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"Business mistake" sees dino park memberships go extinct

Thursday 17 January 2019

"Business mistake" sees dino park memberships go extinct

Thursday 17 January 2019

Tamba Park's owner has denied that greed drove his decision to cancel all memberships, arguing that the deals were a "business mistake" that did not generate enough money to cover the dinosaur attraction's ongoing costs.

In a move described as essential to the "survival of the park", Jonathan Ruff announced in an email that all existing memberships will expire at the end of January and promised that they will be refunded.

From 1 February, previous membership holders will instead have to pay an entrance fee, with children under two going free.

This will include the use of the trampolines, boats and crazy golf that were previously subject to an extra charge, even with a membership.

The news comes nearly six months after the Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, rejected plans to build a 27-unit luxury holiday village, and a four-bedroom house at Tamba Park, over concerns they would seriously "harm the landscape and character of the area."

Explaining his decision, which he said was "not an easy one to make" but the right one “for the future of the park”, Mr Ruff said he wanted to continue improving Tamba Park. "We want to invest continually into the Park adding new attractions. We want to change existing attractions to keep the park fresh and magical,” he said.

Mr Ruff said that the current membership, which costs £120 a year for a family of up to five, was “too cheap” and did not generate “enough revenue to justify continual invest (sic) into the park".

“This was a mistake on our part when we opened as we should have made the membership more expensive on day one," Mr Ruff explained, adding: "We cannot undo our mistakes, we can only correct them and we are doing this by ending the memberships."


Pictured: Jonathan Ruff, the owner of Tamba Park, said memberships were cancelled to "ensure the survival of the park."

"We hope you can see the positive in this change and we look forward to welcoming you all at Tamba Park again,” Mr Ruff signed off his email. However, the announcement was met with mixed feelings.

Some members agreed with the decision, like Carey Duffy who said she will continue to support the park, because of “all those vulnerable children Ruff’s kitchen is feeding on a daily basis." Anna Brehaut said the prices were not “overly expensive," while Tobias Gosselin described them as “excellent value, unlike everything else in Jersey.” 

Some families shared their outrage on Tamba Park’s Facebook page and on local business appreciation groups. Natasha Dorey described the move as "pretty diabolical," explaining that on a rainy day it wouldn't be worth the money, due to some attractions being closed.

"Why would an over 2 be the same price when I highly doubt they’d be using the trampoline crazy golf etc... just becoming greedy," she added.

Following the backlash of public opinion, Mr Ruff published further information on park's Facebook page. He denied being "greedy", explaining he does not profit from Tamba Park, which funds his charity Ruff's Kitchens.

"Tamba Park is a very expensive business to operate," he wrote, adding that it cost £12,000 a year "to keep the dinos alive", with electricity costs at £3,000 a month, on top of "eye watering" insurance costs, as well as staff wages and repair costs. 

Mr Ruff said he was making the changes to "ensure the survival of the park," adding that there are plans to create "a huge new indoor soft play area for all ages, move and revamp the dino trail making it more exciting and interactive, building an entertainment stage for live acts and entertainment, creating dedicated party areas," as well as refreshing and updating the existing equipment.

Pictured: Mr Ruff said "keeping the dinos alive" costs £12,000 a year in electricity alone.

He also explained that while the decision to cancel memberships was preferred over an increase of their price - "If we were to have done this the increase would have been significant in the region of £120 per person," he wrote - there is a possibility they might make a comeback.

"We will look at introducing a new membership system once we have implemented the changes we plan to make at the park."

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