January to June July
January to June July
January to June July
January to December
Search Joyland Books