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After a massive revamp, Margate's Dreamland is back
Posted on 04/06/2017

CultureSouth Africa

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It's been a bumpy ride for the amusement park, but after a 25m investment programme, thousands of visitors flocked to Margate to witness the opening last week.

Dreamland is Back

Dreamland is Back
Neil Lang/123RF

Vintage rides, cool rooftop bars, revamped catering services, modern art installations and a brand new music venue, last Friday, Dreamland officially reopened to the public. Artist Tracy Emin switched on the lights of the neon sign in the evening to the sound of applause and cheers from the excited crowd.

This is actually not the first time the park has been reopened, it first opened in 1880 then after decling sales in the 2000s, it was refurbished and opened again in 2015 . Despite the wide press coverage, sales were poor and barely one year later it had gone into administration.

In January 2016, the park was shut, but behind closed doors, construction was just beginning and drastic changes were being made. Under new management and thanks to a 25m cash investment from hedge fund Arrowgrass, the dream was not over yet.

Speaking to the press, Dreamland CEO, Steven Mitchell acknowledged that funding problems were the main factor behind the park's rough beginning. "We had a good selection of vintage rides but the overall look and feel of the park didn't make it the kind of place that encouraged customers to spend lots of time there,

"The lack of financing meant not all the rides were working all the time and the food and drink offering was fine but not really top quality, not enough to make it worth a trip for people outside the area or from London for the day or weekend."

However, Mitchell has promised that this year, visitors can expect something "completely different.

It's building on what we did before, but it's a big build," he said. "People who came last year will notice that it looks and feels dramatically different."

Since June 2016, the 14.95 entry fee has been abolished and it's now ?pay to ride', which will likely attract new customers who are unsure of what to expect. There are also some more recent changes...

So, what's changed?

For starters, this latest reboot has introduced new rides. A 1930s Brooklands Speedway roundabou, and a waltzer have both been restored and add to the vintage appeal. Pre-existing rides have also been updated, the scenic railway ride, for example, has been improved reducing the chance of breakdowns. For those who would prefer an 80s throwback, there is new rollerdisco.

Overall refurbishment includes new green spaces and 1,000 new trees have been planted. What's more, an elevated walkway along the edge of the park means visitors can have a walk and a breath of fresh air as they admire views of the park

Furthermore, the catering service has also had a makeover. The new Friendliest Food Court now has more options than ever with a diner and street food market. It's a great day trip to take young children with many activities on offer, especially over half term, like daytime hip-hop partys organised by FUN DMC.

But, it's not just for families, the managers also aim to attract the young metropolitans. There is a range stylish new bars including the Slide Bar, Margate's first ever rooftop bar: a rum shack called ?Ziggys' and the Tree Top Bar. The Tree Top bar is on balanced stilts and will host DJ sets and offers a stunning panoramic view of the park. Then if that's not enough to entice the edgy London crowd, there is a 15,000 capacity music venue for open-air shows.

These recent developments indicate that Margate is looking to make a bigger presence in the live music sector. Notably, in the hiring of senior event production manager, Nathan Hale. He is a music industry expert and has worked in recording studios with chart topping artists such as Adele, James Bay and Kaiser Chiefs. He also spent 17 years managing a range of artists such as Disclosure, Kelis and Jamie T. This seems to be paying off and already the events schedule is filling up. In June this year, the festival Demon Dayz, headlined by Gorillaz is coming to Dreamland.

It's an exciting time for Margate, Dreamland is just one of many regeneration projects in this coastal town. Move over Brighton, could this be the next big hipster hang out spot? Kent's answer to Shoreditch perhaps?

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