2016 has proven memorable in the UK theme park industry for a number of reasons.
Here we take a look at some of the most memorable events of the year.
Pleasure Island closes
We have to begin with the loss of a major UK theme park, it was undoubtedly the most significant event in the British industry in 2016. Not that it received the most attention.
Owners cited a lack of support from the local council in Cleethorpes, as yet another smaller independent British theme park falls by the wayside.
But as one Lincolnshire park’s fate was sealed, another’s – Fantasy Island – looked more secure following an ambitious takeover from the Mellors Group.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach to get Mack rollercoaster
The Lancashire amusement park will install its first major rollercoaster since 2007’s Infusion (itself a relaunch of an old ride) in 2018.
It will be a Mack double-launched rollercoaster costing around £16 million, the first made-to-order rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach since 1994’s the Big One.
It is an addition that fans will be delighted with, but will it attract the numbers needed to justify such a large investment?
Alton Towers fine
One of the standout stories we covered was the record-breaking fine Alton Towers received following last year’s Smiler rollercoaster crash.
Operators Merlin Entertainments pleaded guilty to numerous failings, and the company was issued with an unprecedented fine of £5 million.
In a case that seems to have gone on forever, but in reality was expedited fairly quickly due to public interest, the fine seems to have served as a point under which Alton Towers can draw a line and begin rebuilding its reputation.
We also had the surprise ‘leave’ result in the UK’s referendum on the European Union, which made headlines around the world.
The value of the pound has subsequently crashed, but there have been no obvious benefits to the UK tourism industry yet, despite some optimistic predictions from Merlin and others.
It isn’t yet clear how harsh the terms of divorce will be.
Mishandled, and a earnings-squeezing recession would hit UK tourism massively, as it is sometimes easy to forget that the majority of the tourism spend comes from within Britain and not outside it.
Derren Brown’s Ghost Train
Thorpe Park’s latest major addition – opened several months late, and stumbled on to the end of the season.
Well themed and fairly well executed, the ride boded quite well for an non-rollercoaster immersive experience from a usually reluctant Merlin.
and while seems to have experienced a mildly positive reaction from guests, it broke down far too often, usually as a result of software failures as opposed to hardware problems.
The park will hope that evacuations and queue clearances will be a thing of the past as it refreshes the virtual reality software after only one (partial) season of operation.
Alton Towers to get wooden rollercoaster
Theme park enthusiasts have wanted to see a wooden rollercoaster at Alton Towers – or indeed any UK theme park – for many years now.
But there was something of an anticlimax when planning documents appeared to reveal a mid-sized family-styled ride that will occupy the modest site of the now demolished Flume water ride.
Again not opening until 2018, next year will offer plenty of opportunity for Alton Towers to aggressively market its forthcoming product, in a style we have now become accustomed to.