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Attraction Profile


population of around half a million, but as many as 14 million are located within a two-hour drive of the Trafford Centre, linked directly to the M60 motorway. Other leisure offerings inside the mall include a Namco Station arcade, Paradise Island adventure golf, Laser Quest and Odeon cinema. Across the road there is Chill Factore, a large indoor snow centre along the lines of Ski Dubai, and at the time of writing Cirque du Soleil was in town with one of its touring shows.

Anchor Attraction

LDC is the first attraction within Barton Square, a mall extension opened in 2008. Dedicated largely to homeware stores, it simply doesn’t enjoy the same footfall as the rest of The Trafford Centre – yet. This is where Merlin has a role to play.

“Hopefully we can act as a leisure anchor in this part of the centre,” says Earlam. “I think operators such as Peel appreciate what we can bring, and this helps us negotiate good rates. They have been great to work with.”

Indeed, Merlin has been given the entire first floor in a corner of the mall that was previously struggling to find tenants. Peel has also co-operated by offering LDC additional marketing support, signage and things such an information booth on the other side of the footbridge that links Barton Square to the rest of the mall. “That proved very useful during the first week when we were sold out,” notes marketing manager Rachael Lockitt. “People walk up to the booth, ask ‘Have you got tickets today?’ and we can advise them before they make that walk over the bridge. We can also use it tactically, so perhaps during the week when there is

spare capacity we can do an offer to encourage people over. It’s a great source of information; for the guests, and for us.” Lockitt is the former PR manager of Alton Towers, and one of a handful staff recruited from the park to become part of the LDC launch team in Manchester, along with general manager Neil Crittenden and finance manager David Brown. Several other key staff come from nearby Merlin attractions too, including operations manager Anja Hodapp, ex-Sea Life Blackpool. In total there are around 50 employees, including 35 full time staff.

At present, the attraction is open from 10am until 7pm daily, with the last admission at 5pm. That means it will be down to school groups, as well as birthday parties, to provide a large chunk of the business midweek. Lockitt says they may extend opening times in line with the rest of the Trafford Centre, which stays open until 10pm during the week, if demand is there. When guests arrive, they enter via a large Lego store at ground level, and then head upstairs to enjoy the rest of what LDC has to offer. The proposition is that they are stepping into the “world’s biggest box of Lego,” featuring over 2 million bricks. The tour begins with a visit to the Lego “Factory,” followed by the interactive dark ride Kingdom Quest and then Miniland, the model exhibit central to every Legoland outlet. From here on families are free to explore LDC at their leisure.

This system of staggered arrival, which begins with a

pre-show holding area, contrasts with earlier LDC outlets such as Berlin, where all attractions are clustered around a central hub, and guests allowed to plot their

Passes and


Admission to Legoland

Discovery Centre in Manchester is

£13.95 for adults and £10.95 for children, or £11.85/£9.30 if prebooked online. A flat rate of £7.00 is available after 4pm. However, the centre is aggressively pushing an LDC Unlimited Pass, at £27.50 for children or £75.00 for a family of four. Valid for a year, the family pass includes one free visit for each family member to Legoland Windsor (normally £38/28). Merlin hopes that pass holders will eventually account for between 20% and 30% of all LDC visits in Manchester. But is there not a danger of pass holders preventing walk up sales? “We could offer passes with blackout dates,” says Merlin Entertainments’ managing director of Midway attractions, Glenn Earlam. “So far we haven’t had to do that. We find that pass holders are among the most sophisticated of users and are quite good at working out when is best to come. That’s good for us because it helps balance out peak and off peak attendance.”


RIGHT: The exterior to the new attraction, Lego Factory Tour, Kingdom Quest

APRIL 2010

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