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Flamingo Land Resort

Flamingo Land Resort is located in North Yorkshire, England. It is noted for being one of the only sites in the country which contains a theme park and a zoo at the same location. Also on site is a gym, a leisure centre, a spa, a golf course and holiday accommodation.

Contemporary overview

The park is set in of North Yorkshire countryside, in the Ryedale district with views of the Yorkshire Moors.

As well as being the largest amusement park in North England by quite a size, the park is also the largest and most popular privately-owned amusement park in the United Kingdom.Most larger English theme parks that are now owned by national corporations, such as Alton Towers and Thorpe Park.)

During the 2005 season (April until October) the park attracted over 1.4 million visitors (up 11% on the previous season), mostly from the North East of England but also including many from the rest of the country and abroad. At any one time were an estimated 4,000 holidaymakers staying in the holiday village.

History

Flamingo Land Resort began in 1959, when an old, small and bankrupt country club was bought up by a resident of Scarborough; an entrepreneur in the cinema and theatre industry by the name of Edwin Pentland Hick. Hick named the site The Yorkshire Zoological Gardens and initially covered a mere nine acres of land. However Hick had grand ideas for the park; a vision which he had since military service during World War 2. Hick has been described as both an eccentric and a visionary by his critics. He originally rented animals until receipts allowed him to buy more.

Hick wanted to have dolphins in his park, which at that time were not found anywhere in captivity in the UK. In 1963 he organised expeditions to many locations around the world to capture bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales, including to the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Greenland. Hick was commended for his treatment of the animals, which were fed well and kept in expansive enclosures. One of the dolphins was named Sooty after Corbett's creation.

A colony of pink flamingos were among the first animals to be housed on site and, remaining one of the most popular group of animals in the zoo, the flamingos became a kind of mascot for the entire park (hence Pentland Hick's final choice of name for the park.) The descendants of the original flamingos are still resident in the zoo today, and the flamingo colony at the park remains the largest in the country.

Throughout the 1960s a small fun fair began to be held on the site, yet another idea of Hick's, only to steadily gain momentum and bring more and more visitors to the site. In the 1970s, the fun fair was well established and amusement rides had become a permanent fixture of the park simultaneous to the zoo, becoming the first site in all Europe to combine the two attractions in one location.

Pentland Hick, believing his "vision" complete, floated the company on the London Stock Exchange as Associated Pleasure Parks in 1965, and officially renamed the site Flamingo Park Zoo on Monday July 12, 1968. The ownership of the site began to shift about with the steady growth of the park, eventually being sold in full to Scotia Leisure Ltd, a company which dealt mainly with bingo halls and package holidays.

However a director of that leisure company was Robert Gibb, who cared for the park greatly and decided to buy the park from the company in 1978, shortly before Scotia Leisure collapsed due to an embezzlement scandal that also left Pentland Hick broke. Hick abandoned the park, moving into theatre and television scriptwriting, and becoming an author. Meanwhile, Robert Gibb set up his own board of directors for the park and formed Flamingo Land Ltd.

Gibb renamed the park Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo and developed the complex so that it was more suited to be a nation-wide instead of a local tourist attraction, including developing the growth of the amusement rides and the uniqueness of the animals cared for in the zoo. It was slow process, but a successful one. The year 1991 (whilst still under Robert Gibb's management) was one of the most productive in the park's history; it was in this year that the famous rides Bullet and Thunder Mountain were constructed.

The park is operated by Flamingo Land Ltd which also runs Pleasure Island Family Theme Park in Cleethorpes. Flamingo Land's 'sister park' has been owned by Flamingo Land Ltd since 27 May 1993, when it was bought by the Gibb family after going into administration before construction was complete. Vicky Gibb is now the chief executive of Pleasure Island Family Theme Park.

Robert Gibb died in a car accident in 1995, and his eighteen-year-old son, Gordon Gibb, became chief executive of Flamingo Land Resort.

Animals

General overview

One time Flamingo Land claimed to be the largest animal holder of its kind in Europe, housing over 1,000 animals. Flamingo Land houses exotic birds, rare fish and sea-life, mammals and reptiles. Some animals include camels, zebras, bison, guanaco, red deer, hippos, giraffes, meerkats, monkeys, lions, rhinoceros, tigers, sea lions, birds of paradise, and peacocks. The park take part in breeding programmes an example of which is the Mangabeys featured in the 2006 series of ITV1 show 'Theme Park'.

Affiliations

Flamingo Land has connections to other parks in the country:

Many years ago one of the older Flamingo Land elephants, Jangoli went on to give birth to calves at Chester Zoo - in this manner the elephants at Chester Zoo are descendants of Flamingo Land's elephants. One of the parks current giraffes is also from Chester Zoo.

The park's male, lioness and her cubs were originally located at Longleat Safari Park before moving to Flamingo Land to start a new pride.

Chessington World of Adventures was also once the home of one of the park's sea lions.

African Animals

The parks emphasis is on their collection of African Animals, housed in the Lost Kingdom and African Plains. The parks water ride was designed to give a safari experience before its final drop, and meanders through savannah style grasslands with Giraffe, Ostrich, Zebra, Hippo and Rhino. The ' Forgotten City Lion Reserve' is also located in the middle of the ride.

Holiday village

The park has a large holiday village with static caravans and log cabins. Within the holiday village there are leisure facilities including a leisure centre, a swimming pool and a café.

On the outskirts of the park lies a nine-hole golf course. Also adjacent to the park runs Costa Beck, a stream localy noted with crystal-clear water and fly fishing is available here free to those staying in the holiday village.Trout, Dace, Grayling, Salmon, Kingfisher and Pike can all be found in Costa Beck.

Current areas

Plaza

The main day visitors entrance. Contains food outlets, gift shops, cash machines, pay-to-play game stalls and The Wave Swinger ride, as well as the Professor Bubbles Show.

Metropolis

This area is themed as a busy city. It contains such rides as Velocity, Navigator, Wild Mouse (now repainted, and slightly re-themed) and Corkscrew. Corkscrew was first built in 1980 with a design similar to the Corkscrew at Alton Towers it has operated since 1983. This area of the park has received a lot of attention throughout the seasons with the addition of Velocity, a boosterbike roller coaster manufactured by Vekoma rides. New for 2008 in this area is the 4D cinema showing the "Haunted Lighthouse" film which was also at Busch Gardens Africa and various SeaWorld parks, and features interactive features to immerse the experience.

Seaside Adventure

This area is themed on the ocean and a seaside resort with such themed stores and a seafood restaurant. It contains Britain's second highest drop tower, Cliff Hanger, which is themed as a lighthouse, although it now only has its trademark red and white panels on the lower part of the tower after complaints it spoilt the views from outside the park (it is now painted a 'blend away' grey on the top half).

Splosh!

This area was introduced for summer 2007. "Splish Splash" is a water playground with squirting jets and water dropping palm trees. "Splash Battle" is a submarine themed ride where ride cars and off ride posts around the ride are equipped with water cannons.

New for 2008 in this area is Flip Flop, a Top Swing built by Fabbri. The ride has a large swing through station and sits over a lake with water jet effects.

Little Monsters Den of Mischief

This area is mainly aimed at children, including the Little Monster's Wacky Races and Mischief Mansion. Over the last few years this part of the park has been slowly fazed out to make way for "Muddy Duck Farm" an area themed around the farm animals. This area holds a new ride "Helitoys", which takes the centrepiece of the area. The go-gator coaster has been moved to the old "monsters explorium" site which was cleared at the end of 2007 to make way for new rides.

Lost Kingdom Reserve

Holds Flamingo Lands most ambitious projects ever with such rides as Lost River Ride and Voodoo. In 2006 Kumali was built in this area.

African Plains

An all animal area containing various animal paddocks and is located in a quiet secluded area of the park.

Current Attractions

Cliff Hanger

Installed 2002 it is the UK's only S&S combo tower vertical drop ride. The ride is themed like a lighthouse. During its opening year the ride was very highly themed with red and white stripes up the tower and a red light upon the top. Unfortunately the light and top 80% of the cladding had to be removed due to complaints that the ride spoilt the view of the outstanding area of natural beauty in which Flamingo Land sits. All that remains now are the lower parts of the cladding and base themeing (including rock and storm battered boat details).

This ride is special in that it has multiple modes. The car can operate up and down like a standard S&S Tower, where it is launched upwards to the top, it freefalls and is launched halfway, then is lowered and stopped. It can also be switched onto "Combo Mode", where it is launched as usual, then launched againwhen the car reaches the bottom of the tower, and is lifted to the very top of the tower, where 4 brakes clamp onto special steel brake fins, and clamp it there for a predetermined amount of time. The thrill is you do not know when it will drop, there are no telltale sounds or movements. It is then actually launched downwards faster than gravity, is launched back up halfway, then is lowered to the ground.

Velocity

Installed 2005 it is the UK's only motorbike launch coaster and is the tallest and fastest of its kind in the world. The ride opened during the summer on 2nd July with a concert at the park called "Velocity 2005 : Party in the Park". Velocity is one of the main attractions and proves to be very popular with many guests.

Navigator

Installed 2005 it was the first 'Mega' "Disk 'O'" type of ride ever to be built. The ride is very popular with Teenagers and adults. You have to be 4' / 1.21m to ride Navigator.

Kumali

Installed 2006 Kumali is a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster. The ride is a custom layout with some new elements for Vekoma SLCs, including the cobra-roll which Flamingo Land wished to be out over a lake. It is named after one of the zoo's lions.

The themed Kumali ride music was written and produced by ElectricStreetPolice, a British TV composer by the name of Paul Bickerdike. 200ft tall

Corkscrew

Installed 1983 it is standard Vekoma Corkscrew roller coaster, almost identical to the model at Alton Towers with the same name.

Wild Mouse

Installed 1997 is a steel Wild Mouse roller coaster. In 2007, new themed music and announcements were added. The ride was given a new-look in 2008 season including a repaint with a light blue track and dark red support's also a new station building.

Splash Battle

Installed in July 2007 Splash Battle was the first interactive water ride in the UK. Ride cars themed as submarines travel along a track where targets must be hit to prevent the riders from being soaked. The submarines have water cannons to hit these targets, but can also be used to aim at other riders, and even people walking nearby the ride. Subsequently, those who choose not to ride do have water cannons on the land, in which they can aim at riders but by doing this they put them selves at risk of being soaked by the rides and also the large volcano the stands in the centre of the lake which erupts every 20 minutes.

Flip Flop

Installed in 2008 Flip Flip is a Fabbri Top Swing build over a fake lake with water effects below.

Lost River Ride

The Lost River Ride is manufactured by BEAR Rides, and was installed 2004. It is a boat ride that gently meanders through animal enclosures such as rhinos, hippoes, giraffes and lions. The ride has speakers at the side of the river playing sound effects, and at one point stops riders near the "African Plains" area. This part has a "Tour Guide" on the speakers, giving riders information on the animals. The ride also features a drop at the end to soak guests.

Previous attractions

The face of the park is constantly changing; with old amusement rides being removed and new ones being constructed. Thrill rides of yesteryear include:

Title Years present Description
Magnum Force 2000-2005 A Triple Loop Coaster built by Anton Schwarzkopf, originally toured German funfairs as Dreier Looping. Now located at La Feria de Chapultapec Magico, Mexico City.
The Bullet 1991-2005 Unique shuttle loop style coaster designed by Schwarzkopf. Originally known as Wiener Looping and previously operated in Austria, Florida, and on the German travelling funfair circuit before arriving at Flamingo Land. Now in storage, awaiting sale.
Thunder Mountain 1991-2004 Enclosed within a rock themed structure to create a dark coaster. The track system was Pinfari Z40.
Top Gun 1996-2004 Unique attraction built by Intamin based on the film of the same name.
Klondike Creek 1999-2003 Triple drop log flume with a mine theme, believed to have been extended with sections of the removed Drayton Manor log flume. It was an aging ride and was removed when the Lost River was built (a more modern water ride).
Crazy Loop 1986-1995 The parks first ever coaster, was relocated to sister park Pleasure Island.
Terroriser/Circulator 1995-2007 Designed by Fabbri of Italy, this ride operated under two different names and in two different locations during its time at the park. It was named Terroriser (occasionally written "Terror Riser") from 1995-2004 operating in the Plaza area of the park. In 2005, Terroriser was renamed to the Circulator, and relocated to the then-newly themed area, Metropolis. The ride left the park at the end of the 2007 season, and was moved to its "sister" park, Pleasure Island, where it is operating under its third name under the company - Obliterator.

Flamingo Land in the media

Theme Park is an ITV docusoap shown in the Yorkshire and Tyne Tees Regions, following the behind the scenes activities of Flamingo Land. The first series was broadcast in 2001 and a prominent part of the show was the building of new area "The Little Monsters Den of Mischief" including attractions such as "Mischief Mansion".

The series in 2004 particularly followed the development of the new water ride, The Lost River, which replaced the previous log flume Klondike Creek. The Lost River was Flamingo Land's most ambitious project ever when it was undertaken in 2004. The water ride was a concept attraction which was to form the centre piece of the Lost Kingdom themed area of the park. The idea was to create a safari style ride which also had a thrill element. 2006 saw the third series of the popular ITV1 show. This particularly followed the construction of the parks new coaster for that season, Kumali.

The park's animal collection has also been a main feature of Zoo Vet a programme made by ITV. In one episode on 'Chucklevision', The Chuckle Brothers visit Flamingo Land in search of a pair of underpants which they believe to be of great value. The ride they predominantly ride during the episode appears to be the Corkscrew.

Flamingo Land took up the sponsorship of ITV Yorkshire weather in June 2007 and ITV Tyne Tees weather in July 2007. The campaign ran until the end of the season. This sponsorship was renewed with both ITV regions in March 2008 at the start of the new season.

See also

External links

Official websites

Related site

  • Talk Flamingo - a long running discussion based website about Flamingo Land Resort with news, construction, history, pictures, reviews and multimedia.

Theme Park websites

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