Starting last autumn, Clacton Pier, located along the east coast of the U.K., has been working on the creation of a brand new 4D experience called Jurassic Pier. The construction of the new ride followed after the necessary closure of the Seaquarium, which stood at the Pier for more than 40 years. The new ride takes visitors into a primordial world by means of a 3D film with themed walk-through and pre-show, featuring multiple animatronic dinosaurs.
In essence, the Jurassic Pier 4D Encounter is a 3D film ride, but the team of Clacton Pier did not stick with a bare-bone 3D theatre. Instead, they constructed an immersive experience including an introductory pre-show, themed walk-through, taking visitors deeper into the dinosaur world. The total investment for Jurassic Pier encompasses £500k, and the project has come to fruition together with Simworx. Andy Roberts, COO of Simworx, comments: “Working with Clacton Pier to develop this enticing experience for families has been a lot of fun. Our team really enjoyed coming up with the concept and bringing it to life.”
Jurassic Pier has opened last weekend and is currently operating as a pre-booked attraction at Clacton Pier, requiring a separate entrance fee of £7.50 which is not included in the Pier’s wristbands or payable in credits from the ride passes. Once paying visitors passed the gate of the ‘Jurassic Pier Discovery Centre’, the walk-through queue line starts with a visit to an office/study where a man of science introduces guests to the experience through a video. In the following section, guests witness various dinosaur animatronics which each are placed in an diorama-like environment, depicting the look-and-feel of the dinosaur exhibits from Jurassic Park, though obviously on a much smaller scale and tightened into a single room.
After passing four of such dinosaur exhibits, riders arrive upon the doors of the 3D theatre. The theatre hosts 24 people in Simworx’s 3DOF Cinema seats, equipped with leg ticklers, wind effects, smoke and water spray. The cinema shows the nWave / Red Star film Dino Safari 3D, where guests ride in a jeep through dinosaur exhibits, until a natural disaster causes many of the creatures to escape.
Jurassic Pier takes the place of the Seaquarium, which closed for good by the end of the 2022 season. The closure of the aquarium did not come easy, as the history of Clacton Pier is intertwined with marine wildlife. The pier’s history in itself is already a long story, dating back all the way to 1871, and ever since the 1930s, some form of wildlife exhibit has been present on the Pier. During the 1970s and ’80s, even dolphins and killer whales were kept on the pier, and also sea lions and pengiuns have been on display in Clacton over a period of time.
The Seaquarium, housing more than 900 fish and other sea life by the time of its closure, was the last attraction at the pier housing marine wildlife. Though the dolphins and penguins were already gone, the aquarium displayed a range of fish species including piranha and clown fish. It had been open for more than 40 years, but it was at the brink of a large decision: due to ever-increasing standards regarding keeping wildlife, the seaquarium was to be enlarged, or it should close for good. Needless to say that enlarging the aquarium would require significant investment.
Billy Ball, director of Clacton Pier, said in a press statement: “If it was to remain, we would have also wanted to look to come up with more conservation activities and that was simply not viable. We are now in a very different world with emphasis on protecting the environment quite rightly gaining greater priority. All things considered – including overheads and the rising cost of energy – we decided it was time to close that chapter in the pier’s history and move forward.”
The opening weekend of Jurassic Pier was celebrated largely. On Saturday 27 May, Children’s TV personality Andy Day performed the official opening ceremony. This was followed by a spectacular fireworks extravaganza on Sunday evening (28 May) which included dino-themed music, lighting and lasers. According to Billy Ball, the interest in Jurassic Pier has been massive. “It has really caught the imagination and we have been getting inquiries about it for months,” as he said in as statement just before opening. “We are now finally at the point where families will get the chance to enjoy this totally immersive experience for themselves and we are looking forward to their reaction.”
Team DRdb visited the new ride during opening weekend, and were able to take a few pictures of the finished experience. Check them out below: