Described as the heartbeat of Margate, Dreamland was one of the UK’s best-loved amusement parks and at one time listed within the UK’s top ten visitor attractions. Comprising 16-acres, the park included a zoo, miniature railway, 2200 - seat purpose built Cinema, cafés, restaurants, bars, retail and a 2000-capacity ballroom playing host to The Who, The Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Hawkwind to name but a few...
Considered to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in Great Britain, the site of Dreamland (as it was re-named in 1920) dates back to the British railway boom of the early 1870s when, in its original form, the ‘Hall by the Sea’ was operated by the famous circus impresario, ‘Lord’ George Sanger.
In 1870 when pleasure gardens started to build on land behind the hall, complete with a ruined abbey, a lake and a collection of animals - breeding pairs intended to stock the travelling circus run by the site's then-owner George Sanger.
The park first housed amusement rides in 1880, the Dreamland name was not used until 1920 when the Scenic Railway wooden rollercoaster was opened and was advertised as being the largest roller coaster in Europe. In its first full season in 1921, nearly one million people took the ride. After Sanger's death, the site was bought in 1919 by John Iles, who renamed it Dreamland, and turned it into a theme park.
Iles oversaw the construction of a number of rides, including the iconic Scenic Railway, completed in 1920, which cemented the park's fortunes for years to come.
The ride was wildly popular. It carried half a million passengers in its first year of opening, and attracted millions more over the next few decades.
The number of amusements at the park increased during the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1981 the site was sold to the Dutch Bembom brothers, who renamed it "Bembom Brothers White Knuckle Theme Park". The name remained until it reverted to Dreamland in 1990.
In 1980 the skyline of Margate changed dramatically when the 148 ft high Big Wheel was installed. along with more rides years after including Looping coaster and pirate ship a ladybird coaster
The family sold the site to entrepreneur Jimmy Godden who secured grants to assist in an initial £3 million redevelopment.
In the early 2000s, the park began to enter into decline, and a number of rides were sold to other theme parks. In 2002 the Scenic Railway was granted grade II-listed status, which was the first time such a listing had been given to a ride.
Fast forward to 2003, The park's owner announced that Dreamland would be closed and the site redeveloped, when a plan to close the park and build housing on the site triggered a 'Save Dreamland' campaign by locals and amusement park enthusiasts, whose successful campaigning led to securing £18m public funding to restore Dreamland and its jewels: the Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway, Grade II*-listed cinema complex and Grade II-listed menagerie cages.
In 2008 the scenic railway was partly destroyed in a fire which was believed to be arson, the station, trains and middle section of the track was destroyed
2009 The Save Dreamland Trust was unveiled and a £3.7 million government grant was awarded to help bring the park back.
The £12 million project hit a financial problem.this is when Thanet council had to step in to pay £4 million £3.8 million government grant, and £3 million from the Heritage Lottery fund, and local groups.
In a bold move, Thanet District Council compulsorily-purchased the site in September 2013 and work began in 2014 to restore the iconic Scenic Railway, as well as breathing new life into the lower ground floor of the cinema building, with sympathetic landscaping, exciting design and contemporary branding.
In saving Dreamland, the local community and Thanet District Council managed something truly remarkable. Their hard work and determination has enabled generations to come, the ablility to enjoy this vital aspect of British seaside heritage, that without them would have been lost forever.
Capitalising on Margate’s swiftly growing reputation as a brand new capital of British cool, Dreamland Margate reopened in June 2015 with a wealth of new and rejuvenated features set to redefine ‘a day out at the seaside’ with an entrance fee of £14.95 even tho the scenic railway wasnt even open and this point, infact due to issues the ride didn't open till October 2015.
Dreamland held a second launch in May 2017 to a much improved park, The park became free to enter and wristbands start from £11.50 for kids and £19.00 for adults you can also price per ride starting from £1.50 upto £5 for scenic railway.
Following significant additional investment in 2017, the amusement park was re-landscaped to provide a space that brings together lovingly restored vintage rides set against a backdrop of art installations (including an interactive marble run and a mirrored spinning top), adventurous street food, unique bars and an eclectic programme of live events. A new garden boardwalk also gives everyone the opportunity to admire the antique menagerie cages from the 1800s, capturing part of the site’s unique history.
The ride line-up features some old favourites alongside some new additions including: the Brooklands Speedway and the Wedgwood Tea Cups. The Waltzer has been painstakingly restored to its former 1940s glory and our new Teddy and Betty Land, an area designed for your little funsters, features Betty’s Beehive Coaster.
New to the 2017 landscape is an outdoor event space which can accommodate 15,000 people and has already welcomed the sold out Demon Dayz Festival headlined by Gorillaz earlier in June 2017 putting Dreamland firmly on the music venue map. This is alongside the legendary 1500 capacity Hall By The Sea, that once famously played host to The Rolling Stones and The Who.
On the seafront, the original 1930s Cinque Ports pub has being brought back to life, offering modern pub fare with a front row view of the beach. Ziggy’s Rooftop Bar also launched in June 2017 bringing Margate’s only rooftop bar offering unparalleled vistas over the iconic ‘JMW Turner’ skyline.
The reimagining of the famed destination is a key stage to play a major role in the on-going transformation of Margate’s thriving seafront district into a world-class attraction for both local residents and tourists.
I went back to the park in 2019 with my son to look at the new rides and what they have done over the closed season and what a massive difference. The area to the back of the park was cleared and now being used for rides and the park was nice and clean. heres a list of the new rides from the dreamland website
The Dreamland Drop will be the ultimate thrill ride at the park. An adrenaline fueled ‘shoot up and drop’ tower, the ride will rotate 360° giving a panoramic view of Dreamland and surrounding Margate.
The ride will be custom built for Dreamland with Dreamland lettering running down the side of the ride and a decorative ‘D’ adorning the top, creating an iconic landmark for the park and wider town.
Pendulum This exhilarating pendulum ride echoes the dynamics and excitement of the highly popular Mary Rose that saw visitors flock to Dreamland in the 1990s.
As the ride begins to swing, it also rotates getting longer and longer for a totally mind-boggling feeling as land, sea and sky fly overhead in circle after circle. The ride’s gondola has capacity for 16 people at a time, with an innovative ‘half moon’ configuration allowing a family of four to ride in the same row side-by-side.
A modern take on the much-loved classic Enterprise ride, this thrill ride is an open-air thrill experience that transports riders sixty feet through the air at 25 miles per hour.
Seating 24 people, two per gondola, the ride will treat visitors to an awe-inspiring experience that transforms from the horizontal to the nearly vertical.
Pinball X is a newly re-imagined ride similar to the highly popular Magic Mouse that drew crowds throughout 2017 at Dreamland.
A high impact coaster with family appeal, it is sure to thrill all generations and features an action-packed course of twists, turns and exciting drops. Half way through the ride, the four-passenger coaches spin and whirl with gravitational forces and inertia allowing each and every rider the chance to enjoy a different ride, time and time again.
Air Force is an exhilarating 360° thrill ride replicating the experiences and sensations of an acrobatic plane flight, banking, looping and diving across the sky, creating a sense of breathtaking weightlessness.
Accommodating up to 24 riders at one time in six, four-seater aeroplanes, the action takes place up to 8m above the ground and ‘pilots’ experience accelerations of 3G, right side up and upside down as they fly high.
The visual impact of the Air Force is something not to be missed and will certainly draw attention to the ride from all visitors to the park.
Family rides Up, Up and Away will delight the whole family as they take to the air in eight ‘hot-air balloons’. Accommodating adults and children, with a minimum unaccompanied height of 90cm and located in the Teddy and Betty area of the park, the ride’s colorful spinning tubs and flashing lights will please even the youngest of visitors.
This family friendly, interactive ride features six colourful, hang glider bikes for the whole family to ride. The more you pedal the higher you go in this fun seaside themed ride.
Once the ride cycle begins, riders are in the driving seat as they swoop and fly their way through the sky. This unique interactive ride is sure to put smiles on the faces of kids of all ages.
Rock The Boat
This ride is a firm family favourite. Designed specifically for Dreamland, Rock The Boat can accommodate up to 24 riders setting families on sail for an exciting adventure of rocking and whirling motions.
The Vintage Caterpillar
A beautiful heritage ride estimated to have been made in the 1920’s, the Vintage Caterpillar harks back to Dreamland’s past and is a new take on the iconic Kiss Me Quick ride that was a popular feature at the park. Lovingly restored by Littleboy’s Vintage Restorations, the ride features a descending canopy that covers riders for that ‘kiss me quick’ moment