This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 January and 30 June 2005.
For the latest news, click here.

Legoland on the brink of takeover [12/6/05]

The bidding war for Legoland theme parks is now down to the final three bidders, with the four-park chain likely to fetch 370m.

The three firms in the running are American private equity companies Blackstone Group (owner of UK-based Merlin Entertainments and 50% owner of Universal Studios Theme Park in Florida) and Apollo Management and London-based Palamon Capital Partners (owner of the former European arm of Six Flags theme parks). Dubai International Capital - the owners of Tussauds Group - were also reportedly a bidder, but are not thought to have made it through to the final list. A deal is likely to be signed later this month.

Big Wheel Opens at Pleasureland [2/6/05]

A new ride will open at Pleasureland on Saturday. The ride is a unique Big Wheel, which previously operated at Southsea's Clarence Pier. Unlike most big wheels, this 'Flying Saucers' wheel also tuns around its base and is the only wheel of its kind still operating. The wheel is owned by Blackpool Illuminations Manager, Richard Ryan, who has restored the wheel over the last few years just outside Blackpool. The ride is identical to the 'Flying Saucers' wheel that operated at Pleasureland during the 1960s and 1970s. For more details on the new wheel, visit the website

UPDATE 8/6/05: The Wheel successfully opened at the weekend and is now open throughout the 2005 season. Click the image for a larger image.

Above: Richard's Wheel

Find out more about Pleasureland's original 'Flying Saucers' wheel, and the history of the park in general, in a brand new book called Pleasureland Memories, which is released in July. More details of this nostalgic new publication will be added to Joyland over the next couple of weeks. Click here if you would like to be informed when the book is released.

Rush Opens at Thorpe Park [28/5/05]

Thorpe Park's major new ride for 2005, Rush, opened on Friday. Billed as "the world’s biggest air-powered speed swing", riders are powerfully launched into the air to swing to and fro at speeds of up to 40mph and reaching a G-force of 4G. The park has also opened another major thrill ride, Slammer, for the 2005 season. The opening of Rush will be featured extensively on Sky News on Bank Holiday Monday 30 May, from 10am. Unconfirmed guests on the programme are European Coaster Club Chairman Richard Foster and theme park planning consultant Nick Laister.

New DVD Features Two Funfairs [28/5/05]

New to Joyland Books is a DVD that features not one but two well-known East Midlands fairs: Spalding and Boston May Fair 2005. Starting with the pull-on for Roger Tuby's Tulip Time Fair in Spalding Town Centre, this is followed by the rides in action, including George Burrow's 'Cyclone' Twist, David Cox's Dodgems, Sheldon Dowse's Waltzer, and much more.

The programme then moves to Boston town centre with the rides pulling on. Billy Crow's 'Equinox' loads are the first to arrive, followed by many more superb showmen's loads. Finally, all the major rides are seen in action at this large street fair, including this year's new attractions, Garry Evans's 'Buzz Bomb' Booster, Walter Murphy's 'Xtreme' Booster and Freddie Stoke's Superbob.

Click here for more details.

Tour an Abandoned Theme Park on DVD! [26/5/05]

Joyland Books has added an extremely unusual DVD to its expanding selection of amusement park and roller coaster DVDs and videos. Heritage USA: The Complete Tour takes you around the site of the now-abandoned theme park, which was once the third most visited park in the USA. You will get to see exclusive footage and have all access inside the buildings, hotels, PTL studios, Heritage Island water park, and much more. As the property has been closed and has now sat abandoned for years, this DVD will give you a look at how Heritage USA now resembles more of a ghost town than a thriving theme park. It also comes with a bonus CD interview with its former owner, Jim Bakker.

For more details on this fascinating DVD, click here.

Blackstone Acquires Merlin [26/5/05]

Merlin Entertainments has been acquired by US investment giant Blackstone Capital Partners for 102.5 million, from Hermes Private Equity. Merlin, based in Poole, Dorset, is one of Europe’s leading operators of branded visitor attractions under the Sea Life, Dungeons, Seal Sanctuary and Earth Explorer brands. The company operates 28 attractions in eight European countries, and welcomed more than six million visitors in the year ended February 2005.

The expectation is that Blackstone will now use Merlin as a stepping stone to enter the European theme park industry, with the company tipped to be eyeing up the Legoland theme parks. The acquisition of Legoland would create Europe's second largest theme park operator after Tussauds Group. Joseph Baratta, a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group, said Blackstone was excited about the opportunity to back Merlin in the further roll-out of its high quality brands across Europe. “We believe that the European attractions and theme park sector will enter a period of consolidation in the medium term and that Merlin is an excellent base from which to pursue follow on acquisition opportunities.”

The British Seaside at the National Maritime Museum [11/5/05]

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is holding a nostalgic and historic study day on 5 June 2005, looking at the British Seaside. John K Walton, seaside historian and author of ‘The Blackpool Landlady: a social history’, introduces a highly visual day. Come and explore early unseen film footage of resorts curated by the National Fairground Archive and find out more about the lives and characters of itinerant seaside photography from 1850 to the 1950s. Magnum photographer, David Hurn, an animated speaker, will talk about his exhibited images of North Wales and there will be a talk about the mass observation project and the characterful photographs of Tony Ray Jones, who documented our resorts in the 1960s. To book tickets please call 020 8312 8575 or email

Sunday 5 June, 11.00 – 17.00, 15 (10 concessions)

Legoland and Merlin to Merge? [3/5/05]

Newspaper reports are suggesting that Legoland Theme Parks and Merlin Entertainments (operators of the Sea Life and London Dungeon attractions) may be merged if American investment firm Blackstone Group acquires the two companies. Blackstone Group, which in the early 1990s co-owned the Six Flags theme park chain, is reportedly to pay 100m for Merlin. It is also reportedly about to acquire the Legoland theme parks from the Danish company Lego. The two companies would then be merged, consolidating a very fragmented European attractions market.

Merlin is currently owned by Hermes Private Equity, which paid 72.5m for the company only 14 months ago. It operates 26 attractions across Europe. Merlin's attractions entertain about 6m visitors every year. When added to Legoland's similar visitor numbers, this would create a tourist attraction operator second only to Tussauds Group in the European market. Blackstone would be expected to open Sea Life Centres at the existing Legoland parks.

Above: Merlin's Dungeon attractions are based in London, Edinburgh, York and Hamburg.

Amusement Rides on new DVDs [2/5/05]

A new range of DVDs has been added to the ever-expanding Joyland video and DVD store. Amusement Rides Volumes 1, 2 and 3 are from the camera of leading fairground enthusiast David Wragg Jnr. The videos include both on and off-ride footage and lots of bonus features. Volume 1 features rides from around the Midlands, filmed between January and May 2004. Volume 2 features a mix of modern and vintage rides, including footage from the huge coasters of Fantasy Island Theme Park. Volume 3 features rides from the back-end run of fairs in 2004, again focussing on the Midlands.

These titles add to the already massive range of fairground videos and DVDs, which you can browse from here. And don't forget, we also stock a large selection of roller coaster and amusement park DVDs and videos.

New Book Celebrates Fairground Characters [30/4/05]

A new book celebrating the wonderful characters that have graced the stage, the fairgrounds, the lecture halls, the museums, the taverns and the streets. Written by Ricky Jay, author of Jay's Journal of Anomolies, this is an informal history of sensational, scientific, silly, satisfying and startling attractions based on seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century broadsides from Ricky Jay’s extraordinary collection. It includes observations on the convention of promoting such appearances, digressions on the manner and method of printing advertisements to do so, and insights into the psychology employed to that end.

Click here for more details, or here for more fantastic fairground books.

Rare Videos  Are Latest Addition to Joyland [30/4/05]

Three rare second-hand videos, and loads of second-hand books have just been added to Joyland's Secondhand Shop. Heading up the list is a video released to celebrate Britain's Year of the Roller Coaster in 1994, White Knuckle. Narrated by Andy Hine of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, this is a trip on some of the country's most thrilling roller coasters, including the Pepsi Max Big One, Nemesis, Shockwave and The Ultimate. We have also added Extreme Rides, a guide to thrill rides based on over-the-top pursuits such as sky-diving, bungee-jumping, white-water rafting and dragstrip racing. And from the other side of the pond, we have an early 1980s video called Wild Rides, which visits some of America's best roller coasters from the decade.

We have also added several more secondhand books, including the second edition of the Amusement Parks Guide; Dodgem Greaser; English Fairs and Markets; Fair Organs; A Pictorial History of the Carousel; Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History; and much more.

Pleasure Beach Opens New Park Area [30/4/05]

A brand new place to relax and refuel at Britain’s favourite tourist attraction slides opens its great glass doors in May. Described on the Pleasure Beach press release as "a cool oasis of calm, style and taste bud sensations", the Lounge at Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, will offer visitors a dazzling selection of traditional ice cream treats, delicious desserts and freshly brewed hot and cold drinks, all with a contemporary twist. Set under Pleasure Beach’s oldest ride – the 100 year old Sir Hiram Maxim’s Flying Machine – The Lounge perfectly blends the very latest in cutting edge design with luxurious products and a totally chilled out vibe.

The Lounge’s huge glass doors also slide open to reveal a glorious green space in the centre of Pleasure Beach that is dedicated to the memory of Pleasure Beach Managing Director Amanda Thompson’s father and grandmother - Pleasure Beach’s former Managing Director, Geoffrey Thompson OBE and former Chairman, Mrs Lilian Doris Thompson OBE MBE. Amanda Thompson said: “My grandmother adored ice cream and I think The Lounge, together with the Memorial Garden, is a wonderful way to dedicate a fabulous space within the park to her and to my father.”

The Lounge is just one part of Amanda Thompson’s plans to improve the aesthetics of the park and the whole visitor experience. Right next door to The Lounge is the brand new Oyster and Champagne bar, offering passers by and seated guests the very freshest seafood caught that very morning. Quite a far cry from the traditional theme park image of fast food.

Pleasure Beach Club Announces Park Event [28/4/05]

The Pleasure Beach 235 Club has announced a major event - the 'Back to basics' weekend at the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool on May 20-22, 2005.

During the three-day event you will be treated to exclusive riding, organised meals, superb evening entertainment and best of all a backstage tour of the park! The aim of this special event is to take you 'back to basics' and show you how the Pleasure Beach really works. The backstage tour will take you into the very heart of the park, over, under and around rides, attractions and places you never normally can go. Your expert tour guides will show you first-hand what makes some of the parks greatest rides work - a fascinating tour of the old and the new. This event is organised by the 235 Club, the Pleasure Beach's very own enthusiasts organisation! As part of a 2005 re-launch, the 'Back to Basics' weekend is open to non-members. Please book early to avoid disappointment. Full details can be found at:

Bridlington Wheel Receives Planning Permission [27/4/05]

A London Eye-style attraction looks set to be constructed at a Bridlington amusement park after the local Council granted planning permission for the 34 metre ride. Bridlington Town Council and several local residents objected to the planning application, which was reported on Joyland Books several days ago. The observation wheel, which will be called the Eye On The Bay, will have 24 carriages, each with six seats. Michael Harrison of Harrison Leisure Ltd, operators of the Bayside Fun Park, said that the ride would be a "major attraction" for the town.

Dreamland 2005 Opening Date Announced [24/5/05]

The Save Dreamland Campaign has announced that Dreamland will open on 21 May for the 2005 season, operated by showman Harry Ayers. The Scenic Railway will also be in operation throughout the season. Maintenance work is currently underway, including annual timber replacement and some repainting. The Scenic will be joined by several major white knuckle thrill rides plus some smaller children's and family rides. Rides will include Dodgems, Waltzer, Mega Spin, Super Bob, Orbiter, Drop Tower, Top Buzz and the Log Coaster from Gulliver's Land. Harry Ayers will shortly be promoting the park with a poster advertising campaign.

Above: Back in action - the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate

All Change at Grove Land [24/4/05]

It is all change at Grove Land Leisure Park in Carmarthenshire for the 2005 season. Rides such as the Thunderbolt roller coaster and Skyride Enterprise (both new in 2002) have all been returned to their owner, Bembom Rides of Margate. This year the park gets a new look as it has been leased out to the Deakin and Studt fairground families, who will operate the park for the 2005 season. Rides for this season include the Terminator, Freak Out, Freefall Tower, Bumper Cars, Bumper Boats and Waltzer. The park is open from 24 March to 4 September, with free entry and free parking. All rides are on a token system.

Gulliver's Milton Keynes to Expand [24/4/05]

Gulliver's Land Theme Park at Milton Keynes is to more than triple in size, with the opening of a new park called 'Eco-Park'. The park, which will be adjacent to the existing Gulliver's park, will be based on four themed areas. Rides will include a Dino Safari Tour, a 4D movie theatre and a wooden roller coaster. Construction has recently started, and the new park is expected to open in Easter 2007.

Doctor Who Lands at Brighton Pier [24/4/05]

Brighton Pier, the amusement park over the sea, is to be the home of the UK's second Doctor Who Exhibition. The new series of Doctor Who has been the surprise hit of 2005, with viewing figures of over 10 million, and visitors to Brighton Pier will be able to see an a huge array of material from the big budget series. The Brighton Exhibition joins the main 5,500 sqft Doctor Who Exhibition on Blackpool's Golden Mile, which also features props from the original series. The Brighton Exhibition opens on 14th May, and new attractions will be added as the television series progresses.

Behind the Sofa: Doctor Who comes to Brighton Pier!

Massive Big Wheel Planned for Bridlington amusement park [24/4/05]

A 108-foot high big wheel is planned for the Bayside Fun Park at Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. The wheel - to be called The Eye On The Bay - will form part of a multi-million pound development at the park, which will also include a Burger King, an all weather family amusement centre and will create around 100 new jobs. The development, from amusement park operator Harrison Leisure Ltd, should commence construction in October with a 2006 opening. Harrison Leisure has been operating in Bridlington for twenty years and employs 130 staff in peak season. It took over the Bayside Fun Park last year, since when it has spent 2m on new rides and attractions.

Save Dreamland Campaign Launches Exciting New Vision [24/4/05]

The campaign to save Margate's Dreamland Amusement Park recently stepped up a gear with the launch of a new concept plan by leading theme park designer, Jean-Marc Toussaint. The plan is backed by the owner of Southend's Adventure Island theme park, who is hoping to acquire Dreamland and invest millions of pounds in new rides and attractions. Click here for more details of the vision.

Amusement Park News Returns [24/4/05]

After a short break, Joyland Books will again be featuring all the latest industry news from the amusement park world. What new rides are planned, which parks are expanding, which are closing? Find it all here at Joyland!

New books, new DVDs, the latest news!

New Fairground Videos [10/4/05]

Nostalgia reigns supreme in our headline new release this month. All the Fun: Blackburn Easter Fair 1960 is a professionally produced DVD bringing back memories of one of the last fairs to be held on Blackburn's Market Square. See the fair and meet real-life fair folk from a now-lost era. The DVD also features bonus short clips and photo gallery. Click here for more details. We have also added five new fairground art CD-ROMs, featuring Newcastle Town Moor from the 1970s to the present day, plus the artwork of Fred Fowle and Tate Decor. We also feature a new CD of high resolution images of the Nottingham Goose Fair from the camera of Paul Wright. Plus, a new DVD of Stamford's Mid Lent Fair 2005 is also available.

Roller Coaster DVD Bonanza! [20/3/05]

Ride some of the most amazing roller coasters in the world in 3D in this new range of DVDs. Achterbahnen I and II are new releases of the classic US documentaries America's Greatest Roller Coaster Thrills in 3D volumes 1 and 2. These DVDs takes you on a journey on some of the fastest, largest, most notorious and most exciting roller coasters in the USA. The DVDs come with 3D glasses that will make you feel that you are really riding these massive wooden and steel monsters. Then you can watch Achterbahnen III: The World's Greatest Roller Coaster Thrills in 3D, taking you to roller coasters in the UK, Germany, Mexico, Australia, Spain and Hong Kong. These German DVDs come with the original English soundtrack, with an option to view a German version. Click here for details.

Watch the History of the Hoppings [20/3/05]

Never before seen on television, The Story of the Hoppings contains treasured moments from the social history of the North East of England, a journey through Newcastle’s world famous funfair, held on the Town Moor for over 120 years. Priceless archive photographs and film provide a unique insight into how the people of the North East have had all the fun of the fair spanning three different centuries. Characters from some of the most famous showmen’s families give revealing accounts of how the Hoppings has changed over the years and how the latest computer controlled rides rub shoulders with old favourites like the Waltzer, Dodgems, Ghost Train and Carousel. The largest travelling fair in Europe has survived two world wars and a thousand rainy days! Click here for details.

Ride Extreme Thrill Machines on DVD [12/2/05]

One of Joyland's most popular DVD titles has been Front Seat Thrills and its sequel, Front Seat Thrills 2. New out is another DVD full of front seat rides on some of the newest, most exciting rides out there: Extreme Thrill Machines. Ride designers are pushing every boundary that a human can endure when designing roller coasters that take you higher and faster than you thought you would ever go. On this new DVD, take a tour of some excellent parks, such as Six Flags Over Texas and Heide Park in Germany. Enjoy a fascinating aerial tour of Six Flags Great America. Witness rides like Tower of Terror and North America's first Half Pipe coaster, or the newest wooden twister, Thunderhead. Click here for more information...but don't forget to fasten your seat belt and hold on tight!

Fairground Art Reprinted [7/2/05]

Joyland Books is pleased to announce that the most famous fairground book of them all, Fairground Art by Geoff Weedon and Richard Ward, has been reissued in paperback. For more details, click here.

Book and DVD Celebrate Amusement Park History [5/2/05]

Customers with an interest in the history of amusement parks will be delighted with a newly added book and DVD celebrating two of America's most fondly remembered parks. Lincoln Park Remembered provides wonderful pictures and memories of this New England park from 1894 to 1987.

New out is a two-hour DVD on the history of Chicago's Riverview Park. Narrated by Chuck Wlodarczyk, it features famous rides such as the Bobs, Fireball, the Chutes and Pair-o-Chutes. It is the companion DVD to Chuck Wlodarczyk's highly acclaimed book, Riverview 1904-1967: Gone But Not Forgotten.

Rare Roller Coaster Books Added [29/1/05]

Several rare roller coaster books have been added to the Secondhand Shop, along with numerous other collectable titles. Joyland Books has managed to acquire a copy of one of the most sought after roller coaster books, Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History by Robert Preedy. We have also added a copy of The Giant Dipper: A Pictorial History, the story of the famous wooden coaster at San Diego, California. The Incredible Scream Machine is another highly collectable title. Fairground enthusiasts will want to read Dodgem Greaser, memoirs of a fairground boy. Or click here for further secondhand books, also added today.

The Circus Comes to Joyland Books [12/1/05]

We relaunch our circus bookstore with a massive new selection of specialist books on the subject, making Joyland Books the world's biggest specialist supplier of circus books. Heading up the new books is Billy Smart's Circus: A Pictorial History, telling the story of Europe's greatest circus in colour and black & white photographs. Clowns of the 20th Century includes photographs of 100 years of circus clowns. Circus Transport Photographs includes over 200 archive black & white and colour photographs from Britain and around the world. Clown Paintings features 65 compelling circus clown portraits. Circus beginners should try Introducing the Circus. For even more new circus books, visit our Circus Books page by clicking here.

Girl Shows and Side Shows at Joyland! [9/1/05]

Two books about the fascinating world of the fairground and carnival sideshow have been added to Joyland Books, both by the world's leading expert on the subject Al Stencell. Stencell, known as 'Canada's Barnum', was born in Perth Ontario, and started his own travelling tent circus in 1973. He is currently vice-president of the Circus Historical Society. Seeing is Believing is a book about the history of midway attractions (sideshows) and the showmen who presented them on American midways from the 1870s to World War II. Girl Show is another unique exploratioon of fairground sideshows, this book focusing on adult entertainment.

New DVDs Added [1/1/05]

New for 2005 on Joyland Books are DVD versions of some of our most popular videos. Heading up the new line-up is By Its Dome It's Known: The Story of the Southend Kursaal Amusement Park and Gardens. This DVD does exactly what it says on the tin, but comes with some special features not found on the original VHS video presentation. 'One Bright Spot' looks at the reopening of the new Kursaal, and 'Let's All Go To The Kursaal' and 'We've All Been To The Kursaal' are in depth audio histories of the famous amusement park. And don't forget that Ken Crowe's fantastic book Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park is still available!

We have also added DVD versions of Memories of Clacton-on-Sea and Southend Memories Volumes 1 and 2.

January Sale [1/1/05]

We have slashed the prices of some of our most popular books, videos and DVDs. We have knocked 25% off the price of Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park and 25% off From Lamp to Laser: The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations. These were our most popular titles of 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Fairground fans can also buy a selection of videos and DVDs at 2.50 off the usual price.

Click here for a full list of sale items. But hurry, as we have only limited stocks available!

Happy New Year From Joyland Books! [1/1/05]

Happy New Year from all at Joyland Books. As we enter our fifth full year of operation, Joyland Books is now established as the world's leading specialist supplier of amusement park, fairground, circus and seaside-related books, DVDs, videos and postcards. And what a year 2004 was! Visitors to the main Joyland Books website in November 2004 (the last full month for which data is available) were up by 46%. This compares with a 108% increase in 2003 and a 90% increase in 2001. Joyland Books now attracts an average of 1800 visits per day (the equivalent of many thousands of hits per day).

There is no question that 2004 was an eventful year for Joyland Books. It was the year when Joyland went DVD crazy, with a huge range of new roller coaster DVDs. Big hits of the year were Front Seat Thrills, Front Seat Thrills 2, European Coaster Thrills and the massively popular Roller Coaster Adventures series. More coaster DVDs can be seen in our Roller Coaster DVDs Department. In May we expanded our popular Forum when (our UK website) moved to new, larger and faster servers. Visit the Forum to discuss amusement parks, theme parks, travelling fairs and the Great British Seaside. September 2004 saw the Joyland Books-sponsored Save Dreamland Campaign organise a big Farewell Event at the popular Margate fun park. The event was well-received with campaigners enjoying unlimited rides on the famous Scenic Railway roller coaster late into the night.

Without a doubt, the biggest book release of 2004 was From Lamp to Laser: The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations. The book, which was released to coincide with the 125th Anniversary of the world famous Blackpool Lights, was a runaway success, and a fitting tribute to a show that has quite rightly become something of a national institution. Other major releases included The Amusement Parks of New Jersey and The Last Sideshow. And 2005 promises to be an even better year with some great new titles planned. And when a new book or DVD is released, it will be reported here on the Joyland Books News Page. So add this page to your Favourites and keep checking back!

Happy New Year to all our customers!

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