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Theme Parks: Merlin Entertainments Group Expands U.S. Business

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Merlin Announces New Midway Divisional Director, Director of Marketing and Finance Director Positions to Oversee Expansion of Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND Discovery Centers and SEA LIFE Brands

As part of Merlin Entertainment’s expansive U.S. growth plans, the company today announced the creation of three key senior regional positions in its Midway operating Group –Divisional Director, Midway Attractions, Merlin USA, which will be filled by Janine DiGioacchino, former General Manager of Madame Tussauds New York and Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.; Director of Marketing, Midway Attractions, Merlin USA, which will be taken by Rosemary del Prado, previously Madame Tussauds New York and Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.’s Director of Marketing; and Director of Finance, Midway Attractions, Merlin USA, which will be filled by Sarah Reed, promoted from Finance Director at Madame Tussauds New York.

As the world’s fastest growing visitor attraction group, Merlin has created the new positions in order to increase its U.S. presence through the opening of new Midway attractions (attractions with an average dwell time of 2 – 3 hours), development of strategic business partnerships and increased promotional efforts. Most recently, Merlin Entertainments broke ground on its new LEGOLAND Discovery Center Dallas, which will open in 2011.  The company will also open its new $2 million-plus U.S. Presidents Gallery in Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. in early 2011.  The Gallery will feature wax figures of all 44 U.S. Presidents, making the attraction the only place in the world where people can see and interact with all of these iconic leaders.  And, since 2008, the company has opened three new attractions –SEA LIFE California, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago and Madame Tussauds Hollywood

In addition to the new regional positions, Merlin Entertainments has promoted Bret Pidgeon, former General Manager of Madame Tussauds Shanghai and Hong Kong, to General Manager at Madame Tussauds New York; Dan Rogoski, former Director of Trade Sales at Madame Tussauds New York, to General Manager, Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.; and Colin Thomas, to General Manager, Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

"Merlin Entertainments has been uniquely successful in developing and rolling out mid-sized attractions in key markets across the globe, " said Merlin Entertainments Midway Managing Director, Glenn Earlam. "As demonstrated by the considerable growth over the past several years at Madame Tussauds New York and Las Vegas, we are ready and excited to aggressively continue our expansion in the U.S.  Merlin Entertainments is confident that the talent, ideas and expertise of our home-grown, U.S. management team will significantly contribute to the continued success of the U.S. Midway business." 

DiGioacchino began her career with the company more than ten years ago with the launch of the Madame Tussauds New York in the heart of Times Square. She successfully developed and implemented the marketing, operations and overall business strategy for the grand opening of the 85, 000 square foot attraction and under her leadership since opening, Madame Tussauds New York tripled its annual revenue and increased annual visitor growth by over 50%.

In her new role, DiGioacchino will shepherd the U.S. expansion of not just the Madame Tussauds brand but also, SEA LIFE, the world’s Number 1 aquarium brand, and Merlin’s newest concept –  LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, an exciting indoor attraction for children 3-12.  She will also manage Merlin’s existing six U.S. Midway attractions – Madame Tussauds New York, Madame Tussauds Washington D.C., Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, SEA LIFE Arizona and SEA LIFE Minnesota.

"This new position is an exciting opportunity, allowing me to be an integral part of Merlin Entertainments’ breadth of attractions and expansion in the U.S., " said DiGioacchino, Divisional Director, Midway Attractions, Merlin USA. "I am proud to have contributed to the growth of Madame Tussauds New York and Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. for the last ten years, and am thrilled that my talented team consisting of Rosemary del Prado, Sarah Reed, Bret Pidgeon, Dan Rogoski and Colin Thomas have been promoted to support the continued growth and success of our U.S. Midway Attractions."

As Director of Marketing, Midway Attractions, Merlin USA, del Prado will be responsible for national promotions, sponsorship and strategic alliances working closely with the brand’s global development team. She will also continue her work with Madame Tussauds New York and Washington D.C., while working closely with all of the U.S. Midway marketing teams and LEGOLAND California. 

del Prado served as Director of Marketing for Madame Tussauds New York and Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. since 2007, after being promoted from her two-year post as Marketing Manager of Madame Tussauds New York. She was an essential member of the team that opened Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. in 2007 and has also been an integral part of the Times Square attraction’s growth. Over the past five years, del Prado launched Madame Tussauds New York’s  Cinema 4-D Experience, Bollywood and Sports Zones, and has overseen the PR and marketing efforts for the addition of dozens of new figures to the nine floor attraction.

Reed began her career with Merlin Entertainments in 2002, serving as a Commercial Analyst for Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park in the U.K.  She then went on to work in various finance roles, eventually taking on the Finance Manager role at Madame Tussauds New York in 2008. 

In her new role, Reed will support DiGioacchino in assessing the financial and commercial performance each U.S. Midway Attraction. She will also be integral to the business planning for the group, providing recommendations and financial strategy for the brand’s continued development. 

Pidgeon, Rogoski and Thomas will be responsible for ensuring that Madame Tussauds New York, Washington D.C. and Hollywood, respectively, continue to grow by creating memorable experiences for visitors and guests. They will each work closely with DiGioacchino to formulate business plans, attraction development strategies and shape budgets that will allow each attraction to thrive.

Merlin Entertainments’ U.S. attractions currently include Madame Tussauds New York, Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C., Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, SEA LIFE Arizona, SEA LIFE Minnesota and LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago. A LEGOLAND Discovery Center is also set to open in Dallas in 2011.

About Merlin Entertainments Group:

The  Merlin Entertainments Group is the leading name in location-based, branded family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last six years. Now Europe’s No 1 and the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin Entertainments Group boasts 62 attractions in 13 different countries.  The company strives to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 38 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 15, 000 employees.  Merlin Entertainments Group operates the following attractions and hotels – SEA LIFE – the world’s largest 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 Resort, and Earth Explorer.

SOURCE Merlin Entertainments Group

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