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Theme Parks: Merlin Entertainments Plans $12 Million Legoland Discovery Centre for Grapevine, Texas

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Global leisure giant Merlin Entertainments (Merlin), the world’s second biggest visitor attraction operator, has announced  plans to build a $12m LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (LDC) in Grapevine Mills shopping mall, in Grapevine, Texas.

Merlin’s newest attraction concept, the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will offer a fun, highly interactive and educational 2-3 hour indoor experience which is ideal for families with children 3-12 years old.  Based on the ever popular LEGO brick, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres provide a range of interactive play areas including 4D cinema; master classes from the LEGO Master Model Builder; exciting LEGO rides; special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations; as well as the popular MINILAND exhibit designed to reflect each individual attraction’s location.

The Grapevine attraction underlines Merlin’s aggressive growth plan, rolling out 3 / 4 new sites for its exciting brands around the world every year; and continuing to invest in new experiences and improved customer service across its existing portfolio of 59 attractions.   Merlin currently has 8 other attractions in the USA including LEGOLAND California – voted as the best children’s park for the last 6 years by Amusement Today; Madame Tussauds attractions in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood; a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Chicago; a SEA LIFE aquarium alongside LEGOLAND California and Underwater Adventures Aquarium in the Mall of America in Minneapolis – underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator.  Three more Merlin attractions are also due to open in 2010/11, including Grapevine.

Commenting, Glenn Earlam, Managing Director of Merlin’s Midway Attractions Operating Group, which includes the LDCs said:   “We believe Grapevine is exactly the right location for a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.  It is ideally situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, and is already a popular ‘destination’ for family visitors.  The inclusion of a quality leisure attraction like the LDC will we believe deliver significant incremental business to both the Mall – and to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and greater region as a whole.      The LDC concept is already successful in Europe and elsewhere in the USA, and I know people will love it!”

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both the Simon Property Group and most importantly the City of Grapevine for all their support for the project.  This was a key factor in our decision to come here, and we hope that this will be just the beginning of Merlin’s relationship with the City.”

Grapevine Mayor William D Tate commented: “Grapevine is proud to partner with Merlin Entertainments and Simon Property Group in bringing here what will become one of the most unique and best family attractions in Texas.”

“In developing Grapevine as a top destination city, we have pursued very unique and exclusive attractions and hotels.  Clearly Merlin Entertainments is one of the best visitor attraction companies in the world, and the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be recognised as a unique and integral part of Grapevine’s visitor appeal.”

“In Grapevine, we recognise that it’s not being the biggest that’s most important, but rather being the best.”

Gregg Goodman, president of The Mills®, part of the Simon Property Group, working with Merlin Entertainments on a number of projects in the USA said, "Adding a world-class entertainment venue such as Legoland Discovery Centre will only enhance Grapevine Mills’ position as an outstanding family attraction.”

Work is expected to begin on the project in June 2010, with the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre due to open in March 2011.  Models for Grapevine will be made in Merlin’s specialist studios around the world and shipped in during construction, although plans and designs are already being drawn up.

 Further information:

Merlin Entertainments
Sally Ann Wilkinson/Penny Roberts     
Tel:                         + 44 (0) 20 8899 6110 / + 44 (0) 20 8948 4225
Mobile:               + 44 (0) 7774 415372/ + 44 (0)7887 542490
Home:                   + 44 (0)20 8948 3725 (Sally Ann Wilkinson)
Email:                     saw@thefirmcomms.com/par@thefirmcomms.com

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 www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.

CITY OF GRAPEVINE is a premier leisure and convention destination in Texas, where visitors enjoy world class shopping, dining, festivals, attractions and hotels.  Conveniently located between Dallas and Fort Worth, Grapevine is close to major highways and just six minutes from Dallas –Forthworth International Airport

SIMON PROPERTY GROUP INC is an S&P 500 company and the largest public U.S. real estate company. Simon is a fully integrated real estate company which operates from five retail real estate platforms: regional malls, Premium Outlet Centers®, The Mills®, community/lifestyle centers and international properties. It currently owns or has an interest in 387 properties comprising 262 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia. The Company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employs more than 5, 000 people worldwide. Simon Property Group, Inc. is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol SPG. For further information, visit the Company’s website at www.simon.com.

 The Mills® is one of Simon Property Group’s five real estate platforms. With 17 properties totaling over 24 million square feet, The Mills properties are large retail venues focused on delivering value to the consumer. The Mills brand offers a broad and unique mix of full-price, value and outlet retail and family-oriented dining and entertainment options, featuring the most popular consumer brands and concepts. Mills projects are well-located in major metropolitan markets. Notable properties include Arundel Mills (Baltimore), Grapevine Mills (Dallas), Opry Mills Nashville) and Sawgrass Mills (Ft.Lauderdale/Miami).

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