Camelot Theme Park was a resort and theme park located in the English county of Lancashire. The park's theme was the well-known legend of Camelot, and the park decor incorporated pseudo-medieval elements. It was located on a 140-acre (57 ha; 0.22 sq mi) site near the village of Charnock Richard, 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Chorley. The site was owned by The Story Group and was operated by Knights Leisure. The park featured many rides, taking a target audience of families and younger children; however, the park also boasted numerous thrill rides and roller coasters, including Whirlwind (a Maurer Söhne spinning coaster), Knightmare and Excalibur. On 4 November 2012, Knight’s Leisure announced that they would not be reopening for the season of 2013.
|Location||Charnock Richard, Chorley, Lancashire, England|
|Closed||2 September 2012|
|Owner||The Story Group|
|Slogan||The land of great knights, and amazing days|
|Operating season||May – September|
|Area||140 acres (57 ha)|
The site was used for a zombie horror experience attraction, Camelot Rises between February and April 2022.
In March 2022, the Best Western Park Hall Hotel, formerly the Camelot Theme Park Hotel, permanently closed down. This has since left the entire Park Hall site empty and derelict.
The park opened in 1983 and was operating seasonally until the end of 2012. The park was based on the story of 'Camelot, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table'. The local area was once covered by Martin Mere, sometimes described as the largest body of fresh water in England, which was first drained in 1692 by Thomas Fleetwood of Bank Hall in Bretherton.
The story was that Sir Lancelot's parents King Ban of Benwick and his queen Elaine escaped to Lancashire from their enemies in France. Elaine went to help King Ban who had fallen and put Lancelot down on the shore of the lake, where he was abducted by nymph Vivian who vanished into the waters of the lake with him. Vivian brought up Lancelot, and when he went to King Arthur's court, he was knighted as 'Sir Lancelot of the Lake'. Martin Mere has been locally known as the 'Lost Lake of Sir Lancelot' following the myth.
In 1986, the park was taken over by the Granada Group and operated by them alongside its now-defunct sister parks American Adventure and Granada Studios Tour. In June 1998, the park was subject to a management buyout, in which the park went to Prime Resorts Ltd. Camelot had seen a downturn in attendance in later years, in 1995, Camelot's attendance was 500,000 visitors throughout the season.
One of the roller coasters could be seen from the M6 near the Charnock Richard Services. However, as of February 2020 said rollercoaster "The Knightmare" has been demolished after SBNO (Standing But Not Operating) for eight years.
In 2005, Camelot's attendance was only 336,204 visitors.
In August 2006, in a survey of healthy food available at leading tourist attractions in the United Kingdom, Camelot came joint bottom, scoring only one point.
In February 2009, Prime Resorts announced that the park was in receivership, and would not reopen for the 2009 season. The hotel was bought by Lavender Hotels in March 2009, and in April 2009, it was announced that a buyer had been found for the park and that it would reopen in May 2009. The theme park was purchased by Story Group, a construction company based in Carlisle, and leased to Knight's Leisure who ran the park.
The closure of the park was announced by its operator, Knights Leisure, on 4 November 2012, the managing director blaming poor summer weather and events such as London 2012 and the Diamond Jubilee for declining visitor numbers. Some roller coasters were sold, for example, the Whirlwind was relocated to Skyline Park in Germany, but others remained in the abandoned park.
Research published in 2019 suggested that the site of Park Hall Road in Charnock Richard is projected to be able to fit 6,294 new homes across its 140-acre site. It is reported to have a potential value, in terms of development, of around £790 million.
In August 2014, an application to build 420 houses on the site by owners Story Group was unanimously rejected by Chorley Council, with 261 public objections, as the development was not permissible within the Green Belt.
In August 2016, a second application to build two hundred houses on the site was announced.
In March 2018, plans for 195 homes at the site were scrapped.
All planning applications to date (as of January 2022) have been rejected by Chorley Council. Housing on the site has been heavily criticised by the local communities leading to doubt over what the future is for the former theme park.
In December 2020, bulldozers were on site, demolishing a number of the structures that were considered unstable, including the iconic white castle entrance.
By July 2021, the park had been dismantled and demolished, albeit having been crumbling away and damaged several times by arson and vandalism since the park’s closure in 2012. Parts of some of the rides and pieces of the park still stand on the site, though in February 2020, Knightmare, the signature ride at the park, was dismantled after being standing and left in the elements for eight years.
Between February and April of 2022, the former theme park site was used for a drive-thru zombie-themed horror experience operated by Park N' Party, named Camelot Rises. Guests would take part in an immersive drive-thru horror experience subsequently watch a horror film at the main entrance while in their cars.
Rides and showsEdit
Rides and attractionsEdit
The following rides were operating at the time of the park's closure in 2012.
|A 'wacky worm' style big apple children's coaster, the ride was relocated to Gulliver's World in Warrington in 2013.|
|One of only two diesel-powered roller coasters in the World. Manufactured by S.C. Italy, this attraction loops the lower section of the park, in 2013, the ride's train was relocated to Pleasureland Southport, however, it was only ever used as a piece of scenery. The second is located at Jannat Al-Ahlam in Oran, Algeria.|
|3||Junior Dragon Coaster||
|A powered children's coaster, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Oakwood Theme Park.|
|A custom Schwarzkopf / Zierer roller coaster that pulled 5Gs. It was demolished in February 2020. There is a replica of this called Jetline at Gröna Lund.|
|A Maurer Söhne Xtended SC 2000 spinning coaster, in 2014, the ride was relocated to Skyline Park in Germany.|
|A Fabbri Evolution. Named after the park's original Excalibur ride. A boy fell from it on 23 August 2011, and in 2013, the ride was relocated to Pleasureland Southport.|
|7||The Galleon||A non-inverting pirate ship, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Pleasureland Southport.|
|8||Dungeons of Doom||
|Small ghost train style dark ride|
|Zamperla rotating balloon race. In 2013, the ride was relocated to Gulliver's Land in Milton Keynes.|
|10||Formula-K Go-Karts||Requires an extra charge.|
|11||Jousting Knights Dodgems||Bumper cars located in the park's family entertainment centre. It was thought to be relocated to Oakwood Theme Park but was not due to cost.|
|12||Kingdom in the Clouds||
|A Ferris Wheel overlooking the Knight's Valley area of the park, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Pleasureland Southport.|
|Set of three blue waterslides, taking riders from the entrance down to Knight's Valley, in 2013, two of the slides relocated to Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock. The remaining slide (rightmost) historically failed to carry riders to the bottom and was decommissioned.|
|14||Sir Lancelot's Chargers||An ornate two-tier carousel, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Pleasureland Southport.|
|15||Camelot Cascade||The log flume ride, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Oakwood Theme Park in Wales.|
|16||Bertie Bassett's Driving School||Extra charge was required|
|18||Cup 'n' Sorcerer||In 2014, the ride was relocated to Oakwood Theme Park in Wales.|
|20||Junior Galleon||A junior swinging pirate ship, in 2013, the ride was relocated to Oakwood Theme Park in Wales.|
|21||Junior Jousting Horses|
|22||Kiddies' Indoor Playland||Soft indoor play area|
|23||Playland Express||Small circuit electric train, in 2013 the ride was relocated to Oakwood Theme Park.|
|25||Towers of Fun||Soft indoor play area|
- Jousting Tournament – a live joust performed by Camelot's own Knights, led by an actor playing King Arthur and performed in the Avalon Arena. The park hosted the only full-time jousting arena in the United Kingdom.
- Merlin's Magic Show – performed in Merlin's castle, this show demonstrated 'Merlin's magical skills'.
- Merlin's School of Wizardry – performed in Merlin's castle, Merlin's School of Wizardry taught some of Merlin's magic to the audience.
- Birds of Prey Show – performed daily in the Avalon Arena, featuring an African fish eagle.
Other defunct attractionsEdit
|Tower of Terror||
|A steel sit down roller coaster manufactured by Schwarzkopf. It had the same layout as Scorpion at Busch Gardens Tampa. It was removed in 2000, to make way for a Vekoma Invertigo, and also due to cost issues as the ride was leased along with the original Excalibur from the Bembom Brothers.
However, planning permission was denied for this ride, so the park was forced to replace the ride with a Pinfari ZL42, "The Gauntlet" (since closed). While the ride was being taken down, an expanding foam castle which was part of the rides theming was burned down, when some sparks from a saw hit it. The ride itself was unscathed, and after a brief period at Dreamland Margate, it became the Twist N' Shout located at Henk Bembom's now closed Loudoun Castle. It is now at Fun Park Biograd, called "Big Blue".
|Vekoma Canyon Trip, the only split level ride in Europe. It was generally unreliable, and in 2009, it suffered a severe mechanical failure, which was not economical to repair. It was removed for the following season.|
|Was a Weber Dreamboat (Traumboot) and was removed with the Tower of Terror. It stood originally on the site of the Whirlwind; however, the space the Tower of Terror originally took up was more than enough for the replacement Gauntlet Pinfari roller coaster and the Excalibur 2 (Fabbri Evolution). This left a site vacant, which was later used for the Whirlwind|
|A steel powered dark-roller coaster. It was removed in 2005, due to increasing safety regulations with indoor roller coasters. While operated, the ride was enclosed inside a building and kept in the dark. When first opened, the ride was originally called "The Knightmare" and was an outdoor coaster. In 1985, a mountain theme was placed over "The Knightmare", and its name was changed to "Space Mountain". In 1988, the indoor coaster was renamed and re-themed "The Beast" and featured the best audio for the ride, before the train moved from the station.
In the mid-1990s, "The Beast" was renamed "Venom". This building was removed in 2001, to make way for an extension to the Castle Camelot entertainment centre, which would have created an extended indoor entertainment centre including replacement ride.
However, when it became apparent the park could close within the next few years, the plans were largely scaled back, leaving room for the ride to stay. The building and ride were then rebuilt but was themed as a snake, in a snakes lair. The ride is now owned by Williams Amusements, and the castle was extended to include the new indoor entertainment centre and firstly a Rollerquest (Lasertag) attraction, and then the Dodgems.
|A Pinfari roller coaster. It was considered too small to be a roller coaster, and it was not as popular with guests as the park hoped. Its presence was faded by the ever-popular Tower of Terror.|
|A Huss Flipper, and was removed before the season of 2006 started and was replaced by a carousel. It was thought by many guests that the ride was not suitable for the target audience of the park.|
|The Gauntlet||A Pinfari ZL42 looping roller coaster. During 2002 and 2003, the ride experienced considerable downtime. After a refurbishment of the trains and braking system, the ride had two very good seasons. To further improve the ride, a new train was purchased in 2005. The ride was then moved to make way for the Knightmare Ride. The ride then operated at New Pleasureland in Southport for a short time. It has now been refurbished and rebuilt in the Marina Park, Varna, Bulgaria.|
|Carousel||Smaller of the two Carousels in the park was removed after the season of 2006, due to its age and being shaded by the much more extravagant carousel located close by. The Junior Galleon WAS moved to the front of the Playland building, to occupy the carousel's central spot.|
|Leverets||A small children's ride located at the side of the Rack (previous locations include: the side of the original Excalibur, and at the front of the park, under a different name). It was removed after the season of 2006, due to the cars and track becoming unreliable. The ride was often closed when the park was open and was replaced by a gnome garden.|
|Mad Monastery||Dark funhouse ride, situated at the back of the Playland area|
|Spinning Ride. Three pink dragons located behind The Beast and rotated through 360 degrees, but did not turn upside down. It was a family version of the 'Rainbow' style magic carpet ride that was at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It was removed due to being unreliable.|
|Splashpool||Located behind the white castle, and removed before the extension of the Indoor Entertainment Centre.|
- Cats of the Round Table – an animatronic show that was near the front of the park.
- Sooty and the Dragon – a puppet show to do with a popular puppet.
- On 22 October 2001, Harry Mathews, a park employee, was struck by The Gauntlet roller coaster and was killed whilst repairing the tracks. The park was fined £40,000, and charged £20,000 in costs in September 2003, as it had no written safety procedures for its staff.
- On 23 August 2011, a twelve-year-old boy fell 30 ft from the Excalibur 2 ride. He survived but suffered serious injuries.
- "800 applicants for park jobs". Chorley Guardian. Johnston Publishing. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Camelot Theme park in Lancashire closes down". News. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- Lopez, Jamie (7 January 2022). "Camelot theme park to reopen as new horror experience". LancsLive. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
- "Best Western cuts ties with Park Hall Hotel after completing investigation into its sudden closure". www.lep.co.uk. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
- "The rise and fall of Camelot theme park as bulldozers and diggers move in" - Liverpool Echo, 27 December 2020
- Ashworth. E, (2007) "Tales of Old Lancashire - The Lost Lake of Sir Lancelot", Pages 39-41.
- "Visits to Tourist Attractions in Lancashire, 1995-2004". Lancashire County Council. Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2006.
- "Major Attractions in the Northwest". NWDA Research Team. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2006.
- "Tourist attractions 'unhealthy'". BBC News. 25 August 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2006.
- "Theme park goes into receivership". BBC News. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Buyer found for theme park hotel". BBC. 12 March 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Short-term rescue for theme park". BBC News. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Cultrix | Your personal IT superheroes". Camelotthemepark.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Lancashire theme park to close". Lancashire Evening Post. 3 November 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "Verkauft und Verrostet: Ein Blick in den Camelot Theme Park" (in German). Airtimers.com. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "The fun stopped here: England's derelict theme parks". BBC News. 7 March 2018.
- "Story Group acquire Camelot theme park". Story Group. April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Agenda for Development Control Committee on Tuesday, 5th August 2014, 6.30 pm". Democracy.chorley.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "Plans for 195 homes at Camelot Theme Park site scrapped". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Hodgson, Sarah; Blakey, Ashlie (13 December 2020). "The eerie pictures showing deserted, overgrown Lancashire theme park Camelot - as bulldozers move in". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
- "Camelot Rises: Immersive Zombie Drive Thru & Cinema | Fever". feverup.com. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
- "Death at theme park". BBC News. 22 October 2001. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
- "Theme park fined over ride death". BBC News. 23 September 2003. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
- "Camelot Theme Park ride to remain closed after fall". BBC News. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "12-year-old in hospital after 30ft plunge from theme park ride". The Telegraph. 24 August 2011.
- www.camelotthemepark.co.uk - Camelot Theme Park Official Website via the Web Archive, captured on 20 September 2012. The site had gone blank by the next capture on 6 December, and by 23 March 2013 had expired. It has now been taken by a coaster blogger.