Adventure Island Southend, Essex Coast

Adventure Island Southend, Essex Coast

Old Dreamland Ballroom poster formerly on display in the Margate Museum

Old Dreamland Ballroom poster formerly on display in the Margate Museum

The Wild Mouse, Flying Machines, Waltzers, Dodgems, traditional wooden roller coasters, ghost trains and more – these are the classic fairground rides that many of us grew up with and they’re making a big comeback across the UK in the context of all things vintage. If you’re on the hunt for vintage sights and scenes in the UK, then the British seaside, piers and theme parks are where to head!

Dreamland Margate, a theme park overlooking Margate’s huge sandy Blue Flag beach thrilled visitors for decades and recently reopened its doors to the public again for a first glimpse of the restoration programme well under way. Dreamland has been awarded further funding and the trust anticipates developments will be complete by Easter 2015. It seems locals and visitors alike in the UK continue to be thrilled by classic fairground style rides. The resurgence of enthusiasm for vintage theme parks is similar to the affection held for other British vintage attraction favourites like steam railways and model villages. Here’s iknow’s top 10 classic family theme parks, piers, rides and vintage wonderlands, many of which are family businesses run by the same family for decades.

Dreamland Margate, Kent

Dreamland Margate, Kent

1. Dreamland Margate, Kent Thanet Coast

A classic Grade II Listed amusement park with restored rides to include the park’s famous Scenic Railway built in 1920, River Caves, a Wild Mouse and a 1930s Flying Scooters ride, one of only two in existence in the UK! Full opening is planned for 2015.

2. Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre at Lifton, West Devon

Situated just east of Launceston, Dingles is home to the National Fairground Collection and a magical step back in time with vintage rides here including the ancient Rodeo Switchback thought to date back to 1880! Other rides include Gallopers, Dodgems, a Ghost Train and a 1930s Super Chariot Ride.

3. Wilkie Adventureland Funfair New Brighton on The Wirral

Wilkie Adventureland in The Palace on Marine Parade is a family run fun park with a history stretching back to 1912 in seaside favourite New Brighton. Currently seeing a resurgence in popularity with families, the park with its distinctive pastel Deco style frontage is still run by the Wilkie family. Classic rides including the Scrambler, Dodgems, The Waltzer and Circus Train.

The Waltzer on Clacton Pier, Essex Coast

The Waltzer on Clacton Pier, Essex Coast

4. Clacton Pier, Essex Coast

A fun fantastic pier packed with classic fairground style family rides including a Waltzer, Dodgems, Helter Skelter and a full force Twister. First opened in 1893, Clacton Pier has always had a fun fairground theme. From the early 1920s to 1973 there was a huge Steel Stella roller coaster right on the pier.

5. Adventure Island, Southend, Essex Coast

First opened as a theme park in the late 1970s, there were seaside sunken gardens on the site of the park prior to the theme park's construction. Rides and activities here right next to the world’s longest pier including Roller Coasters, Dodgems, Flying Jumbos and Adventure Golf.

6. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire Coast, North West

A famous theme park in the UK, packed with some vintage treasures including Pleasure Beach’s oldest ride and one of the oldest rides still in operation in Europe, the Flying Machines or as it was known when it first opened here in Blackpool in 1904 – Sir Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machine. Other vintage favourites at Blackpool Pleasure Beach include the Rock Caves and the 1950s Derby Racer and Wild Mouse Rides.

The Flying Machines at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The Flying Machines at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

7. Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk Coast

Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach Scenic Railway first opened in 1932 and other popular vintage rides include a Gallopers dating from 1954. A selection of Retro Rides here include a Twister, Waltzer, a traditional 1930s wooden Roller Coaster and swinging Pirate Ship.

8. Drayton Manor Theme Park, near Tamworth, Staffordshire

Founded in 1949 by the Bryan family, Drayton Manor is set in 280 acres of parkland and lakes and is a fantastic inland family theme park with classics including carousels, Wild West shoot outs and favourite Buffalo Roller Coaster.

Brighton Pier, Sussex

Brighton Pier, Sussex

9. Blackgang Chine, Isle of Wight

Thought to be one of Britain’s oldest tourist leisure attractions, Blackgang Chine was founded by the entrepreneur Alexander Dabell in 1843, and has been thrilling visitors since the Victorian era. 2013 is the Park’s 170th Anniversary year! Step into magical fairy, fantasy and dinosaur lands with winding path and hidden corners, all set around the 500 foot deep gorge in the cliff face with pathways down to the Chine and beach. The descendants of Alexander Dabell still run this unique theme park near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.

10. Brighton Pier, Sussex Coast

Brighton's historic Palace Pier has a real vintage feel, packed with classic thrill rides and traditional rides including Waltzers, a carousel, dodgems and the fabulous ‘Horror Hotel’!

Accommodation in Margate

  • Margate   (0.1 miles from the centre of Margate)
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    £60
    per person per night B&B (2 sharing)
     
    Luxury boutique hotel in Margate overlooking Main Sands Beach & the Turner Gallery with 20 en-suites, 2 AA Rosette restaurant and Bar, ice cream parlour and roof terrace.
     
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  • Margate   (0.3 miles from the centre of Margate)
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    £25
    per person per night Room Only (2 sharing)
     
    Popular family run hotel in Margate just opposite Main Sands beach with great sea views, free WiFi, bike storage and 12 guest rooms. Competitive rates & Contractor Discounts.
     
  • Broadstairs   (3.0 miles from the centre of Margate)
    Sleeps 4
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    £708
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
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    Rating from 2 reviews
    Fabulous family friendly coastal cottage at North Foreland Lighthouse near Broadstairs. Shared 1 acre lawned garden and luxury open plan living space. Beach and pub nearby.
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Accommodation in Blackpool

  • Prices from
    £129
    Based on 3 nights
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 985 reviews
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    Fantastic Haven Holiday Park in Blackpool Set In 93 Acres Of Parkland. Range of kid's clubs, indoor & outdoor pools, entertainment & Boathouse Restaurant. Dog friendly.
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    Holiday & Touring Park
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    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 1173 reviews
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    Great value Haven holiday park in Blackpool with indoor pool, outdoor splash zone, kid's clubs, entertainment, restaurant & bar. Short break deals available. Dog friendly.
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    Holiday Park
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    £15
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    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 63 reviews
    Rating from 63 reviews
    Welcoming family run guest house in Blackpool ideal for contractors, couples and families. Close to the South Pier & Pleasure Beach. Parking & wifi service. Full cooked breakfast.
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Accommodation on the Isle of Wight

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    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 350 reviews
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    Newport budget family friendly hotel accommodation. Discount room rates available for families and the business traveller. Wi-Fi service.
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    £265
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4-8
     
    Luxury, self-catering lodges on the Isle of Wight. 6 available, sleeping 4-8. Premier lodges have outdoor hot tub. Fully fitted kitchen. Open plan lounge. Families welcome.
     
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  • Sandown
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    £28
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 348 reviews
    Rating from 348 reviews
    With an excellent seafront location, the Carlton is a family-run hotel offering rooms with en suite facilities, a restaurant, a bar and live entertainment 7 nights a week.
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Accommodation near Drayton Manor Park

  • Hopwas   (2.3 miles from the centre of Drayton Manor Park)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 202 reviews
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    A 10-minute drive from Drayton Manor Theme Park, Oaktree Farm is a 17th-century country farmhouse offering views of Rive Tame. It enjoys the very top AA star rating for a B&...
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    Guest Accommodation
  • Sutton coldfield   (4.8 miles from the centre of Drayton Manor Park)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 4 reviews
    Rating from 4 reviews
    Pleasant bed and breakfast in Lea Marston, near Sutton Coldfield. Children under five stay free of charge. Situated close to the Belfry golf course.
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  • Sutton Coldfield   (3.6 miles from the centre of Drayton Manor Park)
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    £108
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 426 reviews
    Rating from 426 reviews
    When you stay at Brook Marston Farm Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, you'll be near the airport and convenient to Kingsbury Water Park and Belfry Golf Club. This 4-star hotel is withi...
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