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Funtastic year at the Grand Pier

Thursday 3rd January

2018 has been a funtastic year at Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier with more than 750,000 visitors stepping onto the boardwalk at the iconic seafront attraction.

That figure will be even higher by the time the calendar year is over, with a whole host of festive activities and events taking place over the coming weeks, many of which have sold out.

The year has definitely ended on a high after a disappointing start, due to a prolonged period of wintery weather coupled with an early Easter.

“Heavy snow forced us to cancel a charity memorial ball earlier in the year, and the first Weston-super-Mare half marathon was also cancelled, which meant the year did not get off to the best start.

“The weather changes people’s usual habits and they get used to staying at home. It then takes time for them to break their new habits.”

- Michelle Michael, co-owner of the Grand Pier.

Even the subsequent spell of sustained summer sunshine and soaring temperatures did not help as much as people might think it would.

Too much of the same thing makes people complacent about coming to the beach and the seafront.
“When the long-range forecast predicted little change in the wonderful weather, people felt they did not have to rush to the seafront to make the most of it, because it wasn’t going to change any time soon.”

- Michelle explained.

What did bring people pouring onto the Pier was the range of rides and activities, as well as a series of special events and entertainments.

A number of new attractions were added to the Pier’s line-up in 2018 which clearly demonstrated its desire to want to offer something for people of all ages and all tastes.

At one end of the scale, one it’s very latest additions is a state-of-the-art virtual reality experience which uses cutting-edge technology with full-motion pods and headsets to transport visitors to worlds beyond their imaginations, with full 360-degree views and wrap-around sound.

By complete contrast, another new attraction, the Museum of Memories, is a walk-through experience which enables people to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane celebrating 150 years of British history through displays featuring toys, sweets, memorable TV programmes, documenting the revolution in fashion and pop music, all against the backdrop of coronations, exhibitions, two world wars and man landing on the moon.

Older generations are visiting and sharing their own personal memories and experiences with their children and grandchildren.

Another particularly popular addition to the Pier’s provision is the Disco Bikes ride, which is for families with younger children.

“Together with the Kiddie GoKarts, the Disco Bikes have been very popular and reinforces our aim to provide family days out which are excellent value for money, with things that the family can do together.”

- Michelle said.

The Pier has hosted a huge range of special events, concerts, entertainments and activities throughout the year, from free activities such as circus workshops to help keep children occupied during school holidays to the terrorific Halloween Unfairground, ticket sales for which were the best yet.

The Pier has always been keen to give something back, too, whether it’s making donations of money, giving away Annual Memberships (to members of the armed and emergency services, war veterans, local schools and many others), hosting and supporting a huge variety of fund-raising activities, some organised by groups, some by individuals.

The Pier donates around £50,000 every year to numerous worthy causes, and this year has given away more than 1,000 Annual Memberships.

There have been lots of special visitors to the Pier this year, to add to the fun, from Giggles the Gromit statue, as part of the Grand Appeal’s Gromit Unleashed 2 trail, to Titch the animatronic dinosaur, and from Sid and Rebecca, from television’s Cbeebies, to Broadchurch actor Joe Sims.

For Michelle, one of the Fireworks at Sea events which the Pier hosts throughout the year was a particular highlight of 2018.

Our November fireworks night, which was a sell-out, was quite spectacular and was very memorable, attracting some fabulous feedback.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has visited us and supported us throughout the year and to say we look forward to welcoming you back to the Pier in 2019, when we hope you and your families will make even more funtastic memories.”

- Michelle Michael

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