Funland (London)

Amusement park in the United Kingdom


Funland
Location
London, England, UK
Status Defunct
Operated Early-1990 to 3 July 2011
Operator Family Leisure
Operating season Year-Round
Previous names The New Funland (2000-2001)

Funland was an amusement arcade and family entertainment centre located at the London Trocadero, situated in Piccadilly Circus in London, England, UK. Throughout the course of its existence, the arcade has seen some attractions situated at the venue.

History

Funland was opened up at the London Trocadero in Early-1990. It took up a portion of 14,000 square feet on the first floor, becoming home to all the latest video games, simulators, redemption games, and a Dodgems track.

In 1991, the venue extended below to include Lazerbowl, a 13,700 square feet extension including more games and a set of Bowleasy mini-bowling lanes. All together, the venue occupied 27,700 square feet of space altogether.

Funland continued to thrive in popularity during the 1990's, even with the larger SegaWorld London opening nearby in the same venue and other arcades nearby. Funland was extended again in the 1990's to include a new basement floor as well as a new entrance. The Trocadero itself would gain its own attraction in March 1998 - the Pepsi Max Drop Tower.

In September 1999, Chorion announced that Sega had exited the SegaWorld venture and that Family Leisure would secure the lease to the ex-SegaWorld floors. In Early-2000, Family Leisure closed their basement Funland branch and combined the original Funland/Lazerbowl floors with SegaWorld's, forming a large seven-floor family-oriented entertainment venue. The company commissioned Proun, the company who previously handled most work for the arcade, to completely revamp the SegaWorld floors, add new facilities alongside what was already there, and purchasing new machines and simulators to replace older games. All the SegaWorld attractions except for Aqua Planet were scrapped in the process.

Known as "The New Funland", it consisted of the seven floors.

  • Floor 1: This floor consisted of the original Funland arcade as well as the former exit to SegaWorld. Doors were added to the SegaWorld side to allow easy access to the venue. The original Dodgems and Lazerbowl mini-bowling were also retained.
  • Floor 2: This was the former "Sports Arena" floor of SegaWorld, completely refurbished and looking nothing like it did as the Sports Arena. A sports bar and pool table room were featured on this floor, in addition to a 10-lane Bowling Alley and Wimpy fast-food outlet and kitchen.
  • Floor 3: The former "Carnival" floor of SegaWorld. This featured most of Funland's rides including the Breakdance, Ghost Train, Dodgems track, and Go-Karts. The McDonald's fast-food outlet was retained, although it is unknown how long it lasted, or if it was replaced with a Wimpy as well.
  • Floor 4: The former "Flight Deck" level of SegaWorld. Not much is known about the change of this floor.
  • Floor 5: The Former "Race Track" level of SegaWorld. As with Floor 4, not much is known about the change other than it was refurbished and that the Aqua Planet attraction was retained.
  • Floor 6: The former "Combat Zone" level of SegaWorld. As before, not much is known about the change.
  • Floor 7: The former "Reception" of SegaWorld. It was retained as such, with some minor changes like the removal of the Sonic the Hedgehog statue.

The New Funland (rebranded back to Funland shortly after) seemed to be a success, but the large size of the venue proved to be problematic for Family Leisure not being used to operating an eight-floor venue), crime rates rising significantly, and the Trocadero's profit losses, In September 2002, planning permission was granted for the venue to only accompany the bottom two floors, with the remaining five being closed off to the public. All of the attractions, except for the first-floor Dodgems set, were sold off or scrapped. The Pepsi Max Drop (which by then was renamed "London's Scream Ride") was also put up for sale. However, due to budget restraints, changes were hastily done, with the former SegaWorld Rocket Escalator that went to the reception simply being blocked off with a vending machine.

Even after the downsize, Funland remained the largest arcade in the United Kingdom, especially with the rhythm game scene. However, problems were rising after the Trocadero was purchased by Criterion Capital in 2005, whose aim of the purchase was to convert the complex into a Pod Hotel. The company conflicted and rowed with Family Leisure over the Funland space for years. In May 2011, the Rocket Escalator was removed after being left abandoned for almost a decade, for the Pod Hotel conversion to begin.

On July 1, 2011, Funland's rent went into arrears and two days later on July 3, the landlord cut the electricity supply to the venue, and chained the emergency exits closed, effectively shuttering Funland for good. Although Family Leisure offered to pay for the supply, it wasn't enough for Criterion. Funland appointed administrators the following day, and the first Rocket Escalator was removed a few weeks later. After closure, the games moved to other arcades, while some of the Dodgem cars were moved down to the basement before the entire complex's closure in February 2014.

Past

Name Manufacturer Type Opened Closed Fate
Aqua Planet Sega AM5
Digital Universe
Motion Simulator 2000 2002 N/A (likely scrapped)
Break Dance I.E. Park Breakdance 2001 2002 Relocated to Funland Hayling Island
The Pepsi Max Drop/London's Scream Ride Intamin Drop Tower 1998 c.2001-2002 Relocated to Funland Hayling Island
Dodgems Self-built Dodgems 1990 2011 Unknown
Ghost Train N/A Ghost Train 2001 2002 N/A (likely scrapped)
Go-Karts N/A Go-Karts 2001 2002 N/A
London's Fastest Dodgems Self-built Dodgems 2000 2002 Unknown