Kent

Margate's Dreamland theme park scraps entry charges

Dreamland's Scenic Railway Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dreamland reopened last June but its Scenic Railway attraction was not ready until October

A theme park which called in administrators after reopening in a blaze of publicity is changing its prices in a bid to attract visitors.

Dreamland in Margate, which went into administration last month, is scrapping entry charges and charging per ride or for a rides wristband instead.

The plan coincides with the first anniversary of the attraction reopening after an £18m restoration.

Designer Wayne Hemingway said the park was underfunded from the start.

"It cost about £18m which is only just over twice what Thorpe Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach spend in a year in marketing and PR alone," said Mr Hemingway, who was Dreamland's artistic director.

"It was maybe too ambitious but it still can work."

Image caption Dreamland remains open while the administrators look for a new operator

Dreamland features vintage fairground attractions from funfairs around the UK.

But its star attraction, the Scenic Railway, was not ready for the reopening on 19 June 2015 and was not running for another four months.

Chief executive Eddie Kemsley said it had been a tough year.

She said finding out the railway would not be ready two weeks ahead of the opening was the hardest day she has faced.

"It was incredibly tough," she said.

"We gave away thousands and thousands of tickets to people who had thought the scenic railway would be open."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dreamland's new pricing structure was used for a trial period at Christmas

Ms Kemsley said the new pricing structure was tried out at Christmas.

"The success we had showed us it absolutely the right way to go," she said.

Thanet District Council has said Dreamland had cash flow problems because it failed to get enough customers through the gates.

The Dreamland Trust, which worked with Thanet District Council to resurrect the park after it closed in 2005, said it hoped the new prices would make the park more accessible to local people and visitors to Margate.

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Media captionWayne Hemingway was Dreamland's artistic director

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