LOPING down the rain-stippled promenade in a taxi blaring out ‘This is the Road to Hell’ you have the uncomfortable feeling the tune may have a point...
British seaside resorts in winter can have a mournful, almost desolate, feel accelerated by leaden skies and fierce winds.
But hey, this is Blackpool, Capital of Fun, and despite losing its battle to become the UK’s casino centre, still Britain’s Number One resort.
And the town’s leisure caterers are pouring money into exciting new enterprises this year to ensure it keeps its coveted place.
Leisure Parcs, for example, has announced its biggest ever single investment in Blackpool Tower, the resort’s iconic landmark.
The £3m project will be ready in March, completely redevelop Level 5 of the Tower – removing the legendary ‘Jungle Jim’s’ play area, opened in 1982 and once the biggest indoor play area of its kind in Europe.
It will be replaced by Jungle Jim’s Towering Adventureland, described by proud bosses as ‘the most innovative and interactive play scheme of its kind in the UK’.
Based on ‘The Lost City’ and sitting at the foot of two towering 6m-high Inca gods, the 2,500 square foot play area will take visitors on a memorable journey of adventure in the quest for lost treasure.
Children will travel through ancient ruins and treacherous jungle terrain, tackling a series of exciting adventures in the hope that they’ll find their very own fortune.
The glass-roofed area will include three huge ships each with separate themeing, their own characters and the capacity to host dedicated children’s parties.
The existing food court makes way for a dining area seating more than 350 which will take people back on a magical journey to years gone by.
And a number of the Tower’s architectural features, not seen by the public for more than 25 years, will be restored to their former glory, underlining the architectural significance of the 113-year-old building.
Meantime, work is driving ahead on the construction of an exciting new attraction on the famous promenade.
Adventure Golf at Flagstaff Gardens, just outside the Pleasure Beach, with its 12-hole course, features an eye-catching 21st century design, brilliant landscaping and state-of-the-art holes to entertain young and old.
Look out for the water hazard on holes six and 11, and tackle the figure-eight spectacular on hole nine – a first to the UK!
Adventure Golf – scheduled to open this month – marks almost £500,000 of investment in Pleasure Beach, following a massive £8m spend last year to bring Infusion to the park.
The course will improve the look of the area and add an exciting new attraction to Blackpool’s line-up.
And Pleasure Beach Blackpool opened last weekend for Thrill Weekends. Full details and discounted wristbands are available from: www.pleasurebeachblackpool.com as well as the latest news on Adventure Golf.
And Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre – one of my personal favourites anywhere in the UK – promises exhilarating experiences with opera, ballet, plays, comedies, musicals, contemporary drama and dance to fun children’s shows.
Just announced, to top off an already exciting and eclectic programme, are comedy legend Ken Dodd, and the welcome return of Scottish Dance Theatre with two stunning and original new works.
Other highlights include the hilarious and enlightening Mum’s The Word starring Bernie Nolan, Sarah White and Pauline Fleming, cuddly children’s favourite Rupert Bear, fabulous farce Big Bad Mouse with madcap comics Cannon and Ball and smash-hit musicals Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Hello, Dolly!.
Add to that a one-off date from fast-paced comedian Ben Elton, and fantastic family musicals Doctor Dolittle, starring the legendary Tommy Steele in February, and Fiddler On The Roof with Joe McGann in April.
And, by public demand, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns in July with BBC’s Any Dream Will Do finalist Craig Chalmers.
A specially commissioned family show, Variety of Ice, and a second visit from English National Ballet with the delightful Angelina Ballerina help the star-spangled line up.
And do you know something, as I left the resort a dazzling rainbow lit the brooding skies... perhaps this really is Blackpool’s year to tap that elusive pot of tourist gold?