A new £2.3m attraction based round a popular children’s character is set to open on Blackpool Promenade next summer after council chiefs gave the go ahead to the deal.
Merlin, which already operates Blackpool Tower, the Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds in the resort, is set to transform part of the council-owned Golden Mile Centre into the new attraction.
Precise details of the scheme are being kept under wraps while property rights are agreed – but it is set to be an exclusive brand to Blackpool when it first opens.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “Merlin Entertainments already successfully operate a number of internationally known brands in Blackpool and I’ve no doubt that this new attraction will be equally as popular.”
The Golden Mile Centre
Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin Entertainments, added: “At Merlin we have some exciting global partnerships that we will be announcing in the coming months, which will firmly support Blackpool’s overall ambition to be the UK’s number one family seaside resort.
“By adding more globally recognised brands, delivered with Merlin’s world class guest experience, we know this will provide compelling new reasons for visitors to come to Blackpool.”
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, also welcomed the investment.
She said: “Merlin is known for its quality attractions which are open year round, and a serious amount of money is being put into this, so it is great news for Blackpool.
“It is aimed at the youngest children who are the market of the future – if we can get them here enjoying themselves at that age, they will then progress onto the Pleasure Beach rides and other Merlin attractions.”
Redevelopment, which has been approved by the council’s executive, will be of the south end of the site on the ground floor between Golden Mile Amusements and Funland.
The building is currently occupied by Graffiti Golf with a number of stalls at the front of the premises.
Their leases are due to expire at the beginning of November and will not be renewed.
Alan Cavill, director of communications and regeneration at Blackpool Council, said the new attraction would be aimed at children aged under seven, and would be “based around a popular children’s character.”
He said when the council went out to tender for a new operator for the Golden Mile Centre last year, it was to seek “a world class attraction.”
He added: “This will be something completely new for Blackpool and will be aimed at the younger age group.”
The council will fund the £2.3m cost of the scheme by lending the money to Merlin, which will repay the money out of revenue from the attraction, before moving onto a profit sharing scheme with the council.
The council bought the Golden Mile Centre in 2010 as part of a £40m deal which also included the Tower and the Winter Gardens.
Since then Merlin has worked with the council to operate the Tower and other attractions including Madame Tussauds and the Blackpool Dungeons.
Investment currently underway on Central Promenade also includes the construction of the Sands Resort Hotel which will include the council-backed Showtown museum, while the £300m Blackpool Central leisure development has also just received planning permission.
Coun Williams said: “It is vitally important that Blackpool continues to develop and offer visitors new and different reasons to visit.
“Any new attraction will help the local economy in terms of job creation and increased visitor numbers so should be welcome news for local residents as well.
Ms Shane added: “We are delighted to further evolve our strategic relationship with Blackpool Council by adding even more reasons to visit to our already strong Blackpool cluster of attractions.
“The local community are at the very heart of these strategic plans, with the goal to deliver further jobs and economic benefit to both the town and the wider region.”