After recently reopening for the summer season, Coinslot spoke to Michael Cole, owner of Great Yarmouth’s 69 year old funfair and amusement arcade Joyland, about the rising costs of amusements and the events that are drawing in crowds.
Great Yarmouth’s family-owned Joyland, opened in 1949, has reopened its doors for the summer, having closed in October for the winter period.
The park and family entertainment centre has been welcoming returning customers after extensive refurbishment work, completed despite a particularly harsh winter.
“The weather has been atrocious,”said owner Michael Cole. “We worked out that on the maintenance side,since the beginning of November till March we’ve lost twenty eight full days through bad weather.”
The park,however,is now ready for the summer season, with the funfair and arcade continuing to offer the latest in arcade machines.
“Usually after opening we don’t look at buying anything until after Easter,and though we might usually replace a usher and buy a couple of redemption pieces, all of our machines are well up to spec and still as popular.”
Though prices in the arcade and funfair have changed since the park first opened,the Cole family are also determined to retain Joyland’s long-running value for money.
“We sell tokens at a pound each,and if you buy £10 worth you get two free, if you buy £20 you get five free.All the rides are one token, so if you’ve brought a £20 pack all the rides are 80p a go.”
Though Cole noted the low token prices prove “very successful,” especially for Joyland’s target audience of young children,the low cost is becoming difficult to maintain.
“We’re trying very hard to keep the price as it is,but we’re battling with all sorts of increases in wages,insurance, electricity. It’s becoming increasingly hard to keep at that price.”
“Ten years ago,you could be open until ten o’clock in the evening,you wouldn’t take a fortune, but you weren’t laying out a fortune, so you could do it. Now we have to look at our opening times stringently.
Despite bringing forward the park’s closing time, Joyland is also aiming to grow its daytime visitor numbers by working in partnership with the Yarmouth Tourist Authority to organise popular community entertainments.
“The local authority are quite forward thinking with events,”said Cole. “Events bring people down here,and out of season you can suddenly turn what is an average weekend into a very good weekend.”
Yarmouth’s June Airshow is expected to bring between 30-40,000 people to the town, and last year’s 400 strong vehicle show by the National Streetrod Association “made up for the evening trade by getting people in.”
“Our GreatYarmouth Wheels Festival, in association with the Great Yarmouth Motorcycle Takeover saw 1200 bikes on the front last year. The authority closed the roads, let them park, they understand.And this year it will be 1500.”
“Last year was like turning the clock back to the seventies, I’ve never seen so many people on the seaside, it was fantastic.”
With the park and arcade benefiting from a local authority sympathetic to the positive investment the British seaside requires, and a well-established reputation as the heart of Great Yarmouth amusements, Joyland looks set for a bright summer season.