In its first media interview since entering administration, Sands Heritage presented a bold vision for the future of Margate’s seaside amusement park.
Dreamland Margate operator Sands Heritage has said the new look amusement park will be a more versatile site that people will want to spend more time on when it reopens on 26 May.
Speaking for the first time since the company went into administration in May 2016, Sands chief executive Steve Mitchell revealed it had a thought a lot about why the business proved unsustainable in its first two years and had developed a five-year plan to turn it around.
With £25m of private investment being used to refurbish existing attractions, bring in new rides, leisure and catering options, as well as create a 15,000 capacity performance area and stage, Mitchell promised Dreamland would look “massively different”.
He told BBC Radio Kent: “It’s a significant amount of investment in Margate and Thanet as a whole, as well as in Dreamland. The investors are in for the long term and are smart guys who have spent time here with the management team and they have bought into a plan that has been developed to really regenerate the park and the seafront.
“As well as the park, we’re investing in the Cinque Port Arms pub [next to Dreamland] and we’ve acquired buildings and land that gives us about a 60-metre stretch that over time will help us invest in regenerating the whole seafront.
“In the short term, with the company being in administration, the key goal of the management team is to return as much money as possible to our creditors.
“With the investment that we’ve got, we’ve been able to do that alongside a five-year plan for the business. We’re not going to promise that the park will be perfect from day one, but what we can promise is that this year it will be massively different from the last.”
Mitchell said Sands was focusing on ensuring the amusement park reflected its vintage heritage, spending a lot of money to restore and upgrade its existing rides. To help engender an environment that people would want to spend more time in, Sands is creating a parkland setting with more greenery on the site, planting over a thousand trees around it over the next few months, in addition to providing a much more varied food and drink offering than Dreamland has had in the past.
This would bolster the new strategy of offering visitors free entry, Mitchell explained: “We’re confident in the offering that we’ve got, so we’re perfectly happy for people to just come in and spend a bit of time here, but we think that when they look around and see what we’ve got, they’ll want to go on the rides and want to try one of the cocktails in our treetop bar or the variety of food that we’ll have.
“Vintage may be cooler in some time periods than in others, but with this location and everything we have to offer we’re going to stay cool.
“It’s down to us to execute and make it work, make sure that people who come want to spend some time and some money here, but most importantly when they spend that money they go away thinking it’s been really good value.”