At the beginning of September I went to Blackpool for the weekend, from Friday to Monday. It was an illuminating experience!
I stayed in the New Mayfair Hotel run by Safehands Holidays, which I saw at Naidex. The Mayfair hotel is specifically designed for disabled people with 43 spacious accessible rooms with profile beds, accessible wardrobes and some with ceiling hoists. They also offer care support which we took advantage of or one hour every morning. I went with my carer but one of the staff came in to help get me up in the morning.
There is a lot to see in Blackpool. On the Friday that I arrived they switched on the Blackpool illuminations, which they are famous for. I didn’t know they were going to switch it on that day until I arrived, so it was good timing that I arrived when I did!
Near the Blackpool Tower they have a party with music at the switch on but you need to buy tickets and I didn’t manage to get any. I did see them turn the lights on from a distance though. To be honest you don’t need to be right up close to the switch on as the lights run all the way down the promenade which is 1.6 miles long.
There were various art installations along the promenade including the world’s largest mirrorball, containing 45,000 mirrors. Coloured spotlights were shined on it and the result was extremely cool, and quite trippy.
Blackpool is home to the UK’s largest indoor waterpark, and I went there on the Saturday. I was very impressed looking at this place on the website because they have a lot of information about disabled access. They have an accessible changing room with a ceiling hoist and changing bed. They have shower chairs that can roll straight into the pools so you don’t need hoisting to get into the water. Check out this video:
It was very busy though and there were a lot of screaming kids, which was a shame. I wanted to go during the week and when the kids had gone back to school so it would be quieter. However, the Mayfair hotel only allow you to book for the weekend or a whole week, not for a few days during the week.
The waterpark had a big wave pool and a normal pool and I went in both of them. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any inflatable rubber rings which I usually use when I go swimming. They only had foam bendy float things which I didn’t find very comfortable, so couldn’t stay in there for more than 20 minutes at a time.
There were 18 slides there but I couldn’t use them as I would need to be lifted onto an inflatable and be able to hold on to some handles. This was disappointing as the slides were probably the most interesting bit about the waterpark.
They did have a spa as well. I went in the sauna and steam rooms, and afterwards had a cold shower which was a shock to the system!
This is an icon of Blackpool and a must see if you visit Blackpool. The tower stands at 519 feet tall and was modelled on the Eiffel tower. It has an observation deck 380 feet high with a glass floor that you can stand on to look down. I admit I felt really uncomfortable sitting on top of it, as you might be able to tell from this photo!
Around the outside of the observation deck there are smaller windows but unfortunately they are too high for me to be able to see out. This was the view from my eye level:
Illuminasia is a walk-through exhibition of sculptures built in the style of Chinese lanterns. It is absolutely stunning, and apparently it is the biggest display of indoor illuminations in the world. The sculptures are laid out in a number of different themed zones such as ancient China, the deep sea and giant insects.
All of the sculptures are internally lit, many were much taller than the average person and are in vividly bright colours, so it really is amazing. The whole thing is fully wheelchair accessible too, so I can’t rate this experience highly enough.
Apparently it took 55 Chinese Artisans three months to make it all. The photos don’t do it justice though, it’s even more astonishing to see it in real life.
If you only do one thing in Blackpool come and see this exhibition. Seriously.
Ken Webster XXX hypnotist show
On the Saturday night I went to see an X-rated hypnotist show at Blackpool’s pleasure Beach. Yes, I said X-rated. The hypnotist Ken Webster hypnotised four volunteers and got them to do some very funny and dodgy things. For example, he told one girl that whenever she sat down she would have an orgasm, and it was funny watching her facial expression whenever she sat down!
He also told some of the volunteers that whenever they put on a pair of glasses they would see everyone naked. He convinced them they were going on holiday to Spain, made them dance whenever music came on and all sorts of other funny stuff. It was very entertaining!
Finally I have to give a mention to the illuminations themselves. These are over 10 km long and consisted of about 1 million light bulbs. The lights are attached to lampposts and hang over the road all the way down the promenade. Many of the attractions are also lit up such as the Blackpool Tower, so it looks great in the dark. There are special heritage trams that do tours of the illuminations. These are in different shapes and also covered in lights. There is a rocket tram, a trawler and a wild West tram. I went on the rocket tram which was a good way to see all the lights. It had a lift for wheelchairs to get up into the carriage which was great considering it was an old tram. The illuminations are only on until 6 November so go and see them before then.
Overall Blackpool was a great place to visit with lots to see and do. I didn’t see everything, so it will be nice to go back again. There are also places like the Sea life Centre, Madame Tussaud’s and the Blackpool Tower dungeon to see. Wheelchair access was great. It is possible to walk down the whole of the promenade but you can also use the trams. All the attractions are wheelchair accessible and even the hotel was great. Well worth a visit!