Completely renovated and re-opened in 2015 after decades of neglect, Margate’s Dreamland describes itself as “the UK’s original Pleasure Park”, with the site dating way back to the 1860s.
In 2003, the derelict site was earmarked for redevelopment into housing, prompting the “Save Dreamland” campaign which eventually succeeded in securing the park’s future thanks to the establishment of the “Dreamland Trust”. The revamp has focused on a vintage feel with rides from different eras. The rides and activities cater for all age ranges, including toddlers. There are also various events e.g. Circus, High Diving display, which change over the course of the year.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
Delightful Dreamland is divided into two bits – indoors and outdoors, so something for every kind of weather. Crucially, the indoors bit is (mainly) free to access and wander round, while the outdoors bit – the ‘amusement park’ with all the rides – is very much not free. Do ensure you book your tickets for the amusement park in advance online to save 15% on the on-the-day prices. For babies and toddlers I’d massively recommend the Octopuss’s Garden soft-play zone, which is located just inside the main entrance. In all honesty it was all a little advanced for our five-month-old, but at a cost of just £1 for three of us to enter (babies under one and an accompanying adult go free) it was well worth an explore, and our baby loved the ball pits, riding on the foam motorbikes and watching the older babies and toddlers roaming around all the different sections. There’s fancy dress, pretend shops, a fun climbing zone, plus a cafe for everyone to recharge their batteries afterwards. The amusement park is great fun and very ‘vintage chic’, but – as with any theme park with rides – there are of-course height restrictions to bear in mind. There is a section for smaller children, and some rides allow children on with accompanying adults, but our small baby was only allowed on one ride (the carousel). The park’s flagship ride – the listed wooden ‘scenic railway’ – had yet to open at time of writing (Autumn 2015) but was in the process of being tested, so should be up and running soon. All in all it’s a unique theme park with fabulous design and good old-fashioned fun, and well worth a daytrip.
Review by Hayley Brockie-Dunlop
I went with my kids and their cousins (8, 6 5 and 4) to visit Dreamland in August, and it was one of the best days out we have ever had as a family. There are plenty of “non-scary” rides e.g. a beautiful carousel, the colourful ferris wheel which gives you incredible views over Margate sands, and our favourite, the huge swoopy slides which had the kids racing to rejoin the queue as soon as they came off the end. The caterpillar is also a great introduction to rollercoasters for small kids. However there are also plenty of faster rides that older/bolder kids will love. The queue lengths etc were fine when we visited and the staff are friendly and helpful.
There is a wide and tasty selection of food for lunch – lots of local produce with a street food vibe such as pulled pork baps or fish and chips – and the famous Yamas Thai café has an outlet there if you fancy a green curry. For the picky eaters there are burgers, hot dogs and cheesy chips too.
There is great music playing (The Smiths, anyone?) and random performers dressed up and dancing – in some areas it looks a bit shabby and amateur but that is part of it’s great charm – the place has a wonderful vibe, you can feel the community love that has gone into it and I hope it goes from strength to strength. The kids are already begging me to go back!
Review by Cathy Dearson
Address: 49-51 Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XJ.
Playground: There’s a fantastic and large soft-play centre called ‘Octopus’s Garden’. Babies under one go free along with one accompanying adult (and additional adults pay just £1). For all other children it’s around a fiver.
Café: Plenty of food options on-site, although a good tip to bear in mind is that you can leave and return to the site as many times as you like throughout the day if you’ve bought a ticket for the Pleasure Park. So we left at lunchtime for a pizza on the seafront at the fantastic GB Pizza.
Loos: Toilet facilities available throughout Dreamland, although outdoors at the time of writing the toilets are temporary structures with no baby change facilities as far as I could tell. Indoors there are changing facilities as part of the soft play zone, although strangely there is only one changing table in a room with no sink.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: Step-free access throughout as the park is all on one level. Further details here: www.dreamland.co.uk/accessibility.
Parking: Parking on-site, though it’s not a massive car park so public transport is recommended if at all possible. More info re transport here: www.dreamland.co.uk/visit.
Nearest Station: The nearest train station is Margate, which is a five-minute walk from Dreamland.
Bus: The 8, 32, 33, 34, 36, 56 and Loop are the main bus routes that Stagecoach run through the towns, stopping in various places near the park.
Phone: 01843 295887.
Today at the park, following its grand re-opening, a soft-play (prices start at £4.95 for over-1s), a roller disco (around a fiver each) and an amusement arcade (including vintage, reconditioned machines – think pinball machines, push-the-penny, original Space Invaders) provide the rainy-day fun, while the outdoor ‘amusement park’ requires a ticket to access (£14.95 for adults and £12.95 for children if you book in advance, under 3s go free), which includes unlimited goes on all the rides.
This is the first stage of opening – apparently there will be further expansion although the exact timeline isn’t clear.
Review by Hayley Brockie-Dunlop and Cathy Dearson.