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14 Jul 2021
Merlin hits the market with surge of new openings
By Tom Walker
Merlin hits the market with surge of new openings
Merlin has opened its much-anticipated Legoland New York Resort
Photo: Merlin Entertainments/Legoland
Merlin Entertainments has been busy with a raft of new openings and future project announcements, as the global visitor attractions industry begins to emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

This month, Merlin has opened its much-anticipated Legoland New York Resort, with all seven of its lands available for visitors. The park's 250-bedroom hotel is set to open on 6 August.

The operator also opened the first ever European Legoland Water Park this month, located inside the Gardaland theme park in Italy.

The new addition features water-based activities – including slides, pools, rafts, and a water play complex featuring Lego brands – and Italy’s first Lego Miniland, with Lego versions of iconic Italian monuments made from over 4.9 million bricks.

The openings will continue throughout the year and will include the launch of a Madame Tussauds attraction in Dubai.

Located next to Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel, Madame Tussauds Dubai will feature 60 global stars, including 16 brand new wax figures from the Middle East region.

There are also a number of future projects in the Merlin pipeline.

These include the world's first standalone Peppa Pig resort in Sichuan, China, which will be established in partnership with toy giant Hasbro and a number of local partners – including the Meishan Administration Committee of Sichuan Tianfu New Area, Zhongjun Tianxin (Beijing) Investment Co and Chengdu Excellent City Property.

The resort will include a Peppa Pig Theme Park, a Peppa Pig Hotel, as well as a brand-new SEA LIFE aquarium positioned adjacent to the park.

Construction is due to begin in July 2021, and the Resort is expected to open in 2024, with Merlin and its Chinese partners dedicated to developing the attraction into a global flagship resort.

Mark Fisher, chief development officer for Merlin, said: “Peppa Pig is a global star among preschoolers, and we are working with Hasbro to bring the excitement and fun of Peppa and her friends to the world’s first standalone Peppa Pig Resort in Sichuan.

"We have already had great success with our immersive Peppa Pig World of Play attractions in both Asia and the US, and the new resort will be a destination for both domestic visitors and international tourists.

"The Merlin team look forward to working with our partners to develop the creative concept design for the Peppa Pig Resort and making it a reality, marking a significant milestone for Merlin’s presence in the Chinese market.”

Separately, Merlin is currently on site at the Legoland Florida Resort in the US, working on the first ever stand-alone Peppa Pig theme park.

Set to open in 2022, the park will be separately ticketed from the Legoland attraction and will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, themed play-scapes and water play areas and daily live shows.

In addition, Merlin is working on a new Madame Tussauds attraction in the Hungarian capital Budapest (set to open in 2022).

It has also signed a deal to open a 3,000sq ft Legoland Discovery Centre in the Belgian capital city Brussels in 2022.

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