Published: 06:00, 03 July 2020
| Updated: 09:12, 03 July 2020
Britain's oldest amusement park turned 100-years-old today, with a special ride held to celebrate the occasion.
Margate icon Dreamland first opened its doors on July 3, 1920, with the first guests able to enjoy the Scenic Railway which still stands today.
Teddy bears on the scenic railway
It was the Scenic Railway - Britain's oldest wooden rollercoaster - that was the focal point of yesterday's centenary celebrations, with 28 teddy bears, that stood at 44 inch tall, getting to have a ride in place of the usual guests.
Once strapped on to the railway, the bears were given a royal send off from Dreamland’s own answer to the Queen, played by TV personality and entertainer Paulus, star of BBC’s All Together Now.
The park was even given an 'official birthday telegram'.
Dreamland CEO Eddie Kemsley said: “We don’t do things by halves at Dreamland. So when we thought about celebrating the Scenic Railway’s 100th birthday in lockdown, we just went with the silliest visual idea we could think of.
“We’d originally planned to throw a big street party for our guests, while getting ready for our spectacular Hi Tide Festival - now taking place June 2021 - but if we can’t celebrate with our Dreamers, we can at least bring a smile to their faces today with our ridiculous teddy ride.
“The Scenic Railway deserved a spin on her birthday. She’s the most stylish 100-year-old we know.”
Some of the toys will now be donated to local children's charities, courtesy of HB Leisure and Dreamland.
The Dreamland Heritage Trust is also marking the railway’s centenary with a virtual rollercoaster ride on its Facebook page at 12pm today.
The Scenic Railways has been a centre piece of the amusement park for a century and has been in almost constant use throughout the Second World War and three fires.
Despite not being able to host the Hi Tide Festival due to the pandemic, it will instead welcome movie lovers for a drive-in cinema on selected days in August.
Yesterday, owners announced they had decided not to reopen any rides this summer.
Eddie Kemsley added: “It was a very hard decision, but definitely the responsible and right one. Our vintage rides cannot accommodate the social distancing measures required to prevent spread of COVID-19, and the safety of our guests comes first.
“The rides will not open this summer, but I’m delighted that we’ve got a sizzling, all-you-can-treat drive-in movie programme this summer. Now families don’t need to worry about keeping themselves and their children entertained - and safe – as they can enjoy fantastic films in the stunning surroundings of our vintage amusement park.”
Celebrations were due to last until July 2, 2021, with many of the events planned for this year now rolled over to next year.
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