Christine Tongue: Thrill-seeking stickies

Christine Tongue

If your legs don’t work properly you’re not really supposed to seek excitement – just being out among normal people is supposed to be satisfying enough.

At least that’s how I felt at times in Dreamland last week.

I’ve done some thrilling things in my stick-using years – cable cars up big mountains, seven seater seaplane to the Hebrides, sailing in a tiny boat in a stormy sea and, best of all, a hot air balloon I had to be lifted into as I’m too small to climb in. And no-one ever said “This isn’t for you, Mrs Stick User”. It was all possible!

I’ve always loved roller coasters and big wheels. I did the old Dreamland with some visiting kids 25 years ago and wanted to do it again now it’s all been restored.

You buy your ticket – no concessions for the old or the decrepit. (In France my companion and I go free on stuff like this.) But since I’d asked about concessions they knew I was not a whole person. This later was significant!

You go to the Scenic Railway and wait to get on. The young lads running it tell you to leave bags behind. I plead to keep my little rucksack as it’s padded and on hard backed seats it’s vital for me to protect my spine. But no exceptions! And no sticks on board either.

I feel very vulnerable without the stick! I ask to speak to a manager who points out there’s a notice telling people with back problems to stay away! He recommends I get off.

But I really want to do it, so I give up my bag and stick and already have enough adrenalin whizzing round my head for six roller coasters.

And the ride? Well it’s ok. But you only go round once and it’s not that high, and if you’re not at the front you can’t see much.

The sweet boy who held my bag and stick and was feeling guilty until I got off, compensated to some extent for my annoyance. But this was balanced by the other manager who said their training didn’t allow any breaking of the rules and the seats were not padded cos of being vintage and why didn’t I read the notice before I got on.

More misery followed when I found the coffee shack was not serving on account of someone not turning up – on a Saturday! And loads of rides were still being constructed ….

But the big wheel, run by polite, thoughtful young women, was a joy. Kept my bag and stick with me, was helped on and off, and fantastic views over Thanet. Highly recommended if your joints allow to sit on quite a low seat and you have a head for heights.

So for £8.50 you get in, have two rides and a row – or just accept that you should have just gone in the mirror maze or something and not tried to do what only the “normal” are supposed to be able to do.

I still love roller coasters and I will give the Scenic Railway another go. But next time I hope the only friction will be between the wheels and the track and not me and the staff!

  • A Dreamland spokesman said: ““We’re sorry to hear that one of our guests had some issues with accessibility when visiting the park. Dreamland is fully accessible, however not all rides are suitable, for safety reasons. “While we endeavour to meet our customers’ needs and be as accommodating as possible, on some rides, to ensure the safety of all riders, it is not possible to allow customers to ride with any belongings. Guests registered with a disability are entitled to free access to the park for one carer. Full accessibility information can be viewed at


  1. Being made to leave handbags etc, is a very stupid thing to do. Years ago, my young daughter was made to do the same. bag when she got off. Her friend had given her his car keys & works keys, plus wallet. She lost all her cash as well, so they were stranded, 50 miles from home. Thieves /bags & travellers in car park.

  2. Oh the cheery Tongue is back….glass half empty as usual.

    Is this actually ‘news’?

    • It’s the “opinion” section, not news! But people often think the disabled do too much grumbling – which is why the world is full of steps and inaccessible buildings!

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