In the previous article, we looked at some of the most popular Merlin attractions, but now we’ll have a look at some of the smaller and more recent additions to the chain. It’s not all about the big theme parks, and busy fun-packed days. Sometimes, a simpler and more relaxed day out can be just as enjoyable. The attractions we’ll look at below are those owned by the Merlin group which allow one to just stand back and appreciate the spectacle, rather than jump head first in action.
If you live near London then the answer is obvious. The London Eye, now sponsored by Coca-Cola, as well as being owned by the Merlin group is a perfect way to spend a day. At 135 metres in height, from the very top, you get some of the best views of London, and on a clear day, you can see 40 km in all directions, so you should be able to make out the Queen’s usual residence Windsor Castle on the horizon. There are 32 capsules on the wheel, one for each London borough, although they are numbered between 1 and 33, missing out the number 13 for fear of bad luck. Found just on the South bank of the Thames, to a Londoner it may seem like a commonplace part of the landscape, but across the world, it is actually one of the most popular landmarks, seeing more visitors per year than either the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids of Giza. During this summer, the Eye is staying open later on Friday nights, to allow views in the evening and at sunset, making the experience even more special. Originally the Eye was designed for the Millennium, but it has undergone several name and ownership changes in recent years after it was sold by the government. It is considered by many as a Ferris wheel, but technically it is not, for 3 reasons: The pods are supported on the outside rather than hanging from the inside, the wheel is only supported by a frame on one side, and the capsules are enclosed, not open air.
A second popular and well-known tourist destination owned by the group is the Blackpool Tower. Inspired by the Parisian Eiffel Tower, it catches the eye immediately as you see the landscape. At 158 metres in height, visitors can ascend the tower for a wonderful view of Blackpool. Not only does this view look out on to the horizon, but also down, as the main skywalk has a glass floor. This is incredible, if somewhat terrifying to behold, as you feel almost suspended in the air by the tower. This glass is 5cm thick and can apparently hold the weight of two elephants. However, there is more to see than just the tower itself, since the building also houses several other attractions including a circus, and the renowned ballroom, as sometimes seen on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Finally, the Jurassic Skyline is a little less well-known, but offers a similar experience in Weymouth, showing the best views you can get of the Jurassic Coast. The attractions consist of a slowly rotating capsule that carries you up to the top of the tower and back down again, with 360° views for up to 26km away. Though this is a little smaller in celebrity, the experience is just as magnificent as the other two, and if you’re living or on holiday near the area, it’s definitely worth a trip!
All 3 of these attractions are very family friendly and somewhat educational, offering a great way to view and appreciate the surrounding locations in all their majesty. Though they may not be great for anyone afraid of heights, they certainly do offer an experience that won’t be quickly forgotten and are also iconic landmarks of their local areas. If you’re looking for something to do with small children or just those who don’t like fast, bumpy rides, then these are high on the list of places to visit this summer!
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