A Popular Day Out from London
Margate Dreamland has become a popular day out from London ever since it reopened its doors two years ago – exactly as it was back in its heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. The collection of nostalgic rides is not only fun for little ones but also adults will be able to get their dose of fun and some thrills during a visit. Readers of this blog might know that we generally avoid massive theme parks in favour of more interesting off the beaten track experiences or cultural delights. We have always felt that they mainly exist to steal vast sums off parents and spoil the fun by the endless queues for rides. Margate Dreamland on the other hand offers tickets for a reasonable price and from our experience – even on the bank holiday weekend – the queues were minimal and therefore keep tantrums and moans due to boring children in queues at bay.
An Easy Bike Ride From Broadstairs
Jerome and I had been keen to explore Margate Dreamland for over a year, since our first stay in Margate when the park was actually closed (it is always advisable to check opening times and days online in advance!). I knew when we booked our weekend break in Broadstairs that we would have to come and visit Margate Dreamland for real this time. Margate is an easy bike ride over the cliffs from Broadstairs, following the Viking Coastal Trail. This proved to be the best way for us to reach the fun park. Anyone planning a visit from London will also be delighted to know that the trains from St Pancras Station will whizz you there in just over an hour these days with just a short walk from the station…
Buying Entry Tickets for Margate Dreamland
We locked our bikes on the railing behind Margate Beach, Dreamland has yet to offer any secure bicycle parking nearby for visitors but does have a vast car park. Once inside the main building we bought tickets for Margate Dreamland – there are two options, one an all day, unlimited rides ticket for £15, or for those that feel they might just watch the fun from afar may purchase an entry ticket for £5, which also includes two fun rides of your choice. If you already know what day you will be visiting Margate Dreamland you should buy wristbands in advance and save a few pounds! Next to the ticket office, visitors can find a roller disco, indoor playground and a traditional seaside games machine arcade, all are a great option to keep kids entertained during a rainy day, inside the building at Margate Dreamland.
Buying Wristband Tickets in Advance
If you already know what day you will be visiting Margate Dreamland you should buy wristbands in advance and save a few pounds! Next to the ticket office, visitors can find a roller disco, indoor playground and a traditional seaside games machine arcade, all are a great option to keep kids entertained during a rainy day, inside the building at Margate Dreamland.I guess it goes without saying that we went for the Big Kid Wristbands, Jerome had to pay the full adult price as that applies for anyone taller than 1.25m, which is also the height restriction for some of the crazier rides at Margate Dreamland. Littlest Kids under 90cm can ride for free as much as they like.
Our Favourite Fairground Rides
Inside the grounds the big wheel towers over the fun park with its multi coloured cabins and we looked about to see what would be our first choice. Although Jerome and I each had our favourite rides that we definitely wanted to try out but without any specific ride on our minds as a first choice we just aimlessly went with the flow mainly looking for short queues. Our first ride was the Speed Way, a row of wooden motorbikes arranged in a circle. It was fun to ride albeit we wished it could have been a bit faster, but then it did date from the 1950s! Next up was one of my all time favourite rides, a chair o plane. Each ride has a history posted next to it some date back to the 1920’s others are newer. The Margate chair-o-plane was originally from Germany and a ride on one of the chained seats always brings back happy childhood memories from afternoons at the funfair that we would visit once a year with my parents and siblings.
Fun Rides for Little Kids
As mentioned earlier, some of the rides are only for big kids over 1.25 but there are plenty of options for little kids too. A ride on the Wedgewood Teacups is another undisputable classic that can be found at many fun fairs and theme parks all around the world. Jerome used to love a ride on the Gallopers Carousel from a very young age and even now we have to ride a horse whenever we come across a carousel.
Exciting Rides for Thrill Seekers
Thrill seekers will not be disappointed at Margate Dreamland, although do not expect any major hair raising rides with loops or vast drops. A good start for the crazy kids, is the wooden roller coaster, Scenic Railway – perhaps the highlight of the park being one of the few working wooden coasters in the world. Another is the head spinning Waltzer. Jerome and I both absolutely loved the Waltzer and if the queues were shorter (we did have to wait for about 10min) we would have also given the Scenic Railway another go. Instead we went on the smaller Beehive Coaster, a tuned down version of a roller coaster that even little ones can enjoy.
We were slightly disappointed to find that the Helter Skelter and the Born Slippy (both are fun slides) were still in the process of being built and the 1950’s Hurricane Jets were out of action due to a fault even though the technicians were busy trying to fix the problem. Please also note that some rides might be closed due to bad weather, like the Big Wheel on very windy days.
Other Temptations to Spend Your Money
Of course there are many other temptations to spend money beside the rides at Margate Dreamland if you want to. Jerome tried his luck at throwing bouncy balls into a bucket trying to win a large Pikachu toy, but failed after several attempts and with a few pounds less in his pocket. There are also plenty of food stalls, offering a variety of treats, anything from classics like ice cream to sausages and chips for the hungry kids. W e had decided to go for a decent, late lunch in Margate somewhere after having finished our rides, but an ice cream from one of the vans should always be allowed on a hot day.
Traditional British Games Arcade
Upon finishing the rides, our legs were slightly less steady but our tummies had survived the more exciting rides. Before leaving Margate Dreamland we stopped at the games arcade. While I watched some kids and adults skate at the roller disco (roller skates can be rented against an extra fee) the boys went to play some of the traditional arcade machine games. Jerome wanted to reach a high number at the pinball machines (also old but well loved) but failed, Chris was equally unsuccessful at the coin drop machines – a very traditional British seaside arcade classic.
I however got lucky without even inserting a coin into one of the machines, somehow a large number of coins accidentally dropped down into the winning compartment. Counting myself lucky we actually – of course as everyone does – fed the coins back into one of the machines, trying to win one of the prizes (little plastic toys or in rare cases notes). My lucky streak must have been temporary, as the coins I had won did not lead to any further, larger wins. Jerome could have probably spent all the rest of the day playing the machines but we were quite hungry and decided to call it a day and exit Dreamland having enjoyed a spin on eight or so rides.
African Caribbean Food at Tashi’s by the Sea
We would have loved to return to the double decker bus next to the beach where we had some cake and coffee the year before, but we felt we needed something more filling than just a sweet snack. There are plenty of restaurant options in Margate, however a lot offer the standard fast food of fish and chips, burgers and the like. Pushing our bikes along the promenade we discovered a small Caribbean eatery, called tashi’s by the Sea, that looked like our kind of easy but delicious lunch spot. Indeed, the dishes were tasty, mostly a variety of curries with banana, and also very reasonably priced.
Flying a Stunt Kite
After we had finished our late lunch we cycled back, into the direction of Broadstairs. We made a stop just above Palm Bay, where Jerome had enough space to fly his steering stunt kite without the danger of crashing it onto someone strolling by. The crowds on the beaches along the coast had waned, the east facing sandy beaches and coves, had lost their sunshine due to the high chalk cliffs.
Dinner at Broadstairs Tandoori
That evening we went for a dinner at the local Nepalese and Indian Restaurant, Broadstairs Tandoori. After a huge amount of popadoms and the second curry of the day, albeit a very different one, we played a few rounds of cards in our cute fisherman’s cottage. Jerome had definitely enjoyed his visit to Margate Dreamland and even said that he would like to go again the following day. Instead we went for a bike ride to Ramsgate, where we discovered a beautiful Italianate Greenhouse and some of the best scones around.
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