From rides and ticket prices, to how to get there, this Dreamland Margate guide has everything you need to make the most of your seaside day trip.
I’ve just got back from a day packed full of fun, laugher and excitement. It was a day trip with one simple aim: pure enjoyment! I hopped on a Southeastern train from London and 90 minutes later was in the vibrant seaside town of Margate. My reason for visiting? To spend the day being a big kid at Dreamland – one of the UK’s oldest amusement parks, which has been lovingly restored in recent years.
There’s an explosion of colour across the site, with vibrant umbrellas, colourful bunting and rides in vivid shades. From the moment you enter, it feels as though someone has turned the saturation up.
Margate itself feels like it’s on the up too. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, when I remember it had a bit of a rundown seaside feel. These days it’s a very different story. Trendy vintage stores and antique shops share adjoining walls with hipster cafes and chic seafood restaurants.
There’s also Turner Contemporary – the town’s cultural hub, showcasing the best in modern art. Plus, on a sunny day in August, you’ll find the beach packed with kids building sandcastles and paddling in the chilly English waters, while the grown-ups feast on fish and chips and read their latest holiday novels.
All in all, it’s a lovely town for a seaside day trip, and while I could happily write more about Margate, I want to share all the details from my time at Dreamland amusement park. Oh, and if you’re considering visiting, hopefully there are a few tips in this guide that will help you plan your trip!
What Is Dreamland Margate?
Dreamland Margate is one of the biggest and best free amusement parks in the UK, with 25 vintage rides, a huge calendar of events (from movie screenings to live music) and delicious street food. While it’s recently been revamped, there’s a long history to Dreamland. In fact, it’s due to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020.
Its history doesn’t just include funfair rides, it was also a circus at one point. Walking around the site, I passed signs showing some of the history. One sign by the old ‘menagerie cages’ told me of their former use – for keeping the circus’s star attractions – bears!
The oldest ride is the iconic, wooden Scenic Railway which, after a bit of a revamp, still runs today. It’s wonderfully retro, with teal and yellow dragon-shaped cars, and a driver sitting in between the carriages, jamming on the brakes when necessary!
There’s a wonderful nod to the past at Dreamland, which set the tone for a nostalgic day. At the age of 33 I decided to turn back time, and behave like a big kid. It’s something I’d recommend any adult does soon, just to remember what it feels like!
What Are The Highlights At Dreamland Margate?
One of my favourite things about Dreamland Margate is the way the space is designed. It’s been named one of the most Instagrammable places in the UK, and it’s not hard to see why. From the gigantic letters at the top of the hill spelling out D R E A M L A N D, to the vibrant umbrellas shading the manicured lawn area, to the stage which has been emblazoned with a colourful design, and the flower beds planted with grasses and lavender – it’s as much a place for photographers, as one for thrill-seekers.
I also love the mix of rides and attractions at Dreamland. There’s something for everyone. Rides like Soaring Seagulls and Gallopers (vintage carousel) are perfect for little ones, while adrenaline junkies will gravitate towards Dreamcatcher and Pinball X.
Dreamland Tickets – Prices And Offers
First things first, it might surprise you to hear that unlike most theme parks around the UK, Dreamland Margate is free to enter. You can pay as you go for the rides, or buy an annual membership or day pass (wristband).
Individual rides start from as little as £1.50, with attractions like the Big Wheel costing £3.50 per person. If you’re planning to go on several rides in one day, I’d recommend buying a wristband. Buy online and they’re only £15 for adults (or less for kids).
If you think you might return again and again, Dreamland offers annual membership from £70 (£50 for kids).
Rides At Dreamland Margate
We went on almost everything on our day trip to Dreamland, and my highlights were:
Big Wheel – Great views of the park and the beach, with a super cute design.
Dodgems – It’s such a classic fairground attraction, but the dodgems here are speedy and in a slick, retro design.
Scenic Railway – Rickety, in a good way, this is a really fun ride with speedy drops and great open-air views.
Pinball X – Genuinely felt like I was a pinball being hurtled from one point to another – lots of giggles!
Dreamcatcher – A one-time ride for me as I came off feeling very dizzy, but it was a LOT of fun spinning around, losing track of whether I was hurtling towards the sky or the ground!
Dreamland Drop – Rise up the plinth, only to be dropped down, bounce up again and repeat. It was a great test of nerves too as I was never sure when the drop was going to happen.
Food And Drink At Dreamland Margate
There’s a decent variety of food options at Dreamland. From sourdough pizza and juicy burgers to ice cream and candy floss, the food definitely added an extra element to our day out in Margate. The majority of the park’s food vendors are housed in stylish street-food trucks, which add to the look and feel of the place. Don’t worry though, we’re not talking about end-of-the-night kebabs or burgers – there’s a certain level of quality here.
I had a really yummy burger from Lucky Chip and a sourdough pizza. I also enjoyed a mini bottle of prosecco in the sunshine. Later in the afternoon I treated myself to a huge candy floss from Naughty Floss. I’d seen so many children with them, I couldn’t resist – after all, I was keen to be a big kid for the day!
Here’s a quick rundown of the food options available…
Fish And Chips – Who doesn’t love fish and chips by the seaside? The fish here is battered using beer from local brewery Gadds.
Sourdough Pizza – Takeaway wood-fired pizza oven with fresh, tasty toppings.
Lucky Chip – I was already aware of the amazing burgers from Lucky Chip’s restaurant in Angel in London. They taste just as juicy and delicious by the seaside!
Smoking Joes’ BBQ and Grill – Serving up BBQ Caribbean food by the beach, the smell alone was really enticing.
Pickles and Grilled – Indulgent grilled cheese sandwiches and salads, at a seriously cute food truck. This one had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too.
International Wrap Artists – A big menu of tasty tacos, salads, wraps, nachos and quesadillas. Another great spot for vegetarians.
Naughty Floss – Colourful, flavoured candy floss, sprinkled with glitter, candy and a touch of magic!
There are also a few bars serving beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks.
Within the entrance to Dreamland is Café Barletta, an upmarket option with a Spanish-inspired menu. There’s also a large diner, with indoor seating next to the roller disco.
Meanwhile, just outside the entrance is a bit of a hidden gem – Ziggy’s Rooftop Bar. With a stunning location overlooking the beach, and colourful Caribbean décor, it was the perfect place to watch the sunset and reflect on our seaside day trip.
As Dreamland is free to enter, you could eat at any of the food options inside the park, regardless of whether you’re going on the rides.
Events And Entertainment At Dreamland Margate
Part of Dreamland’s regeneration has been the addition of a huge stage and performance area in the centre of the park. There’s also a ballroom inside, used for events and functions.
During my visit I watched a really good brass band entertaining crowds during the day. Over the summer holidays, there’s a fun schedule of movie screenings, with Spiceworld, Dumbo, The Wizard Of Oz, Jurassic Park and Grease among the family favourites.
It’s become a live music venue in its own right too. I heard that the Rudimental gig a few weeks ago was amazing, and I spotted Melanie C and DJ Andy C both were on the line up over the next few weeks.
Continuing the retro vibes, I spotted a roller disco inside the main building. I loved the style of it – hello nostalgia! Also for little ones, there’s The Octopus’s Garden – an indoor, soft play area, with arts and crafts, sand pits and climbing frames.
How To Get To Dreamland Margate
Dreamland is a really easy day trip from London, as the train only takes 90 minutes on Southeastern Rail’s high-speed route. I caught the train from St Pancras (although they run from Victoria too), and loved how simple it was. I even spotted the amusement park from the train window as we pulled in. From Margate Station it’s just a five-minute walk to the Dreamland entrance.
Depending on traffic and where you’re starting from, the drive from London takes around 2 hours 15 minutes. Arlington Car Park is moments from Dreamland, and costs £7 per day.
Dreamland Margate Opening Times
During the school holidays the park is open daily from 10am until 6pm.
Out of the holidays, it’s just open at weekends. Timings may be a little different when there are events taking place, so definitely check the website before you visit!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my fun day out at Dreamland, and this guide helps you make the most of your day out! Leave any questions in the comments below.
This content was produced in collaboration with Dreamland, but as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.
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