How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips)

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Blackpool is the kind of place you love or hate. It can be tacky and is a little rough around the edges but if you stick to the sea front, there is absolutely loads going on for families. I've visited with the children a handful of times now and our most recent trip was over Easter when we decided to make use of our Merlin Annual passes, spend an evening at Coral Island and soak up some traditional seaside fun. We already have a return trip planned for July - can't wait!

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips)

Where to stay and park in Blackpool

If your main visit to Blackpool is to use your Merlin Annual Pass, I'd recommend staying in the centre if possible. It's much more convenient being able to walk everywhere. We stayed at the Woodland Hotel which is just a short 5-minute walk from the Tower and in a quiet area. Our room was very basic but clean and a bargain at £47 for 5 of us. Rooms include free overnight parking, free Wifi, are en-suite and include towels/toiletries/tea and coffee making facilities.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - The Woodland Hotel
The Woodland Hotel 

If you're looking for something a little fancier, our favourite hotel in Blackpool is The Big Blue next to the Pleasure Beach. This hotel is lovely with spacious rooms (sleeping 5) and some have games consoles in them too. Breakfast is decent and it's an easy 2-mile walk into town along the prom (should take 40 minutes-ish to get to the tower) or you can catch a tram/drive in less than 10 minutes.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Big Blue Hotel
The Big Blue Blackpool 

Premier Inn also offers a number of hotels in Blackpool. We have stayed in the Premier Inn Bispham before which offers free parking and is a short tram ride along the seafront into town.  I'd recommend this one if you can find a good deal as the location is nice and quiet but it isn't long before you're in the action.

Other options include the nearby Haven Holiday Parks of Cala Gran and Marton Mere (where you can also camp) which are ideal bases for a longer break and if you're on a budget, I'd recommend looking out for the Village Hotel sale and check out Travelodge Blackpool too.

Don't have a Merlin Annual Pass? Check out the 'BIG Ticket' deal instead. This allows you to visit multiple Blackpool attractions at a discounted price.

It's also good to know that if you're a Merlin Annual Passholder, you can buy discounted Big Tickets for up to 5 friends per ticket visiting at the same time as you. Use this link to book if you're a pass holder and want to use this deal.

Parking in Blackpool can be expensive (I heard that the Pleasure Beach car park is now £18 per day). I'd look at either staying on the outskirts (with free parking) and getting the tram into town or looking for hotels or B&Bs which offer free or discounted parking. We parked in Bonny Street Car Park during our last trip which is £16 for 48 hours. This car park is super central (next to Coral Island and behind the Sealife Centre) so worth paying a little more for I think.

How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool - Day One

  • 10am - Visit Blackpool Tower Box Office and pick up circus tickets

Circus tickets are included with your Merlin Annual Pass. You can pay £5 per ticket to reserve them in advance (give them a call) but if you are there for 48 hours, I don't think this is necessary as there are usually multiple shows (check times online before your visit). Simply hand over your annual pass at the box office and you'll be given 5 circus tickets. Tickets are un-reserved but you can pay a small upgrade fee (£6.95 front row or £4.95 second row) to reserve a seat on the day and you'll receive a complimentary snack or drink too. Again, I don't think this is worth paying as every seat gives you an OK view and you can take your own snacks or drinks into the circus. It's worth getting your tickets as soon as the box office opens as they can sell out sometimes and pass holders are not guaranteed entry.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Comedy Carpet

Once you have your circus tickets, cross over to the Comedy Carpet and pick out your favourite jokes then have a quick walk along the beach before walking along to Sealife Blackpool.

  • 10:45am - Visit Sealife Blackpool

You simply need to show your annual pass at the entrance which is scanned and you gain entry to the Sealife centre. It's pretty small but still worth a look. It will take around an hour to get around if you're reading most of the signs. The Stingray pool and Shark Tunnel were our favourite areas. There are various animal talks throughout the day and usually trails you can join in with too.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Sealife Centre

  • 11:45am - Early Lunch at Sealife Blackpool Sealife

Pack a picnic to bring along to Sealife Blackpool. There's a seating area towards the end of the attraction (next to the gift shop) where you're permitted to bring your own food. It's undercover, there's lots of info to read to keep you entertained (as well as a 4D Beluga Whale pod) and there's a coffee machine if you forget to bring a flask. After lunch, walk along to Blackpool Tower Circus. Doors open at 12:15pm for the 1pm show (again - times may vary, check the showtimes on the date you're planning your visit).

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - picnic in the sealife centre

  • 12:30pm - Blackpool Tower Circus

Seating is unallocated (unless you've paid extra to sit in the first two rows) but staff will always try and sit you together. We arrived 30 minutes before the show and there were plenty of seats available. It was only when there were 10 minutes to go that staff needed to start helping people to sit together. There is no bad view here but I think it's best to sit on the side next to the circus entrance for the best seats. Bags are searched on entry (no sharp objects or glass allowed) and what I love about the circus is that you can take your own snacks and drinks in. I'd definitely recommend doing this to save some pennies. We took some just and popcorn with us.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Blackpool Tower Circus

As you wait for the circus to begin, the ringmaster tries his best to fleece you out of as much £ as possible. £2 for your face painted like a clown, £2 to buy a paper flag, £4 for circus games, flashing lights for sale, programmes for sale..... it's relentless. Either take some spending £ with you or explain to the kids beforehand how much £ they can spend.

The circus is in two parts and we just found it to be average if I'm honest. If you've seen a circus before, this one won't wow you and we were even a little bored in parts. BUT if you're visiting with a Merlin Pass, it's still worth seeing as there are funny parts and a couple of special moments too.

  • 3pm - Pop into the Blackpool Tower Ballroom for a drink

Admission to the Ballroom is included with your annual pass. You can pre-book afternoon tea but there's also a bar and it's a nice place to sit and have a drink, especially if there's some dancing taking place. Don't forget to show your pass for 20% off drinks at the bar.

  • 4pm - Visit the Blackpool Tower Dungeon (suitable for ages 8+)

We had so much fun at Blackpool Tower Dungeons. Anyone can visit but it is advised for over 8s. We had a 4yo in our group who ended up having to leave as it was too scary for her. Nobody will touch you in the dungeons but you will be plunged into darkness, characters will jump out at you and give you a scare, there are gruesome tales to listen to and some special effects too. As you walk through the dungeons you meet various characters from British history - we loved the plague doctor the best. There's a little bit of audience participation too. If your kids like horrible histories and aren't scared *too* easily, they'll love it. There is a drop ride at the end but this is only suitable for those who are over 1.4m tall but you can skip this if you wish. We did and still had a fab time. Your tour should last around 90 minutes and ends in a rather spooky pub.

  • 5:30pm - Check into hotel

After a busy day exploring Blackpool, now is a good time to check into your hotel and freshen up for the evening ahead.

  • 7pm - Night at Coral Island / Kids Eat Free (ad)

The Blackpool Tower Circus has occasional showings in the evenings but apart from that, the Merlin attractions are mostly closed. We popped over to Coral Island during our most recent visit and LOVED it. There is so much to do here from traditional arcade games to ghost trains, VR gaming and even digital bingo. Kids eat free all of the time at all of the restaurants in Coral Island so if you're on a budget, it's a good place to visit for a bite to eat. Our 3-course evening meal for 5 of us set us back £44 (excluding drinks) which we thought was pretty decent. You can read more about our trip to Coral Island here. 

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Coral Island

How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool - Day Two

  • 10am - Visit Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is our favourite Merlin attraction in Blackpool. It is SO less crowded than the one in London and there's loads of fun included. As well as posing with the stars of Doctor Who, X Factor, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Marvel and more, there's a laser maze to try, climbing wall challenge and thr opportunity to sing on the karaoke with Olly Murs - all included with entry. You can also have a pint in Coronation Street (chargeable) and if you're over 8, make your own wax hand too. With a Merlin Annual Pass you get 20% off most retail, food and drink purchases so make sure you show your card at both the pub and waxworks for your discount. We ended up making three wax hands for £16 which was excellent value and an excellent momento of our day. During our trip, there was a free trail taking place and the kids received a free Madame Tussauds medal at the end which was a nice touch.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Madame Tussauds Ant and Dec

  • 11:45am - Visit the top of the Tower

You can't come all the way to Blackpool and not visit the top of the tower. Again, you don't need to book tickets, simply show your pass on arrival. Your visit starts with an interactive 4D experience where you fly across the sky. The show builds up the anticipation of your visit and is very nostalgic. The trip up in the lift is super exciting and the views are just incredible. If you're brave enough, you can stand on the glass floor too! Eeek!

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Blackpool tower

  • 1pm - Lunch in Harry Ramsdens

Merlin Annual Passholders receive 20% discount at Harry Ramsdens in Blackpool Tower and you can't go to the seaside without fish and chips! Regular cod and chips will set you back £8.50 with your discount.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Harry Ramsdens

  • 2pm - Jungle Jims Softplay

If you have kids in your party, Jungle Jims Softplay will burn off some of their excess energy before your journey home. Admission is included with your annual pass but it can get super busy in here so be warned! Don't forget, pass holders receive 20% off food and drinks at most Merlin attractions so show your pass if you're buying coffee.

If you have time before you leave for home, I'd take a walk along the beach and the piers. Blackpool beach is lovely and clean.

Extend Your Stay?

There's loads to do in Blackpool and you could easily spend a whole week here. If you wish to extend your stay and add on a non-Merlin attraction or two, I can highly recommend the Pleasure Beach package at The Big Blue Blackpool and the Sandcastle Water Park comes highly recommended. Blackpool Zoo is also worth the drive out of town for - we visited in 2015 and really enjoyed our time there. Blackpool Illuminations run from 30 August to 3 November in 2019 and I think everyone should see the illuminations at least once.

 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips) - Nickelodeon Streak Rollercoaster

If you're looking for more tips for visiting Blackpool, make sure you check out my top tips for visiting over on Instagram here.

Looking for more Blackpool posts? Check out these reviews:
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 How To Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass (Itinerary and Tips)



  1. Sam, that was the most helpful/useful post I've read in ages - thanks so much. As we're planning a trip next month and have Merlin passes this was so great to read and I now have more of an idea of what we'll be doing! We have about 36 hours rather than 48 but hey ho - this was great! x

  2. Right so I had no idea there was so much to do in BlackPool! I wanna go to coral island, and although I hate to say it, i wanna go to the ballroom...i getting old


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