As a child, we holidayed in Great Yarmouth, thus I have really fond memories of the town. Do you remember the Ghostbuster house? Well, its now a bar, but, that’s about the only thing that has changed in the last 30 years, but, that’s not a bad thing, at least it wasn’t for us as we rolled into the town.
The first thing we saw that grabbed out attention was Joyland, a compact amusement park which sits right at the far end of the main strip. I instantly recognised the park, with the Cinema right across the road, where I was taken to see Back to the Future 3.
Anyway, back to the subject, Joyland opened in 1949, with some of the rides still operating today which did back then.
You walk into the park, and instantly you are in a hustle and bustle of a cramped yet exciting place to be, well exciting for a 6 year old as our son became alive with excitement, and me too with memories of my childhood flooding back.
The park is only around 150 feet square, and yes, that’s not a mistake, it is a tiny area, yet manages to cram in 9 rides, many of which are ones I spent many a happy hour riding all those years ago.
The first ride we saw, the Snail ride. Here, we sat in oversized snails as they trundled around a narrow yet surprisingly long track, with tight twists, and small drops, its not a scary ride, yet fills a great little place for a great family ride, and it is obvious as the smiles of the people getting off, and ours too, were from ear to ear!
Moving around the park, we realised that very little had changed, but there was something that didn’t seem quite right, but we just couldn’t see it.
A number of the rides are small kiddy affairs, small ferris wheels etc, but then there are some classic family rides, and in the centre of the park, Neptune’s Kingdom becomes one of those which evokes family memories, as we took our seat in a sea horse, we went around a dark series of tunnels to take us on a underwater themed journey.
We soon realised that the entire park is built around a giant green mountain, on top of which a small roller coaster runs, one which is a tight fit for adults, but it’s a ride given the firm thumbs up by our son.
Moving around this mountain we found the Tyrolean Tubtwist, a weird kind of roller coaster where the cars spin around quite quickly, and creating fits of giggles from us all.
It was about now that I smelt a familiar smell. It wasn’t candy floss, it wasn’t doughnuts, it was electric, you know, that Scalextric smell, and shortly after I found the source of the smell, a train of rocket shaped cars trundling around a narrow circuit, the electric contacts arcing as the cars pass making that smell fill the air, and me once again back as a 6 year old.
Upon leaving Joyland and looking back I realised the thing which was missing. That roller coaster shouldn’t be there, it should be a rocket ship, yes, Space Base, a walk through space ship which ran on the same mechanism as Noah’s Ark at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, it had numerous levers to pull and shove to make small scenes of aliens animated, the one I remember was an alien ironing a pile of washing.
Indeed, this seemed to be the only thing which has changed, and now I was giving my son the same memories as I had been given. Is the fact that the park hasn’t changed a bad thing, no, not at all, Joyland was full of people having fun, laughing, screaming, smiling and most of all making memories which, like mine, will last a lifetime!