Venue: Dreamland, Margate
Who Went: Me and a large number of other RCCGB members, including Andy and Christine Hine, Alina, Ann Morgan, Death, Heather Hall, Henry, Isla, James.
DISCLAIMER: The above is NOT intended to be an exhaustive list of everyone who attended. It's a small sample of attendees; mainly those I spoke to and/or rode with at Dreamland. I sincerely apologise to anyone I've not listed.
N.B. Any use of "today" or "Saturday" in this report means Saturday 8 July 2017.
Rationale for TripThe one-day mini trip from the RCCGB, which usually takes place in June or July, and normally at a park which has recently opened a brand new (or new-to-the park relocated) roller coaster or other ride (exceptionally this trip took place early September in 2011, and didn't happen at all from 2012 to 2015 for various reasons). The chosen venue for the Summer Bash 2017 was Dreamland, Margate, primarily to ride the restored and reopened famous wooden roller coaster Scenic Railway.
Getting to DreamlandFor me an exceptionally early awakening (04:00) was necessary for me to get myself ready in time to catch the 05:48 GWR train Bath Spa to London Paddington. Due to engineering work in the Chippenham area this train had to be diverted via Trowbridge and Newbury, hence its only stop between Bath and London was Reading. Having reached London Paddington at 07:29 I transferred to St Pancras on the Underground. Once there, I just had time to buy myself a much-needed takeaway Americano from Barzetti, St Pancras before catching the 08:25 SouthEastern Javelin train to Margate. Having initially set off on part of the High Speed 1 line to Ebbsfleet International, the train continued via Gravesend, Chatham and Whitstable, and finally reached Margate at 10:01. Having arrived at Margate, I walked straight to Dreamland which thankfully is only a few minutes' walk from the railway station.
Day at Dreamland
Welcome to DreamlandMembers were asked to meet between 09.30 and 09.45 at the entrance in the road called 'Hall by the Sea'. Unfortunately, due to my pre-booked journey plan, it was not possible for me to arrive within that specified time span. Due to my arrival time at Margate railway station, the time was nearer to 10:10 when I arrived at the amenities building at the front of Dreamland. Although I was able to simply walk straight through that building, further into the park I encountered a closed gate with a member of security staff standing beside. Having showed that member of staff my RCCGB membership card and explained that I was booked on the trip, she said she was expecting me and let me through the gate. Once through, I headed straight for the Scenic Railway.
Scenic Railway ERSThe day began with an ERS on the famous wooden roller coaster Scenic Railway. Since the ERS was scheduled to start at 10:00, it was already underway when I got there. The original Scenic Railway operated at Dreamland from 3 July 1920 to 2006, and was damaged by fire on 7 April 2008. Although the fire damaged just the central section, leaving the two end sections undamaged, during restoration the two end sections were demolished and the entire structure was rebuilt using new wood. Thus no part of the structure is original, which is a pity. The trains still have the brake man on board.
Obviously I didn't have my trip badge or wristbands when I first approached Scenic Railway, but I was allowed to join the queue and collect those later (I collected my RCCGB wristband and Dreamland ride wristband from Christine Hine between my first and second goes). During the rest of the ERS I ended up having six goes as follows:
First go: 5th row.
Second go: Next to Carol.
Third go: 3rd row.
Fourth go: 3rd row with Martin.
Fifth go: In the row behind the brake man. After this go was over I thought the ERS was over and waited near Scenic Railway, but Nev said the ERS was still in progress and I should therefore continue riding, so I queued again for a sixth go.
Sixth go: 13th row (2nd from back). Once I had completed this go the ERS was officially over and Scenic Railway was open to the public.
Summary of my rides this ERS: Scenic Railway 6. Did anyone beat me on that?
Of the various different rows I sat in, I didn't notice much difference between rows. Altogether this was another great wooden coaster to add to my coaster count.
Free TimeThe ERS was officially supposed to end when Dreamland opened to the public at 11:00. However the Club continued to have exclusive use of Scenic Railway for a bit longer. The ERS finally ended at 11:20. Immediately afterwards members gathered beside Scenic Railway for a group photo. Thereafter members spread around the entire park and took over the rides for the rest of the day. There were no further organised activities just for the Club later in the day. At this point I paid Nev my trip fee.
DodgemsSeveral others wanted to take over the Dodgems next. Although I'm never particularly keen on dodgems at the best of times, I decided to follow them and have one go on this occasion. I sat in car 24 and got on reasonably well. My one go on the Dodgems now was my only time of riding them all day.
Magic MouseThis Reverchon Spinning Coaster originally operated at Fantasy Island (Ingoldmells) as Fantasy Mouse from 2000 to 2015 (and also 2016). Since 26 May 2017 this coaster has been operating at Dreamland under the name Magic Mouse. Several RCCGB members attending the trip wanted to ride this next, so I took this opportunity to ride Magic Mouse. When it was my turn I sat in car 1 with Death and another RCCGB member. Although I had previously ridden this mouse coaster under its previous name Fantasy Mouse when I visited Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells early July 2010, this was my first ever time of riding it under its new name at its new home. To me, the ride experience was just the same as when I rode it at Fantasy Island in 2010, and the Magic Mouse at Brean. For now I limited myself to just one go on Magic Mouse. I was hoping to ride it again later, but eventually this turned out to be my only go on here all day.
Coffee BreakAt this point I felt like a coffee, so I looked for an on-park café. I ended up going to Morelli's Gelato at the front of the park, where I had a much-needed flat white coffee.
Beehive CoasterNext I approached the Beehive Coaster, as that was the one remaining coaster for me to ride at Dreamland. This Big Apple / Wacky Worm has been operating at Dreamland since 2017. I had two goes on Beehive Coaster.
First go: Back row. This should have been three laps, but since the operator stopped the train beyond the line, she had to run it around one more time, thus everyone on board ended up getting a fourth lap. From the back row I was able to see the front of the train as it went around the bends.
Second go: I was hoping to ride in the front row, but since that was occupied I sat in the second row. This time the ride consisted of just three laps as intended.
LunchBeing as the time was now after 13:15, I wanted to get some lunch next. All I really wanted for lunch was a baguette or sandwich. I asked a member of staff where I could get a sandwich, and was told Octopus's Garden was the best place. When l got to its entrance, I was told I could approach the café servery and buy refreshments there, but I would have to consume my purchases somewhere else. Although I was only going to have a pack of sandwiches, I saw some Danish pastries at the counter, so I decided to have one of those as well, plus a coffee. In the end my takeaway consisted of a pack of two BLT sandwiches, one apple Danish pastry and a cup of Americano. Having paid, I immediately left Octopus's Garden and found another location to consume my takeaway lunch. Thankfully I was able to do that at one of the burger bar tables (near the Roller Room) next door.
SpeedwayMy first ride after lunch was Speedway. This ride, featuring motorbikes and carts fixed to a circular wooden undulating track, was constructed in 1934. Each bike is uniquely named; unsurprisingly I sat on bike called Nick. The ride went round and round, up and down, giving a ride experience similar to the 1937 Coronation Speedway (aka Royal Coronation Speedway) at Folly Farm, Pembrokeshire. My one go on this now was my only go on this all day.
Chair-O-PlaneThis is basically a carousel with chairs hanging from chains. As the ride spins the chairs are forced outwards on an angle. My one go on this now was my only go on this all day.
GallopersSelf-explanatory, I had one go on these galloping horses next. Riding them was just the same as galloping horses I have ridden at other funfairs or amusement parks. This was my only go on them all day. Whilst riding the Gallopers I spotted Nev again, so after I left the ride we spoke to each other briefly and had a couple of pictures taken together.
Big WheelAnother self-explanatory ride, this big wheel is 35 metres high. Whilst queuing I met a few other RCCGB members, so I shared a pod with Isla, Alina, Henry and James from the RCCGB. My one go on this now was my only go on this all day.
Born SlippyThis is a 65 metre six-lane Astra slide. Facing downwards from the top, the lane colours, from left to right are: pale blue, orange, red, pink, green, yellow. I was hoping to slide all six lanes in sequence, but the attendant told me sliders are not allowed to use the far left and far right lanes as there is a risk of hitting one's elbow against the unpadded side walls. Anyway I enjoyed sliding the four inner lanes from left to right in sequence, those being orange, red, pink, green, once each. Sliders have to sit on a mat when using the slide; I had to give my mat up and obtain another between goes. All four inner lanes were quite fast.
Hurricane JetsBack to a proper ride now, the Hurricane Jets. These are mini jet planes at the ends of arms which radiate from a central hub. One presses the lever down to go up and releases it to go down. Each plane has a number and a zodiac sign on it, which explains why the name Zodiac Jets appears on the ride itself. I ended up having two goes as follows:
First go: I got into plane 1 (Aries). When the ride started the planes all went around in a circle. Shortly afterwards I was able to lift my plane with the lever. Eventually all planes returned to their stationary height before the ride slowed and stopped.
Second go: This time I wanted to ride in the plane Libra (which is my star sign), but since that was unavailable, I sat in plane 6 (Virgo), as that's the star sign which precedes Libra.
Ice Cream BreakAt this point I bought myself a much-needed whippy ice cream from The Stylish Ice Cream Co. and sat in the open space nearby to enjoy it. After all, a visit to a seaside funfair is not complete without an ice cream.
TwisterJust about everyone in the RCCGB must have been on this sort of ride at least once somewhere; you may have seen it called Cyclone. Dreamland call theirs Twister; the Dreamland website says this one was constructed in 1962. Another fun ride, and still one of my favourite non-coaster rides, but my one go on this now was my only go on this all day.
WaltzerAnother self-explanatory ride, this Waltzer was built in 1947. It was in motion when I joined the back of the queue. When it stopped and the people in front of me got on, I thought I might have to either share a car with someone else, or wait for the next run. Luckily car 3 was still empty, so I was able to occupy that car alone. The whole ride went around really fast, and my ride car spun a bit along the way. A fun ride, but I only had time for one go on this.
Having left the Waltzer I considered going on the Helter Skelter next, but its attendant told me it was closed (in fact it had been closed all day). Next I approached the Magic Mouse, only to be deterred by its queue length. Initially I joined the queue, but when I estimated how long it would take me to get on it, I left the queue after just a couple of minutes as I had a greater desire to fit in one go on Scenic Railway before I left.
Scenic RailwayI joined the queue for the Scenic Railway knowing it might take me about ten minutes or more to get on, and I needed to be out of the park by around 17:15. Once the ride which was already in progress was complete, another train load got on and the queue advanced. When that run was complete, I really needed to either get on the very next run or just leave. Thankfully when the people in front of me were on board, and I was at the front, the second row was still empty, so I was able to be accommodated. The train set off and the ride experience was basically the same as during the morning ERS. Obviously I only had time to ride this once, but I enjoyed this go very much. The perfect ride to end my day at Dreamland; where I began. Without further ado I headed for the park exit.
Summary of my day in order of activity
Morning ERS: Scenic Railway 6
Magic Mouse 1
White coffee at Morelli's Gelato
Beehive Coaster 2
Big Wheel 1
Born Slippy 4
Hurricane Jets 2
Whippy ice cream from The Stylish Ice Cream Co.
Scenic Railway 1
Cumulative Summary of My Rides (ERSs and Freetime Combined)
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Journey HomeThe time was almost 17:30 when I left Dreamland for the final time, which was later than I really wanted. Nonetheless I still wanted to buy myself takeaway fish and chips nearby before returning to the station for the 17:53 train to London St Pancras International. The nearest fish and chip shop was Papp's Fish and Chips, so I went there to buy takeaway cod and large chips.
Once my order was ready, I hurried back to the railway station as quickly as possible. When I got there at 17:46, a SouthEastern Javelin was just arriving on platform 4. Glancing at the screen I quickly realised this was to form the 17:53 SouthEastern service to London St Pancras (which my Advance ticket was booked on), so I hurried straight to platform 4. When I got there the train was already for boarding, so I got on and began eating my cod and chips. Unlike the outward journey in the morning, this train went via Ramsgate and Canterbury West before joining the High Speed 1 line at Ashford International. Going that different route meant seeing different scenery to during my morning journey. Having got to London St Pancras International I resisted the temptation to have a coffee in one of the in-station cafés as my priority was to transfer to Paddington on the Underground as soon as possible. When I got to Paddington there was just enough time for me to buy myself a takeaway flat white coffee from Delice De France before getting on the 20:12 GWR train to Bath Spa. Just like in the morning, after Reading the train was diverted via Newbury and Trowbridge, instead of going the usual route through Swindon and Chippenham. I finally reached Bath Spa at 21:59 and home a few minutes later.
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HighlightsMeeting members I'd met on previous Club trips again.
Morning ERS on Scenic Railway.
Adding Scenic Railway and Beehive Coaster to my coaster count.
LowlightsGetting to Dreamland after the specified arrival time and thus missing part of the ERS.
Having to stop riding around 17:25 to begin my journey home when the rides were open later than that.
Summing UpAltogether a coaster crazy day at Dreamland, my first ever time of going there. Although only a one-day trip, it was still great fun. A nice and straightforward little trip too, just a morning ERS followed by free time the rest of the day. It was great to meet Andy Hine, Ann Morgan, Heather Hall and several other members again. Also it was great to add another wooden coaster (Scenic Railway) and another steel coaster (Beehive Coaster) to my coaster count, and to re-ride Fantasy Mouse of Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells (which I previously rode at Fantasy Island in July 2010) under its new name at its new home for the first time. Furthermore the weather was good, dry all day and sunny at times. Many thanks to Andy Hine for organising this trip, and to the attendants for operating Scenic Railway before opening.
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