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Aquariums: Merlin Entertainments Plans New $15M Sea Life Aquarium for Phoenix


Global Leisure Giant Merlin Entertainments Group (Merlin) Announced Today Plans to Open a $15 Million SEA LIFE Aquarium in Phoenix Arizona, USA in Spring 2010 

The company behind iconic brands such as Madame Tussauds, The London Eye and the LEGOLAND theme parks, UK-based Merlin is the world’s biggest aquarium operator and already has 31 other SEA LIFE attractions in Europe. It opened its first world class SEA LIFE centre in the US two years ago alongside its LEGOLAND California theme park and this has already proven a great success. Last year Merlin also acquired the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

The second biggest visitor attraction operator in the world, and the fastest growing company in the sector, Merlin Entertainments is swiftly making a name for itself in the USA. In addition to the two aquariums Merlin currently has seven other attractions in the USA, with three more scheduled to open in 2010, including Phoenix.

Merlin’s existing US attractions include LEGOLAND California – voted the best children’s theme park for the last four years by Amusement Today; and their first US LEGOLAND Discovery Centre – the company’s newest attraction concept – opened in Chicago last year. Like the bigger theme park this is based on the famous construction toy, but is an exciting and very interactive indoor experience lasting 2/3 hours and aimed at families with children under 12. Finally, there are now four US Madame Tussauds wax attractions in the US – in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas and most recently Hollywood – which opened only last month.

The Phoenix SEA LIFE Aquarium will be a 26, 000 square feet development with 12 different habitat zones housing over 30 separate display tanks.

Merlin believes SEA LIFE is a very special aquarium brand – no mere collection of fish tanks. It is a highly themed environment that transports visitors into the amazing world beneath the seas, educates them, and provides close encounters with a vast array of creatures.

The SEA LIFE network is also a renowned supporter of marine conservation, having campaigned successfully to improve protection for species ranging from endangered sea turtles to sharks.

Commenting Merlin Entertainments Managing Director for Midway Attractions Glenn Earlam, who is responsible for SEA LIFE said:

"This is an exciting new development for the company and we are delighted to be going to Phoenix. Visitors to California have already shown us that the SEA LIFE concept has great potential in the USA and we believe the location in Phoenix Mills Mall is ideal for us.

We have already proved that quality retail and leisure provide an ideal commercial mix for our ‘midway’ brands – which are 2/3 hour stay indoor attractions. They not only provide an ideal extra element to a family shopping day out, but more importantly drive significant incremental traffic for our retail partners.

"Merlin is also one of the few major companies in the sector which is continuing to invest in both new and existing attractions around the world, with the USA one of our primary development markets. However our success depends greatly on our proven ability to choose exactly the right location for each of our attraction brands. Indeed our development team are reviewing sites across the States in line with our aggressive growth plans, and we believe the company has a very exciting future here. "

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. The world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin has 59 attractions, 6 hotels and two holiday -villages in 13 countries, across 3 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 35 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13, 500 employees.

Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – SEA LIFE – the world’s biggest aquarium brand, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The Merlin Entertainments London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo, Heide Park, and Earth Explorer. All brands which are distinctive, challenging and innovative – and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit for more information. 

See also:
Family Entertainment: Merlin Invests £17.5m in London Eye 
Amusement Parks: Merlin Entertainments Group Continues Strong Growth Record
Amusement Parks: Merlin Entertainments the Fastest Growing Private Company in the UK

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