‘It’s been a long time’ - Relief at Joyland as snails trundle again
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Relief was in the air on the Great Yarmouth seafront as Joyland reopened with its famous snails trundling again after an extended hibernation.
The theme park, which celebrated its 70th birthday last year, would normally be thronged with families on the first weekend of July.
And co-owner Michael Cole said he had to keep checking his phone to remind himself it was in fact mid-summer and not late March when the park traditionally throws open its gates again after the winter break.
“Today feels like the first day we open in spring,” he said. “You can’t get your head around it. It’s a bit of a strange feeling.”
Although traders along the seafront are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on the lifeblood of the summer season, Mr Cole said the main emotion on Saturday (July 4) was “relief”.
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“It’s been a long time, it’s good to be open and it’s great to see families coming in,” he said.
He was “reasonably happy with the numbers” of visitors on what had been billed as ‘Super Saturday’, when lockdown restrictions on the hospitality sector were loosened.
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Sounding a note of caution, he added: “We’re just in the lap of the gods with what’s going to happen this summer. We have no idea what the trading conditions will be.”
Mr Cole also wanted to emphasise that visitors to the park had been “behaving impeccably”.
At the park’s entrance on the Golden Mile, families were greeted by two smiling and visor-clad members of staff.
As at other establishments, a one-way system is in operation and hand sanitiser stations are located at intervals along the path.
The Scagliosi family, who have relatives in Great Yarmouth, had travelled from Essex.
After enjoying the Spook Express, Lilia, 7, ran from the ride back to her mother and yelled: “That was awesome.”
Andrew Fountain, 27, took his eight-year-old daughter Skye on the snails for the first time.
He said: “It’s the first time she’s been out since lockdown. Just to get out is great.”
Wendy Oakley, from Lowestoft, watched as her daughter Sarah Wake and granddaughter Holly-May Cross, 4, enjoyed a ride.
She said: “It’s brilliant, the one-way system, the hand santisers, it’s absolutely brilliant, and it’s not too busy either.”
Lockdown had been a “nightmare”, she said
“So to get out for the day is absolute heaven. She’s over the moon.”
Elaine and Percy Mhishi had travelled from Cambridge for the day, taking their children Jake, 13, Louise, 11 and Emily, 5.
“We normally come every year, I’ve come every year since I was a kid,” Mrs Mhishi said.
The park is planning to be open every day from 11am.