It’s a piece of land that will mean so much to so many people across the East Midlands who will have memories of the Runaway Train, the Missile, and the Rocky Mountain Rapids.
But the site of the old American Adventure Theme Park is being transformed into housing, shops, workplaces.
Led by Waystone Developments, roller coasters, fairground rides and even Silver City are to be replaced with residential properties, retirement homes, business units, and even a hotel and restaurant.
The only thing that will remain of the old park is the main lake around which it was built.
In their application document before obtaining the building permit, Waystone Developments described the project as follows: “The range of uses proposed in this application will provide a viable mixed-use development that will provide quality housing and a supply of employment opportunities as well as environmental and community benefits including health care and retirement provisions.
It puts an end to 45 years of use as purely recreational equipment at the site near Heanor.
In 1976, Shipley Country Park opened and covered the area around the old Shipley Hall, which had long been demolished.
In addition to the land around the Woodside and Coppice Collieries open pit mine site, plans have been set aside for a theme park type development adjacent to the national park.
Despite objections from local residents, Britannia Park opened in June 1985, but it didn’t last long, closing just two and a half months later.
Eventually, the land would be redeveloped again to make it what made it famous. It was in June 1987 that the American Adventure Theme Park opened for the first time.
The park has been constantly redeveloped and improved, adding rides along the way and attracting 622,000 people in 1991.
The likes of Grand Niagara Falls Rapids, The Missile, and the Space Port would be added over time with the live action shows in the Far West area of Silver City.
Indeed, at one point, the log channel would show the steepest drop, at 83 feet, in the UK.
But the good times wouldn’t last forever and despite the addition of a double roller coaster loop in 1995, the park would start to decline in 1996.
By 1999, attendance had fallen to less than 500,000 per year and it didn’t take long for the park’s future to be called into question.
This question was asked in 2005, when three major rides closed, including Nightmare Niagara, The Missile, and Rocky Mountain Rapids.
This forced a shift in focus for owners, from thrill seekers to family audiences, but at this point the writing was on the wall.
On January 4, 2007, the owners announced that the American Adventure theme park would not reopen for the upcoming season.
After this period, the site was left empty, the rides were dismantled and either scrapped or moved to other parks, leaving it a wasteland with a huge lake in the middle.
The land, which had been taken over by Derbyshire County Council was called “Shipley Lakeside” and was put up for sale shortly after the park closed in 2007.
In 2012, it was announced that a major development would take over the site housing housing, offices and leisure facilities.
However, the site turned out to be so popular with those who remembered the American Adventure theme park that a petition was started in 2017 to reopen it, but that did not happen and we now see that all the region is emerging as a massive new community.
Currently, Waystone says roads and earthworks are underway and the first homes are expected to be built in October or November 2021.