Margate has seen a lot of changes in the past few years, the latest of which is the opening of Dreamland- Margate’s newest attraction- the re-imagined funfair that has been a part of Margate’s landscape since the 1880’s, though the name came in the 1920’s when the park’s scenic (and listed) rollercoaster popped it’s head above the facade of shops and arcades along the seafront.
Since 2003, the lot has been vacant and decaying, and the town seemed to suffer similarly, but the Turner Contemporary, the rebirth of the Old Town dotted with vintage shops and cupcake cafes, have seen a renewed interest in the former Victorian resort. £18m of public funds has been put into recreating the listed scenic railway, which opens in October, along with a site bursting with attractions from a bygone era. The Roller Disco and arcades inside sit along a soft play centre and as-yet-unfinished Ballroom, whilst outside ferris wheels, bumpy slides and Haunted Houses mix with circus tents and carousels. It opened it’s doors after a 12 year absence in June this year.
The Girls and I bought a ticket to Dreamland, a couple of weeks ago to see what all the fuss was about. And boy did we love every minute. The youthful staff remind me of an eighties BratPack movie with their high-waisted jeans and tucked in t-shirts but they couldn’t be more helpful or enthusiastic, so that by the time we made it through the queue we were almost dizzy with excitement.
There were so many rides for the children to enjoy, all with clear height policies, and staff who were firm about enforcing them. And yet more staff who encouraged squealing and excitement of all kinds in children and adults alike. The queues for the bumpy slide were by far the longest though the Caterpillar Rollercoaster also struggled to keep up with demand, not helped by two carriages being out of action. That said, the queues were well organised and went down quite quickly, but for most rides it was simply a case of waiting for the current ride to stop.
There were plenty of loos dotted around the park, in good clean condition, despite it being the end of the day when we visited (we had a Twilight ticket from 5pm until 9pm). There were also a lot of benches and seats, oversized deckchairs for photo-ops and a host of coloured Adirondack-style chairs in front of the stage which had a live Jazz Band playing as we wandered amongst the food stalls. Again the food available was of good quality, and a good selection of foods: Thais food, seafood, fish and chips, sausages and burgers, not to mention the essential candy floss and Margate rock. Nothing seemed excessively priced to me, and we didn’t have to wait too long to be served.
Once we had exhausted the rides- some were too old (Kiss Me Quick) for my girls, some (Haunted House) deemed too scary and some (Monotopia) required the sort of pedal power I simply couldn’t offer- we discovered a circus tent set at the back of the park and paid a discounted £5 on showing our park entry tickets, to enjoy an Old Fashioned Circus treat including slapstick routines, juggling, fire-eating and a lady did a rope routine that simply enchanted my children.
We were there for 4 hours in the end and loved every minute. And still have so much more to explore. It really is a Dreamland.
On the Day, the cost is £17.95 per Adult and £14.95 per Child. Dreamland offer an ‘on the day’ discount for Thanet residents, though proof of address will be required. Buying online in advance ca save up to 15% on the face value. We benefited from the Twilight ticket price offered in summer months at a reduced cost of £7.49 for adults and £4.95 for children with entry to the park starting at 5pm. For all prices see the Dreamland Website.
During winter months, the Amusement park is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am until 5pm (8pm on Saturdays until 27th September) with the exception of school holidays when it will be open every day from 10am until 5pm. In summer months it opens until 9pm.
The inside attractions- Octopuses Garden, Roller Rink, Arcades etc- are open daily. Check the website for full details of opening times.
The park is a 5 minute walk from Margate train station for High-Speed and South Eastern trains, as well as connections (via Ashford) to the Eurostar.
It can be accessed by the local bus network, and has a public car park which offers a walkway through under the Scenic Railway. Again, see the Dreamland website for full details and SatNav postcode.