Top Stories of 2012 for British Attractions

With a number of top investments, marketing breakthroughs and industry disasters, 2012 has been a rather dramatic year for the British travel.

Whilst it is difficult to pinpoint the most important turning points in the year, we’ve found twelve topics that were most popular with Airgates’ readers this year. We’ve put them in a fair order of which were most important, during which has been an interesting year for the attractions industry.

Do you agree? Feel free to add your thoughts from the year at the end of the article!

12. Year of the App

Marketing attractions has changed alot over the space of a decade. Whilst basic websites were the online tool for the tourism industry, alot has changed in ten years. Tweeting, ‘Liking’, Wi-Fi – all relatively new in the realm of technology. A large number of attractions started official social media pages this year, along with a number of free phone applications to help make precious days out go smoothly.

11. All part of the Marketing Mix

Continuing with the marketing theme, a wide range of PR stories and events occured to help keep theme parks firmly in the mind of the public. Whilst one park made a minature Lego model of the Queen, another was attempting world records. One was even giving money away left, right and centre. (Don’t worry though, it was all organised by Alton Towers as £1,000 was given away during PR activity for a week!)

10. Records smashed, then shattered.Pepsi Max Big One Airgates

Seasoned thrill-seeker Richard Rodriguez returned to the United Kingdom, as part of a . He concluded after 112 days on Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Big One rollercoaster to secure the Guinness World Record for the longest period of ‘Consecutive Daily Roller Coaster Riding’.

On the other coast, Adventure Island also entered the record books for the most naked golfers to complete a course within an hour. Ooh-er!

9. Center Parcs’ World First. Wat-er ride!

In a surprising manoeuvre one of the UK’s leading resort companies announced they would be unveiling a world first. Tropical Cyclone opened in November as a unique waterslide experience at Elveden Forest, at a cost of £4 million. After a golden sporting summer, the ride was opened by Paralympian Ellie Simmonds.

8. Here, there, everywhere.

Whilst some of the most renowned new rides opened in Staffordshire and Surrey, theme parks up and down the country unveiled new contraptions to the public. Reaching high expectations (pun intended), were star-flyer Pterodactyl at Flamingo Land, and drop tower Magma at Paultons Park.

Smaller additions also included a Madagascar LIVE! stage show at Chessington World of Adventures, and a new Forest Pursuit driving school at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester.

7. Down in the Dungeon

York Dungeon external buildingThis year proved a dramatic one for The Dungeons brand, both in the North and South of England. A major flood caused extensive damage to The York Dungeon – resulting in a number of redundancies and the immediate closure of the educational scare attraction. A renovated version will reopen next Spring.

The original Dungeon in London will be radically different when it opens next year, following a relocation from Tooley Street to County Hall in the capital. Popular scenes such as Traitor: Boat Ride to Hell are set to remain, however new characters such as Guy Fawkes are set to be added to the new location.

6. Au Revoir!

Whilst new ideas and marketable attractions are key to a successful tourist destination, there may be casualties as a result of keeping things fresh.

Amongst those that closed this season are Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Monorail, Drayton Manor’s Excalibur, Paulton Park’s Village Life area, and even a whole theme park. More on that further on…

5. Nemesis Sub-Terra opens at Alton Towers

With its namesake being rated as one of the world’s best inverted rollercoasters, this addition had a lot to live upto.  Whilst Nemesis Sub-Terra is part dark ride, part drop ride, part scare maze, the whole package is best described as a unique experience. The attraction opened to mostly negative feedback in March. However, Alton Towers re-imagined several components of the installation to create what now receives much praise from visitors and enthusiasts alike.

4. The Dream lives on?

Much like a beloved fairytale that most wish would become true, Dreamland continues to make steps towards a return to Margate. Whilst there is opposition to create a residential area, The Dreamland Trust are continuing the vision to create a heritage amusement park. It is hoped that a final verdict will be reached early next year.

3. Paramount-licensed theme park proposed

One thing the British Isles is often renowned for is its film heritage, and the movie properties the United Kingdom is renowned for.

Under the guidance of London Resort Company Holdings, a Hollywood themed resort containing attractions based around Paramount Pictures licenses could open as soon as 2018.

2. Arthur’s Round Table Abandoned

As one of the industry’s underdogs due to lack of investment, Camelot Theme Park in Lancashire announced they would close after nearly three decades of thrills and spills. The last major investment was the white-knuckle Knightmare rollercoaster in 2006.

The hotel on site will remain open as it is externally operated – however the future of many Camelot attractions is currently unknown.

The Swarm Thorpe Park1. The Swarm flies over Thorpe Park

Hyped by many enthusiasts (perhaps prematurely!) as the rollercoaster of the decade, The Swarm is a worthy highlight of this season. This wingrider rollercoaster was the first of its type to open in the UK, and was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, under the design guidance of John Wardley.

With an impressive first drop and equally brilliant theming to accompany the investment, The Swarm certainly goes some way towards the park’s “relentless” description.


So…. What Next?

Good question. Whilst some theme parks and destinations are yet to announce new investments, many have given a taster of what’s to come. Merlin Entertainments are set to deliver yet another white-knuckle experience in the form of a new X-Sector themed coaster – currently codenamed SW7. The steel Gerstlauer rollercoaster will feature numerous inversions, alongside an immersive backstory.

Beside the Irish Sea, animation experts Aardman have partnered with Blackpool Pleasure Beach to create Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic. Utilising the former Gold Mine ride (and at a cost of £5.25 million), families will be taken on a journey through the duo’s most popular adventures.

Oakwood Theme Park have also revealed that seven new rides will open for a family area in 2013, including one major water installation. A brand new Sealife Centre will also open at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

To keep upto date with the latest planned and confirmed installations, keep an eye on our 2013 Watch feature.