Blackpool is set for take off with the biggest single tourism investment for more than a century and an attraction set to have the biggest impact since the Big One.
The former Central Station site is to become a £300m “world class” visitor attraction featuring the UK’s first “flying theatre”.
The site has been ripe for development since the closure of Central Station in 1964 and has been the focus of several high-profile schemes, such as the Supercasino and Snowdome which later came to nothing.
Now a four phase development has been agreed, called Blackpool Central, featuring the 4D immersive thrill ride with a mystical fantasy theme, which allows people to feel like they are flying through fantastic landscapes.
It will be similar to the popular Soarin’ and Avatar attractions at Disney World in the USA – and unlike anything currently on offer in this country.
The people behind the development, UK-based development firm Nikal Lts and Media Invest Entertainment of Austria, say it will attract an extra 600,000 visitors to the resort with an estimated spend of £75m and create 1,000 new jobs.
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Norbert Reichart is the chief executive of the Austrian company and is the mastermind behind the theme of the attraction.
It will be inspired by the 1970s book phenomenon The Chariots of the Gods from Swiss author Erich Von Daniken which explores the mysteries of ancient earth civilisations and possible links to off-world alien cultures.
Today, leader of Blackpool Council Simon Blackburn described the Blackpool Central project as a potential “game changer”, creating a first-class leisure destination in the heart of the resort.
The scheme will also feature a raft of indoor attractions including a hi-tech virtual reality attraction, an ‘adventure land’ family entertainment centre with climbing and rope courses, an ‘alien diner’ featuring meals delivered by rollercoaster, an open air entertainments space and an artisan market.
Also planned later are two hotels, apartments, further food and drink outlets and possibly a music venue and nightclub.
Nick Payne, managing director of Nikal, said: “Blackpool Central is a hugely important project for the town and the region and it is an honour to be on board.
“It has taken almost two years and a lot of hard work to get to this point.
“We know that the masterplan maximises the site’s potential and will deliver a unique and ground-breaking entertainment destination with global appeal that will revitalise and underpin Blackpool’s growth and regeneration.”
Before any work can begin, a replacement for the huge car park area must be created.
‘Phase zero’ of the project will involve a multi-storey car park being built for 1,000 cars with room elsewhere for another 300. That will pave the way for work to begin on the first of the attractions.