On Nostalgia

Chessington World of Adventures announced this week that the factory is 'Under New Management' and that we'd be saying #ByeByeBubbleworks early September this year. And, as expected with any major announcement by Merlin, there was uproar in the enthusiast world, petitions were flying around Facebook like hotcakes and you couldn't scroll more than a few clicks without some heartfelt status about how this ride affected a fan's childhood in one way or another.

Things like this always amuse me. Why do we cling on to that which we link so fondly with our childhood, even when it is clearly so very past its sell by date as was the case with the Bubbleworks? Ignoring the fact that the true original ride, Professor Burp's Bubbleworks, was retired from Transylvania way back in 2006, it seems mad to me that enthusiasts would bemoan the closure of a ride where, the last time I rode it (just a few months back), the cracks were very visible and the paint was most definitely more than beginning to flake.

Theme park enthusiasts are very lucky in the fact that their hobby can physically take them back into those very places that some of their fondest childhood memories were founded. I can't be the only one hit with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia every time I walk through the gates of Chessington World of Adventures, and in particular turning that corner into Transylvania, getting a whiff of the Bubbleworks factory and casting my mind down memory lane as I reimagine those Golden Arches where Burger Kitchen now sits. I adore the fact that, although many updates and revamps have taken place, there are still token hints and remnants of the place that brought me so much joy as a child. The Count's Cauldron sign for one and the laughably out of date 'Your Nightmare Is Just Developing' sign as you exit the Vampire station (hey, remember when film had to be DEVELOPED?!).

And that's my point. It's 2016. The times they are a'changin', and although it does hurt seeing something so integral to our childhood being removed I try to see the good in it. Many would disagree that the parks are moving on to bigger and better things but surely I can't be the only one that agrees a revamp is what is best for the poor old Bubbleworks. The old girl has given pretty much all she had to give, and whilst it is sad that a true icon of the UK theme park scene will finally be laid to rest, I take solace in the fact that a whole new generation will now be able to experience a similar joy with a ride that is relevant to them and their interests.

There is definitely a selfishness and sense of entitlement and almost, I guess you could call it delusion when it comes to theme park enthusiasts sometimes, especially when it comes to old classics. Yes we had some magical times, yes these rides were incredibly joyful and amazing when we rode them but maybe, just maybe, they weren't quite as good as our fluffy nostalgic memories made them out to be. In fact, in some cases I'm glad the rides I remember so fondly are resigned to be experienced only in my mind. There's nothing worse than remembering something being amazing, only to re-ride as an adult and having to face the harsh truth that, hey, this isn't as great as I remember it being!

Lots of these tidbits are now overgrown with moss and forgotten about, ancient artefacts of a theme park world of old, mostly gone but not forgotten, living on in the minds and nostalgic chats with those who loved them most. And that is most definitely where they're most cherished. Put up on a pedestal and worshipped as they should be, instead of slowly being left to rot and forgotten as a new generation with a different mindset continue to ride and fail to see the magic that made our generation fall in love with this weird and wonderful factory in the first place.

I'm planning on being there on September 6th, with a glass of bubbles to toast Professor Burp's Bubbleworks, to give thanks for all the wonder and enjoyment he gave me as a kid and to give the ride the send-off it deserves. In the famous words of Dr. Seuss: Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. And when you inevitably ride whatever is set to replace the Bubbleworks, you can enjoy the new experience alongside a wry smile as memories of fart jokes, overbearing scent canisters and ridiculously catchy theme tunes dance through your head.

Talk later xoxo


  1. Thank you for your lovely post

    RS 3 Gold

  2. I don't quite agree with this... the original ride was just fun, unconventional and energetic. People loved it for its lack of sentimentality, I remember it for being funny, loud and colourfully exciting. And a really magical ending, good old fun. I don't associate it with rose-tinted childhood, in fact I remember it being worn out even then - yet it was still great fun. If we are to put everything up on a pedestal of nostalgia and then years later say "maybe it wasn't as good as we remember", then what's the point in trying to create something to be the best it can be for children, if it's going to be distorted by these kind of memory games years later?

    So the real problem was - the ride had been so different and so poorly maintained for the last 15 years, that anyone revisiting the attraction in recent times would be riding a very different experience - a pretty naff experience - yet parts were still recognisable from the original so to their mind it was the same, only seemingly much worse now. Chessington totally took advantage of this in their PR about the ride closing, employing a fake nostalgia to pretend it was still the same ride.

    I remember clearly Prof Burp's Bubbleworks being great wacky, energetic fun right up until its closure, and the sheer disappointment and crassness of the 2006 corporatise version, when I was still a child. Was very glad to see that 2006, poorly maintained version shut down. I still find the original Bubbleworks daft and entertaining to this day, nothing at all to do with nostalgia - and all to do with design quality & fun! :)

    1. I was aiming this more at those saying the park were 'ruining their childhood' with the removal of the Bubbleworks. The original Bubbleworks, the one you describe here, was definitely not a figment of rose-tinted nostalgia and was definitely AMAZING!

      I guess the entire gist of this one is aimed at those who say omg why are you removing this crusty old ride and replacing it with something new, what about my childhood?!