‘Fingers crossed it will be ready’ - New £500,000 ride finally arrives after lockdown limbo
PUBLISHED: 11:26 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:26 18 June 2020
A unique white-knuckle ride has finally arrived at a Great Yarmouth amusement park after being marooned in a haulier due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The attraction was custom-built in a factory in northern Italy for the Pleasure Beach and has been named the Lightning 360.
Albert Jones, managing director of the theme park, bought the £500,000 ride – a first for Norfolk – back in February to boost the summer season.
But because of the outbreak it had remained at a haulier where it was awaiting a team from Italy to assemble it.
Mr Jones said the ride arrived a fortnight ago and since then has been assembled on the seafront.
The ride sits on a tower, with eight arms each supporting a two-seater plane, which can be controlled by the user and turn 360 degrees.
“We are still working on it now, we have all the parts together, it’s being wired,” Mr Jones said.
Inspectors will visit this week to confirm the ride is safety compliant.
Government guidance, subject to change, indicates theme parks could reopen on July 4 - but Mr Jones said the Pleasure Beach will not be ready until seven days later.
“We’re planning for July 11. All going well the Lightning 360 will be ready for when we open,” he said.
As with other business owners up and down the country, Mr Jones is pragmatic about the lockdown.
“At the end of the day, we can’t do anything about it. The figures don’t lie. Over 40,000 people have died. Hopefully now we’re getting towards the end of it.”
He is, however, concerned about the future - especially of tourism.
“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a long winter,” he said.
“Our biggest worry is if there is a second spike, because what we don’t want it to be shut again. It’s a real worry for Great Yarmouth.”
When the park does reopen, it will be for two three-hour sessions every day for customers who have pre-paid, with a break between sessions for cleaning.
Named after a Second World War fighter plane, the Lightning 360 will replace Mulan, a caterpillar-themed attraction which closed last year after 20 years entertaining families.
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