Coaster Kingdom


Colin Bryan was last interviewed by Coaster Kingdom eighteen months ago.

Since then, he’s seen the opening of Maurer Söhne’s ‘X-Car’ coaster G-Force, as well as enjoyed his fortieth year as manager of the park, and put the plans for Drayton Manor’s accommodation developments into full swing.

Colin Bryan

Colin Bryan, Managing Director and Family Owner of Drayton Manor Park

We catch up with Colin.

Coaster Kingdom: How has your fortieth year been overall?

Colin Bryan: Very hectic! I’ve found myself very busy with G-Force for one, as well as our VE day celebrations events over the summer. They went very well, however the turnout was a little lower than expected, but the event, especially the spitfire fly past was very good.

CK: Onto G-Force... why did the park choose the X-Car design?

CB: The restraint system caught our attention, the ‘Big Boy’ seats [capable of holding passengers of larger body mass] and the design [that allows guests to be suspended upside down safely and comfortably]. These are very different from usual over the shoulder restraints.

I believe the ability to safely and comfortably restrain a wider variety of guests is important as our culture changes, i.e., The enjoyment of our larger guests.

Lastly, it would efficiently fit into the space left available.

CK: And you’re impressed with G-Force overall?

CB: I am impressed with the coaster overall, but not with its faults. Something as simple as getting a train around the track shouldn’t be difficult [G-Force has previously stalled]. One of the requirements with the manufacturer was quietness... where as in reality the quieter wheels skid along the track.

G-Force design

Getting a train around the track shouldn't be difficult

Of course, there were bound to be teething problems with a world’s first coaster featuring an upside down lift hill!

CK: How has attendance worked out?

CB: Attendance figures have increased since G-Force opened. We are up 7% on this time last year.

Opening a ride mid-way through the season has its advantages – the opening buzz usually extends into the following season, and people may have already ridden the likes of Rita – Queen of Speed at Alton Towers which was also new this year.

CK: G-Force is heading in the thrill ride direction. But Drayton Manor intends to stay a family park?

CB: It is important for us to provide a broad spectrum of rides and attractions for all ages. G-Force is a youth ride, but the 1.3m height restriction helps its family appeal.

CK: Do you consider the investment in these big boy seats to be important?

CB: Yes, and I believe the way people and the industry is changing, we’ll see more in the future.

CK: What are you particularly proud of within the park and the business?

CB: Undoubtedly the staff. Without them, it wouldn’t matter how good or bad the rest of the park was. We have 197 full time staff, and 250 part time, with around 600 people through the books every year. Some of them are third generation in terms of families employed at the park, which is nice to know as a ‘family theme park’.

CK: What other parks have you been particularly impressed with?

Spaceship Earth, Epcot

Florida - a poignant place for the Bryan family

CB: Europa Park, undoubtedly. I’ve visited four times now.

CK: And your favourite ride?

CB: Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, although I’m also fond of Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland. They don’t give my back too much trouble!

CK: So theme parks and the industry are a big part of your life?

CB: Oh yes. And both my sons met their wives at Drayton Manor and honeymooned in Orlando, Florida.

CK: What are the principal advantages of being family run?

CB: Control! If there’s a decision to be made, it can be made straight away, whereas places like Alton Towers have to take it to the board of directors, and the shareholders. There is also constancy for the park. We’re without a new manager every year or two. Continues...

Coaster Kingdom Magazine
Issue 14: Jan 2006

Issue 14
Life of Bryan
catches up with Drayton Manor MD, Colin Bryan

In The Picture
In The Picture
Click to enlarge image