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Dreamland in Margate opens

Eager crowds flooded through the gates of Dreamland as the long-awaited attraction finally opened.

Dozens of theme park fans are among the first to experience more than 17 rides at the heritage funfair, which has been 11 years in the making.

The attraction was due to open at 10am, but was hit by an hour-long delay due to last-minute finishing touches.

Dreamland staff make you feel extremely welcome
Dreamland staff make you feel extremely welcome

Among the excited crowds are Sid Searle, 72, of Grosvenor Hill, who is visiting with his wife Madeleine. 

He said: "We have been living in Margate for the last few years and I never thought it would be built and reopened, especially to this fantastic standard.


Video: Jemma Collins gets a taste of the seaside action

"There are things that aren't ready but that will come over time.

"Even though I'm disabled I've just been on the carousel - and with the shows there's something for everyone here!"

Dreamland finally opens
Dreamland finally opens

Another guest is Katherine and her mother Lynn Jackson, who have been involved with the save Dreamland campaign since the beginning. 

Katherine said: "I am totally behind Dreamland, it's a big puzzle piece for Margate. 

"It's a shame the scenic railway isn't open and I feel it could have been delivered slightly differently to have the full attraction ready on time. 

Some of the first visitors enjoy the Gallopers
Some of the first visitors enjoy the Gallopers

James Wilberforce-Andrews, of Rose Hill, Ramsgate, is visiting Dreamland with his family, he said: "My wife Rachel has done a big neon sculpture next to the Roller Disco so she's been working hard on that.

"She did an exhibition at Limbo Arts in February and the Hemingways really loved her piece and wanted to have it here.

"I think the park is great, there are some brilliant rides, I know they have been working incredibly hard to meet deadlines and I think they have done an amazing job."

 Click on the image above to hear more about Dreamland

"But I have a lot of friends who will ask me what it's like here today and I'm going to say it's very pretty and everyone is happy and smiley." 

The ribbon was cut by Heather Brennan, Dreamland founder Henry Isles's great great granddaughter, George Weston Wright, former scenic railway brakeman, and David Sanger and Caz Bartlett, descendent of former site owner Lord George Sanger.

Video: Crowds flood through the gates

Heather said afterwards: "It has been a fantastic campaign and hopefully the beginning of a new chapter. 

"We're connected to Dreamland and it is a lot different to how we remember it.

"I had great fun here when I was younger and hopefully my son Sebastian, the great great great grandson of John Henry Iles, will have some great memories here too! We will be visiting regularly."

Terry Moore is visiting with his wife and friends from Gravesend.

He said: "I used to come here with my mum and dad for a week's holiday since I was six.

"Preferably half way through the holiday it was my treat to come to Dreamland on a Thursday night and it was quality.

"To see it getting back to how it used to be is fantastic. 

"To top it all off I met my wife here and we've been married 39 years and we love it here!

"It's a little bit different of course but once they get the scenic railway going and you can see some of the contractors working on some of the rides but once it's in full swing it will be delightful."

This family was the first to arrive this morning
This family was the first to arrive this morning

CEO Eddie Kemsley said: "It's a really emotional day, people have worked so hard to save Dreamland and finally the doors are open again for the public.

"It's fabulous, it's not 100% the finished article today but we're going to grow and develop it over the coming months and we're really looking forward to going on and changing it up and making sure it's fresh and interesting for the public.

"Lots of people today keep coming up to me saying it's brilliant, we're loving it and I think that's just so nice to see people here having a great time when it's been derelict for so long.

Staff members are getting into the spirit
Staff members are getting into the spirit

"There's definitely more to come and we've got lots of things that will be opening over the coming weeks.

"We've got our children's entertainment centre, the garden opening next week and lots more rides and shows and fairs coming in. There are so many reasons for people to keep coming back and seeing us.

"There were a couple of rides that we haven't managed to get open today but they will be up and running as we can get them up and running.

"I think most people just wanted to see the doors open so most people are absolutely delighted and they're enjoying themselves."

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