The progress of Fantasy Island in administration

Millennium rollercoasterFantasy Island is very much an amusement park for which the old Marmite cliché is valid.

Certainly it splits the theme park enthusiast community considerably, with many looking down on it with almost snobbishness.

Not that they are the people that matter to the future of an attraction which seemed to have a very bleak future this time last year.

Administrators were called in to take over the running of the park last August, and some of the changes made under their tenure have been striking.

The tens of thousands of people that visit every day during the summer holidays – many from South Yorkshire and the Midlands – give the park the bustle of a busy London street.

Although administration is unlikely to have drawn in many new people, it has almost certainly helped to retain guests and improve customer satisfaction.

Riding into the night

A Saturday night that features all rides running until 10pm had been virtually unheard of during the past half-decade or so.

Now, the rides and their fairground-esque lightning create the buzz of a traditional British seaside amusement park well into the night.

Administration has seen a return to 10pm ride closes at the park

Administration has seen a return to 10pm ride closes at the park

And as the crowds do eventually begin to peter out, you might be lucky enough to receive two consecutive laps on the still remarkably smooth Millennium ride.

There is still the occasional negative undertone which requires eradication, however.

The park’s market still features a startling amount of imitation branded clothing items, despite a number of police stings in the past.

Some questionable instances of children not being completely under control on ride platforms were also seen on our recent visit.

We also observed the removal of an unruly and incessant visitor by the security staff in an extremely professional manner.

But with only a few blemishes to tidy up, there seems to be no better time than to visit Fantasy Island – and that also goes for those possibly still looking down their nose following one or two bad experiences in the past.

The park is what is is – a seaside walk-on attraction which will always have the occasional undesirable stagger on, but ultimately gem among of a dying breed of attractions – which have been an integral part of a British summer holiday or day trip for generations.