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Asia-Pacific www.parkworld-online.com


attractions that appeal to a very wide range of visitors and others which are particularly designed to cater for certain groups,” says Crampton. For example, the recently announced ‘Little BIG City’ Beijing, which opens later this year, is a family and educational attraction, bringing the unique history of the city to life through an incredibly detailed showcase in miniature, featuring iconic architecture, key events and the people who have shaped it.


The Legoland Discovery Centre in Beijing, meanwhile (also opening later in 2018) is specifically designed for children aged 3-10 and their families, providing educational experiences including a range of Lego play areas, rides, Lego Master Model Builder classes, a 4D cinema and a Miniland. Sea Life and Madame Tussauds attractions appeal to teenagers and adults alike. Crampton believes the Little BIG City concept, which has


done “very well” since opening in Berlin in July last year, will continue to see success in its new Beijing site. “It really provides a unique way of seeing the history of the city and there is strong connection from local people to the product,” he says. “It is popular with children who can discover the city’s history in a very accessible way and it has opened up another interesting market for Merlin, with an older demographic accompanying their grandchildren to share their life experiences. We are confident that the attraction in Beijing will be popular and allow local people to experience and reflect on the city in a novel and memorable way.” The popularity of the Midway concept in Shanghai has been demonstrated by the success of the three existing attractions in the city - Madame Tussauds, Legoland Discovery Centre and Changfeng Ocean World. The Shanghai Dungeons will join the lineup later this year. “The city has a long and interesting history that lends itself to exploration in a ‘Dungeons’ setting,” says Crampton. “The attraction will use a


combination of authentic and atmospheric themed sets, live actors, witty scripts, and cutting edge technology to take visitors on a journey to see, hear, smell and experience some of the city’s dark history. It will feature ten legends of Shanghai’s colourful past, as well as a thrilling drop ride.”


The future is bright Looking to the future, Merlin’s Intellectual Property team is focussed on marrying Merlin’s world-class experience in operating attractions with some of the best IPs on the planet. Recent partnerships include pre-school children’s brand Peppa Pig and The Bear Grylls Adventure. The latter, based on outdoor adventurer and TV personality Bear Grylls, will include diving, rock climbing and indoor skydiving and opens in Birmingham, UK later this year. Merlin also plans to announce a Peppa Pig attraction in Shanghai later in 2018, reveals Crampton, with plans to expand the concepts to other geographies, including China and the US. “One of the reasons both brands are attractive to Merlin is that they have significant resonance in Asia, and particularly China, where they have large followings.” “Asia is an important market for Merlin and we are always


on the lookout for opportunities to deliver high quality entertainment experiences. In terms of Merlin’s attractions pipeline, Tier 1 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen will be key in China for both Midway and Legoland Parks.” Merlin’s ongoing Midway rollout will continue to provide a major part of its expansion into the Asian market, as will Legoland Parks. Next on the agenda, says Crampton, is an increased focus on providing themed accommodation at attractions: catering for the growing demand for short breaks and ensuring visitors are always able to make the most of their Merlin experience.


JUNE 2018


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