Update on LEGOLAND Florida: John Jakobsen sets out Merlin Entertainment’s strategy for LEGOLAND parks

Set to open October 15th, LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainmenta��s biggest project to date, is already surpassing expectations with sales of annual passes having a�?smasheda�? the 10, 000 unit target.

Related: The World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park? LEGOLAND Florida’s GM, Adrian Jones, Talks to Blooloop  / Merlin Entertainments announces two additions to its LEGOLAND Malaysia senior management team / Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments Group sets out his six point growth driver plan / Merlin Entertainments 2010 Results – Still Rocking Round the World  / Interview with Merlin Entertainments’ Mark Fisher

LEGOLAND Florida, set in Winter Haven Florida on the site of Cypress Gardens will be the biggest LEGOLAND  park so far, and promises to be “one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world” according to Adrian Jones, General Manager.  In attendance at the update, representing the Florida team, were Kim Isemann (Sales and Marketing Director), Todd Andrus (Sales Manager) and Nigel McShine-Jones (Trade Sales Manager).

atlantis ride at legoland windsor owned by merlin entertainments md john jakobsenJakobsen was keen to emphasise the lessons learned from the first foray into the US market with LEGOLAND California.  That move was, said Jakobsen, like “going into the lions den”, and not a decision that had been undertaken lightly in view of the local competition.  Having learned in California the importace of sticking to core values and market in order to differentiate the LEGO experience, Jakobsen said, “Our success formula is now very clear.  We are a family park for families with young children offering an interactive experience based completely on LEGO theming.  As long as we stick to that people will consider us different and we will rank as one of the things they absolutely have to do.”

With seven million visitors in 2010 across the four LEGOLAND parks in 2010 it’s clear that the focus on families with pre teen children is hitting the spot.  Although the provision of theme parks in Orlando is rather good already, LEGOLAND aim to win over the families with younger children who want an experience designed just for them, and become one of the “must see” attractions on a holiday itinerary.  The 150 acre site will have more than 50 rides including some “pink knuckle” coasters and a nod towards Cypress Garden’s history with a stunt water ski show.

Jakobsen then went on to set out the key elements of LEGOLAND Parks’ overall strategy:

  • Cash invested on a defined cycle so that each park has at least one new component a year to encourage repeat visits and keep the product fresh, eg the £8m Atlantis submarine ride at LEGOLAND Windsor (see image).
  • Resort development – hotels planned for Windsor (2012) and California (2013) and “aspirations” to add a hotel in Florida and at other parks
  • Second Gates – LEGOLAND California has a SEA LIFE centre next door as well as a waterpark

As with all Merlin’s attractions, expansion continues apace and LEGOLAND’s first theme park in Asia,   LEGOLAND Malaysia, is set to open in 2012.  Ambitious plans, but as Jakobsen says based around a deceptively simple strategy: “we specialise in knowing exactly how we can make children happy”.

See below for video of Adrian Jones showing us what to expect when LEGOLAND Florida opens: