If you go down to Dreamland today you’re sure of a big surprise…
Dreamland Margate is celebrating the 100th birthday of the Grade II listed Scenic Railway – the oldest wooden rollercoaster in the UK – today (Friday 3rd July) with a curiously cuddly experiment.
Dreamland’s vintage amusement park is currently closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but the park’s bosses still wanted to give the beloved rollercoaster a very special spin on her big day.
The Dream team decided to fill the Scenic Railway’s seats with 28 giant teddy bears and capture their ride on camera to entertain the park’s thousands of fans virtually.
The big bears – each standing 44” tall – were provided by HB Leisure, and UK sightseeing company The Original Tour arranged an open top bus to help transport these VITs (Very Important Teddies) from their base in Surrey all the way to Margate for the ride of their lives.
After being strapped into the rollercoaster, the teddies and Scenic Railway were given a royal send-off and ‘official birthday telegram’ from Dreamland’s own answer to the Queen, played by TV personality and entertainer Paulus (@thecabaretgeek and star of BBC’s All Together Now), and were sent around the 3,000ft track for their 3min ride.
Dreamland CEO Eddie Kemsley (f) said: “We don’t do things by halves at Dreamland – so when we thought about celebrating the Scenic Railway’s 100th birthday in lockdown, we just went with the silliest visual idea we could think of!
“We’d originally planned to throw a big street party for our guests, while getting ready for our spectacular Hi Tide Festival (now taking place June 2021). But if we can’t celebrate with our Dreamers, we can at least bring a smile to their faces today with our ridiculous teddy ride!
“The Scenic Railway deserved a spin on her birthday. She’s the most stylish 100-year-old we know.”
A handful of the giant toys will be donated to local children’s charities, courtesy of HB Leisure and Dreamland.
The Dreamland Heritage Trust is also marking the railway’s centenary with a Virtual Rollercoaster Ride on their Facebook page at 12noon today at www.facebook.com/dreamlandheritagetrust.
The Scenic Railway has been the centrepiece of Dreamland Margate since the ‘pleasure gardens’ first opened its doors on 3rd July 1920. The coaster has been in almost constant use since then, surviving one world war and three fires to continually delight millions of revellers down by the sea.
Dreamland announced this week that it will be reopening outdoor events space to host drive-in movies and some specially curated events this summer, all with the appropriate safety and social distancing measures in place.
The vintage amusement park will transform into a drive-in cinema on selected days in August, showing fantastic films on its huge HD outdoor screen to up to 47 vehicles.
The park has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and Dreamland took the difficult decision not to reopen any rides in summer 2020, in the interests of guests’ safety.
Eddie Kemsley added: “It was a very hard decision, but definitely the responsible and right one. Our vintage rides cannot accommodate the social distancing measures required to prevent spread of COVID-19, and the safety of our guests comes first.
“The rides will not open this summer, but I’m delighted that we’ve got a sizzling, all-you-can-treat drive-in movie programme this summer. Now families don’t need to worry about keeping themselves and their children entertained – and safe – as they can enjoy fantastic films in the stunning surroundings of our vintage amusement park.”
Dreamland Margate’s centenary celebrations will continue until 2nd July 2021, and the park has already announced a rollover of the many of its planned 2020 events to 2021.
For more details of what’s on at Dreamland, please visit: https://www.dreamland.co.uk/events