Do you remember the American Adventure theme park?
After a controversial legal battle, the Britannia Park theme park finally opened in 1985 on the site of a former opencast mine in Derbyshire. It shut within twelve weeks, and with no private sector rescuer stepping up Derbyshire County Council was forced to buy back the park for £2.5 million with the aid of a bank loan. It would eventually reopen two years later as the American Adventure, which aimed to transport guests to the American West.
The American Adventure boasted a variety of rides, as well as shows featuring cowboys and Native Americans. It became one of the most popular theme parks in the country, hosting attractions such as the towering Missile roller coaster.
The success didn't last. The park suffered a period of decline from the mid-1990s onwards, with visitor numbers dwindling. In 2005, most of the major rides were closed and replaced by kids' rides. At the end of the 2006 season, the owners gave up the ghost. In January 2007 it was announced that the American Adventure was closed for good.
Many of the park's rides were auctioned off, with the Missile reemerging as Wipeout at Pleasurewood Hills. The remainder of the park was abandoned and left to rot.
The American Adventure in 2009
The first group of beautiful images comes from Mark Tighe, and were taken in January 2009:
The Motion Master Theatre was still in place at this time:
Pier 49 also jutted out over the park's lake:
The next set of images comes from Ashley Burton, and were taken in August 2009:
The Rocky Mountain Rapids were gone, but a lonely raft remained:
Arson attacks took their toll:
But some signage remained in place:
These next set of images comes from Matt Francis, and were also taken in August 2009.
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Pier 49 was still standing:
The rear of the park's entrance doesn't look too inviting:
This final, haunting image is courtesy of Liam Samuel Brooks, and was also taken in 2009. It shows a post-demolition Motion Master Theatre:
All images released under Creative Commons license.
What's left today?
The answer, sadly, is almost nothing. Even Pier 49 has been razed to the ground.
The American Adventure site is now controlled by Derbyshire County Council, and is dubbed "Shipley Lakeside". Most of the park's structures have been demolished, leaving only ride footprints here and there. A major project to convert the park into housing, offices and leisure facilities has been put forward but is yet to be completed.
Like so many have commented, a sad end to the backdrop of my own memories. I went often in the 90's as a teenager, but my last visit was in 2005 as an adult supervisor with a youth group (we were having a week's summer camp nearby). It struck me then how run-down it was and half the retail units were empty.
I worked there from 2000 to 2002. Great memories. One particular highlight was the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane flying over.
As a family we had some brilliant days there & all the staff made the effort to look after you ,it was such a great shame when it closed down ,but to compete with alton towers it would always struggle,the most attractive thing at American adventure was you didn't have to wait an hour for a ride on something
As head of Design and Technology, I used to take a whole school year group, year upon year to this theme park. We had great fun but also it gave the pupils an insight into many different aspects of mechanisms, marketing, branding, food and safety issues. Such a shame that this side was not developed more, with the county council taking the lead in the educational side of it. I have fond memories of the fun we had with 90+ pupils each year.
So sad this has gone! So many happy memories with friends during the 90's.