Feature: The Granada Studios Tour

If you don’t hail from the United Kingdom, you may have never heard of Granada Studios. The reality is, the Studios, based on Quay Street in the city of Manchester, are the oldest working production studios in the United Kingdom. Home to shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, Countdown, Take Me Out and perhaps most famously, Coronation Street, the studio has been operating since the 1960’s.

If you aren’t familiar with Coronation Street either, it is the longest running Soap Opera in the World, and a British institution. In the 1980’s, Granada TV decided that opening their backlot and soundstages, particularly the Coronation Street set, would add an extra revenue stream to the somewhat underdeveloped studios.

And thus, the Granada Studio Tour was born in 1988, and exceeded visitor forecasts in its first few years of operation. Following the same formula as bigger and better financed studio parks, such as Universal Studios Hollywood, the Park featured rides and attractions that were unparalleled in their setup and execution. It could be argued that the UK has a decidedly average and linear theme park market, and the Studio Tour offered an attraction unlike any seen before.

It quickly became a tourist mecca for the North West of England, and the City of Manchester in particular, and continued to exceed visitor projections. The entrance to the Park contained a New York, Times Square style series of facades, with actors playing New York City Police Officers, and was accented with authentic New York taxi cabs and other vehicles.

The Motion Master attraction, a motion simulator ride, set to the movies Aliens and Robocop on an alternating basis, and a 3-D cinema rounded out the entrance area. Live shows were performed throughout the day, and an extremely popular and critically successful House of Commons attraction, where guests would watch a spoof debate in a replica of the British House of Commons, was one of the many unique draws for potential visitors to the Park.

A backlot tram ride, taking visitors down a recreation of Baker Street from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, culminated in the tram being stopped at a recreation of Checkpoint Charlie, where the tram was boarded by actors portraying German military officers, who would interrogate guests aboard the tram.