by Peter Andrews
After a long and arduous journey, which has seen the Scenic Railway become a victim of a suspected arson attack, alongside many battles with the previous owners of the land, Dreamland moved another stage closer to welcoming visitors back through its doors, when tickets finally went on sale at Dreamland HQ on Friday 27 March.
Upon arrival at a ridiculously early hour, there was already a queue of eager patrons waiting patiently in the cold for the gates to open at 8am. Their reward would be the chance to be one of the first people to purchase tickets as well as obtaining a unique piece of history as the park had created 500 mementos for the occasion, in the form of pieces of the Scenic emblazoned with the date of issue.
As the minutes moved ever closer to the opening time of 8am, more and more people joined the end of the queue, along with the arrival of various members of the press.
Slightly later than planned at 8:05am, the doors were opened and the front of the queue was at least able to get some warmth inside Dreamland HQ.
All periods of rides
Inside were details of the rides which will be attendance this year along with a first glimpse of the park map. It quickly became clear that this first year would see rides from all periods and not just be a pure heritage park as originally intended.
Along with attractions from the 1920s and 1930s, there will also be rides from the 1980s as well as even more modern ones, with a drop tower being mentioned.
There is also mention on the disability section of their website that there will also be a spinning coaster at the park, although strangely, there was no mention of this in and around the building or even on the park map.
Dreamland HQ was decked out with some pieces of old rides, including a shell of an old Whip car from Blackpool Pleasure Beach, along with a couple of models of the Scenic Railway.
It was at this point that it became clear that the park would not offer pay per ride. On the day prices are £17.95 for adults and £14.95 for children (4 to 15 inclusive), with advance tickets having a £3 discount for adults and £2 for children, whilst local residents will receive a further £1 discount. It therefore looks as though either the park will be pay to enter or will be free and then run a wristband system. It is unclear which system will be operating at this stage.
Also on sale were tickets for the opening day and also an evening party. However, there was no information on show about this from what I could see inside Dreamland HQ, it was only by looking on the internet that I discovered the opening day would strangely be Friday 19 June.
Also in attendance was actor John Challis who played Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. One of the episodes was filmed at Margate and featured Dreamland. John showed his support and enthusiasm for the project whilst being interviewed.
The first two people who purchased tickets were photographed and interviewed, before others were able to obtain theirs.
However, this is where unfortunately things really slowed down. There were only two EPOS (electronic point of sale) units and it seemed to take an age to process a transaction. I am not sure if this was because of the tills or because people wanted more information than what was being displayed. I think this was more to do with the latter as people were asking lots of questions regarding entry and price, this was confirmed when I made my transaction and I was no longer than a minute or so.
It was at this point, that I was issued with my piece of the Scenic Railway as a memento, and with a smile across my face, I left the queue.
Walking out of Dreamland HQ, I saw the queue to get in. It was much longer than it was when the doors opened and now stretched along the promenade, but staff were issuing sweets and popcorn to people and spirits seemed high.
Demand was also so high for online tickets (which were being sold from 10am), that their website crashed shortly after it going online.
I then went for a walk around the site to see the current state of construction and the place was full or workers busily scuttling over the Scenic Railway and surrounding land.
With only three months to go until the official opening date, there is still lots to do on site, but after witnessing the progress which had been made in the three weeks since my last visit, the Scenic Railway looks well on the way to being completed well before then.
So the clock is now counting down to the re-opening of Dreamland. It’s been a long journey, but I simply cannot wait to get back onto the Scenic Railway.