Merlin Entertainments (Merlin), the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, will open three new visitor attractions on three different continents in 2010.
A US$15m Madame Tussauds in Bangkok, Thailand; a Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester, UK; and a Sea Life aquarium in Phoenix Arizona, USA. The move exemplifies that group’s strategy of rolling out its Midway brands – to visitor hubs around the world.
Madame Tussauds Bangkok will open in the Siam Discovery in September 2010.. It will be the Group’s 61st attraction globally, and underlines the importance of Asia and the Far East as a key development market for Merlin. The $15m visitor attraction will be the company’s tenth Madame Tussauds worldwide, and the third to open in Asia, joining very established and successful sister attractions in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Merlin has already begun building the $15 million Sea Life aquarium in vacant premises in Phoenix’s Arizona Mills mall with opening set for late spring 2010. Merlin is the world’s biggest aquarium operator and already has 31 other Sea Life attractions in Europe and the USA.
Merlin also plans to open its first new attraction in the UK since the Edinburgh Dungeon in 2001. The £7.5m Legoland Discovery Centre (LDC) will be located at The Trafford Centre shopping complex in Manchester and will open in time for Easter 2010. It will be the first Legoland Discovery Centre in the UK, and the fourth worldwide. It offers a fun, highly interactive and educational indoor experience which is ideal for children 3-12 years old.
These plans increase the number of Midway sites owned by Merlin to more than 50, with many further locations already identified around the world. A key plank of Merlin’s planned growth is to open an average of 4/5 new Midway attractions a year. As part of this strategy they are also increasingly exploring the proven benefits of adding high quality leisure attractions to a retail environment – as with all three of these sites.
CEO, Nick Varney said: “We are delighted to announce the opening of three exciting new attractions in 2010. The geographic spread of these locations is indicative of Merlin’s ambition and the power of its brands. It also evidences an increasing demand for high quality leisure attractions all across the globe. Our Midway brands are some of the most recognisable and popular in the world, and we plan to deliver these fantastic family experiences to many new audiences in the years ahead.”
Merlin’s Midway attractions (Madame Tussauds, Legoland Discovery Centre, Sea Life, Dungeons, Merlin Entertainments London Eye) are branded, “chainable”, low capex city-centre or coastal visitor attractions that have strong record of proven popularity and predictable growth. New unit developments typically return 20%+ on capital invested. The positioning of the attractions within existing Merlin Resorts such as Legoland and Gardaland /and cities with high visitor frequency means that very little marketing spend is required, and the indoor nature makes them resistant to seasonal and weather effects.
Merlin’s first Sea Life in the US opened a year ago alongside Legoland California. Last year Merlin also acquired the Underwater Adventures Aquarium in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. Merlin currently has seven other attractions in the USA, with three more scheduled to open in 2010 /2011, including Phoenix.
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 and six hotels/ 2 holiday villages in 13 countries and across 3 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 35 million visitors worldwide in 2008, 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 – Sealife, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, The Merlin Entertainments London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, Legoland Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo, Underwater Adventures, Heide Park and Earth Explorer.
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