Hospitality & Tourism

Published: October 1, 2019 | Updated: October 3, 2019

Global leader in visitor attractions seals deal for new Legoland resort in China

An artist’s impression of the new Legoland resort planned for Sichuan in Western China.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A global leader in visitor attractions, headquartered in Dorset, has entered into a partnership to build and operate a Legoland resort in Western China.

Merlin Entertainments, which operates more than 130 attractions, 20 hotels and six holiday villages in 25 countries across four continents, has reached a deal with Global Zhongjun Cultural Tourism Development Co. Ltd.

Legoland Sichuan will be sited in Sichuan Province within a two-hour catchment area of 30 million residents. It is scheduled to open by 2023.

Nick Varney, Chief Executive Officer, Merlin Entertainments.

Under the terms of the agreement, Global Zhonguin will fund the construction of the resort as well as the required infrastructure and adjacent commercial developments.

Merlin, which is the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator and the biggest in Europe, will partner in the resort development and operate it under a management contract.

Nick Varney, Chief Executive Officer 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.”

Merlin, which has its head office in West Street, Poole, 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 further announcements, Legoland Sichuan will be Merlin’s 11th Legoland Park following the announcement of Legoland New York, scheduled to open next year, and Legoland Korea, scheduled for 2022. Discussions continue regarding opening further Legoland resorts in China.

Merlin employs around 28,000 people worldwide in the peak season and has more than 65 million annual visitors to its attractions.

Earlier this year the company was acquired for nearly £6bn, including debt, by a consortium including the Danish billionaire family which controls the Lego toy firm and other investors.