A ticket to the top...

Blackpool Tower 'Renovations / development'Artist's impression
Blackpool Tower 'Renovations / development'Artist's impression
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THE Gazette can reveal for the first time the new look Blackpool Tower.

The detailed plans of leisure operator Merlin Entertainment’s seven Blackpool attractions are set to go on public display.

Blackpool Tower 'Renovations / development'Artist's impression

Blackpool Tower 'Renovations / development'Artist's impression

And Gazette readers are now being given a chance to see the exciting plans for the transformation of Blackpool Tower ahead of the exhibition.

The Council’s Customer First Centre in Corporation Street is the location for an exhibition which explains stage by stage how the town’s iconic Grade I listed building is being regenerated in a £25m project.

The extensive two-phase Tower development programme is well under way.

The first phase will see free access to the refurbished main areas, and the reopening of the observation deck at the top of the Tower. The Blackpool Tower Eye is promised to improve the viewing experience and incorporates both a new open glass Tower Top plus a 4D pre-show.

In addition, the Blackpool Tower Dungeon will reflect some of the more grisly elements of UK and North West history. Last but not least will be the first new restaurant facilities.

The second phase will see ongoing restoration of main areas including the ballroom, circus and other heritage areas, plus more shopping and restaurant facilities.

Coun Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration, said: “Restoring the Tower is a real challenge as it’s important we bring it into the 21st century with world-class attractions but we also need to highlight the wonderful architectural features which it’s famous for.

“I hope people will think we’ve developed the right mix of old and new with these plans.”

Other major work means the old aquarium has already made way for work to start on the Blackpool Dungeons, but as the world’s biggest aquarium operator Merlin has been able to ensure that all the creatures from there are already settled into their new homes at their Sea Life centres.

Maintenance is also about to begin on the Ballroom, Jungle Jims and the Circus. The Blackpool Tower Dungeon is scheduled to open in September; while the new 4D Tower experience and Blackpool Tower Eye will open towards the end of 2011 and early 2012.

Iain Hawkins, head of Merlin’s Blackpool attractions, said: “It’s a challenging but exciting schedule, particularly as we have committed to keep the Tower open throughout.”

“Driving down the M55 you can see the Tower and drive straight to it. It’s a great way to market the attractions,” he said. Visitors will also be able to pay for each individually, rather than the one-off entrance price for all of the attractions in the Tower.

Claire Smith from StayBlackpool said: “We are so excited on every level about the new attractions and the old features which are being restored. I can’t see how these plans would ever fail.”