The entertainment industry through theme parks and holiday camps.
One of the ways that the general public have been entertained has been through theme parks and holiday camps. Both these types of entertainment have attempted to offer activities for the whole family in a limited and restricted area. The benefits for the families is that these types of entertainment have provided holidays that are good value for money and are enjoyed by the majority. The holiday camps are different from campsites as the accommodation comprises of chalets. They also provide entertainment between meals and it is widely believed that the first site was opened by Billy Butlin in 1936 at Skegness. Campsites were starting to provide chalet type accommodation alongside the traditional tents but offered few entertainments.
Butlins proved to be popular and soon started to expand with further sites being opened at Bognor Regis and Minehead and they still run today. As well as Butlins holidays Pontin’s and Warner’s were also established. All of the parks were pretty similar with the same types of accommodation, large swimming pool areas, a ballroom, a fun fair, a cinema, an arcade and bingo. They tended to be in resort type locations so that people could go and visit the beach if visiting Butlins in Minehead, or even have a wonder around Snowdon if visiting Butlins in Pwllheli.
The day’s entertainments were conducted by bands of workers who were known as redcoats at Butlins and bluecoats at Pontins. These were often university students trying to earn holiday money and they were often sporty or theatrical. They were expected to be good all-rounder’s hosting children’s activities during the day followed by putting on comedy adult shows in the evening. Many of the workers who started off at the camp sites went on to forge successful careers in the show business industry. The most famous redcoats from Butlins were Jimmy Tarbuck, Ted Rogers and Michael Barrymore, while renowned ex-bluecoats from Pontin’s included Shane Richie and Brian Conley.
In the period after the Second World War these were very popular destinations but the camps suffered as a result of the new cheap airline flights and the availability of sun filled Mediterranean holidays. The effect of this greater competition has been that many of the less successful sites have closed. The more successful camps have remained open but they have had to diversify their activities. Some now aim for school parties to visit offering both day trips and residential stays. Butlins at Bognor Regis in West Sussex has targeted the schools in its general location with the offer of educational visits. Some offer theme based weekends. Butlins at Minehead in Somerset has offered punk based weekends where the old punk bands from the late 1970s and 1980s have played at the camp. This has proved successful drawing in numbers of fans who have stayed at the camp in order to listen to the music.
Arising from the decline of the old accommodation themed parks has risen new amusement parks. Although some offer accommodation they are generally aimed at the day visitors. They specialize in certain areas. Legoland is an attractiion for the very young visitors as the theme of the park is based around models formed from lego. Nearby in Egham is Thorpe Park, which is a water based theme park. The attractions are based around spectacular water rides and all of the entertainments are contained in a relatively small geographical area. Those seeking high adrenalin thrills are attracted to Alton Towers in Staffordshire. The site contains six major roller coasters with reach reputed to be the most thrilling ride in the country. All of these parks offer extensive refreshment facilities and their rather high day time prices have not put off their customers. The public are attracted to these amusement parks in large numbers. They do not provide the value for money that the holiday camps once did, but they offer adrenalin filled day time activities which young people are more than happy to participate in.