This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2000.
For the latest news, click here.

Two-Tier Ticketing to be Introduced at Alton Towers [21/12/00]

Following a successful trial run in the Summer of 2000, Alton Towers is to formally launch the X-Celerator Pass, to allow its more privileged visitors to eliminate queueing times. At peak times, queues for the park’s most popular rides can be up to two hours long. The Pass is effectively a more expensive entry ticket, allowing visitors to queue jump and walk straight onto a ride. The ticket will be 65 for adults and 35 for children, and will be limited to 30 per day. The park reopens on 31 March 2001, and the pass will be available for the entire season.

New Road to be Built on Spanish City Site [17/12/00]

Plans have now been released for the redevelopment of Spanish City Amusement Park, Whitley Bay. North Tyneside Council is consulting on two new options for the redevelopment of the 90-year-old fairground, which they purchased from its Jersey-based owner DFL last month for 3m. The amusement park site will either be used for housing and car parking or for a new school. However, the most significant element of both options is the construction of a sea front bypass road across the middle of the site, leaving the famous dome building isolated from the remainder of the former amusement park site. This is to allow the Promenade road in front of the dome to be pedestrianised.

In a separate development, however, it is now likely that amusements will return to Whitley Bay in the future, but not in the form of a permanent amusement park. Spanish City lessee, Keith Turner, is in talks with the Council to present an occasional travelling fair on the Links in front of the dome building. This is likely to take place at Easter and in the summer holidays. A separate web site has been set up to allow the public to comment on the Council's latest plans for the amusement park site. This can be found at

Frontierland Remembered: An Update [16/12/00]

More photographs of the remains of Frontierland Western Theme Park, Morecambe, and its Texas Tornado roller coaster, have been added to the popular Frontierland Remembered Exhibition. These photographs were taken in October 2000, and show that very little remained at the park. To go to the Virtual Exhibition Hall, click here.

The Frontierland Remembered Exhibition opened on 1 December 2000, and will run until 31 January 2001. The exhibition has been exceptionally well received, and the Joyland Books team is grateful for all the kind comments. To see what others have said about the Frontierland Remembered Exhibition, click here. Visitor numbers to this exhibition have already exceeded those of our previous exhibition, Gallopers at the Amusement Park, which ran from 1st to 30th September 2000, and was featured in the amusement industry trade paper, World's Fair. If you have ideas for future exhibitions, please email us.

Join the Success Story [16/12/00]

Joyland Books has updated its Trade page. We now invite authors and publishers of books on the subject of amusement parks, theme parks and fairgrounds to contact us and we can add new books into our popular on-line bookstore. Joyland Books is also shortly to launch advertising on its most popular pages. now has around 4,000 unique visitors per month, and many thousands more hits per month. To advertise on Joyland Books, please email us, and we would be pleased to discuss terms, including special introductory offers. Detailed page statistics are available on request.

Work Starts on the World's Biggest Suspended Looping Coaster [9/12/00]

Work has begun on the world's tallest and longest suspended looping roller coaster at Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells. The roller coaster represents a 28 million investment by the park's owners, Blue Anchor Leisure, the biggest ever investment in a single ride by a British theme park. The construction team is now entering into a massive programme of groundwork, which includes an archaeological investigation as the footers are installed. The ride, called Odyssey, is to be built by Vekoma, and is one of several major roller coasters due to open during the 2002 season. Thorpe Park is to open a 10-inversion coaster, which is expected to be called Atlantis. The ride will be built by Intamin. Whilst Alton Towers plans a world's first 'flying coaster' ride (code-named "SW5"), built by top coaster manufacturer B&M. This has not been formally announced, but sources suggest that the ride will be located next to Nemesis, on the site of the former New Beast coaster, and will feature two stations.

Camelot's Vertigo Coaster Refused Planning Permission [8/12/00]

The proposed 130-foot Vertigo roller coaster, which was to have opened for the 2002 season at Camelot Theme Park, has had planning permission turned down by Chorley Borough Council. The ride, which was exclusively revealed by Joyland Books a few weeks ago, has been turned down by councillors due to residents complaints, despite planning officers recommending approval. The ride was to have replaced the ageing Tower of Terror ride, which was partly destroyed by fire, and would have been the latest investment by the park's owners, Prime Resorts Limited. Camelot is expected to announce a smaller replacement attraction shortly.

"Frontierland Remembered" Exhibition Opens [1/12/00]

Joyland Books is pleased to announce that the long-awaited "Frontierland Remembered" Exhibition is now open. Frontierland was one of the UK's most popular amusement parks, and has a history stretching back over sixty years. The exhibition celebrates its thirteen years as Frontierland Western Theme Park (1987-2000), and features photographs and other memorabilia of the park, which has now sadly closed its gates for the last time. As a bonus, visitors to the exhibition can find out about future plans for the site. The exhibition can be found in the Virtual Exhibition Hall. frontierland_entrance.jpg (23527 bytes)

Council: "Fairground Amusements Are Losing Their Appeal" [29/11/00]

As the fate of Seaburn Fun Park at Sunderland is decided, a Sunderland Council report has questioned the continued popularity of fairgrounds and amusement parks across the UK. The Council report says: "Seaburn funfair has suffered a gradual decline in visitors in recent years and the fairground is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the attractions at South Shields". The report adds: "Traditional fairground amusements are generally losing their appeal to the general public throughout the country." John Crow and Sons has operated the 1.9-acre amusement park since 1985, but the family has decided to close the park and will have completely left the site by April 2000. The site is now thought to represent a prime development opportunity. It is immediately adjacent to a Morrisons supermarket. This statement comes as news reaches Joyland Books that the predicted sale of the nearby Spanish City amusement park at Whitley Bay has been completed. The local council has purchased the site for 2.5 million and will close the amusement park. The council is now consulting on future uses for the site. The site is expected to become a housing and school development.

Fire Damages Camelot's Tower of Terror Roller Coaster [19/11/00]

The biggest attraction at the Camelot theme park at Chorley has been partially destroyed by fire. It took only 15 minutes for flames to completely destroy the facade of the 80-foot high Tower of Terror roller coaster. The ride was being dismantled by workmen, and was set alight by a spark from a cutting torch. The Tower has been severely damaged, and the ride itself has suffered some scorching. Six fire crews attended the blaze in which nobody was injured. camelot1.jpg (22551 bytes)

The future of the 12-year old roller coaster was in doubt in any event. The ride was being dismantled and will be replaced for the 2001 season. The much bigger replacement roller coaster is, however, causing much controversy. Park bosses are hoping to boost visitor numbers with the installation of the 130-foot high 'Vertigo' roller coaster. A spokesperson for the park describes Vertigo as a ride in which "a train is lifted 40m high before dropping to half its height through a series of loops." The ride, however, has met with opposition from local residents. Although planning officers at Chorley Borough Council recommended approval in October, councillors have insisted on a site visit, which will mean the planning application will not now be determined until December at the earliest.

Disappointing 2000 for Blackpool Pleasure Beach [18/11/00}

Blackpool Pleasure Beach boss, Geoffrey Thompson, has blamed bad weather and a lack of promotion as the main reasons for disappointing attendance figures for the north-west amusement park. In the year in which the park unveiled its 15 million dark ride, Valhalla, Mr Thompson had previously gone on record as expecting visitor numbers to increase to 10 million from its usual 7.5 million. He has now admitted that visitor numbers are only marginally up on 1999, and he has laid part of the blame on the local council for spending insufficient money on promoting the resort. The Pleasure Beach has also been hit by a number of accidents, and a local bus and tram strike. The Year 2000 is expected to be a poor year all round for visitor attractions, with most theme parks now predicting a drop in visitor numbers. Bad weather and the fuel crisis are thought to be the main reasons for this seasons disappointing results.

Central Pier Wheel to Stay [12/11/00]

After much speculation that one of Blackpool's greatest landmarks, the Big Wheel on Central Pier, is to be removed, the Pier's owners, Leisure Parcs Ltd, has confirmed that the wheel is here to stay. Rumours have been spreading through the resort that the wheel was to be sold following an advert for an identical wheel in trade paper World's Fair. The advert described the wheel as ten years old, 33 metres high, and open in the north west. But Central Pier's manager has confirmed that not only is the wheel to stay, it is more popular than ever. centralpier.jpg (17204 bytes)

So which wheel is for sale? The answer: Southport Pleasureland's wheel, which is the same size and age as the Central Pier wheel, and is owned by Manchester-based showmen Gore and de Koning. The wheel, which has been based at Blackpool Pleasure Beach's sister park for only a year, is being sold to be replaced by a smaller fold-up ride that the showmen can more easily travel. There is much speculation that Pleasureland will open a tower ride for the 2001 season as a replacement for the Wheel, due to the popularity of other similar installations at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Drayton Manor.

Seaburn Fun Park: An Update [9/11/00]

J. Crow & Sons, the operators of the Seaburn Fun Park, have confirmed to Joyland Books that the amusement park will indeed be closing down. However, contrary to the report last week (see below), the family has not been ordered to remove its rides from the park. A statement from J. Crow & Sons explains that the decision to close the park was made by the Crows and not by the Council and that the family do not wish to keep operating the park. The park is understood to have already closed its doors for the final time. Joyland Books will keep you updated of any further amusement park closures.

New Dark Ride Announced for Gulliver's Land [8/11/00]

Gulliver's Land at Milton Keynes has announced a new interactive dark ride for the 2001 season. The Silver Mine Dark Ride will feature over 20 animated targets, for riders to shoot at. The animated figures are to be built and installed by Oldham-based Pan Amusements, specialists in electronic shooting galleries and in-ride shooting systems. Gulliver's Land is the third of the Gulliver's parks, opening in 1999. The other Gulliver's parks are at Matlock and Warrington.

The End for Spanish City Amusement Park [29/10/00]

Only 24 hours after the news that Seaburn Fun Park is to close, comes the news that one of the UK's oldest and most famous amusement parks has probably closed its gates for the last time. North Tyneside Council has been reviewing the future of the Spanish City Amusement Park for some time following a consultant's report on the regeneration of that part of the resort. However, earlier this year it seemed that the park might have been saved after the necessary financial backing for the preferred scheme, which would have included a hotel and leisure complex, failed to materialise (reported elsewhere on this page). spanish1.jpg (22873 bytes)

However, the Council has now said that it is close to agreeing a price with the site's owner, Jersey-based Gary Dobson, in a deal that is thought to be worth 2.5m and will result in the complete demolition of the amusement park. The Council is now consulting on plans to redevelop the site as housing and leisure or a new primary school.

This has come as unwelcome news to the current tenant of the 90-year-old park, Keith Turner. Mr Turner has been leaseholder for six years, and had hoped that recent investment at the park would have secured its future. He has now been forced to put every ride in the park up for sale. The huge list of rides that will go includes the Cyclone Roller Coaster (pictured), Cavazza Diego Bo-Bo Roller Coaster, Gallopers and the park's Ghost Train. This news marks the end of a bleak two years for traditional amusement parks in the UK. spanish2.jpg (19639 bytes)

Seaburn Fun Park to Close [28/10/00]

Seaburn Fun Park, at Seaburn near Sunderland, is to close. John Crow & Sons, who have held the lease on the amusement park since 1988, have been ordered to remove their rides by April 2000. This news comes soon after the closure of Morecambe's Frontierland Theme Park and Scarborough's Marvels Amusement Park, and follows speculation that Spanish City at nearby Whitley Bay is also to close (reported elsewhere on this page). The Crow family had hoped to continue operating the park, despite it having suffered a decline in visitor numbers in recent years, as their lease of the park extends to 2038. However, the local council, which owns the site, has decided to terminate the lease. seaburn1.jpg (19565 bytes)

Seaburn Fun Park is the only amusement park in the area. Its closure will see the removal of several popular rides, most notably the unique Mad Mouse roller coaster. It is thought unlikely that the park will reopen for the first few months next year.

Planners Threaten to Delay Major New Ride at Alton Towers [18/7/00]

Town planners at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council are threatening to delay the opening of a major new roller coaster at Alton Towers. Bosses at the Staffordshire theme park want to build a new roller coaster on the site of the former Beast roller coaster in the Forbidden Valley area of the park, but councillors are expected to vote to defer the decision on whether or not to grant planning permission to allow for a site visit. This will mean that the planning application cannot be heard until the November Committee meeting. Alton Towers claims that any further delay in receiving planning permission will jeopardise the opening of the new ride for the 2002 season due to the requirement to order the ride and progress with detailed designs. No details on the ride have yet been released, but there is intense speculation that this will be the park's first wooden ride. A new fairground-style attraction will open for the 2001 season in the X-Sector.

New Chief Executive for Camelot Theme Park [17/10/00]

Prime Resorts Limited, the owner of Camelot Theme Park, has appointed a new Chief Executive. Roy Page, who previously headed the resorts, hotels and taverns division of First Leisure,  will take control of the Chorley-based theme park and the Prime Resorts-owned Park Hall Hotel, replacing current caretaker Chief Executive, Martin Brayshaw. Speaking to Leisure Opportunities, Mr Page said: "I believe that Camelot is one of the best family theme parks in the UK and I aim to take it back to the days when it was attracting half a million visitors annually." camelot_logo.gif (12336 bytes)

Prime Resorts Limited, headed by former Chief Executive Nick Hall, was set up in 1998 to buy the theme park and hotel from its then owner, Granada. Since that time, new attractions have been added to the theme park, including a Junior Driving School, Huss Flipper, and a multi-million pound indoor family entertainment centre, Castle Camelot.

All Change at Tussauds Group [12/10/00]

Theme park operator, the Tussauds Group, is having a major reshuffle. Current chair and chief executive Michael Jolly will become non-executive chair. Executive director of marketing, Jill Britton, and executive director exhibitions, Andrew Tansley, are both to resign, and a new chief executive is to be appointed. Robert Roger (finance director), Phil Taylor (new business development) and Pauline Wells (executive director human resources) will all remain in their positions. The shake-up is happening as the company prepares for its floatation on the stock exchange. Industry insiders believe that the company's approach to its theme parks, Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park, is likely to change.

Ride Safety Review to Look at Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks [10/10/00]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced a full-scale review of fairground and amusement park safety following the five deaths this summer. The review will look at existing safety guidance and legislation for fairground ride equipment. The HSE will consult the fairground industry and other organisations involved with safety, before submitting its recommendations for changes to the Safety Commission. A spokesperson for the HSE said that the review has been launched in response to the increase in fatal accidents this year. The review is expected to be completed by spring 2001, after which new guidance may be launched.

"Frontierland Remembered" Exhibition Announced [30/9/00]

Following the success of the Gallopers at the Amusement Park Exhibition, which finishes today, Joyland Books is proud to announce a forthcoming exhibition. Frontierland Remembered will tell the story of   Morecambe's amusement park in photographs and other memorabilia. Frontierland was, until recently, home to the vintage Texas Tornado wooden roller coaster and numerous other rides and attractions, both old and new. As the park is redeveloped into a much smaller family entertainment centre, Joyland Books remembers its 13 years as Frontierland. As those who have visited will know, Frontierland was a fabulous place, and you can relive the rides, the atmosphere and the fun in this new exhibition. The exhibition will run for two months, from 1 December 2000 to 31 January 2001 at the Joyland Books Virtual Exhibition Hall.

If you have photographs, information, or memorabilia of Frontierland that you think we could use in the exhibition, please contact us.

New Fairground Web Site Launched [30/9/00]

A new on-line magazine about old-time fairgrounds has been launched. features monthly articles on the subject of gallopers, switchbacks, scenic railways, anything fairground related that was/still is powered by steam. Whilst focusing primarily on English gallopers, the site also covers European fairgrounds, and the editor positively welcomes articles and contributions from readers. is associated with the well-established web site, which is based in the USA, and the editor of that site, Bruce Zubee, contributes an article on the difference between British and American carousel horses which makes for very interesting reading. Click here to trot straight to the site. galloper_logo.gif (6147 bytes)

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Featured in Channel 4 Series [27/9/00]

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is to feature in a special episode of the new Channel 4 series Can You Live Without... The series, which puts 21st Century life to the test, challenges 'courageous' individuals to survive without something they take for granted. An entire episode of the 30 minute series will be devoted to Pleasure Beach Director Nick Thompson. Channel 4's publicity material states: "Nick Thompson is a busy 33-year-old executive at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the most popular tourist attraction in Britain. He has agreed to live without his personal assistant of five years, Karen. Colleagues say Nick will be lost without her. Can he survive without his right hand woman?" The programme airs on Friday 6 October at 8.30pm.

American Adventure Theme Park Suffers Serious Decline in Visitor Numbers [23/9/00]

The American Adventure Theme Park has announced that it expects another major drop in visitors for the year 2000, taking the park below 400,000 visitors for the first time. Many theme parks are experiencing poor visitor numbers in 2000 due to poor weather and other factors (see report below on Alton Towers), but for the American Adventure this is part of a general year-on-year decline in attendances.

The park first opened in 1985 as Britannia Park, which closed down after only 12 weeks. In 1986, Granada bought the 345 acre site and opened the American Adventure. Rides such as the Missile and Rocky Mountains Rapids ride were early attractions.

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Above: Original promotional material for the American Adventure when it first opened in 1985 as Britannia Park.

The park was bought from Granada in 1997 by Venture World, a little-known company which employed former Alton Towers supremo John Broome as consultant. Broome promised major investment in new rides and attractions, including the world's biggest wooden roller coaster, and a name change to Adventure World. Since 1997, little investment has occurred, the name has been changed back and John Broome has left the company. In recent years the park has tried to attract more visitors by holding Sunday markets and car boot sales, but the local council has banned this.

At its peak in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the American Adventure attracted 1 million visitors annually, more than Drayton Manor and Thorpe Park. Since 1995, visitor numbers have declined by one third, from 600,000 to 425,000 in 1999. Visitor numbers for 2000 are expected to be only 375,000.

Major Development Planned for Blackpool Piers [23/9/00]

Two of Blackpool's Piers are to be renamed and vastly improved by their owner, Leisure Parcs. South Pier, currently home to a Wild Mouse roller coaster, and the recent recipient of the waltzer from Southsea's South Parade Pier, will be renamed Ocean Pier. Central Pier, home to a Big Wheel and a Waltzer, will be renamed Festival Pier. Both will be given a fantasy theme and will receive major investment to create new family entertainment attractions. Whether or not the rides would be safe under these plans is not yet known. The plans are reliant upon the development of Leisure Parcs' Pharaoh's Palace Resort Casino project being given the thumbs up by the Government (see report below). South Pier's new Waltzer is now open and will remain on the Pier at least until the end of the illuminations in November.

Alton Towers Visitor Numbers Fall [23/9/00]

A combination of bad weather and the fuel crisis have been blamed for an expected drop in visitor numbers to Alton Towers this year. Britain's leading theme park expects the final count for the millennium year to be between 2.4 and 2.5 million, down on last year's 2.6 million. This is a major blow to the park, which (along with Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures) is owned by venture capitalists Charterhouse. The Staffordshire theme park is now pinning its hopes on a new ride for 2001, which will be located near the Oblivion roller coaster. A planning application has been submitted to the local council for a ride which is described by the local press as "gondola-style", similar to the park's Ripsaw attraction.

Theme Parks Hit by Fuel Crisis [15/9/00]

As the fuel crisis draws to a close, a leading theme park has announced that business has been badly hit over the past week. A spokesperson for Alton Towers has confirmed that the park is currently down 25% on its usual visitor numbers for mid-September. This serious downturn is likely to be repeated at amusement parks across the UK, with smaller seaside parks being particularly badly hit by hotel cancellations. The current crisis could not have come at a worse time for Lancashire amusement park Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The Big One roller coaster accident happened the day before the illuminations switch-on ceremony, and the resort has suffered huge numbers of cancellations at a time when attractions such as the Pleasure Beach traditionally enter their busiest period. In a linked story, Joyland Books has been informed that the Big One has now reopened following the recent incident, but potential visitors should contact the Pleasure Beach before travelling to confirm.

Nomura Pulls Out of Dome Bid [12/9/00]

Japanese bank Nomura has pulled out of its bid to take over the Millennium Dome. The company, which planned to turn the beleaguered attraction into a theme park, had been threatening to pull out since the last Millennium Commission hand-out.  The company blamed NMEC for withholding vital financial information, and uncertainty over assets.

Old Time Fairground Books Available From Joyland Books [9/9/00]

Two books about the history and culture of British fairground rides are now available from Joyland Books. Roundabout People and Jump On, Jump On are by acclaimed fairground historian and photographer Brian Steptoe. Both books are lavishly illustrated with professional quality photographs and take a trip into the world of vintage roundabout rides, looking at the machines, the way of life and the people. Both books retail at 19.99, and can be ordered from the Bookshop.

Roller Coaster Riding World Record Broken [8/9/00]

Richard Rodriguez has finished his record-breaking 2,000-hour ride of the Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Mr Rodriguez has been riding the roller coaster continuously (with 5 minute breaks per hour) since 9 June: eating, sleeping and drinking on the ride. He has broken his own previous record of 1,013 hours, which he set in 1998.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Boss Offers to Rescue Millennium Dome [7/9/00]

The Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Geoffrey Thompson, has offered to rescue the troubled Millennium Dome. Mr Thompson, speaking on BBC Radio, said that for a 4m consultancy fee his company could turn around the Dome's negative image. He said: "The trouble is there is not much sense of excitement, is there? It's a bit like going around the cold meats department at the Co-op. There's no wow factor at all." Blackpool Pleasure Beach is currently Britain's most visited tourist attraction, pulling in well over 7 million visitors a year. The Dome is expected to attract less than 5 million visitors in 2000.

Release of Joyland History Book Delayed [3/9/00]

The release of the forthcoming book Joyland: The Story of the Forum, Bridlington has been delayed. Author Nicholas James told Joyland Books today: "Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, I am not now able to make the Winter 2000 deadline originally set for publication of this book. This has now slipped to Spring 2001. However, I can ensure everybody that the book will come out; this is certainly not a cancellation, just a postponement!" The book, which will chronicle the history of the UK's largest amusement arcade and funfair, has already been two years in the making, but Mr James puts it down to some striking new discoveries. "I have uncovered some extremely surprising facts about the history of Joyland, which I want to follow up. I hope this will make the book even better. I can only apologise to all of the people (and there are a lot of you out there) who have contacted me expressing an interest in the book. I am working as hard as I can to pull the project together." In the meantime, if you have any information about the history of Joyland, or just your own memories, please email Nicholas James direct. Joyland Books presents extensive information about Joyland on this Web site. Click here to be taken directly to Joyland!

Battersea Power Station Leisure Plans Are Go [2/9/00]

After many years of uncertainty, Battersea Power Station is to finally be transformed into a multi-million pound leisure complex. Wandsworth Council's planning committee has unanimously backed the 500m scheme, which will include two hotels, a theatre, cinema, rooftop restaurants, flats and a dedicated rail link from Victoria Station. Of most interest to theme park enthusiasts will be the inclusion of a "thrill ride" in one of the 370ft chimneys. Since its closure in 1983, there have been several plans to redevelop this famous London landmark. The most famous attempt was in the late 1980s, when Alton Towers owner, John Broome, bought the building in a bid to turn it into a theme park. His bid was backed by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Work on the building ceased after less than a year when Mr Broome's money ran out, leaving the structure without a roof, and forcing Mr Broome to sell Alton Towers. Other plans have included turning the building into a huge monument to legendary British pop group the Bee Gees. This planning application from entertainment giant Polydor Records was refused by Wandsworth planners in 1993.

Gallopers Exhibition Opens [1/9/00]

As part of the celebrations for the ‘International Year of the Carousel’, Joyland Books is proud to announce ‘Gallopers at the Amusement Park’, a photographic exhibition of these remarkable machines pictured at parks across the UK. The exhibition will run from 1st to 30th September 2000, and is now open at the "Virtual Exhibition Hall" of the Joyland Books Web site.

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Joyland Books spokesperson, Nicola Laister, said yesterday: "Gallopers are undoubtedly the most famous of all fairground attractions, and in this, the International Year of the Carousel, Joyland Books is presenting photographs of some of Britain's finest carousels. By their very nature, gallopers at amusement parks and theme parks do not travel around, so are not be seen by a large proportion of the population, including many enthusiasts. This exhibition presents the highlights from the UK's parks large and small, and there will be a few surprises too. We believe this on-line exhibition to be the first of its kind in the UK, and we hope that, given sufficient support, it will be the first of many."

Click here to go straight to the Exhibition.

Roller Coaster Crashes at Blackpool Pleasure Beach [1/9/00]

Fourteen people were injured, two seriously, when Blackpool's Big One roller coaster crashed on Thursday evening. The ride, which is the Pleasure Beach's signature attraction, will be closed until the cause of the accident has been investigated. Apparently a stationary train, waiting to enter the station, was hit from behind by another slow-moving train which had not been fully stopped by the brake blocks. Four people had to be cut from the train by emergency services. bpb2.jpg (13581 bytes)

Pleasure Beach Director Pushes For Vegas-Style Casinos in Blackpool [31/8/00]

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Managing Director Geoffrey Thompson has backed a bid to bring huge Las Vegas style Casinos to the UK. The bid is being headed by Blackpool Tower owners, Leisure Parcs. The Company proposes six new Casinos, which would attract up to 30 million visitors and create 25,000 jobs. The Company, with its joint backer casino operator London Clubs International, is currently lobbying the Government to relax the gambling laws to allow the proposal to proceed. Geoffrey Thompson said: "The National Lottery has opened gambling up to the whole population, so people are already doing it in the post office. Why shouldn't people be able to gamble at the seaside too? The economy needs more people to stay longer. The catalyst to bring that forward is to open gambling of the type they have in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It could work in places like Blackpool, Brighton and Torquay and it could alter the economies of these regions very much." Mr Thompson believes Blackpool could be a testing ground for a relaxation in the law. The Government's Gambling Review Body will report early next year.

Eastbourne's Fort Fun Amusement Park Up For Sale [24/8/00]

One of the South Coast's leading amusement parks, Fort Fun at Eastbourne, is up for sale. The park, which has seen substantial development and modernisation over the past few years, includes rides such as the Runaway Train Rollercoaster, Junior Paratrooper, Jets and a 6-Lane Giant Astroglide. The 2-acre family fun park has also recently added a themed Adventure Golf and the indoor Rocky's Adventureland. It is expected that the park will be sold as an ongoing leisure business, and that it will continue to operate as an amusement park.

This announcement follows the news that Scarborough's Marvels Amusement Park, and Whitley Bay's Spanish City Amusement Park are both to be sold and redeveloped. Southend's Dizzyland (now Toon Town) Amusement Park is also up for sale, and expected to be redeveloped as a hotel. Fun City amusement park at Skegness recently removed all its rides, and is not expected to return to use as a fairground.

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International Leisure Industry Week Line-Up Announced [24/8/00]

The 2000 International Leisure Industry Week (LIW) is to be held at the Birmingham NEC from 26 to 28 September. This year sees the creation of a brand new feature, in addition to the usual line-up of industry leaders. FamilyLand is a working feature demonstrating the latest products and services on the show floor, bringing them to life in a purpose built venue that recreates  a little of the magic of a traditional amusement park, mixed with the excitement and innovation of the attractions of the future. FamilyLand is billed as the first event of its kind, where visitors can see the latest products and services in action. Numerous leading ride and attraction manufacturers feature at this year's show, including Vekoma, Huss GmbH, Intamin AG, Moser Rides and Modern Products. Visit the LIW website at

Gallopers Exhibition Announced [19/8/00]

As part of the celebrations for the ‘International Year of the Carousel’, Joyland Books is proud to announce ‘Gallopers at the Amusement Park’, a photographic exhibition of these remarkable machines pictured at parks across the UK. The exhibition will run from 1st to 30th September 2000, and can be found at the Virtual Exhibition Hall of the Joyland Books Web site. Contributions are welcome, just email the exhibition organisers by clicking here.

Chessington Monorail Traps 70 People [18/8/00]

Around 70 people were trapped in the Safari Skyway Monorail at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey yesterday. The adults and children were stuck 20ft above the ground for 90 minutes after a mechanical failure halted the ride. The Surrey fire service rescued the riders, none of which were injured, after which the theme park was closed. The Skyway ride has been a popular attraction at Chessington for many years, and gives visitors to the theme park an aerial ride around the famous zoo. The ride is currently being investigated. skyway.jpg (15650 bytes)

Fantasy Island Signs Deal for 28 Million Roller Coaster [15/8/00]

East Coast amusement park, Fantasy Island, has announced a huge, 28m roller coaster for the 2002 season. The Ingoldmells park signed a deal with Dutch coaster manufacturer Vekoma last week to build the worlds biggest suspended roller coaster. Owner Blue Anchor Leisure Limited stated that the ride would be called 'Odyssey'.

The ride will be the world's longest suspended looping coaster (at 4,200 ft) with the highest hanging loop (200 ft above sea level), and the steepest drop in Europe (60 degrees).

Fantasy Island opened the multi-inversion Millennium Coaster in 1999, also built by Vekoma.

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Alton Towers Launches Queue-Jumpers Ticket [14/8/00]

A special ticket for queue-jumpers, the X-Celerator Pass, was launched by Alton Towers to a flurry of media interest. The ticket, which for 65 (adults) allows holders to jump to the front of the queue on the park’s leading rides, is an experiment to allow selected visitors to avoid long waits on rides such as Oblivion and Nemesis. The ticket, which has gained extensive publicity for Britain’s leading theme park, has been met with a mixed reception from the visitors, the media, and even the Consumers Association, which has described it as “un-English”. The ticket will be reviewed in September.

Violence Ruins Isle of Wight Funfair [13/8/00]

A full-scale brawl broke out yesterday at an Isle of Wight funfair. Police attended the scene of Matthews Funfair at Yarmouth after 11pm, following a dispute between local residents and fairground operators over free ride. At its peak, the brawl reportedly involved 100 drunken youths. The atmosphere later overflowed onto the Wightlink Isle of Wight ferry.

Local Yarmouth Mayor, Cllr Peter Garlick, was quick to lay the blame on the funfair operators. He stated that the fair should have closed at 10pm, and was concerned that it was still operating at 11pm. But he added that he was not certain about this. The Yarmouth Harbour Commission, which leases the fair, stated that this is the first incident at this fair in its history (at least thirteen years). John Matthews confirmed that the fair was allowed to run until 11pm, and stated that this is a family fair in which drunken behaviour is not welcome. He sated that the trouble was caused by drunken youths demanding more free ride tickets, and apologised to fairgoers for any inconvenience. Five people were arrested.

Three Hurt in Funfair Incident [8/8/00]

Three children have been hurt in an accident at a funfair in Hartlepool. The incident happened when a car flew off a Superbob ride at the Headland Carnival yesterday evening. A 14-year-old schoolgirl is in intensive care today at Hartlepool General Hospital with chest injuries and two of her teenage friends are also in hospital. A 17-year-old male youth is believed to have a head injury and a 15-year-old boy a shoulder injury.

According to the Hartlepool Mail, a car flew of the Superbob attraction, crashed through the safety barrier and fell to the ground - flinging its occupants to the floor. The ride is now closed and cordoned off while an official investigation takes place. This morning the detached car remained upside down and covered over awaiting the arival of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). A prohibition notice has been placed on the ride, meaning it cannot be used until cleared by the HSE. The cause of the accident has not yet been revealed.

Southend's Swine Roller Coaster Project Dead [7/8/00]

The 30 million Swine roller coaster, proposed for the end of the world's longest pleasure pier at Southend-on-Sea, is officially dead. Southend Borough Council had given the businessman promoting the scheme six months to prove that the necessary funding was available for this massive roller coaster. When the deadline ran out, on Friday, the Council decided to pull the plug on the project and is now looking for new proposals for the pier.

Southend Borough Council announced the project in 1996, and has been looking for funding ever since. The Council's aim was to build what would have been the world's biggest white knuckle ride, at between 250 and 265 feet tall, on a site 1 mile out to sea. Following a shortlisting process, the Council selected businessman Tony Garner as development partner, but since that time Mr Garner has been unable to satisfy the Council that he could provide the project with sufficient financial backing. The Council has now ruled out a roller coaster forming part of the Pier's future regeneration.

BBC Confirms No New Pleasure Beach TV Series [4/8/00]

After much speculation amongst theme park enthusiasts that a second series of the BBC's popular docu-soap "Pleasure Beach" is currently in production, Joyland Books can confirm that these rumours are incorrect. BBC spokesman, Damian Whyte, told Joyland Books today, "there are no plans for a further series at present." This should end several months of speculation that the BBC had commissioned a second series.

In a separate story, Pleasure Beach Managing Director, Geoffrey Thompson, has hit out at claims by future owners of the Millennium Dome, Dome Europe, that the hi-tech theme park will attract five million visitors a year. Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Mr Thompson said: "There is no attraction in London that gets five million and how they think they can get more than St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or the Victoria and Albert Museum, I don't know."

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach: No TV Series

Freefall Tower Added to Millennium Dome [3/8/00]

Greenwich's Millennium Dome has added its second theme park ride. A Fabbri freefall tower, called "Spacefall" joins the existing Home Planet ride. Unlike the Home Planet zone, which is one of the free zones within the Dome itself, Spacefall is a paying attraction and is located outside the Dome building. The Spacefall is being operated there by WF Amusements (Elliot Hall and Billy Stevens). The ride is expected to remain at the Dome until 31 December, after which it will go to a Swedish showman for the new year. Other fairground rides may be added to the Dome before the attraction closes at the end of the year.

It was announced last week that the Dome has been sold to Japanese Investment Bank Nomura, and will be turned into a high-tech amusement park. Exactly what will be included in the Dome after the year end has not been formally announced, but Joyland Books will keep you updated on any further announcements.

"Joyland" Author Nicholas James Launches New Theme Park Web Site [3/8/00]

Nicholas James, author of the forthcoming book Joyland: The Story of the Forum, Bridlington, has launched a guide to UK theme parks on the international travel web site, eDreams. eDreams is a new e-commerce company specialising in sales of international travel and tour packages to European markets. Nicholas' pages provide regular feature articles about all aspects of theme parks in the UK. The site also features a range of recommended theme park links, interesting theme park events, and a biography of Nicholas James. Mr James, speaking to Joyland Books yesterday, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to promote UK theme parks on an international scale. We have some of the best theme parks in the world, and I hope to be able to pass on a very positive message to the hundreds of visitors to the eDreams web site. eDreams is one of the most acclaimed sites on the World Wide Web, and I am pleased to be able to write on a subject about which I am passionate."

If you have any questions about theme parks in the UK, you can ask Nicholas directly via the eDreams web site. Click here to go straight to his eDreams page. You will normally receive a reply within 24 hours.  An exclusive interview with Nicholas James can be found here.

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Fantasy Island Refused Opening Hours Extension [1/8/00]

Fantasy Island at Ingoldmells, near Skegness, has had an application to extend its opening hours refused by the local council. The park currently has to close all its rides at 10pm, seven days a week. The park management had hoped that the park's opening hours could be extended until midnight on Saturdays and Sundays, and 11pm on weekdays. This move was in response to requests from holidaymakers, and to enable it to compete with other seaside parks, such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which have much longer opening hours.

Four Injured at Blackpool Pleasure Beach [30/7/00]

A woman and three children have been injured on the Derby Racer ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The Health and Safety Executive has investigated the accident, which resulted in the 34-year-old woman and three children being treated at Blackpool's Victoria Hospital. It is reported that the woman fell from one of the carousel-style horses (see picture on the right), injuring her back. The children received minor injuries. The Pleasure Beach has announced that the accident was the result of a "technical hitch".

This incident comes only a week after an eleven-year-old boy was killed on the Space Invader roller coaster ride.

Construction of the Derby Racer started in 1957 and took two years to complete. The ride, which is a reproduction of the original Canadian Derby Racer, features 56 horses. The ride, including its building, has an astonishing 119 feet diameter and after over 40 years of operation, remains a popular attraction at the Pleasure Beach. The ride is pictured to the right, with the organ by Verbeeck of Antwerp visible in the background. This is the first such incident on this ride.

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Thorpe Park Reopens After Serious Fire [22/7/00]

Joyland Books has been informed that Thorpe Park has reopened to the public. Two rides have been partially destroyed by the fire and therefore will not be opening. The admission price to the park has been reduced from 18.50 (adults) to 16 to reflect the loss of Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels and the Wicked Witches Haunt. Other supporting attractions have also been lost (see our 21/7/00 report). Joyland Books has been informed that the fire started on part of the Tropical Travels Ride. The picture on the right shows the building in which the fire is understood to have started, which is an indoor section of the ride featuring animated tableaux. This building was formerly called the Magic Mill, and was one of Thorpe Park's earliest attractions, opening in the early 1980s. The fire quickly spread to the adjoining building, which houses the Wicked Witches Haunt (previously called Phantom Fantasia), also one of the park's oldest attractions. The former Magic Mill building has been completely destroyed. thorpefire2.jpg (19439 bytes)

Fantasy Island to Expand...Into Skegness Town Centre [22/7/00]

The Fantasy Island Theme Park, at Ingoldmells, is to expand into Skegness Town Centre. John Woodward, Chairman of Blue Anchor Leisure Limited, which owns the park, is planning to take control of the Festival Pavilion and car park on Skegness sea front. A regular waterbus, possibly operated using a hovercraft, will then ferry people along the coast to Fantasy Island. This will effectively create an entrance to Fantasy Island from the very centre of Skegness. Mr Woodward hopes it will also go some way to reducing traffic flows in line with current Government transport policy.

The Fantasy Island park opened in 1995, on the site of the former Eastgate Holiday Centre funfair. It has become one of the East Coast's biggest tourist attractions. The park has invested millions of pounds over the past few years, introducing rides such as Volcano and the Millennium Coaster (pictured). A major looping steel coaster is planned for 2001.

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Boy Dies at Blackpool Pleasure Beach [22/7/00]

An 11-year-old boy has been killed on the Space Invader roller coaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It is believed that the boy fell from a carriage. His two friends, who were both unhurt, alerted staff who immediately stopped the ride. The cause of the accident is not yet known, but Joyland Books will bring you further information as it becomes available. The Space Invader ride was opened in 1984 by Doctor Who star Colin Baker, and is a roller coaster in the dark. The ride will remain closed until the Health and Safety Executive has finished its investigation. spaceinvader.jpg (20678 bytes)

Fire Sweeps Across Thorpe Park [21/7/00]

A fire has swept across Thorpe Park, destroying several of the park's attractions. The fire started at 3pm on Mr Rabbit's Tropical Travels.  A wooden structure, which forms part of the ride, collapsed, and the fire then spread to other attractions. Joyland Books understands that Thorpe Park's main dark ride, Wicked Witches, has also been gutted by fire and has partially collapsed. Other attractions damaged include the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, Amity Boardwalk Games and Sweet City. At its peak, 100 fire-fighters were at the scene, with 15 appliances. It is not known how the fire started, but the damage is believed to cover an area of 300m by 200m. Over 7,000 people were evacuated from the site, but there are no injuries. Joyland Books will bring you updates on the damage to the park as soon as information is available.

Marvel's Amusement Park Saved...For One Year Only [19/7/00]

Marvels Leisure and Amusement Park at North Bay, Scarborough, has been saved...but only for now. The park was to have closed at the end of the 1999 season to make way for the multi-million pound Zenith Project, which will include a cinema, hotel, conference centre and holiday village. According to the park's owner, Malcolm Stephenson, delays in the planning process could mean that the park stays open for some, or even all, of the current season. "Just when Marvels will cease to exist exactly is still not known", said Mr Stephenson. "We may well operate with part of the park for part of the season, we just don't know." marvels.jpg (27373 bytes)

Until the end of last season, Marvel's attractions included a roller coaster, cable cars, dodgems, and a fantastic new dark ride. Several of the attractions have now been sold. The roller coaster, which had operated at Marvel's for many years, was moved at the end of the 1999 season to Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool.

Texas Tornado Roller Coaster Demolished [15/7/00]

Morecambe's Texas Tornado wooden roller coaster has been demolished. This follows the removal of most of the rides from the Frontierland Theme Park, which is owned by Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Previously known as the Cyclone, the ride was opened on Friday 7th April 1939. It was designed and constructed by Charles Paige, Harry G. Traver and Leonard Thompson, and was shipped into Morecambe from Paris, where it had opened two years earlier at the Paris Exhibition. Since 1987, Morecambe Pleasure Park had been known as Frontierland, and it was in this year that the ride was renamed Texas Tornado. In recent years, the park has seen a decline in visitor numbers, reflecting the sad decline in Morecambe as a seaside resort. The park is expected to reopen in 2001 as a much smaller operation, with only the log flume surviving. The ride had been advertised for sale for a year, but no buyer had been found. Further information and photographs of this marvellous ride can be found in the book Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History, available from Joyland Books. The park's other wooden roller coaster, the Mine Train, has been saved, and is now open at Southport's Pleasureland Amusement Park. texastornado.jpg (38111 bytes)

The Texas Tornado pictured in November 1999 during its last week of operation. Joyland Books wonders where was the 'Save the Coaster' Campaign?

Barry Island Pleasure Park Owner Dies [15/7/00]

It is with great sadness that Joyland Books announces the death of Ken Rogers, the owner of Barry Island Pleasure Park in South Wales. Mr Rogers bought the amusement park a few years ago after it had suffered from years of decline. Following a multi-million pound investment, he had turned the park around, and it now ranks as one of Wales' top tourist attractions. Mr Rogers was also the owner of the Hyper Value chain of budget shops. He was 55.

Spanish City Amusement Park Still Under Threat [15/7/00]

Whitley Bay's Spanish City Amusement Park is still under threat of closure. Consultants had drawn up plans to demolish the legendary amusement park, made famous by the pop group Dire Straits, and replace it with leisure centre, hotel, theatre and multi-storey car park. Local newspapers had been reporting that the entire scheme is running into problems and that the amusement park may, after all, remain open. This position was confirmed to Theme Park News by a spokesperson for the park. However, the Council is now stating that proposals for the closure of Spanish City are on track. Theme Park News will monitor the situation. The threatened closure of Spanish City follows on from the closure of Marvel's Amusement Park at Scarborough, and the downsizing of Frontierland, Morecambe. Other amusement parks are also known to be under threat.

Theme Park News Service Launched [15/7/00]

Joyland Books is proud to announce that from 15th July 2000 it will be offering a complete theme park and amusement park news service, brought to you by Theme Park News. This is part of a rapid programme of expansion and upgrade undertaken by Joyland Web Services, the organisation behind Joyland Books. We believe this to be the only complete theme park and amusement park news service on the World Wide Web, and it is hoped that this substantial upgrade of the site infrastructure will result in an increase in visitors to the site. Joyland Web Services spokesperson, Nicola Laister, said at the launch yesterday: "We have been nothing short of overwhelmed by the response to Joyland Books since its launch in April this year. As part of the latest phase of our expansion, we have expanded our news service. This page will continue to bring you information on new books, but it will now be the place to go for news on all aspects of the amusement park and theme park industry. The service is specifically aimed not at the industry itself, but at the many millions of people who visit these attractions every year." The headline news will be visible at all times on the Joyland Books Homepage.

A Blackpool Pleasure Beach Extravaganza [15/7/00]

You no longer have to travel all the way to Blackpool to buy books about Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Joyland Books is proud to announce that it has now added a range of books about this popular tourist attraction. Top of the pile is Blackpool Pleasure Beach: A Century of Fun, a high quality hardback book telling the full story of the park from its beginnings in 1896. The book is packed full of excellent photographs and is highly recommended. For those who do not want to delve so deeply into the history of the Pleasure Beach, A Hundred Years of Fun is the colourful companion book which picks out the highlights of this long history. Unrivalled Excellence - Hot Ice is the third new book, and is the history of the Pleasure Beach's famous Hot Ice Show, and includes stunning photographs of sixty years of acclaimed productions, and a history of the Ice Drome building itself.

Roller Coaster History Books Available Now [9/7/00]

Due to  massive interest in books about roller coasters, Joyland Books is delighted to announce the availability of two books about the history of roller coasters in the UK. Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History and Roller Coasters: Shake Rattle and Roll are both now available from the bookshop. Robert Preedy's two books are both highly recommended by Joyland Books for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the UK's coaster heritage. Geoffrey Thompson, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, described Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History as "the best book on roller coasters I have ever read". Those interested in the history of amusement parks in the UK might also try Looking Back at Belle Vue by Robert Nicholls, the story of one of the North West's greatest amusement parks, and home of the Bobs roller coaster.

Two New Books for Thrill Seekers Now in Stock! [2/7/00]

Hold on tight! Joyland Books is proud to stock the best two books ever written on scream machines. Roller Coaster is the definitive book about the king of the amusement parks. With a history of the rides, biographies on the great coaster designers, information on the best rides and parks, and a whole host of stunning colour photographs, this book is an essential part of the collection of any coaster enthusiast. White Knuckle Ride is the guide to the best thrill machines around the world. From coasters and log flumes to free-fall towers and dark rides. This book has the best of them all, illustrated with colour photographs.

The Story of Alton Towers Available Now [1/7/00]

The story of Alton Towers, from its origin as a mere hunting lodge to its completion as the largest privately-owned house in Europe, is told by Staffordshire historian Michael Fisher. Now known to millions as the home of the UK's most popular theme park, Alton Towers has a long and colourful history which is richly brought to life in this definitive work. Joyland Books recommends this detailed publication to anyone who has visited the theme park, but who has been enchanted by the beautiful house and grounds. To buy the book, please visit our Bookshop. To find out more about the book, and to read a whole host of features, click here.

Secondhand Books For Sale at Joyland Books [26/6/00]

As part of its commitment to increasing its services to the amusement park, theme park and fairground enthusiast, Joyland Books has launched a secondhand bookshop. This on-line store will stock secondhand books of direct interest to visitors of this Web site. The condition of the books will be fully described, and you can email Joyland Books to immediately reserve a book and remove it from sale. If this new service proves to be a success, the range of books will be increased. Visit the Secondhand Department now!

Joyland Books Launches the Web's Most Comprehensive Fairground, Amusement Park and Theme Park Links Page [17/6/00]

A new page of Web links has been launched by Joyland Books as part of the continual expansion of the Web site. This service has been the subject of extensive research over the past few months and will provide the most comprehensive guide to the World Wide Web for those interested in the world of amusement parks, theme parks and fairgrounds. It includes links to pages as diverse as the National Fairground Archive at Sheffield University and the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, and includes a complete guide to British amusement parks on the Web. What makes this service unique is that all links are accompanied by a short review, telling you about the organisation or attraction and providing information about the content of the web site. Click here to go straight to the new links page.

Release of "Joyland: The Story of The Forum, Bridlington" Announced [27/4/00]

The release of a new book on the history of Bridlington's Joyland was officially announced by Joyland Books on 27 April 2000. The story of the UK's largest privately-owned amusement arcade and funfair, still operating as The Forum, will be released "in Winter 2000" according to its author, Nicholas James. Mr James, the author of a number of articles on the subject of amusement parks, tourism and leisure for national and regional newspapers and journals, has now completed research and is hoping to complete the project this summer. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of the complex, some dating back to the 1930s and earlier, the book will also include the first ever history of amusements in Bridlington. It will also include a history of Bridlington's Lounge Cinema, which became part of the complex in 1980, and will include information on the wide range of rides and attractions featured at Joyland over the years.

For more information on this publication, click here.


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