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American Adventure

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American Adventure

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Date Posted:October 29th, 2007
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Description: The American Adventure was a theme park located in the East Midlands region of England; quite close to both Nottingham and Derby on the edge of a small town called Ilkeston in the county of Derbyshire. The park for many years had a number of large white-knuckle attractions, but in 2005 was re-themed as a 'family' park aimed at the under-14 market. In January 2007 the owners announced that it would not reopen for the new season, and the rides would be sold off.

American Adventure, built on the former site of an open cast coal mine, was originally opened in June 1987 with an Old West and Cowboys vs. Native Americans theme. A themed park called Britannia Park had been opened on the site in 1985 but closed soon after due to a lack of visitors. In June 1987 the American Adventure opened heralded as 'Britain's Major New Theme Park. Initial attractions at the American Adventure included the two-drop log flume, the runaway mine train, the Buffalo Roller coaster, a pirate ship, and a ferris wheel.

1989 saw the opening of the Missile roller coaster: A Vekoma Boomerang coaster which was at the time voted the number one roller coaster in the UK. Shortly after that followed the addition of the Rocky Mountain Rapids. In 1993 the log-flume was extended to have a third drop and was renamed from "Cherokee Falls" to "Nightmare Niagara". The extra drop made it the tallest log-flume in the UK throughout its operational life (this record has now reverted to Loggers Leap at Thorpe Park). In 1995 the Iron Wolf roller coaster was installed, which broke away from the American theming of the park and was instead themed around the ITV gameshow Gladiators.

From 1996 onwards the park began to decline and in 1997 then owners the Granada group decided to pull out of owning the park. It was sold to a company called Ventureworld which was headed by John Broome, a former Alton Towers developer. During the reign of Broome as owner of the park the only noticeable change was the addition of minor or upcharge attractions, and the slow decline of many of the park's attractions.

Ventureworld immediately renamed the park "American Adventure World", with the intention of dropping the American theming and ultimately renaming the park "Adventure World". Various logos produced over the next few seasons would use the "American Adventure World" name, but with the prominence of the first and last words varying wildly. By the end of the park's life, the title had reverted to "The American Adventure"

In 1999 Broome announced he was stepping down and the THG Group, who also own Pontins and Blackpool Tower bought the park. Since 1999 many of the smaller rides have disappeared from the park and it slowly fell into decline. The old main entrance to the park had to be closed due to subsidence, and the new entrance was nowhere near as attractive as the old one.

2005 saw the closing down of three major rides for which the park was famous, including Nightmare Niagara and The Missile. At the time it was also believed that the Rocky Mountain Rapids was also ending its life. The two water rides were supposedly closed due to structural instability and water pollution problems, whilst the Missile was not deemed to fit in with the parks new 'family' label and had also experienced heavy disrepair. Missile was relocated to Pleasurewood Hills as 'Wipeout' and was scheduled to open on May 1st 2007 (delays meant the ride didn't open until the middle of the season).

The American Adventure announced on Thursday 4 January 2007 that the park would not be re-opening for the 2007 season. Derbyshire County Council is reviewing options for the site's future. Part of the park has been leased, while the rest is being controlled by Derbyshire County Council. The park's mascot Rocky Racoon is now owned by Zach Moore, who was an entertainer at the park in its final season. Rocky made his first appearance since the park closed at the Ilkeston carnival 2007. He was advertised as a member of the park's resident stunt team, the Mystic Horsemen. The team is still together despite the closure of the park.


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