Blackpool is set to put the rest of the world in the shade when it launches a new £4m indoor illuminations attraction next spring.
Bosses flew in from Shanghai and Los Angeles to launch the ambitious plans yesterday for a light-based spectacular which is expected to attract 300,000 visitors in its first year.
International Special Attractions Ltd proposes to transform 45,000 square feet of space in Olympia at the Winter Gardens into an inter-active visitor destination celebrating the light-based traditions of Blackpool and China.
It will be the biggest indoor feature of its kind in the world, and the only one in Europe, according to its developers, who have already delivered similar schemes across the USA and in China.
A 45ft tall illuminated Blackpool Tower will be the centre-piece, along with replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A planetarium and a Chinese temple are also proposed.
John Sandford, creative director of Beverley Hills-based International Special Attractions Ltd, said: “This will be the biggest indoor lights show ever done in the world.
“We think Olympia is an under-utilised space, and we’ve never had a space that large that can accommodate what indoor Illuminations are about.
“We can come in and create any world we want.
“It is very exciting and definitely big enough to put in enough content to exceed people’s expectations, and leave them saying to their friends ‘you’ve gotta see this’”
Jon Conway, UK co-producer for the company, who spent 20 years producing shows in Blackpool, added: “This has been inspired by what Blackpool already has, and is designed to be a sister attraction to the Illuminations.
“What I hope is because it will be open all year round, it will feed everybody – the hotels, restaurants and all the other attractions that are going to work with us.
Work will begin on creating the attraction after the Showzam festival in February, with up to 50 Chinese artisans working on the designs.
The feature, to be called Illuminasia, is due to open on Good Friday, April 18 next year.
It will boast more than 450 lighting installations and create around 15 full-time year round jobs.
A three-year agreement has been signed with the council which is investing £100,000 in refurbishing Olympia in readiness for the attraction.
The council will not charge any rent but will instead take a share of the income, with all the £4m investment being made by International Special Attractions.
BATHED IN LIGHT, IN ALL WEATHERS
Visitors to Illuminasia will step into five interactive ‘worlds’ where they will be bathed in light whatever the weather outside.
On entering, they will step through a kaleidoscope tunnel taking them up to an interactive Chinese feature including a Chinese temple.
The dome at one end of Olympia will be transformed into a planetarium, before visitors walk down into a Land of the Giants with super-sized plants and flowers.
Next stop will be an undersea world before people reach the main feature – the Wonders of the World Square complete with illuminated replicas of the Statue of Liberty, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, London Bridge and a 45ft tall Blackpool Tower.
Admission is expected to cost around £12 for adults.
The capacity for the venue is around 2,000 people, with visitors taking around an hour to look round.