A sad sign of the times, there have been a large number of theme park closures in the last twenty years. No longer satisfied with penny arcades and helter skelters, theme parks are constantly trying to outdo each other; whether your ride is the longest, the tallest, or the fastest, it has to have something different. As such, a number of parks have fallen by the wayside, and here we remember some of the UK’s abandoned theme parks.
Camelot Theme Park
Camelot was based in the county of Lancashire and operated for 29 years before it closed at the end of the 2012 season. Based on the legendary castle of Camelot and the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the park was home to a number of medieval-themed rides. Most impressive was Knightmare, a £3 million steel coaster with an 80ft lift hill and a top speed of 40mph. After a rocky history involving two serious accidents and three owners in nearly as many years, management announced in 2012 that the park would not reopen in 2013. The future of the site is not clear, but it seems certain that it will never reopen as an amusement park as all of its rides have been sold off.
Dreamland Margate has had a very colourful past since the first rides were installed in the Kent theme park in 1880. Famously known for its ‘Sea On Land’ attraction which inspired modern day simulators, Dreamland was home to a number of other unique attractions. The Scenic Railway roller coaster is the oldest coaster in the country, and is the only rollercoaster in the UK to receive a listed status. One of the only surviving rides of its type, the ride also required a brakeman to ride between carriages of the ride to control its speed, an art which died out since the invention of modern mechanical braking systems. The park closed in 2005, but in 2009 a major rejuvenation plan was announced which included the restoration of the Scenic Railway (part of which was destroyed in an arson attack in 2008) and a number of other vintage attractions.
Loudoun Castle Theme Park
Loudoun Castle Theme Park was located in the county of Ayrshire in Scotland before its closure in 2010. Set amongst the ruins of 19th Century Loudoun Castle, the park offered a number of family-friendly attractions fronted by its mascot, Rory the Lion. Tragedy struck the park in 2007 when an 18-year old employee fell from the 80ft peak of one of its rollercoasters and died. This lead to a long lawsuit in which the park was found guilty of not providing adequate training to staff, and visitor numbers began to drop. Three years later it was announced that the park was no longer economically viable, and its closure followed shortly afterwards.
The American Adventure Theme Park opened in Derbyshire in 1987. Following a Cowboys and Indians theme, the park was well-known for its amount and variety of both white knuckle coasters and family rides. The park’s visitor numbers began to decline as early as 1996 as it fought to survive against the nearby Alton Towers Resort — the amount of money and effort pumped into new Alton Towers attractions during this period left American Adventure looking outdated and in a state of disrepair. 2006 was the last year of operation, and the entire site has now been completely demolished to make way for houses, offices, and leisure facilities.
Frontierland Western Theme Park in Morecambe operated for 90 years before it closed in 1999. Throughout its time, and under a number of different guises, Frontierland was home to a number of classic attractions including a ghost train, log flume, and ‘wild mouse’ coaster but visitor numbers fell rapidly over the years and the park closed its doors for the last time in 2000. One piece of the park’s legacy remains, though. The 150ft ‘Polo Tower’ still makes up part of the Morecambe skyline — although the sponsored attraction closed nearly 15 years ago, the owners of the park signed a contract in 1993 stating that tower must be used as a telephone mast for the next two decades. 2013 is now well upon us, and no plans for the removal of the tower have been announced.
With new rides and attractions being announced every day, it’s no wonder that many smaller parks fail to keep up. Whilst the future looks bright for some, others have now sadly been completely demolished. They all have one thing in common, though: a generation of memories that have been created in millions of people across the globe. Got a fantastic story from your childhood about a now long gone park? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.