Saturday, 10 August 2013

Visit Blackpool Ambassador Review: Blackpool Rocks

A few months ago I was very lucky to be announced as an official Visit Blackpool Ambassador after entering this competition run by Tots100 in conjunction with Visit Blackpool.  Our prize was an all expenses paid weekend to Blackpool and from the moment we found out we had won we were all so excited to go on our trip, the kids and I had never been to Blackpool and the OH had only visited once or twice as a kid.
From the moment we arrived I knew our weekend was going to be action packed, there was so much to do and see - and that was just as we were driving down the street to our hotel!
We stayed at The Fylde Hotel, a wonderful hotel run by a lovely lady called Vicky and her parents.  Vicky is definitely one of Blackpool's gems, she is so welcoming and friendly.  We loved the hotel immediately as it actually had a room that catered for us as a family of 6, and we appreciate how rare that is.  There was a snug with a Wii and plenty of toys the kids were welcome to play in, it was just unfortunate we were so busy all weekend we didn't get to spend more time there really. 
Vicky has 3 cats, Roger was our favourite...he was often curled up on the chair on the porch.

Vickys Mum's breakfast was AWESOME and we stuffed ourselves silly both mornings!  There was plenty of choice for the kids too - Alfie had porridge and Grace had Weetabix, the elder 2 joined us in cooked breakfasts.
On Friday evening we were treated to a gorgeous meal at Michael Wans Mandarin, which is a Chinese restaurant in the centre of town.  As far as I am concerned the Visit Blackpool team could not have made a better choice in restaurant as I LOVE Chinese is my most favourite cuisine and always my choice if I get to pick our restaurant on date night.  The food at Mandarin was exceptional and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  We chose a mixed platter starter, Aromatic Duck and main dishes too therefore there was plenty for me to base this opinion on.  The staff were friendly and attentive and they also had a kids menu which was fab, it actually surprised me how many kids were in the restaurant and we definitely didn't feel out of place with our 4. 

As part of the prize we were each given a Blackpool Resort Pass and this allowed us to visit each of the following attractions once during our stay:
Madame Tussauds
 The Blackpool Tower Eye
The Blackpool Tower Dungeon
Blackpool Zoo
Sealife Blackpool
The Sandcastle Waterpark
Blackpool Model Village & Gardens
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Nickelodeon Land at the Pleasure Beach
When we arrived on Friday morning we decided to head straight to the Sandcastle Water Park, it boasts and amazing 18 water slides and the kids were in their element.  Unfortunately Chloe was the only one of the children to be big enough to go on the big rides, but she and my OH had a wonderful time doing so.  The queues were huge for most of the rides, which was a bit annoying, however I guess the summer holidays will be one of their busiest times. It was absolutely awesome though and now our local swimming pool looks paltry!

On Saturday we decided to go to the Pleasure Beach, and this is definitely the attraction the kids were looking forward to the most.  For some reason I wasn't expecting the park to be as big as it was, I was very impressed with it as it was very clean and tidy and the queuing times for the rides were nowhere near as long as in many of the theme parks we have visited.  I also liked how there were lots of rides that the little ones could go on with us.
The Nickeloden Land part of the Pleasure Beach was awesome and the kids loved meeting some of their favourite TV characters and they really enjoyed the SpongeBob water squirter ride.


The park had lots of attractive areas to eat and relax in and the kids loved playing in the water fountains, we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather that day.

My favourite ride was the Nickelodeon Streak and the kids enjoyed Valhalla, which is an absolutely superb water ride that takes you on a journey like you have never experienced before.

On Saturday evening we went to see the amazing Hot Ice show in the Pleasure Beach Arena.  Hot Ice is a long running live ice skating show that is great entertainment for the whole family, we all really enjoyed it but unfortunately I couldn't take my camera into the performance so wasn't able to take any pictures.
On Sunday, after another amazing breakfast, we decided to visit the tower, the Sealife Centre and Madame Tussauds.  Blackpool Tower Eye, as it's now called, was probably the highlight of my weekend.  When you first enter the tower you get taken into a movie theatre to watch a 4D film and it was brilliant...the smells and the music combined with the video playing out infront of you just set you up for such a magical experience.  Once we reached the top of the tower Alfie was very brave and stepped onto the skywalk, unlike me!

When we visited the Sealife Centre I wasn't as impressed with as some that I have visited previously, I thought it was very small and had a really limited amount of sealife, I don't think I would visit again.  However, Madame Tussauds was fab!  We had a great few hours posing with all the characters and having a laugh...the kids especially liked the Spiderman wall where they had their photos taken - there's lots of opportunities to have your photo taken in Blackpool!

Alfie and Grace even got their faces painted for free at Tussauds!

On Sunday morning before we set off for home we went for a lovely ride in a horse and cart down to the Central Pier and spent a good few hours on the rides and in the arcades, the kids were in their element with their bags full of 2p's.  I also managed to fit in a crafty visit to Pandora in the shopping centre in town (tut tut).  We were all sad to leave when we couldn't put off the inevitable any longer and we had to start making our way home.
We were so busy all weekend but we didn't have a chance to visit Blackpool Zoo, the Model Village and Gardens or the Dungeon. I would have definitely liked to visit those attractions though.  Our next trip to Blackpool is already in the planning as I'd love to go back and see the infamous lights, maybe we can visit them then.
If you haven't been to Blackpool before I am going to try and sum it up as simply as I can:
Yes, it is slightly old fashioned. Yes, there are donkeys on the beach and "Kiss Me Quick" hats on every corner.  Yes, Gypsy Rose Lee will read your palm if you so wish.  Yes, you can hook a duck for a cuddly toy on the pier and you certainly will lose count of dodgy looking B&B's with "We Have Vacancies" signs in the windows...however if you're looking for an action packed UK break Blackpool has something for everyone.  From budget breaks to 5 star luxury hotels, it has it covered. Fancy chips in newspaper? Fine.  Want a great sit down can do that too.  Kids, parents, grandparents, singles and couples can all fall in love with Blackpool...a huge slice of fun in a country continually immersed in misery and negativity. 
What more could you ask for?

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who helped make our weekend so fabulous...The Fylde Hotel, Mandarin, Tots100 and of course the marketing team at Visit all rock too.
Disclosure: We received this all expenses paid trip as a competition prize, however all opinions are unbiased and our own.


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