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News~ Review: Dreamland, Margate - has £25m investment paid off for the seaside park?

2017-06-07 04:29 [INVESTING] Source:Netword
Guide:After its ups and downs, does the latest incarnation of the Thanet venue deliver on its promise?

Review: Dreamland, Margate - has £25m investment paid off for the seaside park?

PUBLISHED: 12:56 30 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:56 30 May 2017

Chris Britcher

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Archant

After its ups and downs, does the latest incarnation of the Thanet venue deliver on its promise?

Usurv

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

When Dreamland opened two years ago amid much fanfare and hype, it rather quickly became apparent it was more a case of style over substance.

Aimed rather too fairly and squarely at the hipsters from London, it decided that having a small budget would instead mean it had to really work the ‘vintage’ theme to the point of breathing its very last gasp.

What it rather failed to do was forget the local family from Thanet, or east Kent, or Kent as a whole for that matter.

With a price tag simply to get in, it immediately set itself a bar which it had to reach purely to deliver value for money.

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Dreamland's re-opening. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

A lack of rides of real clout, little in the way of food and drink and Dreamland suddenly found itself staring down the barrell of not being able to make the sums add up.

Today, though, it has returned with a massive injection of funds to help create something rather more compelling.

Gone is the entrance fee (it was actually scrapped last year and replaced with a pay-per-ride approach which actually started getting people through the door), in comes a host of extra rides and more refreshments, and out goes some of that gaudy awful branding which everyone seemed to think was so cool and kitsch yet failed to actually attract anything resembling mainstream audiences.

The result is a far more pleasing, far more compelling offering.

Now there is plenty more to do and the landscaping is far more polished to make it a more enjoyable place to be. There’s plenty of grass, and some nice additions like a rooftop bar.

The vintage theme is still very much abundant - there is, after all, a need to have some form of unique selling point to the park in a hugely competitive marketplace - but it’s not the be all and end all.

Dreamland does, after all, use as its biggest attraction a throwback to its hey day. It knows it holds a rather special place in our collective hearts and it would be unwise to not look to spend some of that capital in its marketing.

Certainly the atmosphere is closer than how it once was. The problem, of course, is that what once seemed huge and sprawling to those of us who visited it decades ago, now continues to feel rather compact.

Perhaps it’s simply because the perception of theme parks today is of huge sprawling complexes in which you can easily get lost, or maybe simply that we were all a lot smaller as children. Either way, you can comfortably stroll around and see everything in a matter of a few minutes.

But that’s not really the point is it?

Dreamland needs to work for Margate not as the one and only place to visit, but as a key part of the seaside town’s jigsaw. And it does that now. It brings something decent to the party.

If you have a young family, then the chances are you’ll be able to pop in and spend a good few hours here and your kids will absolutely adore it. If you’re a little older, then depending on your love of rides (and you need to think more elaborate fairground rather than modern era theme park to get your expectations in check) will determine your enjoyment levels.

There is an element of you make your own fun day and Dreamland is now equipped to facilitate that rather than provide every aspect for you.

Key to its success, one assumes, will be its ability to stage live music events. A large stage dominates the centre of the park, ringed by food and drink stands. The fresh turf in the centre provides a perfect picnic area and with seats set into the bank like an amphitheatre it’s pleasing to the eye. If, as seems likely, it can make June’s Gorillaz show a big success, then this could be a venue much in demand for open air shows, and that will not only give it a regular injection of additional revenues, but greatly enhance its appeal to a wider audience.

In short, it looks like someone’s invested heavily. And assuming the building site to the top left of the site becomes, at some stage, part of the park too, then you can imagine this ultimately becoming really quite special.

(EDIT:admin)

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