Written by Neil Saunderson, UK Correspondent
Designed by Bret Malone
Welcome to Pleasureland, one of the World's greatest traditional amusement parks, with classic design elements from the past several decades of amusement park design.In the new Millennium, Southport has a whole host of attractions, including a Vekoma built Inverted looping Roller coaster called the Traumatizer,a fantastic ride which dominates the park and Southport's changing skyline.
rides for every taste including dedicated rides for younger
children. There is a a classic wooden roller coaster called the Cyclone,
a figure eight layout designed in 1937 by the famed coaster designer Charles Paige,
as well as a host of modern and traditional Fairground attractions. Southport has had a significant role in the development of the amusement park in the UK. At the end of the 19th Century
the area comprising the Marine Lake and Marine Drive were being built
up in the race to become a successful seaside resort. A pier was built and attractions were soon added in a bid to keep up with the latest technology.
Many of the attractions at Pleasureland have lasted from the early days of the park's history until the present day. In terms of popularity, not much has changed in the line up of dark attractions, which are provided in order to thrill and amusement parkguests.The Noah's Ark, a popular walk through attraction, was at the park during the middle portion of the 20th Century, and proved to be popular, although not so famed as it's cousin at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.The attraction simulates a walk thru' experience of being on board the ark, with a multitude of tight dimly lit passageways at awkward and chaotic angles, while the structure simulates being at sea by actually rocking back and forth .The Southport Ark was removed. However Noah's Arks lasted at Morecambe's
Frontierland park until 1999, and the current Ark at Blackpool is still going strong. The only other known existing Ark is at Kennywood in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Many larger parks began installing Fun Houses as a result of the success of the various attractions installed at Coney Island in the 1890s.The Southport example was designed to fit the rapidly expanding Pleasureland Park, and contains some classic funhouse elements including a
revolving disc among it's attractions.With spinning turntables, cakewalks, moving stairs and revolving barrels, the
Fun House represented a link with the great funhouses of the past, and survives to this day,recently upgraded with equipment from the removed Fodi's Funhouse at the
sister Blackpool park.(As of this writing several parts of the funhouse have been removed - 2002)During the 30s, the park installed the Tipsy House or Haunted Innas it is currently known. A walk through house similar to a Noah's Ark in principle, but on a smaller scale, the tipsy house was built at many of the U.K's parks in various forms and can still be seen extensively today. The house uses the principle of dark passageways, various visual stunts and the dark to create an exciting and suspenseful walk round attraction.
Two standard attractions for parks in the mid 1900s were the Mirror Maze and the Haunted Swing. At Southport, these two we resituated in a building adjacent to the Cyclone roller coaster and were built to similar specifications to the ones at the parks at Blackpool and Morecambe.
The Mirror Maze is a traditional fairground attractions with mazes laid out using mirrors to distort the traditional maze idea.
Southport's River Caves has been a fixture at the park for over sixty years. Similar rides have appeared over the years at several UK parks, though it was in the early twentieth Century that this ride was primarily built. Southport's example dates from this era, and similar to the one at Blackpool has a series of dioramas of scenes from around the world for visitors to pass by serenely in their boats. Taking a ride on this attraction, it is easy to forget the location of the park and modern life, as you return to a simpler form of amusement, the incredibly serene and peaceful jaunt through this attraction.This ride uses a similar effect to the Dr Who's Tardis, in that you cannot believe the ride can possibly be as long as it is, in the space the ground occupies. Not unusual for this type of ride,the ride uses large boats, in this case 4 bench ones, of a wooden design. The ride itself is a cousin of the Old Mill and Mill Chute rides of early this century. Also known as the Tunnel Of Love, these rides have now mostly disappeared from the amusement scene, but this particular ride still has much of the charm from its early days, although most of the scenes have been updated from earlier designs.
Southport Pleasureland is unusual in the UK as it had, until1996, one of the last single room ghost trains still existing.This ride, dating from the thirties, had a classic demeanor and represented the epitome of ghost train experiences.Not a stunner from the outside, boasting a thin platform and short loading station, the ride occupied space sandwiched between the promenade, and the river caves on one side and Haunted Swing/Mirror maze on the other.
This article © 2003 By Neil Saunderson and used with
" I-RIDE" The International Darkride Association" and the official "Tunnel of Laffs" website.
You may contact the author through the website.