The Dung Heap
The Dung Heap down on Old MacDonald's Farm, like all the other attractions in the farmyard, was not quite what you'd expect. Despite its unappealing name The Dung Heap was actually an adventure playground consisting of 4 separate areas, with the intention of targeting a different age group with each.
- The Soil Albug Hall was the entrance to the Dung Heap featuring the Creepy Crawly Basharound. Within this giant pile of manure was an interactive feature suitable for guests of all ages. Chase the bugs and creepy crawlies around the floor of the room, and watch them scuttle away at your every move!
- Mr Mushroom's Magic Maze sat alongside the Albug Hall. At the heart of the maze was Mr Mushroom himself, just waiting for you to find him. As with the Hall this section of the Dung Heap was open to guests of all ages.
- The Toxic Bog was the third area of the attraction, which contained a collection of climbing equipment, slides, and trampolines for the younger explorers. A height restriction of 0.9 metres to 1.1 metres applied to the play equipment in this area. The exception was the Wobbly Walk, where older visitors between 1.1 metres and 1.4 metres could test their balancing skills.
- The final area was Cobweb Capers. This section of the Dung Heap was aimed at those between 1.1 metres and 1.4 metres, with attractions including the Springy Cobweb Climbing Zone, which stretched to the sky allowing visitors to scale the wobbly rope structure. There was also the zip wire, where riders could whizz the length of the area!
The Life and Times
The Dung Heap is notable for being one of the last attractions added to the park by Tussauds and as a whole is rather representative of the period bringing together rather cheap infrastructure (in this case bog-standard playground equipment) with some quirky features that were not fully realised.
The playground opened towards the start of the 2007 season, raising in what had formerly been a pair of animal paddocks towards the back of Old MacDonald's Farmyard. Whilst the new attraction brought a long abandoned part of the park back into use, it was not as adventurous a playground as the park had intended to install.
The original plans would have seen the Soil Albug Hall as a separate feature to the Creepy Crawlly Basharound, allowing kids to "become a conductor in the trash can symphony", suggesting that the playground would also have had musical equipment alongside the playground rides. The seating area at the heart of the playground was originally also supposed to be more elaborate with seating formed out of themed beanstalk stools.
By the start of the 2007 however There's Something in the Dung Heap opened with a much reduced line-up and more basic decoration, much of which was added over the first half of the season as the fences throughout the area were painted.
Occasionally the farm coffee cart would operate in the playground, serving drinks to parents who, rather than sitting on themed beanstalks, could take a seat on one of the picnic tables that had been reused from the old Enchanted Castle play area in Adventure Land.
What Happened Next
The attraction was met with a mixed response from guests, although the play equipment was varied and the entrance feature interesting, the rest of the attraction was poorly themed and aged badly.
It was therefore unsurprising that The Dung Heap was one of the first farm attractions to close in October 2013 as preparation got under way for the development of the new for 2014 CBeebies Land area, which saw the Dung heap transformed into the Tree Fu Tom Training Camp
But the story didn't end there... whilst The Soil Albug Hall and most of the rest of Dung Heap were ripped out to make way for the new play area, two of the original pieces of equipment were retained. The zip wire and climbing frame which were installed as part of the Cobweb Capers area of the Dung Heap could still be enjoyed as part of Tom's Leafboard Challenge in the training camp.