by Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai
Merlin Entertainments Group (‘Merlin’), Europe’s leading and the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, has identified Asia Pacific as an important new development region for future LEGOLAND Park developments. It has identified a number of potential sites for further investigation, and today announced principal agreements have been reached with the regional government and key potential private investors in Korea, opening the way to more detailed negotiations.
The development of the LEGOLAND Park offer is a key part of Merlin’s strategic growth plans. The latest news comes as Merlin prepares to open its 5th LEGOLAND Park – LEGOLAND Florida – in just 6 weeks. LEGOLAND Malaysia, the company’s 6th LEGOLAND Park, is already under construction and due to open in Autumn 2012.
Work will now begin on detailed planning related to the potential new site which is in Chuncheon City in Gangwon province, Korea, approximately 60km from the capital of Seoul. It is envisaged that funding would be a combination of local resources combined with direct investment from Merlin; and the location is in an area where the local authority is already committed to major investment in tourism and commercial developments. It is also well connected with roads, rail and infrastructure. More than that, it is in a spectacular natural setting, providing an opportunity to create the first ever LEGOLAND Park on its own Island in a lake.
“We are very excited to have reached this agreement in Korea, which illustrates the strength of the LEGOLAND brand, and of Merlin’s business model across the globe”, said John Jakobsen, Merlin Entertainments’ Managing Director LEGOLAND Parks. “The Asia Pacific region provides a great opportunity for Merlin’s continued development across our brands, but particularly LEGOLAND. Over the next several months we look forward to working with our potential partners and investors in Korea to take the project to a stage where we can put it forward to the Merlin Board for investment approval. “
Merlin also already has nine ‘midway ‘attractions in the Asia Pacific region – in Hong Kong; Shanghai; Bangkok; and, following an acquisition earlier this year – six in Australia and New Zealand. New midway developments have also recently been announced in Tokyo (LEGOLAND Discovery Centre); and Sydney (Madame Tussauds).