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Park News www.parkworld-online.com


Merlin Entertainments announces LEGOLAND


Resort in Western China LEGOLAND Sichuan planned to open by 2023


M


erlin Entertainments, a global leader in location based entertainment with brands including LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds,


SEA LIFE and the Dungeons, has entered into a partnership agreement with Global Zhongjun Cultural Tourism Development Co. to build and operate a LEGOLAND Resort in Sichuan Province in Western China. The resort is scheduled to open by 2023. Under the terms of the agreement, Global Zhongjun


will fund the construction of LEGOLAND Sichuan, as well as the required infrastructure and adjacent commercial developments, while Merlin will partner in the resort development and operate it under a management contract arrangement. LEGOLAND Sichuan will be located within the Tianfu


New Area in the city of Meishan, approximately 60km south of Chengdu city centre. With good transport links by road and a future metro station planned for the area,


LEGOLAND Sichuan will be within a two-hour catchment of 30 million residents. Chengdu and the surrounding region is also a popular tourist destination within Western China attracting millions of international and domestic visitors each year. The resort will open with two fully themed


LEGOLAND Hotels, with an estimated capacity of 500 rooms. It will also have scope to incorporate further attractions in the future. Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said:


“There’s no doubt that China represents a great opportunity for strong global brands. Having been active in China for over a decade, Merlin has gained critical insights into Chinese consumers and built a broad portfolio of Midway attractions within key cities. “Leveraging this position, we’re delighted to be able


to announce the development of a LEGOLAND Park in Sichuan Province together with a strong partner in


Global Zhongjun. It is an exciting prospect and a significant milestone in the expansion of the LEGOLAND estate in China.” John Jakobsen, chief development officer of Merlin


Entertainments, added: “Sichuan Province has a strong tradition of welcoming people from all over, which aligns closely to our values as a business. Within it, Chengdu, Meishan and the Tianfu New Area is developing at a rapid pace driven by investment, enterprise and, increasingly, its popularity as a tourist destination. “Our partner is a leading developer of tourism in the


region with a great track record in delivering scale projects, and we look forward to working with them and the local community to bring the LEGOLAND Resort experience to guests in Western China.” Global Zhongjun is a joint venture between


development companies Zhongjun Beijing and The Chengdu Global Century – Exhibition & Travel Group (ETG). The majority shareholder ETG focuses on investing in and operating exhibition centres, tourism resorts, branded hotels, urban commercial complexes, and health care facilities throughout China. It is one of Western China’s largest tourism companies and boasts the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu – the largest building in the world. ETG commented: “LEGOLAND Sichuan Resort will be


a significant tourist development in Tianfu New Area and the largest LEGOLAND in the world, subject to planning approvals. With its unique design, we aspire for it to be the role model for future new LEGOLAND parks.” The LEGO Group has distributed products in China for


more than 25 years. The company opened a regional hub office in Shanghai in 2014 and a manufacturing facility in Jiaxing in 2016. During the past year it has expanded its presence in the country and expects to have more than 140 stores in 35 cities by the end of 2019. Merlin operates 13 Midway attractions in China


including LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Centres, Dungeons, Peppa Pig World of Play and Little BIG City. Subject to future announcements, LEGOLAND


Sichuan will be Merlin’s eleventh LEGOLAND Park following the announcement of LEGOLAND New York (scheduled to open 2020) and LEGOLAND Korea (scheduled to open 2022). Discussions continue regarding opening further LEGOLAND Resorts in China.


Sean Clarke new Aardman MD


Sean Clarke has been named as the new managing director of Aardman, the Bristol, UK independent animation studio. Clarke has been at the company for over 20 years and headed up the International Rights and Marketing department for over a decade. He succeeds David Sproxton, who is stepping back from the


16


MD role after 43 years at the helm of the organisation. Famous worldwide for its unique and


entertaining productions, Aardman is home to much-loved characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Morph, as well as being the creative force behind content for advertising partners, digital


platforms, games developers and immersive entertainment experiences for a global audience. Co-founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton in 1976, the company transitioned into Employee Ownership in November 2018 in order to secure its creative and cultural legacy for decades to come.


OCTOBER 2019


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