Dreamland’s phoenix-like return has attracted masses of publicity but do its retro rides and Instagram-friendly kitsch aesthetic live up to the hype? We sent Kent resident and food critic Marina O’Loughlin to see whether it floats her swing boat
• Zoe Williams on the return of Dreamland
• Putting the life back into old rides on the Kent coast
Messhams Wall of Death, a beautifully maintained, fourth generation fairground attraction, is rammed to its vivid rafters. Inside this huge wooden drum, dashing black-clad chaps on motorbikes go full throttle so they can cling to its vertical walls. “Look!” shouts the spieler, “side-saddle riding with no hands!”
At the height of its popularity in the 1960s, when it attracted more than two million thrill-seekers a year, Dreamland boasted a wall of death run by legendary stunt motorcyclist Yvonne Stagg. I never knew it firsthand, only through Lindsay Anderson’s unsettling 1953 documentary film, O Dreamland, with its terrifying animatronic electric chair and Haunted Snail ride.