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'Merlinification' of Blackpool - bring it on!
post Mar 30 2010, 3:14 PM
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Some exciting, if not unexpected, news for Blackpool :-)

Council signs up worldwide entertainment giant to run the Tower

Blackpool Council has signed up global visitor attractions operator Merlin Entertainments (Merlin) to manage the operations and redevelopment of the Blackpool Tower complex and Louis Tussauds Waxworks when it formally takes over the businesses later this year.

In an ambitious move, the Council has completed the purchase of the Blackpool Tower, Winter Gardens, the Golden Mile Centre and Louis Tussauds buildings.

The purchases have been made possible following successful bids for European and Government funding and £10m from the Council’s own budget announced today.

As part of the deal the Winter Gardens will be operated alongside Blackpool’s three landmark Piers by Crown Leisure.

Announcing details of the package, Council Leader Peter Callow said: “This is a fantastic deal for Blackpool securing long-term investment in the resort and is the culmination of months of negotiations.

He said: “The Council is ambitious for Blackpool and Merlin is absolutely the right choice. Merlin is a global company, and the biggest entertainment name in the UK and Europe, and they will be bringing some of the most iconic attractions in the world to Blackpool.”

Merlin’s existing UK portfolio includes the Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle, the Dungeons, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, and the London Eye. The company also operates the world’s largest aquarium brand – SEA LIFE, including the successful attraction on Blackpool Promenade.

The plans form part of the Council’s ambitions to create an exciting, world class leisure destination for the future and Merlin’s expertise and brands are seen as key to achieving this. As part of the deal Merlin will not only bring a thrilling new Dungeon attraction to the Blackpool Tower; but also use its experience in operating the world famous London Eye to develop the current observation platform at the top of the Tower into an exciting new ‘ Eye’ branded experience, including a 4D cinema preview show.

Additionally, the current Louis Tussauds wax attraction will be transformed into a second UK Madame Tussauds, with all the interactivity and high quality figures associated with this unique brand.

A listed building, the current restoration programme for Blackpool Tower itself will continue; and the famous Ballroom and Circus will be retained and are expected to be in great demand in the future to host a programme of exciting new events.

These investment plans could bring an extra 800,000 visitors* every year generating up to £55m more spend right across the resort (see editors note for details).

Improvements to the conference facilities at the Winter Gardens are also planned which aim to achieve a mid-tier conferencing facility designed to draw additional business tourism trips and events to the town – pulling in an estimated 250,000 visitors**.

The Council Leader added: “Merlin is just the kind of world class operator we need with the track record of running quality attractions that people visit time and again.I am grateful for Leisure Parcs for its assistance during the process and that its sister company Crown Entertainments will be continuing a presence in the town through it operation of the Winter Gardens on the Council’s behalf.” Merlin Entertainments’ Chief Executive of Merlin Nick Varney said: “This is a very innovative and ground breaking initiative by Blackpool Council, and a measure of just how seriously they take the future regeneration of the town. We are delighted to be playing a key role. From 2011 no other UK centre other than London will be able to offer visitors such a unique and broad selection of international attraction brands. In our view this will help take what is already one of the best loved and iconic seaside destinations in Europe into the premier league.

“We already have a long term association with the town through SEA LIFE, and the Tower complex provides a very exciting and unique location for several of our internationally known attraction brands. Given our experience to date, and the Council’s exciting regeneration plans, we believe that this partnership will offer significant commercial advantages for both Merlin and Blackpool; but most importantly real benefits for future visitors to the town.’

Sir Howard Bernstein, Chair of ReBlackpool, said: “This is a bold but necessary initiative which provides the best possible platform for strengthening the destination role of the town. I am confident that this will result in a significant increase in jobs and visitor numbers and will weld together all the other valuable projects and programmes which are designed to make Blackpool an attractive place to live, visit and invest. "

Craig Hemmings, Director of Leisure Parcs said: “We are extremely proud of our long association with Blackpool Tower, Winter Gardens, Louis Tussauds and The Golden Mile Centre but we recognise that these popular assets are part of Blackpool’s heritage. We have worked hard with Blackpool Council to find a deal that would allow these iconic attractions to be owned by the Town, and to be enjoyed by future generations.”

Hoteliers and businesses in Blackpool have hailed the deal saying it will put Blackpool well and truly back in the tourism spotlight for families from all over Britain.

Councillor Maxine Callow, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Regeneration said: “This is an amazing opportunity for Blackpool to really reap the benefits from having such major brands operating in our area.
“The deal will see Merlin market the Blackpool attractions across the UK and in Europe helping to raise our profile as tourist resort.”

Blackpool Council



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post Mar 30 2010, 3:56 PM
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Woo Hoo - Blackpool Tower on the AP, Madame Tussaud's replacing that dump already there, basically Merlin buys Blackpool is the headline smile.gif

I really hope that the Pleasure Beach see this as a potential competition - if Merlin start building rides.......although not on the scale of the Pleasure Beach.....they really need a kick up the backside to get their rides sorted out.

This post has been edited by meames: Mar 30 2010, 4:20 PM


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post Mar 30 2010, 5:54 PM
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QUOTE (meames @ Mar 30 2010, 4:56 PM) *
Woo Hoo - Blackpool Tower on the AP, Madame Tussaud's replacing that dump already there, basically Merlin buys Blackpool is the headline smile.gif

I really hope that the Pleasure Beach see this as a potential competition - if Merlin start building rides.......although not on the scale of the Pleasure Beach.....they really need a kick up the backside to get their rides sorted out.

I hope this proves the catalyst for the complete sale of Pleasure Beach. Parques Reunidos anyone?

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post Mar 30 2010, 6:18 PM
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Overall good news - but the blackpool dungeons? Haha. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.
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post Mar 30 2010, 10:49 PM
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No doubt first of all they will introduce a £5 parking charge ha ha ha ha.

Then each year they will up the price without actually giving people any new attractions. Food and drink will be sold out to Burger Krap and you will be able to buy fastpass tickets at £9 a pop. There will be an express elevator at £15 for people who want to reach the top of the tower quicker.

Lol. Actually I think Merlin will do a good job of running the tower, good luck to them, and yes, look out Pleasure Beach, no doubt Merlin also have their eyes on you too!
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