on April 20, 2010
Blackpool Tower opened in 1894 after being commissioned by the Blackpool Mayor after he had visited the Eifel Tower and been impressed with its design. This iconic 158m high structure is visible for 30 miles from Blackpool and when we visit the town catching sight of the tower is always a sign that we have almost arrived. Because the base of the Blackpool Tower is enclosed within a huge building, there is lots for visitors to do and see within the tower making it one of Blackpool’s most popular tourist attractions.The first thing that you come across when you enter the tower is the aquarium which was opened in the 1870s while the tower was being built. This has seen better days to be honest and is simply a square room with large tanks of fish around the walls and is rather dark and gloomy. They do have Clown Fish made famous by Finding Nemo and a few other interesting tropical fish and some very amusing turtles. Little kids seemed to love looking at the fish but there’s not much in the aquarium to keep older kids or adults happy for long.Moving up a level and you have the Jurassic walk and cinema, the walk has huge plastic dinosaurs set amongst foliage. The dinosaurs moved and roared and in one amusing scene a T-Rex was lying bleeding and being eaten by another dinosaur. We did not visit the 3D cinema showing as we did not want to wait for the next show to start but I have got a feeling that this is one that is best for little boys.The next attraction on our list was the famous Tower Ballroom. Ballroom dancing seems to have fallen out of fashion of late but in it’s heyday was a popular pastime and the TV series Come Dancing was broadcast from the tower. It was like stepping back in time the second we entered the ballroom. The room itself is simply stunning with huge crystal chandeliers, lavishly painted ceilings and all kinds of sculptures in gold on the stalls. The famous Wurlitzer organ sits on the stage and couples twirled around the room in time to the music. There is a café selling cream teas in the ballroom and also a bar so you can partake of refreshments and sit for as long as you like soaking up the atmosphere in this amazing room.Now it was time to go to the top of the tower. The only way to the top is via lifts which leave every 5 minutes during peak times and look rather ancient, I certainly would not want to get stuck in one of them! The lifts are made of glass and it is brilliant watching the view as you climb higher, you can see the innards of the tower as well as being able to see over to the sea when you get higher. There are three levels to explore once the lift reaches its destination, the first one contains the Walk of Faith which is a glass floor 380 feet up in the air with views down to the street below. The walk of faith is brilliant, intellectually you know that the glass is strong enough to hold several elephants but your instincts are screaming out that it is dangerous to walk over a glass panel and these instincts are backed up by the outline of a body with the word ouch next to it painted onto a rooftop below! I did manage to walk over the glass floor while looking straight ahead but some brave souls were sitting and lying down on the glass and enjoying the view.There are narrow staircases taking you up a further two levels. The views from the top of the tower are simply stunning and well worth the climb, unfortunately the views are shielded somewhat by the netting that surrounds each level but I suppose if the netting was not there then some people would decided to jump. You can see as far as Wales and the Isle of Man on a clear day but even looking at the proms and seafront along Blackpool is fascinating.One of the biggest attractions of the Blackpool Tower is the circus and admission is included with your entry ticket. I will admit that I hate circuses so I went and found myself a quiet café and read a book while my daughter and her friend went in and saw the show. They loved the circus which has a spectacular water finale and also included genuine monks and Mookie the clown and displays of acrobatics. The circus lasts for 2 hours and there are three shows a day.Other attractions within the tower include Jungle Jims soft play area, an exhibition celebrating Charlie Cairoli who was one of the original clowns in the circus and restaurants and amusement arcades. I enjoyed my visit to Blackpool tower and there was plenty to keep us occupied for a few hours meaning it is an ideal place to visit on a wet day. It is especially good for kids because they will love the soft play area and dinosaurs but adults will enjoy the ballroom and tower top. An adult ticket currently costs £17 with a child ticket costing £14 so it is an expensive place to visit but considering the amount of entertainment provided is fairly good value. The tower is showing considerable signs of wear in some areas like the aquarium and I read with interest that it has been bought by Merlin Entertainment in 2010 and it will be interesting to see how they change the tower over time.
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