Remembering Metroland, the greatest theme park in the northeast
Only the real heroes could handle the waltzer
I have a scene to share with you. You’re going down the A1 in the car. Your mam’s yelling at you demanding you stop trying to murder your siblings, the radio is probably playing Robbie Williams.
As you approach the Yellow Mall and see that huge, mirrored monstrosity appear before you, your stomach leaps. It can only be one thing.
Metroland was the absolute business as a kid. The highlight of the year was going there for your birthday party with your mates, going on the rollercoaster a hundred times then getting your face painted, and polishing the whole day off with a Happy Meal.
On 20th April 2008, Metroland closed its doors for the last time. I remember the day vividly: you were admitted for half price and got to go on everything as many times as you wanted. It was depressing. I cried. The space once occupied by Metroland is now the Odeon cinema, and a few restaurants. As you pass by on your way to Five Guys, the bitter sting remains in your heart. I suppose at least you could go see Batman vs Superman for about £50.
This is what I miss.
The mere sight of the escalator filled you with glee: you were back where you belonged. You were back at the pirate ship, and the big swing, and the arcade games you were never allowed to play on. You were back at the land of dreams.
The soft play with the terrifying slide
That slide was literally at a 90 degree angle, and if you didn’t have long sleeves and trousers on, the burn was unbearable. Oh, the pain.
The creepy safari
A waterfall of blood seems a bit weird for a children’s theme park. The safari was like a test – once you stopped being able to fit in the car so easily, it was time for you to graduate to the waltzers and leave the railway train behind.
Metroland only had one rollercoaster, but boy, what a rollercoaster it was. You pretended that the tunnel bit with the faces at the start didn’t scare you, but it did a little.
There was always that moment where the rollercoaster went on its side round a bend, and you contemplated your own death. Then it was round past the princess castle and the soft play, and you’d run down the stairs as fast as you could so you could go back round and get in the queue again.
The waltzer was the “cool” ride the big kids went on. It was a step up from the kiddie rides that you were now “over”. The sign on the wall said “scream if you want to go faster”, and you did.
I once screamed so much that I made my friend cry on the waltzer. Either that or she couldn’t handle the speed.
The swing was always a good time. A downgraded version of the waltzer, you could watch the world go round and potentially lose your shoes at any moment. Someone must have puked in a beautiful orbit at some point while riding this one. I really wish I’d been there to see it.
The Happy Meal at the end of the day
The Happy Meal was one of the best bits in the day. This was during a time when McDonald’s was a rare treat and not something you spent £50 trying to find a Mayfair sticker on. You’d skip back to the car, new Polly Pocket or Hot Wheels toy in hand, deluding yourself that your mam wouldn’t brutally scrub that face paint off later.