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Adventure Island


UK park experiences the best of times and the worst of times in 2012


How was the 2012 season at Adventure Island in Southend-on-Sea? “The worst year on record” says the English park’s general manager Robert Roberts. But wait! After loosing “unheard of” amounts of money up until July, the park then experienced its best August and September on record, and the adjoining Sealife Adventure aquarium enjoyed its best ever year. Park World suspects such erratic business levels are a reflection of the unpredictable British weather, but we’re pleased to report that owner


the Stockvale Group, with Philip Miller as executive chairman and Marc Miller as managing director, is looking ahead with optimism. “We are continuing with our never-ending cycle


New for 2013: Time Machine


of re-investment,” reveals Roberts. “Our new Feelgoods eatery has performed quite satisfactorily. Whether it be catering, aquarium or park, there are always a dozen or so projects on the go in some form or another. Planning applications will be submitted soon for at least six more schemes of varying costs.” A total of £100,000 ($155k/€117k) has been committed to a refurbishment of the park’s Helter Skelter slide, which will be made to look like new and equipped with the latest lighting effects. Visitors to the free-entry fun park will also be able to enjoy a new attraction for 2013 in the shape of the Time Machine. This high-speed thrill ride was, like a handful of other Adventure Island attractions, built in-house. Meanwhile the park is talking with several manufacturers about the possibility of adding a giant Ferris Wheel, “when the right deal comes along.” Also in the pipeline is


The Helter Skelter – set for a revamp in 2013


a new themed area on the site of the old Blackbeards Adventure. Whilst Roberts believes the current UK coalition government, “hasn’t got a Scooby (clue) what to do,” he is supportive of the local council in Southend. “They do a really good job of finding money for capital projects in times of austerity. From the pier and the seafront to the high street, they always seems to have projects on the go, town wide.”


So will 2013 be any better in 2012 for Adventure Island and the other Stockvale businesses? “The challenge is all about consumer confidence, but as astute business people will tell you, give customers what they want and they will support you.”


Investment pays


off at Gulliver’s Whilst some other English attractions suffered last season, directors of the Gulliver’s theme park chain say they can look back on 2012 with satisfaction.


Managing director Julie Dalton, whose


father Ray opened the first Gulliver’s park 35 years ago overlooking the Derbyshire town of Matlock, says the key to their success lies in investment and diversification. “It’s difficult out there and we’re not pretending the past year has been easy, but our five-year plan is designed to plan for the worst and help us grow in even the most challenging of conditions,” explains Julie. “We’ve invested significantly in our resorts over the last 12 months, including a new £3.8 million hotel at our Warrington site, as well as SplashZone water play factories in Warrington and Milton Keynes, which give parents the option of a shorter treat for kids, as well as being a fantastic indoor alternative for rainy days.” The group’s best selling item in 2012 was the plastic poncho (as pictured), 2,881 of which were sold – which tells you all you need to know about the ‘Great British Summer. Other initiatives such as a pantomime show and rides package helped Gulliver’s enjoy its second best Christmas ever.


Ponchos – guest’s best friend during a wet summer


The group is now looking forward to opening up for the February ‘half-


term’ school holidays at its Milton Keynes and Warrington sites, with all three park (including Matlock) fully operational from Easter onwards. Just to be on the safe side, however, another another 3,000 ponchos have been ordered!


gulliversfun.co.uk 12 FEBRUARY 2013


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