How was the 2012 season at Adventure Island in Southend-on-Sea?
“The worst year on record” says the English park’s general manager Robert Roberts. But wait! After loosing “unheard of” amounts of money up until July, the park then experienced its best August and September on record, and the adjoining Sealife Adventure aquarium enjoyed its best ever year.
Park World suspects such erratic business levels are a reflection of the unpredictable British weather, but we’re pleased to report that owner the Stockvale Group, with Philip Miller as executive chairman and Marc Miller as managing director, is looking ahead with optimism.
“We are continuing with our never-ending cycle of re-investment,” reveals Roberts. “Our new Feelgoods eatery has performed quite satisfactorily. Whether it be catering, aquarium or park, there are always a dozen or so projects on the go in some form or another. Planning applications will be submitted soon for at least six more schemes of varying costs.”
A total of £100,000 ($155k/€117k) has been committed to a refurbishment of the park’s Helter Skelter slide (pictured top right), which will be made to look like new and equipped with the latest lighting effects. Visitors to the free-entry fun park will also be able to enjoy a new attraction for 2013 in the shape of the Time Machine. This high-speed thrill ride was, like a handful of other Adventure Island attractions, built in-house. Meanwhile the park is talking with several manufacturers about the possibility of adding a giant Ferris Wheel, “when the right deal comes along.” Also in the pipeline is a new themed area on the site of the old Blackbeards Adventure.
Whilst Roberts believes the current UK coalition government, “hasn’t got a Scooby [clue] what to do,” he is supportive of the local council in Southend. “They do a really good job of finding money for capital projects in times of austerity. From the pier and the seafront to the high street, they always seems to have projects on the go, town wide.”
So will 2013 be any better in 2012 for Adventure Island and the other Stockvale businesses? “The challenge is all about consumer confidence, but as astute business people will tell you, give customers what they want and they will support you.”