Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Blackpool Tower Relaunch

Before we went down for the relaunch of the Blackpool Tower I spent some time asking people their thoughts on Blackpool and then more time trying to explain Blackpool to Americans.  I'd never been to Blackpool before and the best I could approximate it to in my mind was Atlantic City, but without the gambling. Twitter told me it was all stag/hen dos (bachelor/bachelorette parties) and not somewhere to visit. I honestly was just really excited to be going away with NotBlondeHusband for the first time since Blondie Boy was born so I went with an open mind.

It's quite a scenic 3 hour drive from Glasgow to Blackpool; we listened to Absolute 90's radio (which is AMAZEBALLS) and drank in the rolling green hills between Scotland and England. I won't lie--when we drove into Blackpool I was not so hopeful. Lot's of boarded up shops, sex shops and off licenses. It didn't look promising but again I kept an open mind.

I'm glad I did as the new Merlin attractions are AMAZING. We had a whistle-stop tour the night before the Tower relaunch of all the Merlin attractions and I was impressed.  First we went to Madame Tussauds. Honestly I thought it would be a bunch of so-so wax mannequins behind velvet ropes and not much else but I was wrong.

The exhibits are all interactive; you can sit on the X-Factor panel, feel Jamie Oliver's tummy rumble and even ruffle Davina's hair if you feel so inclined.

It was actually a lot of fun and I probably had a little too much fun sitting in the Diary Room pretending to bitch about house mates to Big Brother. I was shocked when I found out it was actually a real person I was talking to and not a computer! 

Next we walked a few feet next Sea Life which I think would have been Blondie Boy's favourite exhibit. There are hundreds of fish, crustaceans and more. I got to feed the Blonde Manta Rays and there were scuba divers who swam (and scratched the bellies of!) sharks. I could just imagine Blondie Boy running around saying "ooooh" and making a fishy face. It is definitely someplace that big and little kids alike would enjoy.

We were then taken from Sea Life by some very gruesome escorts from the brand new Blackpool Tower Dungeons. I will be honest this is not my sort of thing. The actors are very dedicated and enthusiastic and put on a great show. I imagine that pre-teens would absolutely love it as it's gorey, gross and a bit scary, but still PG and not frightening. NotBlondeHusband rode the ride at the end (again not my thing) and really liked it and made fun of me endlessly for not going on it. While it's not overly scary it is quite dark and claustrophobic so do be aware before you go. We had an amazing dinner in their function room (a spun sugar tower with popping candy chocolate mousse coffin!)

We had a sneak peak at the Illuminations before we headed home which I imagine look amazing when they are all lit up. It would be fun to have a stroll with a hot chocolate and take in the lights with the sounds of the sea in the background. I know Nickie has a family tradition of taking in the Illuminations together.

We stayed at the Hilton Blackpool which I have no complaints about other than there was no way to access wifi in our room. There was a broadband cable but as I'd brought my iPad that wasn't much good to me. We had a sea view from our room and breakfast was one of the largest buffet breakfast spreads I'd ever seen as well.

The next morning we set off for The Blackpool Tower which was being relaunched after a multi-million dollar makeover. We started our experience with the new 4-D movie which is a 3-D movie plus vibrations, smells, water, snow and other sensations to make it 4-D. It was actually really cool and it put you in the mood for a taste of the seaside.

We took an elevator up to the Blackpool Tower Eye attraction which was probably my favourite out of them all. There are stunning floor to ceiling views out over the sea and beyond with a new glass floor SkyWalk so you are literally looking down on the world 518 feet below.

I'm not the biggest fan of heights but I couldn't help myself from staring out and down in awe. The views are incredible and on a clear day you can see beyond the promenade out to the The Isle of Man, Manchester, and the hills of the Lake District, Scotland and Pennines. 

The Tower also contains the Circus, Ballroom and Jungle Jim's Soft Play. We didn't get stay for the Circus but I peeked in the Ballroom and it's amazing. It's all gold and you can just imagine dancers swirling around while the famous organ played a tune. NotBlondeHusband's Grandmother comes down once a year for dancing and I can't wait to tell her that the retractable ceiling has been restored and on a clear night she could dance under the stars!

All in all we had a great trip and the Merlin attractions can not be knocked. I have to say though that I think Blackpool council needs to reinvest more in the rest of the promenade. I didn't see one restaurant that wasn't a Fish & Chips shop and when I'm on holiday I'd like to have at least one semi-nice dinner. There are still a lot of rundown shops and facilities and while the new attractions are top-notch and sure to create lots of new jobs I feel more regeneration needs to be done to attract a new audience of visitors.

Our accommodation and attraction entry were paid for the purpose of  review but all opinions are our own.


Melaina25 said...

I loved Blackpool when I went 10 years ago. Yes, it's a bit cheesy - but that's exactly what's fun about it, in my opinion!! The new BP Tower sounds fab, as does the retractable ceiling in the ball room. Shame the UK doesn't have that more clear nights to take full advantage of it!! ;)

Melaina25 said...

Looks like a lot of fun.. cheesy or not!! :) And you, my lady, look like you are just getting smaller and smaller. You look marvelous.

Melaina25 said...

interesting post, I'm not too far away from there and when I lived in Lytham classed myself as a local. Nice to see through different eyes

Melaina25 said...

The new attractions were really great but it just seemed like there needed to be more regeneration inbetween them if that makes sense!