The Merlin Entertainments Group has taken full control of the Blackpool SEA LIFE attraction after 18 years of sharing the tiller with a joint venture partner. A deal has been agreed to acquire the 50-per-cent share held by Leisure Parcs.
“This deal makes good sense for both parties, ” said SEA LIFE director James Burleigh. “We enjoy very successful joint venture relationships at a small number of sites, including Blackpool SEA LIFE – usually with a developer, or operator involved with a number of attractions on a particular site. In every case however Merlin remains entirely responsible for the development and management of the attraction – and of the SEA LIFE brand. Under this new arrangement therefore very little will change day to day. Leisure Parcs will remain our landlord under a new 20-year lease arrangement, and Merlin will continue to develop the attraction as a key site in the SEA LIFE portfolio. “
Merlin has regularly invested in the Blackpool SEA LIFE attraction since it first opened in 1990, the sixth site for the brand. Most recently this was in a £100, 000 special feature exhibition showcasing octopuses and their relatives, titled ‘Suckers’ – which opened at Easter this year.
“We believe Blackpool has great potential for future development, and will continue to work with Leisure Parcs and other key partners lobbying for more inward investment to the town, ” said Mr Burleigh
SEA LIFE is the world’s largest aquarium brand operating in 27 locations across Europe, with the latest to open next month at Lake Garda in Italy, adjacent to Italy’s biggest theme park, Gardaland, which is also part of the Merlin portfolio. SEA LIFE will also be opening for the first time in the USA this year, as an exciting new addition to Merlin’s LEGOLAND Park in California.
The second biggest visitor attraction company in the world, in the UK Merlin also operates Alton Towers, The London Eye, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, the Dungeons, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle, Chessington World of Adventures and the London Aquarium.
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See also: New General Manager for London Aquarium
Image on home page and above: Orange cup coral by Heather perry, copyright National Geographic Society