My wife was working and we all had Christmas cabin fever. I felt like a reality TV guest in the new show "When holidays at home attack". I didn't know Alvin and the Chipmunks could be so dreadful in every way, consistently, after every viewing. And all the other kids DVD's were scratched, so a third of the way through every Princess story, she started doing that Prince "Chaka Khan" thing until the player started smouldering.
For those who don't know, Gullivers Land is a neo- con correctional facility for wayward children. Imagine Disney Land built by North Korea.
The concept is great. A theme park with rides just about any child can go on, almost from the foetus stage. Unlike Legoland or Alton Towers. Those places are a sick joke if your children are under 8 years old, because all they can ride on there is the railway around the edge and the pay and ride machines you can find in any good Tesco's. As you trudge through the hordes of Youth Offending Team clients on a good behaviour trip, and the Tourettes Club UK summer jamboree.
We go every theme holiday- Halloween, Christmas, Easter, whatever. I've no idea why. We enjoy ourselves, although in a kind of "despite" way. The place is tired. The staff are tired, and often come across like trained undead. An air of sullenness, secret binge eating and latent sociopathic tendencies emanate from the ride operators. The only ones who appeared to be alive were the extrovert ones who do the shows.
At least five of the rides arent working on any given day, and the mechanical puppets appear vaguely sinister. Whilst each area of the park has a general theme, there are random Spanish Conquistador dummies placed in booths everywhere, except at Halloween when they are replaced by extremely gory and inappropriate Saw type characters by the immature events organisor, who probably still has a nickname even though he's 43. At Halloween, as you walk around, you hear terrified screams and four year olds hyperventilating by a model of a puppy dog with an axe in its skull. To the sound of muzak coming out of hidden speakers.
This Christmas, there were loads of mini panto things in all these hidden mini theatres there, like in the castle roof and above the disabled toilets. It made me wonder whether Gullivers Land could open as a boutique alternative music venue, where you could wander from mini gig to mini gig. Say if it were an all girl heavy metal festival, you could see Tooth of Mongor in the castle turret, Lactating Banshee in the Sweete Shop venue, and Tampon Coven in Main Street.
Or it could be a secret farmers market. All the turrets and grottos could be filled with pretend French farmers, dressed as Spanish Conquistadors, selling sausages and houmous. Or our church should hire it Sunday mornings. I feel the Gullivers Travel ride sets would be a great place to learn about the Pauline Epistles. A different preacher could be stationed at each turn of the track, for a different slant on each subject. Colour coded by different lights. Red for predestination, green for sanctification.
Ate so many sweets that I was "ramped off my head on jellied eggs" as Viz would say. Eventually, in the mist sodden grey air, I found one child asleep, one child twirling in her free Santa Grotto present (a princess tutu and shawl- Poundland special). The Grotto was an aircraft hanger full of "broken- within- 20- minutes toys", full of children feverishly deliberating which car or doll might last the return journey to their car. Santa was Canadian, bizarrely. His elves were nutters, they were abusing the PA in the woodland walk doing Star Wars like noises.
Only in Britain can you get away with half heartedness and amateurness on this scale. But that's part of the charm. We went to Florida Disneyland on our honeymoon, and whilst it was well done, you got the feeling that staff who under gurned get shot behind the Magic Castle after parade. Its not organic or punk.
Here's some photos gathered over the years. Enjoy.
|The Ghost of Tommy Cooper?|
|Scary monster... and skeleton|
|Missed the symbolism here|
|After human life on earth|
|The Ghostly head of Floella Benjamin|
|Somebody's being playing with DNA...|
|What lurks in the upper rooms?|
|Yeah thanks. My 3 year old is now in counselling....|
|Col Sanders meets Ed Gein|