THE man behind the £1.3million revamp of Southend’s iconic Kursaal told how his indoor entertainment park could be extended to take over another floor of the landmark building.

The Kursaal, at the junction of Eastern Esplanade and Southchurch Avenue, reopened last month after undergoing an eagerly-anticipated makeover.

The MFA Fantasy Park is home to a string of attractions including a bowling alley, children’s play area, laser tag and a coffee shop.

Mehdi Afshar, chief executive of the MFA group, said he is thrilled with the response from residents and visitors.

He said: “It has been fantastic, it has gone really, really well.

“The thing about the Kursaal is there is something for everyone - we have got everything there now, from the function room to the sports bar and children’s play area.”

He added that the rejuvenation of the Grade II listed building will also help the surrounding area, where there are already plans for a new block of flats.

He said: “Everyone is talking about the Kursaal now.

“It will help rejuvenate the area.

“It has been so successful we are looking to do something with the first floor.

“We have got some ideas that are being discussed at the moment, but we don’t know what exactly yet.

“The first floor is a big space and currently isn’t being used.”

He wouldn’t give any more clues as to what the future may hold for the Kursaal until details are finalised.

Mr Afshar said that 60 local people have been directly employed to work at the Kursaal, with another five being employed through contract work, such as cleaners.

He said: “This is good news for the Southend area.

“Part of the building has been empty for ten years. The premises are now being used in a way to benefit the area.

“I was there the other day and I saw mothers and fathers bringing their children there to play.

“I spoke to the parents and they all said that it looked lovely and beautiful.

“The prices are very affordable as well, because if they couldn’t afford it, they wouldn’t come.

“People come back here week after week which is great to see.

“We have had nothing but positive comments about the work we have carried out.”

MFA Bowl took over the running of the struggling building and unveiled plans last year to create the Fantasy Park - the biggest refurbishment of the Kursaal in nearly two decades.

The development now boasts an amusement area and adult gaming area with an £800 jackpot and a quasar laser tag centre.

The grand entrance hall will include a large coffee shop beneath the Kursaal’s iconic dome.

There are also two function rooms - with plans in place to turn them into wedding venues - and a soft play area for children.

A diner will also offer customers snacks, as well as full meals including steak and fish and chips.

There will be tables and chairs on the balcony area so guests can make the most of the weather on sunny days.

Rock superstars played during Kursaal's heyday

THE Kursaal was one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks.

In 1894 the site was opened as a marine park and gardens by father and son duo Alfred and Bernard Wiltshire Tollhurst.

The grand entrance pavilion, called the Kursaal, followed in 1901.

The distinctive dome is designed by Campbell Sherrin, and the iconic building has featured on a Royal Mail special edition stamp.

The grounds were used by Southend United Football Club before it moved to its stadium in 1933, and were also for greyhound racing.

During the Seventies the Kursaa; made its name as Southend’s pre-eminent rock music venue, showcasing Internationally successful acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC.

The decline of the Kursaal followed, with the building closing its doors in 1986.

It was then re-opened 1998 after a multimillion-pound redevelopment by MFA, containing a bowling alley, a casino and other amusements.

The building contained a McDonalds, but the fast food chain left in 2008.
Kursaal is the German word for spa.