Merlin Entertainments has announced plans to create its first ever attraction in Canada, in a $12 million investment to bring LEGOLAND Discovery Centre to Toronto’s Vaughan Mills. The new attraction will open in spring 2013 at one of Greater Toronto’s most popular shopping and entertainment destinations; Merlin Entertainments is the world’s second largest attractions operator and Vaughan Mills is owned and operated by Ivanhoé Cambridge.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is aimed at families with young children and will offer an interactive indoor educational experience for kids aged between 3-10 years old. The attraction will include play areas such as a brick pool, Lego rides, a 4D cinema and ‘master classes’ from the Lego Master Model Builder. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is based on the hugely popular Lego brick which has remained a firm favourite with kids for many years.
There will also be special party rooms which will be available for birthdays and other celebrations, as well as a ‘Miniland’ exhibit, a different version of which can also be found at every LDC and LEGOLAND Resort Theme Park.
Related: Merlin Entertainments’ Glenn Earlam on “Brands with Unlimited Potential” / Merlin Entertainments’ John Jakobsen on the Rise and Rise of Legoland / Merlin Entertainment’s mark Fisher, MD, Theme Parks / Merlin Entertainments 2011 Financial Results: Double Digit Growth and International Expansion
The construction of this latest LEGOLAND Discovery Centre emphasises Merlin’s “aggressive global growth plan” in which Canada is the 21st country where the company has attractions. Merlin is undertaking “significant development” in key cities throughout North America and will open 6 new attractions in 2012 alone, including 4 in the USA.
Merlin will also continue to invest in its existing entertainment facilities and improve customer services across its current portfolio of 90 attractions.
“The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre concept is already successful in both Europe and the USA, and I know people will love it here in Canada, which is a very important development market for Merlin, ” commented Glenn Earlam (above right), Managing Director of Merlin’s Midway Attractions Operating Group, which includes the LDCs.
He went on to say that Merlin is delighted to be opening its first Canadian attraction, particularly in the City of Vaughan, as the area is already a popular family destination.
“More than that, 5.4 million consumers reside in the Trade Area of this new attraction; of which a high proportion are families with young children. Our experience has shown that bringing together an exciting mix of retail, dining, and quality leisure attractions like the LDC, creates a whole new element to a family shopping day, delivering significant incremental business to both the shopping centre, and to the area as a whole. Such projects play an important part in Merlin’s future growth strategy for our ‘midway’ or indoor City Centre attractions.”
Two further potential new Merlin Entertainments sites in Canada identified
Mr Earlam went on to thank Ivanhoé Cambridge, commenting that Merlin hope to have a long working relationship with the company, and the City of Vaughan for its support. Work is expected to begin on the project by this summer to ensure it’s ready in time for a spring 2013 opening. He also pointed out that this is just the first Canadian project that Merlin has in mind and two further potential new sites have already been identified.
The new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will join the existing 14 attractions that Merlin currently operate in North America. These include LEGOLAND Discovery Centres in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth; Atlanta Georgia and Kansas City, Missouri as well as LEGOLAND Theme Parks in Florida and California, which also has a waterpark and aquarium and a hotel due to open in 2013.
In addition to these, Merlin also run: Madame Tussauds attractions in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood; and SEA LIFE aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas/Fort Worth and the Mall of America in Minneapolis and 2 further attractions are scheduled to open in the US in 2012 – Sea Life in Kansas City and a Waterpark at LEGOLAND Florida.
“The decision by Merlin Entertainments to build a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre at Vaughan Mills, already one of GTA’s premier shopping and entertainment destinations, reinforces the centre’s reputation as a distinct tourist attraction, ” said Stephen Gascoine, General Manager, Vaughan Mills.
“Vaughan Mills is thrilled to partner with Merlin Entertainments and welcomes this exciting new attraction to our growing list of entertainment, dining, outlet and fashion retailers.”
Models for the construction of Merlin’s latest venture will be made in the company’s specialist studios around the world and shipped to the construction site when work begins on the 34, 000 square foot site.
Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Michael Chan said that the new attraction will generate jobs and growth within the area, which is already North America’s top foreign direct investment spot. The area has highly competitive corporate tax rates and business costs alongside an educated workforce and efficient infrastructure.
“I have been a long-time proponent of developing tourism infrastructure as part of our economic development strategy in order to bring both full-time employment and investment to the City of Vaughan, and the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be a great addition to the tourism landscape of Vaughan, ” said City of Vaughan, Ward 4 Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco.