Great Britain is filled with several fantastic, innovative and unique theme parks, each of which uses a theme park design that sets them apart from the rest.
With attractions such as Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Legoland Windsor, Gulliver’s World and the currently in development London Resort, as well as former attractions that still garner interest such as Camelot, the British theme park industry is very strong.
However, a pink blob’s attempt to join this pantheon with three theme parks led to an infamous disaster, with people living in the North Lancashire area still referring to Blobbygate to this day.
In the 1990s, one of the most inexplicably popular TV characters was Mr Blobby, the mascot of the Saturday teatime show Noel’s House Party. Initially designed as a horrific parody of children’s television puppet characters like the Teletubbies, it got very popular with actual children.
This led to videotapes, a Christmas number one single that has since been considered among the worst recordings in history and three theme parks, two of which lasted less than a year and one of which led to a huge legal battle with the local council.
In Morecambe, Lancashire, Lancaster City Council agreed to open a Crinkley Bottom theme park similar to one that had already opened, albeit not without controversy and criticism from English Heritage, in Cricket St Thomas, Somerset.
On 30th July 1994, helped by a £300,000 injection of cash by Lancaster Council, as well as sponsorships by British Rail (who even renamed the nearby Bare Lane railway station ‘Bare Crinkley Bottom’), Fujifilm and the Mars Corporation, Noel Edmond’s World of Crinkley Bottom opened.
By the end of that month, over 50,000 people had visited the attraction, seemingly making it a huge success, but it would not last.
The park was controversially given a licence to sell alcohol as well as lowering prices for entry with fears that seeing 250,000 people walk through the turnstiles by that October was increasingly looking ambitious to the point of fantastical.
The issue was that the park lacked real attractions outside of the Mr Blobby theme and was closed just 13 weeks after it opened.
This led to a bitter legal battle between Lancaster City Council and Noel Edmonds himself, with the former claiming the latter had failed to play his part in attracting visitors by making public appearances.
The legal battle lasted nearly a decade after the park’s closure, with it eventually being revealed that the council themselves had acted unlawfully by changing the terms of its contract with Mr Edmonds and his production company Unique.
It ended with taxpayers paying £2.6m in total once the entire disaster was completed, eventually garnering the name ‘Blobbygate’ in the press.
Whilst the London Resort has had some issues in its history, it is unlikely to be a disaster on the scale of Morecambe’s Mr Blobby resort.