Last year, I wrote about a weekend break in Margate, which was supposed to include a trip to Dreamland – except I hadn’t checked if it would be open…
… And it wasn’t.
Never mind, it gave us a reason to return to Margate.
A visit to Dreamland is easily done in a day, with the journey from Stratford International taking not much more than an hour on certain trains, but we like Margate – and we know there’s plenty to do – so we went for a long weekend again.
The weather couldn’t have been better. Okay, it was a bit too hot for me, but that’s the kind of problem I like to have.
We went to Dreamland on Saturday, and here are some things you might find useful to know if you go yourself.
But, first, it’s worth saying this. I don’t like rides, theme parks, fairgrounds or anything like that. I can’t tell you how it compares to Alton Tower or Legoland or even Peppa Pig World because I’ve never been. But I think it’s fairly significant that I’d happily take my kids to Dreamland again.
- It’s actually quite small. You can easily walk around the site without fear of losing anyone or having to carry young companions.
- There were no queues.
- It didn’t feel like a completely commercialised experience designed to drag every penny out of you.
- It was fun – especially seeing my three-year-old on the big slide with her dad.
- Dreamland has charm. The vintage fairground rides are clearly very loved, and there’s something rather beautiful about some of them – the bright colours, and the craftsmanship behind them. The roundabout made of tiny vintage Austin cars in different shades is one example – sadly no one more than 1 metre 20 can ride them.
It’s free to go into Dreamland, so you can pitch up, wander round and work out how many rides you and your child(ren) are actually going to go on. There are two ways of paying for rides.
- A wristband valid for the day (or weekend for a higher price) that means you can enjoy as many rides as you want.
What’s great is that, with a wristband, you can go in and out of Dreamland as you please. So you can, for instance, go on a few rides in the morning, pop to the beach for a bit, then return to Dreamland and use your wristband later in the day. Buy your wristband online beforehand for the best price.
- A dream pass (like a gift card) that you can charge up with money to pay for each ride. So you can put a few pounds on, then charge it up again around the park.
This would be suitable if you were just going on a couple of rides. And if you have money left on the card, I believe it is valid for up to a year.
Rides for toddlers
There are quite a few rides toddlers can enjoy. The people running the rides carefully measure the heights of kids to make sure they are tall enough to enjoy them safely.
Gallopers – this traditional carousel is great for toddlers. Those under 0.9 metres need mum or dad to ride with them.
Born slippy – this amazing 65 metre slide was a big favourite. “Again,” she said, as soon as she got to the bottom. And again. And again. You travel down with your feet in a sack-type thing. If your child is under 1 metre, you need to go down together.
Mirror maze – Anyone of any age can enjoy this with no danger of getting dizzy, but some chance of getting lost and bumping into yourself.
Big wheel – Travel up and enjoy the view over the golden sand, and out to sea. You need to be over 0.9 metres to ride, and anyone under 1.2 metres and 12 years old needs an adult companion.
Swing boats – these are so benign even I’m happy to go on them. Sit in a little boat with your toddler and pull the rope to make it swing back and forth.
Teacups – yes, I can manage these too. Sit yourself in a Wedgewood teacup for a gentle swirl. You need to be over 0.9 metres to ride. If you’re between 0.9 and 1.1 metres you need an adult to travel with you.
Austin cars – see above. These are seriously cute little cars.
Double decker – choose a motor bike on the bottom layer, or climb up and ride in a rocket above. You need to be under 8 years old to enjoy this ride.
Helter Skelter – closed when we were there. Boo.
Rides for bigger kids…
The Scenic Railway – Sounds gentle doesn’t it? But beware names can be deceptive. This is actually the UK’s older rollercoaster. As the trains clattered over the wooden tracks, swooping high and low, we watched people screaming with intermingled fear and delight. “That looks like fun,” said the three-year-old. “That looks awful,” I thought to myself. You have to be over 1.25 metres to ride it, so we’ll have to come back some time in the future for her to get a go.
Dodgems – sadly, you have to be over 1.2 metres to ride the dodgems.
Click here to read about the other rides for big kids.
There are other attractions at Dreamland, including a soft play called the Octopus’s garden, and a roller disco (these aren’t included in the regular wristband price). There are also cafes and bars, so there’s no danger of going hungry.
Click here to see some of the extra events that are held at Dreamland, including on Thursday 27 July 2017 from 12 noon a visit from Peppa, George, Mummy pig and Daddy pig – presumably enjoying a day out in Margate.
All the information you need to plan your visit is on the Dreamland website here.
My previous post about places to visit, eat and stay in Margate is here.