This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 January and 30 June 2004.
For the latest news, click here.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Chairman Doris Thompson Dies [23/6/04]

Doris Thompson, the 101-year-old Chairman of Britain's most visited tourist attraction, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, has died only hours after the funeral of her son. Mrs Thompson was the daughter of WG Bean, the man who founded the park in 1896, and she had continued to have an active involvement in the running and development of the park. Mrs Thompson had been too unwell to attend her son's funeral earlier that day, and a company statement said that she died peacefully in her sleep. She was awarded an MBE in 1969, and the OBE in 2003.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Geoffrey Thompson Dies [12/6/04]

It is with great sadness that Joyland Books reports the death of Geoffrey Thompson OBE, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and one of the most important and influential figures in Britain's tourism industry. Mr Thompson took over the reigns of the Pleasure Beach from his father, Leonard Thompson, in 1976. Few could have predicted at the time the extent to which the 40 year old Cambridge-educated economist would change the face of Britain's biggest tourist attraction.

He was quick to make his mark on the park, bringing new ride concepts to the UK for the first time. The unique Steeplechase roller coaster (1977), which was introduced within 12 months of his assuming the role of Managing Director, sits riders on carousel-style horses as they race around a half mile long track. Other major rides quickly followed: Europe's first looping roller coaster, The Revolution (1979); a roller coaster in the dark, Space Invader (1984);and Britain's first bobsleigh coaster, The Avalanche (1988). In 1994, the park's biggest investment to date was the massive Pepsi Max Big One roller coaster, the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster and a ride that still dominates the park. Valhalla, hailed as the world's biggest dark ride, opened in 2000 and brought more acclaim to this increasingly spectacular amusement park. Thompson's new rides dramatically changed the appearance of the park, and the skyline of Blackpool, but he also had a passion for vintage rides. Under Geoffrey's guidance, the popularity of many of the park's classic rides was increased. The Grand National received a new station (1990), and other rides such as the Noah's Ark, Turtle Chase and Flying Machine were lovingly maintained and carefully developed in ways that would appeal to new generations.

But Geoffrey's time at the helm of Blackpool Pleasure Beach was not just focused on the rides. Under his enthusiastic and dedicated leadership, the park innovated in all areas. Geoffrey gradually - but very noticeably - turned Blackpool Pleasure Beach from a large seaside amusement park into a highly sophisticated international tourism destination. New and contemporary facilities were introduced: shops, restaurants, bars, world-class shows and - more recently - quality hotel accommodation. These facilities, alongside Thompson's new rides, created a destination against which many other attractions on a world scale are now judged. Geoffrey Thompson was a brilliant innovator, a shrewd businessman, and Britain's best international tourism ambassador. He was also a kind and warm individual who always had time for those interested in his beloved park. He was awarded the OBE in 1998.

Geoffrey Thompson died at the Pleasure Beach, during a private family function at the park.  It is fitting that he died in the place he loved so much, as the Pleasure Beach will remain a lasting tribute to a truly great man.

The Pleasure Beach remains open for business as usual. Geoffrey's funeral will be held on 23 June 2004 at a nearby church. Geoffrey's daughter Amanda has now been appointed as Managing Director, with his son Nick retaining his existing role as Deputy Managing Director.

Seaside Nostalgia on Video [4/6/04]

Take a trip down memory lane with three nostalgic videos of British seaside resorts. Memories of Clacton-on-Sea shows you the Pier and its famous Steel Stella roller coaster, Butlin's Pleasure Park and the Butlins Holiday Camp which replaced it, the 1953 floods, the Palace by the Sea, and much, much more.

We also now stock the two-volume Southend Memories series. Each tape offers one hour of pure nostalgia, featuring the Kursaal, Golden Mile, Southend Pier, two Pier fires, the Golden Hind, the Empire Theatre, and much more.

We have loads more seaside memories in other videos, such as Skegness, Blackpool, Brighton, Colwyn Bay, Scarborough, Rhyl, Aberystwyth and Weston-Super-Mare.

Click here for our full range of videos and DVDs.

Rare Nottingham Goose Fair Books Added [4/6/04]

More second-hand books have been added to the Secondhand Shop - be sure to visit soon, as books have been selling very quickly. The first item is the very rare Nottingham Evening Post celebration of 700 Years of Goose Fair by Ian Manning. Published in 1994, this A4-sized book is packed full of information and photographs of this famous fair's 700 year history.

Even more scarce is a 1979 booklet published by the Nottingham Historical Film Unit, looking back at the early history of the fair. Old Nottingham Goose Fair: A Story in Pictures is a detailed and superbly illustrated publication. And for Goose Fair collectors, we have an original Goose Fair: A Legend of Nottingham cover, over 100 years old.

New Funfair DVDs [4/6/04]

Two new funfair DVDs have been added to Joyland Books, both of which are also available on video. The first is Kirkcaldy Links Market 2004. This video of the 700th Anniversary Fair shows Europe's largest street fair in action. Click here for details of the video and here for the new book about Kirkcaldy Links Market.

The second new DVD is the latest in the popular Fun Fairs on the Move series. Fun Fairs on the Move 2004 Vol 7 DVD shows fairground transport at Stamford Mid-Lent Fair, Wakefield's Heath Common and Spalding. Click here for details.

And click here for our full list of fairground DVDs and videos.

Joyland Forum: Come on in! [26/5/04]

We are pleased to announce that the Joyland Forum has reopened on a brand new, state-of-the-art server. Visit the Forum to discuss amusement parks, theme parks, travelling fairs and the Great British Seaside.

We also have special forums to post messages about the Save Dreamland Campaign and your favourite books, videos and DVDs. If you aren't already a member, just click on register, sign up, and join in the fun! Click here to go straight to the Forum.

Pleasure Beach Fire: Not Arson [25/5/04]

According to the Blackpool Gazette, arson has been ruled out as the cause of the fire that destroyed part of the Grand National roller coaster and damaged the Alice's Wonderland and Trauma Towers rides. Although the official results of the investigation will not be known until later this week, a representative of the fire service has already stated that an electrical fault is the most likely cause.

Ride the Flying Machine at Crystal Palace [24/5/04]

New to Joyland Books is a fascinating look at one of Britain's most famous pleasure palaces, the Crystal Palace. Besides the famous glass palace and park, Crystal Palace also featured a sizeable amusement park, with rides such as the Water Chute, Helter Skelter, Joy Wheel and Hiram Maxim's Flying Machine (pictured on the front cover, right).

The Perfect Playground is built up from taped interviews made by the Palace Memories Group who are committed to preserving first-hand accounts of the Palace for future generations. The book includes many unusual photographs - many published for the first time. Click here for details.

Although the big rides have all gone, the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs still exist in the park. Click here for details of a book about the world's first prehistoric sculptures.

Above: The Perfect Playground: Childhood Memories of the Crystal Palace.

Grand National on Fire Again [23/5/04]

Granada News is reporting that twenty fire-fighters returned to Blackpool Pleasure Beach yesterday when the Grand National roller coaster reignited following the fire on Thursday evening. Fire-fighters were in the park for several hours and had to cut away part of the ride to put out the blaze and protect the surviving parts of the ride.

Joyland Books Forum [22/5/04]

The Joyland Books Forum will be down for approximately 24-48 hours whilst Joyland's UK website (on which the Forums are hosted) is transferred to a new, larger server. This will result in a much faster and more reliable forum. All of our other services, including the shopping basket, are unaffected by this move. The UK and US Joyland Books websites will continue to operate normally during this period. We thank you for your patience and apologise for any inconvenience. The Forums will be back on line on Monday.

The Story of Harris's Fun Fairs Reduced! [21/5/04]

Joyland Books has slashed 5.00 off the price of The Story of Harris's Fun Fairs.

The Story of Harris's Fun Fairs is the amazing tale of one of the great showland families which has travelled the Eastern Counties since the late 1700s. Written by Ken Page, the book has been acclaimed by World's Fair newspaper, and features well over 400 photographs, many in colour. The book has been a strong seller at its original price of 20, but Joyland Books now makes it available at only 15.00. Click here for more information and how to buy.

Right: The colourful cover of The Story of Harris's Fun Fairs, now only 15!.

Fire at Blackpool Pleasure Beach [20/5/04]

10.15pm on Thursday 20 May: News has just come in to Joyland Books from Blackpool Illuminations Manager Richard Ryan that there is a large fire at the Pleasure Beach. Fire engines are attending the scene. The fire appears to be coming from the Grand National station, Trauma Towers and Alice's Wonderland. We understand that the much of the Grand National Station has been destroyed.

Update 11.30pm: We understand from Blackpool Pleasure Beach that the Grand National station area has been partly destroyed, and the Trauma Towers and Alice's Wonderland dark rides have also been damaged. Part of the side wall of the Alice's Wonderland ride has collapsed. The Grand National, a twin-track racing wooden roller coaster built in 1935, is one of the Pleasure Beach's most famous attractions. Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Managing Director Geoffrey Thompson has already pledged to rebuild the Grand National.

New Books, New DVD! [18/5/04]

Amusement Parks of New Jersey by Jim Futrell is a comprehensive guide profiling 17 major amusement parks in the Garden State. Complete information on rides and attractions is accompanied by dozens of vintage photographs and postcard scenes. Poole's Myriorama, by Hudson John Powell, is the fascinating story of the Poole brothers, who back in the late 1800s travelled panoramas and dioramas, along with 'Pepper's Ghost' shows, the forerunner of the modern ghost train. This book, which also features over 50 pictures, provides an authoritative account of the history of the showmen and their contemporaries.

And for lovers of long lost amusement parks, The History of Belle Vue is now available on DVD in three volumes. Click here for information on Volume One.

Alton Towers Boss Resigns [15/5/04]

Ralph Almond, divisional director of Alton Towers, has resigned after nine years with the park. Mr Almond's time with Alton Towers has seen the installation of roller coasters Oblivion and AIR , and the development of two hotels and a water park. It has also seen the controversial introduction of car parking charges. His resignation was reportedly due to restructuring at the park by its owners, the Tussauds Group.

Celebrate 700 Years of Kirkcaldy Links Market [3/5/04]

Kirkcaldy Links Market has a special atmosphere all of its own: a heady mixture of fun, sophistication and nostalgia made up of bright lights, music, breathtaking rides and colourful sideshows, all adding up to the longest street fair in Europe and the largest in Scotland. Released to coincide with the 700th Anniversary of the granting of the original Charter in 1304, Kirkcaldy Links Market by Carol McNeill is a history of this famous Scottish fair.

This fascinating story is told with the help of numerous photographs, both colour and black & white, and the book is already winning excellent reviews.

Click here for details.

Seaside Celebration at Joyland [3/5/04]

With spring upon us it is time to visit the seaside with the help of Joyland Books. The English Seaside is a wonderful collection of coloured photographs covering all the major – and several minor – resorts around England’s coast. This unique book celebrates the heyday of the seaside holiday - in Victorian and Edwardian times - based on postcards of resorts from the 1890s onwards. John Hannavy, Professor in Art and Design at Bolton Institute, has assembled a fine collection of seaside photographic prints, both colour and black & white, with fascinating text. Click here for details.

If you just can't get enough of the British seaside, then visit our special Seaside department where you will find enough seaside books to last you all summer!

Blackgang Chine Coaster Fails Safety Test [2/5/04]

The owners of Blackgang Chine Theme Park on the Isle of Wight have demanded that the Italian manufacturers of their new 'Tornado' roller coaster either get the ride running by the end of May 2004 or dismantle it and returns the ride to Italy. The 310,000 Tornado coaster was exclusively announced by Joyland Books in December 2002, with a special VIP opening ceremony planned for June 2003. The ride's opening was delayed until October 2003, to allow "modifications" to be made to the ride. The ride never opened. Having been standing but not operating for a year, it has now been revealed that the new ride did not open in 2003 because it failed to meet UK health and safety regulations, which require at least 800 millimetres clearance between the side of cars and the columns which support the ride. The ride had instead been built to German specifications, which only require 500mm clearance. The manufacturers are currently fabricating new support columns in Italy to replace the existing stanchions. If this work has not been completed by the end of May, Blackgang Chine has demanded that the ride is dismantled and removed from the park.

Above: Tornado - standing but not operating for a year.

Buy Your Own Piece of Pleasure Beach History [30/4/04]

Newly rebranded Pleasure Beach Blackpool (formerly Blackpool Pleasure Beach) announces a special charity memorabilia auction for Sunday 14 May 2004. Up to 100 items will be going under the hammer including Log Flume boats, Dodgems and Vintage Cars, ride wheels, show memorabilia, Big One track, park signs and Revolution car bodies. Plus the Big Dipper seat where Richard Rodriguez sat during his 2000 world record marathon! Viewing at the Horseshow in the Casino building from 11am. The auction starts at 12 noon. The auction is in support of UNICEF.

South East Amusement Parks on DVD [28/4/04]

Travel back to 1993 and visit some of the South East coast's best amusement parks and fairground in this unique DVD from Dave Homer Video, South East Tour 1993. See Margate's famous Dreamland Amusement Park, when it was Bembom Brothers' White Knuckle Theme Park. See rides like the Looping Star, Water Chute and Britain's biggest Big Wheel in action.

Then visit Folkestone's Rotunda Amusement Park, owned by Jimmy Godden. See the Super 8 Bahn Coaster in action (now Pleasurewood Hills' Cannonball Express) and get wet on the Log Flume.

Then visit fairs at Margate, Hastings and Horsted Keynes. Click here for details.

2m Investment for Loudoun Castle Theme Park [27/4/04]

Scotland's biggest theme park has announced a 2 million package of new rides and attractions over the next 12 months. The biggest ride would be a 1500ft long chairlift, offering stunning views across the beautiful Castle grounds, and featuring two stations. Loudoun Castle was acquired by Parkware Ltd in January 2003, and Managing Director Henk Bembom has stated that visitors will notice a big difference at the park over the coming months, with five new rides. New rides for 2004 include the Slitherin' Roller Coaster (opens in May), the Black Pearl (Dreamland's former Mary Rose) and the Captain's Wheel enterprise ride.
Above: Crowds queue to enter Loudoun Castle Theme Park.
For more details visit the park's website:

Coney Beach Amusement Park to be Redeveloped [26/4/04]

Porthcawl's famous Coney Beach Amusement Park, the town's biggest tourist attraction for over 60 years, is to be redeveloped under Council plans. The Porthcawl Development Framework, drawn up by consultants for Bridgend County Borough Council, proposes to develop a road across the centre of the site, with residential development, a public park, and 'mixed use' development across the remainder of the site. Despite describing the amusement park as "the main reason for people visiting Porthcawl", the consultants recommend that redevelopment commences within 2 years.
Above: The entrance to Coney Beach Amusement Park.

New Coaster to Open at GreenWood Forest Park [26/4/04]

A brand new roller coaster is to open on 29th May 2004 at the GreenWood Forest Park in North Wales. The 280-metre long Green Dragon will use "green technology" to hoist the trains up the lift hill. It will achieve a speed of 22 mph and is based on an idea once used in the country’s slate quarries. GreenWood Forest Park managing director Stephen Bristow explains: “We are doing this with people. They walk up a hill, get into a carriage, roll down the rails and so pull up the empty coaster cars, which are on a transporter on the main track. At the bottom, the passengers get out, walk up the hill again and go on the ride. At the end of the ride the cars roll onto the transporter, the people get off and the process starts again.” The Energy Coaster, which will cost 460,000, is being part-funded by a 220,000 grant from the Wales Tourist Board. It will create 34 new jobs and will generate more electricity than it uses. For more information, visit

Secondhand Roller Coaster Magazines Added [25/4/04]

Perfect for roller coaster enthusiasts who want to read more about their favourite ride, Joyland Books has added second-hand copies of the UK's two leading roller coaster magazines, First Drop and Airtime.

First Drop - the magazine of the European Coaster Club - is Europe's top coaster magazine, packed with in-depth articles and news, plus stunning photographs. We have the first 56 issues available to buy, and various other packs of old editions of the magazine, all in good condition.

Airtime is the magazine of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, and we have the first 9 issues available to buy.

Click here for a full list of second-hand magazines and books.

Above: First Drop 58

Stamford Mid Lent Fair 2004 on DVD [24/4/04]

Experience all the sights, sounds and excitement of the 2004 Stamford Mid Lent Fair on DVD now. This was the largest Mid Lent Fair  in this Lincolnshire market town's history, featuring many new large attractions. These included John Bugg's 'Oblivion' Afterburner, James Cox's Move It 32, C&R Amusements' 'Air Force 1' Street Fighter and Theodore Whyatt's Jump and Smile. This year James Mellors presented a new fairground section on the town meadows. That included his 'Magic Mouse' spinning car roller coaster on a first time visit. Also featured on this video is the transport pull on, which is one of the highlights of the fair.

As with all BCM productions, it is without commentary or music, just the full fairground experience. Click here for more details.

Visit our DVD and Video Shop.

Ride New Coasters on DVD [23/4/04]

A brand new DVD full of the world's latest roller coaster rides has been added to Joyland Books. Roller Coaster Adventures Volume 7 has the newest and most exciting roller coasters on the planet. Experience these amazing roller coasters with never-before-seen footage, full circuit point-of-view rides, exclusive construction footage, and all access admittance inside the massive steel and wooden structures.

The DVD features front seat rides on Magnus Colossus, Tizona, Tren Bravo, Flying Coaster, Twister II, Boomerang, Mind Eraser, The Phoenix, Twister, Tennessee Tornado, Superman, Batman, Stuntfall, Gwazi, Montu and the latest prototype coaster, Screaming Squirrel.

Click here for more details.

Take a Trip to Coney Island [23/4/04]

Coney Island, photographed by Howard Stein, is an evocative and colourful collection of colour images and is now available from Joyland. With photographs of the amusement parks, the colourful rides, the roller coasters, the ride operators, the side stalls, the street entertainers. The photographs reveal a Coney Island that is very much alive. Click here for details.

More Coney Island...
Coney Island by Professor Solomon
Coney Island Vol 1 Video
Coney Island Vol 2 Video

Fairs on the River Thames! [23/4/04]

Frost Fairs took place frequently on the Thames for 600 years. London historian and art expert Nicholas Reed looks in detail at some of the many pictures of those fairs in the book Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames. Feasting and drinking were much in evidence, with oxen being roasted on the ice and the first roundabouts appearing. From just before Christmas, when the Thames froze solid enough for people to walk from one bank to another, people would take to the ice for fun, games and profit. The fairs all took place upstream from the Old London Bridge. With forty illustrations, most of them in colour, this book is a must for anyone interested in London's river. Click here for more details.

More Secondhand Books Added...[23/4/04]

A number of second-hand books and other ephemera have been added to Joyland's Secondhand Shop. Two souvenir newspapers have been added. The first, Coaster City News (right), is a special souvenir newspaper published in 1993 to celebrate the wooden roller coasters of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The 700th Goose Fair is a souvenir guide to the event published by the Nottingham Evening Post. Lots of books for roller coaster enthusiasts. Roller Coasters of America is a history of US coasters and a guide to the best coasters in the country. Roller Coasters or I Had so Much Fun I Almost Puked is a general book about coasters aimed at junior readers. The Amusement Park Guide is the first edition of the now legendary US park guide. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Click here for a full list.

Theme Park Millionaires Ride High in Times Rich List [18/4/04]

Today's Times Rich List again features several amusement park millionaires. Top of the list as usual is Blackpool Tower and American Adventure owner Trevor Hemmings, with a fortune of 700 million (up from 480 million last year). He bought Blackpool Tower in 1998 for 74 million, and plans to open resort casinos in Blackpool following the proposed gambling deregulation. Also rising this year is the owner of Fantasy Island, John Woodward, with his fortune up from 63 to 67 million. However profits in his Fantasy Island/Blue Anchor Leisure Group fell in 2002 to 3.9 million (with a turnover of 29.7m), but his East Coast theme park resort is valued at 64 million. David Allen, with a net worth of 48 million, has a stake in Bourne Leisure, the owner of the Butlins Family Entertainment Resorts empire.

Adventure Island Makes Bid for Dreamland [16/4/04]

The Save Dreamland Campaign today announces that the owner of Southend's Adventure Island Theme Park has made a bid to buy Margate's famous Dreamland Pleasure Park. Dreamland, the home of the UK's oldest roller coaster, has been threatened with demolition for over a year, but a campaign has been set up to save it. If successful in their bid, Adventure Island would invest 10m in new rides and attractions, including the full restoration of the 84-year-old Scenic Railway. For more details, visit the Save Dreamland News page.

Japanese Coaster Madness at Joyland Books! [12/4/04]

Following on from the success of Front Seat Thrills and the Roller Coaster Adventures series, Joyland Books brings to the UK another fantastic DVD full of roller coaster rides. Pure, unadulterated front seat point-of-view (POV) rides on some amazing coasters that are little known in the west. No music, no sound effects, no editing; just 100% front seat rides on roller coasters the like of which you will have never seen before.

This program features 12 on board full 'point-of-view' rides, aerial shots, and exclusive tours of these amazing roller coasters. Some of these coasters cannot be seen anywhere except this DVD.

Cross the world and ride these eastern delights: Click here for more details.

New Fairground Book: Funfairs at Fleet [12/4/04]

A new fairground book has been released looking at the history of funfairs visiting the Hampshire town of Fleet. In Funfairs at Fleet, local author Phyl Ralton uses original research and people's memories to show which fairs came to Fleet, and the rides and engines that were used. Photographs, some previously unpublished, have been chosen to illustrate this aspect of Fleet's history. This will appeal to Fleet residents who want to know more of the history of their town and to people with an interest in steam engines and showmen.

The book costs only 5 and is available from Joyland Books now. Click here for more details or to order a copy.

Rare Used Books Added [12/4/04]

Some of the hardest to find used fairground books have been added to Joyland's Secondhand Shop. Heading up the list is Savage of King's Lynn, David Braithwaite's much sought-after story of the famous inventor of machines and merry-go-rounds. The Travelling People is the extremely rare and revealing insight into life behind the fairground cashbox. A Pictorial History of the Carousel is a beautiful hardback book looking at carousels around the world, and Fair Organs features 50 pictures of these fairground music machines. Other newly added titles include Wish You Were Here, the art of Donald McGill, a rare guide to the Battersea Pleasure Gardens, English Fairs and Markets and a photographic record of Blackpool's Pleasure Beach Through the Camera of Lichfield.

New Funfair DVDs [12/4/04]

Two brand new funfair DVDs/videos have been added to Joyland Books. King's Lynn Mart 2004 allows you to soak up the atmosphere of the first fair of the new season. The Tuesday Market Place was filled with a varied selection of amusements. The grand official civic opening ceremony is featured, followed by all the rides and attractions in full swing at night. Also featured is the showmen's transport and living vans pulling off.

Held on the Elland Road Football Ground car park, the 2004 Leeds Great Valentines Fair featured the largest collection of rides and attractions ever, professionally presented by International Funfairs. Also featured is a wide variety of showmen's transport arriving at the pull-on.

Click here for our full selection of videos and DVDs.

April Sale: 7 off Men at Work! [9/4/04]

For the month of April, buy a copy of Men at Work for only 12.99, a saving of 7.00 off the recommended retail price! The book tells the story of fairground ride builders Orton & Spooner and the artistry of the father and son team, Albert and Sid Howell, whose work adorned many of their most famous rides. The Howells were regarded as two of the most respected fairground artists of the Twentieth Century and this book shows many examples of their huge talent, as well as paintings and drawings from their private collections. Featuring over 200 never before seen photographs from the Howell collection, many in colour, this book will be a must for anyone interested in the history of fairground rides or fairground art. Click here for details.

Crealy Acquires Popular Cornish Theme Park [28/3/04]

Maximum Fun Ltd, the owner of Devon's Crealy Adventure Park, has acquired Shires Family Adventure Park, near Newquay in Cornwall. The 110-acre theme park, which will reopen on 1 April 2004 as Crealy Great Adventure Park features several major attractions, including a new log flume, water coaster, pirate ship and a huge indoor play area. Maximum Fun's Managing Director Angela Wright MBE, has confirmed that the park's existing staff will be retained, and has announced plans to invest in new attractions at the park over the coming years. The original Crealy Park was founded in 1989 and features six 'realms', 9 rides and over 200 animals and now attracts over 500,000 visitors every year. 

New Range of Amusement Park Books Added [6/3/04]

A new series of books about America's amusement parks has been added to Joyland Books. Ohio's Amusement Parks in Vintage Postcards looks at many of the State's 54 amusement parks, from the little-known White City to the world-famous Cedar Point. Rochester's Lakeside Resorts and Amusement Parks shows in over 200 photographs the development, dates, locations and attractions that were a unique part of each resort. Rhode Island Amusement Parks and Gravesend: The Home of Coney Island tell the story of a bygone world of entertainment and fun. Finally, for a journey to many of America's greatest amusement parks, The Golden Age of Roller Coasters is a celebration of these wooden amusement park icons in the early years of the 20th Century.

Classic 1970s Coaster Documentary Available on DVD [29/2/04]

Available for the first time on DVD is this 1970s documentary following the construction of the Great American Scream Machine roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. Excitement builds as what was the world's biggest roller coaster rises from the ground. The picture quality may be  grainy, but this 1973 documentary is enthralling, with never-before-seen interviews with roller coaster designer John Allen and fascinating footage showing the construction, testing and opening of this beautiful wooden roller coaster.

The DVD also features bonus material: 1973 newsreel footage, Six Flags Over Georgia photographs, amateur film footage of Six Flags Over Georgia, and time lapse photography of the construction of the Georgia Cyclone. Click here for details.

Planning Application Submitted for 'Devon Eye' [29/2/04]

The owner of the Atlantic Adventure Park, a new fun park attached to the Atlantic Village Outlet Centre in Bideford (Devon), has applied for planning permission to construct a 35-metre big wheel at the park. Rick Turner, the park's operator, has reportedly been influenced by the famous 135-metre high London Eye. The popularity of the London attraction has seen big wheels popping up around the country, with a new 75-metre high big wheel at Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells (Lincolnshire), and a 60-metre high wheel has been operating in Birmingham for the last few months. Blackpool's 33-metre high Big Wheel on the Central Pier was re-erected last week following a major overhaul. A decision on the Devon Eye is expected from Torridge District Council within the next two months.

The Last Sideshow [21/2/04]

A totally unique book, about a community of circus and fairground sideshow performers in the USA, is out now and available from Joyland Books. The Last Sideshow by Hanspeter Schneider takes you into a world populated solely by sideshow 'freaks' and circus performers. Schneider, a leading European fashion photographer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Vogue and Stern, has created a permanent record showing beauty, humour and understanding. Click here for more details.

"Hanspeter doesn't just bring out a person's personality, he speeds them up, he makes them fly."
Stephan Meyer, German GQ

Visitor Numbers Down at Britain's Biggest Parks [21/2/04]

Both Legoland and Blackpool Pleasure Beach saw their visitor numbers fall in 2003, despite favourable weather conditions, according to statistics released by ALVA, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Legoland suffered the biggest fall of any tourist attraction represented by the association, dropping by 19%. ALVA, which represents only the UK's biggest and best-known attractions, claimed that Britain's most popular tourist attraction, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, welcomed only 5.7 million visitors in 2003, a drop of 10% on 2002. But Blackpool Pleasure Beach has clarified that the official visitor numbers for 2003 were actually 6.2 million, a small drop from the 2002 figure of 6.4 million. Other major tourist attractions to see their visitor numbers slump were London Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo and Tate Modern. The Museum of Liverpool Life saw the biggest gains, with a 40% increase. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is still ranked as the most visited attraction, and has a major programme of investment in new rides and attractions planned over the next five years, which will see the park change significantly.

Brighton Pier Wins Another Planning Battle [14/2/04]

Planning permission has been granted on appeal for two new rides on Brighton Pier. The permission will allow pier owners, the Noble Organisation, to replace the existing Ventura and Ranger rides with two 40-metre-high booster rides. Planning permission had been refused by Brighton and Hove City Council, but Government Inspector Katie Peerless overturned the decision and ordered the Council to pay part of the Noble Organisation's costs. The two new rides will be located either side of a 35m high drop tower ride, to be called Megadrop. 
Brighton Pier: Another planning battle won this week.

New Book Offers Insight Into the World of the Fair [8/2/04]

Between October 2003 and January 2004 the Pleasurelands Exhibition was held at the Millennium Galleries, offering visitors a way into the world of the fair. As the exhibition begins its UK tour, which takes it to Croydon and Edinburgh, Joyland Books offers you the chance to buy the book that accompanies the event. This book celebrates the essential ingredients that have enabled the travelling fairground industry to survive for the past eight hundred years; a tradition still very much alive. It comprises four extensive essays by Dr. Vanessa Toulmin (Director of the National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield): Spectacle, Experience, Illusion, and Reality. With 100 black and white photographs, and a 16-page colour section, this book takes you on a journey into a fascinating world. Click here for details.

Variety Days in Joyland's New Department [8/2/04]

More Variety Days is a new addition to Joyland's brand new department: Specialist Entertainment. This department will feature books on the history of numerous different forms of entertainment, many of which originated on the travelling fair. From freak shows and fairground sideshows to music hall and variety theatre. Look out for more books to be added over the coming months. More Variety Days is the critically acclaimed follow-up to 'Those Variety Days' (now deleted). Spanning two centuries, it starts with early nineteenth century fairs and fit-ups and ends in the 1980s with television and cabaret. Click here for more information.

Don't forget to bookmark our new department: Specialist Entertainment.

Changes at Blackpool Pleasure Beach for 2004 [2/2/04]

There will be several changes to Blackpool Pleasure Beach when it opens in March for the 2004 season. The Space Invader ride, opened by Doctor Who actor Colin Baker in 1984, has had a 1m revamp. The ride will feature state-of-the-art rocket cars, which will "shoot visitors to the moon". The ride will be renamed 'Space Invader 2'. An all-new ride is Bling, a 100ft high Zierer Star Shape ride. Other new attractions include a construction site complete with mini-diggers, tiny forklift trucks and pint-sized supertrucks, plus a remote control Formula One racing track. An all-new restaurant will open in a completely new themed area of the park opposite the Ghost Train and Wild Mouse. The side stalls in that area have all been demolished to create a new restaurant that will allow visitors to dine in "charming chalets with deep-eaved roofs, surrounded by flowing streams and gorges". The park opens for the first weekend in March, with wristbands at the reduced price of 10.

Joyland's Circus Book Range Expands [1/2/04]

Joyland Books' range of circus books has expanded with the addition of John Turner's much admired two-volume work on the history of circus performers. Victorian Arena Volumes One and Two are a detailed and well-researched biography of British Circus performers. The men and women who performed in the circus were equestrians, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, masters of every speciality of skill and dating. Their names were recorded on flamboyant posters. John Turner has combed the records, and brought the performers back to life in a work of fantastic research. Students of popular entertainment everywhere will find this work beyond compare, in revealing a world that seemed lost beyond recall. Click here for details.

New Rides for Brean Leisure Park [30/1/04]

A number of new rides and attractions are to open at Brean Leisure Park in Somerset for the 2004 season. Opening on 1 July 2004 are two major new rides:  Sky Scraper, a giant 30-metre high (over 100 feet) big wheel and Shock Wave, a looping roller coaster, previously located at Pleasure Island theme park at Cleethorpes. Two new rides for the children - Canoe River and Pony Adventure - will also open this year, and Terror Castle, the UK's most gruesome ghost train, has been refitted with terrifying new scenes imported from Hollywood. 

The End for Brighton's West Pier [29/1/04]

The Heritage Lottery Fund has formally withdrawn its 19m funding of the restoration of Brighton's West Pier, virtually ending all hope of the pier being rebuilt. Despite the recent fires which destroyed all the structures on the Pier, the West Pier Trust had hoped that the promised funds would still be forthcoming. It is estimated that demolition of the West Pier will cost 2m, but this can not take place until its Grade I listed status is reduced.

M&D's New Coaster for 2004 [28/1/04]

M&D's Theme Park near Glasgow has taken delivery of a new inverted coaster which it is hoped will be open for the 2004 season. The coaster, an Inverted Pinfari XP56, is 65 feet high, has two inversions and travels at a speed of 38 mph. The ride, which will be called Tsunami, operated at the Millennium Dome over the New Year period.

This is only one of several medium sized roller coasters opening in the UK at what promises to be a bumper year for coaster enthusiasts. 

Tsunami: Newly arrived at M&D's, Scotland's Theme Park
Two custom designed Maurer Sohne spinning coasters will open this year, one at Alton Towers and the other (larger) one at Chessington World of Adventures. Legoland Windsor will add a 52ft high Mack Wild Mouse, to be called Jungle Coaster. Codona's Amusement Park at Aberdeen will open a Mini Mega Coaster, similar to the rides already operating at Southend's Adventure Island and Gulliver's Land at Milton Keynes. And Pleasurewood Hills in Suffolk is also reported to be opening two Vekoma coasters this year, one junior coaster and one inverted coaster for all the family. (With thanks: Jamie Lee)

Ride the Latest Coasters on DVD! [24/1/04]

Joyland Books now stocks the full Roller Coaster Adventures series of DVDs. Ride the newest and most exciting roller coasters in the world. Experience these amazing roller coasters with never before seen footage, full circuit point-of-view rides and exclusive construction footage. Coaters from the USA, Japan, Europe and Australia are featured. The latest release, Volume 6, features the world's first strata coaster, Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, the world's first looping wooden coaster, Son of Beast at Paramount's Kings Island, and the world's first tilt-coaster, Gravity Max at Taiwan's Discovery World. Plus Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park, Cannon Ball at Lake Winnespesaukah, and much, much more. 

Click here for a full list of our roller coaster DVDs and videos.

Enjoy Front Seat Thrills on DVD [24/1/04]

The people who brought you the Roller Coaster Adventures series now bring you a DVD of uninterrupted, unobstructed front seat point-of-view excitement. On Front Seat Thrills you will experience a front seat ride on 35 different roller coasters from the USA, Germany and the UK. From classic wooden roller coasters to new mega steel coasters, you will be launched, flipped, dropped and twisted in every direction possible. Roller coasters like Top Thrill Dragster, Son of Beast, Superman Ride of Steel are just a few that await you! Click here for a full list of featured rides.

Click here for more details or to buy a copy. We have a large range of roller coaster DVDs - browse our range by clicking here.

And don't forget to visit our Message Board!

Circus Performers on Show in New Book [20/1/04]

Available to pre-order is a new book out in February 2004. The Last Sideshow is an interesting photographic account of a community of travelling circus performers in America. Hanspeter Schneider's book is a compelling portrait of the last surviving sideshow 'Freaks' and the community they founded in Gibsontown, Florida, USA. The images in this book are Schneider’s outstanding personal record of the town and the people that live there. They are a permanent record, showing beauty, humour and above all understanding. 

Click here for more information or to pre-order your copy of the book now!

More Secondhand Books [19/1/04]

The definitive history of carousels around the world heads up the new additions to Joyland's Secondhand Shop. Carousel Horses: A Photographic Celebration starts with the early development of Gallopers in England, before chronicling the growth of carousels around the world. With chapters on buying carousel horses, restoring carousel horses and carving new carousel horses, this out-of-print book is highly regarded. Other books added include further copies of British Piers; The Belle Vue Story; Looking Back at Belle Vue; Blackpool Pleasure Beach: A Palette of Life and - one for the collector - an original 1951 guide to the Battersea Pleasure Gardens.

New Books Added [18/1/04]

Joyland Books has added several new books to the Book Shop. Traction Engines is an informative book about all forms of steam road engines, including the King of the Road - the glorious and glittering showman's engine. Miniature Railways looks at the myriad different types of eccentric little railways in Britain, from seaside resorts to amusement parks. Piers and Other Seaside Architecture looks at all forms of Britain's colourful seaside architecture, from piers to beach huts. Birmingham Onion Fair celebrates the long history of this much-loved event, and Fairs & Circuses in the Black Country is the story of travelling entertainment in this part of Britain. Both of these titles can be found in our Fairground Bookstore. Click here for a full list of books.

European Coaster Thrills on DVD [18/1/04]

One of the most popular releases of 2002 was the European Coaster Thrills video. Now we take you even closer to the action with the release of European Coaster Thrills on DVD, with an extra 15 minutes of bonus footage! Turn your easy chair into the front seat and experience a whole new meaning of speed and suspension. You will see the coasters in every detail, accompanied by a blasting soundtrack. The DVD version contains more than 15 minutes of bonus material of the roller coasters 'Thriller' (Oscar Bruch, Six Flags), 'Goliath' (Six Flags Holland), 'SilverStar' (Europa Park) and a hidden feature (easteregg).

Click here for details.

Limited Edition Fairground Print Available [4/1/04]

Following the success of last year's publication, Houghton Feast: The Ancient Festival of Houghton-le-Spring, local author Paul Lanagan has produced a limited edition lithograph print featuring the Houghton Feast Lake fairground in 1914.

Each print is individually numbered and is an ideal gift. As an added bonus, the reverse of each print features a recently uncovered Houghton Feast poem. Click here for details.

Chessington Plans to Go Ahead [2/1/04]

The regeneration and revitalisation of Chessington World of Adventures - which will change the park beyond all recognition - are to go ahead after councillors at the London Borough of Kingston voted in favour of the plans. The park is to be changed from a theme park to a 22-acre safari park with 20m hotel, with theme park rides taking a back seat. Despite a huge amount of local objection, the development committee passed nine out of the ten planning applications, including 4d Cinema and a 200 foot high 'Flying Island' viewing platform. Three of the applications (a 1,250-seat show venue, a beach complex and the 150-bedroom hotel) have to be referred to London Mayor Ken Livingstone. The only application still awaiting approval by the Council is the animal safari.

Fun Fair Videos on DVD! [2/1/04]

New for 2004 are funfair videos on DVD. Several of our most popular funfair videos have been made available on DVD for 2004, for the same price as they were on video. From Boston Fair to Goose Fair, see your favourite fair in digital quality. Click here for a full list of Videos and DVDs - the titles available on DVD are clearly marked.

Happy New Year From Joyland Books [1/1/04]

Happy New Year from all of us at Joyland Books! Joyland has had yet another fantastic year. Visitor numbers to the main website in November 2003 (the last full month for which statistics are available) were up by 108% compared to the same month last year (which itself was up by 90% over the same period the previous year). 
2003 has been an eventful year for Joyland Books. In January 2003, it was announced that Margate's Dreamland Fun Park was to close and be redeveloped as a supermarket and shops. Dreamland is home to the Grade II listed Scenic Railway roller coaster (the ride had been listed the previous year following a report issued by Joyland Books editor Nick Laister to the UK Government in 2001). In the same month Nick set up the Save Dreamland Campaign, which has had a successful year. One of the highlights of the Campaign's year was the Save Dreamland Convention at Margate's historic Theatre Royal in June 2003. 
Above: The Scenic Railway, Dreamland, now under threat.

Later in January, Joyland Books launched a new Forum for discussing amusement parks, theme parks and funfairs. April saw the release of the highly acclaimed book Kursaal Memories - the history of Southend's famous amusement park - which turned out to be one of the big hits of the year. In May, Joyland jumped on the Kursaal Memories bandwagon, with the launch of a special exhibition of Kursaal photographs, all from the new book. In July, Joyland Books entered the art world with a new department selling limited edition reproductions of watercolour, acrylic and airbrush paintings of gallopers and carousels by award-winning American artist Deborah Budney. September saw the release of a landmark book on the history of fairground ride builders Orton & Spooner and the art of father and son team Albert and Sid Howell, whose work adorned many of their most famous rides. Men at Work, by the late Alan S Howell, won rave reviews and turned into a substantial Christmas hit. The release was quickly followed by an exclusive photographic exhibition. In November, Joyland Books editor Nick Laister was contacted by a campaign group fighting to save Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds. With Nick's help, the Aerial Glide ride, threatened with imminent demolition, became a Grade II listed building, adding a further obstacle to the closure of this much-loved amusement park.

Top 50 Worldwide Amusement/Theme Parks Announced [1/1/04]

Amusement Business Magazine has issued a list of the world's top 50 amusement and theme parks for the 2003 season. Topping the list is the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (Florida, USA), with 14.4 million visitors. In fact, nine of the top 15 parks in the world were Disney parks. Only one UK park - Blackpool Pleasure Beach - makes the Top 15, with 6.2 million visitors. Only one other UK park appears in the Top 50: Alton Towers, with 2.5 million visitors. Amusement Business also ranks the world's Top 10 Amusement Park Chains. Unsurprisingly, Disney heads the list with 96.96 million visitors. The other chains in the top 10 are: 

2: Six Flags (48.17m); 3: Universal Studios (31.04m); 4: Anheuser-Busch (20.02m); 5: Cedar Fair (14.65m); 6: Paramount (13.64m); 7: Palace Entertainment (12.38m); 8: Grupo Magico (11.38m); 9: The Tussauds Group (10m); 10: Blackpool Pleasure Beach Group (8.4m). For more information, visit

Coaster Club Chairman Awarded MBE [1/1/04]

The Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain (RCCGB) Chairman, Mr Andy Hine, has been awarded an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s 2004 New Years Honours List.  The honour has been given for his ‘Services to Tourism’. Andy Hine founded the RCCGB in August 1988 and has continued to Chair the Club from its inauguration.  

Fun Fairs on the Move [1/1/04]

Fun Fairs on the Move looks at the wide variety of transport at UK fairs. This new series of videos follows pull-ons at places including Wakefield, Hertford, Knutsford Spalding and Nottingham. Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are now available from Joyland Books. 

Several more fairground new videos have been added to the Video Shop:

Oxford St Giles Fair 2003
Hull Fair 2003

Goose Fair 2003
Kirkcaldy Links Market 2003
Stamford Mid Lent Fair 2003
Cambridge Mid Summer Fair 2003

Boston May Fair 2002

More Secondhand Books [1/1/04]

Several books have been added to the Secondhand Shop for the New Year. Highly collectable is the 1951 guide to the Festival Pleasure Gardens at Battersea, London. We have two different editions of one of the most sought after fairground books, Seventy Years a Showman (1927 and 1938 editions). Fairground history is also celebrated in the following books: The English Circus and Fair Ground; Fairground Steam; and The English Fair

Click here for the Secondhand Shop.

Click here to discuss books in our Forum.

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