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Meet Santa at Oxfordshire's Fairytale Farm
23
November 2014

Santa is returning to Oxfordshire's Fairytale Farm this Christmas at weekends from 6 December to 21 December and then daily from 22 December to 24 December.

At our 'Christmas Fairytale', children can meet Santa in his indoor fairytale Grotto and receive a present, join in with various Christmas activities, enjoy all the usual Fairytale Farm attractions and see our magical Christmas lights, which are bigger and better this year.


Owner Nick Laister says that it will be a Christmas event with a difference: "The feedback from our first Christmas event last year was so good that we will be doing it again this year, but even bigger and better. We have designed and built a grotto with a difference, that will appeal to adults as well as children, and all the Christmas activities from last year, including Christmas cookie decorating, mulled wine and mince pies, will return. Our spectacular Christmas lights are back again this year, with the Enchanted Walk and other parts of the farm illuminated from dusk with lots of new seasonal additions that will delight visitors."

The animal areas and adventure playground will be open until dusk, after which  we switch on our Christmas lights, creating a wonderland of colour. This will be a truly magical event which will create special memories.

Grotto 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.

Enter the great seaside amusement park poll
22
November 2014

Which is the UK's best seaside amusement park of the past or present? Cast your vote here.

New roller coaster proposed for Scarborough sea front
10 November 2014

Scarborough Borough Council has announced that the proposed bidder for the redevelopment of the site of the Futurist theatre on Scarborough's seafront is Flamingo Land theme park.

Flamingo Land is the largest visitor attraction in Yorkshire, which attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. The theme park is partnering with established Leeds based property and construction company, GMI Estates, to progress the project.


The development will be a "premium visitor attraction" showcasing and displaying three distinct environments consisting of ‘subterranean, on the coastline and sky’. Key elements of the attraction would include: iconic glass roofed botanical gardens, a high octane, adrenaline fuelled roller coaster, a 55 metre iconic lighthouse structure and Space Shot Tower, which propels customers 55 metres into the sky, an elevated sea view bar, restaurant and function space, a walk through aviary and a new town square for Scarborough.

Nightmare Farm: The Fairytale is Over!
10 October 2014

Fairytale Farm near Chipping Norton will be turning down the lights and switching on the scares with a special Halloween event aimed at older children and adults. The event is called Nightmare Farm and sees the fairytale come to an end when the Enchanted Walk is turned into a giant outdoor horror maze with live actors prowling around with only one thing on their mind: to terrify visitors!

Owner Nick Laister explains: "We held our first Halloween event last year and the feedback was so good that we are going to do it again, but bigger and better and with more scares. Visitors will be taken on a late-night adventure as an old monk guides people through the most haunted part of the site to safety - we hope! In the horror maze they will meet a possessed flower seller, some horrible scarecrows, vampires, zombies, a not very friendly circus clown plus a gardener from the 17th Century who has an unpleasant use for his spade. Plus some surprises. We challenge people to make it from one end of the Enchanted Walk to the other without screaming. Nobody has done it yet."
 


Nightmare Farm: From 6.30pm on 31st October and 1st/2nd November 2014.

The walks will be taking place approximately every 20 minutes between 6.30pm and 10pm on three evenings from 31st October to 2nd November. Click here for the poster and here for more information.

Demolition of Barry Island's Haunted Goldmine commences
30
September 2014

Demolition of Barry Island Pleasure Park's legendary Haunted Goldmine ride (formerly the Wacky Goldmine) has commenced this week. The front of the ride has reportedly now been removed, with the remainder of the ride to follow. The ride's construction utilised timber from the former Scenic Railway roller coaster which previously stood on the site. The ride has been standing but not operating for several years.

Read more about the Goldmine at themagiceye here, here, here, here, here and here!


The Haunted Goldmine pictured in 2010.

A Tale of a Twist: Barry Island Pleasure Park
14
September 2014

Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye @ Joyland Books, has launched a brand new exclusive article today, A Tale of a Twist: Barry Island Pleasure Park. In this fantastic journey behind the scenes, ride operator Heather Spierling tells the story of 1975's new arrival at the popular South Wales amusement park - the Twist. At first treated with suspicion, the ride would become her 'baby'. Read on...

At the end of the article we have links to other articles on the Pleasure Park.

Vintage Blackpool Illuminations light up in Oxfordshire
6 September 2014

A collection of restored former illuminated features from Blackpool's famous Illuminations are to be relit tonight at Oxfordshire's Fairytale Farm and will be shining every Saturday and Sunday evening until the end of October. The illuminated features, which will be familiar to those who have driven along the 6-mile Lancashire display over the past few decades, include the Sea Creatures, The Extinct Band, Film and Camera, Party Poppers (from the Blackpool Millennium display) and Light Fountains, plus an unrecogniseable section of the Doctor Who display converted into a fountain! More here...


General view of the ex-Blackpool lights. Click on image for a larger version.

Amusement park owner dies
25 August
2014

The death has been announced of William Knightly, who developed Knightly's Fun Park in Towyn, North Wales, from a small collection of rides to a major family entertainment centre. Mr Knightly, 70, was also a councillor at Conwy Council, had been suffering from motor neurone disease for some time. Knightly's has been a feature of this north Wales seaside resort since the 1970s, and Mr Knightly had operated it for 45 years.

Blackpool's Seaside Heritage
12 August
2014

Painstaking research across two years has preceded the publication of Blackpool's Seaside Heritage by Allan Brodie and Matthew Whitfield. This book looks at the history of the town's most famous buildings and other structures, including the Pleasure Beach, Tower, piers and the amusement centres along the Golden Mile. The book is packed with colour photographs and archive material, and also looks at some of the less celebrated (but no less interesting) buildings, including the town's first amusement park, Raikes Hall. The authors told the Blackpool Gazette:

“...there is nothing else like the Pleasure Beach in the world. There are more historic rides in America than in Britain, but Blackpool has six which date to before 1939, and nowhere else has that many in one area. And these rides are still popular today. It’s remarkable that rides built for people in the early 20th century are still in use today.”


Click here for more information on this new book, which is reduced from 14.99 to 10.99.

Setting the record straight: Cooke's Circus
11 August
2014

Cooke's Circus appears in many circus histories, often retelling the same story which was printed in the scarce booklet by Harry S Lumsden called Cooke's Royal Circus, or the even scarcer reprint called Life and Times of John Henry Cooke, which was sold at the circus in 1897. When the Cooke family of performers got too big, some of the sons took out their own circus with their own families. This meant that there could be up to four Cooke's Circuses touring Britain at one time. Often newspapers recorded a show at Cooke's Circus without mentioning which one, or often talked about Mr Cooke without saying which Mr Cooke. Because of this, many errors have been made in circus books. A new book has been published called Cooke's: Britain's Greatest Circus Dynasty by Stuart McMillan, which puts the record straight. More...

New guide to every British pier published
10 August
2014

Published to mark the bicentenary of the opening of the first public pier in 1814, at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, the new book British Seaside Piers by Anthony Wills and Tim Phillips is a complete gazetteer of all piers which the public can visit around the coast of Britain with details of their location, history and current operations, and a variety of historical and contemporary illustrations. Whether your summer invariably includes visits to the coast or you enjoy the vicarious pleasure of the seaside from a winter armchair, this book is an essential companion for all who admire and value Britain's rich seaside heritage. More...

Fantasy Island goes into administration
5 August
2014

News sources are reporting today that the Fantasy Island resort at Ingoldmells, near Skegness, has gone into administration. Fantasy Island is one of the largest amusement parks on the east coast of England, and features major roller coasters such as the Millennium and the Odyssey. The park was set up by Blue Anchor Leisure in the 1990s, but was sold to Conduit Skegness Ltd in recent years. Read more at ITV News, BBC News, Lincolnshire Echo and the Skegness Standard.

Vintage circus attraction opens at Fairytale Farm
19
July 2014

Travelling 'Mouse Towns' were popular on the travelling fairs and circus in the last century. Mouse-towns were living landscapes - houses, workplaces, recreation, infrastructure - with mice running freely and within various wheels and devices, presented as colourful sideshows. Fairytale Farm in Oxfordshire has opened a permanent Mouse Town attraction in a disused stable, featuring a quaint, beautifully-crafted town with a large family of mice going about their daily business. More...

Blackpool Pleasure Beach voted the UK's best theme park
15
July 2014

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, billed as Britain's most ride-intensive amusement park, has been voted the best theme park in Britain by TripAdvisor in its Travellers' Choice Awards. This is compiled by TripAdvisor based on millions of reviews and is considered to be the most accurate industry awards, being based primarily on customer satisfaction.

TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said: "Blackpool Pleasure Beach is not just the country's best-rated amusement park, it is also one of the cheapest for a family day out among the UK top 10, proving that great value often trumps bigger rides in the eyes of consumers."

Paultons Park came second in the poll with Alton Towers third. Other featured parks include Drayton Manor (4), Thorpe Park (5) and Southend's Adventure Island (10).

Blackpool Pleasure Beach opened in 1896 and has regularly been listed as one of the most visited attractions in the UK, featuring 10 roller coasters and the world's biggest dark ride, Valhalla. It also features a range of big shows, numerous restaurants, retailing and the UK's only Nickelodeon Land. The park has recently invested millions of pounds in improvements, which has resulted in spectacular customer satisfaction ratings on TripAdvisor, making it the now UK market leader. Reported in The Mirror, The Daily Mail and ITV.com.

80m investment at West Midland Safari Park
6 July 2014

West Midland Safari Park near Bewdley in Worcestershire has announced an 80m investment into the park, which will see the development of an indoor water park, hotel and conference centre, creating 500 jobs. This will be the biggest transformation of the park since it opened in the 1970s. Plans will be on display at the Safari Park on Tuesday 8th July from 11am to 8pm.

Photographs of the development appear on the Express and Star website.

Click here for 10/7/2014 update


View of proposed water slides at West Midland Safari Park

All about dodgems
3 June 2014

You have all bumped your way around the dodgem track, now a new book reveals what was happening behind the laughter. With details of manufacture from the very men who put them together, the new book Dodgems by Kay Townsend is the untold story of this popular fairground ride.

Did you know the dodgems have been with us for over 80 years? But where did they come from? Who made them? What makes them stop and what makes them go? This book takes you on a trip down memory lane and tells how this ride developed and how they work. With chapters covering the origin of the ride, the different British manufacturers and dodgem transport, this book is a step back in time. More...

Dreamland Expo opens
25 May 2014

At 2pm today the Dreamland Trust opened Dreamland Expo, the brand new visitor centre telling the story of Dreamland and giving a taste of things to come when the park reopens next year. Dreamland chair Nick Laister said a few words to the crowd and company secretary Susan Marsh cut the ribbon. People flooded into the former amusement arcade in their hundreds and feedback was very positive.

To celebrate the opening of the Expo, Nick Evans has updated his highly successful Dreamland book Dreamland Remembered, with 40 new photographs and brought it up to date with the present plans for reopening Britain's first amusement park of historic rides. The new book is called Dreamland Revived: The story of Margate's famous amusement park and it is available from Joyland Books at a discounted price. Click here for more...


Above: The cover of Dreamland Revived

Exclusive birthday party packages at Fairytale Farm
20
January 2014

Hold your birthday party at Fairytale Farm in January, February or March whilst the park is closed to the public, and the entire farm is yours for the duration of the party. And we won't book another party at the same time as yours - so you won't need to share with anybody else!

Each party package includes: exclusive use of Fairytale Farm for two and a half hours; your own party host; all food provided; goody bag for all party guests; free bag of animal feed for each child (daylight hours only); party invitations; birthday card for birthday child with 5 gift voucher to use in Fairytale Farm shop; one adult free with every full paying child; and a free return visit for every child. More...

Modern-day fairground transport images
19 January 2014

Pull On - Today's Showmen's Transport is a new fairground transport book by Dan Grantham, published by the Fairground Society.

The book includes 80 full page colour photographs of modern day fairground transport, as the packed up rides arrive at their destinations around England.

The book features photos by Dan Grantham, Tim Holmes, Ian Cant, Mike Hart, Mick Wells, Ant Williams and Steve Barton. More...

Fairytale Farm to reopen for 2014 earlier than planned
2 January 2014

Due to popular demand, Fairytale Farm is reopening earlier than planned in 2014. The farm will be reopen on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from 21 January, throughout January, February and March 2014. Owner Nick Laister says that this is due to demand from visitors:
"Fairytale Farm was opened by the Prime Minister in June last year and we have been really taken by surprise by its popularity, with visitor numbers far exceeding expectations. Visitors are telling us that they would like to be able to visit the farm throughout the winter, and lots of people have been turning up at the farm to find us closed. We have therefore decided to pilot winter openings through to the end of March, when we will be opening on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. All the attractions will be open as normal, and our land drains very well so we will not have any issues with standing water or significant mud. We believe it will be a great winter day out."

The Enchanted Walk, Huff & Puff Adventure Playground and Alfie & Friends Animal Zone will all be open, as will the cafe, shop and indoor play room. More at www.fairytalefarm.co.uk.

A life on the fairgrounds
24 December 2013

An 82-year-old Sheringham resident has fulfilled a childhood dream by writing a book of her life on the fairground that she lived between the 1930s and 1970s.

Louisa Prestney, author of Louisa's Fairground Life, was born in a caravan at Mitcham Fair, and spent the next 40 years on the travelling fair. Written for her children and grandchildren, it charts her life travelling the fairgrounds of Surrey, Sussex and Essex, including London, Brighton, Weybridge and Canvey Island.

The family ran sideshows throughout the summer months, but that provided insufficient income through the winter months, meaning that the family had to make a living out on the roads. They later travelled a chairoplanes ride. More...

A guide to Florida's major theme parks
15 December 2013

Alex Miller is the author of several books, including California Theme Parks. He works for The Walt Disney Company in Glendale, California, is a life-long amusement park enthusiast and rides roller coasters across the world with his wife, Caroline.

His latest book, Florida Theme Parks: A Guide, takes you on a colourful tour of several theme parks, some well known, others less well-known. Alex covers everything from the big hitters such as Disney, Universal and Sea World to much smaller, lesser-known parks such as Fun Spot USA, Zoomers Amusement Park and Silver Springs. The book provides an independently written description of each park and loads of glossy, colour photographs, which really give you a flavour of the park. More...

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. But Serendipity 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. More...

'Christmas Fairytale' event announced
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.

Grotto 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.

The 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. More...

Documentary to 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 forthcoming book on the Funfair, Nick Laister.

This episode of Saturday Live will be broadcast at 9am this coming Saturday, 23 November. Click here to listen online.

Gallopers survey updated and reprinted
9 November 2013

The Gallopers Project was originally launched by the Fairground Association of Great Britain in 1978 by Michael Smith, who was then editor of their journal, Century of Tobers. It was first published in booklet form in 1990 and reprinted in 1998.

This latest edition of Gallopers: A Survey of Surviving Sets of Galloping Horses includes further research carried out by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith and is being produced with the blessing of the FAGB to help raise funds for the Fairground Heritage Trust. Click here for details...

Those with an interest in gallopers should also have a look at John Carter's Jubilee Steam Gallopers and Carousel Horses: A Photographic Celebration.

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 and Fantasyland.

Definitive history of great amusement park
6 November 2013

Comprehensively documented and illustrated, San 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. More...

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 memory.

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 Kursaal Memories.

The Haunted House of Alton Towers
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. More...

Adventures of a fairground lorry
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, The Herberts of Dorchester and Their Steam and Showmen's Engines 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." More...


Book cover

Drayton Manor founder dies
20 September 2013

George Bryan OBE, who with his wife Vera founded Drayton Manor Theme Park in 1949, has died aged 93.

George’s father 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 dynasty.


 
George Bryan 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.

Now Drayton 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.

George 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.

20m 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.

Artist's impression of part of the proposed 250-bedroom safari hotel.
Council leader 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 attraction.

“It supports hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of investment,” he added.

Senior 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 here.

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 here for more details of this book, and here for an article by John Wardley on themagiceye.

The greatest free show on Earth
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 Blackpool Illuminations.

Blackpool 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, click here.

The Imagineers of Main Street
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

Three new secondhand books have been added to our Secondhand Shop, and all proceeds from the sale of these three books will go to the Fairytale Farm project, the UK's first visitor attraction designed around the needs of disabled children.

The first book is Blackpool Highlights by Steve Palmer, a very rare photographic book showing Blackpool through the years, published in 1987, and with some great photos of 'modern' Blackpool of the era.

The People's Palaces by Lynn F Pearson is another rare title, about the wonderful entertainment buildings that can be found around Britain's coasts. Finally, the 1989 edition of Historic Fairground Scenes by Michael E Ware is a much-loved title.

Special Offer: Black Country cinemas and theatres
5 June 2013

Now available on Joyland books are two companion books describing every cinema and theatre 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! More...
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A thrilling photographic ride
28 April 2013

American Coasters 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...

John Wardley autobiography released
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, John Wardley 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. More...

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 Amusement Parks, captures the sights, smells and continuing vitality of a grand American tradition.

From 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. More...

Discount theme park tickets
24 March 2013

As Easter approaches, we have updated our 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 green. 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. More...

The English Seaside
14 March 2013

One of the best books published on the seaside is Peter Williams's colourful 2005 book The English 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'. More...


"Colourful": The English Seaside by Peter Williams

John Wardley: From Bond to Barry
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 design. Read on...

Above: Where it all started. John Wardley's Scream Machine dark ride at Barry Island. Photo: Michael Smith

Pennsylvania's Picnic Groves and Trolley Parks
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. Read on...

Quintessential British piers
20 January 2013

In 2007, 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.

From the 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". More...

Proctors Fairs 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 Proctor, Proctors Fairs Through Two World Wars tells the story of his life and the fairground through the two World Wars and beyond.

The 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. More...

Contrasting old and new Blackpool
5 January 2013

Rising from 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 today.

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 author.

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