Appy days for the illuminations gang

Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer from Nickelodeon Land at the launch.
Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer from Nickelodeon Land at the launch.
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Ever heard of the Glitterball Gang? You’d be forgiven for saying no.

But these colourful characters are set to become familiar faces in Blackpool – as the latest spectacular addition to the resort’s Illuminations.

The colourful stars, ranging from tigers and elephants, to pirates, zombies and even a mermaid or two, are part of more than 40 3D holographic animations which owners of smartphones can use to experience the fun of the world’s greatest lights show.

Designer Matthew Prodger, who brought the idea to Stay Blackpool and the Illuminations team, explained the concept at a launch event. He said: “The idea is that people download a free app, called the Blackpool Experience.

“A series of orange boards with special coding will be placed along the six mile stretch of Blackpool front. You turn on the app, hold your phone in front of the board and if by magic a character will jump out and appear on your screen. The stars of the show include the Glitter Ball Gang, a group of friendly virtual kids who act as guides, providing information about the illuminations and Blackpool.”

The characters have been voiced by children from across the Fylde coast, including brothers Daniel and Nathan Straine-Francis, who play the characters of Ray and Dazzle.

Thirteen-year-old Daniel said: “A friend of mine knows the team behind the project and asked me to get involved - soon after Nathan was asked if he wanted to take part too.

“We both recorded our comments at the Blackpool Recording Studio, then they were linked to the characters.

“I think sometimes the Illuminations can be a little boring, especially walking down the Prom. But this app makes it fun and exciting.”

Richard Ryan, head of Illuminations, said the new holographs would make for a more “interactive” experience.

He added: “This application is not just something you can be part of, it is to give that bit of excitement to people too. It allows people to become part of the show, while encouraging them to get out of their car, walk part of the route and see what Blackpool has to offer.”

A free app can be downloaded from the app store or Google Play on any smartphone under the ‘Blackpool Experience’. A full pack of holographic characters or subtitled video content is available to buywith a penny donated to the NSPCC for every app sold.

A donation is also made to the Illuminations to promote the same project for next year.

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