Plans for Dreamland in 2018 include new rides and more music events

Dreamland bosses are planning for 2018

New rides, music events and the return of Sunset Sessions and Screamland are planned for Dreamland in 2018.

Park operators Sands Heritage Ltd exited administration on November 3 and are now building an inhouse team, as well as recruiting a new CEO and park staff, to create a packed programme of events for next year.

Sands Heritage Limited went into administration in May 2016 – just under a year after the company reopened Dreamland amusement park.

The company suffered financial difficulty at the end of 2015 when it entered a voluntary debt plan after being hit with a net loss of £5 million and owing bills of £2,893,128.

In May 2016 Benjamin Wiles and Paul Williams, Managing Directors of Duff & Phelps, were appointed Joint Administrators of Sands Heritage Ltd, trading as Dreamland.

Investment and reopening

This year a £25 million investment from company Arrowgrass, which has bought up the shares of the operating firm,was used for re-landscaping, vintage rides restoration and the introduction of contemporary street food, eclectic bars, a main stage.

Renovations took place at the Cinque Ports pub, the Quarterdeck Brewhouse and former Escape nightclub – now Ziggy’s rooftop bar – and the charge for park entry was ditched in favour of wristband offers. The changes resulted in a ‘Company Voluntary Arrangement’, allowing the firm to come out of administration and continue trading.

Photo Frank Leppard Photography

A £600,000 pot paid creditors of Sands Heritage around 25p for every £1 owed to clear the debt from 2015.

All Sands Heritage Ltd directors – Nick Conington, Christopher Rudgard, Robert O’Connor and John Adams – resigned their posts. New directors Steven Mitchell – until last month the interim CEO at Dreamland – and Jennifer Double were put in place.

The new-look park reopened on May 26 and attracted some 500,000 visitors over the Summer.

The year ahead

Now Dreamland is on a firm footing to plan for the future and there is an outline programme for 2018.

New rides will arrive in stages with the first expected to be in place for Easter. Bosses at the park are yet to reveal exactly what rides are coming in but say they will be themed and aimed at family entertainment.

Events kicking off 2018 include gaming festival GEEK from February 16-18; The Selector and The Beat on February 24; POW (Power of Women) festival in March and the Undercover Festival on April 13-14.

The 60s and Hawaiian themed Hipsville festival returns on May 4-6 with international bands, all-star DJs, Saturday night costume party, exotic TiKi cocktail party, vintage market stalls plus a car and bike show.

Sunset Sessions will return, although next year there may be a nominal charge.

Photo Frank Leppard

Screamland 4 will be hosted in October, this time for 8 nights and with some changes planned so queues do not build up at the mazes.

A Day of the Dead will be held at the start of November and Frosted Fairground will return for December.

There will also be a focus on corporate events.

Jennie Double, Commercial Director at Dreamland Margate said: “Exiting administration is great news for both the organisation and for the regeneration of Margate. It means that we can look forward with real confidence as we continue to deliver the Dreamland experience to our guests.

“We are really excited for the future and we are building strong foundations across the entire business. This includes increasing our permanent team, which also contributes to our positive effect on the local economy.

“Dreamland is committed to delivering even more events in 2018 and this, together with an increased ride line-up, will ensure that we are widely recognised as a unique entertainment venue in the South East.”

Property acquisitions

Arrowgrass is expected to invest more money. The firm is currently putting together a masterplan which includes proposals to acquire a leasehold interest in Arlington House and arcade – with the possibility of buying the freehold from Thanet council.

The lease for the 18-floor, 1960s block is currently held by company Freshwater with day-to-day management in the hands of Trinity (Estates) Property Management Limited.

But Arrowgrass is looking at “significant” investment in the site as part of the masterplan for Dreamland and Arlington. More property acquisitions include ‘Godden’s Gap – the former amusements site – and the fish and chip shop, both on Marine Terrace.

The derelict buildings at 10-14 Belgrave Road  at the rear of the park have been bought and will be demolished and land at Eaton Road also now belongs to Arrowgrass.

Layout changes

Proposals include making improvements to the entrance, examining what else can be done with the ballroom and the Hall by the Sea and some layout changes which will include re-siting the info desk and possibly replacing the roller disco with a new attraction.

The amusement park will be closed, other than for planned events, between January 3 and March 30. A re-opening party is then planned.

Don’t miss…

The last events this year are the 450-metre ice rink, opening on December 1-January 3 and The Frosted Fairground which opens on December 2.

The Frosted Fairground  will also have a special appearance by favourite Christmas characters The Snowman and The Snowdog, a grotto, live music and special seasonal food and drink.

On the opening day, December 2, lights across the park will be switched on.

Book tickets in advance here

4 Comments

  1. In spite of some inevitable early indifference from the tdc on this project, with the help of a CPO, heritage lottery grants and couple of of new administrations,finally,the right solution for a happy Margate and a proper focal point to resurrect the town as a proper seaside resort and not just a nice beach with an art gallery.
    I wish all the people with this venture every possible success.
    By the way,councillor Wells, this proves CPO or similar CAN work,plus Sajid Javed will be hoping some, if not all of the new housing will be built closer than Manston, (small peripheral village) to an area that has,and will even greater infrastructure to cope with your inevitable London overspill as the vast majority whom can afford to purchase the new build.
    Any other scenario incorporated into the local plan can only be regarded as greedy,selfish and disastrous for the short or long term business prospects of Thanet.

  2. In spite of some inevitable early indifference from the tdc on this project, with the help of a CPO, heritage lottery grants and couple of of new administrations,finally,the right solution for a happy Margate and a proper focal point to resurrect the town as a proper seaside resort and not just a nice beach with an art gallery.
    I wish all the people with this venture every possible success.
    By the way,councillor Wells, this proves CPO or similar CAN work,plus Sajid Javed will be hoping some, if not all of the new housing will be built closer than Manston, (small peripheral village) to an area that has,and will even greater infrastructure to cope with your inevitable London overspill as the vast majority whom can afford to purchase the new build.
    Any other scenario incorporated into the local plan can only be regarded as greedy,selfish and disastrous for the short or long term business prospects of Thanet.

  3. Congratulations to Sands Heritage for digging themselves out of the mire that TDC put them into forcing the company to borrow and place themselves in an extremely difficult position as far as creditors are concerned. Thank you to all of the people who carried out work on the site yet have still placed some confidence in Sands Heritage I am sure at the end of the day they will be rewarded for their losses. What Sands Heritage have achieved has in fact and will make Dreamland a success once again. We all look forward to a healthy balance sheet and hope that they can gain control of the site that TDC (Car Park) choose to charge extortionate parking fee’s for in an attempt to drive customers and business away.

  4. What else can be done with the ballroom?…. Well what about ballroom dancing, street dance, craft fairs etc.. There are loads of indoor events that can raise money for Dreamland. I visited Dreamland in the summer, but wasn’t allowed to look in the ballroom! I’ve been waiting a lifetime to see it, so why keep the doors closed?? Use it!!

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