Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Merlin's Blackpool Attractions

Whilst we are staying at Ribby Hall we have taken advantage of the proximity to Blackpool to experience the Merlin attractions.  I had a family ticket to the Blackpool Dungeons so that I could do a review, but seeing how close the Sealife Centre, Madame Tussaud's and the other Tower Attractions were, we decided to do the 'full monty' and do them all!  When in Blackpool and all that!

It was a wet and windy day, but unperturbed we headed to the coast and made our way to Madame Tussaud's. As it was mid winter it was relatively quiet, giving us free run of all the attractions.  This was a real joy as the last time we went to Tussaud's in London we couldn't get near the models!

With areas dedicated to Pop Stars, TV shows, Coronation Street, Footballers and Sports Stars, we had a great time posing with celebrity waxworks including Ant and Dec, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and David Beckham. We experienced the Big Brother Diary Room, took part in a Bushtucker Trial, appeared on the Jeremy Kyle Show and pulled a pint in the Rovers Return.

Megan in the Diary Room
With Jamie Oliver
Little Drummer Boy!
Following takeaway chips in the rain, we went to the Sealife Centre where we loved the Pirate Themed tanks.

Pirates at Sea Life Centre!
A crab display was very impressive and we loved the seahorses.  We also had a Cleaner Shrimp manicure which was fun!  There were some great sharks in the walk through tunnel including a Guitar Shark which Ella took a shine to.  There was a soft play area to entertain Freddy on the way out, and a mini golf course which looked really good, and was in keeping with the piratey theme.
Huge Crab!
Next we went to the Dungeons!  It was our first time experiencing them and we were very excited!  Ian took Freddy to Jungle Jim's play area while I took Ella, Megan and Kizzy.  From the moment you arrive, the staff are in character and prepared to give you a terrifying experience!  Ten actor led shows tell the tale of 1000 years of Blackpool's horrible history from the Bubonic Plague to the Pendle Witch trials.

The attraction is suitable for children aged 8 and over.  Much of it is in the dark and quite creepy, but that just adds to the fun.  From torture chambers to a mirror maze to the caves of the Skippool smugglers, each location and era is brought to life by the cast of actors.  There is lots of audience participation and it is really fun to immerse yourself into dark side of history.  My eldest daughter Megan ended up locked in a Torturer's cage during the war between Lancaster and York, whilst Kizzy was accussed of being a government spy in the smugglers' cave.  All good fun.  their was some great acting performances which really gripped us as the stories were told.  Our favourites were the Torturer with his implements for ripping out tongues, chopping off appendages and hanging victims from various orifices, and the doctor's assistant who performed a gruesome autopsy during the plague.  We got ourselves lost in a scary mirror maze of horrors.  We had seriously, scary fun!

Kizzy is 9 and loved it!  My older girls also really enjoyed it, and I did too.  It was like a Horrible History book that lives and breathes around you.  I would definitely recommend it for families with older children.  Under 8s would be terrified of the dark and the intense acting performances.  It took 70 minutes to go around and the attraction culminated in a ride called Extremis: Drop of Doom.  After being sentenced to being a witch, we were 'hung' by being dropped  into the darkness below.  It was really quite awesome.  The feeling of weightlessness was incredible!  It is suitable for those above 1.2m.

While we were getting scared in the Dungeons, Ian took Freddy to Jungle Jim's Soft Play which he said was excellent.  It is huge and had lots of areas to explore and play in.  Adults can go in with their little ones, but Ian said it was hard to keep up with Fred.

Following our Dungeon experience we explored the rest of the Tower.  I had a peek in the Ballrooms but I wasn't too excited by them...I am more X Factor than Strictly!  But the decor and design of the tower was great.  It is heartwarming to see it all preserved and open for the public to explore. We ventured up to the Blackpool Tower Eye where we watched a great 4D film about the adventures of a little boy at Blackpool. The effects of the 3D was really impressive and the extra dimension of being squirted, blown and  shaken made it really entertaining for us all. From there we embarked on our own journey to the top of the Tower.  The new glass walkway gives views across Blackpool from the streets below to the horizon across the sea and beyond,  The 'skywalk' is a glass floor that gives you a feeling of walking on air.  From here you can view the Comedy Carpet, quotes from famous comedians  written on the pavement hundreds of metres below.  A spiral staircase took us up to the highest level onto an open air walkway.  The wind was so powerful and out of this world and so fierce you could lie into it.  What an experience!

The Sky-Walk
The View
We had an exhausting, but excellent time.  The Blackpool Attractions were really impressive and lived up to the high standards of Merlin!  The Big Ticket costs £39 when purchased for 3 or more people giving access to all of the seven attractions including everywhere that we visited plus the Ballroom, Jungle Jim's Play Area and Circus and is valid for 90 days from purchase.


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