Leah McLaren gets to relive her youth with a trip up north to sample the delights of the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Tower and the famous but regenerated seafront
I’m drifting to sleep in my boutique hotel room with the balcony doors open and being gently rocked to sleep by the lapping of the waves outside. Yep – you guessed it, I’m in Blackpool!
Getting excited about seeing the sea, as we Brits do, I was driving towards the seafront and was stunned by the giant sparkling sculpture of a disco ball standing proudly on the promenade. I couldn’t help but grin, I was back.
Finding the Number One South Beach Hotel was easy enough, tucked away on the seafront at the end of the South Promenade.
I was greeted by a welcoming young lady who showed me to my room which had a vibrant flock pink theme throughout and she showed me all the mod cons in the room – whirlpool bath, remote control lights, TV in the bathroom and opening doors with a sea view.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies and surprisingly low wind levels, so I couldn’t wait to get out.
I used to come here every year as a child for the illuminations and I’d hang out of my dad’s Saab sunroof taking in the glitzy sights of the three-mile stretch of lights. Illuminations started this year on August 29 and run until November 2.
Blackpool has a special place in my heart and this is the reason I decided to come back and see it, new and improved.
First things first – a spot of mini golf and a cone of chips on the seafront. The sun was beaming and the promenade was packed with families enjoying the many activities Blackpool has to offer.
My next stop was the biggest arcade I could find and get my stash of two pence pieces so I could relive my youth on the slot machines.
To my amazement, when I won 14p and a plastic pirate ring, which got stuck, I joked with an attendant to see if he could retrieve my prize and to my amusement he did it quite seriously.
My first night I was booked in to see the Hot Ice show, famous for its ice skating professionals.
It was a good show and well worth the 90 minutes but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them as it was a poor show in the audience for a Friday night.
The next morning I stocked up on a hearty breakfast in the hotel ready for the big day ahead.
Standing at the bottom of the Big Dipper, It was like being transported in time. I remember this giant rollercoaster looming over my dad and I as he told me we were both going on it and I wasn’t to be a wimp.
The memory of my dad throwing his arms in the air on the petrifying drop has never gone, I think I was sobbing and my dad was a hero in my eyes. I was genuinely excited to get back on the Pleasure Beach and experience the Big Dipper again. So, you can imagine my disappointment when the ticket desk told me the Big Dipper wasn’t running because of the high winds.
I still managed to thoroughly enjoy getting whiplash on the very rickety runaway mouse ride.
There’s no doubt that the Pleasure Beach has really been cleaned up but I’ve never been one for queuing at theme parks and sadly it put me off staying for more than a couple of hours.
Then it was on to the brilliant Sea Life Centre followed by an evening of Mamma Mia! at Blackpool’s Opera House.
I wasn’t a fan of the film and I wasn’t convinced about seeing the show but it was by far my highlight of the trip. The cast was fantastic and the packed out audience we’re singing and dancing their hearts out to Abba, including the 86-year-old lady next to me.
The show is on in Blackpool for the whole summer, which is the first for 10 years.
On my final day I hopped on the tram down to the Blackpool Tower. The trams are so easy to use and cheap; you can get around on an all-day pass for £4.50.
My first stop was the Ballroom. Famous for its dancing and worldwide competitions I was amazed to see the exquisite room full of couples already dancing by 10am. I spent some time watching the different couples taking part and it was amusing to watch as some took it much more seriously than others as they marched their partners off the floor after an unnoticeable mistake.
Up a flight of stairs and you’re on your way to the lift and skywalk at the top of the tower.
I’d never been to the top as a child and I was looking forward to seeing the views but sadly, again, the weather interfered.
I was told that I could come back within 90 days to try again.
I was trying out the Blackpool Resort Pass which offers visitor’s access to up to six of the resort’s attractions with discounts.
This is great if you’re looking to get round as many attractions as possible, but it’s not ideal if you have come from afar and you can’t take advantage of all of them due to the weather. You can certainly see the effects of the multi million pound regeneration, especially with the sweeping sea wall featuring Spanish-style Steps, which provide new sea defences.
Blackpool isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there is something for everyone!
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