Juxtaposed; Screaming Good Fun

By Jo Phillips

Margate’s Dreamland reinvents itself into Screamland

I moved to Margate in June 2016 lock, stock and no smoking barrels with a view to a clean aired, by the seaside adventure. Margate has not disappointed in any way!

Recent media has rattled on about DFL’s (Down From London) moving to Margate and changing the dynamic of the area (beards and all) claiming that Margate is going through a gentrification process and therefore house prices will escalate and price out many local businesses and residents. That’s a long way off – if it does happen.

It’s the locals and third generation Margatians and more that make Margate so special. Memories of how alive and fun Margate used to be, the Beano cafes, the sun deck, the pier, the Lido, the dancing, the illuminations, the scenic railway at Dreamland, the sandy beaches and coves and of course the seaside fish n chips. Most people who live on my road have lived in Margate for many years and I know all their names and have been invited to their houses for drinks or dinner – it’s so friendly and genuine here. I never really felt that in London. People want to help you if you have a problem, they collaborate with compassion. Most locals I speak to are excited about the change in Margate, they want their town to attract new visitors, enjoy the beach and have fun, they want to share with you why Margate is so special.

Margates Original Sundeck_preview

Dreamland is the glue in Margate and the refurbished site is incredibly well thought out and designed for fun and laughs for all ages including the roller disco in the original building. Dreamland Margate is considered to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in Great Britain: the site of Dreamland (as it was re-named in 1920) dates back to the British railway boom and the early 1870s when, in its original form, the ‘Hall by the Sea’ was operated by the circus tycoon, ‘Lord’ George Sanger. A cinema is due to open on the original site this Autumn heading closer to Dreamland’s glory days. During the last two summers, Dreamland has held FREE their series of DJ Sunset Sessions with the likes of Faithless ft. Sister Bliss, Dub Pistols, Norman Jay, Dave Rowntree v Tim Burgess and of course the Gorillaz. Followed by By The Sea festival at the end of September. What more could you want? Great music, drinks and cocktails, happy people and Dreamland’s rides with smiles.

I met my first Margate friend, Mel on the dodgems at Dreamland at By The Sea Festival last year. She annoyingly bumped and manoeuvred head-on collisions with me and laughed like a maniac in her bumper car – I immediately liked her. I bumped into her (on foot) another 4 times during the festival where she and I would make quips about her dodgy driving hence her nickname Dodgem Mel – we swapped telephone numbers and addresses. Later that week I received a postcard and a homemade badge with a big wheel on it saying what a delight it was to meet me and we should do it again sometime – I was touched by her kindness, me being a newcomer to the town and all – that’s what Margate bods are like – truly genuine. I have since remained firm friends with Mel, her other half Dazza and their beautiful son Mani (who by the way is a superstar DJ at 13 years of age) – so it only felt right to invite them to Screamland.


Now to Screamland – I love all things horror so was particularly excited about being invited to their press preview last week – I wanted to be spooked.

Screamland offers a plethora of scares with a whopping six mazes, the ultimate choice for a frightful time in Kent and the dark side of Dreamland will emerge for six terrifying nights this October. Immerse yourself in a frightening world of exhilarating mazes and sideshows at the amusement park, which is set to thrill and haunt the darkest soul. Screamland is upping the fear factor for 2017 with all-new mazes and disorientating experiences involving vision-blocking hoods and areas that will have visitors crawling through. Daredevil visitors who are looking for even more frights can book a live and spooky séance at the park, which will be taking place in the Victorian folly building. Tickets to the séance will be bookable on each night at an additional cost.

Screamland (1)_preview

The Brotherhood – Scare Factor 5/5. Seeing is not always believing. Little is known about the eerie order of monks who once resided on the site of Dreamland – long before the days of Circus Tycoon, Lord Sanger. Some, however, still practice the archaic rituals and rights passed down through centuries. Screamland will take you on a journey filled with fire and brimstone and initiate you into The Brotherhood.

The Legend of Crank Jack – Scare Factor 3/5 The urban myth of ‘Crank Jack’ is well renowned in the area of Thanet, His eerie rhyme should never be said out loud when turning the handle of a ‘Jack in the box’. Dare to say it and face the horrific consequences that await you. Legend says that once he lures his pray into his wacky world, they will become lost forever! Locals have been known to disappear from the Margate area, never to be seen again. People say they wander haunted and lost within his ‘Jack in the Box’. Who is Crank Jack and where does he hide? Will you come face to face with him and find yourself trapped in his twisted maze? Or will you be the first to survive?

The Final Cut Presents: They Came From Outer Space – The Last Screening – Scare factor 3/5. Step into the movies as you take the starring role in a science fiction screamer! Collect your ticket for Horrorwood Picture House and pass through the silver screen. Become part of the action in an alien adventure as the final cut takes on a whole new dimension in its last ever show. Have you got what it takes to be part of this alarming alien encounter?

Dead and Breakfast: Under New Management – Scare factor 4/5. Last year, Fag Ash Lil moved her murderous boyfriend, Jack Mudget, into her decrepit seaside hotel. One year on and all is not sweet in paradise. Margate’s worst ever accommodation is under new management – but something sinister still lies within…where is Lil? Sharpen your senses and check into the Dead and Breakfast…

Festino’s Festival of Freaks – Scare factor 4/5. Infamous showman Alonzo Festino has fallen on hard times. Killer clowns have overrun his fun house and he has been forced to hit the road – travelling from town to town with his band of freaks and the twisted ringmaster is back at Screamland! Enter the freak show and come face to face with your worst nightmares. Leaving the freak show is not so easy, so prepare to be disturbed – this one is guaranteed to wipe the smile off your face! This is frightening, whether you are will a crowd or not – another must visit!

Punchinello’s Revenge – Scare factor 3/5. Punch is out for revenge; anyone that has crossed him is destined for a life of endless torture and entrapment for all eternity in the hall of mirrors. Run, scream, try to escape, that’s the way to do it.

The Prop Store (included with Screamland ticket). Delve into the dark world of Dreamland’s secret prop store. Creep through the store as you discover the park’s mysterious history, where all is not as it seems…

Séance (additional cost, limited, bookable on the night). Seeking even more scares? Join us (and perhaps the spirits) for a live séance in our spooky Victorian folly. Set at the back of the park, there are lots of rumours about this original building from the 1800s. Our party managed to book the Séance and seriously something did happen, I’m not allowed to tell you much, but we did contact someone from the otherside, the hairs on the back of my neck are still standing up – another must visit.


A Screamland ticket includes access to all six scare mazes at nighttime, unlimited use of the rides in the amusement park, access to entertainment (including live music) and The Prop Store. Spaces are limited to this unique event so book your tickets now.

Screamland  is not for the faint hearted and takes place on 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th and 31st October 2017. 6-11pm each night. Daniel P Carter will DJ on the Scenic Stage on 21st October. Rockaoke will take place on 20th and 27th October.

Words By Donna Lambert

Founder of Lamb To Slaughter

Lives, works and plays in Margate and loves it.


 The scare mazes are 12A rated and anyone 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 and over at all times. No entry to the event after 9 pm. Screamland nights run from 20th October – 31st October for details and tickets visit Dreamland


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