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Merlin Casts its Magic in Meadowlands Xanadu


Merlin Entertainments has strengthened the company’s position in the US leisure market with the announcement  that it is to lease and operate the first ever and largest US observation wheel – the Pepsi Globe – due to open in November at the Meadowlands Xanadu entertainment and retail complex in northern New Jersey. This is one of 5 new attractions the company will be opening in the USA in the next two years; including another at Meadowlands Xanadu – its second US and largest Legoland Discovery Centre – the first will open in Schaumburg, Illinois, later this summer.

The most dynamic company in the global visitor attractions market, UK based Merlin Entertainments is currently opening 5/6 new attractions every year around the world, and over 100 other potential locations have already been identified for assessment. The leading operator in Europe, the company sees enormous potential for its high quality attraction brands in the USA – all of which are based on a strategy of "fun-learning". Merlin already has a Legoland Park in California, with a Sea Life aquarium due to open there as a second gate this year; and Madame Tussauds’ attractions in Washington, Las Vegas and New York City – with Hollywood to open early 2009.

The decision to open three attractions in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area also underlines two key elements of Merlin’s future growth strategy. The first is to roll out their city centre/short stay brands (Midway) – Madame Tussauds, Dungeons, Sea Life, Legoland Discovery Centre – maintaining the core elements and then tailoring them to appeal to the specific nature/interest of the individual location in which they are situated. Each individual Madame Tussauds for example is quite different in its content and figure choice – reflecting its host city, so every visit is different.

By ‘clustering’ its midway brands in a single city or metropolitan area with high local and tourist traffic, Merlin is able to gain considerable benefit from cross marketing and reduced operational costs; while also offering both host cities and visitors a very attractive leisure package. This strategy is already operating very successfully in London, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

Merlin’s portfolio includes The London Eye which has become an iconic symbol of the City since it opened in 2000 – and the company is therefore uniquely qualified to make a success of the Pepsi Globe at Meadowlands Xanadu. The design team is already working on the plans to ensure that its experience from constructing and operating The Eye is factored into the project. At 287ft high, the Pepsi Globe will provide the perfect way to see panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and northern New Jersey. The Meadowlands Xanadu project also underlines Merlin’s development of a new "observation" strategy – building on the huge success of The London Eye concept with other wheels or observation attractions.
Legoland Discovery Centre is Merlin’s newest attraction concept. A ‘mini’ indoor world of Lego where interaction, family fun, and learning go hand in hand. The first Legoland Discovery Centre was opened in Berlin in 2007, and based on its huge success new sites are now being identified across Europe and the USA – with four already scheduled to be open by Spring 2009.

"We are thrilled to be working with world-renowned family entertainment giant, Merlin Entertainments, " said Larry Siegel, president, Meadowlands Development. "As the premiere operator of observation wheels throughout the world, Merlin will operate our spectacular Pepsi Globe, soon to be one of the most compelling attractions in the Northeast region of the U.S. With an estimated 50 million visitors annually, Meadowlands Xanadu is the ideal location for such a unique attraction and Merlin is the perfect partner. Legoland Discovery Centre is another amazing and transforming family venue, helping Meadowlands Xanadu redefine the dynamic and compelling relationship between entertainment and the consumer experience."

Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Nick Varney comments :
"This is a very exciting time for Merlin, and developing the US market is a very important part of our strategy going forward. With five new attractions already close to completion we are certainly making our presence felt – and we are now getting approaches from developers and other partners around the US almost on a daily basis! We are particularly delighted to be involved in the projects like Meadowlands Xanadu, which promises to be a very exciting and diverse leisure/shopping destination, with a broad appeal. We believe that it will not only encourage visitors from a very wide local catchment area; but also visits from those coming to New York City from other parts of the USA, and overseas – and our attractions will play a key role in that."

About The Merlin Entertainments Group.

The Merlin Entertainments Group is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, which has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. The world’s No 2 visitor attraction operator, Merlin aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 30 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13, 000 employees. Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Earth Explorer.
Site enquiries in the USA please contact:
Samuels & Co who are acting on behalf of Merlin Entertainments on 001 310 203 8301

About Meadowlands Xanadu

Meadowlands Xanadu, under construction in the heart of the NY/NJ metropolitan region, will feature approximately 2.3 million square feet of unique entertainment, interactive attractions, sports and retail unlike any other in the world. The $2 billion complex features five themed districts, Sports, Entertainment, Youth Culture, Food & Home and Fashion, providing a wide variety of experiences catering to different lifestyles and interests. The spectacular complex in the New Jersey Meadowlands will be home to North America’s largest climate controlled Ferris wheel, The Pepsi Globe, offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and northern New Jersey. The top-of-the line retail stores, gourmet restaurants, America’s first indoor snow dome, a skydiving tower, multiple movie theaters, a concert and live theater venue and much more will be set in a high-energy, media-rich environment. Meadowlands Xanadu is a unique destination that will redefine leisure time. It will be a stage where brands, entertainment and technology join to create larger than life experiences. Meadowlands Xanadu is being developed by Meadowlands Development whose investors include Colony Capital, The Dune Real Estate Funds and KanAm.


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