Tuesday 25 August 2015

Blackpools Back!

A few weeks ago, I headed off for a weekend mini break to Blackpool with Jon and Tyne.
I was excited about our trip but nervous too - you see I had enjoyed many little holidays and day trips to Blackpool as a child and it holds such fond memories for me of days spent having donkey rides and ice creams on the beach, hours spent in the endless fun arcades, visits to the Blackpool tower and all the fun of the fair at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

But it had been at least 20 years since I had last visited, and I had heard some bad things about Blackpool since...I had assumed based on some of the negative things I'd heard over the years that Blackpool, like so many seaside resorts in the UK, had fallen into disrepute and had become more of a tacky hen-do haven full of drunk 20-somethings than the family holiday hotspot it had once been.

But we were offered the chance to enjoy an all expenses paid visit sampling the best of the many attractions Blackpool had to offer, and the more I researched the area online the more I seemed to be reading a lot of reports of how much it's improved in recent years and how hard the area was trying to shake off it's prior bad image and regain its crown as the UK's premier family holiday hotspot.

I thought it was worth a visit to see how things had changed, and so we set off on a particularly hot Friday afternoon!

We arrived at our accommodation - The Queens Apartments which were located in Burbage, a 15 minute walk from the centre of Blackpool or a short 5 minute tram ride - and were greeted by the very friendly owner who was happy to tell us all about how much Blackpool had changed since I last visited.

The accommodation was truly lovely - the apartments had everything you could need for your stay and even luxuries like a Jetstream bath! - everything was clean, spacious and modern and the location was ideal as the tram stop was just outside and they ran into the centre of Blackpool every ten minutes all day long.

There was a small amusement arcade under the apartment building which Tyne loved as a little start and end to each day, but there was no noise disturbances of an evening at all as it was closed by 9pm - the area was very quiet, you would never have guessed how close we were to Blackpool!

On Friday evening, we were treated to dinner at Tiger Bills - having visited our local branch before we knew the meal would be ok but weren't expecting much more than that - we were surprised to find that all 3 of us actually REALLY enjoyed it! We all ate from the Thai menu and the food was absolutely sensational!

We started at Madame Tussauds where we we were given our Blackpool Resort Big Tickets - the Big Tickets are great value for money as for £45.00 when bought online ( for an adult, £32.50 for a child aged 3 - 14) they give access to all of Merlin's Blackpool entertainment venues including The Blackpool Tower Eye Experience, The Tower Ballroom, The Jungle Jims play centre within the tower, the Blackpool Tower Circus, the Sealife Centre and Madame Tussauds.
For more details, visit www,blackpoolresortpass.com

I have to admit that neither Jon or I were all that keen on the idea of visiting Madame Tussauds - Jon isn't much of a fan of celebrity culture and I had visited the Amsterdam Tussauds a few years ago and been a little underwhelmed.

But we were there so we thought we might as well take a look - we were so glad that we did as all 3 of us had such a fun time!

The various rooms each had their own theme - whether it be reality TV stars, daytime TV, quiz shows, soap operas, singers or the childrens TV room which Tyne just loved - there was something for everyone!

We loved the interactive displays such as the drum kit which Tyne had a blast acting out his inner rockstar on, the photo opportunities such as the chance to sit on the judges panel on The X Factor or stick your head in a tub of bugs for a bushtucker trial in the I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here area and the fabulous Rovers Return where you could sit among the corrie star waxworks and have a proper drink!

We even got the chance to make our own wax hands, which was actually really good fun!! The feel of dipping your hand into the hot wax and feeling it set is so weird, but we both really enjoyed it!
We spent a good couple of hours at Madame Tussauds and had a really fantastic morning. Once we were finished, we headed for a look around Blackpools Central Pier which was such a throwback to my childhood as its where I went as a child and nothing has really changed at all!

We then visited what I remembered as my favourite arcade from childhood, Coral Island - it was even more fun than I remembered! Not only did it all the usual things you'd expect in an arcade such as penny falls and 50p toddler rides, it also had proper fairground rides inside, a ghost train and a mono-rail ride going all around the arcade...which is quite a size!

Tyne loved it and it was such a lovely bit of nostalgia for me seeing my own child having so much fun on all the same rides and machines I'd loved myself as a child.

After an hour or so, it was time to head to Blackpool Tower Circus - we weren't too sure what to expect as we'd never visited before, but the tower itself was so stunning inside - we were given the opportunity to take in the show from the Royal Box which was quite a treat! The surroundings were so luxurious, and we couldn't wait for the show to start!

We didn't have to wait long and we were so impressed with it! From breath taking tightrope walkers and aerial tumblers (whom I watched from behind my hands, holding my breath in fear! I'm not cut out for something so nerve wracking!) to hilarious clowns, amazing quick change acts and the incredible Wall Of Death - we were kept thoroughly entertained for the 2 hour show! The finale was really quite spectacular...I don't want to give too much away as I highly recommend that everybody goes to see it for themselves but I will just say that I never thought I'd see a Circus inside the Blackpool tower have the ability to fill with water!!

After thoroughly enjoying the show, we headed off to Harry Ramsdens for dinner - this had been arranged for us and I have to admit I was a bit worried about it being something I'd enjoy.

I'm very fussy when it comes to eating out, and I have a real aversion to plastic tablecloths and anything too "rustic"...the kind of thing you might expect at a seaside location and when you say "Harry Ramsdens fish & chips in Blackpool" to me I imagine a dingy restaurant with checkered plastic table cloths galore, bread & butter and mugs of milky tea, and loads of old people eating with their teeth on the table next to them!

Well...I could NOT have been more wrong!

Imagine my surprise when Harry Ramsdens actually turned out to be a beautiful, immaculately clean, modern & stylish restaurant complete with booths and massive bloomin' CHANDELIERS!!!
The menu was equally as impressive, offering much more besides the standard fish & chips! And the food and service were exceptional...when we return to Blackpool I will 100% be returning to Harry Ramsdens!

After filling our tummies (me with delicious fish, chips & curry sauce, Jon with pie & chips,  and Tyne with yummy macaroni cheese bites!) our day of planned activities was over...but we weren't ready to hit the hay just yet! We had a stroll around some of the shops on the main stretch, bought some traditional blackpool rock and a bucket & spade for Tyne.

He was desperate to go to the beach, and so that's exactly what we did...by now it was gone 7pm and we were almost the only people on the entire beach despite it being such a lovely sunny evening - Tyne had a blast playing with his new bucket and spade, and Jon & I enjoyed the chance to sit and chill out. The beach was so lovely and clean, and totally relaxing. I had worried that - given it was a Saturday night - we'd start to see some drunk people about, but we didn't!

After the beach we headed back to Coral Island for more rides and fun on the penny falls, we headed back to our apartment around 9pm - we caught the tram which was busy but was full of young families like us and lovely old couples - everyone was chatting to each other and there was a lovely atmosphere - my concerns about drunks and stag & hen parties completely disappeared!

The next evening, after a lovely relaxing nights sleep at our lovely apartment, we were due to head to Blackpool Zoo but Tyne was sadly feeling poorly and didn't want to go out in the rain which had now descended so we decided we'd have to leave it.

However he was feeling much better by the afternoon, so we headed off to Blackpool Pleasure Beach as planned.

I used to adore the pleasure beach as both a child and as a teenager when my best friend & I would often catch the train to Blackpool and spend the day there flirting with boys & going on rides! It certainly brought back a lot of memories of running around the haunted house trying to be cute & attractive while simultaneously being scared out of my whits!

The Pleasure Beach in some ways hadn't changed much at all...the rides I loved & remembered were still there ... the Steeplechase, The Grand National racing rollercoaster, the Derby, and my favourite The Valhalla ... but there were lots of new ones too and even the addition of the fabulous Nickelodeon Land!

Nickelodeon Land is one section of the Pleasure Beach dedicated to little childrens rides based on characters from the show - Tyne absolutely adored the Dora The Explorer World Adventure boat ride - there is also a stage within Nickelodeon land where characters come out to greet the children periodically! Tyne was delighted to get to meet SpongeBob Squarepants!

As well as Nickelodeon land there are lots of other rides across the Pleasure Beach which are great for children - including the Eddie Stobart truck ride which was a firm favourite of Tynes!

 There are also lots of rides which are great fun for families to ride together - we had a FANTASTIC time on the Derby which is similar to a carousel except its MUCH faster and more like a horse race than a simple horse ride! I was actually a little scared at the speed of it but Tyne (who rode with me) squealed with delight and shouted "Faster! Faster!" throughout!

The Alice in Wonderland ride, Ghost Train and Wallace & Gromit mini-coaster are also great fun for riding as a family.

What I really love about the Pleasure Beach is the old traditional aspects of a fairground that are there - as well as all of these fabulous rides there are gypsy fortune teller booths, the infamous Laughing Man and the doughnut stalls and candy floss stands - it feels like an old fashioned day, traditional day out despite the state of the art rides and thrilling roller coasters!

We had such a fantastic day here - we have taken Tyne recently to many large and expensive theme parks such as Drayton Manor, Peppa Pig World and even Alton Towers and I can honestly say that we all had FAR more fun at Blackpool Pleasure Beach than we did at any of these places which cost double the entrance fee! I can't recommend it enough!

Once our time at the Pleasure Beach came to an end, it was time to head home.

It felt like we had fit SO much into our weekend, and we thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it - but yet there was STILL so much left in Blackpool that we wanted to do - I wanted to see The Hot Ice Show which I remember loving as a child, Jon wanted to visit the Sealife Centre, Tyne wanted to visit the Jungle Jims play centre in Blackpool Tower & ride in one of the lovely horse-drawn carriages along the promenade and I would have loved to see the Blackpool Tower Ballroom...there is simply SO much to do in Blackpool that there wasn't time to fit it all in to a weekend!

We left feeling so thankful for such a wonderful weekend full of wonderful memories, but busy making plans to come back again soon...we've already said that we will come back for a 3 or 4 day break next time as we really feel that there is enough to do in Blackpool to warrant a full holiday rather than a weekend!

I am so very glad that I went back to Blackpool to see for myself how wonderful it is - it well & truly lived up to and beyond my memories of it from my childhood and I'm so pleased that my own child will have the same fantastic memories - what a truly wonderful family destination!
Blackpool is well & truly back!

To find out more for yourself, please visit www.visitblackpool.com


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