December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
It’s full steam ahead for a new £1m train at one of Norfolk’s most popular family attractions.
And in the magical world of Boggles and Twiggles at Horning’s Bewilderwood treehouse adventure park, founder Tom Blofeld has pledged the ride will be pink with purple steam - “I wanted pink steam but during tests we found it leaves a stain on people’s clothes” - and driven by a sycamore seed propeller.
The ride will take families into new areas of the wood and marshes along a one-and-a half mile track, introducing them to colourful new Bewilderwood characters including an 8ft tall hippopotamuddle busy cleaning the mud.
An order for the locomotive and four carriages has been placed with Stratford-upon-Avon based firm Severn Lamb, a leading builder of transport systems for theme parks including Disneyland.
Mr Blofeld, who opened Bewilderwood on his estate in 2007, said: “We already have planning permission and work will start almost immediately. It will take about six months to build and we are looking to have it running by May half-term next year. It will definitely be ready for July.
“Designing the train has been the most work. Not many people build trains like this.”
Mr Blofeld has given strict instructions to designers to take away everything boys like - “there will be no bells and whistles” - and create a silent, pink girlie train, running on LPG to conform to the park’s green theme.
He said: “It definitely won’t be a boring train. We are creating a theatrical experience that includes the train as the main form of transport. It will be a way into new stories with Twiggles and Boggles.”
The train will be able to carry up to 80 people on each 15 minute journey, beginning from a new station close to the park’s story-telling area.
“It is a Twiggle train so it will be quite small and taller people might have to duck down to get on,” he said.
“Passengers will get off at another stop and walk back to where they started through a new adventure land with a jungle and a maze.
“We have listened closely to our customers and 60pc absolutely loved the idea of the train; the ones who did not imagined it as a normal, boring train which it certainly won’t be.
“Adults think it is a great idea to introduce something as a chill-out time, a break from all the running about.”
Bewilderwood has quickly built up to 160,000 annual visitors - slightly down this year - but Mr Blofeld said it was important to rejuvenate the park to avoid going backwards.
“This investment is nearly a third of what we spent on building the park in the first place,” he said.
The new ride will create up to eight extra jobs in peak season and it is hoped it will swell visitor numbers by at least 10pc.
Meanwhile, Mr Blofeld said he is moving closer to exporting his very Broadland attraction to the north of England, with planning permission likely to be granted for a new Bewilderwood at Tatton Park near Manchester before Christmas.
He is also negotiating with a “major commercial partner” to build “Boggle Mountain” near Dortmund in Germany.