Proudly Presents:

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.

It has 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.

The Haunted Swing was first introduced at Coney Island, and uses the method of illusion in a most effective and ingenious way,given its early invention date. Many new rides built in Continental Europe are updated versions of this ride, the Palaisdu Genie at Six Flags in Belgium being an example. In spite of this several classic examples still exist, in the UK at Fleggburgh Village and Blackpool, as well as Southport.Both these shows are now combined to form one attraction at the park, with the two elements combined together, much like at Trauma Towers at Blackpool, where the Haunted Hotel and Tagadaride were combined to good effect in the late 1990s. The response from the public has been positive and should ensure their survival for at least a while longer.


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.

The narrow frontage belied the fact that the ride ran to the back wall of the park, through several buildings, with corrugated tin roofs. These buildings necessitated the ride's removal at the end of 1996 - the site now houses an amusement arcade named the Sultan's Palace. Although now unused, the trains from the older Ghost Train are now used to decorate the park for the annual Halloween festival.This Ghost Train is sorely missed among aficionados, the Ghost Train is now housed in a building beneath the Cyclone.

The Cyclone runs through a portion of the Ghost Train on it's return leg to the station, performing a double-dip through the structure.The ride started life as a dark ride when it was built in 1978, starting life as a galactic space adventure ride, named Journey into Space. Built by Craynor Construction, the ride is one of few in the U.K to feature spinning trucks, which rotate freely on their own axis. In the space themed ride, it created the illusion of a journey through space, as your car spun round with planets and light effects placed strategically throughout the ride.

Following the removal of the earlier Ghost Train, the Journey into Space was rethemed into the Ghosts in Space, and then the Ghost Train; retaining the spinning cars which make for a unique and curious ghost train experience, very unlike that on the older ride.



Southport has had many and varied dark attractions, not all of which were located at the Pleasureland park. But it is Pleasureland that has stood the test of time, perhaps as a consequence of the many varied and quality attractions it has had over its amazing history.In the 21st Century, the park is among Britain's finest theme and amusement parks, boasting attractions such as the Traumatizer Coaster, the Cyclone and the historic River Caves. Having again invested heavily in a new Freefall tower ride for the 2002 season, the park seems set to be enjoyed by all who visit, well into the future.

Classic Pretzel Ride Company Art-Deco Cars that Once Graced the Parks Dark Ride stand silent a a tribute to the History that this Amusement Park has.




This article © 2003 By Neil Saunderson and used with permission by
" I-RIDE" The International Darkride Association"
and the official "Tunnel of Laffs" website.
You may contact the author through the website.

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