AMAZING, awesome and fantastic – that was the reaction as the top of Blackpool Tower re-opened after a multi-million pound refurbishment.
Residents and visitors queued to be the first to sample the new glass floor-to-ceiling observation deck following nine months of work to restore the iconic landmark.
A stunning 4D cinema experience preceeded the trip up the Tower affording panoramic views over the Irish Sea.
The transformation of the Grade I listed building, which also includes the new Blackpool Tower Dungeon, was made possible following last year’s £40m purchase of the Tower and the Winter Gardens by the council.
An additional £5.5m council loan enabled operator Merlin to fast track the re-opening of the Tower Eye.
Merlin chief executive Nick Varney described it as a landmark day for Blackpool.
He said: “While there is still more work to be done, The Tower itself looks fantastic and has been restored with a great deal of skill and care.
“Blackpool can rightly lay claim to being the entertainment capital not just of the UK, but Europe.”
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism on Blackpool Council, said: “Outside of London there is no other resort that offers visitors such a unique and broad selection of international attraction brands.
“What has been achieved is truly spectacular.”
Tower general manager Kate Shane said 5,500 customers were expected through the Tower Eye over the first weekend of opening.
She said: “We want to get Britain to the top of The Tower and get this on the map.
“If you’ve been to the London Eye then come to Blackpool – ours is better.”
Kenny Mew, 32, operations manager for the Blackpool Tower Eye, has worked at the attraction for 16 years.
He said: “You only have to look around to see the work that has gone on and when you get to the Eye and see the skywalk, it is awesome.”
The Hill family were among the first visitors to step out on the new skywalk at the top of the Tower.
Victoria Hill, 41, from Layton, and her children Joshua, 12, and Jessica, eight, were joined by her brother Anthony, 38, from Kirkham, and his son Oliver, 13.
Victoria said: “When you walk out of the lift, it’s a case of wow, it’s amazing! It will definitely be great for families.”
Anthony said: “It’s fantastic and I think it will bring a lot more families into Blackpool. We’re very lucky to be among the first up.”
Holidaymakers were also impressed.
Ramchandra Shastri, from London, said: “I’ve recently been up the Eiffel Tower and this compares very well.
“Although it is not as high, the views over the sea are beautiful.”
Karen Cooke, from Blackburn, who was visiting with her son Kacee, seven, said: “It is totally transformed from when I was last here.”
Anne Stagg, from Chorley, added; “It’s the first time I’ve been up the Tower, I didn’t think I would be able to walk over the glass on the skywalk because it’s very scary.”